Under the Radar 3.5

By Sharon Weinberg

If you're looking for hidden gems, overlooked releases, or slightly forgotten films, check out the movies on this list.

  • Hearts Beat Loud


    In this delightful independent dramedy, a daughter plans to leave for college. Her father wants her to stick around and take a chance at a music career as a duo, after the two of them record a song that Spotify features on a playlist. I enjoyed the soundtrack and the realistic scenes of the songwriting process. Kiersey Clemons has a lovely voice and I hope she makes another musical themed movie.

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  • I Capture the Castle


    Based on the beloved British novel by Dodie Smith, who wrote 101 Dalmatians. Set in the 1930s, teenager Cassandra and her eccentric family live in genteel poverty in a sprawling, dilapidated castle. When the new property owners, two brothers, move nearby, her older sister Rose sets her sights on marriage. An aspiring writer, Cassandra captures it all in her journal. A different kind of love story, this is a longtime favorite book and film.

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  • Inch'Allah Dimanche


    Zouina emigrates from Algeria to France with her children to join her husband, who has been working there for 10 years. Between her husband and her overbearing mother-in-law, she has little freedom or happiness, except Sundays, when he takes his mother out all day. Then Zouina can spread her wings. Set in 1974, Yamina Benguigui used her own recollections of that time as inspiration.

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  • Jasper Jones


    Adapted from the critically acclaimed novel. Set in a small Western Australian town in 1965, a mixed-race boy comes under suspicion when a young white girl disappears. He seeks help from his classmate to solve the mystery and prove his innocence. Filmmaker Rachel Perkins is an advocate for Australian Indigenous civil rights. This is a great example of her work.

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  • Life, Above All


    After the death of her newborn sister, 12-year-old Chandra learns of a rumor spreading through the village. This causes her mother to flee in secret. Brave beyond her years and determined to beat the gossip, Chandra searches for her mother and the truth. I recommend this movie every chance I get. Khomotso Manyaka, who plays Chandra, is superb. I felt her strength and courage, every step of the way.

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  • A Little Princess


    Before Alfonso Cuaron won Oscars for Gravity and, more recently, Roma, he masterfully directed this loose adaptation of the classic children's novel by Frances Hodgson Burnett. In the book, a young girl becomes a servant in the boarding school where she once was a student. This version is fresh and inspiring for viewers of all ages.

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  • Picture Bride


    In 1918, 16-year-old Riyo travels from Japan to Hawaii to marry a man she knows only by his photo and a few letters. Filmmaker Kayo Hatta and her sister wrote the script based on interviews and written accounts from picture brides, as well as stories from both grandmothers, though they were not picture brides. Hatta's directorial debut; it received a Palme d'Or nomination at Cannes and won the Audience Award for best dramatic film at Sundance.

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  • Princess Cyd


    A coming-of-age drama, teenager Cyd, a bit out of sorts, spends a few summer weeks with her aunt, a successful author, in Chicago. Almost strangers, in small ways they change and shape one another. Cyd also meets a young woman and they pursue a romantic relationship. The film looks at personal pain, growth, and respect of differences; the script is subtle and thoughtful. Chicago-based filmmaker Stephen Cone chose filming locations that are lovely and ideal for the story.

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  • Puzzle


    Agnes, taken for granted by her family, receives a jigsaw puzzle as a gift, and discovers her talent and joy in fitting the pieces together. As she trains for an upcoming jigsaw tournament, Agnes begins to wonder about the pieces of her life that do not quite fit. Kelly MacDonald, an underappreciated actress, costars with international star Irrfan Kahn. They are perfect in this gentle movie about a woman exploring a new path.

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  • Travellers and magicians


    Tibetan/Bhutanese lama, Khyentse Norbu, creates a cinematic tapestry, weaving traditional folklore into a contemporary plot. Dondup, a young government officer, yearns to leave his remote village for the United States. Missing the bus out of town, he finds himself walking with four other people to the city Thimphu. One of his companions, a Buddhist monk, entertains the group by telling a tale about a restless farmer, whose actions seem to parallel Dondup's attitude and desires. This stunning film has a very un-Hollywood perspective.

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