MATERNA – Review by Rachel West

Materna’s strength lies in unifying culturally diverse stories and while fimmaker David Gutnik makes some choices that aren’t always successful, the film is effective in exploring the themes at hand as he offers what is ultimately a unique and refreshing perspective on both motherhood and womanhood.

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ANNETTE – Review by Leslie Combemale

From the first moments of the ambitious, sometimes stubbornly weird, sometimes magical film Annette, from director Leos Carax and writer/composers Ron and Russell Mael, known together as Sparks, you already know you’re in for something different and original. Carax talks directly to the audience, breaking the fourth wall, then the entire cast and crew get together and walk through the night streets singing ‘So May We Start?’.

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WHAT WE LEFT UNFINISHED – Review by Diane Carson

What We Left Unfinished documents the recovery of Afghan Films. In troubled, war-torn countries, the arts often slip from discussion and concern. And yet, as one wise Afghan director observes in filmmaker Mariam Ghani’s surprising, informative documentary What We Left Unfinished, “You can’t do as much damage to the enemy with an F-16 or other air power as you can with a really good film.”

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VAL – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Before he earned the nickname “Iceman” and became a 1990s icon as Batman, Val Kilmer loved goofing around in front of and behind a camera. He’s collected a treasure trove of footage throughout his life that the documentary Val pieces together into an immersive narrative about his love of art, acting, and family.

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A DARK FOE – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

A Dark Foe follows FBI Agent Tony Cruz whose obsessive dedication to his work life is thwarted by childhood trauma and a chronic case of nyctophobia (fear of the dark). Haunted by the murder of his mother and the abduction of his sister when she was only a child, as revealed early in the film, as an adult his paths cross with the man responsible for his own tragic losses, which are simultaneously linked to a stream of vicious serial killings and a sex trafficking ring.

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JUNGLE CRUISE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Whoever pitched Disney’s new feature Jungle Cruise must have been a master of hyperbole. “It’s The Mummy meets Pirates of the Caribbean meets African Queen, but imagine Katherine Hepburn as a younger, smokin’ yet independent English hottie, and add the highest paid actor in the world.” If there were ever a final argument for ‘there’s nothing new under the sun’, Jungle Cruise would be it.

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BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE – Review by Jennifer Merin

Bring Your Own Brigade is filmmaker Lucy Walker’s courageous and compelling documentary about an extremely hot topic: the ongoing inferno of wildfires in Southern California and elsewhere on the West Coast and, by extension, across the nation. Walker’s eye witness camera captures close up images of the uncontrolled fires cutting through affluent communities in wide paths of devastating destruction. She follows local residents who are fleeing their homes on car-congested bands of blacktop cutting through raging flames and she records up close and personal accounts of survivors whose property was miraculously spared and others who lost all of their worldly goods to the to the rampaging blaze.

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