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Native Son (1951)

Few films have experienced a more tortured history than the 1951 version of “Native Son,” based on Richard Wright’s 1940 novel. While Wright’s work achieved best-seller status and would be adapted into a Broadway production by Orson Welles and John Houseman, Hollywood studios would only consider a cinematic version if the central character of a disenfranchised African American was changed into an ethnic white man. Continue reading

BloodSisters: Leather, Dykes and Sadomasocism (1995)

It’s incredibly how only twenty five years ago, the idea of the sub-culture of S&M and fetishes like bondage and roleplaying were still so hush and barely spoken of. In modern society we’ve somewhat turned a corner and managed to embrace kink and sexuality a lot more, but the people we get to meet in “BloodSisters” are clearly individuals that have been suppressed by a society that just doesn’t understand them.

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Class Action Park (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Easily my most anticipated film of Fantasia Fest 2020, “Class Action Park” is not just a visit to nostalgia, but an exploration of a criminal who was able to do whatever he pleased at the cost of children and families looking for a good time. Once upon a time there was a place called “Action Park,” a large water and adventure park set in the middle of New Jersey. While it was the place of memories for many kids, it was also a hellscape filled with death, corruption, negligence, and a founder who would stop at literally nothing to protect his own interests. 

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Inmate #1: The Rise of Danny Trejo (2020)

Danny Trejo began his thirty year career as the epitome of the “That One Guy” actor, appearing in so many bit parts and yet he was so easy to recognize. But when he was suddenly catapulted in to fame, he became the idea of what many envision as the American Dream. He also became the quintessential prisoner makes good tale, and his journey is as riveting as you’d assume it is. For fans of the man like me, “Inmate #1” is a riveting and down to Earth exploration of Trejo’s journey of redemption.

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Feels Good, Man (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Director Arthur Jones’ documentary is probably one of the most important and depressing films of the last five years. It’s mainly a movie that doesn’t just touch upon the snowballing of a mascot for pure hatred and violence, but the horrifying power of the internet and its litany of sub-cultures. It also explores the little known fact that its original artist never intended to give it the kind of purpose that’s given it a notorious unstoppable life inside and outside of social media.

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The Sin of Nora Moran (1933)

For many years, the 1933 Poverty Row flick “The Sin of Nora Moran” was primarily known for its appropriately Pre-Code lurid poster by Alberto Vargas of a barely-dressed blonde in a coiled state of emotional angst. Never mind that no such person resembling the poster subject appeared in the film – the eponymous character was a brunette with short hair who remained fully clothed at all times. But the provocative poster failed to attract audiences back in the day and the film was mostly forgotten for too many years.
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Morgana (2019) [Fantasia Festival 2020]

Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess’s “Morgana” is a documentary begging to be turned in to a feature film. It’s a wonderful and heartbreaking account of sexual repression, forced domesticity and using pornography as a means of re-claiming individuality. “Morgana” is short, but it’s an engaging journey in to the life of Morgana Muses, who suddenly found herself without the demands of a marriage that offered zero fullfilment. When she’s finally free she has no idea what to do with herself. That is until she realizes sex is a big part of what kept her from blossoming as a woman and adult.

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Elodie (2019)

There aren’t many good movies or movies at all, for that matter, about the writing experience, and it’s a shame. There’s so much to be mined in the realm of creating and how characters can take on their own lives. “Elodie” is an indie gem that deserves to be watched by just about everyone, as it’s not just a wonderful character piece, but a superb look at the creative experience and the concept of impostor syndrome.

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