‘Antarctic Edge’ Explores How Much Hope Is Left

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Scene from the documentary "Antarctic Edge: 70  South."

Credit: Courtesy First Run Features

(WOMENSENEWS)–"Antarctic Edge: 70South," opening April 17, is an extraordinarily beautiful and important documentary about the dedicated scientists who’ve clocked the deterioration of the Antarctic ice sheet and tracked consequential climate change around the globe for the past 20 years. Filmmaker Dena Seidel had unlimited access to scientific data and personnel, both in Antarctica, where she filmed extensively and exquisitely, and at Rutgers University in New Jersey, where she heads the school’s Center for Digital Filmmaking. Seidel taps scientists’ unquenchable quest for knowledge and there’s a lot of information to absorb. More poetic than polemical, the film combines a thrilling presentation of natural wonders with amusing glimpses into the lives of the scientists. It’s a convincing call for action to save the planet; if that is still possible. "Antarctic Edge" is this week’s edgy must-see.

More April 17 Openers

"The Road Within," written and directed by Gren Wells, uses Hollywood’s road trip genre to explore the compelling frailties of three afflicted young adults. Vincent (Alex Sheehan) has Tourettes syndrome, Alex (Dev Patel) suffers from OCD and Marie (Zoe Kravitz) is anorexic. In their cross-country escape from a live-in care facility the trio face big challenges, learns to cope and bond. Performances are appealing and the film establishes the important premise that people with such afflictions want to lead normal lives. But it’s thick with clichés. The script mixes pathos and comedy in a way that doesn’t always work.

"Felix and Meira," set in Montreal, Canada, is a beautiful and heartbreaking drama about a young Hassidic wife who’s trapped in traditions that limit her freedom to explore her own curiosities, desires and life force. She meets and falls in love with a man who is an outsider. Director and co-writer Maxime Giroux unveils the story of their romance and its consequences with exquisite sensitivity. Hadas Yaron is flawless as Meira. In French and Yiddish, with English subtitles.

"Alex of Venice" is a drama starring Mary Elizabeth Winstead as a woman who’s taking a second chance at love (and sex) after her stay-at-home husband (Chris Messina, who also directed) leaves her and their young son because she is too committed to her work. Written by Jessica Goldberg and Katie Nehra (who also appears in the film), the story and dialogue are engaging and the premise challenges gender role stereotyping. Winstead and the ensemble, including Derek Luke and Don Johnson, are terrific. All in all, "Alex of Venice" is a lovely film.

"Monkey Kingdom," a Disney nature documentary directed by Mark Linfield and Alastair Fothergill, follows a female monkey as she struggles to protect her newborn infant from the dangers of the Sri Lankan jungle and even greater threats when she and the youngster must move into an urban habitat. There are also challenges from other monkeys in her hierarchical family or clan, known as the Temple Troop. Monkeys are mommies, too. And, while I usually distrust anthropomorphism in animal documentaries, this film is unabashedly femme-centric and its central characters will capture your heart. The cinematography is also a feast for your eyes.

Stay tuned for more April openers next week.

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