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Tag Archives: 5 Stars

LA92

This documentary chronicles the events that let up to the riots in Los Angeles in 1992 as a result of the exoneration of 4 LAPD officers who beat a Black man after a traffic stop. I watched this film right after Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992, and the difference is that LA92 focuses much more on the days during which the riots occurred. It is a powerful and sobering look at the simmering pot of race relations in the United States. There is so much footage available here; the way it is cut, you actually feel like you are …

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Let it Fall: Los Angeles 1982-1992

This documentary examines the decade prior to the riots that resulted from the exoneration of 4 Los Angeles Police Department officers who were involved with the brutal beating of Rodney King. The film starts off right away with the message that for those who lived in LA, during the decade before, they knew that something was going to happen at some point. The film provides, through interviews and archival footage, a detailed context of what life in Los Angeles was like during that decade: A police department that was at times out of control in its dealings with gang-related activities; …

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The Innocence Files

This Netflix limited series features several stories of cases of men who were convicted and sent to prison for extended sentences, nearly 30 years in some cases, for crimes that they did not commit. The Innocence Project is a non-profit that is dedicated to investigating wrongful convictions and helping get cases overturned. The stories of these men tell are powerful. Through a combination of current interviews and archival photo and video footage, the directors take us through what happened. These stories also highlight the ways in which the justice system has failed these people and others, through over-aggressive prosecuting attorneys; …

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Marriage Story

Noah Baumbach’s latest film is about the crumbling of a marriage and the pains of divorce. I was completely blown away by the film. First, it portrays equally both sides of the divorce, which you don’t see too often; both husband and wife are treated sympathetically with all of their strengths and faults. It also digs into its messiness and how all of the things that didn’t work in the marriage come to the surface in unexpected ways. The screenplay is amazing. Adam Driver (Charlie) and Scarlett Johansson (Nicole) give the very best performances of their careers and probably the …

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Maiden

This documentary is the story of the first-ever all-female crew to sail the Whitbread Round the World race in 1989. The film uses a combination of archival video footage montaged with the crew members, members of the press, and skippers of other boats in the race in the present day reflecting on their experience during that race. This is a fascinating and inspiring film of Tracy Edwards, who was in her 20’s at the time. She was a problem teenager who ran away from home at 16 and “never did finish anything she started”. She happened to get a job …

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Pain and Glory

(Spanish) Salvador Mallo (played by Antonio Banderas) is an aging film director who is long past the zenith of his career. He suffers from numerous physical and psychological maladies and has turned to using heroin to dull the pain. The film explores Salvador’s life at four key points in time: His early childhood with his mother, a defining romantic relationship in his life, his relationship with his mother at the end of her life, and the present. The way Almodovar weaves the stories together is exquisite. He uses flashbacks but also does something unique in using the stage to tell …

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Parasite

(South Korea): The Kim family lives in a basement apartment and struggles to make ends meet by folding pizza boxes (something so simple that they cannot seem to do right); the family is destitute but otherwise happy. The son Ki-woo lands a job as an English tutor for the daughter in the uber-wealthy Kim family, and through a series of schemes, the entire family is working there. Everything runs smoothly until one of the displaced servants shows up unexpectedly when the Kim family is away on a camping trip. The movie is fantastic; the performances by all are great, but …

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Apollo 11

Using archival audio and video footage, we are transported back to 1969 when Armstrong and Aldrin became the first men to walk on the moon. I absolutely loved this film. Everything is stitched together into one neat story; we see what the astronauts saw, hear conversations between Armstrong, Aldin and Collins and ground control, and experience what those on the ground must have felt at every milestone of that mission. At 9 years old, I don’t really remember those days at all, so to be able to watch this as though I were watching the news was fantastic. The music …

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When They See Us (Netflix Mini-Series)

In 1989, 5 young African American and Latino boys, ages 14-16, were accused of beating and raping a white jogger in Central Park New York. After serving between 6 and 13 years in prison, they were exonerated after a fellow prisoner serving time with one of the five confessed to the crime.  In this Netflix mini-series, Ana DuVernay provides a perfect complement to the Sarah Burns documentary Central Park Five from 2012; DuVernay presents the story completely from the viewpoint of the 5 teenagers. She takes us up close and personal into what it was like for these boys to …

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They Shall Not Grow Old

Peter Jackson of Lord of the Rings Trilogy fame creates a technically marvelous documentary by using 100-year-old footage from World War I and telling a story about what it was like for the soldiers who enlisted and went to the front lines. He does this in a very innovative way by colorizing the film (the scene where he switches to color is breathtaking), slowing it down to real-time, and overlaying stories told by WWI vets in the 1960s and 1970s. His team also incorporates many of the posters of the era and overlays moving footage, which creates a very unusual …

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