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  • Miss Sharon Jones!

    Miss Sharon Jones! 2015

    ★★★½ Watched 28 Jun, 2016

    Documentary legend Kopple ('Harlan County USA') trains her camera on Jones, the Dap-Kings leader (often, and accurately, described as “the female James Brown”) for a few tough months in late 2013 and early 2014, when she had to put her career on hold to battle stage 2 pancreatic cancer. It’s a shock when Kopple hard-cuts from Jones tearing it up on stage to sitting still in bed, patiently explaining her busy TV-watching schedule – but this is no tear-jerker, and…

  • Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

    Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You 2016

    ★★★★ Rewatched 28 Jun, 2016

    Late in this documentary portrait of the television groundbreaker (from 'Jesus Camp' directors Ewing and Grady), Amy Poehler explains his particular genius: that the shows he created and developed in the mid-1970s ('All in the Family,' 'Maude,' 'Good Times,' 'The Jeffersons,' 'Mary Hartman Mary Hartman') tackled big issues, got big laughs, and earned big ratings. That’s hard to do – “so hard that people don’t even do it anymore,” she notes. And that’s the real takeaway from this fine documentary;…

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  • Mistress America

    Mistress America 2015

    ★★★★½ Rewatched 24 Jul, 2015

    “In one instant, her behaviors turned from charming to borderline psychotic.” So notes Tracy (Kirke) of Brooke (Gerwig), the title character of Noah Baumbach’s latest chronicle of the bohemian facades and generational navigation in New York City. Free of much of the cynicism but none of the bite of last spring’s 'While We’re Young,' Baumbach and co-writer Gerwig’s screwball treat beautifully captures the way a slightly older, seemingly together mentor-type figure can first seem to be everything you hope to…

  • Under the Skin

    Under the Skin 2013

    ★★★★ Watched 21 Mar, 2014

    A beautiful, bizarre, and occasionally troubling bit of abstract art-house sci-fi in the Beyond the Black Rainbow vein from director Jonathan Glazer (Sexy Beast, Birth). Scarlett Johansson (who appears in just about every frame) plays a well-disguised alien creature who picks up men and devours them; some have dismissed the picture as an indie riff on Species, but if the narrative is derivative and a tad monotonous, there’s something intoxicating about the fluidity of Glazer’s striking images and the mood he manages to sustain throughout the peculiar tale.

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