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  • Miss Juneteenth

    Miss Juneteenth

    ★★★½

    The Important and the Frivolous

    "Miss Juneteenth" is a surprisingly realistic depiction of poverty, if little else, with its focus on a (mostly) single mother raising a teenage daughter. Despite being about a beauty pageant and the mother's forcing her ambitions upon her daughter (with the potential scholarship for rationalization), it does well to realize the important things--in this case, education and entrepreneurship and supporting others' diverse dreams. Dance may be either an expression of one's joy or their deepest…

  • Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    Portrait of a Lady on Fire

    ★★★★★

    This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

    "Manifesto on the Female Gaze"

    "Portrait of a Lady on Fire" is one of the most romantic movies I've seen in some time, and one that is all the more affective because it's thoroughly intertwined with art and is a piece of art itself. Part of this is that the protagonist, Marianne, is an artist, commissioned to paint a wedding portrait of the lady in question. The main narrative, moreover, is framed by the titular painting: a picture within a…

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  • Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer

    Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer

    ★★★

    Race Massacres in Context

    "Rise Again: Tulsa and the Red Summer" from National Geographic and also streaming on Hulu is one in a slew of TV and streaming documentary programs to be released during the hundredth anniversary of the 1921 Tulsa Race Massacre. It's the fourth one I've seen. Expectedly, there's considerable overlap between them, including some of the same interviewees and participants. Once again, there's journalist DeNeen L. Brown, Mayor G.T. Bynum, State Representative Regina Goodwin. All of them…

  • Awake

    Awake

    ★★

    A Movie that Crushes Dreams

    It's as though the actors were sleepwalking through their parts.... Now that I got that out of my system, given that "Awake" is apocalyptically about people suddenly no longer being able to sleep, it's ironic I saw it when I was quite tired myself but unable to nod off. Perhaps, that affected my critical thinking, as sleep deprivation assuredly does the characters here, so that's my caveat before I pan this rubbish. I've also gone…

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  • WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

    WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn

    ★★

    "We" is Upside Down to Confuse You into Working for "Me"

    What a fluff documentary for a fluff company the laboriously-titled "WeWork: or The Making and Breaking of a $47 Billion Unicorn" is. All the financial summarization here--the stupid business plan of pretending boring interior decorating for businesses a transformational tech company, and, of course, the inevitable fraud that funnels the money up top--is less telling than The Economist articles I barely recall skimming through during WeWork's IPO fiasco. I…

  • Mank

    Mank

    ★★★

    Where's Pauline Kael's Screen Credit?

    For all that's been penned regarding the authorship of "Citizen Kane" (1941), one could do worse (and better) than viewing two movies on Netflix to get the gist of the debate over who wrote the screenplay for the so-called "greatest film ever," Herman Mankiewicz or Orson Welles. "Mank" takes the side of the former and is evidently largely based on the discredited research of Pauline Kael (author of "Raising Kane," as well as famed film…