THE LIFE AHEAD – Review by Diane Carson

The Life Ahead features a compelling Sophia Loren. Set in the midst of dire circumstances, the film dramatizes the evolving relationship between Holocaust survivor Madame Rosa and young Senegalese refuge Momo. It’s star is 86-year-old Sophia Loren who enlivens this compelling adaptation of Romain Gary’s The Life Before Us, here co-written and directed by Loren’s son Edoardo Ponti.

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TRIAL 4 – Review by Martha K Baker

Netflix’ mini-series, The Innocence Files, convinced viewers that wrongful convictions in the United States merit films of excellence. Trial 4 must be added to Netflix’s cache of fine true-crime documentaries. In eight episodes, Sean Ellis’s story is told with ample attention to details of corruption and justice.

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HILLBILLY ELEGY – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

When J.D. Vance’s 2016 memoir, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis, landed on best-seller lists just months before Donald J. Trump would become our 45th president, it was treated like portal into the mind set of those in the disenfranchised white underclass who supported him.

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THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – Review by Susan Granger

Who would have thought that this seven-episode Netflix series – built around an intellectual game like chess – could be so compelling? Based Walter Trevis’ novel, it’s written and directed by Scott Frank, who turns this fictional character-study into a fascinating coming-of-age drama about an obsessive, self-destructive young woman taking control of her life and succeeding in what is traditionally considered a man’s domain.

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THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT – Review by Martha K Baker

It’s a sports film played not on field or court but on a board. The sport is chess. But The Queen’s Gambit is not all about chess although knowing nothing about the ancient game does not deter from its thrills. Walter Tevis’ story, as written for the screen by director Scott Frank and Alan Scott, is also a bildungsroman about a young woman coming of age, stabilized by a male-dominated game.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: DuVernay Adapts Wilkerson’s CASTE for Netflix – Brandy McDonnell reports

Ava DuVernay will direct, write and produce the feature adaptation of Isabel Wilkerson’s acclaimed new book Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents. The new project will reunite the Oscar-nominated moviemaker with Netflix, although it will be her first feature film for the streaming giant.

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REBECCA – Review by Susan Granger

Too bad this revised adaptation of Daphne du Maurier’s novel is so inferior to Alfred Hitchock’s Oscar-winning 1940 version (the only Hitchcock movie ever to win Best Picture), starring Joan Fontaine, Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson. On the plus side, it’s beautifully photographed by Laurie Rose, who makes the most of the spectacular seaside scenery, stylish period costumes, and historic Hatfield House, former home to Queen Elizabeth I – the same mansion that director Yorgos Lanthimos featured in The Favorite.

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THE TRIAL OF THE CHICAGO 7 – Review by Susan Granger

Best known for his sharp, perceptive dialogue, peppered with succinct soliloquies, writer/director Aaron Sorkin has crafted a timely, yet talky tale, utilizing flashbacks and newsreel footage. Free speech and demonstration are interpreted as lawless rioting with the government and its supporters expressing complete faith in the police. Perhaps Sasha Baron-Cohen’s Abbie Hoffman puts it best: “The institutions of government are wonderful things, but right now are populated by some terrible people.”

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