Annie Sundberg

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Joan Rivers: A Piece Of Work Review


Excellent
Filmmakers Stern and Sundberg, better known for punchy political films like The Devil Came on Horseback, turn their cameras on an iconic comic. And the result is a startlingly raw exploration of what it takes to hang on in show business.

In the 1960s, Joan Rivers broke new ground as a stand-up comic and TV host, but 20 years later both her career and personal life took a dark turn. Still, she never gave up, and through sheer willpower has continued to be a constant presence on television, stage and of course at red carpet events. Although today she's perhaps more well-known for her extensive plastic surgery than her sharp wit. For this documentary she gave the filmmakers unrestricted access to her life for a year, and what we discover is that she's pretty much the same off camera as on it.

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The Devil Came On Horseback Review


Excellent
In the aftermath of the Holocaust, one very sharp idea was both thought and spoken by many who had truly comprehended the horror of the systematic attempted destruction of an entire people: Never again. At the time of this writing, over 60 years after that catastrophic disaster, the government of Sudan appears to be doing its level best to exterminate a good portion of the people in the Darfur region, while its leaders and those of the rest of the world, astoundingly, debate about what constitutes an actual genocide. The reasons for the slaughter are many, as the Darfurians have multiple things going against them: They are black Africans in an Arab-controlled country; while some are Muslim, many others are Christian or traditional animists; they live inconveniently near lucrative oil deposits. And a world that said, in retrospect, never again, now seems at a loss for words, not to mention meaningful action. Because it's happening again. Now.

Annie Sundberg and Ricki Stern's blistering war cry of a film, The Devil Came on Horseback, is about as good an introduction to the Darfur situation as one could hope for. It's told in the admirably tough voice of Brian Stiedle, a former U.S. Marine captain who served a six-month duty as an unarmed observer in Darfur with the African Union peacekeeping force during 2004, after the cease-fire that supposedly ended the 20-year civil war that had been ripping the region apart. With impressionistic verve and harrowing attention to detail, Sundberg and Stern's film relates what Stiedle witnessed in that sun-baked and blood-stained land. His narration as powerless observer is mixed in with the graphic, lividly colored photographs he took of the burnt-out villages and massacred children; the resulting narrative is as dramatic as it is highly moral, in the best sense.

Continue reading: The Devil Came On Horseback Review

Tully Review


Very Good
There is something so inviting -- especially for those of us who live in the city -- about a film that captures the brilliance and serenity of rural life. Seeing those late-day hints of sunlight beam down upon open fields and lone houses can be one of the great cinema escapes. Tully, the debut feature from a talented filmmaker named Hilary Birmingham, gives viewers that easygoing country warmth but also delivers a fine, reserved narrative within its setting.

Based on an award-winning story by Tom McNeal, Tully is a guy-at-a-crossroads tale, told with a welcome lack of standard convention. The title character, played by able newcomer Anson Mount (Crossroads), is a young, good-looking fella admired by most of the women in his Nebraska farming town, and playing his quiet popularity for all it's worth. Tully works on his pappy's farm with his younger brother, Earl, but still finds time to get it on with a local stripper (Catherine Kellner) on the hood of her car (or his car, if available).

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Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work Movie Review

Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work Movie Review

Filmmakers Stern and Sundberg, better known for punchy political films like The Devil Came on...

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