A DIFFERENT MAN – Review by Serena Seghedoni

At the center of it all is New Yorker Edward (Sebastian Stan), whose facial deformities have become so severe that his doctor (John Keating) fears he might lose his eyesight soon. But it’s not just a matter of health: Edward’s entire life revolves around his condition, from the way people react to him to the lack of opportunities he’s given, and he also doesn’t have any friends. It’s a miserable existence, and though our protagonist might not be showing it on the outside, he’s on the verge of giving up on life altogether, the void he feels mirrored by a leaking hole in his flat’s ceiling that grows bigger and darker every day, as a constant reminder of his predicament.

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DUMB MONEY (TIFF 2023) – Review by Rachel West

The year is 2020. Confined to the insides of their homes and glued to the internet for lack of anything better to do during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, one YouTube live streamer and an army of Reddit investors pushed hedge fund billionaires to the brink in the infamous GameStop Wall Street scandal. Less than three years after the real-life event, director Craig Gillespie and writers Lauren Schuker Blum and Rebecca Angelo bring Dumb Money, the true story of the scandal that pitted average armchair investors – so-called “dumb money” — against hedge fund managers through a grassroots investing movement.

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SHARPER – Review by Susan Granger

There are grifters galore in Benjamin Caron’s psychological thriller Sharper that opens with what appears to be a innocent love story, set inside a small Greenwich Village bookstore. That’s where NYU grad student Sandra (Briana Middleton) meets Tom (Justice Smith), the nerdy proprietor. She’s searching for a copy of Zora Neal Huston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God. They ‘click’ and move on to a little Japanese restaurant on Mott Street for canoodling over dinner.

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SHARPER – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

The word sharper is another term for a cheating gambler—or “one who lives by their wits,” as the crime thriller Sharper says among its opening titles. Unfortunately, Sharper is dull and predictable, with a plodding pace, little suspense, and twists that anyone who loves heist films will identify well in advance.
Streaming on Apple TV+, Sharper has a fractured narrative, following four key characters at alternate points in the story. This type of structure can produce surprising reveals, but the script by Brian Gatewood and Alessandro Tanaka (both of Superstore, and also producers) isn’t engaging enough in these portions to override impatience. Those looking for a twisty crime tale will consider Sharper a cheat.

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FRESH – Review by Susan Granger

Do you like psycho-thrillers? What about horror comedies? If so, dark, devious Fresh might whet your appetite. The titles and cast credits don’t appear until 33 minutes into the story, just before the leading lady, awakening, from a drug-induced slumber, finds herself chained to a bed and is calmly told by her sociopathic captor, “I’m going to sell your meat.”

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PAM AND TOMMY – Review by Martha K Baker

You just know that, when the voice of a protagonist’s male member gets a credit in the cast list, the motion picture has the tell-tale tongue in the cheek. In eight episodes. Pam and Tommy flashes back and shreds threads of history through the Eighties and Nineties. shedding light on sleazy producers and paparazzi, celebrities, and craven criminals. The result is bright, loud, sad, vicious, painful and stupefying and worth considering as a slice of recent history and a slab of eternal misogyny.

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PAM & TOMMY – Review by Pam Grady

Pam & Tommy is tabloid television given an elegant veneer by its A-list cast and the fig leaf of feminism offered by the women on the production team and women like Lake Bell who direct some of the episodes. But nearly 30 years after all of this first started, this show is really just the latest chapter in the ongoing exploitation of Pamela Anderson, a woman who does not deserve it.

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