FREE SOLO – Review by Diane Carson

Free Solo is breathtaking and terrifying. Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin’s documentary Free Solo profiles Alex Honnold, the climber who admits often considering free climbing El Capitan, Earth’s most impressive, 3200-foot granite wall. But, as Alex repeatedly said to himself, “That’s just too scary.” Nevertheless, he knew he had to attempt it, insane as the idea is because there is zero margin for error.

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HALLOWEEN (2018) – Review by Brandy McDonnell

The imminently watchable Curtis (“True Lies,” “A Fish Called Wanda”) got her big break playing Laurie Strode, a teenage babysitter who manages to survive the rampage of stoic masked serial killer Michael Myers, in John Carpenter’s original “Halloween.” A direct sequel to the first film, the new “Halloween” smartly ignores the plethora of dull and convoluted entries in between and picks up 40 years later.

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TIFF18 Review: DIAMANTINO – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

With its North American premiere at the Midnight Madness program of this year’s Toronto International Film Festival, there is little that can prepare you for the unique, twisted majesty of queer Portuguese film Diamantino. Co-directed by Gabriel Abrantes and Daniel Schmidt, this is an unapologetic carnival of bad taste all but destined for cult film longevity.

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LIYANA – Review by Loren King

Liyana is an innovative blend of documentary and animation that tells a moving story of resiliency and the power of imagination. Directors Aaron and Amanda Kopp follow orphaned children in Swaziland, who’ve suffered traumas from abduction to assault; and most have lost parents to AIDS (Swaziland has the highest HIV prevalence rate in the world). Well-known South African actress, activist and storyteller Gina Mhlophe leads the kids in storytelling sessions that are therapeutic.

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JULY 22 – Review by Diane Carson

July 22 honors Norway’s strength and heart. Writer/director Paul Greengrass has demonstrated his talent for boldly dramatizing sensitive subjects. In July 22, he takes on the worst terrorist attack in Norway’s history. The massacre on Utoya Island — where dozens of teenagers were attending a Labor Party Camp — left seventy-seven people dead and dozens injured.

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TEA WITH THE DAMES – Review by Martha K Baker

In the midst of movies that call for blood, curses, and mayhem, “em>Tea with the Dames offers those ingredients elegantly and eloquently from dames of the British realm who are also stars of stage and screen. At tea are Dame and Lady Joan Plowright, Dame Maggie Smith, Dame Judi Dench, and Dame Eileen Atkins.Tea with the Dames is literate, funny, poignant, a respite and a reminder. Utterly delicious, this tea with Champagne with the Dames.

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FIRST MAN – Review by Susan Granger

Based on James R. Hansen’s First Man: The Life of Neil A. Armstrong (2005), the film is adapted as a docudrama by Josh Singer and cinematographer Linus Sandgren, focusing on Apollo 11, America’s first successful manned mission to the moon, making good on Pres. John K. Kennedy’s vision for the future and “a giant leap for mankind.”

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FIRST MAN – Review by Diane Carson

A monumental scientific and historical event, Neil Armstrong stepped on the moon on July 21, 1969, the first person to do so. Director Damien Chazelle’s First Man puts that phenomenally difficult, dangerous event in the context of the wonder, the terror, the tragedies and the triumph that go along with it. Moreover, we feel Armstrong’s overwhelming physical and emotional struggles.

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