AMY, JACKIE & RYAN, MALA MALA and Other July 1-3 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

amywinehousefromwenewscroppedThree stirring documentaries top this week’s openers: Amy illuminates the tragic self destruction of legendary songstress Amy Winehouse, Mala Mala follows the struggle of Puerto Rico’s transgender population for equal rights, and Cartel Land follows vigilantes on both sides of the border who’ve targeted Mexico’s drug lords. In narrative mode, Jackie & Ryan casts Katerine Heigl as a former songstress and single mom with some serious issues, while Magic Mike XXL reprieves the original’s abundance of pelvic thrusts, supported by a skimpy but sentimental jockstrap of a script. Then there’s Terminator Genisys, hopefully the last gasp of this particular immortal mechanical man franchise. Read the reviews>>

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Frances McDormand Talks Cinema and Women @ Cannes – Dana Knight reports (Exclusive)

mcdormand1 upheadAt the 68th Cannes International Film Festival, Kering and the Festival de Cannes launched the first edition of the Women in Motion program, spotlighting women’s contributions to cinema. Frances McDormand, a featured guest: “By saying we need “help” we keep the conversation back a little bit. We don’t need “help”, we need money, we need platforms, we need voices but we don’t need “help”. AWFJ’s THE FEMALE GAZE contributor Dana Knight reports. Read on…

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GRAND PIANO – Review by Liz Whittemore

grandpianoposterNot every film has to be gory to put your nerves on edge. Grand Piano is a beautiful nod to the masters of suspense. Elijah Wood and John Cusack stretch their acting chops in two very different ways in this elegant thriller. Never have I watched the opening credits to a film and felt so uneasy, Grand Piano is now available on Netflix. Read more>>

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Seven – Martha P. Nochimson comments

hisssposter160IT ENDS BADLY is the seventh chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome. Read more>>

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FAITH OF OUR FATHERS – Review by Susan Granger

This evangelical, Christian-themed saga revolves around two strangers united in their efforts to learn more about their fathers on an impromptu road trip to Washington, D.C. to visit The Wall at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. Boasting a Beatles-inspired name, John Paul George (Kevin Downes) is engaged to Cynthia (Candace Cameron Bure), who’s eagerly planning their upcoming nuptials. At her suggestion, he embarks on a quest to find Wayne, the son of the man his dad befriended in Vietnam back in 1969. Read on…

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AMY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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She told us. She told us flat out how it would be. She told us she was a mess. She told us she was self-destructive. She told us fame would kill her. She said it in her lyrics — not even halfway, not in any way metaphorical or sidewise. She said it in interviews. That’s all right here in the astonishing documentary Amy, one of the best films of the year so far: the sound recordings journalists made while talking to her, the lyrics right up there on the screen so there isn’t even any need to try to unravel her sometimes gloriously muddied jazzy elocution. Amy Winehouse might have been a poet, but there was nothing figurative or symbolic in what she said. She was telling us her blunt, undisguised truth. Read more>>

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MAGIC MIKE XXL – Review by Susan Granger

When Steven Soderbergh’s over-the-top comedy romp was a surprise hit in 2012, a sequel was inevitable. So three years later, Mike (Channing Tatum) abandons his burgeoning furniture business to re-join the brawny Kings of Tampa for one last road trip to a Stripper Convention in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Read on…

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SPIRITED AWAY on Blu-ray Spreads Feminist Spirit, Streep Campaigns for Equality and Film Festival Feminism – Brandy McDonnell comments

spirited-away2Spirited Away uproots the tired ‘damsel in distress awaits the prince to rescue (and marry) her narrative, as 10-year-old Chihiro embarks on a mission to save Haku, the boy who initially helped her adapt to the spirit world and who turns out to be more than he seems as well. Seeing the legendary animator Hayao Miyazaki’s 2003 Oscar winner in glorious high definition on Blu-ray, I was again astounded by the richness of his storytelling, and also by the influence one determined game-changer can make. Plus new kudos for Meryl Streep on equal rights, feminism at the Los Angeles Film Festival and the new collaboration between BFI London Film Festival and the Geena Davis Institute in this week’s The Week in Women.

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A LITTLE CHAOS, BATKID BEGINS, THE MIDNIGHT SWIM and other June 26 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

A Little Chaos celebrates a fictitious 17th-century woman’s achievements as a landscape gardener at Versailles, Batkid Begins celebrates a 5-year-old boy who dreams of being a superhero and of conquering his leukemia and The Midnight Swim delves into the mysteries of sisterhood by diving into the mysterious depths of Spirit Lake, while Ted 2‘s too crass humor sadly undermines its otherwise welcome and clever irreverence. Plus Felt and Fresh Dressed. Read the reviews>>

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Six – Martha P. Nochimson comments

hisssposter160A SILENT WATCHER is the sixth chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome. Read on…

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