REVIEW: Becoming Cousteau [2021]

We must go and see for ourselves. A title like Becoming Cousteau would have you imagining a journey from youth to death with historical anecdotes and archival footage describing an upbringing that led to a legendary life. For Jacques-Yves Cousteau, however, director Liz Garbus and screenwriters Mark Monroe and Pax Wassermann didn’t have to go that far back. The man we know didn’t originate until after a devastating car accident led him to two French divers who believed the water could help him rehabilitate. And even then—with the trio making…

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REVIEW: Introducing, Selma Blair [2021]

Disabled people like to have fun too. You can’t help but be inspired by Selma Blair‘s transparency when it comes to her diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. So many people’s first impulse would be to hide—especially after having lived so long in a spotlight as fickle and judgmental as Hollywood’s affinity for equating physical prowess with worth. Yet there she was mere months after finally getting the answer to what was happening with her body, documenting her deterioration on Instagram and giving a voice to the hundreds of thousands of people…

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BIFF21 REVIEW: Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez [2021]

I have faith in the revolution. It’s easy to pick out two of the talking heads in Susan Stern‘s documentary about her husband Spain Rodriguez entitled Bad Attitude: The Art of Spain Rodriguez. Robert Crumb, the artist behind Fritz the Cat, has his own documentary (from Terry Zwigoff) in the Criterion Collection and Art Spiegelman, the artist behind Maus, has the only Pulitzer ever awarded to a graphic novel. To someone like me who has never really delved into the world of underground comix, it takes those touchstones of mainstream…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Where Is Anne Frank [2021]

Everything is Anne Frank. The premise to Ari Folman‘s Where Is Anne Frank is genius. Rather than adapt the famed diary into a traditional narrative, he brings its target (Anne’s imaginary friend Kitty) to life. And since this figment of a sounding board only knows that which Anne (Emily Carey) wrote to her, finding form in the present is obviously going to leave many important holes. How did the war end? How long did it last? Did Anne become a famous writer? Did she and Peter van Daan ever have…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Listening to Kenny G [2021]

I don’t think I’m a personality to people. I think I’m a sound. While the premise of Penny Lane‘s Listening to Kenny G unfolds through the comedic question, “Why do so many people hate Kenny G?” it quickly reveals itself a rather intriguing tight rope walk upon the line separating art from commerce. Because this question cannot be answered without first acknowledging who the “people” are. Kenny G has fans. A lot of them. He’s sold seventy-five million records to become the best-selling instrumentalist of all-time. So, they aren’t those…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Jagged [2021]

There’s hope even when the song is hopeless. It really is strange to look back almost thirty years later and realize just how huge and seminal Alanis Morissette‘s Jagged Little Pill was to rock music. I was only thirteen at the time of its release and therefore didn’t understand then what I can with hindsight now. “You Oughta Know,” “Hand in My Pocket,” and “Ironic” were on constant rotation every time the radio was turned on, but my brain processed them as songs just like any other. When you hear…

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TIFF21 REVIEW: Julia [2021]

Nothing was too much trouble if it was going to produce a beautiful result. Booked to talk about Mastering the Art of French Cooking on public access channel WGBH-TV, Julia Child took it upon herself to call the station and request a hotplate for demonstration purposes. She wanted to show a recipe in action to the people watching rather than mere conversation and the extra effort turned the segment into a sensation earning enough calls and letters to offer her a pilot. This cookbook that took twelve-years to write via…

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REVIEW: No Man of God [2021]

This is purely academic. What separates Bill Hagmaier (Elijah Wood) from Ted Bundy (Luke Kirby)? Ask a lot of people and they’ll say mental stability. But isn’t that just a cop-out? Isn’t that absolving serial rapists and murderers of their actions because they “couldn’t help themselves?” The real answer skews less towards compulsion than it does abstention. We’ve all thought about hurting people we don’t like, but that’s where our rage ends. We punch pillows, scream in the shower, and tailgate transgressors until our desire for vengeance is satisfied. Bundy…

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REVIEW: Ailey [2021]

Sometimes your name becomes bigger than yourself. As someone who knew nothing about Alvin Ailey before watching Jamila Wignot‘s documentary Ailey, it surprised me how relevant the film proves to what’s happening today. How can you watch this man’s trajectory towards the height of his profession and subsequent fall towards a stay in a mental institution without thinking about the mental wellness conversations surrounding Naomi Osaka and Simone Biles? He lived in a time where strength as an outward appearance became a crucial piece to success whether it was a…

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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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