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Pushing Life to the Edge: Free Solo

By Elias Savada. Alex Honnold dreams the impossible dream, and he climbs where the brave dare not go. Unlike Don Quixote, he defies death by climbing mountains of sheer granite. Without a rope. Free solo climbing is a solitary affair that is exhilarating to the extreme. A single misstep generally proves fatal. Like the annual award […]

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The Sublime Art of Ashby: Hal

By Elias Savada. Hal (no relation to the sentient computer in Stanley Kubrick’s classic 2001: A Space Odyssey), is a reflective meditation on the (high) life and (best) films of Hal Ashby, a director of note during the 1970s, when he churned out award-worthy films that now shape this debut documentary from Los Angeles-based editor Amy […]

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Mommy Noir: A Simple Favor

By Elias Savada. The crazy wait-who-did-what? mystery that is A Simple Favor offers up a pair of smooth, subversive, suburban housewives that spin some sparkling dialogue off each other and their communal parental units. Mystery loves the company of Anna Kendrick and Blake Lively in Paul Feig’s head-spinning, twisty-turvy tale of fremily intrigue. Equal parts secrets, […]

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Beyond Geekdom: Science Fair

By Elias Savada. Science Fair, the new National Geographic documentary, follows the audience-pleasing formula easily recognizable in its predecessors. There are many fans of Spellbound (2002), an enlightening race to the top of the Scripps National Spelling Bee; Mad Hot Ballroom (2005), which chronicled schoolkids in New York City vying for a chance for the brass ring […]

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A True Beauty: Chained for Life

By Elias Savada. A piece of the infamous “Gooble Gobble” carnival communal wedding chant from Tod Browning’s Freaks (1932) isn’t the only ditty from that horror classic paid homage to in Aaron Schimberg’s wicked movie-within-a-horror-movie, social satire Chained for Life, which world premiered recently at BAMcinemaFest. In fact, performers emit the standalone line “One of Us” […]

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Weird Science: Three Identical Strangers

By Elias Savada. I’ve been told, at rare moments throughout my life, that I look just like someone else, other than my dad or a close cousin, of course. Usually, if shown a photograph of the other person, I would not see a resemblance at all. For Robert Shafran, Edward Galland, and David Kellman, there was […]

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Not Playing Smart: The Catcher Was a Spy

By Elias Savada. There’s an unsettling blandness flowing through The Catcher Was a Spy, a well photographed and impressively designed film about a fascinating character who made a mark in two wildly divergent professions. It’s a fictionalized account of Major League Baseball player Morris “Moe” Berg, as based on Nicholas Dawidoff’s 1994 bestselling biography The Catcher […]

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A Treat Grows in Brooklyn: Hearts Beat Loud

By Elias Savada. One way or another, I always seem to get a plastic high when watching a film with an old fashioned record store. High Fidelity (2000), Empire Records (1995), Ghost World (2001), and even Last Shop Standing, Pip Piper 2012’s documentary about the rise and fall of about two dozen independent mom-and-pop outlets in […]

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Arthouse Redux: Claire’s Camera

By Elias Savada. I’m a latecomer to the work of South Korean filmmaker Hong Sangsoo, but I recently caught Night and Day (2004) and Right Now, Wrong Then (2015), which reveal this Seoul-born and Korean-then-American-trained filmmaker’s unconventional, character-driven films as interesting and sometimes forceful human studies (as well as being festival favorites). He’s also, apparently, a […]

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Mountain: Epic to the Extreme

By Elias Savada. The word “breathtaking” doesn’t do justice to Australian documentarian Jennifer Peedom’s Mountain. It’s so far beyond that. The manner of the imposing photography, which often suggests someone climbing upside down, is just one of the remarkable things about this emotionally driven exploration of the majesty of rock. What makes this film tick are […]

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