Film Reviews
"Beginning"

Webster University’s four-film program titled “The Best of What You Missed” runs Thursday, September 2 through Sunday, September 5 with a different offering each night. In order, they are: “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection,” “Beginning,” “First Cow,” and “Soul.” Collectively they present impressive thematic and technical achievements of quite different styles and content.

Thursday at 7:30 “This Is Not a Burial, It’s a Resurrection” screens. Set in the Lesotho village Nasaretha, eighty-year old Mantoa opposes a dam that will flood the area, including ancestors’ cemetery. Entertaining edifying dreams, this strong widow leads her community in tributes to traditional practices, intensified by rumbling sound and gorgeous art direction with lighting reminiscent of Rembrandt.

Friday at 7:30 the Georgian film “Beginning” moves at a glacial but hypnotic pace. After a Jehovah’s Witnesses church is firebombed, terrifying events follow for Yana, preacher David’s wife, a survivor of physical violence and emotional trauma. Aesthetically stunning, unbearable tension mounts as an isolated Yana reassesses her identity as a woman with truly transformative results.   

Saturday, September 4, “First Cow” explores the harsh 1820s Oregon frontier through Cookie, formerly a chef indentured to trappers, and Chinese immigrant King Lu. They forge a risky business partnership stealing milk nightly from the area’s only cow. This thoroughly absorbing tale captures the look and feel of nineteenth century America with barely suppressed violence ready to erupt at any moment, action building from a restrained tension to outright confrontation.

Sunday Pixar’s crowd-pleasing, totally enchanting, animated feature “Soul” screens at 7:00 p.m. Philosophically playful and poignant, the story scrutinizes pianist, middle-school teacher Joe Gardner as he searches for his passion in the Great Before where he lands on his way to the Great Beyond. There, each soul gains passage to Earth only by discovering their purpose in life. It’s easy to find our joy through Jon Batiste’s energetic jazz, the vital essence that Joe discovers.

With English subtitles as needed, all four films screen at Webster University’s Winifred Moore auditorium. For more information, you may visit Webster’s film series website.

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