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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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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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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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 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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PILI – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Pili, the feature debut of British filmmaker Leanne Welham, is remarkable. It was shot in the village where it is set, utilizing mostly nonprofessional actors, telling a story that is only just barely fictionalized from their lives. There hasn’t been a movie like this one before, showcasing the determination, the dignity, and the indomitable spirit of the women of East Africa.

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BAD TIMES AT THE EL ROYALE – Review by Martha K Baker

Bad Times is ostensibly a thriller about a hotel, half in Nevada, half in California. At the outset, that’s kinda funny because the thick red line demarcating states runs through the parking lot and the lobby. Guests get to pick which state to stay in, but since most of the rooms have not been serviced and the others run along an observation corridor, it’s not a choice.

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THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN – Review by Diane Carson

Originally a 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann, based on a true story, The Old Man & the Gun follows Forrest Tucker. Seventy-nine years old, having broken out of prison multiple times, Tucker is a confirmed bank robber who loves his work. Amazingly, most of his targets handing over the bank’s cash compliment Tucker on his polite, pleasant manner.

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