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Up To Date

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' December 7-9

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Tom Volf's 'Maria by Callas' offers the rise-and-fall story of the late opera star Maria Callas.

Whether you're looking for relief from intense Christmas gift-buying or you're seeking escape from all the things you have yet to get done, this weekend's recommendations from Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary Film Critics should offer some respite. Consider the luxe life of a Greek-American opera goddess, give thanks your life of letters isn't built on a fraud, or get caught up with an officer manning an emergency dispatch line. Either way, make a break for it while they're still showing on area screens.

Cynthia Haines

"Can You Ever Forgive Me?" R

  • Lee Israel made her fame profiling celebrities. When her unconquerable writer's block and her alcoholic tendencies leave her broke, she does what she knows best. This time, though, her thoughtfully crafted stories about the famous are made up.

"The Guilty," R

  • This Danish thriller takes you on a journey while never leaving a single room. After a demoted police officer gets a frightened phone call from a supposed kidnapping victim,  he watches the investigation unfold from the side lines.

"Border," R

  • A cynical Swedish romance rooted in Nordic lore that is unike anything you will see this year. Its supernatural elements and startling plot line pale next to the real stand-outs of the film, the complex and irresistable characters.

Steve Walker

"At Eternity's Gate," PG-13

  • Artist and filmmaker Julian Schnabel is at this helm of this vivid, picturesque biopic of Vincent Van Gogh, played by a ravaged-looking Willem Dafoe.

"Maria by Callas: In Her Own Words," PG

  • One of the opera world's most dramatic and demonstrative singers both on stage and off, Callas is captured in Tom Volf's documentary in interviews and home movies, as well as performing some of her greatest roles.

"The Guilty," R

  • Denmark's Academy Award submission for Best Foreign Film is an intense drama set in the emergency call center of the Copenhagen police department where one caller's plea of "help me" compels an officer to connect the details of what seems to be a horrific crime in progress.
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.
The Kansas City region has long been a place where different ways of life collide. I tell the stories of people living and working where race, culture and ethnicity intersect. I examine racial equity and disparity, highlight the area's ethnic groups and communities of color, and invite all of Kansas City to explore meaningful ways to bond with and embrace cultures different from their own. Email me at luke@kcur.org.