Articles by Alan Gerstle

The Critical Movie Critics

Alan Gerstle is a fiction writer and essayist who also teaches film and creative writing. He lives on the East Coast of the United States.


Movie Review: Robin’s Wish (2020)

The film Robin’s Wish is a 77-minute documentary about Robin Williams, who died tragically by suicide in 2014 at the age of 63 as a result of the brutal disease called Lewy Body Dementia. The catalyst for producing the film was Susan Schneider Williams, Robin’s widow, who wished to explain the anguish Robin experienced and…

Movie Review: Rebuilding Paradise (2020)

Certain films are remembered by their opening sequences. Three “classics” that come to mind are “Saving Private Ryan,” “The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly,” and of course “Citizen Kane.” Rebuilding Paradise, the 95-minute documentary produced and directed by Ron Howard (distributed by National Geographic Films) that chronicles the destruction of Paradise, a town in…

Movie Review: Mr. Jones (2019)

“. . . something is happening here but you don’t know what it is? Do you, Mr. Jones?” — Bob Dylan Mr. Jones, directed by Agnieszka Holland (“Julie Walking Home”) from a screenplay (Holland’s first) is based on the real life story of Gareth Jones (flawlessly played by James Norton, “Little Women”), a young Welsh…

Movie Review: No Small Matter (2020)

No Small Matter, a 74-minute documentary about early childhood development, is narrated by the actress Alfre Woodard (“Mississippi Grind”), who also served as executive producer. The “elevator pitch” for this documentary could be, “The dearth of quality child care services is alarming and we need to do something about it.” The doc presents dire statistics,…

Movie Review: The Mindfulness Movement (2020)

If you’ve kept up with any of the reports on methods of achieving inner peace, tranquility, reducing anxiety, relieving trauma, or modifying destructive behavior, it’s likely you’ve heard somewhere of the mindfulness method. Jon Kabat-Zinn was the first researcher to make the concept of mindfulness popular in the United States after penning several books based…

Movie Review: Waiting for Anya (2020)

Waiting for Anya, directed by Ben Cookson, who co-wrote the screenplay with Toby Torlesse, is a film that falls within a popular World War II sub-genre that focuses on a local conflict between German occupiers and French non-combatants, typically set away from the civilian centers that suffered crushing horror, destruction, and death. Based on a…

Movie Review: Ximei (2019)

“Even though I am poor and I have AIDS, I am happy. Each day brings hope.” — Liu Ximei Ximei, a documentary filmed in China over a seven-year period by Andy Cohen and Gaylen Ross, follows the HIV-positive titular protagonist and plain-spoken community leader named Ximei, a local “peasant” woman in her thirties. Ximei is…

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