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Ellen Page Is Adrift In New York City

The new Ellen Page movie makes a very limited theatrical release, as it’s also being released on Netflix. The character Ellen Page plays is a modern day hobo who discovers the joys of motherhood. Except in her case there’s a catch.

Also in limited release but without the benefit of Netflix distribution is a chilling documentary about life in North Korea. Chilling in a different way is a film following a notorious murder victim’s brother as he tries to uncover the truth about his sister’s demise.

For those burned out on reality, martial arts star Jet Li leads the cast of a special effects-laden adaptation of a famed Chinese fantasy novel.

Gleason

Documentary subject Steve Gleason was a defensive back for the New Orleans Saints. But at age 34, a diagnosis of ALS and a life expectancy of two to five years changed Gleason’s life. News that Gleason’s wife Michel was expecting their first child gave the ex-football player a new purpose in life. He started a video journal as a gift to his unborn son. But the scope of the journal eventually expanded to include Gleason’s chronicle of his determination to live as full a life as medical technologies could make possible. This film was a hit at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival.

Opens July 29 at the Embarcadero Center Cinemas

The Kind Words

Dorona, Netanel, and Shai are three Jewish Israeli siblings. After their mother dies, they learn a shocking secret. The man who raised them is not their biological father. This revelation spurs the three adult children to take a road trip from Israel to France to discover the truth about their birth father. This bittersweet comedy was nominated for a dozen Israel Film Academy Awards.

Opens July 29 at the Clay Theatre and the Smith Rafael Film Center

League of Gods

Jet Li stars in this historical fantasy epic based on the 16th century novel The Investiture of the Gods. King Zhou, supported by his concubine Daji, campaigns to conquer the Middle Kingdom. Years of slaughter have wiped out many of the Adept tribes who opposed King Zhou. Now, only Jiang and General Ji from Qishan stand in the conquering monarch’s way. Hope arrives for Jiang in the form of a divine sign that he who possesses the Sword of Light can reverse King Zhou’s fortunes.

Opens July 29 at the AMC Metreon 16 and the Century 20 Daly City

Phantom Boy

Writer/directors Alain Gagnol and Jean-Loup Felicioli (A Cat In Paris) return with a new animated noir caper. Lou is a bedridden 11-year-old boy with a big secret. He can float free from his body and explore New York City as a ghost. During his recuperation, Lou meets injured police detective Alex. The cop’s injury occurred during a failed attempt to stop a notorious gangster. Said gangster has thrown the city into chaos after seizing its power supply. Now Lou and Alex must combine their skills to save New York City from destruction.

Opens July 29 at the Opera Plaza Cinemas and the Shattuck Cinemas

Tallulah

Sian Heder, a writer-producer on Orange Is The New Black, makes her feature film debut with this comedy-drama. Tallulah aka Lu (Ellen Page) is a rootless drifter whose boyfriend Nico splits after an argument. Landing in New York City in search of Nico, Lu accidentally gets roped into being a temporary nanny for trophy wife Carolyn’s (Tammy Blanchard) baby Madison. But when Carolyn returns from her evening out totally drunk, the drifter takes Madison with her. Lu’s only hope for help is Margo (Alison Janney), Nico’s mother.

Opens July 29 at the Sundance Kabuki Cinemas

Under The Sun

One of 2016’s most disturbing documentaries has its theatrical debut. Russian director Vitaly Mansky spent a year in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. His film follows schoolgirl Zin-mi and her parents. The schoolgirl’s being groomed to join the Korean Children’s Union on Kim Jong-Il’s birthday. The preparation process involves teaching Zin-mi and her elders how to be “ideal patriots.” Despite the interference of government handlers, Mansky’s camera manages to capture far from idealized images of North Korean life.

Opens July 29 at the 4-Star Theatre

The Witness

Kitty Genovese’s murder quickly earned folk notoriety. 38 law-abiding citizens, said news reports, watched Genovese being stalked and stabbed in three attacks by the same killer. Yet these eyewitnesses did nothing to save her. Decades after the notorious killing, Genovese’s brother Bill decides to re-examine the details of the crime. And as he investigates, questions arise regarding how much of the circumstances of his sister’s death is fact and how much is a media creation.

Opens July 29 at the Roxie Theater

About the Author

I’m a film reviewer for the Beyond Chron blog. Agnes Varda and Hirokazu Kore-eda are among my favorite filmmakers. I occasionally break down and watch a good action film…but don’t tell anyone.

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