MY OCTOPUS TEACHER – Review by Diane Carson

The lovely, surprising documentary My Octopus Teacher features, as the film title accurately states, a wild octopus that educates the central character, Craig Foster. He becomes enlightened and enriched regarding the multiple ways a partnership with nature, this one octopus in particular, benefits an individual. As astonishing as it is heartwarming, Foster generously shares an incredible journey.

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NATIONTIME – Review by Diane Carson

Producer/director William Greaves’ documentary of the landmark 1972 National Black Political Convention was once feared lost to posterity, then found in a Pittsburgh warehouse. At the time of its production, fear of its militancy dissuaded broadcasters. Further, Greaves edited a seventy minute film, though only an hour version circulated. Thanks to Jane Fonda, who attended the Convention, the Hollywood Press Association, and IndieCollect’s guidance, Nationtime is now restored in a full, 4K version to Greaves’ original intent.

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MEMORIES OF MURDER – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Yung Chang’s documentary is, the title notwithstanding, a terrific movie. It profiles multi-award-winning, veteran journalist Robert Fisk who has covered the Middle East for forty years. His political and cultural knowledge is formidable, distinguishing his astute, often challenging interpretation of events.

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THIS IS NOT A MOVIE – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Yung Chang’s documentary This Is Not a Movie is, the title notwithstanding, a terrific movie. It profiles multi-award-winning, veteran journalist Robert Fisk who has covered the Middle East for forty years. As revealed in the course of just under two hours film time, his political and cultural knowledge is formidable, distinguishing his astute, often challenging interpretation of events.

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THE COMEY RULE – Review by Diane Carson

Deciding to adapt former FBI director James Comey’s 2018 memoir A Higher Loyalty for Showtime’s series The Comey Rule, writer/director Billy Ray faced a daunting task. He needed to present extensively reported well-known recent events accurately and dramatically, while also adding insightful information. Ray meets this challenge by finding the heart of the story not in added details but in the conflict of an ethical individual handling political dynamite.

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RATCHED – Review by Diane Carson

Every frame of Ratched communicates the off-kilter nightmare realm. The art direction, including lighting, gives an expressionistic twist to its bizarre, hermetically sealed setting. The cinematography intensifies the garish greens, antiseptic whites, shimmering blues, and rainbow of psychedelic colors, complemented by red lipstick, so bright it all but jumps off the women’s lips that look more like wounds.

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THE EIGHT HUNDRED – Review by Diane Carson

Chinese director Guan Hu tackles one of the most brutal and iconic battles in The Eight Hundred. Based on historical events relating to the 1937 battle for Shanghai, four hundred Chinese soldiers, known as the Eight Hundred Heroes, greatly outnumbered by Japanese forces, fight for four days to hold the Si Hang Warehouse, protecting Chinese soldiers retreating westward.

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OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES – Review by Diane Carson

Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles shows food is mouthwatering art. Early in the documentary, London-based, self-described philosopher chef Yotam Ottolenghi receives an unusual request via an email from the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. Will he oversee a celebration of exquisite pastries to accompany the 2018 Visitors to Versailles exhibit documenting that French court, home of the aristocracy from 1682 to 1789.

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DAMNATION – Review by Diane Carson

A palpable sense of dread defines every scene, beginning with the opening shot of industrial coal buckets transported via an elevated cable mechanism moving diagonally across the frame as grinding, grating sound drones on. Surely, nothing good will happen here. Yet, so beautiful are the tableaus, so powerful the performances that the despondent individuals in their dismal story keep Damnation from feeling as unappealing as the title implies.

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I’M THINKING OF ENDING THINGS – Review by Diane Carson

Prepare to dive down a rabbit hole of memory and joyful exploration of disconnected sequences. Figuring out how the pieces fit is a pointless endeavor. The only way to weave happily through this two and a quarter hour fantasy is to surrender to the tantalizing, playful, disjointed interactions and embrace the joy of letting go of reason and judgment.

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