EMILY THE CRIMINAL – Review by Loren King

Even admirers of the always solid work from Aubrey Plaza over the years will be stunned by her riveting, nuanced performance in this taut thriller/character study about a young woman who, for complicated reasons, is trapped by her circumstances and turns to a life of crime. That’s the power of both John Patton Ford’s razor sharp debut and Plaza’s coiled but controlled performance.

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GABBY GIFFORDS WON’T BACK DOWN – Review by Loren King

No matter how much you think you know about Gabby Giffords, this moving film from directors Julie Cohen and Betsy West is eye-opening, urgent and revelatory. It traces how Giffords, a charismatic and impassioned moderate Arizona Congresswoman with a bright political future, was shot through the head while meeting with her constituents on a January morning in 2011. Giffords miraculously survived but eight others, including a nine year old girl, were killed in the assignation attempt. We get to witness Giffords’ determined, difficult battle to recover her speech and mobility

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CLARA SOLA – Review by Loren King

The unique and wholly original Clara Sola is a gorgeous, finely etched character study about the title character, a mature woman with physical and mental limitations who rebels against repression by her mother and her environment, a lush and mysterious Costa Rican forest. The magnificent Wendy Chinchilla Araya, making her movie debut, plays the childlike Clara who lives with her niece María (Ana Julia Porras Espinoza) and her religious mother Fresia (Flor María Vargas Chaves).

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GOOD LUCK TO YOU, LEO GRANDE – Review by Loren King

Nudity and sex may bring the curious to Good Luck to You, Leo Grande but many viewers will be surprised to be moved more by the touching emotional journey that the characters take. Good Luck to You, Leo Grande, about a middle aged woman’s sexual awakening, rests entirely on the performances of its two leads who elevate the premise to a tender tale of affirmation and self-acceptance. Daryl McCormack as Leo, a hunky sex worker and, especially, Emma Thompson as Nancy, the uptight widow who pays for his services, bring more introspection and nuance to the frisky material than one might expect

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FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK – Review by Loren King

Not only is Bobbi Jo Hart’s documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock an entertaining eye opener about the seminal, ceiling-cracking all-women band, it’s up-to-the-moment contemporary history about how these rock and roll women are still setting a living example and influencing new generations of women musicians.

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PETITE MAMAN – Review by Loren King

A fairytale, a ghost story, a spare meditation on grief, loss, motherhood and the delicate mysteries of childhood — Celine Sciamma’s Petite Maman is all these things adding up to a deeply moving, spellbinding film that evokes tenderness and heartbreak in delving into what children can never know about a parent and what a gift it is to imagine glimpsing that precious unknowable, even for a moment.

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COW – Review by Loren King

Andrea Arnold’s bracing documentary may take time to pull some viewers into the Fred Wiseman-like immersion on an English cattle farm. But as cows are routinely milked, handled, herded into one pen after another, across mud-soaked floors and under buzzing bright lights, a rhythm sets in. The routine is the point. These are service animals; the unnamed humans who brusquely command them (“c’mon, girlie”) and corral them are just doing the day in, day out business of taking from them until there is nothing left to take.

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Patricia Rozema on I’VE HEARD THE MERMAIDS SINGING, Self Confidence and Queer Cinema- Loren King interviews

Writer/director Patricia Rozema had no idea in 1987 that her feature debut I’ve Heard the Mermaids Singing would become a classic and ranked in the Toronto International Film Festival’s Top 10 Canadian Films of all time. Rozema simply made the film she wanted to make. The film’s success is even more impressive when one considers that 1987 was several years before the advent of the “New QueerCinema” and certainly well before conciseness about diverse screen roles for women.

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CALENDAR GIRL – Review by Loren King

Christian D. Brunn’s Calendar Girl is part of the fashion documentary tradition that includes Diana Vreeland: The Eye Has to Travel, The September Issue and Unzipped, among many others. It’s tangentially about fashion; what makes it so compelling and important is its true subject, Ruth Finley.

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LUCY AND DESI – Review by Loren King

If Being the Ricardos, despite Nicole Kidman’s and Javier Bardem’s Oscar nominated performances, didn’t convey the seismic impact of the personal and professional partnership of Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz on the entertainment world, then and now, the corrective is the documentary Lucy and Desi. Amy Poehler directed this treasure of rare, candid photographs and film clips including home movies that traces their careers, marriage and creation of the groundbreaking TV comedy I Love Lucy. Poehler lets the story unfold largely in their own words, through film footage and audio recordings.

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