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Up To Date

Up To Date's Indie, Foreign & Doc Critics' 'Three To See,' December 21-23

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Carlos Somonte
/
Netflix
Alfonso Cuaron's "Roma" was available to stream on Netflix on Dec. 14, and was released in about 600 theaters worldwide a week later.

Plot lines dealing with power and privilege are featured prominently in cinema as 2018 draws to a close. But the downtrodden among us — maids, the mentally ill and addicts, for instance — are getting screen time, too. The latest recommendations from Up To Date's indie, foreign and documentary Film Critics will likewise give you a window into the lives of those at the height of their power, and those at the lowest of lows.

Cynthia Haines

"Roma," R

  • Academy Award-winning director and writer Alfonso Cuaron brings us his most emotional project to date. Drawing on his own childhood, he explores political turmoil and social strife through the narrative of a single family.

"Vice," R

  • Dick Cheney may not have been the most obvious pick for Gov. George W. Bush's running mate in the 2000 presidential election, but, as Christian Bale's performance illustrates, the former Halliburton CEO proved remarkably adept at consolidating power and influence.

"Vox Lux," R

  • Natalie Portman gives a jaw-dropping visceral performance as an unpleasant, drug-addled rock star who shot to fame 18 years prior as a teenage vocalist who survives a barbaric school shooting.

Steve Walker

"Ben is Back," R

  • Julia Roberts and Lucas Hedges are formidable as a mother and son trying to salvage their relationship during his on-again, off-again struggle with drug addiction.

"The Favourite," R

  • This delightfully vulgar, lavishly designed romp from director Yorgos Lanthimos stars Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone as ruthless ladies-in-waiting vying for the attentions of a maladjusted Queen Anne, played to the hilt by Olivia Coleman.

"Vox Lux," R

  • Natalie Portman gives a jaw-dropping, visceral performance as an unpleasant, drug-addled rock star who shot to fame 18 years prior as a teenage vocalist who survives a barbaric school shooting. 

Bob Butler

"At Eternity's Gate," PG-13

  • Willem Defoe mesmerizes as Vincent Van Gogh in this journey through the later years of the artist's life. It's not a straight-ahead biopic, but provides glimpses of experimental beauty in vision and sound.

"Vice," R

  • Adam McKay, who directed the Will Ferrell vehicles "Anchorman," "Talladega Nights," and "Step Brothers," turns his sights on the George W. Bush administration's most powerful player — Vice President Dick Cheney.

"Roma," R

  • Alfonso Cuaron's semi-autobiographical film is a loving portrait of 1970s life in one Mexico City neighborhood, of one family's transition, and of a live-in maid and nanny, played by acting neophyte Yalitza Aparicio, determined to make the best of every bad situation.
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.