CHICHINETTE: THE ACCIDENTAL SPY – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

During this chaotic time of near-constant political upheaval, we need all the heroes we can get. Thanks to documentary filmmaker Nicola Alice Hens, we meet one in the unlikely form of a tiny yet feisty 96-year-old German-born Jewish woman named Marthe Cohn who managed to change the course of World War II by working for the French Resistance and saving the lives of countless Allied soldiers as the conflict came to a close.

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THE WOMAN WHO LOVES GIRAFFES – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Lions and tigers seem like big house cats, at least at a distance. Elephants are portrayed as majestic beasts. And apes, well, they are our evolutionary cousins. But with their high-rise stature, fashionably patterned fur and head horns, giraffes have been perhaps a less relatable creature to the human race. But as the title of Alison Reid’s enlightening documentary reveals, there indeed was The Woman Who Loved Giraffes.

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WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

There are snippets of Kael’s own voice in archival footage although first-time director Rob Garver fills in the blanks by employing actress Sarah Jessica Parker to read sections of her writing while the critic’s daughter Gina James and other associates provide commentary. Kael, who had a way of picking just the right searing or celebratory word, rattled the intellectual crowd while pooh-poohing the backers of critic Andrew Sarris’s auteur theory.

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HONEY BOY – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

In Honey Boy, Shia LeBeouf takes ownership of his own screwed-up childhood back when he starred on a Disney Channel series and splashes it on the big screen in a form of performance therapy. This biographical shrink session, based on a script he wrote as part of his rehab, is a far cry from his Transformers sci-fi blockbusters that get a skewering in the opening moments. On top of that, he makes matters even more interesting by playing his own shiftless, unstable and self-absorbed abusive father – probably the most honest acting he will ever achieve as he attempts to shoo away the demons that haunt him.

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ANTHROPOCENE: THE HUMAN EPOCH – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Sometimes, Anthropocene: The Human Epoch feels like a loftier, artier and much more sobering Transformers sequel, what with its fixation on the monstrously huge machines that chomp into the planet and unsettle our ailing ecosystem for the sake of commerce.

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TIGERS ARE NOT AFRAID – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Tigers Are Not Afraid, infused with a sense magical realism and featuring some rather gripping performances by child actors, is a gritty cinema-verite crime drama that feels like Peter Pan, the Lost Boys and Wendy met in Pan’s Labyrinth while protecting each other on the mean streets of Mexico. As drug wars regularly break out and gunfire is a regular occurrence, young children define themselves as warriors and fend for themselves in a parent-less jungle where crime, corruption and danger lurk around every corner.

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ONE CHILD NATION – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

There are atrocities and then there are soul-lacerating atrocities. One Child Nation is one of those documentaries as it exposes how a government can manipulate a whole population to follow a policy that supposedly is for the better good but what actually resulted is a horribly cruel and unnatural genocide of innocent babies and the demonization of pregnant women.

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THE NIGHTINGALE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

In Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale, the monsters are white human males of privilege who commit horrifying atrocities in order to maintain their presumed superior status. Set in early 19th-century Tasmania, the gorgeous primordial surroundings are in stark contrast to the constant acts of ugliness and brutality primarily committed by British soldiers against convicts from England and Ireland who are constantly debased and abused. Women and native Aborigines are placed on even lower rungs, meant to serve the needs of the ruling military class.

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