DARK HORSE (2015)- Documentary Retroview

DARK HORSE (2015)- Documentary Retroview

Dark Horse, filmmaker Louise Osmond’s inspiring documentary is all about triumph and its transience, and the will to pick up the pieces and carry on. Set in a small town in Wales that fell into deep depression and near poverty status when its coal mines tanked, Dark Horse is the cinematic telling of the true tale of Janet Vokes, a local barmaid who decided she’d like to raise and race a thoroughbred. Just like that.

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Water Wars (2009) – Documentary Retroview

Water Wars (2009) – Documentary Retroview

According to a World Bank study, the demand for water will exceed supply by 40 percent within twenty years. By presenting an overview of recent flooding, drought, and other water-related disasters in Bangladesh, India and New Orleans, director Jim Burrough’s Water Wars: When Drought, Flood and Greed Collide presents a prescient look into the future of fresh water access and control, which many believe will be the cause for World War III.

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LANGUAGE LESSONS – Movie Review (SXSW 2021)

LANGUAGE LESSONS – Movie Review (SXSW 2021)

Language Lessons is a splendid product of pandemic moviemaking! The pandemic’s challenge to the movie industry has certainly pushed the envelope on cinematic creativity. When scheduled productions large and small, studio and indie, were simply shut down or delayed, cinema creatives who work above and below the line were left with a frustrating dearth of work and angst galore.

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GROOMED – Movie Review

GROOMED – Movie Review

Groomed is an intensely personal documentary in which the filmmaker chronicles her own journey to discover the truth about her childhood encounter with a predatory sexual abuser and to recover from the long lasting impact his abuse has had on her life as an adult. Gwen van de Pas, now living in San Francisco with a wonderfully understanding and supportive man, is beset by nightmares and panic attacks and sets out to investigate the cause of them.

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DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2006)- Movie Review

DELIVER US FROM EVIL (2006)- Movie Review

In her Academy Award nominated (2006) documentary, Deliver Us From Evil, director Amy Berg uses gripping testimony by victims, interviews with expert witnesses and archival footage to reveal the Catholic Church’s shocking cover up of ongoing incidents of child abuse by members of the clergy.

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THE ORPHANAGE Movie Review

THE ORPHANAGE Movie Review

A most compelling second feature from Afghan writer/director Shahrbanoo Sadat, The Orphanage had its first screening at Cannes Film Festival in 2019. It is the second installment in a planned cinema pentalogy that is based on the unpublished diaries of Iranian actor/writer Anwar Hashimi, who also plays a supporting character in The Orphanage. The film’s prequel, Wolf and Sheep, was also scripted by […]

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FTA – Movie Review – 1972/2009

FTA – Movie Review – 1972/2009

FTA is an anti-war documentary that went missing shortly after its premiere in 1972. Now restored and available to the public, the film is an important record showing the strength of the American people’s opposition to the Vietnam War. Documetary Film And Historical Record Along with Winter Soldier, FTA stands as an important historical document, […]

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Garbo: The Spy – Movie Review – 2009

Garbo: The Spy – Movie Review – 2009

This wonderfully entertaining and educating documentary is a real life spy thriller that profiles the mystery man, a double agent during World War II, who who changed the course of history. He was the most important, successful and daring spy of his day, an unidentified legend in his own time, the only one to receive distinguished service honors from both the British and Germans.

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Movie Review: LUCKY GRANDMA

Movie Review: LUCKY GRANDMA

Filmmaker Sasie Sealy’s Lucky Grandma is a darkly comedic drama and unexpectedly poignant action/thriller romp through the intrigued-filled world of an elderly Chinese nainai whose assertive risk-all Atlantic City gambling habit lands her in the middle of a violent gang war in NYC’s Chinatown.

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Documentary Review: TIM’S VERMEER (2013)

Documentary Review: TIM’S VERMEER (2013)

In this fascinating documentary, inventor Tim Jenison sets out to prove that the 17th century Dutch Master, deemed the greatest realist painter of all time, was secretly using an optical instrument to capture his photo-like images. It provides a uniquely original view of timeless masterpieces.

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Documentary Review: CODED BIAS

Documentary Review: CODED BIAS

We might all be in need of and very keen on watching escapist comedies during the ongoing pandemic social restrictions, but this compelling documentary is an important and timely film. Knowledge is power, and Coded Bias delivers knowledge that can help us to resist/reverse the further deterioration of democracy and of human civilization as we know it.

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INTERVIEW – Miranda de Pencier on THE GRIZZLIES

INTERVIEW – Miranda de Pencier on THE GRIZZLIES

Canadian filmmaker Miranda de Pencier is an award-winning actress, producer and director. She’s the founder of Northwood Entertainment. The Grizzlies, which premiered at TIFF and for which she won the DGC Award for Outstanding Directorial Achievement, is her feature film directorial debut. She discusses making the film, the need for authenticity and the current status of women in film.

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Movie Review: THE GRIZZLIES

Movie Review: THE GRIZZLIES

Canadian filmmaker Miranda de Pencier’s The Grizzlies, a truth-based sports narrative set in the Canadian arctic, is a story centered around the experiences of a recently graduated White teacher, Russ, working his first job as a high school history teacher in the isolated Inuit town of Kuluktuk, where the hardships of life far exceed its joys.

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Movie Review: MR. JONES

Movie Review: MR. JONES

Agnieszka Holland’s Mr. Jones is not only an engaging and timely history lesson about the Soviet sanctioned Holodomor in Ukraine, it is also compelling reminder of the crucially important role that a legitimate, accurate and accountable free press plays in monitoring and mitigating events that impact the world’s well being.

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Movie Review: BLUE STORY

Movie Review: BLUE STORY

In Blue Story, we have well-crafted film that presents quite a compelling, if not unfamiliar tale about London youths caught up in an ongoing cycle of violence and, while following several tough young characters battling with each other and fate, poses a chicken or egg question: which comes first? Violence in the streets or violence on the screen?

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MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL – Documentary Review

MOSSVILLE: WHEN GREAT TREES FALL – Documentary Review

The November 2019 release of Todd Haynes’ compelling truth-based narrative Dark Waters reminded moviegoers about how chemical titan DuPont de Nemours’ corporate greed delivered death-dealing PFOA pollution to six water districts around its plant in Parkersburg, West Virginia, poisoning some 70,000 people, including factory employees, their families and others living in the area — some […]

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DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING (2006) – Documentary Retroview

DIXIE CHICKS: SHUT UP AND SING (2006) – Documentary Retroview

The Dixie Chicks’ popularity plummeted after main singer Natalie Maines made an off the cuff comment about the Iraq War. This documentary, directed by Barbara Kopple, chronicles the group’s efforts to reclaim their place in the hearts of their fans and at the top of the music charts.

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Khodorkovsky (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Khodorkovsky (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Mikhail Khodorkovsky is an icon in Russia, and throughout the rest of the world, too. He’s young, attractive, smart and extremely rich. And he’s in jail. German filmmaker Cyril Tuschi profiles the fascinating Khodorkovsky, tracing his life and career from the time his early childhood, through his standout student career in Soviet Russia and his rise to prominence in post-Soviet Russia’s growing capitalist economy.

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PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (2013) – Documentary Retroview

PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER (2013) – Documentary Retroview

Whether you’re a fan of punk music or not, you’ll have to concede that in both style and substance the punk rock movement has pushed hard against the forces of repression wherever they exist. And, sometimes — or quite often — the powerful forces of repression strike back in hideously unjust ways. Such is the case with Pussy Riot, a feminist punk rock band of performing artists who hail from and work in Moscow.

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EARTH DAYS (2009) – Documentary Retroview

EARTH DAYS (2009) – Documentary Retroview

To explore the fundamental premises and chronicle the advent of Earth Days, our annual celebration of Gaia and whatever ecological awareness we can muster, documentary director Robert Stone has assembled and interviewed a special tribe of the environmental movement’s elders — Stuart Udall, Denis Hayes, Paul Ehrlich, Pete McCloskey and Rusty Schweickart among other activists, politicians and forecasters — who give testimony about advances made by conservationists during the 1960s and 70s, and lead us to an understanding of what happened beginning with the Nixon administration to bring us to our current situation — on the brink of environmental disaster.

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Freedom Riders (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Freedom Riders (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Documentarian Stanley Nelson’s Freedom Riders chronicles the actions of and pays tribute to an important group of civil rights activists who played a major role in the nonviolent civil rights movement.

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Noah Baumbach on MARRIAGE STORY, Perspectives and Writing Women

Noah Baumbach on MARRIAGE STORY, Perspectives and Writing Women

Noah Baumbach’s films are all about the tangles and untangling of relationships and, while they aren’t written entirely from a female perspective, they always present complex and compelling female characters with strong and well-defined objectives. From his own male perspective, Baumbach writes female characters with convincing authenticity. At a recent meeting with Baumbach, I had the opportunity to ask him how he finds his female characters, and their voices. We were speaking specifically about Marriage Story, Baumbach’s second film about divorce.

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63 UP – Documentary Review

63  UP – Documentary Review

For those who’ve followed filmmaker Michael Apted’s entire UP Series, it’s a treat to catch up with the subjects’ latest developments in 63 UP, the eighth and likely final episode in the series. Apted refers to the series as an exploration of the British class system, and asks all whether they think the original premise for the series — “give me a child at the age of seven and I’ll show you the man” — is true. The now familiar subjects’ responses are varied, authentic and provocative.

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Filmmaker Michael Apted: Leading Up to 63 UP

Filmmaker Michael Apted: Leading Up to 63 UP

Michael Apted helms both documentaries and narrative features, and has won numerous awards for both kinds of films. But he is best known for his career-defining Up Series, a unique documentary project that has been in progress since 1964. In the Beginning At the inception of the Up Series, Apted was working as a researcher […]

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Martin Scorsese on THE IRISHMAN, Crime and Corruption in His Cinema

Martin Scorsese on THE IRISHMAN, Crime and Corruption in His Cinema

Martin Scorsese’s latest film, The Irishman, releasing November 1 in theaters and available on Netflix on November 27, is the director’s eighth foray into the world of crime and corruption. Based on Charles Brandt’s investigative book, I Heard You Paint Houses, the film is a three-hour long epic drama about events spanning decades, leading up to and following the 1975 disappearance of the power-wielding, mob-associated union leader Jimmy Hoffa , a real life crime that has never been officially marked as solved. The titular Irishman is Frank Sheeran, a union leader and high-level mafia hitman who, if the film’s scenario is accurate, was the capo who carried out the mob-ordered execution of Hoffa.

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