Five Must-See Movies in January

Sometimes it's a one-night deal, and sometimes they stick around for weeks, so when it comes to seeing an independent film at a local theater, planning ahead is crucial.

That's why we've wrangled must-see flicks screening in the Valley this month. Prep your bowl of buttery popcorn and check out our picks ...

5. Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
Michael Rapaport directs this documentary, joining the Tribe for a nationwide sold-out tour in 2008 -- ten years after the release of their last album. As strained relationships and unresolved conflicts bubble up, Rapaport looks back at one of the most influential hip-hop acts in the history of the genre.

See it at FilmBar Friday, January 6, at 10 p.m. Tickets are $7. See more here.

4. Contagion
Steven Soderberg's thriller about a rapidly spreading lethal virus will leave germaphobes desperately seeking industrial strength hand sanitizer. ASU's College of Liberal Arts & Sciences presents a screening of the medical disaster flick that will be followed by a panel discussion about the movie with its screenwriter, Scott Z. Burns.

Catch the bug at ASU's Memorial Union at 2 p.m. Wednesday, January 18. The discussion is scheduled to begin at 4. Admission is free. Details here.

3. Of Dolls and Murder
Cult king John Waters narrates Susan Marks' look into how investigators staged and solved crimes before the advent of forensic science. Bizzare and macabre in nature, detectives reenacted crimes in dollhouses -- also known as nutshells -- to hone their Holmesian abilities.

Survey the scene of the crime when the film screens at SMoCA Lounge Thursday, January 19, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $7. Find more info here.

2. We Need to Talk About Kevin
Lynne Ramsay's film adaptation of Lionel Shriver's novel of the same name looks darkly and hauntingly at the relationship between Eva Khatchadourian (Tilda Swinton) and her son Kevin (Ezra Miller). From birth, Eva senses that there's something not quite right with her baby, and her fear of him grows and intensifies with age.

The film opens Friday, January 27, at Harkins. Find more details here.

1. Baraka

Ron Fricke directs this plotless, visually explosive film that captures the connectivity between beings through a vivid, kaleidscopic lens. In filming various cultures' religious ceremonies, Fricke looks at the universal search for meaning in life.

Presented in conjunction with the exhibition "Sacred Word and Image: Five World Religions," the film screens at Phoenix Art Museum Sunday, January 29. Admission is free. See more details here. Watch the unembeddable trailer here.

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