AQUARELA – Review by Diane Carson

Without any narration, director Victor Kossakovsky’s documentary Aquarela pays homage to the majesty and power of water, along with the danger and tragedies global warming has caused. Observing but never interpreting, Kossakovsky travels the world: Greenland to Venezuela, Canada to Portugal, Russia to Costa Rica, in his tribute to water through absolutely astonishing images.

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Telluride Film Fest 2019: It’s a Wrap – Diane Carson reports

That no competitive awards are presented makes Telluride Film Festival a pure celebration of film as the aesthetic treasure it is. The festival’s 46th edition maintained its reputation for outstanding film selection, though more foreign films and more offerings directed by and starring women would have been welcome addition to the roster. Yet, the brilliant and varied program made for a great cinematic experience at Telluride 2019. It’s a good time to be a film lover.

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THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON – Review by Diane Carson

Inspired by their friendship with Zack Gottsagen, a young man (twenty-two) with Down syndrome, writers/directors Tyler Nilson and Michael Schwartz knew they had to make a movie honoring Zack. As some previous efforts featuring differently abled individuals have shown, it isn’t easy to avoid patronizing or sentimentalizing the subject, plus Nilson and Schwartz had never made a film.

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ONE CHILD NATION – Review by Diane Carson

Reliable statistics are informative. Hearing the personal, painful stories of those reflected in numbers adds the emotional element to cold facts. That is what directors Nanfu Wang and Jialing Zhang bring to their documentary One Child Nation, a profound examination of China’s policy, introduced in 1979, mandating no more than one child per family to limit population growth.

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SUBURBAN BIRDS – Review by Diane Carson

In his impressive but elusive feature film debut, Suburban Birds, writer/director Sheng Qiu offers two stories implicitly commenting on each other. They thereby suggest a handful of heady ideas for contemplation without ever explicitly mounting an argument for them. Further separating events into two parallel tracks, Sheng chooses different cinematic styles for each of the narrative threads.

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AFTER THE WEDDING – Review by Diane Carson

With today’s omnipresent information, shadow lives can be discovered and made public, and some decisions merit reconsideration. There are astonishing inequities between rich and poor in the U.S. and India, or almost anywhere in the U.S. But there’s a delicacy needed to presenting ideas for consideration, less can be more. Here the inequity is cast aside as the plot device it is, and the degree of Theresa’s stridency as an abusive boss telegraphs the lack of complexity with added misogyny.

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MILLENNIUM ACTRESS – Review by Diane Carson

One of the outstanding features of Japanese animé is the artists’ attention to detail. Captivating stories intertwine complex characters’ political and personal circumstances, kept at a safe distance through animation, all the while presenting poignant content. Co-writer/director Satoshi Kon’s 2002 Millennium Actress comes close to achieving the highest artistry while delivering a bittersweet, deeply moving narrative.

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LUCE – Review by Diane Carson

Director Julius Onah’s Luce trades on the perplexing challenge of accurately accessing character, even in individuals known quite well and occasionally on public display. Add to that a Rashomon factor, that is, the subjective trap for everyone of their own status and personality, and the complications multiply, the film’s audience included as we second guess our own judgments.

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TEL AVIV ON FIRE – Review by Diane Carson

Comedy is always a finely tuned art form. Co-writer/director Zoabi uses it here with a delicate, albeit absurdist approach that deftly takes on this impossibly challenging world. The music helps enormously to establish the melodramatic ambiance, sufficiently distant from the real, embattled one to permit laughter. Technically, the acting, the pace, the compositions, and the flirting with farce—all these make me wish that, as here, the real world could be changed by a facetious fictional one.

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