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Octavia Spencer Shows Mad Engineering Skillz

2016 ends with a light weekend for new art film movie openings. The most high-profile opening shows Octavia Spencer displaying her character’s engineering skills. She, Taraji P. Henson, and Janelle Monae play women involved in the Space Race whose ambitions clash with societal racism and sexism.

The Roxie’s programming offers interesting films not starring Octavia Spencer. There’s a documentary about forgiveness in the face of Islamophobic hate. Or one can see Andre Royo as an ex-con going into the refrigerator disposal business.

Here’s hoping your next year of films is an enjoyable one!

An Eye For An Eye

Avowed Islamophobe Mark Stroman dedicated himself after 9/11 to “hunting Arabs.” He succeeded in killing two immigrant convenience store clerks and partially blinding a third, Rais Bhuiyan. Fortunately, the police arrested Stroman before he could massacre Muslim worshippers at a Dallas mosque. Stroman was sentenced to death in 2002. Ilan Ziv’s film captures the contradictions of the killer’s life up to his execution. These contradictions include Stroman’s eventual renouncing his Islamophobia and Bhuiyan’s efforts to fight for Stroman’s life.

Opens December 30 at the Roxie Theater

Hidden Figures

It’s 1961. The Space Race is on, and workplace racism and sexism is commonplace. For Katherine Goble (Taraji P. Henson), Mary Jackson (Janelle Monae), and Dorothy Vaughan (Octavia Spencer), these STEM-talented women are relegated to doing data entry jobs at NASA headquarters. When Goble, Jackson, and Vaughan get recruited for NASA’s push to send the first man into outer space, a chance to pursue their ambitions opens up. But it would take their own determination and some lucky breaks to help propel their careers and even ensure that John Glenn made history. Based on Margot Lee Shetterly’s nonfiction book.

Opens December 30 at the AMC Metreon 16

Hunter Gatherer

Recent parolee Ashley Douglas (Andre Royo, The Wire) has returned to his old neighborhood. But Ashley soon finds that everyone he knew has moved on or forgotten his existence. The now lonely ex-con befriends fellow loner Jeremy and embarks on a “business” of dumping unwanted refrigerators for cash. But when reality rudely sets in, the duo will have to do something desperate. Royo won a Best Actor award at SXSW for his performance.

Opens December 30 at the Roxie Theater

Long Way North

This French animated adventure begins in 19th century St. Petersburg. Sacha, a daughter of the Russian aristocracy, shares her grandfather Oloukine’s love of exploration. Sacha’s parents, on the other hand, expect her to get married. But when Oloukine fails to return from an expedition to conquer the North Pole, Sacha runs away from home and sets out for the Great North to find her missing grandfather.

Opens December 30 at the Roxie Theater

Vince & Kath & James

Jenny Ruth Almocera’s online romance series gets a film adaptation. Vince has never worked up the nerve to tell fellow engineering student Kath of his feelings for her. James, a varsity basketball player who’s also Vince’s cousin, offers to serve as his wingman by posing as Kath’s secret text message admirer Var. But while working together on an engineering internship, Kath starts feeling Vince acts more like the Var of the messages than the boy claiming to be Var.

Opens December 30 at the Century at Tanforan

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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