HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Two Gods [2020]

That’s when I realized it was time for a change. Some are lucky enough to escape their circumstances. Others learn from those circumstances and discover ways to transform them and themselves in order to move forward and leave them behind. And then there are those whose circumstances defeat them whether or not they actively participate in that self-destruction or not. These are the three choices one has when confronted with the struggles of poverty, systemic racism, violence, and the psychological duress experienced as a result. Hanif Muhammad knows it all…

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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: The Painter and the Thief [2020]

Because they were beautiful. Human connections are almost always random. Even in school when meeting new friends for the first time, the reasons that sparked our gravitation towards one another aren’t always clearly defined. Maybe one union was the result of common interests, but perhaps another was born from an indescribable feeling. Sometimes our best friends or romantic partners end up being the people we used to intentionally avoid. It therefore only takes a moment removed from our inherent preconceptions, prejudices, and jealousies to open up a world we would…

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HOTDOCS20 REVIEW: Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles [2020]

Why am I getting an email from the Met? The choice of “medium” was easy for renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi when asked by the Metropolitan Museum of Art to collaborate on their upcoming 2018 exhibition entitled Visitors to Versailles (1682-1789). Whether or not Marie Antoinette actually said the infamous line with which she’ll forever be entangled, the excessive decadence and bloody decline of the Château de Versailles as royal court cannot escape its confectionary marriage with cake. So Ottolenghi set his sights on selecting five of the most innovative and…

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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: Spaceship Earth [2020]

Small groups are engines of change. I was born in 1982 to parents who regularly watched the news during dinner, so learning about Matt Wolf‘s documentary Spaceship Earth was rather shocking considering I had absolutely no recollection of the 1991 Biosphere 2 project. None. At. All. The title conjured thoughts of Epcot Center rather than this two-year experiment covered by every major network during its optimistic genesis and unfortunate demise. It therefore felt weird to watch this account of the experience since anticipating where things were headed proved impossible. Whether…

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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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REVIEW: Pahokee [2020]

I’m not going to the fields. This stat says a lot about Pahokee, FL’s community: 91% of kids at the local high school qualify for free lunch and yet over 90% of every senior class graduates with many heading to college as their family’s first ever collegiate student (if they aren’t also adding to a list of forty current/former NFL players who called this Everglades town home). That’s the goal every parent working the sugar cane fields perpetually burning in the background has for his/her children. They seek to provide…

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TRIBECA20 REVIEW: Socks on Fire [2020]

It’s hard to get ahead of a forty-year hurt. The hope is that the sorrow of losing a loved one proves the extent of the pain we must suffer before we set about sifting through what’s left of that expired life. It’s why we throw parties after funerals to try and approach a sense of normalcy through a celebratory remembrance of yesterday’s good times together despite today’s tough truth making it possible. We take a deep breath, confront our grief, and await the will reading meant to put every duck…

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REVIEW: The Booksellers [2020]

They are a way of being fully human. One of documentarian D.W. Young‘s subjects makes a great point later on in his film The Booksellers during a section on auctions and how different book collectors are from art collectors. Whereas the latter deal in wealth (they’re buying a one-of-a-kind piece, taking it from the realm of public consumption, and counting it towards their worth as an investment), the former deals in stories. You don’t need to have that specific edition of The Great Gatsby in order to read it, but…

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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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