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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WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL – Review by Loren King

Pauline Kael, who wrote about film for The New Yorker, was one of the few high profile women critics in the 60s and early 70s and is credited with inventing modern film criticism with her colloquial, smart but non-academic approach. This entertaining documentary, essential for cinephiles and anyone who writes about film, traces Kael’s career as she struggled for years to eke out a living as a critic while raising her daughter, Gina James (interviewed in the film) on her own, a most unconventional undertaking in the late ‘40s.

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THE BODY REMEMBERS WHEN THE WORLD BROKE OPEN – Review by Loren King

This deliberately paced, remarkable first feature from Elle-Máijá Tailfeathers who co-directed and co-wrote the film with Kathleen Hepburn, centers on two indigenous young women, Áila (played by Tailfeathers) and Rosie (Violet Nelson) who meet by chance on the street and, by the end of their journey, may likely never meet again. But their story is raw and real and, if one sticks with it, rewarding.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Loren King

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, winner of the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is an unforgettable love story that unspools at a slow burn until the final act, which blazes with an incandescence. The women don’t end up together — no surprise, given the times, and this outcome is made clear by the film’s opening scene. But through artistic images of one another — those they recorded, what they revealed — they keep alive a precious, private memory forever burned into their hearts and minds.

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SHOOTING THE MAFIA – Review by Loren King

Besides being a compelling portrait of famed photojournalist Letizia Battaglia and the forces she stood up to in Sicily, Shooting the Mafia is chilling, timely piece of journalism about the far reaching tentacles of corruption and how it systematically ruins innocent lives and decimates societies. It is a chilling, powerful film with contemporary relevance.

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ATLANTICS – Review by Loren King

What a stunning, original, visually striking feature debut from Mati Diop. Senegal’s entry for Best International Film Oscar consideration,Atlantics made history and generated wide interest when it won the Grand Prix at Cannes. Not just that, but Diop, who is of African and French heritage, became the first black woman to direct a film featured in the Festival’s Competition section.

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HONEY BOY – Review by Loren King

Alma Har’el, best known for the 2011 documentary Bombay Beach with its intimate moments of beauty in a gritty story about life on the margins, must be credited for the searing, memory-soaked urgency of Honey Boy, her fiction directing debut. What could have been a maudlin melodrama about family dysfunction is instead, despite the heartbreaking and disturbing abusive father-son relationship at the center, a haunting and lyrical memory piece.

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