HOUSE OF GUCCI – Review by Diane Carson

House of Gucci chronicles unpleasant events regarding this fashion brand. Based on Sara Gay Forden’s 2001 book The House of Gucci: A Sensational Story of Murder, Madness, Glamour, and Greed, the four elements emphasized in her title pinpoint the essence of the drama. Announced on screen as “inspired by true events,” it has, nevertheless, received extensive Gucci family criticism, the book and the film. No wonder, for no one comes off admirably depicted.

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THE HAND OF GOD – Review by Diane Carson

Taking charge of his own story in The Hand of God, director Paolo Sorrentino dramatizes his experiences growing up in 1980s Naples. Through his surrogate, Fabietto, he captures the animated, loving Schisa family. With homages to Fellini’s style and the Italian love of soccer, as embodied by Diego Maradona, this autobiographical film transcends specific events while also honoring them.

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THE POWER OF THE DOG – Review by Diane Carson

New Zealand director Jane Campion has a knack for isolating individuals in a remote, harsh location, applying pressure, and watching civilization unravel. That’s exactly what she does in The Power of the Dog, set on a vast Montana cattle ranch in 1925 where two brothers, the wife, and her son will become immersed in an unnerving psychological battle. The Power of the Dog is one of this year’s most haunting, well-executed films.

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KING RICHARD – Review by Diane Carson

Director Reinaldo Marcus Green’s King Richard focuses on Richard Williams, the single-minded father of the great tennis sisters, Venus and Serena Williams in their early days. Richard guides and perfects their talent through a racist sport where opportunities arrive only because of his unflinching, unflappable determination with support from his wife Oracene.

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BELFAST – Review by Diane Carson

Writer/director Kenneth Branagh’s film Belfast is based on his first nine years growing up there as the Irish Troubles erupted in 1969. It unfolds in gorgeous black-and-white that evokes the time period, yielding to color only when the family at the center of the political conflict escapes to the cinema in this autobiographical story of politics, religion, and country.

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SPENCER – Review by Diane Carson

As Princess Diana, Kristen Stewart gives a magnetic performance. Most impressive was her ability to capture Diana’s nonverbal subtleties and her verbal rhythms, to communicate her entrapment and then the release of dancing spontaneously, exuberantly. Stewart was asked to dance at the conclusion of many production days, and the editing together of this extemporaneous, free expression conveys what Diana has been suppressing.

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THE ELECTRICAL LIFE OF LOUIS WAIN – Review by Diane Carson

That director Will Sharpe establishes a spirited, often amusing approach to Louis Wain’s life adds to the entertainment of his roller coaster fortunes without minimizing the hardships he encountered: his adored wife Emily dying young of breast cancer, his sister Marie suffering from schizophrenia, nightmares of drowning, coping with underemployment and social scandal while struggling to lift his mother and five unmarried sisters out of increasingly impoverished circumstances, failing to copyright his images, and his escalating mental illness.

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DUNE – Review by Diane Carson

We’ve waited a long time for director Denis Villeneuve’s Dune, and, yes, it has been worth the wait in terms of its overpowering visuals and sound design. The technical elements do all but smother the ecological, sociopolitical critique, but it’s there in battles for the rare commodity spice, imperialist incursions affecting the native Fremin culture, and the imperial family skirmishes.

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WHEN MEN WERE MEN (Austin Film Fest) – Review by Diane Carson

Co-writer/co-director Aidan Dick plays Egan; co-writer/co-director Izzi Rojas takes on the central Kieran role. The heartfelt commitment to this project produces some convincing, empathetic moments. It’s a familiar, even at times clichéd, message but one still critically important to those who are transgender and all who do, as all should, support them. With an estimated budget of $25,000 (imdb listing), what is accomplished is impressive.

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EVERYTHING I EVER WANTED TO TELL MY DAUGHTER ABOUT MEN (Austin Film Fest 2021) – Review by Diane Carson

Cleverly organized and powerfully presented, Everything I Ever Wanted to Tell My Daughter About Men uses a sequence of eight therapy sessions to unravel and reveal multiple loves reflecting the complex emotional problems of the central character, called The Woman. Interweaving flashbacks to the succession of demanding, destructive men in her past, The Women’s searing honesty yields to several explicit lessons and session descriptions, both listed in text on screen.

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