REVIEW: Mr. Jones [2019]

I’ve woken up screaming in Barry myself. It’s not a bad thing to be insane in an insane world. In fact, it’s comfortable. So it’s unsurprising that a room full of old white British men would simply laugh when Gareth Jones (James Norton) tells them a truth their privileged naiveté refuses to let be taken seriously at the start of Agnieszka Holland‘s Mr. Jones. He’s a Foreign Service employee under Lloyd George (Kenneth Cranham) who found himself on a plane with Adolf Hitler and Joseph Goebbels, interviewing the two to…

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REVIEW: Shirley [2020]

I don’t smote. What if instead of one night, Nick and Honey were entrenched in hosts Martha and George’s toxic manipulations for six months? Edward Albee‘s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? would have progressed much differently if only because everyone would need to eventually sober up, confronting each other in the light of day with clear heads and accusatory eyes. Maybe there’d be regret and remorse or maybe things would pick up where they were left to expose how alcohol only helped to disseminate truths that were going to be…

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REVIEW: Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl [2020]

There’s nothing silly about being a teenage girl. While Amy Goldstein‘s documentary Kate Nash: Underestimate the Girl obviously centers upon its British rockstar subject’s unorthodox trajectory from Myspace sensation to “GLOW” actress, it also serves as an invaluably informative account of what it means to be a twenty-first century musician thanks to the industry’s ever-changing landscape. The simple fact that Kate Nash‘s career began because she had enough social media followers to turn record label heads is a product of that moment of time, but so too is her courage…

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REVIEW: Capone [2020]

Let’s catch some of his marbles on the way out. Thanks to a bout of syphilis contracted before the age of fifteen, Alphonse Gabriel “Scarface” Capone found himself trapped inside a prison much worse than the federal penitentiaries in which he also spent time. With almost seven years spent within their concrete walls, the notorious gangster had almost eight more to live within the confines of a rapidly deteriorating mind. We can therefore speculate about the dementia’s effect on his already volatile personality because we understand how the disease operates.…

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REVIEW: Rewind [2020]

I have to put that puzzle back together. When films like Rewind are presented as exercises to reconstruct circumstances surrounding the sexual abuse its filmmaker endured, you can assume the journey will deal with unearthing previously unknown details about what happened through repressed memories. Despite the liberal use of home videos taken by director and subject Sasha Joseph Neulinger‘s father to relive this harrowing past, however, his motivations are very different. Sasha actually remembers everything that occurred: the pain, sorrow, and suicidal thoughts. He can look at himself on-screen and…

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REVIEW: Vitalina Varela [2019]

Fear can also get to Heaven. When Pedro Costa knocked on Vitalina Varela‘s door in Lisbon, he was looking for a house in which to shoot some of his latest film Horse Money. What he got instead was an impossibly tragic story about how her long-awaited arrival from Cape Verde happened three days after her estranged husband’s death. Apart for decades and forever holding out hope for the promise of one day reuniting, fate intervened at the eleventh hour to leave her in a new country with nobody she could…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Finding Sally [2020]

The promise and the agony. It wasn’t until her early thirties that Tamara Mariam Dawit first discovered her father had a fifth sister named Selamawit. When she broached the subject with the other four (as well as her grandmother Tsehai), no one wanted to talk. This was the reason she moved to Ethiopia from Canada, though: to learn about her African heritage. And Aunt Sally wasn’t simply a throwaway piece of that considering the circumstances surrounding both her absence from the family and her eventual disappearance underground as part of…

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TRIBECA20 REVIEW: Banksy Most Wanted [2020]

He’s someone who hits where it hurts. It’s always funny in a crisis like the current COVID-19 pandemic to see people screaming about how they don’t believe artists should receive financial relief. Unless they’ve been sitting on their lawn and staring at the sky these past two months, however, they’ve dealt very extensively with art on a daily basis. Maybe it’s entertainment like books, TV, movies, or music. Maybe it’s property such as homes, furniture, or interior design. And if we dig a bit further, we discover these people are…

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REVIEW: True History of the Kelly Gang [2020]

I know what it is to be raised on lies and silences. Famed bushranger and Australian folk hero Ned Kelly (George MacKay) doesn’t want anyone else to tell his story because he knows how these things can be warped by hearsay and selective truths. Because he doesn’t know whether he’s going to survive the night, now might be the last chance to ensure his unborn son will learn what really happened during his brief time on Earth (twenty-five years). So Ned writes as he and his gang of men awaits…

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REVIEW: Resistance [2020]

Courage is no more than fear holding on a minute longer. Marcel Marceau’s first public performance was in front of three thousand troops after Paris was liberated during World War II. It wasn’t some USO stunt, though. General Patton didn’t hire the Strasbourg native to give a show because his men needed a laugh. If anything he gave the stage to the as yet unknown “Bip the Clown” as a reward for everything he did as a member of the French resistance and a liberator himself by taking hundreds of…

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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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