COUSINS – Review by Liz Braun

The criminal mistreatment of indigenous populations is not limited to North America. Cousins is a superb New Zealand drama about three Maori women and their paths in life, from childhood to late middle age. Mata, Missy and Makareta are girl cousins, close in age. One of them gets completely cut off from Maori culture, one is immersed in it and one moves between Maori and white settler cultures. No coincidence that this deeply affecting film is of, for and by women, of course.

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SUN CHILDREN – Review by Liz Braun

Iranian street urchins struggling to survive are the focus of Iranian master Majid Majidi’s latest film, Sun Children, dedicated to the 152 million forced into child labour in the world. The film centers on an adolescent Tehran street kid named Ali and three of his friends, all of whom work hard — often at petty crime — to help support their families. It’s a heartbreaking saga of poverty and determination.

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ZOLA – Review by Liz Braun

A stripper gets more than she bargained for in Zola, a bawdy road trip about sex work, female friendship and the messy world of men. This is ostensibly a comedy, but there’s a dark side to it all that makes Zola a real innocence-to-experience trip, most of that captured through the performance of Taylour Paige in the title role. To put the best possible light on things, it’s a great yarn about storytelling.

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LFG – Review by Liz Braun

Megan Rapinoe is just as good at kicking ass as she is at kicking soccer balls. Rapinoe and her teammates are the focus of LFG, a documentary about the United States women’s national soccer team (USWNT) and their fight for equal pay against the U.S. Soccer Federation. You don’t have to know anything about soccer or care about sport at all to be inspired by these women and infuriated by the inequities they face as world class athletes in their sport of choice.

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UNDINE – Review by Liz Braun

A fairy tale gets a modern retelling in Undine, a symbol-laden love story from German director Christian Petzold (Phoenix; Transit). The 19th century Undine (by Friedrich de la Motte Fouque) was a water nymph who marries a human to get a soul; there are strings attached, however. It’s the same territory as Hans Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, or any other dark fable prior to being Disneyfied.

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RIDERS OF JUSTICE – Review by Liz Braun

Everything about the writing in Riders of Justice is delightful, but the genius of what writer/director Anders Thomas Jensen is doing here is most evident in the creation of a trio of deeply damaged, somewhat deranged and entirely sweet-natured men, each of them ruthless in his capacity to hack into the lives of others, misuse spyware and gather information on enemies real or imagined.

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THE KILLING OF TWO LOVERS – Review by Liz Braun

The slow, sad unravelling of a marriage is at the centre of The Killing of Two Lovers, about the minutiae of life and love and everyday loss. You could say nothing much happens here, in the same way you could say nothing much happens in an Alice Munro story; it’s just your everyday garden variety emotional devastation in the world women must inhabit. So much to do. So little time. So many to placate.

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QUEEN MARIE – Review by Liz Braun

Why the saying “Yeah, and I’m the Queen of Romania” became a punchline remains unknown, but it just might be because the last crowned queen of Romania was an outsized personality with mad diplomatic skills and a wild love life. And great clothes. Queen Marie of Romania, from co-directors Alexis Cahill and Brigitte Drodtloff, focuses on a particular period in the royal’s life — just after World War I. Marie was instrumental in the country entering the war, and Romania took a beating in the conflict.

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STREET GANG: HOW WE GOT TO SESAME STREET- Review by Liz Braun

One doesn’t expect to need a hanky watching a documentary about a kids’ TV show. Yet here we are. The engrossing and surprisingly moving Street Gang: How We Got To Sesame Street is all about the inception and first 20 years of the game-changing children’s television show.

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THEY SAY IT CAN’T BE DONE – Review by Liz Braun

They Say It Can’t Be Done is a fascinating new documentary that just might renew your faith in human ingenuity. The film features a handful of people working on brilliant solutions to such major global problems as climate change and food shortages. What’s involved are things such as lab-grown human organs for life-saving transplant, real chicken nuggets made without harming an animal and a gizmo that looks a bit like your gran’s old drying rack that sucks harmful carbon out of the air. To most laypeople it’s the stuff of science fiction, but it’s all real and happening now.

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