WHO WILL WRITE OUR HISTORY – Review by Martha K. Baker

The backstory is this: In November 1940, Nazis stuffed 450,000 Polish Jews in the Warsaw Ghetto. To tell their stories, a clandestine band of journalists and scholars, led by historian Emanuel Ringelblum, rebelled against the Nazi propaganda declaring Jews as hairy, dirty, and undesirable scum. Ringelblum asked, “Will Germans write our history or will we?” To off-set the lies, Ringelblum and his cohorts collected eye-witness accounts from the Jewish perspective and, in the end, provided documents for persecution of the persecutors.

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ON THE BASIS OF SEX – Review by Martha K Baker

Last year’s documentary, RBG, prepared audiences for this year’s feature film, On the Basis of Sex. Whereas the stirring documentary covers the life of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg, the feature film covers her early, ceiling-breaking case of a man denied a tax exemption that would have been granted were he female.

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WELCOME TO MARWEN – Review by Martha K. Baker

Welcome to Marwen is dark and deep. For those who saw the 2010 documentary, Marwencol, the feature film is a welcome back with “welcome” used advisedly. It’s hard to feel welcomed to a world that, although therapeutic for one man, is strange for visitors. Both films are creepy, a little, and the feature film is dark and hard, a lot.

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COLD WAR – Review by Martha K. Baker

Cold War is blurbed as a romance, but the title refers as much to the plot as to the political and temporal setting of Pawel Pawlikovski‘s haunting film. It begins in 1949, two years after a communist government came to power in the Polish People’s Republic. Ethnomusicologists are roaming the land, auditioning for people’s choruses to celebrate Poland.

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FANTASTIC BEASTS: THE CRIMES OF THE GRINDELWALD – Review by Martha K. Baker

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald darkens and indensifies. What was fluffy and flirty in the first Fantastic Beasts has darkened in this sequel to the prequel, Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them. What was once a flight of fancy, with beasties and ghoulies, now offers really scary stuff plus secrets revealed in true J.K. Rowling tradition.

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A PRIVATE WAR – Review by Martha K. Baker

A Private War demands and delivers. Marie Colvin was an award-winning war correspondent. She lost an eye covering Sri Lanka, and she lost her life in Syria. She was the stuff of legends, pulling stories out of the peoples whose lives were threatened by war, ducking bullets, remaining loyal to friends and lovers all while meeting deadlines.

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THE NUTCRACKER AND THE FOUR REALMS – Review by Martha K Baker

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms combines fantasies. The latest Disney extravaganza is fantastic — literally. The ballet most people know by Marius Petipa is based on a short story called The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, written by E.T.A. Hoffman. Both fantasies. Ashleigh Powell wrote a screenplay to expand those flights of fancy.

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BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY – Review by Martha K Baker

Bohemian Rhapsody soars like Mercury. Freddie Mercury lived boldly, brilliantly, wildly, musically, and he died far too young of complications of AIDS. In this biopic, the band, Queen, collaborated with their drama queen on the music, its presentation and its evolutions. And Bohemian Rhapsody re-vivifies the life.

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ST Louis International Film Festival – Martha K Baker reports

The 27th Annual St. Louis International Film Festival, which opened on November 1, continues through Armistice Day, November 11 with narrative features, long and short, with documentaries, interviews, tributes, and special events, plus a closing night bash on the 11th at Urban Chestnut Brewing Company.

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