Review: The Harder They Fall

The Harder They Fall is a classic Western – except it’s not. The main cast is Black, based on real Black people who lived in the old West. However, they never lived this story, which is all fiction. Now on Netflix, the film tells a story of gang rivalry, revenge, and love.

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Review: The Mad Women’s Ball (Le bal des folles)

The Mad Women’s Ball (Le bal des folles) takes a look at mental health treatment in the late 1800s in France. It’s set in a real hospital, uses the names of real doctors, and tells a horrific story. You can see it on Prime Video.

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Spirited Away, a first look at Hayao Miyazaki’s work

The special A Night at the Academy Museum that aired when the long-awaited Academy Museum in Hollywood opened had all sorts of highlights. The one that really caught my eye was the gallery devoted to Hayao Miyazaki. He created beautiful, award winning animated films I’d never heard of.

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Fever Dream (Distancia de rescate), languid horror

Fever Dream ( Distancia de rescate) arrived on Netflix just in time for the Halloween horror season. This South American film is a slow-moving, surreal, horror story about motherhood and environmental destruction. There are some spoilers ahead.

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Review: Free Guy, pure fun

Free Guy was pure fun, an escapist delight. I actually wanted to see it because of Jodie Comer, but before it was over I was delighted by everyone in the cast. The film is in theaters now, but you can rent or buy it on YouTube, which is how I saw it. (Apple TV+ also has it.)

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Review: The Water Man, beautiful tale for young people

The Water Man, David Oyelowo’s first outing as a director, is a PG rated story for kids. It’s part fairy tale, part quest, part fantasy and 100% heartwarming. You can watch it on Netflix.

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Review: Ella Fitzgerald Just One of Those Things

Ella Fitzgerald: Just One of Those Things taught me so many things I didn’t know about the marvelous Ella Fitzgerald. I’m a lifelong fan of her music, but I didn’t know much about her personal life and struggles. This Netflix documentary fills in a lot of the details.

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Review: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It puts the decades in perspective in the documentary story of Rita Moreno. From her humble beginnings in Puerto Rico to her legendary and iconic status now, her life unfolds with love and affection in this documentary.

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Review: The Starling, in which Melissa McCarthy gets serious

The Starling needs a pro vs. con scoresheet for its uneven story. The pros come in the form of a really lovely cast who make the material as good as possible. The cons are that the story is overly sentimental and employs knock-you-over-the-head symbolism to tell the tale. It’s streaming on Netflix. There is a big spoiler ahead.

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Two interesting short films: Rosa and Beef

HBO Max is showing a variety of short films directed by women now. I want to share two of them. Rosa is the longer at about 30 minutes. Beef is a mere 11 minutes. These films give you a preview of interesting women directors to watch for.

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