THE SURROGATE (SXSW2020) – Review by Lois Alter Mark

It’s rare to find a movie that manages to find a fresh new angle to approach a subject we’ve seen so many times before. That’s what The Surrogate does – and it’s one of the many reasons it’s such a treasure. Writer-director Jeremy Hersh has created a small gem that puts us in the shoes of people forced to make difficult moral decisions. And that makes us not just more involved viewers but better human beings.

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ORDINARY LOVE – Review by Martha K Baker

The film begins and ends on a walk. Tom and Joan, long married, urge each other one along the quai. They move together, her short legs taking two steps for every one of his long limbs’. They are at ease with each other from years of shared experiences and bantering affection.

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WHAT SHE SAID: THE ART OF PAULINE KAEL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

I don’t know whether to be heartened or depressed by What She Said, a terrific documentary about the life and work of legendary film critic Pauline Kael. We hear how challenging it was to make a living as a critic, the abuse she took from readers, and just the general awfulness of men, in her personal life as well as professionally.

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HALA -Review by Loren King

Writer-director Minhal Baig’s feature debut is anchored by a heroine unique enough to catch attention and complex and engaging enough to hold it. Hala (Geraldine Viswanathan) is a 17-year-old high senior in the Chicago suburbs going through the usual coming of age tribulations: there’s college, sex, love, identity and breaking away from strict parental control. But as a Pakistani American Muslim who wears her hijab while skateboarding and appreciates literature such as Ibsen’s “A Doll’s House” with a clear and understated eloquence, Hala is a character we’ve rarely seen on screen.

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AMERICAN SON – Review by Lynnette Nicholas

American Son focuses not only on implicit bias, white privilege, the dynamics of power, wealthy Blacks and the “illusion of safety,” and the experience of wealthy Black boys at predominantly white institutions, but it also depicts a smart, beautiful interracial couple who genuinely love one another and just can’t seem to take the pressure of the presumptions placed on them by society and racial constructs.

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DILILI IN PARIS – Review by Jennifer Merin

Michel Ocelot’s distinctive style of animation and exposition has a simplicity and fluidity that allows for a beautifully rendered tour of Paris’ well known tourist spots, as well as the introduction of the leading cultural figures of the day and a surprising roster of other cultural references. And, all the while, there’s the mystery of the Male Masters, whose political leanings and agenda are, we learn, threateningly right wing and anti-female.

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