THE STARFISH THROWERS

⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars

Unrated, but suitable for ages 10 and older.

Theater: St. Anthony Main.

 

A tween girl in South Carolina, a former chef in India and a retired teacher in Minneapolis all dedicate much of their time these days to a common goal — feeding the homeless and hungry. Local filmmaker Jesse Roesler raised funds via Kickstarter and received a Jerome Foundation grant to make this uplifting documentary about three disparate optimists, and he skillfully weaves their tales together for a powerful impact greater than the sum of its parts. Named after a parable about a child not being able to throw all the starfish washed up on a beach back in the ocean, but trying anyway, the doc stands above typical do-good fare by artfully drawing the viewer into the motivations and experiences of each of the three. Now 14, Katie Stagliano has built a network of crop-growing kids across the country and won an award from President Bill Clinton. In India, former chef Narayanan Krishnan, born into the high Brahmin caste, gave up his career to make and hand-deliver food to street dwellers in his hometown, also bathing them and cutting their hair. Allan Law patrols the streets of Minneapolis with bins full of sandwiches in a van decorated with a sign that reads “Love One Another.” “The Starfish Throwers” won audience and jury awards at the most recent Minneapolis St. Paul International Film festival. Ticket sales will benefit local hunger-fighting organizations; see mspfilm.org for more information.

Kristin Tillotson

THE NOTEBOOK

⋆⋆½ out of four stars

Rating: R, for disturbing violent and sexual content, nudity and language.

Theater: Edina.

 

It shares a title with the better-known 2004 Nicholas Sparks romance, but this dark Hungarian film about twin tween brothers trying to survive the last year of World War II couldn’t be more different in tone and message. Brought from their contented city existence to stay with a bitterly stoic grandmother on her primitive farm for safekeeping, the boys are suddenly, harshly introduced to the meanest ways of the world. They react by beating and bullying each other to toughen up, a cynical strategy that guides them in the sinister end, when they briefly reunite separately with their mother and their prisoner-of-war father. Not a movie for those who insist on happy resolutions, “The Notebook” is instead a study in how the nihilistic worldview that clouds the collective Eastern Europe sensibility came to be.

K.T.