PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Leslie Combemale

If there is such a genre as ‘Mystical Femme,’ and there really should be, French writer/director Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire belongs in it, placed at the top. Winner of the Queer Palm and Best Screenplay at the 2019 Cannes Film Festival, the film features magnetic lead actresses whose chemistry with each other is off the charts.

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BY THE GRACE OF GOD – Review by Martha K Baker

By the Grace of God is based on true stories of rapes, betrayals, cover-ups, resistance, and, finally, this year, of the conviction of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin of Lyon of concealing the conduct of Bernard Preynat. The film is so good that it’s hard to tell whether it’s a documentary or a feature film. By the Grace of God matters — no matter what.

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THE CAVE and FOR SAMA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Two intimate documentaries from inside the Syrian civil war, diaries of women who stayed to fight for their nation and help their people, pay tribute to human perseverance and chide Western apathy. In The Cave, we meet Syrian doctor Amani Ballour, a hero(ine) for our times. For Sama is a heartbreaking testimony of a patriot defending her nation.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Loren King

Portrait of a Lady on Fire, winner of the best screenplay award at this year’s Cannes Film Festival, is an unforgettable love story that unspools at a slow burn until the final act, which blazes with an incandescence. The women don’t end up together — no surprise, given the times, and this outcome is made clear by the film’s opening scene. But through artistic images of one another — those they recorded, what they revealed — they keep alive a precious, private memory forever burned into their hearts and minds.

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MARRIAGE STORY – Review by Susan Granger

You know the feeling when you have a very painful scab on your knee and you keep picking at it? That’s what writer/director Noah Baumbach has created in this bitter, corrosive tale about the dissolution of a marriage. Beginning as ‘cinema verite,’ recalling the 1960s French film movement which featured natural actions and authentic dialogue, it inexplicably then morphs into near-farce and melodic metaphors.

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PORTRAIT OF A LADY ON FIRE – Review by Sheila Roberts

If you enjoy femme-centric cinema with a strong female gaze, go see filmmaker Celine Sciamma’s sublime period drama, Portrait of a Lady on Fire, set on an isolated island in 1760’s Brittany. Sciamma examines the relationship between a reluctant bride-to-be (Heloise/Adele Haenel) and the artist (Marianne/Noemie Merlant) secretly commissioned by her mother (La Comtesse/Valeria Golino) to paint her wedding portrait. While posing as a hired companion, Marianne surreptitiously observes every detail of her subject on their daily walks then paints Heloise from memory in the evenings.

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KLAUS – Review by Ulkar Alakbarova

We’re all trying to get better every day but how many of us really ask what it means to be the best version of oneself? Since the subject appears to be easy, there are millions of ways to approach it, and it all starts with how other people see us. Are we kind and considerate toward others, or do we come across as selfish and spoiled? Netflix’s “Klaus” is yet another animated film but it touches upon what should have never stayed in the dark – the importance of self-discipline with the combination of an important lesson that can be learned only under special circumstances.

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FROZEN II – Review by Susan Granger

Based on a story by Chris Buck, Marc E. Smith, Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez – which traces its antecedents to Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Snow Queen” – it’s written by Jennifer Lee, who did the first installment, and co-directs with Chris Buck, once aging focusing on Anna and Elsa as self-reliant, resilient role-models for young girls.

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