SEEDS OF TIME, WHEN MARNIE WAS THERE, SPY and Other May 22 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

seedsoftimeSeeds of Time, Sandy McLeod’s fascinating and beautifully shot documentary about the critical importance of seeds and one man’s enduring efforts to preserve as many varieties as possible, will ground you in reality about the future. When Marnie Was There is a brilliant Studio Ghibli animated mystery about two lonely young girls who find and save each other. Spy is this season’s Melissa McCarthy vehicle. Plus The Farewell Party from Israeli filmmakers Sharon Maymon and Tal Granit and Aloft,” the second feature from Oscar-nominated Peruvian filmmaker Claudia Llosa. Read more>>

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Honoring Agnès Varda at Cannes 2015 – Quendrith Johnson comments

agnes vardaFrench New Wave Director Agnès Varda is the first female filmmaker to receive the Cannes Film Festival’s coveted Palme d’Or in the festival’s 68 year history. Varda, who turns 87 on May 30, has made a vital and lasting personal stamp on the international world of cinema and its aesthetics, and has guided many burgeoning filmmakers to self expression and successful careers. Varda’s cinema theories and practice are challenging in the best ways. Her concept of ‘cinecriture’ distinguishes the art of writing for film from from other forms of literature, and she defines filmmaking as the art of making decisions that embrace the unquantifiable factors of faith and chance. Read more>>

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On High Heels and Hollywood’s Real Heels – Brandy McDonnell comments

high-heels-45481_164x164While the Cannes Film Festival created a controversy over its rule that women must wear high heels to walk the red carpet to some of the festival’s screenings, back in Hollywood, it became clear that some industry honchos are real low down heels of the sexist and ageist variety. And actresses are getting very vocal in their protests. Read more>>

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WELCOME TO NEW YORK – Review by Susan Granger

Remember when French politician/former International Monetary Fund chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn was arrested in Manhattan? On May 14, 2011, he allegedly forced himself sexually on a Guinean housekeeper, Nafissatou Diallo, at the Sofitel Hotel. That misadventure is fictionalized by director Abel Ferrara, who changed the names for obvious reasons. Read on…

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COOTIES — Preview by Liz Whittemore

Cooties-poster-202x300Cooties comes to the to the big screen in September, just in time for the start of the new school year, and with it, Hollywood puts fear back into the classroom. Co-stars Elija Wood and Rainn Wilson find their teaching job to be unexpectedly terrifying as they discover that their classrooms are populated with zombie kids. Circle. Circle. Dot. Dot. Did you have your cootie shot?! Read on…

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FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD – Review by Brandy McDonnell

farmaddingcrowdposterFar from a staid and dusty old story of bygone days, Danish director Thomas Vinterberg’s new cinematic version of Thomas Hardy’s oft-adapted 1874 novel Far From the Madding Crowd glows with life and vitality, while reining in the romantic melodrama. Leave it to Thomas Hardy’s groundbreaking heroine Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Mulligan) to prove just how timely and resonant a period drama can be.
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SAINT LAURENT – Review by Susan Granger

There are two cinematic biographies about infamous French fashion designer Yves Saint Laurent, who died in 2008. Directed by Bertrand Bonello and featuring Gaspard Ulliel in the title role, this version is France’s official submission for the foreign-language Academy Award. The story opens in Paris in 1974, when depressed, melancholy YSL agreed to a disastrous phone interview in which he admits he has “disorders” before flashing back to 1967, when his fame was at its height, as he prepares an elegant haute couture collection. Lea Seydoux and Aymeline Valade play his emotionally supportive muses Loulou del la Falaise and Betty Catroux, respectively. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, May 18-24: TOMORROWLAND

Opening May 22, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Tomorrowlandthe new summer family blockbuster from Disney and director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), who co-writes with Damon Lindelof (Prometheus, World War Z) and newcomer Jeff Jensen. Inspired by the ever-popular Tomorrowland segment of Disney’s theme parks, the story follows teen science geek Casey (Britt Robertson, TV’s Under the Dome) as she discovers the existence of a secret, futuristic world hidden in the midst of time and space that may hold the fate of humankind. Teaming up with mysterious Tomorrowland inhabitant Athena (Raffey Cassidy, TV’s Mr Selfridge)  and former boy genius turned miserable grown up Frank (George Clooney), Casey must draw on all her knowledge, ambition and positivity if she is to realize her full potential and make a real change. Read on…

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PITCH PERFECT 2, MAD MAX and Quick Hitters re Varda, Bigelow, Holmes and more — Brandy McDonnell comments

elizabeth-banks-in-pitch-perfect-2To quote the Beyonce song used in one of Pitch Perfect 2′s musical numbers, girls do indeed run the world — at least at this weekend’s domestic box office. The musical comedy reprise about an all-girls a cappella group surpassed industry expectations to gross some $70.3 million in the US and Canada, making it the highest opening weekend earner in Hollywood history for a first time director — Elizabeth Banks, who also produced and gives a stunningly funny performance as an acid-tongued a cappella commentator. The ensemble is mostly women, and Kay Cannon wrote the script. So, Pitch Perfect scores big as a film by and about women. But there’s a feeling of deja vu…Read more>>

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EVERY SECRET THING – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

everysecretthingposter

Documentarian Amy Berg makes her feature debut with a slow burn of a mystery, one that takes cues from her amazing fact-based films, Deliver Us from Evil and West of Memphis: the banality of evil, the inequities of the criminal justice system, the abuse that can occur when those who are supposed to love and protect the innocent and vulnerable don’t have the best intentions at heart. This isn’t an easy film, not in any way: its pace is contemplative and deliberate; it’s more about puzzling out personality than it is a police procedural; and perhaps most uncomfortably for some viewers, all the major players are female. Read more>>

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