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HomeFront: Animation sensation, IFFBoston picks, plus a voice for Sally Hemings

Katie Mitchell, voiced by Abbi Jacobson, in a scene from "The Mitchells vs. The Machines."
Katie Mitchell, voiced by Abbi Jacobson, in a scene from "The Mitchells vs. The Machines."Netflix via AP

Welcome back to HomeFront, where May is hours away, pollen counts are climbing, and pandemic precautions are slowly easing. Until we reach herd immunity and full reopening of everything — and, frankly, even after that — plenty of us will keep taking advantage of our beefed-up at-home entertainment options. Read on for some tempting possibilities.

FILM: If “fast enough for the kids and smart enough for the grown-ups” isn’t enough of a draw, “The Mitchells vs. the Machines” sneaks in a message about “a healthy distrust of modern technology and the giant corporations that control our screens,” Globe film critic Ty Burr writes in a 3½-star review. “The movie is zippy, inventive, and appreciably silly — it tosses believability aside and asks us to just hop in and hold on.”


“About Endlessness,” the latest from Swedish writer-director Roy Andersson, earns 3½ stars by plunging the audience into “a hypnotic state in which the entire metaphysical history of Europe comes into crystalline focus,” writes Burr. “The film has an epic sense of devastated wonder that can only come from standing as far back from the parade as one possibly can while still holding on to one’s empathy.”

Locked out and shoeless, a Brooklyn man tries to get into his apartment — this could go a lot of different ways. Luckily, “The Outside Story” is a “pocket-size charmer” that earns 3 stars from Burr. A welcome showcase for Brian Tyree Henry, the “modest human comedy” shows an introvert finding “a newfound forgiveness for the foibles and follies of his fellow man” and “brushes against heavy matters without ever turning heavy.”

Starring Glenn Close as the wary mother and Mila Kunis as the daughter battling heroin addiction, “Four Good Days” is “a cold-turkey movie, parent and child division,” Burr says in a 2½-star review. Behind “an earnest performance” by Close and a strong turn by Kunis, the film explores “the question of whether trust can ever grow in a field that has been scraped down to bedrock.”


The Independent Film Festival Boston will be online only, and “I couldn’t recommend it more strongly,” writes Burr. “[T]he 26 feature films and 43 shorts are cherrypicked from the best of recent festivals and/or found locally, nationally, and abroad.” Among them is “Summer of Soul,” a concert film shot in 1969 and rescued by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson, who “took it upon himself to reclaim the music, the movie, and the moment.”

Another IFFBoston selection, Emily and Sarah Kunstler’s “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America,” follows Jeffrey Robinson of the ACLU as he lectures in an auditorium and “visits key sites in the struggle for civil rights.” In effect, he’s “is taking on the thankless task of explaining racism to white people,” writes Globe correspondent Peter Keough.

Larissa Lam’s documentary “Far East Deep South” initially “seems like a non-celebrity version of Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s PBS series ‘Finding Your Roots,’” Keough says. But as the story of a Chinese immigrant to Mississippi unfolds, with help from his American grandsons, “this family trip takes the twists and turns of a compelling detective story.”

“Uncommon Threads: The Works of Ruth E. Carter” opens Monday at the New Bedford Art Museum. Why is this item in the “Film” section? Carter is the genius behind the costumes for dozens of films, and an Oscar winner for “Black Panther.” “When you dream big, you keep going,” the Springfield native says in a delightful Q&A with the Globe’s Mark Feeney.


TV: Based on the 1981 novel and 1986 film, “The Mosquito Coast” turns “a character study of a man obsessed” into “a suspense escalator,” writes Globe TV critic Matthew Gilbert. Star Justin Theroux does “some excellent work,” but when he and his family go on the run from the government, “viewers are asked to pretend that these people could die again and again when we know deep down they won’t.”

The new Netflix option Play Something — the 21st-century equivalent of channel surfing — gets at an essential truth, Gilbert contends: “We can’t always get what we want, and sometimes we like it that way.” The mix of bingeing and weekly episode releases is “part of a larger correction regarding this era of TV, which is defined by a streaming revolution that has made everything available at all times.”

If you had no idea that Cristin Milioti and Ray Romano were starring in a show called “Made for Love” before Gilbert wrote about it, you’re not alone. The latest Ask Matthew addresses the glut of good content — “Many call it Peak TV, and it’s a bit of a headache” — and recommends “Made for Love” and five other series that may not be on your radar yet.


Eris Baker as Tess in "This Is Us."
Eris Baker as Tess in "This Is Us."NBC

YOUTHQUAKE: Eris Baker of “This Is Us.” Kaylee Hottle of “Godzilla vs. Kong.” Ibrahima Gueye of “The Life Ahead.” “With an aplomb and maturity beyond their years, performers under 18 have been tackling the most challenging, layered material,” writes the Globe’s Don Aucoin. “If this isn’t a golden age of child acting, it feels pretty darn close.”

PROJECT TAKEOUT: After 3½ months and lots of brilliant suggestions, Project Takeout, the Globe’s effort to encourage readers to support local independent restaurants, wraps up (get it?) this week. But not before Globe staffers recommend six destinations for your to-go dining needs, including one I enthusiastically endorse. It’s time for a road trip to beautiful Duxbury and a delicious picnic lunch from The Foodsmith.

FOOD & DINING: Under the right conditions, a meal at home with people who don’t also live there (remember those?) is now OK. “I needed something suitably grand for the long-awaited moment,” writes former Globe food editor Sheryl Julian. She adapts her mother’s recipe into Giant Break-Apart Sugar Cookies, and they look amazing.

VISUAL ART: In the striking images that make up photographer Jonathan Smith’s current show, “[e]very line reads like a painter’s conscious choice,” writes Globe correspondent Cate McQuaid. They “capture the glacial landscape of northern Iceland with minimalist compositions and a spare palette. Seeing them online, I thought they were abstract paintings.” At Lanoue Gallery in the South End.


The Fuller Craft Museum exhibition “Makers and Mentors” is bringing fresh attention to Snow Farm. The school “has been a seedbed for crafters from New England and beyond,” McQuaid reports from Williamsburg. Says Fuller Craft’s Beth McLaughlin, “These skills used to be passed generation to generation ... but now schools are where artists are inspired and influenced by each other.”

Confused by the difference — and whether there even is one — between the heavily promoted shows “Imagine Van Gogh” and “Van Gogh: The Immersive Experience”? You’re far from alone. “It’s a recipe for mix-ups with locals looking to fill their social calendars after a long, boring pandemic year,” writes Globe correspondent Diti Kohli, who delves into the situation.

Jessica May will lead art and exhibitions at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and all Trustees properties.
Jessica May will lead art and exhibitions at the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum and all Trustees properties. Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff

MUSEUMS: Jessica May’s new title is a mouthful: managing director of art and exhibitions for the Trustees of Reservations [breath] and artistic director of deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum. “My mandate is to offer a compelling vision for the Trustees as an organization with a deep and passionate commitment to arts and artists’ legacies,” May tells Globe correspondent Vivian Myron.

PARENTING: The Globe’s In the Family Way project tackles your thorniest pandemic-era dilemmas. Through a weekly newsletter and column, it explores questions about children’s health, education, and welfare in uncertain times, including a look at apps that can help your kids communicate better — and might work for you, too. Sign up for the newsletter here.

MUSIC: “With a combined 60 years as local institutions, the Mighty Mighty Bosstones and Dropkick Murphys are in many ways flip sides of the same coin,” and both have new albums. The Bosstones’ “When God Was Great” is an uneven effort, but the highs, including “a doozy of a final track,” are high indeed, writes Globe reviewer Marc Hirsh. Dropkick Murphys’ “Turn Up That Dial” reflects “a clear, identifiable, and firmly established formula ... Although it may be schtick, it’s a really good schtick.

The long-lost local indie label Presto Records is back — on Spotify and YouTube, where founder Chris Porter will start making the catalog available next week, three decades after Presto’s heyday. “I’m proud of all the releases,” he tells Globe correspondent James Sullivan of the seven-band stash, “and I wouldn’t have done anything different.”

The streaming platform Topeka.live connects musicians and fans through performances, conversations, and even lessons — a pandemic-perfect mission that actually started in 2019. “It did a lot more for my morale and sense of connection than I realized,” singer-songwriter Dar Williams tells Globe correspondent Lauren Daley. Says founder Mandy Levine: “I wanted it to feel like people hanging out.”

LOVE LETTERS: Ready for a fresh start? Aren’t we all? The theme of Season 5 of the Love Letters podcast, hosted by the Globe’s Meredith Goldstein, is “New Beginnings.” The episodes tell stories about love that’s new, revived, reinvented, and full of hope. The latest installment tells a story of crushing on a colleague. Listen here.

THEATER: James Ijames reimagines the relationship between Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings in “TJ Loves Sally 4 Ever.” “The most significant way I’ve given her agency is that she tells us the story and walks us through what happened,” the playwright says in a Q&A with Globe correspondent Jacquinn Sinclair ahead of SpeakEasy Stage Company’s streaming production. “This story is from Sally’s point of view.”

BOOKS: The talk of the dance world, Chloe Angyal’s “Turning Pointe: How a New Generation of Dancers Is Saving Ballet From Itself,” is an “incisive and unsparing” look at an art form in tumult, writes Globe reviewer Cory Oldweiler. Angyal “argues that ballet has been brought to the brink of extinction, or at least irrelevance, by a slavish devotion to perspectives and ideals that are outmoded and decades-old.”

BUT REALLY: The sports calendar is slowly returning to normal, and that means the Kentucky Derby is back on the first Saturday in May — with fans in the stands and over-the-top hat designs in abundance. Can graduation season be far behind? Wear your mask(s) and wash your hands!