Black Mother – Khalik Allah’s latest feature, “Black Mother,” is a challenging and profound deep-dive into Jamaican identity that rewards repeat viewings and confirms the aesthetic of a visionary filmmaker. The three trimesters of a woman’s pregnancy provide a loose framing device as Allah careens through an 87-minute collage of Jamaican faces from multiple generations, as voiceovers share tidbits of history, racial struggles, and personal philosophies, fusing them together with spiritual fervor.
Amazing Grace – Aretha Franklin hardly says a word in “Amazing Grace,” but she sings with an energy and conviction that has powerful resonance nearly 50 years later. As a record of the church music from Franklin’s youth, cascading off the walls of the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Los Angeles, the film is soulful ear candy. Left unfinished for decades due to technical glitches, the lively concert documentary about Franklin’s landmark 1972 gospel recording provides the full picture of her largest commercial hit in real time.
American Dharma – Errol Morris excels at interrogating morally complicated men, from Robert McNamara to Donald Rumsfeld, but he’s never ventured as far to the dark side as he does with “American Dharma.” Confronting former media executive and presidential advisor Steve Bannon in a cold, empty room for the duration of this unsettling portrait, Morris presses the alt-right icon to justify the racist ideology behind the machinations that propelled Donald Trump to the White House.
What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael – Robert Garver’s portrait of Pauline Kael is the ideal introduction to the most significant American film critic of the 20th century, and long overdue. Years in the making, the movie provides a sweeping overview of Kael’s impact, how her riveting and often quite personal prose evoked both fervent admirers and terror among filmmakers in her crosshairs. The documentary balances testimonials from Kael’s peers with tributes from major directors such as Martin Scorsese and Quentin Tarantino.
Evelyn – Oscar-winning director Orland von Einsiedel (“The White Helmets,” “Virunga”) has excelled at exploring international conflicts around the world, but this project has a far more intimate focus. The movie revolves around von Einsiedel and his family reeling from his brother’s suicide and hiking across the United Kingdom as they work through their collective devastation. Equal parts personal essay and group therapy session, “Evelyn” is also an effective window into exploring the reverberations of suicide and the capacity for a family to recover from immeasurable grief on a universal scale.
See the rest of the list at IndieWire.
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