BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Loren King

A terrific piece of regional filmmaking, Blow the Man Down takes the Minnesota-set Fargo and shifts it to fictional Easter Cove, a fishing village in Maine. Beyond the blackly comic tone, the amusing accents and the small town quirky characters and mindset, the film, written and directed by Bridget Savage Cole and Danielle Krudy, is a subtle female revenge and empowerment story.

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SWALLOW – Review by Loren King

Writer/director Carlo Mirabella-Davis and star Haley Bennett, who gives a stunningly modulated performance, have crafted a contemporary horror film laced with black humor and an empowerment message. Swallow is a rare, original feminist thriller whose mounting horrors gradually reveal that the hidden monster is the patriarchy.

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FAMILY OBLIGATIONS – Review by Loren King

There is plenty of rich material in this modest, wryly humorous, very human drama about the pain families can inflict and the bumpy road to healing. Despite the weighty material, writer/director Kenneth R. Frank wisely doesn’t go in or melodrama but instead delivers a gentle, earnest, relatable story with characters that are easy to root for.

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THE ASSISTANT – Review by Loren King

To watch this film while Harvey Weinstein is on trial for rape is a gut punch. Australian writer-director Kitty Green’s minimalist, keenly observed study of a young woman, Jane (Julia Garner) who works for a movie mogul in downtown New York is clearly based on Weinstein. But even more illuminating is its depiction of an exploitative, nearly cult-like, soul-crushing work culture that enables an abusive predator.

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BUCK RUN – Review by Loren King

The mood of loss and regret is palpable in this gritty indie drama about how neglected 15 year old Shaw Templeton (Nolan Lyons) struggles to cope in the days following his mother’s death.

Director Nick Frangione, working from a script by David Hauslein, creates a believable dead-end atmosphere in rural Pennsylvania (there are shots of Amish in the community) where Shaw lives with his mother (Amy Hargreaves) who has just died at home. A wig on the dresser and her relative youth is all we need to know about the cause; particularly affecting are flashbacks of Shaw as he helps his mother into the bathroom — he appears to be her sole caretaker — and his shock and denial when he finds her dead.

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THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES – Review by Loren King

Alison Reid’s illuminating documentary is a terrific introduction to Anne Innis Dagg, a mild mannered Canadian zoologist who has only recently been given her due. Dagg’s groundbreaking discoveries about wild giraffes, meticulously documented during her solo stay in remote South Africa as an enterprising 23 year-old in 1956, are still cited by zoologists, researchers and conservationists who consider her book The Giraffe: Its Biology, Behavior, and Ecology to be the “the bible” on the subject.

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