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Up To Date

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' March 23-25

Sony Pictures Classics
Daniela Vega plays a transgender singer struggling to cope with the death of a partner in Sebastián Lelio's 'A Fantastic Woman.'"

If you're not one of the college basketball fans focused on NCAA tournament games this weekend, take to your local theater for moving pictures with equal drama but fewer sweaty athletes. Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary Film Critics have plenty to recommend, including stories of a love lost too soon, potty-mouth party leaders and the most beautiful woman in the world.

Bob Butler

"A Fantastic Woman," R

  • A transgender nightclub singer, played by Daniela Vega, a transgender performer herself, faces grief, discrimination and exclusion after the sudden death of her boyfriend.

"The Death of Stalin," R

  • In this political satire starring Steve Buscemi as Nikita Khrushchev, chaos erupts among Moscow's desperate leaders when Joseph Stalin dies unexpectedly, leaving room for a new figurehead.

"The Party," R

  • In this all-star ensemble comedy starring Patricia Clarkson, Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, and Cherry Jones, an intimate dinner party slowly devolves into arguments, revelations and a pointed gun.

Cynthia Haines

"Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story," Not rated

  • You likely remember her as a glamorous Hollywood it-girl, but this documentary, written and directed by journalist Alexandra Dean, also explores the innovative and inventive legacy of "the most beautiful woman in the world," as she was often billed.

"A Fantastic Woman," R

  • In this drama directed by Sebastián Lelio, Daniela Vega plays a transgender waitress who, after the unexpected death of her older lover, struggles for the right to mourn in the face of prejudice from his family and friends.

"The Death of Stalin," R

  • Power-hungry political figures fight for control after Joseph Stalin falls dead in this sharp comedy featuring Steve Buscemi and Jeffrey Tambor.

Steve Walker

"The Death of Stalin," R

  • The political satirist responsible for "Veep" and "In the Loop," Armando Iannucci, is at the helm of this morbidly entertaining comedy about Stalin's underlings jockeying for position after the leader's inconvenient, messy demise.

"Madame," TV-14

  • Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette play American sophisticates living in Paris who suffer the consequences of their culturally tone-deaf decision to pose their maid as an exotic addition to a dinner party.

"A Fantastic Woman," R

  • This year's Oscar-winner for Best Foreign Language Film is a moving melodrama from Chile that stars transgender actress Daniela Vega as a nightclub singer shunned and shamed by the survivors of her lover, who dies after one of their trysts.
Since 1998, Steve Walker has contributed stories and interviews about theater, visual arts, and music as an arts reporter at KCUR. He's also one of Up to Date's regular trio of critics who discuss the latest in art, independent and documentary films playing on area screens.
As culture editor, I oversee KCUR’s coverage of race, culture, the arts, food and sports. I work with reporters to make sure our stories reflect the fullest view of the place we call home, so listeners and readers feel primed to explore the places, projects and people who make up a vibrant Kansas City. Email me at luke@kcur.org.