ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Why is the United States, that supposed bastion of freedom and democracy, such an unfree, undemocratic mess? Haha and *LOLsob*. This is a trick question: there are many reasons for the sorry state of American affairs. But a really big one is the ongoing campaign to suppress the vote. And by “ongoing,” I mean basically since the founding of the nation.

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FAREWELL AMOR – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Farewell Amor is the beautiful feature debut of writer-director Ekwa Msangi, in which she finds a delicate balance between drama in the wild sense, as secrets threaten to upend a cautious newfound domestic equilibrium, and drama in the more intimate sense, as husband and wife tentatively rediscover each other; as father and child unexpectedly stumble upon common ground; and as mother and daughter find that their different approaches to life are suddenly more pronounced in this potentially dangerous new place.

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PROXIMA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Alice Winocour is entirely grounded in all senses of the word: the mundanity of the rigor of the astronaut training is on the same par with the tedium of the sexism Sarah faces, especially from Mike Shannon (Matt Dillon), the American commander of the international mission. But just because it’s all routine doesn’t mean it’s not engrossing in its own quiet way.

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MRS AMERICA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I’ve been trying to get my thoughts on the Phyllis Schlafly–centered FX/BBC miniseries Mrs America to coalesce into something coherent for weeks now. The Amy Coney Barrett fiasco has finally solidified them, and seeing her rushed swearing-in to the US Supreme Court — at night, almost sneakily, the judicial equivalent of a shotgun wedding — has filled me with a clarifying rage.

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FIRST COW – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

It’s a simple story about friendship and hope. It’s a gently revisionist Western that literally pushes the clichés of the genre out the door in favor of reconsidering stereotypes of masculinity and reworking the fables of “frontiers.” It’s a softly savage deconstruction of the violence and the ironies of the American dream — of capitalism itself. It’s one of the most astonishing movies I’ve seen this year.

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THE OLD GUARD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

For the first time this summer, I’m not missing all the big loud comic-book movies we’re being bombarded with in an alt-timeline. I like those movies, but they do tend to dominate the pop-culture conversation. With them off the radar this year, there’s room to breathe for a fantastic little pulp comic-book movie like The Old Guard.

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MISS JUNETEENTH – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples’s feature debut is a beautiful cinematic experience, bursting with a gorgeous sense of place and character the likes of which are rarer onscreen than they should be. Nicole Beharie brings a strength and a weariness to Turquoise Jones, a former beauty queen and single mom trying to make a better life for her teen daughter.

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SHIRLEY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Stupendous. A work of domestic gothic grotesquerie of women’s suffocation and sacrifice to the needs of men, always presumed to be more important and more pressing, and of women’s pain and isolation, from the world and from other women who might be their allies, unless we can find a way to overcome the conditioning that tells us that other women are our rivals.

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13TH – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Ava DuVernay’s incisive and shocking documentary 13th hit like a body blow when she first unveiled it in the autumn 2016 film festivals. Donald Trump had not yet been “elected” President of the United States, but already, the shock of him ascending to the status of Republican nominee was unsettling. Fast forward to *checks watch* now, and this is a brutal and necessary watch.

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