DEATH OF ME – Review by Susan Granger

Occasionally, there’s a movie that so dumb and dull that one wonder how and why it ever got made. Writers Arli Margolis, James Morley III and David Tish patch together a murky, improbable horror/thriller – with obvious cult allusions to The Wicker Man and Midsommer. But the action is lethargically directed by Darren Lynn Bousman, credited with three installments of the Saw franchise.

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US KIDS – Review by Liz Whittemore

The Parkland students who survived their school massacre had activism thrust upon them. Kim A. Snyder’s new doc Us Kids follows the intense reality that these teenagers are still living. It’s an emotional gut-punch from every angle. It’s devastating, inspiring, hopeless, in your face, and unapologetic. Us Kids is about the freedom to live. It’s about letting kids be kids. They deserve it. The youth vote could actually change the world. This IS what democracy looks like.

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RADIUM GIRLS – Review by Susan Granger

Based on true events during the late 1920s, this docudrama focuses on two teenage Cavallo sisters employed at the American Radium Factory in Orange, New Jersey, painting numbers on the popular, glow-in-the-dark watch faces, earning one-penny each. The superb production design reflects prodigious research, reflecting the period through archival newsreel footage and period costumes.

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US KIDS – Review by Loren King

I was moved while watching director Kim A. Snyder’s Us Kids — to tears, to rage, to action. To deep admiration and to hope. Us Kids is a compelling story of several ordinary but remarkable young people who refuse to be victims and of their incessant efforts to reclaim democracy.

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ON THE ROCKS – Review by Susan Granger

Obsessed with the concept of monogamy/marital fidelity, writer/director Sofia Coppola conveys her smart, sophisticated, incisive observations about men, no doubt formed by the dynastic Coppola family and her first marriage to director Spike Jonze. On the Rocks revolves around a meddling father, his anxious daughter and a marriage that may or may not be falling apart.

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US KIDS – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Filmmaker Kim Snyder allows us to experience the conflicting emotions and traumas as these teens who survived the Parkland school shootings take matters into their own hands, both by protesting in the streets but also by having each other’s backs. When matters get personal, Us Kids is at its best. As these young people turn a tragedy into an opportunity to better the world, it is also clear these kids are not just alright but also right.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 23, 2020: ON THE ROCKS

On the Rocks feels a bit like what you’d get if Woody Allen and Wes Anderson made a movie together — only with a lot more feminine energy, empathy, and understanding. Sofia Coppola’s dramedy tackles modern marriage, motherhood, career uncertainty, and parent/adult child relationships with a light touch and strong performances from a talented cast.

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TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL – Review by Martha K Baker

Last October, Nature set loose a terrible disease. It was named, in the scientific fashion, Covid 19, for the year it started and for “corona,” describing the virus. Alex Gibney, along with Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger, has directed a fiery documentary blast at the handling of the pandemic in America by the Trump Administration.

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NATIONTIME – Review by Diane Carson

Producer/director William Greaves’ documentary of the landmark 1972 National Black Political Convention was once feared lost to posterity, then found in a Pittsburgh warehouse. At the time of its production, fear of its militancy dissuaded broadcasters. Further, Greaves edited a seventy minute film, though only an hour version circulated. Thanks to Jane Fonda, who attended the Convention, the Hollywood Press Association, and IndieCollect’s guidance, Nationtime is now restored in a full, 4K version to Greaves’ original intent.

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BLITHE SPIRIT (Middleburg FF 2020) – Review by Leslie Combemale

A new film adaptation of Noel Coward’s famously ‘spirited’ 1941 play Blithe Spirit is coming to a (insert however the hell we’ll be seeing movies in December) near you, starring pretty pretties Isla Fisher, Dan Stevens, and Leslie Mann, and the Middleburg Film Festival offered a drive-in screening of this fluffy farce, this celebration of cynicism, on the fest’s opening night. Screenwriter Piers Ashworth reinvigorates the story with a more female-friendly, feminist bend, and one character who is decidedly more sympathetic, although the story still takes place in the 30s, with all the attendant style and panache.

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