EMILY @ THE EDGE OF CHAOS – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Based on her 2009 stage play of the same name, self-styled “philosopher-comic” Emily Levine’s darkly comic meditation on quantum physics and living with a slow-moving pituitary-gland disorder that causes varying degrees of disability and distortion of the hands, feet and face–is, against all odds, a genuinely funny and informative romp through science, history, politics and personal experience.

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THINGS HEARD & SEEN – Review by Maitland McDonagh

A smartly spooky movie in which the true monsters are all too real, husband-and-wife team Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini’s adaptation of Elizabeth Brundage’s All Things Cease to Appear, is driven by a haunting whose nature is tantalizingly unclear.

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THE COLUMNIST – Review by Maitland McDonagh

A darkly comic thriller about the perils of social-media obsession, this handsome and well-acted film covers familiar territory–especially (though certainly not limited to) for women with high-profile social media presences–with grand guignol flair. Columnist Femke writes for a popular website, appealing to readers who appreciate her sharp but non-confrontational musings about being a divorced single mother trying to get through the day and support her smart. rebellious. fledgling-feminist daughter’s war against conformist high-school culture.

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QUO VADIS, AIDA? – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Bosnian filmmaker Jasmila Zbanic’s Quo Vadis, Aida? unfolds during the bitter dismantling of the former Yugoslavia, defined by brutal conflicts between the country’s Serbian, Croat and Bosnian residents who were divided on multiple fronts with religion often coming to the forefront and pitting Catholics, Muslims and Eastern Orthodox Christians against each other in the mid 1990s to horrific result.

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THE YELLOW WALLPAPER – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Based on Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s delicately brutal 1892 novella, The Yellow Wallpaper (1982) is a delicately evocative horror story of the first order, rooted in the reality of post-partum depression and added burden of its pernicious denial. Young wife and mother Jane is trapped on every front. Her husband John and brother James –both physicians–are quick to ascribe her pervasive unhappiness to hysteria, a catchall term designed to blame a multitude of woes and malaises to the mercurial vagaries of women’s wombs.

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MY SALINGER YEAR – Review by Maitland McDonagh

The trouble with My Salinger Year isn’t that it’s a terrible movie–it’s not. It’s that its version of Joanna Rakoff ‘s novel is so profoundly uninteresting; earnest, naïve, bright without being especially perceptive and untested by the kind of experiences that fiction writers use to force such unformed characters to develop.

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THE SINNERS – Review by Maitland McDonagh

Over determined nonsense wrapped in atmospheric cinematography and solid performances, directed and co-written by Courtney Paige, Sinners is a sleek undermining of pop-culture mores that never rises beyond waspish snark. It is clued in to how incestuously suffocating teenaged girls’ friendships can be, which isn’t a revelation but is valid and the film’s oppressive Christian-indoctrination background rings true. But it still feels twice as long as it is because honestly, not news.

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LA LLORONA – Review by Maitland McDonagh

La LLorona strikes a delicate balance between the mundane–family secrets and lies, gracious interiors that begin to seem cramped — the threat of physical and emotional violence of things unsaid within and intrusions from beyond. It’s both intelligent and emotionally haunting, political and fantastical, a powerful combination in the right hands.

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THE BAY OF SILENCE – Review by Maitland McDonagh

While the film’s underlying subject–the poisonous legacy of childhood abuse–could be called lurid, director Paula Van der Oest and screenwriter Caroline Goodall keep the focus firmly on the characters, with Claes Bang and Olga Kurylenko delivering nuanced performances that give their characters surprising depth given that the film maintains the swift pace of a thriller, and the beautiful production design and cinematography never detract from the ugliness of their experiences.

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