Alt cinema picks just for you!

When I'm feeling the itch to escape the burbs and need access to some insta-culture, I often choose to drive into town to a fabulous little theater that specializes in independent films (River Oaks Theatre for any locals). It's a bit of a drive, but, as a bonus, the shopping center also boasts one of the BEST macaron bakeries in town -- so there's THAT.

Here's two films I can whole heartedly recommend:


Several months ago (as in five) I saw Fill the Void, a film about an Orthodox Hassidic family from Tel Aviv. The narrative focuses primarily on the women, particularly an 18 year old girl who is considering marriage within an extremely conservative and duty-bound culture. The story is interesting, but the insight into Hassidic culture is spectacular. The clothes, the food, the rules -- all of it made for an anxious and beautiful look at duty to family, personal choice, and the downright uncertainty of life. Several weeks after seeing the film I was in New York and ended up staying in Brooklyn, quite near an Hassidic neighborhood. I tried my best not to stare, but I have to admit I'm fascinated. NPR has a great review of the film (with some information on the director, Rama Burshtein) here. Available on iTunes or Amazon. [Note: This movie would be good for teens, although I suspect girls would like it more than boys.]


Just last weekend I drug my sister back downtown to see Philomena (see the trailer here).  When we arrived it was actually sold out (imagine them not holding a ticket for me!), but we persevered and waited until the later show. Guys, it was completely worth the wait. Judi Dench plays an older Irish woman whose son was put up for adoption in the early 1950s. She actually gave birth in a small convent that took in unwed mothers, charging them four years of hard labor in return for room and board. In addition, the convent adopted the babies out (for a sum) to families in America. It's all about shame, choice, forgiveness, religion, and  . . . well . . . of course the resiliency of the human spirit. Judi Dench is incredible. I'd really like to take Rebecca back to see the film, to give her a taste of what life was like for women in 1950. Be aware that there is some explicit language, although it's not used gratuitously (meaning the objects of the profanity dearly deserved the eptithets). There are also some sexual references (Philomena is very forthright about sexuality), so this would definitely be more for an older teen. And this one is still in theaters, so go forth boldly, with popcorn and junior mints!