THE BABADOOK – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Genuinely horrific and deeply scary. There are momentary shocks here, and then there are the eerie shadows and the prickling-on-the-back-of-your neck ickies that worm their way into your head only to bubble back up when you least expect them. And they are terrible and awful and — because this is only a movie — wonderful and fun not because a random boogeyman created via a focus-grouping of the Top 10 Things That Creep People Out (dolls! clowns! hockey masks!) jumps out at you, but because they draw on the most primal of emotions that we all experience: Loneliness. Frustration (sexual and emotional). Loss. Grief. Read more>>

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CITIZENFOUR – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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If “Citizenfour” sounds like something out of 1984 or The Prisoner, well, it’s even worse. It’s the pseudonym Edward Snowden used when he first approached, over the Internet, documentary filmmaker and muckraking journalist Laura Poitras, hoping to find someone trustworthy and with a pulpit who could share with the world what he’d discovered about the outrageous mass surveillance the NSA is engaged in that makes Big Brother look like an amateur. Read more>>

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FURY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Basically, war turns even the most decent of men into monsters. It’s not a theme that hasn’t been explored before, but David Ayer’s Fury is a particularly ugly iteration of it… and I mean that as a compliment. Skies are gray, the ground is muddy — this might be the muddiest movie I’ve ever seen — and everywhere is blood, pain, and desperation. It’s only the fact that we watching know that it will be over soon, and that the Nazis will lose, that allows some respite from atmosphere of relentless hopelessness Ayer immerses us in. Read more>>

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BIRDMAN — Review by Kristy Puchko

birdmanAfter a barrage of cinema brilliant, bizarre and occasionally boring, the New York Film Festival drew to a close this year with Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman: The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, which has been driving the internet into an anticipatory frenzy since its first trailer hit. It quick became my most anticipated movie of the year because it brought the spotlight back to an icon of my childhood, the one and only Michael Keaton. After a film fest that was studded with disappointments, I was a bit desperate for Birdman to live up to my expectations. Little did I expect it to far exceed them. Read more.>>

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LISTEN UP PHILIP — Review by Kristy Puchko

listenupphilipMaybe it’s my fault. I saw the teaser for Listen Up Philip, saw Jason Schwartzman would be applying his neurotic electricity to the role of a socially awkward novelist, and expected Bored to Death. Well, not expected. Hoped for. I hoped this New York Film Festival entry would have the kind of generous self-mocking and silly satire of the HBO series where Schwartzman played a bored novelist turned detective. Instead, I got Alex Ross Perry’s acidic brand of comedy that made me twitch far more than laugh.  Read more.>>

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THE BOOK OF LIFE — Review by Kristy Puchko

bookoflife Guillermo del Toro has brought us the gorgeous and gruesome horror-filled fable Pan’s Labyrinth, the eccentric and eerie superhero story Hellboy, and the stunning sci-fi spectacle that is Pacific Rim. Now, the writer-director has played producer to transform Mexico’s Day of the Dead into a charming cinematic spectacle called The Book of Life. Read more.>>

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New York Film Festival 52: IRIS – Review by Kathleen Carroll

In the ever so posh world of high fashion and design, Iris Apfel has always been thought of as a true original. In her view basic black is for sissies unless you add a vibrantly colored jacket. She simply adores Moroccan jewelry but just one necklace would never do for her. She loves to pile on her amber necklaces and bold cuff bracelets. Her signature look, which includes a huge pair of black-rimmed eye glasses (the kind of glasses the late Carol Channing used to use as her favorite accessory) is truly unique which is why she is still at age 98 a fashion icon. Read on…

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52nd New York Film Festival: Provocation and Pleasure – Rania Richardson Comments

Many of the films in the recently concluded 52nd New York Film Festival will fill theaters, fuel discussions, and collect awards for months to come. Topping the list is Citizenfour, a late edition to the tightly edited festival’s main slate of 31 features. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Oct. 13-19: BIRDMAN

Opening Oct. 17, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Birdman, which sees the very welcome return of Michael Keaton to leading man status. He takes the deliciously knowing role of a washed up actor who found fame playing a superhero some years before, and is now attempting to recapture those former glories by staging a play on Broadway. Critics are calling it a virtuoso, powerhouse performance and a career highlight for Keaton, who both embraces and commands a dramatic role which allows him to showcase a range of emotions. Read on…

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MEN, WOMEN & CHILDREN – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Jason Reitman is way too young to have produced a work of such fuddy-duddy handwringing over These Kids (And Adults) Today and how we play with our e-toys. Read more>>

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