JOHN LEWIS: GOOD TROUBLE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Dawn Porter’s documentary John Lewis: Good Trouble is a stirring tribute to the 80-year-old civil rights hero and Georgia Democratic U.S. representative who eschewed violence while putting his own life on the line during protests in the early ‘60s. The documentary is also a clarion call to warn us that our election this fall, even before coronavirus came into our lives, is in danger of being compromised.

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THE AUDITION – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The real conflict on screen exists inside of German actress Nina Hoss as the high-strung Anna. The Audition would be played in a minor key if it weren’t for Hoss’s well-modulated emotional outbursts and physical reactions. There is plenty of Bach to be heard on the soundtrack but film’s female star is the one who keeps everything in tune.

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MISS JUNETEENTH – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

There are many films about parents who want their offspring to fulfill the youthful dreams that they never achieved, but Miss Juneteenth brings extra emotion because the characters live in an underserved Black community where most residents just scrape by. The pageant provides a coveted college scholarship for the winner. Director Channing Godfrey Peoples injects enough atmosphere on screen to make us feel for these folks and their travails.

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KATE NASH: UNDERESTIMATE THE GIRL – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As musical biopics go, Amy Goldstein’s Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl is what would happen if American Idol’s backstories of its aspiring singing contestants had less heart-tugging sob content and more honesty about how becoming a chart-topping star is not quite what it is cracked up to be these days. That is especially true for females in the industry, no matter how fiercely feminist they are. Nash’s struggles to continue to be an artist are very real.

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SOUTH MOUNTAIN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Hillary Brougher’s South Mountain presents a portrait of a family that is teetering on the brink of dissolution amid the scenic splendor of the Catskill Mountains. In the end, Lila, the family matriarch, seems to be somewhat at peace even if she has picked up the habit of smoking. As Gloria Gaynor might say, she will survive.

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A SECRET LOVE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The best thing about the Netflix documentary A Secret Love is that it treats its female subjects not like radical beings from an less-enlightened age or a history lesson from the past. Instead, we see Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel simply as human beings who fell in love in 1947 but weren’t able to acknowledge the truth of their relationship — given legal and societal barriers — to their conservative families and the world at large for over 60 years.

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TO THE STARS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

To the Stars sometimes feels earthbound by melodramatic tendencies as it unfolds in a small-minded Oklahoma town in the early ‘60s. What saves this coming-of-age drama from simply being a farm-land Peyton Place that centers upon female social politics are its two leading ladies, Kara Hayward and Liana Liberato.

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BLOW THE MAN DOWN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Set in the isolated fishing town of Easter Cove, Maine, during a frosty winter, Blow the Man Down is a neo-noir in the vein of the Coen brothers classic Fargo. Initially, it may seem like a bucolic burg populated with brawny men and salt of the earth females who start downing whiskey early and often each day. But just as there was something rotten in Minnesota, there is a seamy underbelly to the goings-on, one that involves in the battle of the sexes, including the fact that the local bed and breakfast is actually a not-too-well-disguised long-running brothel.

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LOST GIRLS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The heart of Lost Girls is the connection forged by the survivors – the sorrowful sisters and guilt-ridden mothers who bond over the similar fates of their daughters. Amy Ryan is the hard-bitten engine driving this charge against simply shrugging off the disappearance of women, prostitutes or not. But the most soulful performance is given by Thomasin McKenzie as a daughter who supports her crusading mom even though her own needs are pushed aside.

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