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The five best movies to see this weekend

By
Joshua Rothkopf
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Too many entertainment choices? Or worse, is someone in your household clamoring to see Fifty Shades of Grey (again)? Allow us to help. Several great films open today, and the weekend brings its usual assortment of quality repertory options. Here are the five titles most worth your precious time.

1. Kes It’s a bird that gives this 1969 drama its name: The scenes between young Billy Casper and his pet falcon are undoubtedly special and tender. But in the end, Kes is one of the most astute, engaged films about education and what it takes for kids to get excited about learning—or anything, really. Film Forum, opens today

2. The Babadook Don't even begin to tell us you haven't seen last year's finest horror film—a keeper for the ages. This stunning feature debut by Australia's Jennifer Kent concerns a fraying mom (the amazing Essie Davis) and her mouthy preteen son, both grappling with the death of the family patriarch. They descend into a psychological hell that might be haunted by a monster in the basement. IFC Center; Fri, Sat 12:20am

3. The Hunting Ground In this harrowing, high-impact follow-up to The Invisible War (on the rape epidemic within the U.S. military), writer-director Kirby Dick takes on reputable colleges that systematically ignore the issue of campus rape. It's a film that shocks and awakens its audience in all the right ways, bringing the recent headlines of a Columbia University rape survivor carrying her mattress around into urgent focus. Angelika, now playing

4. Pennies from Heaven Those who’ve seen the original TV miniseries, which starred Bob Hoskins, tend to dismiss this 1981 musical as a pale imitation. On its own terms, though, it’s a wonder—somehow simultaneously buoyant and terribly grim, with Steve Martin in top form as self-deluding song-hawker Arthur Parker. The film will be presented on a newly restored 35mm print. Museum of the Moving Image; Sat, 7pm

5. Wild Canaries A contemporary Cobble Hill riff on Manhattan Murder Mystery, Lawrence Michael Levine’s comic whodunit conflates the rush of amateur sleuthing with the likewise paranoid anxiety of committing romantically to another person. It's a sharp murder mystery with a millennial twist, and loaded with honesty. IFC Center, now playing 

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