MATERNA – Review by Rachel West

Materna’s strength lies in unifying culturally diverse stories and while fimmaker David Gutnik makes some choices that aren’t always successful, the film is effective in exploring the themes at hand as he offers what is ultimately a unique and refreshing perspective on both motherhood and womanhood.

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BEFORE I GO – Review by Rachel West

It’s been a long time since we’ve seen Anabella Sciorra in a leading role worthy of her talent and if the unassuming new drama Before I Go is what brings her back into the forefront on film, it was worth the wait. Avoiding clichés at every turn, Before I Go is a quiet exploration of depression and belonging that will have audiences rooting for Sciorra’s Samantha every step of the way.

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QUEEN BEES – Review by Rachel West

The new comedy Queen Bees shows what happens when Mean Girls grow up. Headed by a cast of screen legends including Ellen Burstyn, Ann-Margret, Jane Curtin, Loretta Devine, James Caan and Christopher Lloyd, Queen Bees may be predictable but there’s no denying the feel-good movie will delight viewers.

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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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