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Urban Hymn movie review: the healing power of music

29 September 2016 8:04 AM, PDT

A startling portrait of girls at risk, with a magnificent performance by gonna-be-a-star Letitia Wright. Lovely, moving, utterly unsentimental. I’m “biast” (pro): desperate for movies about girls and women

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

When she turns 18 in nine months, Jamie Harrison will be thrown out of the London group home for troubled kids she’s been living in for years: she will be presumed to be capable to taking care of herself. It terrifies her, which isn’t surprising. Nor is it surprising that she has a very difficult time accepting the helping hand that comes in the form of a new social worker in the house, Kate Linton. When Kate, who has been desperate to make a connection with the girl, discovers Jamie’s not-so-secret talent — she’s an amazing singer, with a taste for Etta James »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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#LFF2016: Ma’ Rosa, Pyromaniac, All This Panic

29 September 2016 6:24 AM, PDT

Quick takes from the 60th London Film Festival, with public screenings from October 5th-16th, 2016.

Ma’ Rosa

From acclaimed Filipino director Brillante Mendoza comes an electrifying tale of enterprising Rosa (Jaclyn Jose), whose shanty of a shop in the slums of Manila resells candy from the supermarket and crystal meth from the local dealer, and the night her store is raided by police looking for their piece of the drug business. And so, from a back room at a police station, Rosa — who has been arrested along with her husband, Nestor (Julio Diaz), who’s a bit useless — negotiates with the cops over giving up her “ice” contact while her three eldest children (in their teens and early 20s) hustle around friends and family trying to raise the “bail” — ie, bribe — money that will secure their parents’ release. Shot like a documentary, handheld cameras and long, uncut takes lend an »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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new and ongoing dvd & streaming releases, Us/Can/UK, from Sep 26-27

27 September 2016 6:17 AM, PDT

A simple listing, duplicated from the homepage, of new releases and other stuff currently available, for the benefit of those playing along by RSS or keeping up via the Daily Digest emails (sign up here).

new on dvd/vod this week    Us/Can Ghostbusters Passage to Mars Independence Day: Resurgence Cell Central Intelligence Complete Unknown Hunt for the Wilderpeople The Last Man on the Moon The Lovers and the Despot    UK The Nice Guys Me Before You Warcraft: The Beginning (aka Warcraft) Imperium The Lovers and the Despot

recent releases Us/Can A Bigger Splash Blood Father The Brainwashing of My Dad Captain America: Civil War Difret Dukhtar Finding Altamira Floyd Norman: An Animated Life Hockney The Intervention Into the Forest The Jungle Book Love and Friendship Love Between the Covers Mike and Dave Need Wedding Dates Parched The Purge: Election Year Raiders!: The Story of the Greatest Fan »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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Deepwater Horizon movie review: blood for oil

26 September 2016 11:42 AM, PDT

MaryAnn’s quick take…

Immensely intense and suspenseful. Disaster filmmaking at its most gripping, yet there is nothing in the least bit exploitive or sensationalized about it. I’m “biast” (pro): nothing

I’m “biast” (con): nothing

I have not read the source material

(what is this about? see my critic’s minifesto)

Wait, what? “Based on a true story of real life heroes”? Wasn’t the Deepwater Horizon that total cluster-you-know-what of incompetence and corporate greed that killed 11 people and spilled an ungodly amount of oil all over the Gulf of Mexico, oil that is still killing seabirds and fish and cute baby dolphins to this day, six years later? Yes, it is. But this is not that story, at least not anymore than it can make some Bp executives look wolfish and blundering (which they well deserve). This movie doesn’t even get into the oil »

- MaryAnn Johanson

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