OUR FRIEND – Review by Carol Cling

Too bad Charles Dickens has dibs on the title Our Mutual Friend. It would have worked perfectly for Our Friend – which played at Toronto International Film Festival 2019 as The Friend.. The latter is what Matthew Teague titled his Esquire magazine article about his wife’s losing battle with cancer – and their best friend’s role in helping them deal with the agonizing reality. This screen adaptation adaptation ricochets through the years so relentlessly you need a spreadsheet to chart who’s who, who’s where – and why they keep saying things everybody already knows.

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GUNDA – Review by Carol Cling

Victor Kossakovsky’s wordless, black-and-white documentary offers an up-close-and-personal view of farm life — from the perspective of its four-, two- and (in one case) one-legged creatures. As a mama sow searches for the runt of her litter, you may say “Awwww.” That is, until the parent plants a hoof atop her newborn offspring. It’s a signal not to expect any endearing anthropomorphism. From the Three Little Pigs to Babe, movies have endowed porcine protagonists with distinctive personalities. Gunda’s pigs may display definite behavior patterns, but there’s nothing human about them.

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WONDER WOMAN 1984 – Review by Carol Cling

Anyone who thinks 2020 has been a fiasco should be grateful to escape to Wonder Woman 1984’s Orwellian year. Despite its “Me Decade” setting, the long-delayed sequel to the character’s 2017 introduction proves strikingly timely. WW84 may take place in the greed-is-good Reagan era, but its central villain — a con-artist TV personality turned megalomaniac — may remind you of a certain contemporary figure. (Any similarities are, we’re sure, hardly coincidental.)

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PIECES OF A WOMAN – Review by Carol Cling

The title Pieces of a Woman is a clue that reveals more than the filmmakers probably intended. That’s because the protagonist, Martha (a heartbreaking Vanessa Kirby), isn’t the only disjointed, fragmented one. So is the movie that tells her story. Director Kornel Mundruczo seems more interested in displaying symbol-alert imagery than in concentrating on the people in pieces.

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AUDREY – Review by Carol Cling

Audrey Hepburn wanted, more than anything, to be a ballerina. But the desperate struggle to survive World War II in the Nazi-occupied Netherlands precluded that. Instead, she became a beloved silver-screen legend, back in the days when the people who lit up those silver screens truly were legends. The new documentary Audrey chronicles Hepburn’s familiar public life — and her less familiar personal history — in engaging fashion.

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FINDING YINGYING – Review by Carol Cling

Most true-crime tales center on the crime itself. But Finding Yingying isn’t most true-crime tales. To be sure, there is a crime: a harrowing, heartbreaking, haunting one. To this award-winning documentary’s credit, however, the literally gory details play a much smaller role in the overall picture than they generally do.

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WANDER – Review by Carol Cling

Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you. That’s what a broken-down private eye discovers when he wanders into conspiracy and skullduggery in Wander. Sometimes as crazed — and confused — as its paranoid protagonist, the intermittently gripping Wander whips up a cinematic fusion, offering contemporary twists on time-honored elements that would seem perfectly at home in a vintage film noir.

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PRINCESS OF THE ROW – Review by Carol Cling

Life is hardly a fairy tale for even the most fortunate among us. Alisha is far from the most fortunate among us. Memorably embodied by young Tayler Buck, Alisha — who prefers to be called “Princess” — is the 12-year-old at the heart of Princess of the Row, a heart-tugging drama that sometimes tugs too hard.

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MY SUMMER AS A GOTH – Review by Carol Cling

Like its 16-year-old heroine, My Summer as a Goth has some growing up to do. Suffering from a definite identity crisis, this coming-of-age tale can’t quite decide whether it’s a summer romance, a fish-out-of-water comedy — or an earnest study of a teenager struggling with potentially life-shattering emotions.

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