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AR­RIVAL

Rising di­rec­tor De­nis Vil­leneuve, adapt­ing Ted Chi­ang’s story about large space­crafts that have landed all over Earth, of­fers a quiet thriller that plays like an art­house ver­sion of Close En­coun­ters of the Third Kind. Amy Adams stars as a bril­liant lin­guist who, along with a physi­cist (Jeremy Ren­ner), is charged by an Army colonel (For­est Whi­taker) to com­mu­ni­cate with the aliens. This the­mat­i­cally rich story un­folds slowly, of­ten with­out mu­sic, but never feels slow. It of­fers philo­soph­i­cal ques­tions about how we ex­pe­ri­ence life and em­pha­sizes the im­por­tance of lan­guage and to­geth­er­ness — the story’s big­gest bar­ri­ers are not be­tween peo­ple and aliens but be­tween Earth’s na­tions. Ex­pect a few big plot twists, which not only daz­zle you with their clev­er­ness but also add re­newed emo­tional heft to ev­ery­thing that has come be­fore. Rated PG-13. 116 min­utes. Vi­o­let Crown. (Robert Ker)

THE BEST WORST THING THAT EVER COULD HAVE HAP­PENED

Though revered by afi­ciona­dos, Stephen Sond­heim’s mu­si­cal Mer­rily We Roll Along was a flop at its 1981 Broad­way premiere, limp­ing through just 16 per­for­mances. Its con­cept — trac­ing the lives of mid­dle-aged adults back­ward to when they were ide­al­is­tic young­sters — proved un­wieldy on stage. Be­ing in the show was a dream come true for the orig­i­nal cast mem­bers, who were all aged six­teen to twenty-five, and its fail­ure im­pacted them pro­foundly. Among them was Lonny Price, di­rec­tor of this deeply mov­ing doc­u­men­tary, which pro­vides glimpses of cast mem­bers from archival films from 1981 and vis­its some of them 35 years later, when they pon­der the ex­pe­ri­ence with wis­dom born of age and ex­pe­ri­ence. Not rated. 95 min­utes. Cen­ter for Con­tem­po­rary Arts. (James M. Keller)

THE BRAND NEW TES­TA­MENT

God is not dead. Although some­times He must wish He were. In Bel­gian di­rec­tor Jaco Van Dor­mael’s hi­lar­i­ously im­pi­ous vi­sion, God runs the world from a com­puter in Brus­sels. God (Benoît Poelvo­orde) is an ill-tem­pered, sadis­tic slob who spends the day in His bathrobe, emerg­ing from His of­fice for meals at which He ter­ror­izes His wife (Yolande Moreau) and daugh­ter Ea (Pili Groyne). God’s big hold over hu­man­ity is know­ing the dates of our deaths. So when Ea fi­nally rebels against her fa­ther’s tyranny, she breaks into His of­fice and trig­gers a pro­gram that sends a text mes­sage to ev­ery­one on Earth, telling them how long they have left to live. Van Dor­mael’s hu­mor is cheeky and ir­rev­er­ent, and he piles on the gags with the aban­don of a Cre­ator with a new uni­verse to play with. Sketch hu­mor is hard to sus­tain over fea­ture length, but Van Dor­mael al­ways man­ages to pick it up again af­ter a lull. Un­der­neath it all is a darkly comic philo­soph­i­cal point of view. Not rated. 112 min­utes. In French with sub­ti­tles. The Screen. (Jonathan Richards)

THE EA­GLE HUNTRESS

Train­ing golden ea­gles to aid the Kazakh hunters of Mon­go­lia has been a tra­di­tional skill, handed down from fa­ther to son, for gen­er­a­tions. The Ea­gle

Huntress tells the dra­matic story of one girl, thir­teen-year-old Aishol­pan Nur­gaiv, who trains with her fa­ther to be the first fe­male ea­gle hunter in her fam­ily. This mov­ing doc­u­men­tary by di­rec­tor Otto Bell, nar­rated by Daisy Ri­d­ley, bal­ances a por­trait of Kazakh fam­ily life and cul­ture with breath­tak­ing aerial footage of the Al­tai Moun­tains by cin­e­matog­ra­pher Si­mon Ni­blett. Aishol­pan in­hab­its a harsh, un­for­giv­ing ter­rain, where the Kaza­khs live in sym­bi­otic re­la­tion­ship with their en­vi­ron­ment and hunt out of ne­ces­sity. An in­ti­mate look at the

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