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What’s on TV Saturday: ‘Beanpole’ and ‘The Half of It’


BEANPOLE (2020) Stream on Mubi; rent on Kino Now. The young Russian director Kantemir Balagov wowed critics with this, his sophomore feature, a drama set in Leningrad in 1945. World War II is over, but the wounds it sowed are still fresh and apparent in every frame. Iya (Viktoria Miroshnichenko), nicknamed Beanpole because she is unusually tall, was once on the front lines, but a concussion made her unfit for battle. Now she tends to soldiers at a military hospital and cares for the child of her friend and former fellow soldier, Masha (Vasilisa Perelygina), who returns to the city only to hear devastating news. Together, the women try to heal themselves and find hope. Manohla Dargis named the movie a Critic’s Pick in her review for The New York Times, calling it “a brilliantly told, deeply moving story about love — in all its manifestations, perversity and obstinacy.”

THE HALF OF IT (2020) Stream on Netflix. Nearly 15 years after making her directorial debut with “Saving Face,” the filmmaker Alice Wu returns with this heartwarming coming-of-age dramedy. Ellie (Leah Lewis) is a straight-A, Chinese-American high school student who brushes off the taunts of bullies and makes extra money by writing essays for her classmates. She stands out in her small, conservative town and prefers to keep to herself. Life invites her to step out of her shell, though, when Paul (Daniel Diemer), a jock, asks her to help woo his crush, Aster (Alexxis Lemire), by writing her love letters. Ellie agrees, in hopes that putting words on a page will help her come to terms with her own feelings for Aster. The movie is a less a love triangle than a tale about the blossoming of an unlikely friendship.

THE ESSENTIALS: SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN (1952) 8 p.m. on TCM. The new season of this long-running show pairs the host Ben Mankiewicz with Brad Bird, the Oscar-winning director and screenwriter of the animated films “The Incredibles” and “Ratatouille,” as the guest. Together they have chosen a list of must-see classic movies, which will air every Saturday at 8 p.m. through the end of January 2021. The lineup begins with Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen’s musical, “Singin’ in the Rain.” Among the other titles are “Casablanca,” “A Hard Day’s Night” and “2001: A Space Odyssey.”

NICKELODEON’S KIDS’ CHOICE AWARDS 2020: CELEBRATE TOGETHER 8 p.m. on Nickelodeon. Nickelodeon postponed its annual awards show, set to take place in March in Los Angeles, because of the coronavirus. With in-person events still on hold, the network decided the show must go on. This virtual ceremony, hosted by the actress Victoria Justice, features appearances by Dwayne Johnson, Ariana Grande, Kristen Bell and more. Slime is promised, as is a musical performance by the former child actor Asher Angel. Nickelodeon will also announce a $1 million donation to No Kid Hungry, a national campaign supporting food-insecure children across the country.

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