SIN CITY: A DAME TO KILL FOR – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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There’s the nihilism of Sin City. A place where wounded men have to remind themselves to “never let the monster out,” and a woman can “makes slaves of men,” and even “good men” are turned on by a woman’s tale of rape (which she invented, of course, because this is Sin City, where you can’t trust a dame). A place where men are nothing but how they can use their rage and women are nothing but how they can use their bodies. And that’s none of it nice. But it pales in comparison to the nihilism of this latest story about the place. A movie consisting of little more than vignettes on vengeance and cruel parades of sociopathic power performed as gleefully ultraviolent shadowplays. Read more>>

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TO BE TAKEI — Review by Kristy Puchko

tobetakeiGeorge Takei’s impact on our world is difficult to succinctly summarize. Of course there are generations of science fiction fans who know him as occasionally swashbuckling and shirtless Sulu in the original Star Trekseries (and subsequent string of films). Then there’s a new wave of fans who’ve come to know him as “Uncle George,” a social-media maverick who boasts more than 1.32 million Twitter followers and 7.4 million Facebook friends. But aside from being a statesman of sci-fi and king of memes, George Takei has also made a name for himself as an advocate, first for the rights of Japanese-Americans, then for the rights of the LGBT community. The documentary To Be Takei aims to capture each of these elements of George Takei’s public persona, while giving an in-depth look at his personal life with husband, Brad Takei né Altman. It’s a lot to take on, but director Jennifer M. Kroot delivers something that is as profound as it is funny and uplifting.

 

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FRANK — Review by Kristy Puchko

frankAs a performer, Michael Fassbender dives headfirst and fearlessly into challenges, be it playing a soul-(and body)-bearing sex addict, a shameless slave driver, or an iconic, metal-manipulating super-villain. For his latest challenge, the German-born leading man who has been inspiring crushes all over the globe has tucked his gorgeous face away into a grotesque paper mache mask for Lenny Abrahamson’s outlandish dramedy Frank.

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LOVE IS STRANGE — Review by Kristy Puchko

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Let me say at the top: I was in no way prepared for how much Love Is Strange would make me cry. I’d heard fantastic things from colleagues who had seen the romantic drama at its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival. But no one prepared me for how deeply moving Ira Sachs’s latest effort–which boasts brilliant turns by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina–truly is.

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THE ONE I LOVE — Review by Kristy Puchko

theoneIloveThe One I Love is a movie with a strange and brilliant plot twist that kicks off its second act. But being unaware of the specifics of this twist beforehand definitely enhanced my enjoyment of the film. The surprise was terrific and thrilling. However, it’s almost impossible to thoroughly review the film without getting into the details of this twist.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Aug. 11-17: The Trip to Italy

Trip to Italy posterOpening Aug. 15, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Trip to Italy, a follow-up to Michael Winterbottom’s 2010 film, The Trip, which reunites comedians Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon for another gastronomic tour around Europe. This time the two cranky comedians are retracing the steps of the Romantic poets’ grand tour of Italy. Following the successful formula of the first film, Winterbottom focuses as much attention on the mouth-watering meals as he does the impersonation-laced banter between the two stars. They enjoy culinary delights in gorgeous settings from Liguria to Capri while riffing on subjects as varied as Batman’s vocal register, the artistic merits of Jagged Little Pill, and, of course, the virtue of sequels. The Trip to Italy melds the brilliant comic interplay between Coogan and Brydon into quieter moments of self-reflection, letting audiences into their insightful ruminations on the nuances of friendship and the juggling of family and career. The result is a biting portrait of modern-day masculinity. Read on…

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WELCOME TO NEW YORK – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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This may be one of the most repulsive movies I’ve ever seen. Its protagonist is a sociopathic narcissist who sees women as playthings, who takes advantage of his power, privilege, and money to — literally — bail himself out when he is unable to tell the difference between ambitious young women who tell him to his face that they’re sleeping with him because they’re turned on by his standing, professional sex workers paid to put on a show of pretending to like him, and uninterested female passersby screaming bloody hell for him to stop assaulting them. Read more>>

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LILTING – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Oh dear, what a heartbreakingly lovely — and just plain heartbreaking — film. Elderly Chinese-Cambodian immigrant Junn (Pei-pei Cheng) never quite assimilated into life in London, and now that her only child, 20something Kai (Andrew Leung), is gone, taken in an unnamed tragedy, she is lost not only in grief but in isolation. With her husband also long dead, Kai was only her only connection to the world — she never learned to speak English — and now she is truly adrift and alone. And it’s really hard for her to accept help from Kai’s friend Richard (Ben Whishaw), because she’s jealous of their relationship… and she doesn’t even know that they weren’t simply good friends but a couple. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Aug. 4-10: The Hundred-Foot Journey

100 Foot Journey posterOpening Aug. 8, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Hundred-Foot Journeya film adaptation of the beloved novel by Richard C. Morais. The film stars Dame Helen Mirren as Madame Mallory, the acclaimed French chef and restaurateur of the Micehelin-starred Le Saule Pleureur who finds that her culinary dominance in the quaint French tourist town of Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val is challenged when an Indian bistro, Maison Mumbai, opens across the street. Her new rival is young chef Hassan Kadam (Manish Dayal), a culinary wunderkind blessed with the gastronomic equivalent of perfect pitch. He’s backed by his tenacious father (Om Puri) and family, all recently resettled in the South of France from their distant homeland. The culinary and cultural rivalry contretemps is eventually quelled by their mutual love of haute cuisine and a budding romance between Hassan and Madame Mallory’s charming sous chef (Charlotte Le Bon). Everything about this film is delicious. Read on…

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PAYBACK – DVD Review by Jennifer Merin

paybackposter160Using Margaret Atwood’s fascinating treatise titled Payback: Debt And The Shadow Side of Wealth as a point of departure, acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal engages a compelling cast of renown commentators to expound on the notion of debt and its wide ranging implications about human civilization and the future. Not all debt is economic. There is environmental debt, too. And, when has someone guilty of a crime paid his or her ‘debt to society?’ This compelling documentary leads to essential and urgently needed consideration of public policy. Concerned citizens, see this film! Read more>>

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