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  • Kajillionaire

    Kajillionaire

    ★★★★

    Free virtual advanced screening courtesy of Focus Features and the DC Film Society. 

    A coming-of-age film, through the off-kilter lens of Miranda July. Nobody does quirk quite like July, and the three central figures here - played by acting powerhouses Richard Jenkins, Debra Winger and Evan Rachel Wood - are capital Q quirky. Living so far off the grid that they can’t even see the grid, their thing is figuring every possible penny ante way to make a buck (or…

  • Words on Bathroom Walls

    Words on Bathroom Walls

    ★★★

    Free virtual advanced screening courtesy of Gofobo Screenings and the DC Film Society. 

    A bit too precious about mental illness, with both the darkness and the light heightened in transparently theatrical ways. The finale is entirely too upbeat from what has gone before, to the point that I can almost believe it is a wish fulfilling delusion of a drugged and institutionalized mental patient (though I’m not suggesting that is the intent). The lead performances are serviceable but otherwise unnoteworthy,…

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  • Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    Ma Rainey's Black Bottom

    ★★★★

    Free online preview screening sponsored by the AFI and Netflix. Post-screening Q&A with director George C. Wolfe and actors Viola Davis, Glynn Turman, Colman Domingo, and Michael Potts, moderated by Samuel L. Jackson. Film is scheduled for release on December 18, 2020.

    I have some trouble appreciating August Wilson because his plays strike me as dueling monologues rather than true narrative dramas. But I enjoyed this more than Fences (2016) because this seemed more a natural story than a cautionary…

  • The Short History of the Long Road

    The Short History of the Long Road

    ★★★★½

    Chicago Critics Film Festival 2019 - Film #16.

    A lovely and warm film featuring a standout performance from (the apparently famous but new to me) Sabrina Carpenter as Nola. Rather than being a cautionary tale of the many hazards of living homeless and on the road, the film is instead hopeful and optimistic about the general decency of strangers. You can call that naive, but there is also a certain naivety in assuming there is violence and ruin around every…