JULIA – Review by Loren King

Directed by Julie Cohen and Betsy West, Julia combines crowd pleaser and feminist perspective. It celebrates Child’s accomplishments and outsized personality as she became an unlikely TV star at age 50 when her cooking show The French Chef debuted on Boston’s WGBH in 1963. Child’s low budget show was unedited, allowing for the ad libs and occasional gaffes that endeared her to viewers.

Read more

HIVE – Review by Loren King

No wonder that this assured and haunting debut from writer/director Blerta Basholli, an award winner at Sundance, is Kosovo’s official entry for the Oscars’ international feature category. Hive is Kosovo’s eighth Oscar entry but the country has yet to secure a nomination. This powerful, important film is more than deserving. Albanian actress Yllka Gashi portrays the real life figure of Fahrije Hoti who struggles to keep her family afloat after the disappearance of her husband along with all the men in her village after a massacre during the 1990s war in Kosovo.

Read more

BERGMAN ISLAND – Review by Loren King

A relationship drama, razor sharp character study and a poignant portrait of the overlapping of life and art and the blurring fiction and autobiography, “Bergman Island” is a sumptuous addition to writer/director Mia Hansen-Løve’s already impressive body of work. The setting is Faro Island where Swedish director Ingmar Bergman lived, worked and shot many of his famous films. But Hansen-Løve isn’t trying for homage or even for her own “Bergmanesque” movie. Her work is far too original for that. Instead, she’s created a story about life and art with tender insight, humor and without a whiff of pretension.

Read more

ASCENSION – Review by Loren King

In an extraordinary sequence in the verite documentary Ascension, factory workers in China assemble adult female sex dolls that appear to be made of silicone. As the shimmering mannequins are laid out on metal tables like cadavers, their legs upended, the mostly young women labor over them, carefully painting their nipples.

Read more

WHO YOU THINK I AM – Review by Loren King

Who You Think I Am had me at Juliette Binoche, and Binoche’s character, French literature professor Claire, had me at the mention of Marguerite Duras. Yes, this smart and textured dark comedy of manners-meets-Hitchcockian thriller deftly mixes Claire’s feminist viewpoint lectures about Duras, Nora in Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, and Les Liaisons Dangereuses with a deliciously twisty and topical plot about Claire’s dangerous dalliances on social media.

Read more

LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD – Review by Loren King

Many of us probably haven’t thought about dominoes, those tiles as ordinary as a deck of cards, let alone played with them in years. But chances are you’ve never seen dominoes used in the way that Lily Hevesh uses them to construct elaborate spirals and sculptures only to be toppled with the gentle flick of a finger into a mesmerizing, nearly musical chain reaction. Hevesh is the 20 year old superstar of professional domino construction — yes, there is such a thing — a feat that requires ingenuity and engineering, not to mention patience and concentration. Thanks to YouTube, she’s become a phenomenon with some three million subscribers.

Read more

CODA – Review by Loren King

By wrapping her coming of age story in a completely fresh milieu, writer/director Sian Heder delivers that rare thing: an engrossing and moving family centered film. Casting terrific deaf actors, headed by the great Marlee Matlin who deserves this plum role as family matriarch, gives CODA a potent authenticity as does shooting it in the hardscrabble fishing village of Gloucester, Mass. which provides the lived-in setting. Without giving anything away, I will only say: bring tissues.

Read more

CODA – Review by Pam Grady

CODA is a funny and moving coming-of-age tale and examination of family dynamics. As a child of deaf adults (aka CODA) who also has a deaf brother, Ruby has grown up navigating the hearing world for her parents as well as helping out at her dad’s fishing business. But in her last year of high school, a crush on classmate Miles leads her to join the school choir where she gains a lot more than a sweet new boyfriend: She finds herself as the gift of her voice reveals itself. And from there conflict arises. Developing her talent means leaving home after graduation against her family’s wishes.

Read more

AILEY – Review by Loren King

Director Jamila Wignot blends performance, poetry and social consciousness in her documentary Ailey, about modern dance legend Alvin Ailey. Wignot crafts an impressionistic portrait of the artist and his time that’s reminiscent of the revelatory I Am Not Your Negro, the 2016 film about iconic writer James Baldwin.

Read more