ANNETTE – Review by Leslie Combemale

From the first moments of the ambitious, sometimes stubbornly weird, sometimes magical film Annette, from director Leos Carax and writer/composers Ron and Russell Mael, known together as Sparks, you already know you’re in for something different and original. Carax talks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, then the entire cast and crew get together and walk through the night streets singing ‘So May We Start?’.

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JUNGLE CRUISE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Whoever pitched Disney’s new feature Jungle Cruise must have been a master of hyperbole. “It’s The Mummy meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets African Queen, but imagine Katherine Hepburn as a younger, smokin’ yet independent English hottie, and add the highest paid actor in the world.” If there were ever a final argument for ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, Jungle Cruise would be it.

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FOR MADMEN ONLY – Review by Leslie Combemale

For comedy nerds, those who stand in front of a crowd and those that applaud them, For Madmen Only is a fascinating look at an unsung (and often unhinged) hero of improvisation. Delivered creatively, it achieves a good balance of honesty and respect for an innovator who, through his work, has helped many achieve their dreams of stardom, and in so doing, has made the world a funnier place.

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COUSINS – Review by Leslie Combemale

If there was ever a film for fans who celebrate indigenous voices across the world, the new intergenerational narrative Cousins, out of New Zealand, is it. Cousins celebrates talented women of color, Māori traditions and worldview, and the value of not only family, but sisterhood and relationships uniquely found between women.

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GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Gunpower Milkshake is proof that you can have five talented, compelling actors acting the hell out of themselves and it still won’t make up for a one-dimensional derivative script. I’d still crawl through teargas to see Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino in an assassin sisterhood, but it’s a real disappointment they didn’t have a script that could leverage their combined star power and thespian skill.

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NO ORDINARY MAN – Review by Leslie Combemale

Billy Tipton was married 5 times, raising 3 adoptive sons, and none of them knew he was trans. This is not a pedantic, traditional, talking-heads kind of documentary. There are well-chosen and diverse artistic representatives offering a wide spectrum of the binary and non binary points of view, and they do so with candor and introspection. The result is sometimes heartbreaking, but also revelatory, life-affirming, and inspiring. No Ordinary Man is no ordinary documentary.

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BLACK WIDOW – Review by Leslie Combemale

There are a number of derivative story elements, but they are packaged in a new and empowering way, even as they stretch our suspension of disbelief to a near-breaking point. Who am I kidding? Marvel is fantasy. Natasha is a super soldier in a world where she’s friends with a Norse God, a man who shrinks to the size of an atom, and a dude who woke up after being frozen in ice for over 50 years.

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F9: THE FAST SAGA – Review by Leslie Combemale

F9: The Fast Saga is truly the most ridiculous movie I’ve ever seen. There were times when I was rolling my eyes so hard I feared they’d roll right out of their sockets. A scene where two dudes get shot into outer space in a souped-up car wearing vintage diving dress comes to mind. It is, however, a film that features not one or two, but six smart, independent women in positions of power, who can fight as hard and well as the men do. They need no rescuing. In fact, in F9 they often take control of the situation.

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LYDIA LUNCH: THE WAR IS NEVER OVER – Review by Leslie Combemale

As documentaries go, it’s fairly safe and straightforward, until Beth B reveals the arc of Lunch’s story. Up until that point, “Why is Lydia Livid?” would have been a great name for it, but Beth B guides us through to the moment when we hear, from Lydia herself, the genesis of her rage. Her role as provocateur makes far more sense given that context, as does her drive to introduce others to their own inner demons. She knows firsthand monsters make other monsters.

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