DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Adrienne [2021]

I wasn’t supposed to find her dead. I hadn’t seen any of Adrienne Shelly‘s work at the time of her death, but you couldn’t follow the film world in 2006 without hearing about what happened. The news sites latched onto the assumption of suicide early on only to discover what happened was murder—the culprit found, arrested, and confessed shortly afterwards. And amidst that tragic whirlwind during the final two months of that year, Shelly’s latest film as writer/director/star, Waitress, was in submission at Sundance. It would eventually bow at the…

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DOCNYC21 REVIEW: Messwood [2021]

Kids win. Coaches lose. You can’t avoid questions about race when you’re talking about a situation such as that at the center of Emily Kuester and Brad Lichtenstein‘s documentary Messwood. The title is the name that was coined when two high schools a mile apart on the same street separated by a stream joined forces to field a competitive football team. Shorewood High is predominately white and bolstered by the highest median income level in Milwaukee. Messmer High is predominately Black and saddled with a student body that can barely…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: 76 Days [2020]

I want to say goodbye for the last time. Despite all the conjecture about Wuhan being some backwoods Chinese town where people eat bats, reality reveals that it’s the capital and largest city of the Hubei Province. More than that, it’s also the ninth most populated city in the entire nation. Shutting it down on January 23, 2020 wasn’t therefore easily done, but it was an absolute necessity to try and combat the COVID-19 outbreak that was well on its way to becoming uncontrollable. People were dying. Hospitals were being…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Five Years North [2020]

The laws have to change. The American immigration system is broken. We can argue about how and where all we want, but that simple fact should be something for which both sides of the political aisle can agree. Have things gotten worse since Republicans took over the Senate in 2015? You bet. That should be a universal truth too once you look into policy changes that have spiraled towards crimes against humanity status ever since Donald Trump entered the White House. Suddenly a nation that opened its arms to refugees…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Colectiv [Collective] [2020]

We’re no longer human beings. We’re of an era when everything good instills mixed feelings thanks to how far our species has fallen where the realm of empathy is concerned. It’s so demoralizing that we’ve been forced to hail those willing to do the bare minimum as heroes simply because they haven’t caved to the power of money’s so-called “great equalizer” … yet. How much buys your silence? How much for your complicity? How about your active participation? The old adage says everyone has a price because it’s very often…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Landfall [2020]

Days went by and we knew nothing Puerto Rico is the oldest colony in the world. Think about that. The United States retains the island as an “unincorporated possession” without any national representation beyond a non-voting member of Congress. Inhabitants are therefore citizens without a voice. They have no say in who is elected President despite having a population larger than twenty Electoral College states. They are essentially slaves to a system that doesn’t care about them, helpless to prevent the federal government from coming ashore to wreak havoc whenever…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: Zappa [2020]

Waiting to be disposed of. The thing about artists is that their life’s work is objective. It remains once they’re gone. Few other career paths can claim that since money doesn’t count. You don’t make money. Some earn it. Some steal it. Some do everything in their power to avoid its hold on their lives beyond the basic need for survival. And by all accounts, Frank Zappa was keenly aware of that distinction. He knew what was necessary to help raise a family and what was necessary to feed his…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Mystery of D.B. Cooper [2020]

On a 727, there’s no place to run. The FBI officially closed the D.B. Cooper case in 2016, forty-five years after he hijacked a plane, extorted $200,000, and jumped somewhere between Seattle and Reno. It’s the only unsolved case of air piracy in the United States and the fact it remained open for so long was reason enough for the bureau to cut its losses and put resources dedicated to its numerous dead-ends elsewhere. Cooper would be in his eighties or nineties at this point anyway, if he’s even still…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Letter [2020]

Funda mkota. The subject of married directing duo Maia Lekow and Chris King‘s The Letter isn’t just one piece of correspondence. It’s instead a type that’s been gaining traction more and more in Kenya as younger generations have sought to take land from elders by way of religiously motivated murder. The way they do it is simple: declare the landowner a witch. Create a laundry list of ills, place the blame around the neck of an unsuspecting senior citizen, and threaten them with a violent end by the blade of…

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DOCNYC20 REVIEW: The Viewing Booth [2020]

I think he’s lying. Modernism, insofar as the painting world is concerned, was created in large part out of the invention of the camera. Here was a new device that captured life-like images from the world with the press of a button. We no longer had to sit in chairs and pose for portraits. We no longer had to view canvases of landscapes and architecture in order to behold the beauty of what each provided without physically standing before them ourselves. So painters began to reinterpret reality instead. They moved…

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REVIEW: This is Congo [2018]

The one who should keep you safe is the one who can kill you. Documentarian Daniel McCabe wastes no time getting to the point of his film This is Congo with the words of DRC National Army Colonel Mamadou Ndala. This smiling dreamer of peace and unity speaks about his home like a philosopher as far as its riches (nature, minerals, and beauty) providing its people pure joy from God despite the contrasting prevalence of misery brought by the greed of men seeking to wrest it away for selfish gain…

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