Barb Bretz

Film & Book Reviewer

Friday Film Reviewer & Monthly Book Reviewer

For 20 years, Author Heather Mcghee searched for causes and solutions to economic inequality in America. Why in a country of such wealth could everyone not have the “nice things” other industrialized countries provided their people; universal health care, free or more affordable education and reliable modern infrastructure?


She discovered the financial crisis, rising student debt and even collapsing public infrastructure grow from the common root of racism.




Aretha Franklin's 1999 autobiography From These Roots drew criticism from reviewers who felt the traumatic experiences, especially of her early childhood, were glossed over. This biopic may be a target for the same reason. It might please audiences to a higher degree than it will the critics. It’s a worthy tribute and takes a deeper look into experiences that shaped Franklin, yet mysteries do remain.



  Stillwater had its covid-delayed premiere at Cannes this July where it received a five-minute standing ovation. Here’s Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review.

Directed and co-written by Tom McCarthy, who also co-wrote and directed the academy award-winning Best Picture Spotlight, I’d raised the bar for this film. It took 2 hours for a twist in the plot to hook me, but I was still less satisfied than I’d hoped to be, by the time the credits rolled.



  Flee” is an animated documentary which won the Grand Jury Prize in the World Documentary category at the virtual 2021 Sundance Film Festival. Here’s Barb Bretz with this week's Friday Film Review.






Together Together premiered at virtual Sundance 2021 in the U.S. Dramatic category.  It will be screened by Park City Film this weekend; May 28-30. Here’s Barb Bretz with your Friday film review.


This very different take on friendship, fatherhood, and the making of a family was one of my favorites from Sundance this year.



  The documentary, “Street Gang; How We Got To Sesame Street” premiered at Virtual Sundance 2021 and is being released in theatres April 23. Here’s Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review.


Directed by Marilyn Agrelo (“Mad Hot Ballroom”) and inspired by Michael Davis’ New York Times bestseller, this documentary chronicles the birth and evolution of the beloved children’s program Sesame Street.



So many stories making up the history in our country have remained untold or mistold for decades. Much can be learned from "Judas and the Black Messiah", Academy Award nominee for Best Picture. Here’s Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review.


Writer/director Shaka King, introduced "Judas and the Black Messiah", to Sundance audiences warning the tragic story would be difficult to watch. He hoped it would bring viewers inspiration and worthwhile information. He was correct on all counts.



  The #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Turn of the Key and In a Dark Dark Wood returns with another suspenseful thriller set on a snow-covered mountain. 

Ruth Ware, an alias for Ruth Warburton, is a British, psychological-crime, thriller author and no stranger to the New York Times bestseller list. Her latest book, One By One, could be the perfect read when you leave the slopes surrounding us here in Park City and curl up by the fire.


Sundance Film Festival


  Human Factors, written and directed by Ronny Trocker, screened as part of the World Cinema Dramatic Competition. Here's Barb Bretz with her take.

The film, is very ‘European’ in style and setting. Language is German and French with English subtitles.

Sundance Film Festival

  One For the Road was chosen as an opening night film at this year’s festival. Barb Bretz has this review.

The co-writer and director Baz Poonpiriya, is an up-and-coming Thai director whose 2017 film Bad Genius, won a record-breaking 12 categories at the 27th Suphannahong National Film Awards in Thailand.

"The Climb," was in a way, born at the Sundance Film Festival. Directed by Michael Angelo Covino and co-written and co-starred in by Covino and Kyle Marvin, it premiered here in 2018 as a “short."

Flatiron Books



American Dirt by Jeanine Cummings, hailed as “‘The Grapes of Wrath’ for our times,” was Oprah's Book Club selection in January. By March there was so much controversy the book tour was canceled.


Chapter one: “One of the very first bullets comes in from the open window above the toilet where Luca is standing. He doesn't understand immediately that it is a bullet at all, and it's only luck it doesn't strike him between the eyes.”



"Boy's State", won the 2020 Sundance Grand Jury Prize for Best Documentary. Will it make the shortlist for an Academy Award during this strange, COVID-impacted year? 


"Boy's State" is a political coming-of-age documentary that follows 1,200 teenage boys in Texas participating in the titular, week-long American Legion program.


W.W. Norton & Company

 The One Book One Community selection this year is “Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country,” which recently won the Reading the West Advocacy Award. Author Pam Houston, once a resident of Park City, will hold a virtual talk with locals in September about her latest book. 


“Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country” is author Pam Houston's first memoir. It's an obvious love letter to the natural world in general and her ranch specifically. 



The documentary “13th” was released in 2016. If you missed it then - watch it now. As the national and international conversation about racial injustice elevates, every single one of us could benefit from the enlightenment delivered by this documentary. Here's Barb Bretz with your Friday Film Review.