FREE SOLO – Review by Diane Carson

Free Solo is breathtaking and terrifying. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s documentary Free Solo profiles Alex Honnold, the climber who admits often considering free climbing El Capitan, Earth’s most impressive, 3200-foot granite wall. But, as Alex repeatedly said to himself, “That’s just too scary.” Nevertheless, he knew he had to attempt it, insane as the idea is because there is zero margin for error.

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JULY 22 – Review by Diane Carson

July 22 honors Norway’s strength and heart. Writer/director Paul Greengrass has demonstrated his talent for boldly dramatizing sensitive subjects. In July 22, he takes on the worst terrorist attack in Norway’s history. The massacre on Utoya Island — where dozens of teenagers were attending a Labor Party Camp — left seventy-seven people dead and dozens injured.

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FIRST MAN – Review by Diane Carson

A monumental scientific and historical event, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 21, 1969, the first person to do so. Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man puts that phenomenally difficult, dangerous event in the context of the wonder, the terror, the tragedies and the triumph that go along with it. Moreover, we feel Armstrong’s overwhelming physical and emotional struggles.

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ALL ABOUT NINA – Review by Diane Carson

All About Nina is indeed all about Nina, a dysfunctional, damaged, crude, aggressive stand-up comedienne. Nina clearly overcompensates for her vulnerability and victimization earlier in life, not an unusual reaction for traumatized women or men. The film accurately interprets Nina’s psychological coping mechanisms. Nevertheless, there’s too little analytical insight beyond this narrative’s superficial, emotional staging.

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A STAR IS BORN – Review by Diane Carson

A Star Is Born gives Lady Gaga a platform worthy of her immense talent. Bradley Cooper spent four years obsessed with his remake and update of A Star Is Born. This investment of time, energy and creativity pays dividends in his writing/directing debut. It also stars Cooper as Jackson Maine, a popular country musician fighting to maintain his hearing and his appeal. But this film showcases the glorious, brilliant performance by Lady Gaga.

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FAHRENHEIT 11/9 – Review by Diane Carson

Fahrenheit 11/9 sounds a clarion call to political action. As with his politics, Michael Moore’s documentaries have never been subtle. So Fahrenheit 11/9 comes as no surprise with its compelling, vibrant approach to contemporary American issues. To support his case regarding our appalling milieu, Moore tackles a range of topics from President Trump’s bellicose comments to teachers’ strikes; Flint’s water crisis; Parkland, Florida shootings; and more.

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RYUICHI SAKAMOTO: CODA – Review by Diane Carson

Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda profiles this talented, humble composer. Some rare, wonderful individuals have the gift of modeling ways to approach life and persevere in the face of illness. One of those amazing people is Ryuichi Sakamoto, an award-winning Japanese musician and an environmental activist. In the documentary tribute to him, Ryuichi Sakamoto: Coda, director Stephen Nomura Schible captures his spirit, his art, and his inspirational approach to society.

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WE THE ANIMALS — Review by Diane Carson

We the Animals adopts 10-year-old Jonah’s point of view. Reminiscent of Beasts of the Southern Wild and The Florida Project, We the Animals embraces the attentive, wary perspective of 10-year-old Jonah. Largely unsupervised, he romps with brothers Joel and Manny, neglected by their mother and their father who fight each other and their own vanquished mentality, trapped in a working-class world offering little beyond frustration alternating with occasional enjoyment.

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