There are no new wide releases this week and no new significant expansions of limited releases, so unless you live in New York or Los Angeles, this is a good weekend to stay home or to catch up on some of the flurry of films you may have missed. If you’re lucky enough to live near a theater that is playing A Separation, however, by all means do yourself a favor and check it out.

If none of these are near you, be sure to check out the Now Playing page for popular and/or recommended movies among the current releases.

  • A Separation At once a specifically Iranian film, but also a film that would be great at any time from any place, Asghar Farhadi’s A Separation is a powerful look at morality and culture in the shifting sands between traditional and modern, religious and secular, male and female, middle and lower class and finally between generations. At the intersection of all of these dramatic threads, an Iranian couple decides to separate. The ramifications of their decision have effects that ripple outward and return amplified as circumstances and consequences overlap and become ever more complex. Throughout it all, no character is ever completely guilty yet neither are they entirely blameless. It’s not a story about right and wrong, it’s about navigating the spaces in between in an increasingly diverse and conflicted modern Iran. As complicated as it becomes, A Separation returns in the end to where it began and the simple but heartbreaking truth of a couple breaking up and a young girl having to choose between them. Always subtle, never overstated, A Separation is one of those wonderful films that quietly floors you and leaves you thinking about it for weeks afterward. Be sure to check out the LiC interview with writer/director Asghar Farhadi. (Limited)

  • Pariah Writer/director Dee Rees’ Sundance hit is a refreshingly honest and real coming-of-age drama about a young black woman whose ordinary teen problems of school and family and sex are complicated by the fact she is secretly a lesbian. Newcomer Adepero Oduye gives a terrific performance as Alike, the intelligent and creative young woman who is still learning to navigate the complex emotional terrain of becoming an adult. Though drawn from very specific time, place and circumstance, Alike’s challenges have a universality to them and speak to anyone who remembers struggling to find themselves, let alone be themselves. (Limited)
  • The Iron Lady Bioscarphy. Noun. A film about a famous person which fails to illuminate its subject and only gets made to win Oscars. Example: The Iron Lady. Adding nothing new to what we already know about Margaret Thatcher, failing to humanize her in any significant way and refusing even to take sides on the controversial conservative Prime Minister, the only possible reason for The Iron Lady to exist is as a play for an Oscar for Meryl Streep. Streep’s performance technically is wonderful to watch, but sadly she’s saddled with a dull-witted script that keeps her characterization from ever feeling like anything more than just that. If you love Meryl Streep and you especially love her showier performances, then by all means have fun with The Iron Lady, but don’t go in expecting anything more than that. (Limited)

3 Responses to “A quiet movie New Year”

  1. I will be seeing EXTREMELY LOUD and PARIAH this evening in Manhattan with Lucille. On Sunday night I have THE IRON LADY lined up.

    As far as your third five-star rating of 2011 (I believe THE TREE OF LIFE and PINA are the other two) it’s fully warranted, as this powerful drama (A SEPARATION) is surely one of the three or four best films of the year. The Region 2 DVD has been out a few weeks now, so I watched it several days ago, being impatient for today’s Film Forum opening.

  2. Seeing Iron Lady today. Another one that I’m not particularly interested in, even though I like Meryl Streep, but my friends want to see it sooo…majority rules.

  3. I’ve got A Separation heading my way via UK Amazon. You and Sam have me excited about seeing it.

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