BERGMAN ISLAND – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The main focus of director-screenwriter Mia Hansen-Love’s meditative comedy-drama is Tony (Tim Roth) and Chris (Vicky Krieps), a couple who are both director-writers and parents of a young girl. Both are hoping find inspiration by soaking up the genius vibes of a master of cinema known for exploring the often dour circumstances of the human condition. They even rent the cottage and sleep in the double bed used for Ingmar Bergman’s 1973 divorce drama Scenes From a Marriage.

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ASCENSION – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Early on, the documentary Ascension points its lens at a sign on that refers to the Chinese dream as opposed to an American one when it comes to capitalistic enterprises. Part Konyaaisqati, part Ron Popeil infomercial, Jessica Kingdon’s debut feature eschews any narration while allowing viewers to immerse themselves in an amusing, sometimes upsetting and often fascinating look at what this Asian powerhouse’s idea of commerce in the 21st century.

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STOP AND GO – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

It takes some mega moxie to put the pedal to the metal for a road-trip comedy set during the scary early days of the COVID-19 outbreak. But somehow Stop and Go, whose unfortunate too-on-the nose original title was Recovery, delivers just enough relatable amusement and zesty fun thanks to its leading ladies and screenwriters, Whitney Call and Mallory Everton, who co-directs with Stephen Meek.

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EL PLANETA – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

El Planeta is a pleasantly quirky amuse bouche of a dark comedy shot in black and white that takes place in post-recession Spain. First-time feature director and writer Amalia Ulman and her real-life mother Ale, star as daughter Leo and matriarch Maria, who are living on borrowed time in a small apartment that they no longer can afford.

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STORM LAKE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Art Cullen made a name for himself and the Storm Lake Times when he won a 2017 Pulitzer Prize for exposing dark money among local county officials involved in corporate agriculture.Sadly, a stat shown during the doc reveals that one in four newspapers have shut down over the last 15 years in the U.S. More and more in a time when some news outlets engage in spreading harmful lies, we need such homespun honesty in order to simply survive these days. When a newspaper is local in scope, it lives and breathes along with its customers and has a duty to serve them.

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I’M YOUR MAN – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

I’m Your Man, directed by Maria Schrader, revolves around a robotic dreamboat who is part of a study involving companions who are tailored-made for one human’s personality and emotional needs. In the case of middle-aged academic Alma (Maren Eggert) — who just broke up with a co-worker — she signs on to the three-week experiment in order to fund her own research project. That requires her to live with non-human Tom (Dan Stevens of Downton Abbey fame, the most valuable player in the cast who constantly ups the humor ante with much aplomb. And take a moment to consider that this English actor had to learn German for his role).

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

At a time when so much of our country is filled with divisive politics and ugly, stupid and false rhetoric while selfish anti-vaxers and anti-maskers refuse to do the right thing, here comes along a charming balm of a two-hander in the form of director Natalie Morales’s Language Lessons, which she wrote with her co-star, Mark Duplass. It provides a perfect oasis of sorts from all the pain and agony of the news headlines of late. It also might be the best Zoom meeting you will ever experience as well.

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WHO YOU THINK I AM – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Director Safy Nebbou’s best move was to hire the still-fabulous Juliette Binoche to play a desperately lonely French lit professor in Who You Think I Am. They may try to hide her beauty behind reading glasses and messy hair, but the actress is still as glowing as she was in 1996’s The English Patient and her commitment to this sometimes strained social-media conceit is quite riveting to observe.

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LILY TOPPLES THE WORLD – Review by Susan Woszczyna

Let’s just say that it is nearly impossible to not fall head over heels for the documentary Lily Topples the World. Its subject, 20-year-old Lily Hevesh, went from being a shy adoptee from China to becoming the Michelangelo of domino topplers via her YouTube videos that she started posting when she was just nine years old. Known as Hevesh5, she became lone female in an elite community of professional domino artists online and the most acclaimed with one billion digital views.

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REMINISCENCE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Don’t be surprised if you get a Christopher Nolan vibe from this intriguing sci-fi thriller with a film-noir undercurrent amid a climate-change disaster scenario is set in a near-future flooded Miami coast. While rich land barons keep safe and dry behind a giant dam, the common folk must deal with the nasty damp byways of the city’s overflowing streets. Keeping track of the film’s narrative can be a bit tricky. Many of characters on screen aren’t fully fleshed out as well as they could or should be. That said, High Jackson’s emotional performance anchors the movie even if the narrative sometimes drifts away.

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