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Stream it on Netflix.

There is a beautifully elastic quality to Rodrigo García’s “Familia,” which follows the myriad members of a Mexican family across a day spent together at their house in the countryside. The story is nothing new. The patriarch, Leo (Daniel Giménez Cacho), wants to sell the estate and retire from the job he has held for most of his life. The proposition unleashes currents of raw emotion at the dinner table, as his children (three daughters and one son) and grandchildren, not to mention their various partners and spouses, reckon with their family home and with each other.

Leo’s children embody familiar types: the successful, uptight doctor; the lost, black sheep writer whose marriage is falling apart; the lesbian wild child who loves to provoke. There are jokes and jabs, screaming matches and quiet tears. But everything moves so fluidly in the film — the camera weaves in and around characters like a dancer, and the actors turn in wonderfully unvarnished performances — that not for a second does it feel trite. The unpredictable shifts from rancor to resentment to tenderness feel natural, and in lieu of any pat resolutions, “Familia” leaves us with the bittersweet fact that love and loss go hand in hand.

Stream it on Netflix.

In Kiran Rao’s charming small-town comedy, a man disembarks a train with someone else’s bride by accident, prompting great chaos. The premise of “Laapataa Ladies” may sound ridiculous on paper, but each detail, as it unfolds, is entirely plausible and reveals a lot about the violence — and absurdity — of patriarchal customs in rural India. As it happens, Deepak (Sparsh Srivastav) and Phool (Nitanshi Goel) are married on a day considered auspicious for weddings, so when they board the train, there are three other newlywed couples in their coach. Plus, all three brides are wearing identical red wedding veils that completely cover their faces, per tradition.

So when Deepak drowsily grabs one of the women’s hands to leave in the middle of the night, it’s not until much later that he realizes that Phool is still asleep on the train, and he has brought home a stranger, Pushpa Rani (Pratibha Ranta). Then an elaborate game begins: Deepak enlists the local (and corrupt) police to find Phool and send back Pushpa Rani; his wife, having landed up in some other town, tries to find her way back to a man and a marital home she knows nothing about; and Pushpa Rani sets in motion a curious plot of her own, whose contours slowly emerge over the course of the movie. In the guise of a funny, suspenseful and crowd-pleasing caper, Rao delivers a scathing critique of misogynistic traditions.

Stream it on Film Movement Plus; rent it on Amazon.

Timely and incredibly gutting, “Alam,” set in a Palestinian village under Israeli occupation, offers a beautifully etched portrait of what it’s like to grow up amid the debris of your ancestor’s dreams. In large part, Firas Khoury’s film plays out like any other high school drama. Tamer (Mahmood Bakri) and his gang of friends go around smoking joints, flirting with girls and trying to skip class. But their disaffection is not just born of your typical adolescent angst. Israeli flags fly over their school buildings, soldiers and settlers menacingly patrol their village, portraits of displaced and martyred family members cover walls and their textbooks offer versions of their lived history they know to be untrue.

The hopelessness and frustration roiling around them comes to a head as May 14, the anniversary of the Nakba, draws closer, and the boys hatch a plan to hoist the Palestinian flag over their school. It’s an act of teenage mischief but also one of resistance, and it becomes, for Tamer, a stark confrontation with the reality of his bereaved community; and for Khoury, an opportunity to explore the life-or-death stakes often underlying the everyday experiences of Palestinians.

Stream it on Ovid.

Following a group of high-schoolers on the cusp of graduation in Ukraine, “Stop-Zemlia” is one those rare films that understands its teenage characters, neither infantilizing nor sensationalizing their lives and concerns. The film revolves around the quiet and thoughtful Masha (Maria Fedorchenko) and her two best friends, Senia (Arsenii Markov) and Yana (Yana Isaienko), as they go to class, attend parties and have sleepovers. There is no real conflict in the film per se: There are small skirmishes among classmates, discreet crushes and plenty of confused sexual exploration, but it’s all portrayed with an empathetic gentleness — emphasized by the film’s bright, pastel colors — that makes the darker undertones of depression feel more realistic.

Though the film was completed before Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is impossible not to watch it through the lens of recent events. Scenes showing the kids participating in military training feel foreboding, but the more quotidian parts of the film — including the staged interviews that the director Kateryna Gornostai weaves throughout the film, in which the characters talk about love and loneliness — hit even harder, given how drastically the lives of Ukrainian youngsters have since changed.

Stream it on Mubi.

The title of the Canadian filmmaker Joële Walinga’s essay documentary is cheekily deceptive. Self-portraits, or selfies, the defining media fixture of our time, evoke intimacy, candor and performance. But this movie is about a different, though equally pervasive, contemporary media phenomenon: surveillance, which evokes estrangement, anonymity and a lack of agency.

Walinga’s mesmerizing film, comprising scenes from closed-circuit television footage from around the world, is poised somewhere between these two poles. There isn’t much to say about “Self-Portrait” in the way of description. Each shot is static and frames a space or landscape, be it the mountains, the ocean, a field, the inside of a church, a cage at a zoo; the lo-fi quality flattens each scene into a kind of pixelated beauty, where waves or snowflakes or even animal limbs become jagged flashes of black and white. The images are strange and distant, the figures within them barely discernible; yet as we watch them one after the other, their fixed frames and mechanical gaze generate an odd feeling of subjectivity, as if we’re privy to a collective self-portrait of the human condition. The camera stays put, but the wind, water, shadows and people move, gesturing at something eternal.



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