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SINGERS AND PENGUINS AND FAITH — OH MY!

  

For Hicksflicks.com, Friday, April 19, 2019

It’s a rare mix of films opening in local movie theaters this weekend — two G-rated pictures and two more rated PG (at a time when two in a year with those ratings is rare), along with three musicals! Yes, it’s another slow week of independent productions in advance of the “Avengers” mega-movie event that arrives next weekend.

“Penguins” (G). Ed Helms narrates the latest of Disneynature’s annual  Earth Day documentaries, this one following an Adélie penguin named Steve that joins millions of fellow males in the Antarctic spring quest to build a suitable nest, find a life partner and start a family, none of which comes easily.

“Breakthrough” (PG). Emmy-winner Chrissy Metz (“This Is Us”) stars as Joyce Smith in this true story of the devout Christian mother’s efforts to entreat God to save her teenage son after he falls though the ice on a frozen lake, is trapped underwater for 15 minutes and is thought to be dead before starting to breathe and slipping into a coma. With Josh Lucas, Topher Grace and Dennis Haysbert.

“Twice the Dream” (PG). Utah native Savannah Ostler stars in, wrote and directed this locally filmed musical drama about two sisters pursuing a dream as pop singers until tragedy strikes and derails their ambitions. Ostler and Monica Moore Smith (“Saturday’s Warrior”) play the sisters.

  

“Amazing Grace” (G). Composer Alan Elliott recently finished this documentary, which was begun by the late filmmaker Sydney Pollack in 1972 after two nights of recording Aretha Franklin’s stirring concert with a choir at the New Bethel Baptist Church in Los Angeles. Franklin’s 1972 “Amazing Grace” recording became the best-selling gospel album of all time and remains her best-selling work. (Exclusively at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.)

“Stuck” (PG-13). When a Manhattan subway train suddenly stops in a tunnel beneath the city, six strangers, a disparate cross-section of New Yorkers, eventually begin expressing their hopes, woes and despair over societal ills — by singing about them. Based on a stage musical, with an ensemble cast led by Giancarlo Esposito, Amy Madigan and Ashanti. (Exclusively at the Megaplex Gateway Theater.)

“Teen Spirit” (PG-13). A shy teenager (Elle Fanning) living in Europe with dreams of becoming a pop-singing star to escape her dismal surroundings and shattered family life thinks she’s found the solution when she enters an international singing competition. With Rebecca Hall.

  

“Little Woods” (Not Rated). Sisters Ollie (Tessa Thompson) and Deb (Lily James) live in a North Dakota oil-boom town where Ollie risks prison to keep her sister and nephew afloat by dealing prescription drugs obtained in Canada in this hardscrabble melodrama. (Exclusively at the Tower Theater.)

“The Curse of La Llorona” (R). A widowed social worker (Linda Cardellini) is raising her two children in Los Angeles during the 1970s when she takes on a case with striking similarities to supernatural occurrences that haunt her own family. With Raymond Cruz.

“High Life” (R). French filmmaker Claire Denis wrote and directed this eccentric sci-fi thriller about a group of criminals sentenced to death who are sent into space to extract energy from a black hole. Meanwhile, the ship’s doctor (Juliette Binoche) is obsessed with creating a child in space through artificial insemination. With Robert Pattinson. (Exclusively at the Broadway Centre Cinemas.)