Elevate Difference


Black Swan

The hype had me prepared for Black Swan to be a disturbing and gory movie. But the truth of it is this: even if you’re squeamish, like me, there’s nothing in the film you can’t look at… out of context.

If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk: Fifteen Years Of Plan-It X Records

If It Ain’t Cheap, It Ain’t Punk is a sweet, well put together documentary film that captures the spirit and feel of the do-it-yourself, underground punk scene that has grown up around Plan-it X Records in Bloomington, Indiana. The film began as part of a filmmaking workshop at Plan-it X’s weeklong festival in Bloomington in 2006.

Sin by Silence

There are not many US citizens who do not recognize a pink ribbon as the rallying fight against breast cancer. Even more so for the red ribbon, as it raises the voices of the AIDS epidemic. However, most faces would not correctly identify the cause of the purple ribbon: domestic violence.

Monica & David

One of the many things people take for granted—Americans especially—is free will. Basic human rights. When you are able-bodied, physically able to take care of yourself, the ways to access free will seem limitless—there are plenty of things you are able to participate in, such as having a job, living on your own, and preparing your own meals. In Monica & David, novice filmmaker Alexandra Codina documents the wedding and first year of marriage between Monica and David, two adults living with Down’s syndrome.

William S. Burroughs: A Man Within

Growing up, I latched on to the writers of the Beat Generation for dear life. I loved them all, from the poets and women writers who lived in their shadows, to the heavy hitters like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and of course, William S. Burroughs. Truth be told, Burroughs was always the least accessible to me growing up. Whereas I identified with Ginsberg’s spirituality and Kerouac’s bruised sensitivity, Burroughs just seemed downright bizarre.


Coexist is a documentary that seeks to provide insight into the reconciliation process in Rwanda after the 1994 genocide. The sheer scale and complex nature of the conflict provides a unique glimpse into how individuals and their communities recover from horrific experiences and the documentary questions whether reconciliation is even possible under such traumatic conditions. Recently, Rwanda was recognized for its stable political environment and for achieving one of the highest economic growth rates in the world.

I Am From Titov Veles (Jas Sum Od Titov Veles)

The film begins with a visual icon of the industrial world: the factory’s spires rising like a cathedral, emitting billows of smoke into the sky. Then, a woman’s legs, wrapped like a present in ribboned slippers and a skirt of delicate fabric. She is walking quickly along a wall; she is hurrying. Behind her, out of focus, a man rides on a machine in the factory yard. It becomes obvious that she is surrounded by a workers’ strike, and she sits down and suddenly notices a tiny bug on her hand. She is delighted, in awe.

Raging Grannies: The Action League

If you’ve been to a demonstration during the last two decades you’ve likely seen them: Bold, sassy, elders calling themselves The Raging Grannies. Mixing street theatre with costuming, their zany hats, political buttons, and boisterous, if often off-key, singing sets them apart from other protesters. They’re fun—and they defy stereotypes about what old women can and should be doing.


Alejandro González Iñárritu’s latest film, Biutiful, survives on the quality of its performances but suffers under the morose weight of Iñárritu’s bleak worldview. It is not a surprise that Biutiful is obsessed with the darker side of life—after all, this is from the same director that created Babel and 21 Grams.

Dear Pyongyang

Yonghi Yang and her parents are Zainichi, meaning a Korean who lives in Japan. During the division of Korea in 1948 and the war that followed, the Zainichi took sides just as those who dwelled on the peninsula did. Yang’s parents had never been to North Korea, but were so enamoured of communism and the country that in 1971 Yang's father sent his three teenage sons to live in Pyongyang, the capital, as part of the Zainichi “Return Project.” This emigration occurred between the 1950s and 1970s when “Returnees” hoped for a better life in the “fatherland.” This better life never materialized, yet Returnees were forbidden to go back to Japan.

Made in Dagenham

I am not much for plays. I generally prefer to sit bundled in my comforter, wine in hand, and watch a movie. However, I was recently convinced by a friend to join her for Mrs. Warren’s Profession, the main attraction of which was Sally Hawkins. I know Sally Hawkins only from Happy-Go-Lucky where her cheerfulness, tireless as the Sony synopsis describes, was also guileless and irritating.


Director Vinay Shukla returns to the big screen after five years with his latest film Mirch. Starring Arunoday Singh, Konkona Sen Sharma, Raima Sen, Shahana Goswami, Sushant Singh, and a whole host of supporting actors, this film is witty, cleverly told, and has delightful performances. It addresses the issue of women’s emancipation from restrictive roles in traditional storytelling, and ends up walking a very thin line between making a profound statement about empowerment and being potentially offensive for painting empowered women as cunning.

Fair Game

In a moment of frustration toward the beginning of Doug Liman’s Fair Game, Valerie Plame points out the flaws in an overzealous CIA analyst’s interpretation of data. “Somebody had to ask the question,” says a collected Plame as she reveals evidence that shatters to pieces one of the popular arguments for invading Iraq. This moment of clarity is a microcosm for the film’s overall message and for the whole country’s frustration at an administration that lead a nation astray by providing answers before taking time to ask the questions. Americans were mislead, lied to, and ruled by fear during the years under the Bush administration and no clearer evidence may exist than the mistreatment of CIA-agent Valerie Plame.

Love and Other Drugs

Love and Other Drugs is Edward Zwick’s latest film and is something of a peculiarity for him. He is known mostly for such films as Glory and Courage Under Fire. His most recent film, Defiance, was also a war epic. Hence, turning this direction caused many raised eyebrows. That said, he is not totally knew to the genre, he started here actually.

The Walking Dead

Like any good geek, I love me some zombies. So, of course I tuned into AMC’s new zombie show, The Walking Dead. And I found myself disappointed. The show starts with our hero, Rick, and his misogynistic partner, Shane, talking about how women and men are different. This conversations seems to function solely to tell us that Shane is a bit of a prick, Rick is a genuinely good guy (which I didn’t really buy), and Lori, Rick’s wife, is a bitch. Basically, it took about ten minutes for me to realize I was probably going to blog about this show, and not in a good way.

Aarekti Premer Galpo (Just Another Love Story)

Rituparno Ghosh completely reinvents himself from director to actor and delivers a gripping performance in this very lyrical film by Kaushik Ganguly. Just Another Love Story (original Bengali title: Aarekti Premer Galpo) is about a filmmaker Abhiroop Sen (played by Ghosh) who makes a documentary about Chapal Bhaduri, the legendary jatra (Bengali folk theatre) actor who spent his entire career playing female roles on stage, primarily as Goddess Shitala.

Four Lions

Four Lions, produced and directed by Chris Morris, satirizes terrorists and the response to terrorism in modern Britain. Every character is flawed and every person is spoofed. No one is spared; police, politicians, local working stiffs, neighborhood religious fanatics, and the floozie next door are lampooned with great one-liners and riotous insults. This may sound insensitive, but the humor does not obscure hard issues. Rather, it makes them approachable: you’ll likely want to talk about this funny and unexpectedly sad film after seeing it.

Voices of Witness Africa

Voices of Witness Africa honors the truth and plight of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) Anglicans in Africa, who have often been excommunicated by the Anglican Church. This is an admirable task for the producers of this film, since their target audience is Anglican bishops at the Lambeth Conference, a meeting of bishops which happens once every ten years. The producers must work not to overly offend the church bishops that they are trying to win over. However, this tension to represent various sides of the issue leaves the film with a sense of having been diluted to be palpable.

Take It From Me

Take It From Me makes an emotional statement even more than a political one. This documentary film chronicles the time period after the passing of the 1996 Personal Responsibility Act, which placed a five-year limit on public assistance. Emily Abt, the producer and director, is a former social caseworker in New York City. She offers us the daily lives of four women who are struggling against great odds to raise themselves and their children up out of poverty.

Mädchen in Uniform (Girls in Uniform)

Manuela von Meinhardis despondently lays flowers on the grave of her mother. It is Prussia in 1910, and as an orphaned teenager, she isn’t left with many options. Manuela’s aunt takes her to a convent, which is described as a citadel by the Headmistress, Sister Superior. “Poverty is an honor,” she barks at Manuela upon the girl’s arrival.

Partir (Leaving)

David McKenzie’s Asylum is a flawed but breathtakingly compelling portrait of violent sexual obsession, deception, and mental illness. Unremittingly dark, this film also presents us with a woman who rails against the constraints placed on women in 1950s middle class Britain. Stella (Natasha Richardson) is a bored housewife who makes her home on the grounds of a mental hospital outside London.

Tea & Justice

If your political leanings are more in line with musical acts like NWA or MDC, then Ermena Vinluan’s fifty-five-minute exploration of race and gender issues in the context of the New York Police Department may seem...


Award-winning filmmakers Jessica Hope Woodworth and Peter Brosens come together again to make the visually stunning Altiplano. Shot primarily in the mountains of Peru, Altiplano tells the story of two women: Grace, an ex-war photographer from Belgium, and Saturnina, a woman about to be married in the village of Turubamba, high in the Andes. The main narrative strain in the film is the story of Saturnina’s village as it interacts with the Belgian miners, who are mining for gold in the Andes, and the Belgian doctors who run a cataract clinic. Tensions around the gringos increases as the people of Turumbamba begin to suffer from mercury poisoning, which Saturnina connects to the miners.


Phillippe Lioret’s award-winning film, Welcome, zooms in on the anti-Muslim attitudes now gripping much of the Western world. The result is compelling, poignant, and profoundly tragic. At the center of the story is Bilal (Firat Ayverdi), a seventeen-year-old Iraqi Kurd who has somehow traveled to Calais, a small city on the northern coast of France.

The Photograph

The Photograph begins with an old man slowly examining old photographs with his hands. The viewer feels almost intrusive watching the gnarled fingers pass over the pictures he knows so well that he need only touch their frames to bring the images to mind. The slow, tender motions of the old man are a direct contrast to the brash, young protagonist, Sita, who is introduced in the next scene.

The Social Network

Every day, my partner gets up and goes to work with two other guys who live next door to us. Along with a handful of monied investors, some super dedicated programmers who regularly work nights and weekends, and a few risk enthusiast entrepreneur types who jet around Europe seeking out investment deals, the group makes software they believe will change the way people work. No one’s making a lot of money (yet)—but someday we expect they will.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story

It’s not very often that people take the time to explore the mind of a teenager and it’s even less frequent that this exploration takes place on the Silver Screen. In the current cultural climate, teenagers are nearly an endangered species; 1.6 million are homeless, and those fortunate enough to have a roof over their heads face daily struggles with bullying, body image, sexual predators, and the intense stress of a failing educational system. Even, or maybe especially, those of privilege, who come from stable homes and elite educational institutions are crippled by an overwhelming expectation to succeed.

Le Refuge (The Refuge)

A film like Francois Ozon’s Le Refuge could only be French. It is beautifully shot, populated with complicated and not and entirely likable characters, and deals with taboo subject matters in a nuanced fashion. The film centers on Mousse (Isabelle Carré), a sharp-tongued young woman who struggles with heroin addiction. When her lover Louis (Melville Poupaud) dies from and overdose and she finds out she’s pregnant, she decides to keep the baby against the wishes of Louis’ aristocratic mother and escapes Paris for a beach-getaway in rural France.

We Have To Stop Now

We Have To Stop Now is freakin’ hilarious, excruciating, and perfect. You have to watch it. Convention dictates that I now tell you why. It all started in 1994 when I watched the Out There Comedy Special on Comedy Central while I was in college. Suzanne Westenhoefer had a ten minute stand up set on that one-off queer comedy show, and I was hooked. So when I saw her name on this blog’s list of review items, followed by the words “lesbian” and “comedy tv series,” I requested that I be the one to review it.

The Pillars of the Earth

The Pillars of the Earth is the best kind of paint-by-numbers historical fiction: while it exhausts almost every cliché of its period and genre, it is nonetheless entertaining, perfect for lovers of history, action, romance and drama. Set during the twelfth century period in England known as “the Anarchy,” The Pillars of the Earth comes complete with lustful monks, displaced monarchs, incest, power-mongering, jealousy, greed, rape and treachery.