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Patti Cake$ should not feel fresh. Though it stars talented up-and-comer Danielle MacDonald, is a first-time feature from writer-director Geremy Jasper, and focuses on a title character with a bigger build not typically seen in mainstream crowd-pleasers, it pretty much is just that—a mainstream crowd-pleaser, albeit with some gritty New Jersey mise-en-scene. A lot of the movie’s story comes from the already-worn playbook of 8 Mile: Like that movie’s fictionalized version of Eminem, Patti is...
I Am Not Your Negro Raoul Peck Opens February 3 There is a moment in I Am Not Your Negro, Raoul Peck’s masterfully eloquent living essay on race and America, when its subject/speaker/agonist James Baldwin decries how whites allow themselves to become “moral monsters” through unexamined bigotry. Quoting the phrase without further context or Baldwin’s typically vigorous rhetorical lead-up won’t capture its power, but suffice to say that Baldwin in this film conveys the very opposite...
  Under the Sun Directed by Vitaly Mansky Opens July 6   What became increasingly apparent to me as I watched Under the Sun, and as it continued to drift further and further away from something along the lines of what I'd imagined it would be, is that it is quite certainly one of the most bizarre and multivalent films I'd ever seen. While not showing you very much, it somehow shows you a great deal. While it tells...
Anna Magnani was just a handful of films into her long, storied, abundantly successful career when she delivered what would ultimately prove to be one of her most magnificent and unforgettable performances in Roberto Rossellini's Rome, Open City—a performance which would also prove to be among the most indelible in all of Italian cinema. In this 1945 work, a true touchstone among neorealist titles, Magnani plays the role of Pina, a mother, daughter, wife-to-be...

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