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Named for all the connections that form a functioning society, Threads is a harrowing look at what might happen when those ties are rent apart by nuclear war. This British TV movie — released during the Cold War — so violently seized on the nuclear anxieties of the time that its premiere was dubbed “the night the country didn’t sleep.” Depressingly, it hasn’t lost that initial resonance, and so it remains a panic attack-inducing watch.

Threads begins in the kitchen-sink vein of a Ken Loach movie. In the northern industrial town of Sheffield, a young couple from different social classes (Reece Dinsdale and Karen Meagher) discover they’re about to be parents — but looming above their small-scale drama are the clouds of war, as televisions and radios blare out the details of escalating tensions between the US and the USSR. And then, it happens: the town is strategically bombed, and Threads unfurls into an unrelenting nightmare. In the documentary-like approach that follows, it spares no graphic or emotional detail, charting both the personal devastation caused by the bomb and the annihilating impact of the nuclear holocaust on all the vital infrastructure we take for granted. In short, one of the bleakest, most terrifying movies ever made.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Science Fiction, War

Actor: Ashley Barker, Brian Grellis, David Brierly, Dean Williamson, Ed Bishop, Harry Beety, Henry Moxon, Jane Hazlegrove, Joe Belcher, June Broughton, Karen Meagher, Lesley Judd, Maggie Ford, Michael O'Hagan, Nat Jackley, Patrick Allen, Peter Faulkner, Phil Rose, Reece Dinsdale, Richard Albrecht, Rita May, Ruth Holden, Steve Halliwell, Ted Beyer

Director: Mick Jackson

Whether graffiti is art or not is the question guiding this fascinating documentary about the spray can-wielding artists of ‘80s New York. Wherever you come down in the debate — though this presents compelling arguments that graffiti is a medium worthy of critical attention — you’ll undoubtedly come away with a reverence for the kids who went hard with the paint on NYC’s walls and subway cars. Candid interviews with these young pioneers (whose cultural contributions are now less in contention) reveal that they’re not simply rebelling for rebellion’s sake: they’re largely motivated by a desire to make their mark on their beloved city — to stand out and have their work seen by the millions riding the subway every day.

The doc largely embeds itself with the artists, but it also interviews the “other side”: then-mayor Ed Koch and police officers, who were ramping up their aggressive “war on graffiti” campaign during filming. It’s clear that these interviewees have little interest in understanding what drives the kids to create their murals — a lack of curiosity that Style Wars blessedly counters. Not just a thoughtful contribution to its period and a fascinating time capsule, but also a thought-provoking reminder that art is art, whether it's made outside of the system or not.

Genre: Documentary, Music, TV Movie

Actor: Cap, Daze, Dondi, Ed Koch, Eric Haze, Gene Anthony Ray, Irene Cara, Kase 2, Rammellzee

Director: Tony Silver

This immersive documentary is about a beloved independent record store that opened in front of a major music chain in Manhattan in 1995. Its founders called it Other Music, a jab at the chain and a reference to the music it would carry.

Other Music would go on to become a mecca that welcomes music fanatics from around the world. Its clerks would become legendary for their shaman-like knowledge, many famous bands would have their start at shows in the store, and Other Music would even re-issue artists who were forgotten.

But in today’s hostile world towards independent cultural institutions, can anything, however influential or successful it may be, live?

Genre: Documentary

Actor: Benicio Del Toro, Bill Callahan, Brian Chase, Chris Pappas, Dean Wareham, Ezra Koenig, Georgia Hubley, Greta Kline, Ira Kaplan, James McNew, Janeane Garofalo, Jason Schwartzman, Jocelyn Samson, Keigo Oyamada, Martin Gore, Matt Berninger, Regina Spektor, Sharon Van Etten, Stuart Braithwaite, Tunde Adebimpe, William Basinski, Yoko Ono

Director: Puloma Basu, Rob Hatch-Miller

Murdering your spouse is bad, so it’s slightly bizarre how Drowning by Numbers has an unbothered, even amused, attitude towards its murders. Moments seem randomly placed, like the first scene of a girl jumping rope while listing the stars by name, and the film can be hard to follow, even if the production design and cinematography keep you drawn in. But as the film progresses, and Madgett’s son Smut enumerates the fictional games as if he was a historian of sorts, writer-director Peter Greenaway meticulously crafts a quirky, twisty crime comedy, where, like children’s games and the men in their lives, the murdering wives do what they do because they can get away with it. Drowning by Numbers cleverly plays with the way we treat folklore, structure, and rules, even down to the very medium Greenaway works with.

Genre: Comedy, Crime

Actor: Arthur Spreckley, Bernard Hill, Bryan Pringle, David Morrissey, Edward Tudor-Pole, Ian Talbot, Jane Gurnett, Janine Duvitski, Jason Edwards, Joan Plowright, Joanna Dickens, Joely Richardson, John Rogan, Juliet Stevenson, Kenny Ireland, Michael Fitzgerald, Michael Percival, Natalie Morse, Paul Mooney, Roderic Leigh, Trevor Cooper, Vanni Corbellini

Director: Peter Greenaway

Rating: R

A truly bizarre comedy that shoots far beyond the boundaries of what should probably be considered good taste, The Twentieth Century stands as one of the strangest movies ever made based on a historical figure. Adapted from the real Mackenzie King's (Canada's longest-serving prime minister) diaries, the film replaces any traces of reality with psychological projection and almost nonsensical stoner humor. It functions as a satire of the way Canadian society is often depicted as polite (when, according to writer/director Matthew Rankin, it's anything but) and as a portrait of how even the most powerful politicians are just little boys seeking approval and indulging in fetishes to compensate for the love they can never receive.

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Fantasy

Actor: Annie St-Pierre, Brent Skagford, Catherine St-Laurent, Charlotte Legault, Dan Beirne, Emmanuel Schwartz, Ève Duranceau, Gordon Masten, Guillaume Lambert, Jadyn Malone, Kee Chan, Louis Negin, Marie Brassard, Martin Dubreuil, Mikhaïl Ahooja, Richard Jutras, Sarianne Cormier, Satine Scarlett Montaz, Seán Cullen, Simon Lacroix

Director: Matthew Rankin

With an acrobat in a sanitarium, elephant trunks spouting blood, and a religious cult whose patron saint is a rape victim, Santa Sangre isn’t going to be an easy watch, especially with the avant-garde direction of the iconic Alejandro Jodorowsky. It’s tough to watch the explicit scenes, both of Fenix’s childhood circus reality and his adult hallucinations, with the hallucinations visually recalling his childhood trauma. But through these terrifying, freaky images, Jodorowsky takes his own memories and crafts it into a twisted, but deeply personal psychosexual nightmare, confronting the exploitative nature of faith and family through various circus acts. Santa Sangre is one of its kind.

Genre: Drama, Horror, Thriller

Actor: Adan Jodorowsky, Axel Jodorowsky, Blanca Guerra, Brontis Jodorowsky, Faviola Elenka Tapia, Gustavo Aguilar Tejada, Guy Stockwell, Héctor Ortega, Hilario 'Popitekus' Vargas, Jacobo Lieberman, Jesús Juárez, Joaquín García Vargas, Sabrina Dennison, Sergio Bustamante, Teo Jodorowsky, Teo Tapia, Thelma Tixou, Valérie Crouzet, Zonia Rangel Mora

Director: Alejandro Jodorowsky

Rating: NC-17