WHO CAN SEE FOREVER – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Who Can See Forever, the new film about Iron & Wine, is inherently a niche film because the band itself is so indie that their fans are likely to be the only ones interested in it. Part documentary about Sam Beam (the man who is Iron & Wine) and part concert film, it’s a quick eighty minutes long and feels – for both better and worse – like a home movie. I was introduced to Iron & Wine more than a decade ago by my millennial child, who walked down the aisle to the group’s Call It Dreaming, so I was excited to learn more about Beam. What I learned is that sometimes it’s best to keep the mystique.

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IN THE DARK OF THE VALLEY – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Stop whatever you’re doing and go watch this powerful documentary right now. (It’s streaming on NBC and Peacock.) Focusing on “one of the most significant nuclear accidents in United States history,” In the Dark of the Valley is a vital call for action to hold corporations accountable for the harm they cause in their insatiable pursuit of profits. Melissa Bumstead, a Southern California mom, begs the powers to be to “do the right thing” and clean up the Santa Susana Field Lab, whose toxic waste may have been responsible for the leukemia her nine year old daughter, Grace, has already survived twice. It turns out Grace is not the only child in the neighborhood to have gotten a rare form of cancer and there are far too many cases to believe it’s merely a coincidence. Melissa Bumstead, a Southern California mom, begs the powers to be to “do the right thing” and clean up the Santa Susana Field Lab, whose toxic waste may have been responsible for the leukemia her nine year old daughter, Grace, has already survived twice. It turns out Grace is not the only child in the neighborhood to have gotten a rare form of cancer and there are far too many cases to believe it’s merely a coincidence.

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LEE FIELDS: FAITHFUL MAN – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Filled with great music and the soulfulness of the acclaimed singer himself, there’s no question that Lee Fields: Faithful Man is worth a watch. There’s lots to learn about the guy who’s often compared to James Brown (in fact, he’s even been given the nickname, “Little JB”) and whose 50 year career continues to inspire modern rappers like Travis Scott and A$ap Rocky. Jessamyn Ansary and Joyce Mishaan take a pretty straightforward approach to their subject, which dilutes a little of the funk but provides more balance and acts almost like a primer on how to sustain a career into your seventies. It makes clear that Fields’ ambition, work ethic and persistence have been as important factors in his success as his massive talent.

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GOLDEN YEARS – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Sustaining a marriage is hard. Making a good movie about sustaining a marriage may be even harder – which makes the Swiss feature, Golden Years, such a delightful surprise. Director Barbara Kulcsar and screenwriter Petra Volpe have created a crowd pleaser that is universally relatable even if you’re watching with subtitles. The German language film is, at turns, funny, heartbreaking, frustrating and enlightening and it rings so true, all long-term couples are likely to see pieces of themselves in it. After being married for decades, Peter and Alice are finally going to have time to relax together. Peter is retiring and, at a big party celebrating the milestone, their kids gift them a romantic Mediterranean cruise. Alice is excited about this opportunity to rekindle the spark that seems to have gone out of their relationship but Peter just wants to stay home.

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ORDINARY ANGELS – Review by Lois Alter Mark

I’m writing this review with tears streaming down my face because, despite my apprehension about its title (okay, I might have rolled my eyes upon hearing it), it’s impossible not to be moved by Ordinary Angels. In fact, I would go so far as to say it’s the kind of movie we, as a society, desperately need now. As someone who steers clear of anything faith based, I’m even willing to forgive its religious undertones and Hallmark premise because the story is so powerful and Hillary Swank is just so good.

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WAITRESS, THE MUSICAL: LIVE ON BROADWAY – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Waitress, the Musical: Live on Broadway captures a live 2021 performance of the Tony Award-nominated show and offers a better, more intimate view than even the most expensive seats in the theater can provide. Waitress is such a compelling story and the stage actors bring these well-drawn characters to life in a different – yet equally appealing – way than the original film stars (Keri Russell, Cheryl Hines, Adrienne Shelly), who created an instant classic.

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WHAT HAPPENS LATER – Review by Lois Alter Mark

‘Tis the season for cuddling up in front of a great rom-com. Although What Happens Later can’t accurately be called great, it will have to do. Because what the movie makes abundantly clear is that what the world could really use right now is a Meg Ryan rom-com. In What Happens Later, Ryan is as cute as ever – simply an older version of the characters we loved in classic rom-coms like You’ve Got Mail and When Harry Met Sally. Yes, she’s a little angrier and more bitter but, really, aren’t we all?

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THE JOB OF SONGS – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Director Lila Schmitz’s debut feature is a lovely tribute to a unique aspect of culture and its rich history. We hear from musicians, both through their haunting music and through candid interviews, about the importance of keeping traditional songs alive in an increasingly fast-paced world. “The job of songs can sometimes be to entertain,” explains one of the musicians. “But it’s this thing of giving people who don’t have songs permission to feel things that are really deeply ingrained in them, that they don’t really intellectually understand.”

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PERIODICAL – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Because, apparently, it’s not enough just to bleed for a week every single month for 40 years, many lawmakers have added insult to injury by taxing the products needed to deal with your period. Of course, you can get Viagra and condoms without paying sales tax but, in 21 states, tampons and pads will cost you extra. Bloody hell. I learned this and so much more in Periodical, an empowering, enlightening and totally entertaining documentary about menstruation. In fact, I learned more about the subject than I was ever taught in school, by my parents or by my doctors. I hope future generations will have the opportunity to watch this film from a young age because, as they say, knowledge is power.

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PLAN C – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Looking for a real superhero movie? Forget about Spiderman and the Avengers and, instead, marvel at these real-life women who are fighting to expand access to abortion pills at a time when many states have made it illegal. Plan C, Tracy Droz Tragos’ must-see documentary, takes a deep dive into the subject of abortion access and should be required viewing by every registered voter in the United States.

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