RISE AGAIN: TULSA AND THE RED SUMMER – Review by Pamela Powell

Dawn Porter’s Rise Again, feeling as much like a mystery as an historical documentary, educates us and empowers us with awareness and understanding. History should not repeat itself and we must learn from it. Porter’s film is a pointed example of this perspective.

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SHOPLIFTERS OF THE WORLD – Review by Pamela Powell

Being a teen and asking questions about who we are and who do we want to become are the underlying themes of Shoplifters of the World as each character struggles with identity, gender, or sexuality itself. These issues are blatantly laid out for the viewer to assess, but the wheels that begin to spin get stuck in their own rhythm like a needle on a record player hitting a scratch. Ultimately, the film finds too many dissonant stories and becomes relegated to being just a movie for fans of The Smiths.

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BEFORE/DURING/AFTER – Review by Pamela Powell

Finnerty Steeves writes and stars in Before/During/After, an honest depiction of a middle-aged woman who looks back on her marriage, how it failed and how to find herself again. Filled with poignant moments, the film never forgets that in many tragic moments, there is also an element of comedy. It’s this balance, the yin-yang of life, that allows for engaging and relatable characters with whom we are quickly invested.

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HOW IT ENDS (Sundance2021) – Review by Pamela Powell

Hats off to Zoe Lister-Jones and husband Daryl Wein for writing, directing, and completing a funny, off-beat film during the Covid pandemic. Lister-Jones also stars in the film as Liza who is planning how she will spend her last day on Earth as three asteroids will be destroying the planet later that night. As we have all learned during a crisis, there’s a rush on certain things.

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PASSING (Sundance2021) – Review by Pamela Powell

Rebecca Hall’s impassioned feature directorial debut, “Passing,” is based on Nella Larsen’s 1929 novel of the same name. The story depicts two Black women who were once childhood friends, Clare who ‘passes’ for white and Irene who’s troubled by her own ability to do so, who are unexpectedly reunited. Their chance encounter will change their lives forever as they are pushed to look at the world through a different lens.

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LAND (Sundance2021) – Review by Pamela Powell

Mother Nature can be harsh, but she can also be healing. We see both sides of her in Robin Wright’s feature directorial debut “Land.” Wright also stars in the film as Edee, a woman running away to the remote wilderness as a means to escape her memories of a tragedy. Her success in escaping is more difficult than she imagined as she leaves everything and everyone far behind.

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PIECES OF A WOMAN – Review by Pamela Powell

Young love, a new marriage and the excitement of becoming parents for the first time implodes when a tragic accident occurs during the birthing process. Vanessa Kirby and Shia LaBeouf star in the new Netflix film Pieces of a Woman as Martha and Sean, the mismatched but charming couple who find themselves in an inexorable downward spiral after losing their baby.

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SOUL – Review by Pamela Powell

Disney Pixar has done it again with “Soul” thanks to the inspirational co-writing and co-directing of the renowned artist Pete Docter who gave us Up, Inside Out and Toy Story. It’s a remarkable story, perhaps geared more toward adults than children, that sends a perfect message of living our best lives each and every day.

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I USED TO GO HERE – Review by Pamela Powell

Chicago writer and director Kris Rey’s “I Used to Go Here” depicts Chicagoan Kate Conklin (Gillian Jacobs) as a mediocre author who has published her first book to less than favorable reviews. However, a former writing professor, David at Southern Illinois University Carbondale invites her to speak at her alma mater. Boosted slightly by this, Kate returns, but soon finds herself enmeshed in students’ lives, reliving her past and coming to terms with her present and her future.

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