THE LONELIEST WHALE: THE SEARCH FOR 52 (doc, 2021)

July 8, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. The old adage goes, “There’s someone for everyone.” Even for the outsiders and misfits. But what if there is only one? First heard by Navy research in 1989, “the Loneliest Whale in the World” has been named “52” due to his unique 52 Hertz call. He has never been seen and his song was last heard in 2003 … so there is no guarantee he’s still alive. Director Joshua Zemen has long been fascinated by the legend of 52 – a majestic creature assumed to be living in isolation since no other whales can hear his call.

It’s a sad story and one that caused a social frenzy as so many related their own stories of loneliness, proving yet again how humans connect with the animal kingdom. Whales have long played a role in the bible (Jonah) and in literature (Captain Ahab from “Moby Dick”), but 52’s unusual call was picked up thanks to the Navy’s Sound Surveillance System (SOSUS) which had been developed to track submarines during war time. It took the late Oceanographer Bill Watkins to recognize the call as biological, creating the origin of the legend and mystery. Watkins claimed we can hear more than we see in the ocean, and there’s much to learn from those sounds.

When the 52 Hertz call was once again heard, director Zemen secured funding for a 7-day excursion off the Santa Barbara coast with the goal of locating the whale. He assembled a team of Oceanographers, Biologists, and researchers – each knowledgeable and passionate. Zemen is the outsider of this group, and in the film’s only flaw, allows himself to be the focus a bit too often. Interspersed within the 7 day mission are history lessons regarding the hunting of whales, once commonplace. All of that changed with the 1970 best-selling record entitled, “Songs of the Humpback Whales”. Hearing their calls and singing led directly to the “Save the Whales” era – and the hunting and slaughtering was cut by 99 percent.

Director Zemen is having quite the year, as his excellent docuseries, “The Sons of Sam: A Descent into Darkness” was recently released. Here he works hard at instilling some entertainment into the science project by including the captain’s 52 Lost Love music tape featuring Pablo Cruise, and a quick segment with the quirky and brilliant Kate Micucci … plus a humorous moment informing us that single bunks are for one person. The film doesn’t get the “tied up with a bow” ending Zemen and the researchers might hope for, but the mystery shifts a bit, and we realize how much we’ve enjoyed spending time with these smart, caring folks. Leonardo DiCaprio donated $50,000 to the project and is listed as an Executive Producer for the film that offers some close-ups and details that are likely new to many of us.

Bleeker Street will release the film in theaters nationwide on July 9 and on Digital July 16.

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THE TOMORROW WAR (2021)

July 1, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. There are some great time-travel movies, some great Science-Fiction movies, and some great alien-invasion action movies; however, there are very few that successfully blend all of the above. Director Chris McKay (THE LEGO BATMAN MOVIE, 2017) and writer Zach Dean (DEADFALL, 2012) come up short in this attempt, and in fact, much of the movie is borderline ridiculous in story line, dialogue, and special effects. It’s extremely rare for me to go two hours (or 2:20 for this one) and never engage with a character or story.

We open on Chris Pratt (and many others) falling from the sky and landing in a horrific war zone. Immediately we flashback 3 decades. Pratt plays Dan Forester, a high school science teacher and former Special Forces soldier in Iraq. He has a supportive wife Emmy (Betty Gilpin, THE HUNT, 2020) and a whip-smart young daughter Muri (Ryan Kiera Armstrong, “Anne with an E”). A glitch in the matrix occurs during the World Cup and a platoon of soldiers announce they are from the future and need help fighting aliens that are annihilating the human race.

Soon, a global military draft is put in place. Thanks to a “worm hole”, those drafted can serve 7 days by bouncing from 2022 to 2051 and back … well at least the 30% who survive get to come back. When Dan is drafted, he hopes to save the world for his little girl, and told her and his students that “science is how you resolve problems”. Of course, big guns help too … but not as much as you’d hope since these aliens are fast, strong, and terribly ugly to look at (with a bit of a throwback look to the 70’s).

In 2051, Dan reports to Romeo Command played by Yvonne Strahovski (“Dexter”), and he works closely with fellow draftees played by Sam Richardson (“Veep”), Edwin Hodge (THE PURGE franchise), and Mary Lynn Rajskub (“24 Hours”). Romeo Command also happens to be a brilliant scientist concocting a potion to destroy the aliens. The hope is to take it back 30 years and prevent the alien invasion from ever occurring. It’s a wing and a prayer plan and there’s a bit more to the story that won’t be revealed here.

Pratt is no stranger to action movies (GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, JURASSIC WORLD), and he’s at his best when cracking wise with one-liners. Unfortunately many of those fall flat when there are only 500,000 humans remaining on the planet, and the human race appears doomed. A crazy (and not believable) turn of events leads us to a segment that includes riding snow mobiles on a Russian glacier. The filmmakers try overly hard to work in serious topics like climate change, government incompetence, and anti-war demonstrations (why sacrifice for a war that’s not yet happening?). On top of that, daddy issues abound with multiple characters, which is where a buff JK Simmons (Oscar winner for WHIPLASH, 2014) comes in.

If the film had received its originally planned theatrical run, there likely would have been a few refund requests. However, streaming on Amazon is a much better fit for lower expectations.

Available on Amazon Prime beginning July 2, 2021

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FIRST DATE (2021)

July 1, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. This is the first feature film for co-writers and co-directors Manuel Crosby and Darren Knapp. Despite mixed reactions from its Sundance Film Festival premiere, it’s safe to say that this madcap action-comedy-romance-crime drama provides enough to set the stage for additional projects from the filmmakers. It likely works best as midnight fare, but the film juggles multiple genres and tonal shifts well enough that most will find it at least watchable, if not quite entertaining.

Tyson Brown (his first feature film) stars as Mike, a meek teenager too shy to ask his kickboxing neighbor Kelsey (Shelby Duclos, also her first feature film) on a date. When Mike’s boisterous good friend Brett (Josh Fesler) forces his hand, Mike is surprised when Kelsey accepts … setting off a wild chain of events and comedy of errors featuring a whole host of looney characters. But first, Mike has to find a car to drive, or there will be no picking up Kelsey at 7pm.

Mike buys a $300 1965 Chrysler from a shady dude named Dennis (Scott Noble). Now, Dennis is a natural scammer, but there is another reason Mike’s newly purchased clunker is attracting the attention of drug dealers and corrupt cops. Mike and Kelsey’s first date gets delayed a bit due to all the chaos, and Kelsey briefly ends up in the front seat of the Porsche belonging to local stud Chet (Brandon Kraus). Two local cops played by Nicole Berry and Samuel Adamola have multiple run-ins with Mike, each with terrific comic flair courtesy of Ms. Berry. Walking the line between comedy and danger is the crime gang who spend less time chasing Mike’s car and more time on their book club – “Of Mice and Men” generating quite the debate. It’s like a bumbling character convention came to town.

Filmmakers Crosby and Knapp deliver a frenzied opening scene to try and prepare us for what’s coming. There are a few scenes that drag a bit, but for the most part, the pacing is pretty solid and the mixture of laughs and danger is well managed. Calling 8-tracks the vinyl of car radio is pure genius, and once things go awry, it’s no-holds-barred. The big shootout reminds of FREE FIRE (2016), while the zaniness recalls such films as ADVENTURES IN BABYSITTING (1987), AFTER HOURS (1985), and TRUE ROMANCE (1993).

The supporting cast includes Jesse Janzen, Ryan Quinn Adams, Jake Howard, and Samantha Laurenti, and Nicole Berry is quite the scene stealer as Police Sgt Davis. Tyson Brown is spot on as the deadpan Mike whose only talents seem to be misplacing his phone and staying alive, while Shelby Duclos leaves us wishing her Kelsey had significantly more screen time. We can debate whether it’s best to get caught by drug dealers or corrupt cops, and the comedy of errors is sometimes less funny and more dangerous, but that pinch of teen romance keeps the film grounded and personal.

In theaters and On Demand beginning July 2, 2021

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THE PHANTOM (2021, doc)

July 1, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. Will the real murdering Carlos please come forward? Unfortunately it’s too late for the other one. Store clerk Wanda Lopez was murdered in Corpus Christi, Texas one night in 1983. The recording of her 911 call is brief, but documents her identifying the assailant as Hispanic, and noting that he was brandishing a knife … the knife the man would use to take her life.

After a short manhunt, the Corpus Christi police found a shirtless 21 year old Carlos DeLuna hiding under a car. He was identified by eye witnesses and immediately arrested on suspicion of murder. From the beginning, DeLuna was adamant about his innocence and claimed he knew the actual murderer, Carlos Hernandez, DeLuna’s doppelganger.

Patrick Forbes is a documentarian whose previous topics included Brexit, the human heart, and WikiLeaks. This time he walks us through the steps of a criminal system that executed the wrong man. He uses interviews, archival footage, and documentation from the police reports and trial. We hear from the District Attorney, the defense attorney, Wanda Lopez’s attorney, and the eyewitnesses. The original Medical Examiner (ME) even reads aloud from his report. Forbes presents the facts of the case so that we understand how such a travesty occurred.

The evidence that convicted Carlos DeLuna was limited to the eyewitnesses and a wad of cash in his pocket. No fingerprints. No blood on his clothes. No DNA. Somehow this was enough to not just find him guilty, but also sentence him to death. DeLuna testified at his own trial and claimed under oath it was Carlos Hernandez – a man the Corpus Christi police were unable to find, despite his significant (and violent) criminal record.

We hear from the reporter who received correspondence from DeLuna while he was incarcerated. She recounts their exchanges and notes that she was a somewhat green reporter who had no real idea how to handle this. We also hear from the Chaplain who details the issues that occurred during the execution, and from DeLuna’s estranged brother who tried to assist. Mr. Forbes is efficient and precise in the structure of the documentary based on the Columbia Law School research paper, “Los Tocayos Carlos”. Is the criminal justice flawed or outright broken – for those wrongfully accused and convicted, the answer is simple.

Opening in theaters on July 2, 2021

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@ZOLA

July 1, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. As far as I can tell, this is the first feature film based on an actual Twitter thread. Writer-director Janicza Bravo (LEMON, 2017) works with co-writers Jeremy O Harris and the real life Zola, A’Ziah King to mold the viral 148 Tweets (#TheStory) from 2015 into a somewhat coherent film that may just provide a bit more insight into the social media world than we’d prefer in one sitting. A24 movie studio proves yet again their original, creative, and unique films are unapologetically outside the industry norm … and they are generating quite a loyal following because of it.

Taylour Paige (Dussy Mae in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, 2020) stars as Zola, a waitress with perfect certain “features” according to one of her customers. Zola and Stefani (played by Riley Keough, Elvis’ granddaughter who continues to build a strong and diverse resume, including a standout performance in AMERICAN HONEY, 2016), have an instant connection, and the next day they are off on a road trip to Florida to make big bucks dancing at exotic clubs. Accompanying them are X (Colman Domingo, Cutler in MA RAINEY’S BLACK BOTTOM, 2020), and Derrek (Nicolas Braun, “Succession”), Stefani’s doofus boyfriend.

Be forewarned: this is not the zany female buddy comedy the trailer teases. It’s a dark, twisted comedy laced with dangerous situations and violence. While Zola was led to believe this was a dancing trip for real cash, it turns out X is really Stefani’s pimp, and though Zola stands firm in not taking the sex for cash route, she’s prevented from leaving by a forceful X, no longer the charmer she first encountered. Zola’s wise-to-the-world ways allows her to assist Stefani in upping her cash flow, but things go wrong when Derrek socializes outside the group.

After the infamous Twitter thread, “Rolling Stone” writer David Kushner published an article entitled, “Zola Tells All: The Real Story Behind the Greatest Stripper Saga ever Tweeted”. This is an alternate universe to many of us, though it’s pulled from the “pages” of today’s online culture. Much of the dialogue is in Twitter-speak, and the new Tweet ding is used to emphasize certain spoken lines (think rim shots). Director Bravo instills the “B-word” at the same pace that Tarantino uses the F-word, and it should be noted that both actresses are terrific. Ms. Keough will likely make you laugh, while simultaneously making you uncomfortable. It’s a case study in cultural appropriation – especially her dialect, which is purposefully offensive. We aren’t accustomed to seeing this type of humor these days, but Keough is to be commended for going all in. Ms. Paige’s performance is much different, but no less impactful as her Zola tries to make the best of a horrible situation.

This is a wild story with characters I can only hope you don’t recognize from your own life. It begs the question, what kind of relationships arise from social media? We go a bit deeper on Zola, but really we don’t know much about these people. They are as deep as social media allows, while also serving up a warning to those who might somehow believe internet interactions are anonymous and harmless.

Now showing in theaters nationwide.

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A&E Biography: KISStory (2021)

June 27, 2021

Biography: KISSTORY (2021, 2-part Documentary)

Greetings again from the darkness. Even for those who aren’t rock ‘n roll fans, there is a familiarity and curiosity about the band KISS and their fans, known as the KISS Army. It’s the face make-up, the outlandish costumes, the raucous concerts, the best-selling albums, and of course, that tongue. Director D.J. Viola, working in conjunction with A&E’s “Biography” series, has put together a comprehensive 2-part documentary billed as a backstage pass to the history and impact of the band.

KISS has been performing and recording for almost 50 years, and Volume One (as the first episode is titled) goes back even further, as we learn Gene Simmons was born in Israel and moved to the U.S. in 1958, while Paul Stanley was born in Queens. The two men met in 1970, and much of the time is spent with the two co-founders of the band recollecting those early years. Viola chronicles their memories with clips and photographs, as well as commentary from others. The band’s “End of the Road” tour, supposedly their farewell act, began in 2019 and has been suspended until August 2021 due to COVID.

The early formation of the band is a bit unusual, as Gene and Paul found drummer Peter Criss from an advertisement Criss put in the newspaper, and Ace Frehley answered the band’s “Village Voice” ad for a lead guitarist. 1973 brought the first KISS photograph, their earliest known recording, and the earliest concert footage. Their time in Electric Lady Studio, the same one used by Jimi Hendrix, is recalled with reverence, and we get to hear how the band was committed to being “big” on stage, and were influenced in their style by New York Dolls, Alice Cooper, and the idea of a full musical production on stage. It didn’t take long for smoking guitars, airborne drum sets, blood baths, and pyrotechnics to become inseparable from the music and these comic book heroes.

Each band member created their own makeup and character. For instance, Gene’s demon was supposedly influenced by “Phantom of the Opera”. Their new manager, Bill Aucoin recognized the potential and hooked them up with Neil Bogart’s Casablanca Records. By 1975, the band had their anthem, “Rock ‘n Roll All Nite”, and as Dave Grohl describes, their stage show was “ballistic”. Despite all of that, they were definitely a “people’s band, not a critics’ band”, and it took the huge success of their “Alive!” album to save the band and the record label. And what typically follows success?  Yes, turmoil. By 1982 both Criss and Frehley had left the band, due to drugs and creative differences.

Volume 2 of the two-part documentary focuses on the band’s ever-changing musical styles and various personnel changes at drummer and lead guitarist, as well as the rollercoaster ride of popularity and faded stardom followed by recapturing the magic. It’s difficult for a band to reinvent themselves once their look, style, music, and stage show have garnered such a loyal following. Disco, dance music, androgyny, and a rock opera didn’t work for the band or their fans, and Gene and Paul readily admit they spent some years floundering.

It was 1983 on MTV when the band first appeared without makeup, in yet another attempt to reinvent themselves. After the split with Criss, Frehley, and Aucoin, the next dozen years brought multiple lead guitarists, the tragic loss of one drummer to cancer, and even a delve into acting by Simmons. It was an appearance on “Unplugged” in 1995 that led to a huge reunion tour for the band, including KISS Convention – a traveling museum for fans. Predictably, the big bucks tour as not enough to stave off yet another band breakup. Gene and Paul were the leaders of the band, as they were the two that had stuck it out through good times and bad.

This is a band that has sold more than 100 million records and countless concert tickets over a five decade span. Self-destructive band members, an addict as a manager, and changing music tastes of the public were all obstacles that couldn’t ultimately stop the band. Peter Criss and Ace Frehley declined to participate in the making of this documentary, so we have to accept most of this is told from the viewpoint of co-founders Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons. Still, it’s been a fascinating journey for one of rock’s most unusual bands. If it truly ends after the farewell tour, their place in history is secure (2014 inductees into the Rock ‘n Roll Hall of Fame). Until then, “You wanted the best, you got the best. The hottest band in the world. KISS!”

The four hour, two-night event airs on A&E on Sunday, June 27 and Monday, June 28, 2021, from 9-11pm ET/PT.

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THE ICE ROAD (2021)

June 24, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. Somehow, it’s already time for Liam Neeson’s semi-annual macho thriller. In this one, he gets to drive a big rig. Over a frozen river. He also gets to wear flannel, chew on a toothpick, and punch two guys (but no wolves) … all while doing the right thing in order to save some trapped miners. And it’s not about the money. Well, it starts out about the money, but in the end, it’s not about the money!

Neeson stars as Mike, a trucker whose spotty employment record is likely as much his own doing as it is that of his brother John/”Gurtie” (Marcus Thomas), who is not just a super mechanic, but also a war veteran with some mental challenges. The VA hospital quickly diagnoses Gurtie with PTSD and prescribes multiple pills for him. Mike tosses out accusations and the pills, as the two brothers head to Winnipeg for a rescue mission.

Jonathan Hensleigh also wrote and directed the 2011 film KILL THE IRISHMAN which I enjoyed. This time he serves up some nice opening shots that give us a real feel for the isolation and frozen tundra of the setting. When the mine collapses, trapping the workers, the oxygen clock starts, and Goldenrod (Laurence Fishburne) is charged with finding 2 other available and experienced truckers who can drive over the ice road and deliver the necessary equipment within 30 hours. Mike and Gurtie are chosen for one truck, and Tantoo (Amber Midthunder, “Legion”) is chosen for the other. She has extra incentive, as her brother Cody (Martin Sensmeier, WIND RIVER, 2017) is one of the trapped miners.

We do get brief segments with the miners, including Cody and Lampard (Holt McCallany, “Mindhunter”) who are focused on saving as many men as possible. Of course, all of this is the fault of yet another big, bad corporation led by a profit-oriented GM (Matt McCoy, known by “Seinfeld” fans as Lloyd Braun). Along for the ride with the truckers is Varnay (Benjamin Walker, ABRAHAM LINCOLN: VAMPIRE HUNTER, 2016), introduced as an insurance actuarial. And yes, there’s more to his story.

If you’ve ever seen “Ice Road Truckers” on the History Channel, you have some idea what’s about to occur. Thrills, chills, and unforeseen obstacles come at a rapid-fire pace … as if driving 75,000 pounds on 30 inches of slowly melting ice-covered rivers wasn’t enough. This is a wild movie, so expect even more. The bobbleheads on the dash aren’t just good luck charms, and everyone isn’t who they seem. Big companies who cut corners and those who don’t treat vets properly are the targets here, but it’s to be enjoyed as a frigid and perilous rescue mission – and one more chance for Liam Neeson to prove he’s a man’s man.

Available on Netflix beginning June 25, 2021

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LANSKY (2021)

June 24, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. If asked, the vast majority of movie lovers would name THE GODFATHER (1972), THE GODFATHER II (1974), and GOODFELLAS (1990) as the quintessential mafia movies. Sure, there are dozens of others, but that mob triumvirate has ruled the roost for many years. It’s doubtful writer-director Eytan Rockaway ever gave one moment of thought that his second feature, written from a story by his father, author Robert Rockaway, might join the ranks of those top three, but that doesn’t prevent it from being a quite interesting tale based on true events.

Sam Worthington (AVATAR, 2009) stars as David Stone, a writer who had some success a few years back with his Kennedy biography. Since then, he’s struggled in both his personal and professional life. In 1981 when an elderly Meyer Lansky (Harvey Keitel) contacts him to write the true Lansky story, David jumps at the opportunity, seeing it as a solution to his many problems. The two men meet at a Miami diner that Lansky frequents. These diner meetings form the structure of the story, and director Rockaway uses flashbacks to the 1940’s to “show” us what Lansky is telling his biographer from the booth.

John Magaro plays the younger Lansky, a man who is remarkably good with numbers and calm, yet forceful, in his demeanor. Lansky has partnered with Ben “Bugsy” Siegel (David Cade), who provides some muscle and flamboyance that Lansky lacks. We see the development of their business, and how Lansky’s shrewd business acumen leads to a connection with Lucky Luciano, as well as providing the government with intelligence during the war. Lansky’s story to David glosses over the bootlegging and other revenue streams to concentrate on gaming, which of course, is now legal in many states.

The supporting cast includes Minka Kelly as David’s fling at the motel, AnnaSophia Robb as Lansky’s wife Anne, Shane McRae as Lucky Luciano, and David James Elliott as the FBI Agent obsessed with solving the long-dead Lansky case and locating the $350 million supposedly hidden away. As you might expect, the story bounces from Miami to New York City to Cuba (a stunning Colonial Hotel in Havana) to Vegas to Geneva and even Israel, where Lansky attempted, unsuccessfully, to live out his life.

Lansky’s biggest impact was facilitating the connection between the Italian, Irish, and Jewish mafia at a time when so such bond existed. We twice hear him answer, “I have no knowledge on the subject”, when questioned about organized crime. On his death in 1983, Lansky had no convictions – all charges had been dropped. A doctor’s diagnosis of terminal lung cancer led him to reach out to an author so that his story could be told. We don’t learn much about “Murder, Inc.” but we do understand Lansky’s commitment to “control the game”. Rockaway has delivered an intriguing profile of an enigma from inside the mafia … and screen vet Keitel makes it all believable.

In Select Theaters & On Demand June 25, 2021

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MARY J BLIGE’S MY LIFE (2021, doc)

June 24, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. The project began as a way to document the 25th anniversary of Mary J Blige’s enormously influential album “My Way” and her celebratory live performance to mark the milestone of the album. Vanessa Roth won an Oscar for Best Documentary Short Subject FREEHELD (2007), and as director of this film, she turned it into a profile of the woman behind the music, resulting in surprisingly effective life lessons for those in need.

As if to caution viewers that this is more than a concert film, we are five minutes in before director Roth allows us to hear Mary sing. We learn of her childhood in poverty living in the Yonkers projects, and how singing was her escape – a way to feel free. It was Sean “Diddy” Combs who discovered her for Uptown Records. Of course, Combs is now a hugely successful producer, musician, and entrepreneur, and he’s forthcoming in his recollections of those early years. “My Life” was Mary’s second album, and she’s credited with blending hip-hop and R&B and bringing a new music style to the masses. How successful has she been? Try 31 Grammy nominations (9 wins) and Two Oscar nominations (including one for acting).

Actress Taraji P Henson and multi-Grammy winning musician Alicia Keys both provide perspective on Mary’s influence, not just in the music world, but also in helping women believe in themselves. Mary J Blige has had emotional struggles, survived an abusive relationship, and overcome addictions to drugs and alcohol. Sharing her story and how she has persisted through the years turns this into a story of feelings, truth, and heart. The music is impressive and provides the platform, however, it’s the woman who shines through here.

Available exclusively on Amazon Prime Video on June 25, 2021

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CHASING CHILDHOOD (2021, doc)

June 23, 2021

Greetings again from the darkness. Yours truly is of the age where childhood presented an abundance of freedom to play unsupervised outside, parenting years were filled with coaching and volunteering for the various structured kid activities, and grandparenting is comprised of waxing nostalgic for a simpler time when kids could be kids and parents weren’t so focused on their kids’ achievements and pursuit of perfection. Co-directors Margaret Munzer Loeb and Eden Wurmfeld dig into the evolution of parenting and the banishment of “free play”.

The topic is broached across diverse socio-economic classes in Wilton, Connecticut (a cluster of one-percenters), Patchogue, New York (a blue-collar, working class area), and Manhattan with its cross-section of race and class. The co-directors lean heavily on author and psychology researcher Peter Gray, who wrote “Free to Learn” and is considered an expert on “play”, and Lenore Skenazy, the founder of the “Let Grow” organization. Ms. Skenazy received worldwide attention when she allowed her 9-year old son to ride the New York subway alone. For that, she was labeled “America’s Worst Mom.”

Of course much of the societal shift can be associated with the concerns parents have of putting their kids in harm’s way. “Stranger Danger” and the faces of missing kids on milk cartons, as well as the tragic story of Adam Walsh in 1981 should all be factored in to the foundation of what we now call “helicopter parenting.” Instead of parents directing their kids to be home by dark, as the screen door slams behind them, the days and evenings and weekends of kids are structured and entered into the family calendar.

We hear directly from kids as they go through their daily commitments: sports, band, dance, tutoring, etc. Hanging out with friends is never mentioned. The film does a terrific job of detailing the consequences of this contemporary form of parenting. High stress and frazzled nerves for both kids and parents are commonplace. Free-play offers many opportunities for learning – especially the life skills that allow kids to grow into independent thinking adults, and hopefully, happy people. The film should resonate with parents, kids, and teachers, and this quote from the film will stick with many viewers (at least me): “All the worry in the world doesn’t prevent death. It prevents life.”

Abramorama will release the film via a virtual live world premiere event screening on June 24th followed by a nationwide Watch Now @ Home Cinema Release on June 25th

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