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The power and grace of “Just Mercy”

“Just Mercy” reminds us of the inherent worth of all human beings and that we are all more than our worst misdeed. It pleads for justice but also for mercy and unmerited grace.  And if you’re going to pour the moralizing on a little thick, that seems like a pretty good lesson to double down on.

“Abe” is food for the soul

“Abe” is as light and wispy as a good souffle, but just as delicious, and it manages to be surprisingly nourishing for the soul as well. It’s the sort of recipe that I wish more family filmmakers would follow.

Don’t book a trip to “The Islands”

The whole enterprise is frustratingly shoddy, and it’s hard to shake the feeling that “The Islands” exists less as art or a compelling self-contained story than a feeble half-hearted evangelism attempt. But it’s equally hard to believe that anybody could find themselves moved by a story so poorly told.

Documentary review: “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am”

If the others interviewed fall into the too-easy documentary trap of endless praise for their subject, that seems warranted for once. It is impossible to come away from “Toni Morrison: The Pieces I Am” without an appreciation for what the author has done for the English language and those marginalized in American society – accomplishments that are unquestionably worth celebrating.

“Hustlers” and the ick factor

When the National Center for Sexual Exploitation calls out your film as being “harmful to women and to society at large,” that shows that something about your female empowerment messaging may have gotten lost in translation.

“Wendy” is an ambitious oddity

“Wendy” is idiosyncratic, messy and, best of all, incredibly human. Not everyone will love it – most won’t, I imagine- but I don’t think anyone will argue that it isn’t a distinctively original piece derived from a filmmaker’s singular vision. And, in a blockbuster culture where every film looks and feels the same, that kind of singularity feels like a minor miracle.