New York FF 2020: MLK/FBI

MLK/FBI becomes the first feature-length documentary to really examine the FBI’s surveillance and harassment of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The Freedom of Information Act can be a wonderful tool when used.  In this instance, we’re allowed to see declassified files that show how longtime FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover targeted the likes of Dr. King.  These files were declassified in 2017-2018 so it’s a quick production on that part.  That Hoover targeted King certainly…

"New York FF 2020: MLK/FBI"

Toronto 2020: A Good Man Is Another Transface Film

A Good Man is yet another example of transface casting gunning for awards with cisgender actress Noémie Merlant in a transgender role. It would be one thing for a cisgender filmmaker to bring a trans story to the screen if they actually had a transgender actor in the trans role.  However, this certainly isn’t the case here.  Not by a long shot.  What’s even more insulting is that the film’s co-writer, Christian Sonderegger, has a…

"Toronto 2020: A Good Man Is Another Transface Film"

Toronto 2020: 76 Days

While 76 Days certainly takes a look at Wuhan during the 76-day lockdown, it isn’t really explosive in terms of what we see on camera. As most of the film industry spent the last weekend of January attending the Sundance Film Festival and kicking off a new year for film, something else was happening in China.  On January 23, 2020, China made the decision to lock down Wuhan.  This city has some 11 million residents. …

"Toronto 2020: 76 Days"

Blackbird Mixes Drama With Humor

A family spends one final weekend together at their Connecticut beach house in Blackbird before saying goodbye to a loved one. It’s never easy to say goodbye to family members when you know they are dying.  You don’t know if the next time you’ll see them is going to be the last.  This isn’t the case in Blackbird because everyone knows this will be the last time they see Lily (Susan Sarandon).  Paul (Sam Neill)…

"Blackbird Mixes Drama With Humor"

Challenger: The Final Flight

Challenger: The Final Flight is a four-part documentary series that explores both the lead-up and the aftermath of the Challenger explosion. Ronald McNair, Ellison Onizuka, Judith Resnik, and Dick Scobee were among NASA’s graduating class of 1978.  This was the most diverse class as the space program gave way to the 1980s.  Unfortunately, their lives would be lost in an accident that could have and should have been prevented.  As viewers learn during the program,…

"Challenger: The Final Flight"

Almost Famous Celebrates 20th Anniversary

Almost Famous, an instant classic from writer-director Cameron Crowe, celebrates its 20th anniversary of its theatrical release in 2000. Cameron Crowe draws on his real-life experiences writing for Rolling Stone to tell this semi-autobiographical story.  The things that William Miller (Patrick Fugit) experiences are things that Crowe did in real life.  They say to write what you know, right? In any event, William doesn’t exactly have the best home life.  His mom (Frances McDormand), recently…

"Almost Famous Celebrates 20th Anniversary"

Toronto 2020: One Night In Miami…

In her first turn as a feature film director, Oscar-winning actress Regina King hits a home run on the first try with One Night In Miami… A more than brief prologue sets the tone of the film before we ever see the title on screen.  One by one, we’re introduced to the major players Muhammad Ali (Eli Goree), Malcolm X (Kingsley Ben-Adir), Jim Brown (Aldis Hodge), and Sam Cooke (Leslie Odom Jr.).  The main action…

"Toronto 2020: One Night In Miami…"

Toronto 2020: David Byrne’s American Utopia

David Byrne’s American Utopia is an absolute joy to watch no matter how familiar you are with Byrne or the Talking Heads. Before I go any further with my review, please make sure to watch the concert film to the very end. Thanks to the joys of technology, it took three attempts to watch this concert film.  After crashing twice on Thursday morning, I decided to make another attempt in the evening.  Rather than continue…

"Toronto 2020: David Byrne’s American Utopia"

Toronto 2020: I Care A Lot

J Blakeson’s I Care A Lot blends a mix of comedy and thrills to deliver a satire with another strong performance from actress Rosamund Pike. Marla Grayson (Rosamund Pike) is a legal guardian and is the type who will take advantage of any loophole in the system.  If it means paying doctors off to have another ward of the state, so be it.  Marla is the type of woman who will rob her clients and…

"Toronto 2020: I Care A Lot"

Toronto 2020: Akilla’s Escape

Akilla’s Escape weaves together two different timelines in Brooklyn and Toronto while tackling social issues that remain in the limelight. During a drug trade-gone-bad, Akilla Brown (Saul Williams) captures a teenage and mute Jamaican boy, Sheppard (Thamela Mpulmwana).  His youth comes back to him when Akilla learns that Sheppard is a affiliated with the Garrison Army.  It just so happens that Akilla’s grandfather founded the Jamaican crime syndicate.  Akilla left the life some time ago…

"Toronto 2020: Akilla’s Escape"