DON’T MAKE ME GO – Review by April Neale

Don’t Make Me Go is an emotionally charged example of a conflicted “buddy film” between a father (John Cho) and his teenage daughter (Mia Isaac). Their poignantly packed road trip brings unshared truths, undiagnosed medical calamity, and feelings of abandonment hemmed by moments of fun, life lessons, and a shared love of Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, a portentous upbeat song that serves as the running theme of this film.

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OLGA – Review by April Neale

The Ukrainian gymnast drama Olga is timely and highly resonates in the portrayal of complicated mother-daughter relationships and female friendships overall. Director Elie Grappe has perfectly encapsulated major themes around a young Ukrainian woman whose ambition and talent have propelled her into the elite strata of European gymnasts. The 2013 Ukrainian uprising serves as the heartbeat backdrop to her journey, ending in 2020 by the final scene.

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18½ – Review by April Neale

Looking backward and rewriting actual historical events are the order for director Dan Mirvish’s 18½. This film is a thriller laced with enough comedy to keep it off-kilter, as the premise toys with what might have happened back in 1974 when a White House transcriber named Connie (Willa Fitzgerald) with a GS2 clearance finds herself in the middle of the Watergate scandal. She has access to the “missing tape,” an 18½ minute gap in Nixon’s recorded tapes, but it conveniently disappeared. Co-writers Daniel Moya and Mirvish’s rendering of Watergate events manages to be both a fun watch, food for thought, and subtly comedically brilliant effort in its alt-historical premise.

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OUR FATHER – Review by April Neale

Nazi Germany had Dr. Mengele, and Indiana had Dr. Donald Cline, not as evil as Mengele, but he was a corrupt genetic technician like the Nazi. He experimentally used his sperm to impregnate unsuspecting women looking for fertility and conception. A lot of women. The film gives a platform for the doctor’s now adult progeny to tell their stories of discovery and their process of reconciliation and acceptance in the documentary film Our Father, premiering on Netflix on May 11.

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AS THEY MADE US – Review by April Neale

As They Made Us is an emotionally resonating and deeply piercing film about learning to forgive, accepting that your parents are flawed human beings just as anyone else, and becoming more strengthened and wiser as you make your way in life, a finite journey for us all. Director Mayim Bialik’s intimate dramedy is a filmed snapshot of a dysfunctional family’s journey at the end of life. Bialik’s film underscores that time will heal, that having an adult understanding of the hurts we bury deep in our psyche is not our fault. And that letting go and forgetting past injuries to the heart and soul sometimes can be the best medicine anyone will take.

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SURVIVING SEX TRAFFICKING – Review by April Neale

The documentary Surviving Sex Trafficking is directed and produced by Sadhvi Siddhali Shree, with actor Alyssa Milano, Jeannie Mai of The Real, and musician Jay Jenkins as executive producers. This sobering personal account from Shree of her abuse at age six, unburied and brought up through meditation, is in part a by-product of her interviews and focus with three women specifically as the production team travels Houston, Hungary, Miami, Las Vegas, New Jersey, India, the Philippines, and Ethiopia.

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PLAYING IN THE FM BAND: THE STEVE POST STORY – Review by April Neale

Playing in the FM Band: The Steve Post Story is a touching 80-minute documentary loosely based on Post’s autobiography of the same name. For many New Yorkers, Post’s presence on the air got them through tough days and the tumultuous times of the 1960s, all the way through 9/11, where Post’s anecdotes cut the confusion and clutter.

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ASKING FOR IT – Review by April Neale

The satisfaction of seeing evil men get their comeuppance is the heartbeat of the edgy revenge film, Asking For It, where a cross-section of women from every background bond to fight the man. Meet the vigilante Cherry Bombers, finding each other and connecting through shared past trauma. Together they vow to eradicate perceived enemies in a road trip revenge thriller with some extraordinarily tragic moments.

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CYRANO – Review by April Neale

Director Joe Wright‘s Cyrano is a feast for the eyes. The latest story is based loosely on the life of Savinien de Cyrano de Bergerac, a French novelist, playwright, epistolarian, and duelist from the 1600s. In 1897, the French poet Edmond Rostand published a play, Cyrano de Bergerac, also based in broad strokes on Cyrano’s life. Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac and Wright’s version are both tragedies, with loss at every turn.

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PLAYGROUND – Review by April Neale

Belgian indie film Playground is a modern snapshot of a story as old as humanity, learning how to fit in, make friends and survive. Never easy, especially today, where childhood social interactions are exacerbated by social media and seemingly handled differently across the Atlantic. Laura Wandel’s stunning and intimate look inside the world of seven-year-old Nora will resonate because we all went through the trials and tribulations of school. The film is tough to watch, but it’s an excellent tool for any parents in a situation where they know their kid is a target of bullying at school.

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