Nora Lee Mandel

Nora Lee Mandel
Tomatometer-approved critic

Movie Reviews Only

T-Meter Title | Year
8/10 100% Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It (2021) Refreshingly frank about her bio and 70+ year career, as a Puerto Rican and a woman in Hollywood...explicit on her #MeToo experiences. Her energy and optimism are wonderful. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 12, 2021
9/10 96% In the Heights (2021) Miranda is creator/musician behind this wonderful film. But writer Quiara Alegría Hudes and cinematographer Alice Brooks are essential to its spectacular cinematic success. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jun 11, 2021
7/10 100% Knots: A Forced Marriage Story (2021) Puts Ultra-Orthodox women within the pressured context of all girls/women in the U.S. facing no choices, with no social or legal recourse within their communities/families. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 31, 2021
5/10 74% Cruella (2021) Villain origin story is Mean Girl vs. Mean Girl, and nastiness is not only encouraged and played for laughs, but rewarded. Please take PG-13 seriously. Stars are designers. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 27, 2021
7/10 70% My Wonderful Wanda (Wanda, Mein Wunder) (2021) The economic criticism is leavened by satire and humor, such that everybody gets ribbed at some time. Marvelous ensemble agilely switches from dramatic to comic reaction. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 26, 2021
10/10 97% There Is No Evil (Sheytan vojud nadarad) (2020) Powerfully deals with banality of complicity, by conscription, in violent authoritarian society through 4 thematically linked stories, with superb actors in striking scenes. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 25, 2021
8/10 94% About Endlessness (Om det Oändliga) (2020) Slow-paced, ironic world in beautiful palettes of pastels, framed by an omniscient female narrator, explores personal impact of societal complicity, including of religion. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 25, 2021
9/10 No Score Yet Cane Fire (2020) Compelling debut film dissects the non-tourist side of Hawai'i, from the perspective of generations of local Filipino family, with interviews and many ironic movie clips. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 22, 2021
9/10 92% Final Account (2021) Holland's fascinating documentary is unique - interviews with 2 dozen ex-SS and witnesses who worked with them, opening up as never before, but not all seeing complicity. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 18, 2021
6/10 79% Shepherd: The Story of a Jewish Dog (2021) Adaptation of clever allegory for when people are treated like animals. The film is thrilling when we follow the faithful dog's journey, even more than the precocious boy. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 18, 2021
8/10 74% When Hitler Stole Pink Rabbit (Als Hitler das rosa Kaninchen stahl) (2019) Faithfully brings the autobiographical novel to the screen for younger generations. A poignant way to bring the emotional difficulty of becoming an exile to a child's level. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted May 18, 2021
7/10 92% Limbo (2021) Touching and atmospheric portrait of young Syrian musician in stasis, frozen in a bleak, windy landscape from playing his family's oud as he awaits an asylum decision. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2021
8/10 41% Berlin Alexanderplatz (2021) Exhausting and exhilarating, these desperate characters re-birthed from the Weimar Republic novel and Europe's colonies won't stop dreaming, and can't be forgotten. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 29, 2021
7/10 No Score Yet Waikiki (2020) Effectively uses noir mode to contrast a Hawaiian woman's struggles in her life now, in grungy Honolulu, with the spirituality and connection to nature in her family's past. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 19, 2021
7/10 100% Slalom (2021) Intense but narrow portrait of how a man's power over a young protégé can descend from physical and psychological control to sexual abuse...with subdued audience catharsis. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 12, 2021
8/10 47% The Good Traitor (2020) Impressively shows us what we did not know about Denmark's man in America during WW2 into a thrilling story, who we now will never forget, and why he is still significant. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 5, 2021
6/10 71% Still Life in Lodz (2021) Moving and informative despite frustrations...Poignant aural and visual context...amidst confusing editing, chronology of discoveries, and repetition...to trace an obsession. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Apr 2, 2021
8/10 No Score Yet Who's Afraid of Alice Miller? (2020) Family history as deeply hidden trauma from the Holocaust inflicted on 2nd generation of therapists seeking truths that sure shakes you up. Revelations and surmises build up. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
7/10 80% Love & Stuff (2020) Helfand's emotionally intimate documentary of motherhood over 25 years of her living, dying, and dead mother, with her related ABSOLUTELY NO SPITTING short around adoption. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
8/10 No Score Yet Winter Journey (2019) Goldsmith re-voices his memoir, interrogating Bruno Ganz completely embodying his father among imaginative use of archival images of temporary refuge in Jüdischer Kulturbund. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
6/10 No Score Yet Adventures of a Mathematician (2020) Polish filmed bio-pic of Stan Ulam before, during and after Los Alamos in hot house of (mostly) Eastern European Jews fighting Nazis then Communists with math and science. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
9/10 No Score Yet The Red Orchestra (2021) Fascinating, complex documentary on anti-Nazi resistance spy cells, including Jewish women, primarily Communists, who should be more known and how Cold War kept them unknown. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
8/10 No Score Yet Kindertransports to Sweden (2019) Director drew on her Kurdish heritage for empathetic interviews. Had anyone asked these 4 now elderly "kinder" about each part of their lives - "How did that make you feel?" - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 19, 2021
7/10 No Score Yet Irmi (2020) A model for how almost any woman's life that intersects with history can be made into a memoir film, as long as one has resources for archival footage, photos and home movies - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
8/10 No Score Yet The Light Ahead (1939) Restoration by Nat'l Ctr Jewish Film -1 of Ulmer's 4 "shtetl" films, non-nostalgic, strong women characters and preference for science and big city freedoms over Orthodoxy. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
9/10 No Score Yet The Sign Painter (Pilsata pi upis) (2020) Fresh, previously forbidden look at Latvians' involvement in WW2 and Holocaust through the metaphorical activities of a less and less naive Latgalian artist in a small town. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
6/10 92% Asia (2021) Debut writer/director maturely sets up a very original mother and teen daughter relationship, as Russian immigrants in Israel dependent on each other, and friends. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
7/10 100% Tahara (2020) Most appealing was how perfectly the dialogue, pacing, and fantasy animations inclusively capture post bar/bat mitzvah adolescents, including manipulative Mean Girls. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
9/10 No Score Yet The Crossing (Flukten Over Grensen) (2020) Lovely and thrilling children-centered, viewer-appropriate, story of Jewish siblings fleeing Nazis, with scary "Hansel and Gretel" scene, but "Pippi Longstocking"-ish heroine - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
9/10 No Score Yet Here We Are (Hine Anachnu) (2020) Unusual and intensely compassionate father/son experience, that defies the stereotypical dynamics of most non/fiction portrayals of a family coping with an autistic child. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 15, 2021
79% Breastmilk (2014) An important lesson for parents, parents-to-be, and health providers... - Film Festival Traveler EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2021
71% Brave Miss World (2013) Watch this moving documentary with someone who has been in any way affected by a too-common crime that needs this courageous exposure... - Film Festival Traveler EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 8, 2021
8/10 No Score Yet Abe (2017) Warmly emotional family movie is international production...Set in diverse Brooklyn...tensions between the parents are very realistically presented and not smoothly solved . - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Mar 10, 2020
7/10 No Score Yet Red Fields (Mami) (2019) Surreal musical based on rock opera popular among rebellious Sephardim 30 years ago. 1st half is Job-like parable. Act 2 satire of Israeli politics feels surprisingly fresh. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 28, 2020
8/10 No Score Yet Thirst for Justice (2019) Follows women in U.S., on native lands, Flint,MI...with direct experience of health impacts of government lies about safety of their family's drinking water, onto protests. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Feb 7, 2020
6/10 No Score Yet To cut through their repetitive, heavily jargoned, local rhetorical flourishes...follows a new Oakland girls troop with a curriculum to combine diversity with social action. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 No Score Yet True Justice: Bryan Stevenson's Fight for Equality (2019) Come across as almost impossibly noble...but this is suitable for educational use...as he updates historical perspective... and expands his fight against racism in justice. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 100% Slay the Dragon (2020) Angry enough to figure out gerrymandering...then learning on-the-job how to organize a state ballot race is a roller coaster of excitement and confusing legal challenges. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
8/10 73% Harriet (2019) Takes populist educational approach to Tubman's own agency to comfortably be shown in schools and general public Black History Month commemorations. Erivo is charismatic. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 100% Changing the Game (2019) Intimately profiles tumultuous year in lives of 3 teen athletes...Parents of competitors are vicious vs. these emotionally fragile kids. Lofty rhetoric won't convince them. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 No Score Yet American Muslim (2019) Interviewing five charismatic Muslims in Brooklyn and Queens, NY and following them cinema verité style...to raise awareness...and help make interfaith outreach possible. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
9/10 85% Always in Season (2019) Extraordinary integration of contextualizing the contemporary violence against African-American men within a long American tradition. Vividly brings past and present to life. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 80% The All-Americans (2019) Not a sports documentary...seeing what it takes for these Latino boys to get on the East L.A. football field is much more involving than the limited playing time on screen. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
6/10 68% Monster (2019) For student from stable, middle class Harlem family...this is extreme application of unjustified perception of black males by law enforcement...leading to mass incarceration. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 31, 2020
7/10 95% Citizen K (2019) Gibney does a very good job of driving a complex story that lays bare just how much Putin sneers at democracy. ..traced through the singular career of Mikhail Khodorkovsky. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 12, 2020
7/10 89% Earth (Erde) (2019) Geyrhalter brings fresh eye to 7 big digs and conversational knack to diverse workers. Big machines are cool to watch until you are forced to think about the damage they do. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 9, 2020
8/10 93% Invisible Life (A vida invisível de Eurídice Gusmão) (2019) Colorfully emotive portrait of 2 sisters resentfully trapped by the conservative and limited expectations for women in 1950's Rio. Gorgeously heartrending cinematic tribute. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 8, 2020
8/10 90% Leaving Home, Coming Home: A Portrait of Robert Frank (2019) In 2004, Fox interviewed Frank while they visited the past and present, through locales and then 80-year-old's extensive personal archives...Brings his art to new eyes. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 1, 2020
8/10 93% Private Life (2018) A wry, very humanistic drama that's full of the laughter of life, embodied by a wonderful ensemble who intersect across different stages of New York life in unexpected ways. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Jan 1, 2020
7/10 92% Ask Dr. Ruth (2019) Will answer most of your questions about former Karola Ruth Siegel...through a spirited tour of much of what she has experienced and done during her long and remarkable life. - Maven's Nest EDIT
Read More | Posted Dec 31, 2019