TOGETHER TOGETHER – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Think of Nikole Beckwith’s rather off-beat and charming maternity comedy Together Together as Knocked Up for the enlightened era of wokeness. Instead of two strangers whose drunken one-night stand ends in a pregnancy, we are presented with what is known as a gestational surrogate who agrees to carry a single 40-something man’s baby so that she can finally afford to attend college.

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HOPE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

It takes some cinematic guts for a filmmaker to base a movie on their own harrowing encounter with a terminal cancer diagnosis that eventually led to a nine-year hiatus from their craft. With Hope, Norwegian writer/director Maria Sodahl doesn’t just make a comeback, but she also delivers a no-holds-barred accounting of a relationship of an unmarried couple with six children of various ages between them whose romantic inclinations have grown stale as the pair focus on their own creative pursuits.

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SUGAR DADDY – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Sometimes, a girl has to do what a girl has to do just to survive and, perhaps, make her dream come true. That is the case with Sugar Daddy’s Darren (Kelly McCormack), a struggling 25-year-old free spirit who aspires to become a musical artist. But her lack of funds forces her to take odd jobs such as a caterer just to make ends meet. After she is fired for sneaking food into her backpack, however, Darren decides to become an escort for older males who just want a female presence when they go out to dinner.

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GROOMED – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Director Gwen van de Pass, who lives in San Francisco as an adult, turns the tables on that scenario by being able take control of the narrative of own sexual abuse story. As a pre-teen in Holland in the late-‘90s, she was part of a swim team whose male assistant instructor singled her out for special attention. She continues to be haunted by how her sexual abuser systematically made her feel special while taking physical liberties with an under-aged child. Van de Pas uses the medium of film to perform a kind of exorcism for her and others so they can move on with their lives.

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ROSE PLAYS JULIE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

If you had trouble watching Carey Mulligan in Promising Young Woman turning the tables on men who prey on inebriated women in bars as she sets a trap by acting drunk in clubs in you should be forewarned that the eerie, unnerving thriller Rose Plays Julie takes such matters more than a few steps farther. Let’s just say the spirit of the cult ‘80s vengeance drama Ms. 45 is alive and kicking years later.

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MOXIE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Never would I think that a teen-aimed movie would cause me to Google how many R’s are in riot grrrl. But leave it to Amy Poehler to introduce a rage-filled femme-forward music movement spin-off of punk from the ‘90s to the Covid-19 generation. In Moxie, she shows up both in front of the camera as a semi-cool mom of an introverted high-schooler and behind it as it director. But the focus is on Hadley Robinson as her daughter Vivian, who is trying to define herself while facing the task of writing a college essay.

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THE ORPHANAGE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Boys will be boys, no matter what their nationality or beliefs. That thought resounded in my head throughout The Orphanage, a coming-of–age tale that is the second cinematic chapter of a planned five-part series directed by Afghan director Shahrbanoo Sadat. The time is 1989 and the place is Kabul. That’s where we first meet 15-year-old movie fan and street kid Qodrat (Qodratollah Qadri) who earns his keep by selling key chains and scalping movie tickets.

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MY ZOE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Ever since I first saw Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise, the first film in Richard Linklater’s top-notch romantic trllogy, I’ve always found her to be casually mesmerizing and naked with her feelings in a way that only a handful of actresses could ever achieve. That is also true with her latest project, “My Zoe,” where she proves to be a triple threat as the female lead, director and writer.

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TWO OF US – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Filippo Meneghetti rarely takes a wrong emotional turn with this story of long-time female lovers who are able to keep their relationship on the down-low given their living circumstances. The sweet-natured widow Madeline (Martine Chevallier) is able to hide the fact that she and the much more brazen and younger Nina are a couple since they dwell in adjacent domiciles on the top floor of an apartment building.

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