THE SECOND MOTHER, ZIPPER, QUEEN OF EARTH and Other August 28 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

second mother posterThe Second Mother is Brazilian filmmaker Anna Muylaert’s compelling and compassionate drama about the complex relationships between a wealthy Rio de Janiero family and their long-standing live-in maid. Mora Stephens’ Zipper plumbs the intrigue of sex addiction framed by the political milieu of Washington, D.C. Queen of Earth is a gripping psychological thriller that tests the bonds of friendship between two strong female protagonists. Plus I Touched All Your Stuff and Z is for Zacharia. Read the reviews..

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GOODNIGHT MOMMY – Review by Liz Whittemore

goodnightmommy_poster-199x300Goodnight Mommy will scare the bejesus out of you and make you squirm like you’ve never squirmed before. Two boys suspect that their mom, recently home from the hospital with her head wrapped entirely in bandages, isn’t the mom they knew before! The performances are subtle and brilliant. Writer-Director team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala bring us one hell of a tale that’s sure to make the pair of clearly talented and slightly demented creatives household names in horror genre circles and beyond. Read more on the I SCREAM YOU SCREAM blog.

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WE ARE YOUR FRIENDS – Review by Susan Granger

Disappointing, low-budget romantic dramas like this are why the August/September period is known as a dumping ground. Read more>>

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BARELY LETHAL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

barelylethalposter Here we go again. After Lila & Eve earlier this summer, here’s another example of a film that, if it were about a guy, would have gotten a big splashy release instead of being shuffled off to the land of VOD. The fact that is stars Hailee Steinfeld, one of the most interesting young actors working today, and in a role that shows off comedy chops I don’t think any of us realized she had should have been enough to ensure this got in front of multiplex audiences. It’s also got Samuel L. Jackson and Game of Thrones’ Sophie Turner. How is it that no one at a major distributor could see the value in this? Read more>>

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WAR ROOM – Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1953, the Ladies Home Journal inaugurated its trademark feature “Can This Marriage Be Saved?” Each month, troubled couples would relate their problems and a marriage counselor would suggest solutions. Perhaps I’m incorrect but I certainly don’t remember any therapist suggesting that a psychologically abused wife turn to praying in a closet as a remedy. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoy good spiritually-based movies like “Field of Dreams,” etc. Indeed, my brother, Stephen Simon, started the Internet-based Spiritual Cinema Circle. But not this kind of simplistic drivel. Read on…

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Even you don’t know anything about rap music, you might remember — if you’re old enough — all the late-80s national handwringing in the U.S. over the N.W.A. song “F*ck tha Police.” It’s an angry, incendiary piece of work, and whatever you may have thought about it at the time, or even still to this day, Straight Outta Compton will bring you completely to the side of the young black men who wrote and performed that song, much to the consternation of cultural watchdogs and scared white people. In this biopic of the group, director F. Gary Gray ensures we understand exactly why young men like Andre Young, aka Dr. Dre (Corey Hawkins), and O’Shea Jackson, aka Ice Cube (O’Shea Jackson Jr., the rapper’s own son, who could almost be his clone) are so justifiably enraged. Read more>>

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NO ESCAPE – Review by Susan Granger

This taut thriller focuses on an American family accidentally caught in geopolitical crossfire, just after the Prime Minister of an unnamed Southeast Asian country is assassinated. Exhausted after flying from Austin, Texas, to take a new corporate job, jet-lagged Jack Dwyer (Owen Wilson), his wife Annie (Lake Bell) and their two young daughters (Sterling Jerins, Claire Grace) cannot find their assigned driver at the airport. Read more>>

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NO ESCAPE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

noescape.poster If you took No Escape for a light action movie, something like a flick in which Liam Neeson would beat up villainous cartoon foreigners in a exotic land of generous film-production tax credits, you are forgiven. It’s certainly the way the film has been marketed. Plus it stars Owen Wilson and Lake Bell, comic actors known for lighthearted snark and offhand insouciance. What else could be on offer but popcorn violence, snarled “funny” one-liners accompanying every gruesome death, and probably some helicopters blowin’ up real good? Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 24-30: THE SECOND MOTHER

second mother poster Opening July 1, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Second Mother, Brazilian writer/director Anna Muylaert’s tale of a household thrown into upheaval by the sudden arrival of the live-in housekeeper’s estranged daughter Read on…

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LEANING TO DRIVE, GRANDMA, AFTER WORDS and Other August 17 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

learning to drive posterThree must sees open this week. Learning to Drive is a metaphor for learning to live in filmmaker Isabel Coixet’s absolutely delightful and smart take on how a modern woman (Patricia Clarkson) survives her mid-life crisis. Grandma puts Lily Tomlin, a feisty matriarch, in the driver’s seat on a laugh-laden road trip that leads to mother-daughter reconciliations. After Words stars Marcia Gay Harden as a lonely librarian whose life shatters when she loses her job — but escapes to Costa Rica. Plus Slow Learners, Hitman: Agent 47, The Curse of Downers Grove, In the Pines and House on Rodeo Gulch. Read the reviews..

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