SEBERG – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

The cat-and-mouse game that French New Wave icon Jean Seberg never realized she was playing with the FBI is the crux around which the confused Seberg pivots. By far the most compelling aspect of this limp, strangled attempt to merge the biopic with the paranoid thriller is the central performance by the always fascinating Kristen Stewart.

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OLYMPIC DREAMS – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Guerilla filmmaking is at its most charming in the sweet-’n’-salty Olympic Dreams, a melancholy romance that is a little bit Lost in Translation crossed with a potential first installment of a new Before Sunrise, etc, soap opera, only set at four-year intervals. Which I would love to see.

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A SIMPLE WEDDING – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

“I can’t sleep until you get married.” So says Ziba (Shohreh Aghdashloo) to her daughter, Nousha (Tara Grammy). Nousha is not a youngster; she’s an adult who knows her own mind and her own needs… and she has no desire to get married. Certainly not to any of the dull and conservative Iranian men her mom keeps trying to arrange for her.

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LITTLE WOMEN (2019) – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Did we need another film version of Louisa May Alcott’s classic novel? Turns out the answer is a resounding “Hell, yes!” Writer-director Greta Gerwig has given us an absolute treasure of a movie, one that is, for a wonder, hugely faithful to the book in the broad sweep yet also skeptical of it in just the right way.

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WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I don’t know whether to be heartened or depressed by What She Said, a terrific documentary about the life and work of legendary film critic Pauline Kael. We hear how challenging it was to make a living as a critic, the abuse she took from readers, and just the general awfulness of men, in her personal life as well as professionally.

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THE CAVE and FOR SAMA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Two intimate documentaries from inside the Syrian civil war, diaries of women who stayed to fight for their nation and help their people, pay tribute to human perseverance and chide Western apathy. In The Cave, we meet Syrian doctor Amani Ballour, a hero(ine) for our times. For Sama is a heartbreaking testimony of a patriot defending her nation.

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A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I started sobbing from the opening moments of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and I didn’t stop crying for two hours. This film wrecked me. Utterly wrecked me. In the best possible way. It was speaking to me in that same way that Mister Rogers always magically seemed to be doing from out of the TV when I was little kid.

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THE GOOD LIAR – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Helen Mirren as a meek, naive widow simply ripe for the picking by Ian McKellen’s silver-fox dating-app con artist? That… seems unlikely. “Sometimes casting alone gives a movie’s game away right from the get-go, doesn’t it?” is the inevitable default position anyone with even a modicum of movie knowledge takes into The Good Liar.

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