MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 14, 2023: LAKOTA NATION Vs. UNITED STATES

Does any part of you still doubt that the United States’ relationship with the Indigenous people who called North America home long before anyone ever thought of naming it “America” in the first place is based in duplicity, theft, and genocide? If so, then watching Laura Tomaselli and Jesse Short Bull’s compelling Lakota Nation Vs. United States will make it crystal clear that, as one interviewee eloquently puts it, “Fundamentally, the intent of the United States is to gain access to native land.” Lakota Nation Vs. United States is an ardent call for justice.

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LAKOTA NATION Vs. UNITED STATES – Review by Jennifer Merin

Lakota Nation Vs. United States is a compelling advocacy documentary that chronicles the United States’ government’s ongoing land grab of Lakota territory in Northeastern Wyoming in violation of the Black Hills Treaty of 1868. At this moment in US history, when the Constitution — our government’s essential treaty with our nation’s citizens — is being challenged and our civil rights are being eroded, Lakota Nation Vs. United States is an effective cry for justice. It is an essential watch.

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LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Review by Nikki Fowler

Directors Jesse Short Bull, Laura Tomaselli and writer Layli Long Soldier give an exquisite and accurate account of how land treaties have been broken and Native Americans have been physically and verbally bullied and belittled and met with horrific stereotyping and lies promoted by colonizing attitudes and greed. Whether seen in the context of the struggle to retain rights to the Black Hills region that that rightfully belongs to the Lakota people, it’s clear that the influx of settlers from the east looking to strike it rich with gold in the west had no compunction about violating land treaties, sending kids to dehumanizing boarding schools, disrupting tribal culture. This documentary is a must watch.

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LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Review by Loren King

With the year more than half over, I will say now that Lakota Nation vs. United States should be among the nominees for the best documentary Oscar next year. It’s not only a superbly crafted, richly textured film with a fresh point of view, it masterfully blends past and present to serve as both historical corrective and gut-check for the very moment we are in when so many are eager to censor and erase history.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7, 2023: BIOSPHERE

“Life finds a way.” This classic line from Jurassic Park is referenced more than once in director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere, and there couldn’t be a more apt way to summarize the story of this quirky, unexpected dramedy about two lifelong best friends (Mark Duplass, who co-wrote the film with Eslyn, and Sterling K. Brown) who may be the last people left alive on Earth after an unspecified planet-ending disaster.

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MONICA -Review by Nadine Whitney

Monica is a profoundly moving film about identity, acceptance, and forgiveness. It’s a film that exists in what is left unspoken. Monica rarely says what she feels, in fact, it takes a lot of courage for her to tell her truth to anyone, including her ex-boyfriend Jimmy who abandoned her, using the “We need space” line to avoid confrontation. Abandonment has been in staple in Monica’s life since the day her mother drove her to a bus stop when she was sixteen and told her, “I cannot be your mother anymore.”

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Andrea Arnold Reunites with IFC for COW – Brandy McDonnell reports

IFC Films is acquiring North American rights to Cow, a new documentary directed by Academy Award-winning English filmmaker Andrea Arnold. Shot over seven years, “Cow” had its world premiere in the newly created Cannes Premiere section at this year’s Cannes Film Festival in France.

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OPHELIA – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

The genius of William Shakespeare has been a bottomless well of inspiration for creators down through the ages—flexible enough to absorb all manner of revision, from modern dress to modern English, and timeless enough to speak to successive generations with the common language of the human heart. Novelist Lisa Klein published Ophelia, her revisionist take on Hamlet in 2006, and now director Claire McCarthy and screenwriter Semi Chellas have brought her vision to the screen.

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OPHELIA – Review by Loren King

Reexamining classic texts from a different perspective, particularly minor or neglected characters, is an enticing idea fraught with possibility and peril. Tom Stoppard’s absurdist play,
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead looked past Hamlet to the bit players. But what about Shakespeare’s women? Kudos to director Claire McCarthy and to Semi Chellas who adapted Lisa Klein’s young adult novel, for having the imagination and guts to take one of Hamlet’s most under-explored characters, the tragic Ophelia, and put her center stage.

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