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Puzzle; Juliet, Naked; The Wife and The Children Act are Upcoming Big-screen Gems

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Pound for pound, the most enjoyment to be had at the cinema this summer was in the art house, and in Boise, that means The Flicks. Beginning with RBG and continuing with Won't You Be My Neighbor and Three Identical Strangers, the films made up the best string of documentaries in recent memory, bar none. Another small-budget wonderment this summer has been Eighth Grade, from comedian and first-time feature film director Bo Burnham, which is still the finest word-of-mouth success of the season.

Truth be told, the chance of a big box-office or critical success at the region's megaplexes is slim to none. But fear not: The Flicks has scheduled some gems for the next few weeks while we all anxiously anticipate Oscar season.

Puzzle (opens Friday, Aug. 24) stars Kelly Macdonald in her best performance to date as a blue-collar housewife who is much more than her life's pieces. It's a modest, tender film.

Juliet, Naked (opens Friday, Aug. 31) features the talented trio of Rose Byrne, Chris O'Dowd and Ethan Hawke, and is an easy-going charmer based on the bestseller from Nick Hornby (About a Boy). Byrne is that rare actress, equally adept in drama and action (Damages, the X-Men franchise) as she is in comedy (Bridesmaids, Neighbors). Mind you, Juliet, Naked won't set the world on fire, but it's a pretty swell date night movie.

The Wife (opens Friday, Sept. 14) is already generating Oscar buzz for Glenn Close. I still think Close was robbed of a Best Actress statuette on three occasions: in 1987 (Fatal Attraction), 1988 (Dangerous Liaisons) and 2011 (Albert Nobbs). In an adaptation from Meg Wolitzer's novel of the same name, Close plays "the wife" of a Nobel Prize winner-to-be (Jonathan Pryce). Once again, she's near the top of her game, and that's always a great night at the movies.

The Children Act (opens Friday, Sept. 28) stars two-time Oscar winner Emma Thompson as an English magistrate who must hand down a ruling in an extremely controversial trial where parents are accused of refusing medical treatment for their leukemia-stricken son. Considering the same debate is raging at the Idaho Statehouse around the state's religious exemption laws, The Children Act should trigger more than a few conversations in the theater's lobby after each screening. It has been nearly a year since I saw this film at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival and I still can't wait for you to see it.

We'll be packing our bags in a few days in preparation for the movie marathon that is the Toronto International Film Festival, where we'll get our first look at the next round of films that will spill out onto local screens. In the meantime, these four diamonds in the rough might tide you over.

Related Film

Puzzle

Official Site: sonyclassics.com/puzzle

Director: Marc Turtletaub

Producer: Wren Arthur, Guy Stodel, Peter Saraf, Leah Holzer, Daniele Melia and Natalia Smirnoff

Cast: Kelly Macdonald, Irrfan Khan, David Denman, Bubba Weiler, Austin Abrams, Liv Hewson, Myrna Cabello, Helen Coxe and Lori Hammel