AWFJ EDA Award 2019, Best Film: PARASITE – Review by Diane Carson

South Korean director Joon-ho Bong’s Parasite lives up to its name, meaning that it feeds off several film genres while remaining impressively unique. As with his earlier works (The Host, Mother, Snowpiercer, and Okja), Bong embeds a biting social critique in a dynamic narrative with unexpected risks and satisfying surprises. In Parasite, social inequality and class collision take center stage.

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DARK WATERS – Review by Diane Carson

In the vein of Erin Brockovich and Spotlight, Dark Waters charts the marathon, eighteen-year legal investigation and fight to hold DuPont responsible for lethal contamination of water in and around Parkersburg, West Virginia. This gripping, true story uncovers DuPont’s appalling dumping of over seven thousand tons of the toxic, nonbiodegradable chemical known as C8 or PFOA.

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STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER – Review by Diane Carson

Director/co-writer J.J. Abrams reports intense apprehension about taking on the ninth (and last) chapter in the latest Star Wars trilogy. At the helm, Abrams and the hundreds who contributed their talents to this much-anticipated endeavor present a worthy addition to the saga. Flawless editing flashes through breathtaking action sequences with zing and flair, animating skirmishes while enjoyably increasing most fans’ blood pressure.

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THE TWO POPES – Review by Diane Carson

Metaphors comment unobtrusively on a variety of current issues: building bridges not walls, income inequality, tyranny, modest vs. indulgent life styles. These important topics are punctuated with nice touches of humor and music. The Two Popes speaks to everyone who examines, as honestly as possible, the decisions of their lives, whether Muslim, Jewish, Hindu, Catholic, Protestant, agnostic, atheist, or anything else.

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A HIDDEN LIFE – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Terrence Malick’s fans will not be surprised that A Hidden Life unfolds for almost three hours with overwhelmingly gorgeous cinematography and character introspection. Based on true events, in 1939, Austrian farmer Franz Jägerstätter resides in St. Radegund, a beautiful, incongruously quiet mountain village. War looming, Franz reports to basic training, leaving behind wife Fani and three daughters.

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RICHARD JEWELL – Review by Diane Carson

Joel Cox’s editing moves this story along with emotional closeups, and cinematographer Yves Bélanger’s strong compositions deliver strong content without distractions. The takeaway is that Eastwood’s presentation of Richard Jewell’s unjust victimization insists on a political relevance for our current climate, a targeted message that can’t be missed.

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THE AERONAUTS – Review by Diane Carson

Some breathtaking events seem absolutely perfect for film, and that is certainly true for The Aeronauts. Set in 1862 England, the suspenseful, thrilling story goes with James Glaisher and Emilia Wren, adventurers determined to advance science and meteorology while also setting a new altitude record for a gas balloon, above 36,000 feet, with no auxiliary, pressurized breathing apparatus.

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HONEY BOY – Review by Diane Carson

In her feature narrative debut, director Alma Har’el doesn’t flinch from a straightforward depiction of the cruelty inflicted. Certainly, in constructive or destructive ways, everyone strives to come to terms with their upbringing. Honey Boy may well help in the effort. As the counselor says, “A seed has to destroy itself to become a flower.”

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Noah Baumbach tackles one of everyone’s most difficult experiences in Marriage Story, that is, the dissolution of an intimate relationship that also includes a cherished, young son. Adam Driver as husband Charlie and Scarlett Johansson as wife Nicole delve deep into painful emotional territory in a narrative alternately sweet, even amusing, tender, and, ultimately, agonizing.

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