REVIEW: 12 Mighty Orphans [2021]

Optimism. Sports-writer Jim Dent had the best of both worlds when deciding to write the book Twelve Mighty Orphans: The Inspiring True Story of the Mighty Mites Who Ruled Texas Football. He had a ragtag bunch of kids languishing in a Texas orphanage that was able to find the self-respect and courage necessary to overcome the stigma the label “orphan” possessed on and off the field in 1927 as well as a leader in Coach Rusty Russell who would end up revolutionizing football with the advent of the spread offense.…

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REVIEW: Woman in Motion [2021]

She changed the space program forever. It’s inspiring to hear Nichelle Nichols speak about the moment she realized things weren’t as they were supposed to be because she realized it within a moment of awe. Comprehending how something too crucially important to be missing from the magic of what she was shown isn’t an easy feat because we too often get caught up in excitement to think through the next steps or look beyond the superficial veils of marketing by acknowledging the deficiencies that manufactured sheen was meant to cover…

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REVIEW: Dream Horse [2021]

The pigeons keep coming back. A film about a Welsh horse named Dream Alliance doesn’t get made unless the ending holds a cup, but a horse like Dream Alliance doesn’t get the chance to win if not for the loveable band of small-town eccentrics who decided to set ten quid aside each week. For Jan Vokes (Toni Collette), Daisy Vokes (Owen Teale), and Howard Davies (Damian Lewis)—who had the idea, the breeding experience, and knew the racing world respectively—this was more than some hairbrained scheme to make money. They were…

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REVIEW: Tiny Tim: King for a Day [2021]

It’s all ambiguous with Tiny Tim. Context is everything. That’s the first thought that came to mind at the beginning of Johan von Sydow‘s Tiny Tim: King for a Day (written by Martin Daniel) since I was born in the 1980s and knew the subject only as his “has been” self at the tail end of both his career and life. In my mind the celebrity he won was therefore always of a complicated sort: toeing the line between laughing at the “freak” and laughing with the entertainer. What I…

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REVIEW: A Love Song for Latasha [2020]

I’ll be with you. When the subject of your documentary is the tragic death of a fifteen-year-old Black girl accused of stealing an orange juice while holding the two dollars she was about to use for the purchase, the decision to embrace poetic abstract over reenactment is an easy one to make. And that’s exactly what Sophia Nahli Allison does with her short A Love Song for Latasha. It might begin with the blue screen of a VCR complete with tracking lines as footage appears, but that footage isn’t actually…

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REVIEW: The United States vs. Billie Holiday [2021]

It’s about human rights. I think a lot of what’s proven to be a lukewarm response to Lee Daniels‘ The United States vs. Billie Holiday can be understood upon discovering that this biopic about one of our country’s greatest singers was based on an English journalist’s book about the historical context and lasting impact of America’s “War on Drugs.” That right there shows that this film isn’t going to really be about Billie Holiday. And while that’s not necessarily a bad thing considering how much damage Harry Anslinger and the…

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REVIEW: Judas and the Black Messiah [2021]

Anywhere there’s people, there’s power. Despite top billing and the majority of media focus, Daniel Kaluuya is not the star of Judas and the Black Messiah. As the title of Shaka King‘s film alludes, his Messiah in the form of Fred Hampton is secondary as the angel on Bill O’Neal’s (LaKeith Stanfield) shoulder. It’s his Judas that holds our attention, caught between preserving his people and preserving himself while participating in the civil rights movement after the assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. Ask him before he…

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REVIEW: kid 90 [2021]

What happens once I unlock it? My mindset entering Soleil Moon Frye‘s autobiographical documentary kid 90 anticipated a fun, nostalgic, low stakes look at kid celebrities. That’s what the slew of happy photos depicting teenaged Stephen Dorff, Brian Austin Green, and Balthazar Getty smiling sells: their childhood adventures as inseparable friends and peers removed from the otherwise tumultuous Hollywood machine. Frye only adds to that image when starting things off by saying, “this is an account of what it meant to be a child in the 1990s.” Expectations are therefore…

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REVIEW: Billie Eilish: The World’s a Little Blurry [2021]

They’re not my friends. They’re part of me. Whether you enjoy her music or not, it’s tough to deny that there’s a story that needs to be told around Grammy-winning artist Billie Eilish. She and her brother Finneas O’Connell uploaded “Ocean Eyes” to SoundCloud when she was thirteen. They recorded their first full-length album in his bedroom when she was sixteen. And they’ve become worldwide sensations performing at the Oscars and writing the latest James Bond theme song all in the matter of about five years—the last two being a…

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REVIEW: Escher: Het Oneindige Zoeken [M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity] [2018]

I’m a mathematician. Despite Graham Nash‘s words at the conclusion of Robin Lutz‘s documentary M.C. Escher: Journey to Infinity stating that the world is destined to reappreciate the artist’s work, the fact that it’s taken three years for the film to become available in the United States seemingly proves the opposite. As the pop culture footage during the end credits reveals, however, it might just be that Nash was underestimating how important Escher‘s art already was. From Labyrinth to Inception and tattoos to YouTube make-up tutorials, the Dutchman’s optical illusions…

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REVIEW: The Dig [2021]

I had my feeling. When Simon Stone‘s The Dig begins with Basil Brown (Ralph Fiennes) towing his bicycle across the water in a boat towards Sutton Hoo, it’s natural to align our expectations with an archeological adventure. Because he’s labeled “difficult” by the museum that more or less told Edith Pretty (Carey Mulligan) her desire to excavate the mounds present on her land isn’t worth their effort with war looming, the two prove themselves to be a perfect pair of underestimated and ignored figures on the cusp of finding something…

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