Courageous Women, Aging Men and Angry Birds

Judith Ivey, left, and Claire Foy are part of a great ensemble cast in director Sarah Polley’s new film, Women Talking. Photo by Michael Gibson, courtesy of Orion Pictures.


By Glenn McDonald

Every other week, our Movie Night! column previews the best upcoming films showing in Chapel Hill theaters – for those who still like to go out to the movies. While COVID remains an issue, all local venues have taken measures to make their spaces safe. Also please remember that bookings and schedules change all the time, so always check online before heading out.

Women Talking

Opening January 27 at the Chelsea and Silverspot

Just this week nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award, director Sarah Polley’s acclaimed drama Women Talking has finally made it to local theaters. Technically released last year, it’s one of those must-see movies this year.

Based on the Miriam Toews novel—which was, in turn, based on actual events—the film follows a group of women in a Bolivian Mennonite community who must make a decision about the male abusers in their ultraconservative and repressive patriarchal community.

The formidable ensemble cast features Rooney Mara, Claire Foy, Judith Ivey and the great Frances McDormand, who is so consistently brilliant that we should all be paying some sort of yearly retainer fee.

But the real appeal, for my moviegoing dollar, is director Sarah Polley, the Canadian actress-turned-filmmaker known for her 2012 memoir/documentary Stories We Tell and the pitch-perfect drama Take This Waltz. Polley’s films always feel fearless in a way that’s hard to describe. She tells the truth.


Opening January 27 at the Chelsea and Silverspot

Has this ever happened to you? You watch a film then have the thought afterward: “I was meant to see this movie today.” It happens to me all the time, and while I suspect there’s something Jungian behind it all, I’ve chosen to take these encounters as omens.

My latest experience with this phenomenon came with the new British import Living, starring the great English actor Bill Nighy. The gist: A 1950s London bureaucrat has an existential epiphany and rethinks his whole life at the 11th hour.

Plenty of people are likely to get that meant-to-see-this feeling. The film’s themes are ancient and universal: It’s carpe diem, essentially, and the film is so well-told and lovely to look at that you may feel a dramatic renewal of purpose. Highly recommended. Bonus trivia: Living just earned Nighy his first Academy Award nomination for Best Actor.

Quick Picks:

Silverspot’s Flashback Cinema series will feature Alfred Hitchcock’s classic avian cautionary tale The Birds, Jan. 29 and Feb. 1. Then it’s Doris Day and Rock Hudson in Pillow Talk, Feb. 5 and 8.

If you have yet to see the wild multiverse adventure Everything Everywhere All at Once—the big winner in this week’s Oscar nominations—the Lumina is putting the film back in rotation starting this Thursday, Jan. 26. Silverspot, too.

An unlikely commercial and critical success, the sci-fi horror film M3GAN is still playing at Silverspot and the Varsity Theatre. It’s kind of a genius movie, really. The film combines three stalwart tropes of the scary movie genre: robots, dolls and spooky little girls. Can’t miss!

If you’re in the mood for extreme horror, dark satire and/or exploding class rage, Infinity Pool is an eat-the-rich style commentary on terminal-stage capitalism, starring Alexander Skarsgård, Mia Goth. Opening Thursday, Jan. 26, at Silverspot.

Glenn McDonald is a Chapel Hill freelance writer and contributing film critic with Indy Week.

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