SPOTLIGHT April 2020: Ruth Carter, Costume Designer, Style Setter, Mentor

Oscar-winning costume designer Ruth Carter has carved a monumental career for herself in an industry that rarely had people of color working in her profession. Women of color, rarer still. Carter has been breaking barriers and building her reputation in the film industry for over 30 years. She’s reached the height of her aspirational dreams, turning what she’s most passionate about into her life’s work. She’s changed society through the films she’s chosen and cleared the way for acceptance of women of color in collaborative artistic positions of power in Hollywood.

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RADIUM GIRLS – Review by Leslie Combemale

“If you place a Geiger Counter over the grave of a Radium girl, it will click for a thousand years.” This written quote is part of the film Radium Girls, the shocking, fascinating, and well-executed new feature, co-directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher and Ginny Mohler, based on a true story no doubt very few people had heard of, just as I hadn’t.

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THE DILEMMA OF DESIRE (SXSW2020) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Are you ‘cliterate’? How many of you out there know the exact physiological structure of the clitoris? How many of you are uncomfortable with it being brought up, or even written in a sentence? That is what the new documentary The Dilemma of Desire considers as part of a larger examination of the disconnection from, and vilification of, women’s sexuality, and how it damages self-acceptance and self-value for women around the world

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INTERNATIONAL FALLS – Review by Leslie Combemale

There is a gentleness and a frankness to International Falls that speaks to an understanding of the struggle for joy to which we can all relate. We might not all feel the same urgent lack of worthiness or capability that the characters do, but we all know people who struggle and search for connection. This film will feed that desire, break your heart, and bring you hope of resilience, all within an hour and a half.

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CRESTONE (SXSW2020) – Review by Leslie Combemale

This is not viewing as usual. It’s guerrilla filmmaking. It’s oddly, at once ponderous, and fascinating. “The roots are shallow here, “ says one of Hertzler’’s subjects, out of the blue. Either they are just spouting a non-sequitur, or they are referencing the constantly moving goalpost for millennials in their quest, in a world that increasingly undervalues them, to still find meaning and purpose.

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BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Leslie Combemale

Margot Martindale makes every movie better, but co-writer/directors Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy’s new indie feature Blow the Man Down needs no propping, as things rapidly go from Shakespearean bad to worse in a small New England fishing village named Easter Cove, where there are few ways out, and most of them involve something illegal.

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THE WHISTLERS – Review by Leslie Combemale

I’m all for whistling while you work, but Romanian writer/director Corneliu Porumboiu takes it to a new level in his The Whistlers, a heist flick centered on crooks learning an ancient whistling language in order to break a drug dealer and money launderer out of prison to get at the 30 million Euros he’s got stashed somewhere. It’s a very convoluted story full of betrayals, treachery, and ultimately, full of confusion.

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THE BURNT ORANGE HERESY – Review by Leslie Combemale

There’s something perverse in seeing great actors doing great work in a film that has an extremely problematic script and plot. In the new release The Burnt Orange Heresy, directed by Giuseppe Capotondi and written by Scott B. Smith from the Charles Willeford novel, a collection of endlessly enigmatic actors that includes Claes Bang, Elizabeth Debicki, Donald Sutherland, and Mick Jagger breathe temporary life into, but can’t resuscitate this pretentious neo-noir script.

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