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THIS IS THE WEEK WE’VE BEEN WAITING FOR! WORTHY WOMEN’S STORIES, WELL TOLD AND WORTH YOUR TIME.







By Anne Brodie

Lena Dunham’s 1980s meditation on the father-daughter relationship in Treasure is authentically emotional. She’s Ruth, a journalist who joins her Polish American father Edek, played by Stephen Fry, on a trip to Warsaw Poland to see the places of his past.  He’s a Holocaust survivor but appears upbeat and funny.  She underestimates the lasting effects his experiences had on him, experiences that are still powerfully, painfully alive. But they’re opposites, and deal differently. She’s angry and fails to see signs that she needs to back off. Still, she’s his treasure.  They visit the Warsaw Ghetto, no longer there as Nazis razed it after the siege on the Jewish enclave. However, his family’s factory and their apartment still stand; the current residents moved in in 1940, the year his family was taken away. They sell Ruth remnants of his past – a bowl, a tea set, and his father’s coat, unbeknownst to him, treasures.  Nights at the hotel are painful for Ruth, she can’t seem to connect with Edek, while he’s enjoying dancing and performing in the hotel bar, oblivious to her pain.  They visit Auschwitz / Birkenau; a silent sequence showing the hundreds of prisoners’ living quarters is startlingly important, evoking the 1.1 million who were processed there.  The film’s quiet reflections, and honesty in its portrayal of a troubled, but loving bond and the ways they begin to understand one another. Its insights stop us in our tracks. And it has its funny moments too.  Theatres June 14.  



Tuesday, starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Zora, mother to Tuesday, played by Lola Petticrew is another familial, stirring story – a fantasy of a girl facing death whose mother will stop at nothing to prevent it.  A shapeshifting pre-historic bird called Death (an incredible vocal and physical performance by unseen dancer Arinzé Kene) comes to wrap his wings around Tuesday and take her life but Zora will not allow it. She tries to reason with it, argues, fights it, and offers up her own life, but can’t dissuade it. Most people the Bird approaches welcome it, beg for it to end their pain and misery, or complain about being murdered; each case is so personal and vivid in writer-director Daina Oniunas-Pusic’s hands.  Tuesday’s an unusual girl, she adores her collection of stuffed pontifical rats in their Roman Catholic vestments. She is ok with her imminent death but worried for Zora, who tells her again and again she is nothing without her. Tuesday tries to put the bird off her mother’s sake, telling it long stories like Scheherazade to avoid the inevitable, and they become friends. They rap, smoke weed, and talk about life and death. Zora’s horrified and determined to kill the bird, but it’s harder than she thinks, so she eats it, the turning point in this strikingly original, high-minded, frankly eccentric fable. We expect Dreyfus to make stories that make us think! Everything changes and nothing does. Gripping, and incisive, it hurts and illuminates as it entertains, gorgeous and horrific. It’s love.  Theatres.



Isla Fisher and Greg Kinnear are a married couple at a crossroads in The Present. They’ve decided to separate but haven’t told their three children. They’re most concerned about the youngest, Taylor (Easton Rocket Sweda) who is extraordinarily gifted but he can’t or won’t speak, communicates through a tablet, and will not be touched. He’s prone to do unsafe things and is repeatedly warned not to leave the house alone. The children react badly when they’re told about the separation and each hatches a plan to stop it from happening. Taylor’s is brilliant, of course, and involves following his mother to the gym where she teaches a fitness class and breaking up her friendship with a young man. It involves almonds and stealth; she catches a glimpse of him and runs after him but he eludes her.  One day the family receives the gift of an antique grandfather clock which Taylor claims.. This is where the film’s magical elements come into full flower. He harnesses the clock’s supernatural energy to turn back time to fix what was broken between his parents.  It’s an unusual film, filled with love and joy and the impulse to make things better, acknowledges there are magic moments in our lives that we must recognise and look for, and help others find theirs. It’s a power for good here, gentle and child-friendly. A family film with intelligence and a keen sense of fun that looks at the interior lives of children with special conditions in a loving, informed way.   In select theatres.



Prime Video’s excellent sports doc Power of the Dream, surprised me. I’m not a sports fan but aware of the newsworthiness of the US Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA).  The doc follows the teams’ contributions to sport, culture, politics, and social action, unthinkable a few short years ago, and became cultural leaders.  The players, predominantly Black, and gay, have championed causes that directly affect and move them, including women’s, LGBTQ2, Black rights, police violence and racism, mental health, and progressive causes with an emphasis on voting.  Interviews with 4-time WNBA Champion Sue Bird, retired WNBA star Angel McCoughtry, Layshia Clarendon of the Los Angeles Sparks, Elizabeth Williams of the Chicago Sky, and Nneka Ogwumike of the Seattle Storm, and sports reporters Jemele Hill and Holly Row detail and highlight the 12 team League’s growth and remarkable influence. It also addresses economic misogyny; NBA players earned millions while the WNBA earned around $30k. No more. The women fixed that. One of their earliest obstacles was owner, extreme right-wing Trump supporter Kelly Loeffler who attempted to quash the social justice efforts. She ordered them to stop wearing Ts on the court with the names of Blacks murdered by police; they persisted.  The shirts became a social movement and helped turn the tables against Loeffler in her bid for Senate in favour of previously little-known Rev. Raphael Warnock. So many positive goals reached, and so much good done, these women are moving mountains, attracting followers and record-breaking TV audiences.  And then Cailtin Clark shows up!  June 18.



Kidnapped: The Abduction of Edgardo Mortara tells the story of an Italian family ripped apart by the policies of Pope King Pope Pius IX in Bologna, Italy in 1858.  Edgardo (Enea Sala), a Jewish boy, one of eight Mortara children is wrested from them one night by Vatican officers without explanation and while his father is absent. Egdardo’s taken to a school in Rome where he is to live and become a Christian.  His parents aren’t told but when he was a baby, a Catholic nurse secretly baptised him when he was ill; according to RC statutes, the boy must fulfill his obligation to the Church and the Church to him, so they will force it. It was lawful as the Church was the government in 1858. Pope Pius IX (Paolo Pierobon) had a special interest in the case, so his will was carried out. It plays out against the backdrop of the Pope-run State and its growing unpopularity. The Church’s centuries-old system giving it absolute power is overthrown in favor as the new Italian Kingdom.  Edgardo as an adult (Leonardo Maltese) remained traumatised and torn between the faiths. Writer-director Marco Bellocchio’s version of the story is melodramatic and coercive, with a telegraphing score, crammed with weeping violins and scenes of crying and wailing. It’s a solid, emotionally powerful story on its own without these distracting and decorations. Also stars Fabrizio Gifuni, Fausto Russo Alesi, and Barbara Ronchi.  In theatres.



We think crime is out of control in some vicinities, but take a look at a fictional Belfast slum in BritBox’ police series Blue Lights. Now that’s a tough place. Police endanger their lives entering, based on historic and deep, generational mistrust. Residents gather in throngs openly to hurl bricks and abuse at them. There’s not much the law can do to tame the place; the people are impoverished and angry with no means of getting out of the trap the place has become.  Idealistic police recruits Grace (Sian Brooke) a former social worker, Annie (Katherine Devlin) a rebel, and Tommy (Nathan Braniff) who is unsure of himself, are thrust into the place on their first day in a baptism by fire. Grace advises a woman in distress who married into a criminal drug organisation, but is disciplined for it. Annie’s badly injured by a brick in the face and Tommy is freaked out, useless. The residents know Irish law well and how far they can go, and veteran police are amused by the newbies’ shock.  And something is going on with gang leader James (John Lynch), who calls off the throng; we don’t know why. Lynch puts in a strong performance that appears to find a hardened criminal at a turning point. Back at the station the newbies are bullied and browbeaten and there is no support.  And they’re being surveilled by “sneakies” or undercover cops. Which all begs the question – how much can they take?  Well, buckle up – it’s a ride!   Blue Lights S1 premieres June 15.



Hope in the Water, a three-part docuseries on PBS starting June 19 looks at the growing trend towards aquaculture. The ocean’s fish are being depleted at the fastest rate in history and keeping the waters clean becomes increasingly difficult. David E. Kelly produced the series of three episodes. The first A Fish in the Sea hosted by Journalist Baratunde Thurston takes us to a sustainable diamondback squid fishery in Puerto Rico, created following the devastation of Hurricane Maria in 2017. The third, Changing the Menu, July 3 featuring Shailene Woodley explores sustainable eating from the ocean. She’s in Santa Barbara with divers who market unwanted “zombie” urchins as a nutritious and delicious delicacy.  Martha Stewart helms the second episode Farming the Water June 26 with aquaculture creatives off the coast of Maine as they take new looks at shellfish. Stewart, a shellfish enthusiast, discovers many ways around the world people are thinking outside the shell. A young man in Minnesota is farming shrimp! He’s created a warm saltwater hatchery, learning as he goes with help from an expert in Vietnam who began the “farming” of fish and got the word out. Shellfish are popular but storms in the Gulf have decimated the supply. So, the trend toward landlocked fish and shellfish farming grows. And we visit an indigenous man in Alaska who farms nutritious and versatile kelp from the ocean, and seeds it.  His goal is to let the world know that kelp is a sustainable food with many surprising qualities, nutritional benefits and uses. These are extraordinary ideas and much needed as we keep straining our resources. There is hope.


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