BLACK WIDOW -Review by Pam Grady

Aussie director Cate Shortland (Lore, Berlin Syndrome) proves a capable hand at the rock-em-sock-em action; explosive; outsized violence; and huge dollops of humor that mark the Marvel universe as she brings Black Widow‘s saga to a satisfying close and introduces a new bad-ass superheroine in Florence Pugh’s Yelena Belova.

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CRUELLA – Review by Pam Grady

You’ve got to hand it to the Mouse. Disney can make a princess out of anyone, even one of its legendary villains, Cruella De Ville, a kind of hard-hearted Snow White whose Evil Queen is her designer boss, the Baroness. For those of us who grew up loathing that simpering, eventually sleeping princess, this is more like it: a princess who gives as good as she gets.

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WHEN HITLER STOLE PINK RABBIT – Review by Pam Grady

When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit is one of those rare family films that really is as appealing to adults as to children. It is an involving story, one that is clear enough for a child to understand with a heroine with whom it is easy to identify. For grownups who understand the full historical implications of the tale, it is a moving story of one family’s survival as the world is on the cusp of going mad.

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RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT (Sundance 2021) -Review by Pam Grady

Rita Morena: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It is a fabulous exploration of a personality both down-to-earth and larger-than-life. As a film, it never wears out its welcome but leaves us wishing we had more time to spend with this wonderful woman and wonder what she will be up to next. On Rita Moreno, 90 might just be the new 60.

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WE’RE ALL GOING TO THE WORLD’S FAIR (Sundance2021) – Review by Pam Grady

A teenage girl living a troubled life in the real world seeks community and adventure in the titular online role-playing game in writer-director Jane Schoenbrun’s intriguing narrative feature debut. Ostensibly a horror movie in which a naïve kid immerses herself in a world that promises transformation, the real horror isn’t in the game but in the world the girl encounters whenever she leaves her bedroom.

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MLK/FBI – Review by Pam Grady

Filmmaker Sam Pollard doesn’t just bring history to life, but Dr. Martin Luther King himself. There he is: living, breathing, changing hearts, minds, and society. MLK/FBI serves as a timely reminder. Set in a past that is rapidly receding, it speaks directly to the era we are living through now with a politicized FBI and Justice Dept. Hoover was a villain who misused his office to persecute a man whose only crime was leading the fight for equal rights. Hoover’s heirs are still at it, with more sophisticated surveillance equipment and more targets, people who wear bullseyes on their backs simply for advocating for justice and change. It is institutional behavior that was and is the nation’s shame.

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THE WATER MAN (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady

There was magic at the Toronto International Film Festival when actor David Oyelowo’s directing debut The Water Man made its world premiere. A family drama with a precocious young boy at its center, this Oprah Winfrey-executive produced film is full of equal parts of wonder, charm, and heart. Oyelowo has a sure touch with his actors, coaxing strong performances from all, but what is most impressive is his handling of The Water Man‘s visual elements.

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MLK/FBI (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady

Filmmaker Sam Pollard eschews talking head interviews in favor of filling the frame with archival material. The Montgomery bus boycott, the March on Washington, the march from Selma to Montgomery, the signing of the Civil Rights Act into law, and other moments, earth-shaking and intimate, are the images that unfurl on screen. The effect is arresting. Pollard doesn’t just bring history to life, but King himself. There he is: living, breathing, changing hearts, minds, and society.

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WOLFWALKERS (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady

Balancing a dark picture of the Middle Ages with moments of great humor and images of the magical world, the vintage animation style of this enchanting film perfectly fits its fantastic fable. Based on Irish mythology about wolves, Wolfwalkers is a film that will bewitch children and adults alike.

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GOOD JOE BELL (TIFF20) – Review by Pam Grady

To call the truth-based film a disappointment is an understatement. What might have been a compelling story of a father’s quest for redemption is, instead, a flabby melodrama that plays like one of those old Afterschool Specials. Joe Bell and his family are reduced to symbols of problems that plague society. Flesh-and-blood people deserve better.

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