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Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' August 24-26

Linda Kallerus
Sony Pictures Classics
In Marc Turtletaub's "Puzzle," Kelly Macdonald uses competitive puzzling to escape tensions at home.

Some folks go to the movies to see speeding cars and exploding buildings. Others expect wit, whimsy and a barrel of laughs. For those needing to shed a few tears, this week's recommendations from Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary Film Critics are sure to do the trick. From a taken-for-granted homemaker to a tween on the cusp of high school, emotions run high throughout the latest batch of theatrical releases.

Cynthia Haines

"Nico, 1988," R

  • Known most widely for her 1960s work with the Velvet Underground, Susanna Nicchiarelli's unusual biopic follows singer-songwriter Nico as she approaches 50 years old, deciding whether or not to leave obsurity in Manchester, England, for a European tour for her latest album.

"Puzzle," R

  • In this English-language version of a 2010 Argentinian film, Kelly Macdonald stars as Agnes, a suburban housewife who suffers ennui, boredom, and neglect at home until a new hobby — competitive puzzling — shifts her perspective.

"McQueen," R

  • A catwalk footage-heavy chronicling of Alexander McQueen's rise from a lowly teenage tailor to a tortured and inspired designer for international fashion labels like Givenchy and Gucci.

Bob Butler

"Eighth Grade," R

  • This bruising but ultimately endearing look at an awkward teenage girl's last week of eighth grade, written and directed by Bo Burnham, is both an indictment of the cruel intentions of social media and a tribute to adolescent resilience.

"Far From the Tree," not rated

  • This moving documentary, adapted from Andrew Solomon's nonfiction book by the same name, chronicles the stories of parents struggling to come to terms with children who are profoundly different from themselves.

"Scotty and the Secret History of Hollywood," not rated

  • A bawdy exposé of the closeted film community in Los Angeles in the 1950s and 60s as told by Scotty Bowers, who claims he slept with or provided lovers to many of the biggest Hollywood stars.

Steve Walker

"Far From the Tree," not rated

  • Andrew Solomon's best-selling book on how parents raise children whose abilities or identities differ from what was hoped or expected has become a moving documentary profiling several brave families whose kids fit that bill.

"Puzzle," R

  • Kelly Macdonald gives a winning performance as a housewife who finds an upcoming jigsaw puzzle championship — and the attention of her competition partner — a welcome distraction from being taken for granted by her husband and sons. 

McQueen," R

  • This documentary about the brilliant and troubled fashion designer Alexander McQueen relishes the "savage beauty" of his work: inventive, often macabre clothes he once described as "the horrors of my soul put on the runway."
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.