EFFIE GRAY – Review by Susan Granger

effiegraysmallSince proper Victorian society would not tolerate homosexuality or divorce, it was truly scandalous when young Euphemia “Effie” Gray left her husband, influential art critic John Ruskin, after a loveless six-year marriage for Pre-Raphaelite painter John Everett Millais. Teenage Effie’s (Dakota Fanning) story begins in Scotland in 1848, when she marries Ruskin (John Wise). Arriving in London, Effie discovers to her dismay that they’re to live with his prim, domineering parents (Julie Walters, David Suchet). Worse yet, after viewing lovely Effie’s naked body, Ruskin coldly refuses to consummate their marriage. Read om…

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THE VOICES – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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I’ve said it before, but this has never been more apropos: I am tired of being expected to have a sense of humor about the violent abuse and even the murder of women. Complain about a rape joke or a horror flick in which a sexy half-naked girl is killed in an awesome way, and you’re likely to be told to “lighten up, it’s just a bit of fun.” And now The Voices seems to be a deliberate provocation, designed to dare the likes me: Shall I be the “cool girl,” the one who laughs along as Ryan Reynolds in his snappy pink jumpsuit saws up a woman’s body on his kitchen counter, just so I can be one of the guys? Read more>>

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WHILE WE WERE YOUNG – Review by Erica Abeel

while we were youngIn his delicious new outing, Noah Baumbach expands on the issues that bedeviled Ben Stiller as the eponymous protagonist of Greenberg. Once again he taps Stiller to play a malcontent artist and thwarted achiever who, through bad timing, bad luck, cluelessness—or a combo thereof—has fallen far short of his own expectations. Read more…

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BACKCOUNTRY Sells Scary in the Extreme – Liz Whittemore comments

backcountrybearsBackcountry, an adventure thriller based on a true story, explores the terrible things that can happen to a couple on a camping trip. But even before the film opened theatrically, the producers were selling scary in the extreme via a very clever marketing campaign that included graphics showng the frequency of black bear attacks on humans in the wilderness. The marketing strategy may just be a game changer in the adventure thriller genre. Read on…

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HOUSE OF CARDS: Will Frank Underwood be the Next Captain Kirk? – Martha Nochimson comments

beauwillimonI’m aware that this blog might make it seem that I’m out to get Beau Willimon, and for that appearance I apologize in advance. I’m not. My only reason for taking apart House of Cards, Season 3, in such detail is that it has been hyped as a prestige television production and I think that the reality is otherwise. It is a missed opportunity that requires attention from that part of entertainment journalism that seriously delves into what is really going on in the American media, which is such an important part of our culture. That said, read on….

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Filmmaker Lindsay MacKay on Transforming a Short into A Feature – Quendrith Johnson interviews

LindsayMacKayLindsay MacKay, a little known Canadian filmmaker, is escalating successful festival screenings of and awards for her well-crafted live action short, titled Clear Blue, into a full length feature. Riffing off the pool theme of the prize-winning short, her debut feature is called Wet Bum. MacKay speaks candidly with Quendrith Johnson about how she’s working the system. Read on…

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THE DIVERGENT SERIES: INSURGENT – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Is it convoluted, perhaps unnecessarily so, perhaps as a result of adhering too closely to the novel it’s based on? Maybe. Is the world it posits perhaps implausible? Could be. So what? The same applies to the Harry Potter movies and the Hunger Games flicks. Take away the book-adaptation issues, and the same applies to the Star Wars films. Substitute comic-book foundations, and the same applies to the Marvel movies. The essential thing about Insurgent is that it gets all the important stuff right (as do, for the most part, all those other series). And the really clever thing about Insurgent that elevates it a step above the first film, Divergent, is that it sneakily undercuts a lot of the tropes of what has become a subgenre: the young-adult hero’s journey. Read more>>

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AWFJ @ SFF Filmmaker Forum: Storytelling Skill Sets For Documentarians — Liz Whittemore Reports

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As audience members, each of us has a visceral response to images on the screen. We walk away with our own opinions and feelings when the lights come up once again. Whether a particular documentary touches you or not, having the opportunity to interact with the filmmakers in person is sometimes a once in a lifetime experience. During this year’s Salem Film Festival, AWFJ hosted two very successful and extraordinarily insightful panel discussions. Jennifer Merin moderated each of the panels, asking questions of the artists that they may never have posed to themselves. With time allotted for audience participation, attendees were allowed a glimpse into the making of some of the films featured at this year’s festival. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, March 16-22: KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER

Opening March 18, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Kumiko, The Treasure Hunterthe beguiling new film from actor-writer-director David Zellner and his co-writer brother Nathan Zellner. Their story is simple, yet brilliant. Lonely Japanese worker Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi; The Brothers Bloom, Pacific Rim) finds a VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ classic 1996 crime caper Fargo and, convinced by the title card assertion that it’s a true story, believes it to be a genuine treasure map that will lead her to a large stash of cash buried beneath the Minnesota snow. Read on…

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SALT OF THE EARTH – Review by Susan Granger

salt of the earth postet160One of the most dazzling documentaries ever, the Oscar-nominated “Salt of the Earth” chronicles the work of humanistic photographer Sabastiao Salgado – as seen through the eyes of his son, Juliano, and filmmaker Wim Wenders. This unique visual odyssey into “the heart of darkness” begins as Salgado comments on one of his most recognized images, a shot of 50,000 men in the vast Serra Pelada gold mine that formed part of the indigenous “Workers: Archeology of the Industrial Age” series, published in 1993. Read on…

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