US KIDS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Filmmaker Kim Snyder allows us to experience the conflicting emotions and traumas as these teens who survived the Parkland school shootings take matters into their own hands, both by protesting in the streets but also by having each other’s backs. When matters get personal, Us Kids is at its best. As these young people turn a tragedy into an opportunity to better the world, it is also clear these kids are not just alright but also right.

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ON THE ROCKS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Once again, Sofia Coppola pairs Bill Murray with an younger actress, this time in the form of Rashida Jones, not as a love interest — as was the case with Scarlett Johansson — but as his daughter. The main similarity between them is the fact that both characters suspect their spouse might be cheating on them.

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YELLOW ROSE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Diane Paragas’ Yellow Rose pulls off an engaging coming-of-age story under-scored with real-time political undercurrents in the form of how immigrants are treated in the xenophobic era of Trump-ism. If that sounds like a downer, it isn’t, mostly thanks to the casting of Eva Noblezada as Rose Garcia, a charismatic charmer with Tony-nominated cred as an undocumented Filipino teen in Texas who yearns to be a country singing star.

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THE GLORIAS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The good news about The Glorias is that Julie Taymor tries to avoid biopic clichés as she employs four actresses at different ages to tell the story of feminist icon Gloria Steinem’s life. But while indulging in her usual visual panache on screen, the director is almost too ambitious in trying to bring this notable legend to life.

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KAJILLIONAIRE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

To put it nicely, Miranda July’s cinematic output is a bit of an acquired taste, one that is sweet and sour, twee and tart, in equal measure. That was the case with her first feature, You, Me and Everyone We Know. Her latest dramedy outing has a bit of an upgraded cast given that it stars Debra Winger, Richard Jenkins and Evan Rachel Wood as the Dynes, a Los Angeles-based family of oddball grifters who are constantly looking for screwball ways to bilk others instead just holding down jobs

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MISBEHAVIOUR – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The focus isn’t on nostalgia but feminist fury. There are two especially galling scenes that are staged for maximum effect. The first is when the contestants walk on stage in swimsuits while their measurements are duly noted, smiling all the while. But then the male announcer on stage says, “There are two sides to everything.” That’s the cue for the women show off their backsides to the crowd for what seems like an eternity. If it sounds demeaning, it is.

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NOMADLAND (TIFF20) – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Who but Frances McDormand could take on such mundane tasks as making peanut butter sandwiches, cleaning toilets and packing merchandise into Amazon boxes and transform such moments into a riveting cinematic experience? The two-time Oscar-winning best-actress for 1996’s Fargo and 2017’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri is at the top of her game in filmmaker Chloe Zhao’s Nomadland.

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BLACKBIRD – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

There’s something Big Chill-ish about Blackbird, as an exemplary cast gathers together for a weekend to celebrate the death of Lily, a beloved matriarch. But unlike that Baby Boomer classic, the soon-to-be-deceased person who is in the early throes of a terminal illness is staging her own demise on her own terms.

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20 Femme-Helmers in the 2020 Oscars Pipeline – Susan Wloszczyna reports

One upside to this topsy-turvy season is the release of superb femme-centric, femme-helmed titles that are solid Oscars contenders that could easily make the Best Picture and Best Director cut. There are at least five actresses making their directing debuts, a pop star going behind the camera, old-school directors, new-school directors, blockbuster overseers and at least two former competitors in the category. Here is what might be the best of an encouragingly large batch.

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MULAN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

In the hands of Niki Caro, this live action version is a visually-stunning, well-written, high-action war epic that is must-see family entertainment. With a budget of $200 million, – the most for any film helmed by a female – the high-flying stunts, the gorgeous scenery (courtesy of China and New Zealand), the highly choreographed battle scenes, the excellent special effects – all fairly scream that this is one impressive production.

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