EX MACHINA – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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There’s a moment, Ex Machina’s big visual smack in the face, in which writer-director Alex Garland, probably unwittingly, reveals his hand. It’s imagery that, I would be utterly unsurprised to learn, was something that popped into his head disconnected from anything else, imagery he deemed so cool, so you-guys-gotta-see-this!, that he set himself then and there to building a story around it. I’m not, of course, going to spoil what this moment consists of, but suffice to say that it could have just as readily been slotted into a story about a serial killer. Read more>>

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GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE — Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

Goodbye to Language is a joy, not least because the 84-year-old dean of French cinema, Jean-Luc Godard, continues to embrace new challenges and humbly said to the NSFC in a thank-you missive that he is “still learning.” Nobody insisted he keep making movies, and at his age, he would be forgiven for retiring on his laurels to write full time or tend his garden. Instead, while other directors have approached 3D technology timidly or in the pursuit of butts in seats just like its original aim in the 1950s, Godard has, like Roberto Benigni, chosen to “lie down in the firmament making love to everyone” with his warm and ground-breaking embrace of 3D cinematography. Read more>>

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TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT – Review by Lisa Rosman

There are few pleasures in contemporary cinema comparable to those of watching Marion Cotillard. This is not to objectify the French actress. In fact, I’m not sure if it’s even possible to objectify a woman who is so marvelously the subject of everything she graces. She deserved the Oscar she won for her portrayal of Édith Piaf in “La Vie en Rose”; she deserves an Oscar for nearly all her performances. So it’s really saying something that her turn in “Two Days, One Night,” the newest release from the Dardenne Brothers, may outstrip all her previous work. Read more>>

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An Open Letter to the New York Film Festival Selection Committee – Rania Richardson

Dear NYFF Selection Committee,

It was a surprise to many last Thursday, when Ava DuVernay was not on the list of Academy Award nominees for Best Director despite her widely hailed work on “Selma.” Then again, Kathryn Bigelow’s 2010 Oscar win for “The Hurt Locker” didn’t exactly usher in a new dawn for female filmmakers.

It’s a boy’s club, this movie world. You know it is. Read on…

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AMERICAN SNIPER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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My first thought was: “This isn’t a movie. It’s a eulogy.” I meant it, in my head, metaphorically: American Sniper felt like sitting through a story told at a funeral during which the poor sap of a cousin who got roped into the job is trying to dance around the fact that the deceased was kind of jerk by deploying a bunch of clichéd claptrap about warm cozy mundane things that no one could possibly be crass enough to object to, not at a funeral, fer cripes’ sake. “He liked a good beer.” “His pickup truck was his pride and joy.” “Umm, wife and babies!” (Not actual quotes from the movie, but certainly symbolic ones.) Read more>>

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NIAGARA — Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

In the fifth installment of Noir City Chicago, the programmers decided to take a risk: they devoted an entire day to Technicolor noir. For most people, it’s not noir without the black shadows and knives of white light that pierce the dark doings of society’s underbelly in a black-and-white film. Eddie Muller, president of the Film Noir Foundation and opening-weekend host of Noir City Chicago, says that he considers noir to be a state of mind, a place of psychological pathology, and therefore, the candy-colored films of the day’s line-up earn their place on a film noir program. While I can’t agree that all of the films, even Leave Her to Heaven (1943) and its deranged central character played by Gene Tierney, were anything but an approximate fit, one was noir in spades: Niagara. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan. 12-16: PADDINGTON

Opening Jan. 16, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Paddington, the live action adaptation of the beloved children’s stories by Michael Bond. Written and directed by Paul King (TV’s The Mighty Boosh, Bunny and the Bull), the film combines his irreverent sense of humour with the books’ inherent charm to entirely wonderful effect. Read on…

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SELMA – Review by Lisa Rosman

The only man from the twentieth century who has an American federal holiday named after him, Martin Luther King Jr. is almost inarguably our country’s most influential civil rights leader to date. Yet, as improbable as it may seem, “Selma” is the first feature-length film ever made about him. Wisely, DuVernay and screenwriter Paul Webb don’t compensate by covering the entire arc of King’s life. Instead, they pick up right where a more traditional King biopic might have ended: when awards have already been bestowed but important work is left to be done. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Jan. 5-9: TAKEN 3

Opening Jan. 9, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Taken 3, the third – and apparently final – outing for ex-spy Bryan Mills (Liam Neeson), who this time must call upon his particular set of professional skills after he is wrongly accused of a brutal murder. Read on…

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2014 AWFJ EDA Awards Nominees

With sincerest appreciation of all the great work that’s been done in film this year, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists is pleased to announce the nominees for the Eighth Annual AWFJ EDA Awards. Find out which films are thought by AWFJ members to be the best of 2014, and which directors, and who gave the best performances. And who deserves recognition for baring it all in the most appropriately provocative way? Or is being considered for the most coveted award of Actress Most in Need of a New Agent? Or qualifies to be named AWFJ’s Female Icon of the Year for outstanding contributions to cinema and life in general? To get in the know, read on…

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