ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH – Review by Cate Marquis

While mass extinction and climate change are part of the discussion, they come up late in the documentary and are not the major focus. It is instead, the far-reaching impact humans have had on the whole planet, both physically and on other forms of life here. This is a fascinating, thoughtful documentary film, filled with stunning photography, that makes a powerful point of which we should all be aware.

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TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID – Review by Cate Marquis

Tigers Are Not Afraid, a mix of magical realism and horror film about children living under the devastating conditions of the Mexican drug wars, starts in a reassuringly normal place, a classroom full of grade school children working on an assignment. That assignment is to create a fairy tale story. One preteen girl writes about a prince who wants to become a tiger, because tigers are never afraid.

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VITA & VIRGINIA – Review by Cate Marquis

Vita & Virginia is a gorgeously-appointed historical drama based on the facts of the romantic affair between literary giant Virginia Woolf and fellow writer Vita Sackville-West. The drama is directed by Chanya Button, who co-wrote the screenplay with renowned British actor Eileen Atkins, who used the letters between Woolf and Sackville-West as the basis for the stage play on which the film is based. Filled with stunning 1920s costumes and wonderfully lush sets, the film’s visual beauty seems aimed to seduce us, as much as the lively, aristocratic Vita sets out seduce the aloof, intellectual Virginia Woolf.

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HONEYLAND – Review by Cate Marquis

Honeyland is a documentary but it plays out so much like a narrative film, a touching drama, perhaps even an epic, that one has to remind oneself that it is documentary. There is no introductory text at the start to tell us who she is or where we are, and there is no voice-over. Instead it is just the fly-on-the-wall camera, some strikingly beautiful photography, and a dramatic story that unfolds like a narrative film, with moments of drama, of humor, and an unspoken message about cultural change and caring for the earth.

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ABOVE THE SHADOWS – Review by Cate Marquis

Like most good science fiction/fantasy, Claudia Myers’ Above the Shadows is really about our world and the people who live in it. Actually, it is more a fairy tale or parable than science fiction, so analyzing how her invisibility works is pointless. You just have to go with it, but Above the Shadows will reward you for that journey.

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LATE NIGHT – Review by Cate Marquis

Mindy Kaling and Emma Thompson make a great, if unlikely, team, with Kaling handling the comedy heavy lifting and Thompson taking on the dramatic, more reflective stuff. Together they cover issues that women at either end of their career face – a rare, ambitious two-pronged approach. It is a lot of ground for one film to cover, and not everything works perfectly, but Late Night handles in well enough that it comes out a comedy winner.

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ASK FOR JANE- Review by Cate Marquis

Director Rachel Carey couldn’t have known how timely this drama would be but it certainly is that. Ask for Jane is a modest-budget independent film but it covers a lot of ground in women’s rights. Besides telling these women’s bold story, the drama throws in other reminders of how things used to be for women, from being the one’s asked to make the coffee to needing their husband’s permission to use birth control.

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ASK DR. RUTH – Review by Cate Marquis

Dr. Ruth Westheimer always looked like an unlikely on-air sex therapist, which may have been part of her success. The documentary Ask Dr. Ruth is not about her advice but her even more unlikely personal story. Did you know she is a Holocaust survivor? Is an avid skier? Was a sniper in the Israeli armed forces? Yeah, neither did I.

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WINE COUNTRY – Review by Cate Marquis

Refreshingly, this is a female buddy comedy that is all about the women – and there is something cool about that. Wine Country follows the buddy comedy tropes of about long-time, aging friends, with familiar types and “getting older” jokes. But apart from some grumbling about one friend’s jerk husband, there are few conversations about men, and no obsessing over romance. Better yet, the story ‘s singular romantic subplot is with the one lesbian woman in the group. Basically, there is really only one male character, a houseboy/cook/driver/tour guide named Devon (Jason Schwartzman) who “comes with the house,” a character who is more a comic idiot than anything else.

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