REVIEW: Burning Cane [2019]

It’s hard to dance with the Devil on your back. Helen Wayne (Karen Kaia Livers) can’t cure her dog of mange. Everyone tells her their surefire remedies and she attempts them all—one month with borax, another vegetable oil. Sometimes the dog gets better and other times he gets worse. She won’t give up on him, though. Her love for his kind soul that doesn’t deserve the pain and suffering he’s endured keeps her looking for another solution. She’ll do anything but go to the doctor because she knows he’ll simply…

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REVIEW: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché [2019]

How come she got lost in the shuffle? An opening montage of images and maps briskly moving backwards from present-day to the late nineteenth century while moving from Hollywood to France foreshadows exactly what Pamela B. Green has delivered with Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché. This is a history lesson, investigative journal, and memorial for one of the great pioneers of cinema who inexplicably had been left out. With phone calls, interviews, archival footage, and Skype sessions discovering new and unknown ancestral lineages in real time, Green…

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REVIEW: A Wrinkle in Time [2018]

“Love is the frequency” While waiting outside the bathrooms after A Wrinkle in Time finished, I saw a white couple with their two young, fair-haired daughters walking out of the theater. Mom and Dad were explaining to one how movies are interpretations. They were reminding her that she had an idea of what the characters looked like while reading and now Ava DuVernay showed hers onscreen. The girl looked up and said, “Yeah. Most of them were blonde in the book.” They went out of earshot soon after, just as…

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REVIEW: 13th [2016]

“… blacks get hurt worse than whites.”– Lee Atwater While 13th—Ava DuVernay‘s documentary about the criminal justice system and mass incarceration being used to extend slavery via a loophole in the Thirteenth Amendment—is far from perfect, it is crucial to commence a conversation and relevant in a way John Oliver simply cannot equal thanks to the color of his skin. If you’ve watch “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” during its run on HBO you’ve learned a cursory amount of what DuVernay’s extensive list of talking head educators, politicians, and…

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Top Ten Films of 2014: A deluge of sci-fi doppelgängers and one-word titles

I don’t want to label 2014 as a good, bad, or average year. I want to call it inventive, original, and delightfully dark. Whether it’s doppelgänger paradoxes leading to murderous rage, the bleak carnage of war, prison violence, or psychologically debilitating struggles to be great, my favorite films had an edge that cut to the bone by credits’ end. The best thing I can say about 2014 is that my top ten (heck, maybe my top twenty-five) could be re-organized and re-listed without making me too angry about what is…

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Picking Winners at the 87th Annual Academy Awards

Things look pretty cut and dry where the Academy is concerned in 2015. The Oscars are always a somewhat watered-down look at what really mattered in the past year of cinema and this installment is no exception. In fact, it may be all water at this point. That doesn’t mean there can’t be some intriguing surprises in the second-tier categories like Best Animated Feature (I really hope How to Train Your Dragon 2 loses to one of the other much more aesthetically and conceptually unique nominees) or Short Film Animated…

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REVIEW: Selma [2014]

“God was the first to cry” A civil war waged on Alabaman soil in 1965 whether President Lyndon B. Johnson felt holding off on a bill negating the South’s tactics to bar African American citizens from voting would prevent one or not. It was fought under his and the country’s eyes in the streets, on TV, and in their hearts. Finally someone proves brave enough to show it by throwing convention aside to stop treating cinematic historical biographies as revelry for the deceased heroes who helped make our country great.…

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