SIRA – Movie Review

SIRA – Movie Review

Burkinabé filmmaker Apolline Traoré’s Sira is a tale of a woman’s revenge. Sira (Nafisatou Cisse), the titular character, is the joyful and beloved daughter of the chief of a Muslim village, and she is about to be wed to her childhood sweetheart, Jean Sidi (Abdramane Barry), the son of a prominent and wealthy Christian farming […]

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FOOD INC (2008)- Documentary Review

FOOD INC (2008)- Documentary Review

Food, Inc. is an alarming expose of the way food is produced and distributed in the United States. Interviewing investigators, journalists and farmers, filmmaker Robert Kenner shows how almost everything we eat is produced and distributed by a very few huge multinational corporations, such as Monsanto and Tyson, and that quality of nutrition is secondary […]

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America The Beautiful (2007) – Documentary Review

America The Beautiful (2007) – Documentary  Review

America Is Obsessed With An Unattainable Standard of Beauty America’s obsession with beauty is the subject of filmmaker Darryl Roberts wide-ranging investigative documentary. Using archival footage and interviews with image-makers and beauty battle victims, Roberts reveals how how media, marketers and retailers manipulate women into thinking they must be avid beauty product and service consumers […]

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SEAGRASS – Movie Review

SEAGRASS – Movie Review

Canadian writer/director Meredith Hama-Brown’s debut feature, Seagrass, is a moody drama about a troubled interracial couple — Judy (Ally Maki) is Canadian-Japanese and Steve (Luke Roberts) is White — who vacation with their two young daughters — ages eleven and six — at a self-development retreat on a remote island off the coast of British […]

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SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD – Documentary Review

SMOKE SAUNA SISTERHOOD – Documentary Review

Smoke Sauna Sisterhood is an intimate, enlightening feminist documentary from Estonian filmmaker Anna Hints. We are invited to observe a group of women who’ve come together to cleanse their bodies, minds and spirits by celebrating the ritual of a traditional Estonian sauna

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BEYOND UTOPIA – Documentary Review

BEYOND UTOPIA – Documentary Review

Beyond Utopia is Madeleine Gavin’s gripping documentary about North Koreans enduring the dangers of trying to escape their repressive country, risking their lives to reach Thailand, so they can eventually make their way to settlement in South Korea. We often hear reports of abusive and inhumane conditions in North Korea, bur rarely get an inside glimpse like the one provided by this galvanizing documentary. It it is very hard to watch, but it is essential viewing.

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NYAD – Movie Review

NYAD – Movie Review

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. Tis is the dramatization of her story.

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INVISIBLE BEAUTY – Documentary Review

INVISIBLE BEAUTY – Documentary Review

Invisible Beauty is a thoroughly engaging autobiography documentary by and about Bethann Hardison, the Black fashion model, modeling agency owner and activist who challenged racist attitudes and practices in the fashion industry and changed ‘the look’ of runway shows, magazine spreads and other platforms for fashion marketing.

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JOYCE CAROL OATES: A BODY IN SERVICE OF MIND – Documentary Review

JOYCE CAROL OATES:  A BODY IN SERVICE OF MIND – Documentary Review

Filmmaker Stig Bjorkman. a longstanding friend of Joyce Carol Oates. gives us a respectful and intimate documentary that spends its hour and a half on current interviews with Oates, as well as clips from her past interviews with Dick Cavitt and other broadcast presenters and select readings from her writings that are voiced by Laura […]

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BELLA! – Documentary Review

BELLA! – Documentary Review

Bella! And, yes, be sure to include the exclamation point in the film’s title because the subject of Jeff L. Leiberman’s well researched and beautifully crafted documentary deserves emphatic punctuation.  Bella Abzug (1920-1998) was a champion of civil rights for women in every aspect of our lives. She was the feminist activist politician who fought fiercely to enact laws to establish and protect equity in the workplace, in government representation, in family matters — all of the women’s civil rights that we are now at such high risk of losing in our nation’s current regressive climate.

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SUSIE SEARCHES – Movie Review

SUSIE SEARCHES – Movie Review

Susie Searches is an enjoyably affable coming of age thriller about a teenage girl who is known for her uncanny ability to solve seemingly unsolvable crimes, and who shares the details of her her super sleuth searches and suspicions on her popular podcast. She’s also determined to further investigations by the local sheriff’s office where she is an intern. But, up close and personal, Susie is actually rather shy and, wrapped up in the coming of age issues of self esteem and teenage sexual curiosity, she hides her vulnerability behind a smile that shines through aqua-colored braces.

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WAR PONY – Movie Review

WAR PONY – Movie Review

War Pony is an exquisite narrative feature from first time directors Gina Gammell and Riley Keough. Set on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, the film centers on two young Oglala Lakota men — Bill (Jojo Bapteise Whiting), who is in his early twenties and is struggling to provide for his two babies, each from a different mother, and Matho (LaDainian Crazy Thunder), a charismatic twelve-year-old who has been expelled from school, has no place to life and whose meth addicted dad abuses him. Both Bill and Matho are using all of their innate smarts to find opportunities to overcome the overwhelming hardships they face — poverty, abandonment, cultural disenfranchisement. The beautifully crafted film has an authenticity that is absolutely captivating.

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LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Documentary Review

LAKOTA NATION Vs UNITED STATES – Documentary Review

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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BIOSPHERE – Movie Review

BIOSPHERE – Movie Review

Director Mel Eslyn’s Biosphere is a wonderful addition to the cannon of Mark Duplass-produced quirky and profoundly satirical films. Duplass and Sterling K. Brown deliver brilliant emotionally rich performances that embrace the sheer absurdity of the narrative as though it is absolutely real. They’ll turn you into a believer of the preposterous. And you’ll alternatingly laugh and tear up all the way.

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REVOIR PARIS – Movie Review

REVOIR PARIS – Movie Review

Alice Winocour’s beautifully rendered Revoir Paris is a compelling drama centering on Mia (Virginie Efira), a woman who is trying to process a calamity and recover from the trauma of having witnessed and survived a terrorist attack in a popular — hence crowded– Paris bistro. The film is a fascinating study of grief that focuses on how to recover from trauma and move on. Director Alice Winocour, who co-wrote the script, and the wonderful Virginie Efire, who plays Mia, do a brilliant job of engaging viewers in timely contemplation about the shattering consequences of terrorism — on those who survive.

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GIRL MODEL (2012) – Documentary Review

GIRL MODEL (2012) – Documentary Review

The commonplace perception about modeling is that it is a glamorous career that pays extremely well and offers fabulous opportunities for travel to exotic destinations where you get to hang out with the world’s most beautiful people in the world’s best hotels, dining at the best restaurants and wearing fabulous clothing and accessories. With all that in the offering, the job has allure, to say the least. And, that’s especially true for girls who’ve grown up under difficult circumstances and are looking for a way to work their way towards a better life.

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USERS – Documentary Review

USERS – Documentary Review

Mexican-American filmmaker Natalia Almada’s documentary, Users, is a poetic and profoundly provocative delve into the complex intersection of nature and technology in human civilization, present and future. The film presents itself as 81-minute meditation on the ways in which our increasing dependence on technology will impact our future generations, and those who are being birthed […]

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CHILE ’76 – Movie Review

CHILE ’76 – Movie Review

Chile ’76 is a powerful political thriller. This first feature by actor-turned-director Manuela Martelli, who also co-wrote the script with Alejandra Moffat, is set in the atmosphere of dread that swept over Chile during the 1970s as the repressive measures of the Pinochet dictatorship became harsher and harsher day by day. The compelling story centers […]

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HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD (2017) – Documentary Retroview

HITLER’S HOLLYWOOD (2017) – Documentary Retroview

Filmmaker Rudiger Suchsland’s Hitler’s Hollywood is a compilation documentary that uses clips from films produced during the Nazi regime to show how the movies were used to indoctrinate the masses and influence their behavior. Subtitled German Cinema in the Age of Propaganda: 1933-45, the film is more analysis than homage, presenting a fascinating profile of […]

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HILMA – Movie Review

HILMA – Movie Review

Hilma is a sumptuous truth-based period drama that chronicles the life and work of Swedish artist Hilma aft Klint (1862 – 1944). Hilma was a brilliant and innovative artist whose abstract paintings preceded those of the better-known Russian painter Wassily Kandinsky (1866 – 1944), who has, until recently, been credited by art historians with the invention of abstract art.

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Shakespeare High (2011) – Documentary Retroview

Shakespeare High (2011) – Documentary Retroview

In Southern California, a mixed demographic of high school drama student teams from several schools scattered across the areas diverse neighborhoods, prepare to compete in the Drama Teachers Association of Southern California Shakespeare Festival, held each April. Over the years since its inception, the annual Shakespeare competition has become just as popular as local and national sports events, and members of the participating schools’ drama groups are campus stars.

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GUGA HUNTERS OF NESS (2011) – Documentary Retroview

GUGA HUNTERS OF NESS (2011) – Documentary Retroview

In his first documentary feature, Scottish filmmaker Mike Day chronicles an age-old tradition that’s observed in August of each year by the hale and hearty men of Ness. Known as Niseach men, they live in a small, remote town on the northern tip of the Isle of Lewis, one of the Outer Hebrides chain off […]

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Sweetgrass (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Sweetgrass (2010) – Documentary Retroview

Filmmakers Ilisa Barbash and Lucien Castaing-Taylor follow Montana sheep herders as they drive 3,000 sheep through the Beartooth Mountains of Montana during the summer of 2003. This challenging and dangerous journey was the final annual sheep drive along a trail that has been followed since the early 1900s. The documentary is cinema verite in its purest form. There is no use of voice over narration to tell the story, no graphics are used during the film to establish location or explain images. Sweetgrass is an exquisite example of what the directors call ‘visual antropology.’

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STORIES WE TELL (2012) – Documentary Retroview

STORIES WE TELL (2012) – Documentary Retroview

Acclaimed Canadian actress and director Sarah Polley documents her own search to find out the truth about her parentage, trying to track down the truth about whether the man she’s known as dad for her entire life is or is not her biological father.

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Waste Land (2010) – Documentary Review

Waste Land (2010) – Documentary Review

Acclaimed Brooklyn, NY-based artist Vik Muniz returns to his native country of Brazil, where he embarks upon a remarkable creative journey with a group of men and women who toil as catadores (garbage pickers) at Jardim Gramacho, a Rio de Janiero landfill.

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