NYAD – Review by T.J. Callahan

Academy Award nominee Annette Bening makes a splash as the tenacious, outspoken, record breaking swimmer with a superiority complex. Bening keeps this flick afloat with her willingness to go the extra mile in and out of the ocean. Co-star and Oscar Winner Jodie Foster matches Bening stroke for stroke as her best friend and coach, Bonnie Stoll. As NYAD kicks into gear, so do Bening and Foster with an effortless relay exchange of dialogue that helped keep this two hour aquatic tale from going under.

Read more

NYAD – Review by Jennifer Merin

Anyone age five or older in 2023 most likely knows of the exploits of Diana Nyad, the legendary long distance swimmer who at long last conquered her long-standing goal of swimming the 110 miles of open sea from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. She was age 64 when she dove into her fifth attempt to swim the distance and, despite daunting odds, reached Key West after some 53 hours in the water. Directing their first narrative feature, directors Elizabeth Chai Vasarhelyi and Jimmy Chin effectively tell the story of Nyad’s triumph.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 11, 2023: KING COAL

It’s very tempting to dismiss the coal-mining industry of Appalachia as the stubborn relic of an outdated era — the last gasp of the original Industrial Revolution that refuses to make way for newer, more environmentally friendly options like solar and wind energy. But to do so is to ignore the reality that coal still plays a major role in many Americans’ lives, a fact that Elaine McMillion Sheldon conveys powerfully in her lyrical documentary King Coal.

Read more

KING COAL – Review by Jennifer Merin

King Coal is a serenely meditative, exquisitely lyrical cinematic celebration of a specific American community and culture that is oft misunderstood. Appalachian filmmaker Elaine McMillion Sheldon’s hybrid documentary is a personal memoire in which she combines archival and current observational footage with creative storytelling to take us deep into the region where she spent her childhood and still has family roots. It is an area where coal mining rules the economy, the politics and local tradition. As the film’s title indicates, coal is king.

Read more

Cinema Citizen’s Memorial Day Watch List – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

On Memorial Day, as a way of honoring fallen heroes and those who’ve returned hone from war, take time to watch these emotion-filled documentaries that tell the true stories of combat veterans, ranging in age from newly recruited teens to seasoned career warriors, from all branches of the military, from across the United States and beyond. Listed in alphabetical order, this selection of impactful documentaries chronicle the experiences and emotions of men at war and show how those who return home struggle to reenter society and relate normally to their families. In their own words, these military men and women remind us that conflict resolution through peaceful negotiation is the better choice.

Read more

DESERT OF FORBIDDEN ART (2011) – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

In remote Uzbekistan, documentary filmmakers Amanda Pope and Tchavdar Georgiev find an unknown museum in which a single collector, Igor Savitsky, managed to save 44,000 world class art works from sure destruction by the repressive Soviet regime that deemed them anti-Soviet and had banned them. If you love art and history and heros, you will love The Desert of Forbidden Art.

Read more

ANVIL: THE STORY OF ANVIL – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Anvil Still Rocks! UTOPIA is releasing a newly restored version of Anvil! The Story of Anvil, filmmaker Sacha Gervasi’s energetic 2009 documentary telling the intriguing tale of Toronto-based musicians Steve ‘Lips’ Kudlow and Robb Reiner. They’re two engagingly humorous guys who’ve been best friends since childhood and have played together in Anvil, the heavy metal band, since they were in their teens.

Read more

SKIES OF LEBANON – Review by Jennifer Merin

Skies of Lebanon opens the mind to deep consideration of the invasive impact that war and social strife have on families who work hard to contribute to society and, in return, just want to live in peace. Thanks to its genre-defying style, it is a lot of fun while it’s being quite serious in touching on themes that are currently relevant around the world, as well as right here, at home. The film is a must see.

Read more

THE MARTHA MITCHELL EFFECT – Review by Jennifer Merin

This June marks the 50th anniversary of the Watergate break-in and the political scandal that led to President Richard Nixon’s eventual resignation from office on August 8, 1974. It was a turning point in US history, one in which Martha Mitchell played a role, Martha was the whistleblower wife of former US Attorney General John Mitchell, a close Nixon advisor and ally who was jailed for his complicity in the Watergate case. Two films currently in release commemorate the Watergate events and era by taking another look at Martha’s perspective on Watergate, how it happened and its impact on our nation.

Read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 20, 2022 – FANNY: THE RIGHT TO ROCK

If you heard that David Bowie told Rolling Stone in 1999 that a group popular in the 1970s was “one of the finest f–ing rock bands of their time,” who would you guess he was talking about? Led Zepplin? The Who? Deep Purple? Wrong, wrong, and wrong. He was heaping praise on Fanny, the groundbreaking all-female band formed by Filipina sisters Jean and June Millington, whose story is told in Bobbi Jo Hart’s rousing documentary Fanny: The Right to Rock.

Read more