TICK, TICK…BOOM! – Review by Martha K Baker

Every teacher has had a student who tried to charm his way to an A by writing about how he couldn’t write the paper assigned. Tick, Tick…BOOM proves that sometimes it works. This is the Jonathan Larson musical he wrote — before the phenomenal Rent — about writing a musical. And, boy! does it work!

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MAYOR PETE – Review by Martha K Baker

Video-recording a modern campaign for President of the United States requires agility. The campaign itself, of necessity, demands consistency and, thus, repetition — not always the making of a vibrant documentary. The filmmaker and editor have to select reportage that engages. The same for the candidates themselves. Mayor Pete presents the candidate, Pete Buttigieg from beginning to end of that 2020 campaign. Instead of being the report of a man now in the White House, it is the biography of a political career in its adolescence, heading nicely toward greater success.

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SURGE – Review by Martha K Baker

Surge is one of those films that, half-way through, will have viewers — even the most ardent fans — saying, “Enough. I get it.” Maybe Surge will play better shown for acting classes than in theaters, even those at film festivals, or streamed with the “off” button handy on the remote. There is one reason, and one reason alone, to watch Surge: Ben Whishaw.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Martha K Baker

You know how Ted Lasso was exactly the series we needed to watch during the pandemic? Well, Language Lessons fits into that category, too, as it’s also about believing and healing, and it’s also funny and poignant and so well done. Credit goes entirely to writers and stars Mark Duplass and Natalie Morales. She directed the lovely little film.

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SUNKEN ROADS: THREE GENERATIONS AFTER D-DAY – Review by Martha K Baker

People who remain interested in the history of D-Day, June 6, 1944, will find much to absorb in “Sunken Roads: Three Generations After D-Day.” This documentary differs from other History Channel-types due to the presence of the filmmaker, Charlotte Juergens. She concentrates on the veterans, not on the paratroopers’ generals, in an effort to connect with her great-grandfather Pat.

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CIVIL WAR – Review by Martha K Baker

How do Americans tell the history of the time our country suffered an insurrection? How do we teach about the Civil War, learn about it, perpetuate “The Lost Cause”? How do we translate the period of Reconstruction to the continuing era of White Supremacy? Filmmaker Rachel Boynton asked those questions, over and over, in class rooms and council rooms and living rooms.

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THE LONLIEST WHALE – Review by Martha K Baker

Watching The Loneliest Whale is a little like being on an actual whale watch. Whether in Baja, Mexico, or Bar Harbor, Maine, you hope for a sighting, patiently watching the water for the rising up of the largest mammal. Even if none arise, you enjoy the journey out to sea. The Loneliest Whale is a hybrid documentary, as much about loneliness as a human experience as it is about a whale and its weird song. As one of the scientists says, “Every story has an ending even if it’s not the one expected.”

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MAID – Review by Martha K Baker

The creator of Maid, Molly Smith Metzler, wrought fiction from Maid, a good book of facts about poverty in America. Although it’s best to remember that the television series is not the book (kind of like Nomadland“, the Netflix series sincerely studies poverty — especially its burden on women.

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