ANOMALY20 REVIEW: The Legend of Baron To’a [2020]

Welcome to the ‘sac. More than just a wrestling hero for young Polynesians the world over, Baron To’a (John Tui) was a bona fide hero in his neighborhood. He always had time for the kids. He made sure the streets were clean. And he wasn’t afraid to take off a sandal to hit someone risking the community’s wellbeing over the head … sometimes after beating them senseless first. Did Baron want to fight? No. He sought peace through words. It was only when they failed that he was left no…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Colectiv [Collective] [2020]

We’re no longer human beings. We’re of an era when everything good instills mixed feelings thanks to how far our species has fallen where the realm of empathy is concerned. It’s so demoralizing that we’ve been forced to hail those willing to do the bare minimum as heroes simply because they haven’t caved to the power of money’s so-called “great equalizer” … yet. How much buys your silence? How much for your complicity? How about your active participation? The old adage says everyone has a price because it’s very often…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Landfall [2020]

Days went by and we knew nothing Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world. Think about that. The United States retains the island as an “unincorporated possession” without any national representation beyond a non-voting member of Congress. Inhabitants are therefore citizens without a voice. They have no say in who is elected President despite having a population larger than twenty Electoral College states. They are essentially slaves to a system that doesn’t care about them, helpless to prevent the federal government from coming ashore to wreak havoc whenever…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Zappa [2020]

Waiting to be disposed of. The thing about artists is that their life’s work is objective. It remains once they’re gone. Few other career paths can claim that since money doesn’t count. You don’t make money. Some earn it. Some steal it. Some do everything in their power to avoid its hold on their lives beyond the basic need for survival. And by all accounts, Frank Zappa was keenly aware of that distinction. He knew what was necessary to help raise a family and what was necessary to feed his…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Mystery of D.B. Cooper [2020]

On a 727, there’s no place to run. The FBI officially closed the D.B. Cooper case in 2016, forty-five years after he hijacked a plane, extorted $200,000, and jumped somewhere between Seattle and Reno. It’s the only unsolved case of air piracy in the United States and the fact it remained open for so long was reason enough for the bureau to cut its losses and put resources dedicated to its numerous dead-ends elsewhere. Cooper would be in his eighties or nineties at this point anyway, if he’s even still…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Letter [2020]

Funda mkota. The subject of married directing duo Maia Lekow and Chris King‘s The Letter isn’t just one piece of correspondence. It’s instead a type that’s been gaining traction more and more in Kenya as younger generations have sought to take land from elders by way of religiously motivated murder. The way they do it is simple: declare the landowner a witch. Create a laundry list of ills, place the blame around the neck of an unsuspecting senior citizen, and threaten them with a violent end by the blade of…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Viewing Booth [2020]

I think he’s lying. Modernism, insofar as the painting world is concerned, was created in large part out of the invention of the camera. Here was a new device that captured life-like images from the world with the press of a button. We no longer had to sit in chairs and pose for portraits. We no longer had to view canvases of landscapes and architecture in order to behold the beauty of what each provided without physically standing before them ourselves. So painters began to reinterpret reality instead. They moved…

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INTERVIEW: Catherine Eaton, writer/director/star of The Sounding

Writer/director/star Catherine Eaton‘s feature directorial debut The Sounding is finally available nationwide on VOD and Digital HD after a planned theatrical run was unfortunately scrapped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s been a long time coming considering we reviewed it in 2017 out of the Buffalo International Film Festival, but even longer for its creator considering the one-woman theatrical show that spawned it, “Corsetless”, hit stages in 2007. The film is a timely story about “otherness” and society’s desire to want to assimilate rather than accept. Eaton stars as a…

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HEARTLAND20 REVIEW: Minari [2020]

Because of the dirt color? One of the first things Soonja (Yuh-Jung Youn) wants to do upon arriving in America to live on her daughter’s family’s new Arkansas farm and help with her grandkids is find a place to grow the minari she’s brought over from Korea. She mentions it out loud at dinner after picking a spot only to hear her son-in-law Jacob (Steven Yeun) say he’ll think about it. He’s too busy plowing the land he bought to grow Korean vegetables to worry about additions, but Soonja wasn’t…

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NYFF20 REVIEW: Undine [2020]

If you leave, you have to die. Johannes (Jacob Matschenz) laughs when Undine Wibeau (Paula Beer) tells him he can’t leave her lest she be forced to kill him. He laughs because he’s read the myth of sea nymphs sharing her name and the fate those who love them suffer if they ever betray it. That’s not how the real world works, though. Couples fall in and out of love all the time. Men don’t walk to forest lakes and scream her name to satisfy the holes in their heart…

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BIFF20 REVIEW: Freeland [2020]

I have my own system. Adapt or die: it’s the capitalist way. And for a time it actually worked. Those with the ingenuity to improve an industry found themselves rising to the top with technological advances that others would have to adopt in order to remain competitive. An even playing field would be found, someone new would take that next step forward, and the rest would once again adjust. At a certain point in the past half-century or so, however, those improvements began coming at an accelerated pace. They’ve become…

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