UNDER THE VOLCANO (SXSW21) – Review by Rachel West

Director Gracie Otto’s documentary Under The Volcano isn’t just a deep dive into famed music producer George Martin’s legacy through his groundbreaking AIR recording studio in the West Indies, it’s a love letter to the people of Montserrat. Bookended with present-day footage of Montserrat and AIR which was devastated by the 1995 volcanic eruption, Under The Volcano ends on a high note of resilience, love, and affection for not just the past, but the island’s future.

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RECOVERY (SXSW 2021) – Review by Rachel West

Pandemic-set movies are quickly becoming a dime a dozen, but stars and writers Whitney Call and Mallory Everton bring chemistry and comedy to their COVID road trip Recovery in what is definitely one of the funniest takes in the sub-genre. Call and Everton are definitely a comedic duo we’d be lucky to see more from.

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THE PEOPLE VS AGENT ORANGE – Review by Rachel West

Presented through filmed interviews and archival footage, Adelson and Taverna give insider access in not just the current battle raging on, but the years the mostly women-led campaigns have dedicated to the cause. At times, the documentary plays out like a Hollywood spy thriller, noting shady business practices, government cover-ups, thinly-veiled threats against the families of activists, guerrilla tactics, theft, and surveillance are all happening on American soil outside the court system.

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THE BLAZING WORLD (Sundance2021) – Review by Rachel West

Carlson Young’s The Blazing World may be one of the most ambitious feature film directorial debuts of Sundance, if not of all-time. Young directs and stars in a film that finds itself buried under style while running thin on substance. But it’s not for lacking of trying, and for that, The Blazing World is a debut more to be admired than enjoyed.

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CODA (SUNDANCE2021) – Review by Rachel West

CODA, a delightful film that offers a new spin on the standard coming-of-age tale, focuses on Ruby, a teenager who happens to be a CODA – child of deaf adults. By both necessity and preference, the Rossi family has existed outside of the hearing community, relying on Ruby to help be the bridge between the two worlds, especially when it comes to the family’s fishing business.

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LAND (Sundance2021) – Review by Rachel West

Robin Wright sets out into the wilderness in her directorial debut feature, Land.in which she also stars as stars as a woman grappling with the aftermath of a tragedy. Though her grief is not explicitly explained at the outset, one gathers she’s been deeply traumatized by the unexpected death of her husband and young son. Packing up mementos of her life into a cardboard box, Edee loads a U-Haul with supplies and heads into the mountains in search of a solitude in a remote cabin.

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PROMISING YOUNG WOMAN: Susan Jacob’s Female Power Soundtrack – Rachel West comments

Emerald Fennell’s bold Promising Young Woman isn’t just a triumph for star Carey Mulligan, it’s a soundtrack showcase for female-driven power-pop. Spanning the gamut of Mulligan’s Cassie’s emotions, the Promising Young Woman soundtrack is equal parts dark, edgy female rage and catchy, lighthearted pop. Throughout the film, music supervisor Susan Jacobs allows Cassie’s state of mind to manifest in the music from the movie’s first few minutes until its ultimate conclusion.

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THE LODGE – Review by Rachel West

Most of the horror in The Lodge is rooted in two elements: faith and grief. Together these themes permeate everything within the film in a horror-drama reminiscent of Ari Aster’s work and the directing duo’s previous outing, Goodnight Mommy. The film, which premiered at Sundance, moves at a glacial pace for the first hour before ratcheting up the intensity. Even at its peak however, this is still a slow burn, playing psychological games on its subjects and viewers.

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