Jennifer Chaiken

Jennifer Chaiken

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Afternoon Delight Review


Good

There are some very dark corners in this cheeky comedy, which explores relationships and sexuality in unusually realistic ways. But filmmaker Jill Soloway doesn't offer easy answers, forcing her characters to sort out a messy situation on their own. And it's refreshing that we are left to find the message ourselves.

The story centres on stay-at-home mum Rachel (Kathryn Hahn), raising her young son Logan (Sawyer Ever) while her husband Jeff (Josh Radnor) is a hotshot app-creator. But this domestic set-up hasn't helped their sex life, so Rachel goes to a strip club with her pal Stephanie (Jessica St. Clair) for some inspiration. There she meets lap dancer McKenna (Juno Temple), and later contrives to become her friend, eventually inviting her to live in their spare room and work as a nanny to Logan. But of course Jeff is freaked out to have a stripper in the house.

After terrific supporting parts in everything from Revolutionary Road to Wanderlust, Hahn steps into a lead role like a natural. She holds the film together effortlessly, giving Rachel a loose complexity that makes her likeable even when she does something stupid. Her chats with her therapist (a hilarious Jane Lynch) help show how her life hasn't gone as expected, and the way she reaches out to this stripper feels intriguingly uncharacteristic and potentially perilous, but also edgy and invigorating. Opposite her, Temple is wonderfully free-spirited and unpredictable.

Continue reading: Afternoon Delight Review

Big Eden Review


Grim
Arye Gross plays the shortest gay man alive in Big Eden. In this little indie, Gross returns to a small Montana town to care for his grandfather where he finds that gays are -- gulp -- embraced, not shunned. He quickly gets involved in a love triangle with two men who literally tower over him. If this wasn't so absurd and corny it might be sweet. But it cetainly doesn't look like any Montana town I've ever heard of.

Naked States Review


Excellent
By now you've probably heard of Spencer Tunick -- if not the man, then you've definitely read something about his work, which consists entirely of black and white photographs of nude men and women, often in public places like Times Square.

This documentary tracks Tunick along his "Naked States" tour, wherein he photographed nudes in all 48 continental states. His journey proceeds remarkably without incident, arrested in Manhattan but otherwise fairly uneventful. His biggest challenges are finding people willing to pose in places like North Dakota and trying to herd 1,000 Phish fans or 100 nudist beachgoers into doing what he wants. His whiny demeanor never seems to help.

Continue reading: Naked States Review

My Flesh and Blood Review


Good
Next time your boss is being a jerk, take a look at My Flesh and Blood.

This documentary follows the life and times of Susan Tom, a self-described "fat, interesting" woman in Fairfield, California, who's made it her life's work to adopt (legally or informally) various children with special needs.

Continue reading: My Flesh and Blood Review

Jennifer Chaiken

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