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…

Read More

REVIEW: Street Gang: How We Got to Sesame Street [2021]

We simply show it. You always wonder about the behind-the-scenes dynamics on projects in any medium that prove themselves profoundly revolutionary because you hope such great work wasn’t created on the backs of under-appreciated laborers for a totalitarian figure hording all the praise. You don’t want to find out about emotional and psychological warfare masked by smiling faces or a need to toe the company line so as not to get blacklisted from the industry—especially when the topic of discussion is as groundbreakingly inclusive as “Sesame Street” was (it first…

Read More

REVIEW: El Agente Topo [The Mole Agent] [2020]

But don’t make that spy expression. After spending four months alone since his wife passed, Sergio Chamy is ready for change. Did he or his children think that meant the eighty-year-old would answer an ad in the paper to infiltrate a nursing home and spy on its employees to discover whether or not elder abuse was occurring? Not even remotely. That the private investigator (Romulo Aitken) who hires him on behalf of a client (who suspects her mother is being mistreated and robbed) has to teach Sergio how to use…

Read More

REVIEW: Colette [2020]

I won’t ever be the same. It’s been over seventy years since Colette Marin-Catherine‘s brother Jean-Pierre was arrested in France and deported to the German concentration camp where he would later die. You can’t blame her for never wanting to go to see the site considering the anguish she’s dealt with in the aftermath and knowing the ways in which such places of abject horror have become tourist attractions in the decades since. As a so-called “woman who doesn’t cry,” it was thus an impossibility to deal with the emotions…

Read More

REVIEW: Do Not Split [2020]

Good guys don’t join the police. It’s hardly a new concept. If you start to blame people for something they aren’t doing, there’s a good chance they’ll start doing it. This is true for teenagers accused of trouble during school wondering what the point of being good is if they’ll just be blamed for being bad anyway and it’s true for peaceful protestors constantly getting confronted by armed police treating them like they are violent rioters by default. What choice do they therefore have besides becoming exactly that to survive?…

Read More

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…

Read More

REVIEW: A Concerto Is a Conversation [2021]

It goes back to slavery. As composer Kris Bowers elaborates upon the title of his and Ben Proudfoot‘s short documentary A Concerto Is a Conversation, we the viewers begin to understand he’s talking about this film as much as he is the piece that’s about to debut at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. He’s explaining to his grandfather Horace Bowers Sr. that a concerto is a work pitting a soloist against an ensemble. They speak to each other through the music either with alternating passages or in…

Read More

REVIEW: Hunger Ward [2021]

What they all have in common is malnutrition and heartbreak. It shouldn’t be surprising that Skye Fitzgerald‘s documentary short Hunger Ward proves a tough watch considering many in America and Europe are unaware of the tragedy unfolding in Yemen despite its 2014 origins. We’re talking about the worst famine in one hundred years ignited by a civil war that those knowledgeable of the conflict say is really an offshoot of a bigger one between Saudi Arabia (who supports the former government) and Iran (who supports the rebel government that has…

Read More

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…

Read More

REVIEW: Still Life in Lodz [2019]

It was the end of our life in Poland. As a young girl growing up in Lodz, Poland after World War II, the framed still life painting that hung above Lilka Elbaum‘s family couch became synonymous with home. That’s what she saw when she awoke and that’s what she remembers most when looking back at the nineteen years she spent in that apartment building before immigrating to North America—and it wasn’t even theirs. This truth shouldn’t be surprising when you consider that city and that era. All the furniture in…

Read More

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…

Read More