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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HONEYLAND – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The best saints are those who would strenuously deny that they are one. That is because their basic humanity is so hard-wired inside their being, they don’t have to think about how to treat others or how to not abuse what Mother Nature has provided us. Kindness, consideration and decency are just how they roll, no matter the hardships and negativity that might arise in their lives. Meet Honeyland‘s central character, Hatidze Muratowa, a traditional beekeeper in rural Macedonia.

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FOR SAMA – Review by Susan Wlosczcyna

Never mind all those so-called superheroes that have dominated movie screens for the past two decades. Now is not the time for escapist fantasies. For Sama is the reality wake-up call we as a country desperately need right now, one that shows what happens to a society when corruption, injustice and oppression goes unchecked.

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SWORD OF TRUST – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Lynn Shelton’s Sword of Trust might be a mumblecore boondoggle whose oddly relevant narrative for our divisive times gets unraveled when it devolves into a wacky road trip during its conclusion. But luckily, the filmmaker puts her trust in her actors, especially WTF podcast star and Glow co-star Marc Maron as a sarcastic pawnshop owner in Birmingham, Ala., and gives them enough improv rope to allow them to feel like real people – some of whom we would be glad to know.

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MAIDEN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Sometimes the word “heroine” just won’t do. The documentary Maiden tells the inspirational story of Tracy Edwards, a true feminist hero who, at the age of 24, willed herself into becoming the skipper of the first all-women yacht crew to race around the world in 1989. Her only real sea-faring experience was as a cook and cleaner on charter boats. But with King Hussein of Jordan as her unlikely benefactor, she and her 12-women team managed collect enough money to renovate an aluminum vessel that they dubbed Maiden and made unexpected history.

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