Darleen Ortega has been a judge on the Oregon Court of Appeals since 2003 and is the first woman of color to serve in that capacity. She sees two to three films a week and has been writing about movies for well over a decade, including blogging two film festivals and publishing a list of the year's best films. You can find her movie blog at www.opinionatedjudge.blogspot.com.
Legendary trumpeter shows the way in ‘Keep on Keepin’ On’
The heralded film “Whiplash” depicts—realistically, I expect—a world of hungry aspiring jazz musicians who are easy prey for a brutal, sadistic conductor who deliberately pits them against each other, feeds and then assaults their fragile egos, and continually moves success just beyond their reach.
Surrender to a mood of appreciation
Something about the idea of a class of immortal beings, lurking in the shadows and choosing victims among the living because they must, persists in our collective imagination, fascinating terrain for exploring our own shadow regions.
Human spirit refuses to be crushed in ‘Timbuktu’
Gorgeous, poetic, pointed, and profound, this story of a small African community's experience of jihad manages to tell a political story without polemics, to portray with depth and insight how its victims actually experience religious extremism, and, at the same time, to unforgettably illustrate how the human spirit resists attempts to crush it.
My top 10 films of 2014
Judge Darleen Ortega eschews the whitest Oscar's in recent history and chooses her own top 10 of year.
My best to worst favorites at PIFF
Judge Darleen Ortega goes through what's hot and what's not at the 38th Portland International Film Festival.
International Film Festival an opening to the world
Every February, I travel the world--and so can you, or virtually so, because the Portland International Film Festival offers the most culturally diverse film event of the year, beginning this week.
‘Selma’ wisely depicts struggle for civil rights
What a treat, then, to watch “Selma”—and by a treat, I mean that I was riveted and inspired, and that I wept through most of it. For once, I found an insightful depiction of what working for social justice looks like. And what it looks like is broken bodies, fear, treachery, risk, mistakes, choices between terrible options, and unthinkable sacrifice. And it involves many heroes, not just one.
Third world drama ‘Metro Manila’ one of the best films of 2014
I saw "Metro Manila" back in February at the Portland International Film Festival and was so blown away by it that I hoped, against hope, that this taut and carefully constructed tale of a Filipino family trying to survive the harsh realities of life in Manila might actually get a U.S. theatrical release, though the commercial prospects for a tale in Tagalog seemed doubtful. My hopes failed to materialize, but the film is now available on Netflix and iTunes and Amazon, and I'm determined that everyone should see it. It's one of the best films I saw in 2014.
Film short on believability and promotes stereotypes
Is this a movie or an endurance test?
“Dear White People’ takes on privilege, identity and race
When was the last time you saw a film that challenged your assumptions about identity? Or one that depicted anything like the variety and complexity of identity struggles and micro-aggressions experienced by people outside the dominant culture(s)? Or one that managed both to make you feel understood and to make you squirm?