THE GOOD NURSE – Review by Susan Granger

It made no sense to have Netflix release The Good Nurse in late October, followed by a far-more detailed account of the same serial killer in its own Capturing the Killer Nurse in early November. Based on Charles Graeber’s book The Good Nurse: A True Story of Madness, Medicine, and Murder, both follow the investigation that led to serial killer Charles Cullen’s arrest in 2003.

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EMPIRE OF LIGHT – Review by Diane Carson

Empire of Light is a love letter to 1980s cinema. Writer/director Sam Mendes goes behind the scenes to reveal the lives of those who whisked viewers into another world while battling their own demons and society’s racism, sexual predation, and mental health struggles. Behind the glimmer and glamor of that magical theater and blinding projector’s light existed a real, troubled world from which imagination offered escape, the establishment of a surrogate, supportive family.

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THE FABELMANS – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The creative life is a circus for an artist, with allures impossible to resist. Director Steven Spielberg’s semiautobiographical drama The Fabelmans shows his early fascination with movies; yet instead of making himself the focus—a portrait of the blockbuster pioneer as a young Steven, if you will—he crafts an intimate story that credits his parents as his inspiration.

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THE GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY HOLIDAY SPECIAL – Review by Susan Granger

An animated flashback that shows how, years ago, Yondu (Michael Rooker) ruined Christmas for young Peter Quill by trashing his tree, throwing out his gifts and scolding him for his sentimentality. Listening to this recollection in outer space and realizing how much now-grown Peter – a.k.a. Star-Lord (Chris Pratt) – misses Earth’s holiday customs and traditions, his Guardian friends, Mantis (Pom Klementieff) and Drax (Dave Bautista), embark on a quest to find him the perfect Christmas gift.

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HIDDEN LETTERS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

The documentary Hidden Letters, directed by Violet Du Feng, digs deep into Nushu, a traditional secret writing system used by women in Jiangyong County in China’s Hunan province. For thousands of years, Nushu has been a unique script used exclusively by local women. It is somewhat like calligraphy in that the figures are written with a brush and ink. Originally used in poems and songs, it not only provided women with a coping mechanism against the patriarchal hardships experienced before 1949 but gave them hope and allowed them to leave a legacy for future generations. The last descendant fluent in Nushu may have died in 2000, but efforts have been made to prolong its history.

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AWFJ Presents: YARN – Review by Lois Alter Mark

Yarn weaves in narration from author Barbara Kingsolver, who reads from her essay, “Where It Begins: Knitting as creation story,” as we’re introduced to the sheep who make this art possible. All of Yarn – like all of yarn – is about stories. It’s why there are sewing bees and quilting circles: because women share their stories both as they create and in their creations. Those stories are passed down for generations along with the objects themselves, adding immeasurably to their value.

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LOWNDES COUNTY AND THE ROAD TO BLACK POWER – Review by Leslie Combemale

Despite the passage of The Voting Rights Act in 1965, there were parts of the US where Black persons registering to vote were risking their lives. Nowhere better exemplified that sad truth than Lowndes, an impoverished county outside Montgomery, Alabama, a place where 80% of the population was Black but not one registered voter was Black. Lowndes County and the Road to Black Power reminds us that history is repeating itself. It’s a documentary that certain boards of education would fight tooth and nail to keep from being played in schools, but is one that should be required viewing at every high school across the country.

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THE INSPECTION – Review by Diane Carson

Some “inspired by a true story” narratives are self-indulgent and strained. Not writer/director Elegance Bratton’s autobiographical The Inspection detailing his own courageous determination to become a Marine. As the protagonist gay Black man Ellis French says, “Most of my friends are dead or in jail. If I die in this uniform, I’m a hero to somebody.”

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BONES AND ALL – Review by T. J. Callahan

Bones and All, based on a YA novel of the same name, stars Timothee Chalamet and Taylor Russell as the wayward young couple searching for who they are and who’s going to be their next meal. Character actor extraordinaire, Mark Rylance is Sully, a seasoned people-eater who’s
equal parts mentor and maniac. Director Luca Guadagnino mixes the bloody horror he orchestrated in Suspiria with the peachy romance from Call Me By Your Name as we follow the pair across the Midwest in stolen vehicles with stolen dreams.

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