13 MINUTES – Review by Rachel West

Thirteen minutes is all the time four families in a Central Midwest town have to seek shelter from the tornado of the century. Directed by Lindsay Gossling, the disaster drama does a remarkably good job of depicting the massive tornado and its wake of destruction on what is surely a minimal budget. The 13 minutes leading up to the tornado’s touchdown and the immediate aftermath are the strongest elements in the movie. However, the tornado strike alone isn’t a compelling enough reason to watch the personal dramas unfold in the build-up to disaster, making 13 Minutes worth not much more of your time.

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THE HANDMAID’S TALE Season 4 – Review by Susan Granger

With so many new dramatic series, Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale: Season 4 somehow got put on a back-burner, begging to be binge-watched. Lacking its previous topical urgency but retaining its feminist rage, the fourth season begins where the relentless third left off, as heroically tormented June Osbourne (Elisabeth Moss) dispatches a plane filled with 86 children and numerous women fleeing from the tyranny of Gilead into Toronto, Canada.

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HALLOWEEN KILLS – Review by Rachel West

One thing Halloween Kills gets right is showing Michael Myers as a brutal, sadistic killing machine. He is utterly relentless when it comes to butchering people in gruesome and blood-soaked ways that will make slasher fans squeal with delight. The first half of the film features some of the franchise’s more-inventive kills before the story gets muddled with too many unmemorable characters, side plots, and drama.

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THE SUBJECT – Review by Liz Braun

Every serious film-goer knows that a movie with a weak start rarely improves. This makes The Subject a huge exception to the rule, as this debut feature from director Lanie Zipoy and writer Chisa Hutchinson has a lacklustre beginning and an unexpectedly powerful second half. The Subject concerns a documentary filmmaker with a guilty conscience. He has become well known and has won awards for a documentary about a Harlem teenager, but it’s a film that includes the death of its subject.

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AT THE READY – Review by Sandie Angulo Chen

At the Ready is an easy sell for those who find something uniquely fascinating about the state of Texas, and in particular its border towns. The fact that there are high schools in Texas that offer law enforcement courses and criminal justice clubs in which students compete in mock raids, hostage negotiations, active-shooter situations, and other law enforcement scenarios shouldn’t come as a surprise; it’s Texas. What is surprising, is that the documentary isn’t about an all-White high school in a red swath of the State; it’s about a club at predominantly Hispanic (nearly all the students are cued as Mexican American) Horizon High School in El Paso.

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LARRY FLYNT FOR PRESIDENT – Review by Diane Carson

Highlights in this documentary include Flynt’s recurring legal and theoretical skirmishes in multiple court cases right up to U.S. Supreme Court where he shouted obscenities at the judges. He went several rounds with Jerry Falwell, once appearing to testify in an American flag diaper. He falsely claimed he had a humiliating (and extremely out-of-focus) sex tape of President Ronald Reagan. As encounter after encounter occurs, it’s apparent that the most apt comment comes from Al Goldstein, publisher of Screw, who says, “Flynt only knows he’s alive when he sees himself reflected in the media.”

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POSER (Nightstream Fest 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

As a world building exercise, Poser is deeply ensconced in the Columbus indie music scene, which is brought to life here in a variety of ways, including casting significant scene luminaries such as Bobbi Kitten. But this is no navel-gazing, regional subcultural circle jerk; sometimes dark, frequently self-depreciative and often dryly funny, there is a sad, bleak heart to Poser that is where its ultimate impact is contained.

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COSMIC DAWN (Nightstream Fest 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Jefferson Moneo’s Cosmic Dawn is far from the typical terrain of UFO conspiracy films as can be imagined – this is no X-Files fanfic and is all the stronger for it. This is largely informed by Moneo’s own experience with an alien encounter as a child, which – for sceptics and believers alike – undeniably manifests in the film in a sincerity and a sense of intimacy that films and television shows dealing with this subject so often miss.

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TO THE MOON (Nightstream Fest 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Running just over 80 minutes in length, To the Moon is a lithe, powerful little film written, directed and co-starring Friend and currently playing at the Nightstream virtual film festival. Set in one location with a key cast of only three characters, it uses its slender production context to great effect, granting each of the three central players enormous scope to flesh out their characters.

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