SEXPLOITATION – Review by Carol Cling

“Stranger danger!” Generations of kids took that rhyming parental warning to heart, learning that seemingly friendly grown-ups weren’t necessarily as benign as they appeared to be. Of course, that was before social media utterly transformed the way young people engage with each other — and the world.

And in the days before discovering so-called online friends aren’t necessarily friendly — or even who they claim to be.

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ART & KRIMES BY KRIMES – Review by Carol Cling

Focusing on the life, times — and crimes — of artist Jesse Krimes, this award-winning documentary offers a compelling portrait of the artist as a young man, delving into how and why art helps artists discover not only their artistry but themselves. Krimes’ recollects his “train wreck” youth, which culminated in losing a college art scholarship — and being convicted of selling cocaine, ultimately landing him in federal prison. For Krimes, incarceration leads to a true artistic breakthrough. After experiencing Krimes’ journey, chances are you’ll understand how this artist’s mind works — and appreciate the opportunity to do so.

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THE AMERICAN DREAM AND OTHR FAIRY TALES – Review by Carol Cling

Disneyland is billed as “The Happiest Place on Earth,” but as the documentary The American Dream and Other Fairy Tales contends, that’s a fantasy that’s very far from reality — especially for many who work at the theme park. The documentary explores a wide-ranging array of themes. Or, to use the Disneyland model, lands — from the Fantasyland of happy “cast members” to the ominous Tomorrowland of employees who wonder how they’ll ever feed their kids and pay their rent in pricey Southern California. Our tour guide through this sometimes tragic kingdom is a real-life Disney princess: co-writer, co-producer and co-director Abigail Disney.

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INTO THE DEEP – Review by Carol Cling

The willing suspension of disbelief. It’s a key ingredient in many a successful movie. Other movies, however, are populated by characters so unconvincing you don’t believe them — and, far worse, you just don’t care. That pretty much sums up Into the Deep, an alleged thriller that sinks under the weight of its contrived premise and characters characterized by murky motivations and nonsensical actions.

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GET AWAY IF YOU CAN – Review by Carol Cling

It’s one of those maddening movies that never quite figures out what it wants to be. Sometimes it’s a relationship drama. Sometimes it’s a study of how family influences — good and bad — impact the relationship in question. It tries, in hit-or-miss fashion, to generate gripping psychological tension. And, in its heart of hearts, it wants to be a made-for-each-other, find-your-own-paradise romance. Lofty goals for any movie, let alone one with a running time under 90 minutes. But Get Away If You Can deserves points for trying to live up to its ambiguous title.

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NOT OKAY – Review by Carol Cling

Even when you know where Not Okay’s going, the journey remains engaging, thanks to writer-director Quinn Shephard’s sharp depiction of such hot topics as white privilege and online cancel culture. They’re often easy targets, and Shephard occasionally overshoots them, exaggerating the satire and, as a result, undercutting its impact. Ultimately, however, Not Okay manages to display some undeniable insight as it takes a deep dive into a world of deeply shallow people.

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MOON, 66 QUESTIONS – Review by Carol Cling

Legendary director Alfred Hitchcock once defined drama as “life with the dull bits cut out.” But not everyone agrees with that filmmaking approach, as Moon, 66 Questions makes abundantly clear. The feature debut of writer-director Jacqueline Lentzou, Moon explores the uneasy dynamic between a father and daughter sharing the most stressful conditions imaginable. Yet, despite the potentially heart-wrenching situation in which they find themselves, Moon takes an elliptical, impressionistic approach.

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MR. MALCOLM’S LIST – Review by Carol Cling

It is a truth universally acknowledged — at least among those who revere the literary works of Jane Austen — that there can never be too many Regency-era romances, or cinematic adaptations of same. A new version of Persuasion is coming soon to a streaming service near you, but if you can’t wait to get lost in Austenland, Mr. Malcolm’s List should satisfy your expectations. The title character’s focus is on finding someone who meets his prerequisites — and his inevitable discovery that prerequisites have nothing to do with true love.

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DEADLY CUTS – Review by Carol Cling

How do you like to observe St. Patrick’s Day? Raising a pint of Guinness or a tipple of Tullamore D.E.W.? Reading W.B. Yeats’ revelatory poetry or James Joyce’s revolutionary prose? Perhaps you prefer a cinematic celebration of the Emerald Isle — the vintage charms of The Quiet Man, for example, or something along the lines of the current Oscar contender Belfast. If the latter titles are too polite to suit your mood, however, the boisterous shenanigans of Deadly Cuts offer a raucous alternative.

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