SORRY/NOT SORRY – Review by April Neale

Louis C.K is ready for his closeup, again. Sorry/Not Sorry is the documentary about the rise and fall and rise(ish) of comic Louis C.K. Caroline Suh and Cara Mones’ film centers on a New York Times article that chronicles the downfall and comeback of the comedian in the wake of serious sexual harassment allegations. We are not talking about rape but exposure-related intimidations.

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MINNESOTA MEAN – Review by April Neale

Minnesota Mean is a documentary directed by Dawn Mikkelsen that follows six members of Minnesota’s all-star roller derby team during their 2017 season. These Minesota Mean teammate women skate through personal and athletic challenges throughout the year to make it to the world championships. Following the individual stories of the team members with names like “Shiver Me Kimbers,” “Brickyard,” “Diamond Rough,” “Smoka Hontas,” and my favorite name, “Hurtrude Stein,” it’s easy to fall in love with their path to toller derby domination.

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THELMA – Review by April Neale

Thelma is a film that stands out for its unique storytelling—a refreshing departure from the typical cinematic fare we are being force-fed in the summer. It’s a brilliantly, hilariously subtle exploration of aging in the digital age and the generational blind spots when raising a functional kid wrapped inside an action flick. The importance of Thelma’s family and her struggle to retain her agency underscores the story. Director Josh Margolin crafted the tale based on the real-life experience of his grandmother. June Squibb plays the titular Thelma, a widowed woman of 93 years watching the dust settle as life slips by with needlepoint and television, who greatly admires Tom Cruise’s stunt work ethic in films. One day, a scammer phone call is received that changes her life trajectory.

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ROWDY GIRL – Review by April Neale

Blame Michael Pollan. Blame Eric Schlosser! Our sensibilities are heightened thanks to these two men of recent note, and our views toward food and animals—and how the two interact— are changing. A story about that change is beautifully rendered in the new doc, Rowdy Girl, a wonderfully concise look at one woman’s change of heart and diet after the dime dropped that she was hurting animals in a way she could not square anymore. She reads the Bible, believes in God, and has interpreted the text to support her newfound epiphany that Black Angus—especially one she named Rowdy Girl—and their place in this world as it relates to us has profoundly changed her life.

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AISHA – Review by April Neale

Smaller films can pack profoundly gargantuan messages about humanity and the pendulum of fate. Poor, in distress, and alone, Aisha, a young Nigerian woman seeking asylum in Ireland, is at the mercy of bureaucrats and paper pushers as she awaits her hearing to see if she qualifies for Irish residency and Visa status. The Stranger in a Strange Land plot is a well-worn road for many filmmakers, but in Aisha, Letitia Wright gives a subdued and powerful turn as the titular young woman who struggles to maintain her dignity against the threat of deportation. As with all tales of this nature, there are bad actors and good souls, as this Nigerian refugee is not only sticking out like a sore thumb thanks to her race and religion (she is Islamic) but her days spent held in a Dublin detention center are made bearable by the kindness of an Irish security guard, played with great restraint and presence by Josh O’Connor.

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FOOD INC. 2 – Review by April Neale

Food Inc. 2 is a masterclass on how to open your eyes, make better choices, and fight for your rights as a consumer to have safe food and natural food available. It may inspire you to grow a garden. It may inspire you to eat less meat and dairy. The only way Big Ag will respond to the marketplace is if you educate yourself, support politicians who see this hypocrisy, and use your wallet to show them that you’re on to their bullshit.

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THE ART TALENT SHOW – Review by April Neale

What sets apart an artistic masterpiece from an overlooked oil or charcoal on canvas leaning in a sea of forlorn artworks waiting for someone to fall in love with it? Filmmakers Tomáš Bojar and Adéla Komrzý chronicle a busy Czech art institute during entrance exam week. The Art Talent Show documentary is a wry, clever, eye-opening look at a world few of us enter. With the gamut of ideas and free-range artsy behaviors being tossed around, the jitters of being judged and the process of judging are rooted calmly in Šimon Dvořáček’s steady lensing. Even the banality of entering a gallery and beginning the registration and application process is given an artful framing and interesting POV to show that art, and what we consider artful, can be found in just about any situation or subject matter.

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CATS OF MALTA – Review by April Neale

Director Sarah Jayne Portelli, an Australian of Maltese heritage, returned to her ancestral homeland to investigate by making her documentary, Cats of Malta. Her documentary is an homage to her roots, her discovery of the fact that 100K+ stray cats live on Malta, and how the tourists have discovered them, too. She is also an unabashed cat lover. Her film is a pastiche of stories from fellow Maltese who have found a rewarding existence in caring for the cats who roam freely around them.

Malta’s cat community is a free-spirited collaborative that works for them and should inspire anyone who wishes to help or direct their energies to a great cause, thanks to Portelli’s artful journalism and filming.

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THE PERFECT FIND – Review by April Neale

Perfection is an illusory state. It presents at the least expected times and often sneaks up on the person least desiring it. So it goes for accomplished Jenna Jones (Gabrielle Union), a middle-aged careerist licking her wounds under her mother’s roof after a terrible breakup and less-than-stellar exit from a profile career. Her glorious comeback in career and life is the road to “The Perfect Find,” the title suggesting Jenna’s future, albeit best by loads of roadblocks. The Perfect Find is a wonderfully wrought film where “grown women are talking” in a mature twist on the rom-com genre.

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LOREN & ROSE – Review by April Neale

The film Loren & Rose is an adult film in the sense that it is for thinkers and those who love the sounds of the words, well placed and delivered by actors who understand and convey their character’s mission. And sometimes, a film comes along that provides a stark reminder of how fleeting life is, how transient we mortals are, and the only thing that lasts until we stop breathing are our memories if we are lucky to have our minds still working.

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