After Innocence begins with a shout-out to God. “Hallelujah!” crows one man, arms upraised. “Praise God!” The man has literally been saved, after all, though by DNA and not strictly the divine, one of the growing number of men exonerated by genetic evidence.
Jessica Sanders' deliberately paced and often disturbing documentary doesn't dwell long on the exuberance of the newly freed. As its title attests, the film primarily focuses on the aftermath of exoneration, the often bewildering and belittling slog that faces the men after their supposed redemption.
Everything is broken in Paradise Now -- the crumbling buildings, the battered cars. Hany Abu-Assad's darkly compelling feature is set in the West Bank town of Nablus, and the city's decay fills every corner of the frame, every aspect of the lives of two would-be suicide bombers, Khaled (Ali Suliman) and Said (Kais Nashef).
In his advance publicity work for Commander in Chief, series creator Rod Lurie told the press that the show -- ABC's new drama about the first female president -- was distinctly “anti-partisan.” Oh please, Rod; it's a lefty wish come true. The audience at the Washington screening put on by the nonprofit women's group The White House Project churned with excitement, punctuating key moments of the drama with choruses of “mm-hmm” and “you tell him, girl.” In the revival-tent atmosphere of the screening room, we were gripped with the fevered righteousness of a cause: a woman president, one who reflects our political visions and goals, and, even more jaw-dropping, an über-frau who juggles work -- and what work! -- and family … and still manages to look like a Hollywood star.
North Country is a nasty bait and switch, a film with feminist aspirations that suddenly goes all Lifetime lunatic. You feel safe at first. At the Washington, D.C., screening, people from Ms. Magazine and a domestic-violence-prevention organization are on hand to cheer the film and hand out promotional junk. You sigh with anticipation, ready to watch an A-list cast get inspirationally grungy with the based-on-a-true story depiction of the nation's first class-action sexual-harassment suit. Charlize Theron has gone and rolled around in the dust to give herself more of that Monster ugly-cred, Frances McDormand busts out her Minner-soda accent: You go, girls! Inspire my popcorn-munching ass!
Early on in Ellen Perry's jaw-dropper of a documentary, Fall of Fujimori, the controversial former leader of Peru is seen applying his makeup, dabbing on foundation with a sponge and peering into a mirror. It's a disarming and curious moment, made all the more incongruous by the information that has preceded it: Alberto Fujimori is living in exile in Japan, wanted on charges of corruption, kidnapping, and murder in Peru.