REVIEW: Walk Run Cha-Cha [2019]

Motion creates emotion. By the time the Vietnam War was over, the area was officially communist. Because Chipaul Cao‘s mother was a successful businesswoman at the time, the government came and demanded she relinquish both her factory and home. That’s when the family knew they had to escape. Maybe there was a risk of failure, capture, or death by leaving, but staying put with nothing (and little chance of improvement) was hardly a better option. The only caveat Chipaul had was the reality that he would need to say goodbye…

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REVIEW: St. Louis Superman [2019]

I’ll tell you when you’re five. It’s horrible that tragedy is the cause, but seeing and hearing how Bruce Franks Jr. took up the call to government in order to instill the change his community needed to prevent future tragedies is nothing short of inspiring. This is what American government was always supposed to be: citizen leaders fulfilling their civic duty to represent their constituents. It wasn’t about full-time employment or selling off votes to lobbyists. There was supposed to be turnover as each community evolved and grew and therefore…

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REVIEW: Life Overtakes Me [2019]

We hadn’t told them. Directors John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson‘s documentary Life Overtakes Me is a call to action. Where many films revolving around ailments seek to provide answers, this one hopes for recognition and subsequent research necessary to find solutions. The reason is simple: nobody knows the underlying truths behind Resignation syndrome. All we know for certain is that it’s real, occurs at an extremely high rate in Sweden, and is growing internationally. The latter comes as no surprise considering our world has been growing more and more insular…

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REVIEW: Learning to Skateboard in a Warzone (If You’re a Girl) [2019]

What is courage? Even when the Taliban was driven out of Afghanistan, young girls still weren’t guaranteed an education and those from strict families past the age of thirteen were generally not allowed to leave their homes. The reason: a patriarchal sense of “honor.” Parents can’t risk their daughters being kidnapped on their way to school because of how such an act would ruin their reputation. While sons are at university, someone has to earn a living to keep food on the table. Just because the Taliban wasn’t enforcing a…

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REVIEW: In the Absence [2019]

I should have told her to escape quickly. This is what happens when your government leaders are inept, indifferent, and opportunistic. This is what happens when people are given jobs well above their abilities and thus become expected to make decisions rather than follow them. Not only was everyone holding a seat of power in the South Korean Coast Guard unwilling to act as they reported situations to bosses in the hopes of passing the buck, those paid to be heroes when called upon weren’t experienced enough to fulfill that…

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SLAM20 REVIEW: Film About a Father Who [2020]

He doesn’t lie. He just doesn’t tell you what’s going on. While director Lynne Sachs admits her latest documentary Film About a Father Who could be superficially construed as a portrait (the title alludes to and the content revolves around her father Ira), she labels it a reckoning instead. With thirty-five years of footage shot across varied formats and devices to cull through and piece together, the result becomes less about providing a clear picture of who this man is and more about understanding the cost of his actions. Whether…

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REVIEW: Fantastic Fungi [2019]

We brought life to Earth. Scientific study has recently shown that trees “talk” to each other. Suzanne Simard explains the process during the course of Louie Schwartzberg‘s documentary Fantastic Fungi as being the result of communication via mushroom. Much like the neural pathways in our brains, fungi in the ground (mycelium) create a network upon which carbon can travel. Trees can therefore stay connected with their “offspring.” They can protect them. And they can warn other plants in the forest of danger. It should therefore come as no surprise that…

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REVIEW: American Factory [2019]

The future is bright. Directors Steven Bognar and Julia Reichert were in Moraine, Ohio (a Dayton suburb) when the local General Motors plant closed to film a short documentary for HBO Films entitled The Last Truck: Closing of a GM Plant. By interviewing ex-employees to learn how the factory impacted their lives on a personal level and their community on a broader scale, the filmmakers sought to memorialize an era of American history that’s been steadily dying as new technologies and rising costs shift our economic landscape. So it makes…

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REVIEW: Love, Antosha [2019]

I never eat the boogers. In an attempt to comfort after the death of their son, Viktor Yelchin suggested to his wife Irina Korina that they should just pretend he’s off on a very long movie shoot. That’s what Anton Yelchin often did anyway with sixty-plus film and television credits to his name by the age of twenty-seven, but things aren’t so simple when it comes to someone as caring as their child. Because even when he was thousands of miles away, Anton would inevitably call, email, or write his…

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REVIEW: The Feeling of Being Watched [2019]

No. I’m not paranoid. Public radio journalist Assia Boundaoui was awake at her mother’s home at three in the morning when she saw men on a telephone poll with bright lights working. She went across the hall to wake-up Rabia Boundaoui, unsure what to think and desperate to figure out what was happening. Her mother’s response was nonchalant: “Don’t worry. It’s probably just the FBI.” How could a statement so calmly damning not pique her interest to discover more? Next came stories from neighbors, her own recollections of friends’ fathers…

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REVIEW: One Child Nation [2019]

I wondered if the thoughts I had were my own or if they were simply learned. Death is inevitable in war. That’s what a former government official who’s still loyal to China’s communist party tells co-director Nanfu Wang during her (and Jialing Zhang‘s) documentary One Child Nation. While the sentiment is correct, I’m not certain she understands why. To this family planner, the war she’s speaking about is one pitting citizens against the horror of over-population. That was the party line and that’s what many Chinese people continue to believe…

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