THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Latest on Patty Jenkins, Saoirse Ronan, Reese Witherspoon and Annie Clark aka St. Vincent — Brandy McDonnell reports

Annie Clark, aka St. Vincent, is set to direct a new version of Oscar Wilde’s Picture of Dorian Gray, starring a woman in the title role. Saoirse Ronan takes on the title role in Mary, Queen of Scots, opposite Margot Robbie as Elizabeth. Reese Witherspoon talks rom com evolution as represented by her latest, Home Again, the directorial debut Hallie Meyers-Shyer, daughter of acclaimed director Nancy Meyers. And, Patty Jenkins is upping the income ante on Wonder Woman II, following the first film’s mega box office success. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

read more

POLINA — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

polina posterIn the film Flashdance, when Jennifer Beals is about to toss away her ambitions to be a ballerina, her boyfriend tells her, “When you give up your dream, you die.” But what if you are fulfilling someone else’s dream? Apparently, you never really live. That is what happens to the title character in Polina, about a young Russian girl who spends her entire youth training for the Bolshoi Ballet while fulfilling her parents’ wish, while her father must resort to shady means to pay her way. Inevitably, Polina rebels as a teen. Continue reading…

read more

POLINA — Review by Cate Marquis

The French- and Russian-language drama Polina is a coming-of-age story about a promising young Russian ballerina named Polina in search of artistic fulfillment. But Polina‘s real appeal is not its story as much as its many moments of magical dance and fine choreography. Continue reading…

read more

DETROIT — Review by Susan Granger

In this scathing docudrama, Kathryn Bigelow, the Oscar-winning director of “The Hurt Locker’ and “Zero Dark Thirty,” depicts the civil unrest that rocked Detroit in the volatile summer of 1967. It begins on the night of July 23 with a violent police raid on “The Blind Pig,” an unlicensed bar and African-American social club located on the second floor of a printing company, inciting what came to be known as the 12th Street Riot. Continue reading…

read more

STEP — Review by MaryAnn Johanson

STEP POSTERForget those silly Step Up movies. Even though they are set in the world of hip-hop street-dance competitions that are primarily an “urban” — read: black — phenomenon, they manage to focus almost entirely on white characters. Instead, here’s Step, which is literally the real thing. Hugely cheering and cheer-worthy, this documentary look at a high-school girls’ step team covers so much ground that unforgivably goes mostly unexamined onscreen: it couldn’t be fresher or more important. It’s also wildly entertaining while simultaneously enormously enlightening. Continue reading…

read more

THE LAST FACE — Review by Susan Granger

Years ago, Robin Wright, who was married to Sean Penn, optioned this concept as a “passion project,” involving both Penn and Javier Bardem, but funding fell through. When Wright and Penn divorced, Penn obviously got custody, casting his then-fiancée, Charlize Theron, in the role Wright had wanted to play. Born in South Africa, Theron might have been a superb choice, but Penn was so obviously besotted with her beauty that he rapturously photographs her like a glamorous fashion model, not an altruistic doctor. Continue reading…

read more

MENASHE — Review by Susan Granger

Set in Brooklyn’s ultra-Orthodox Borough Park neighborhood, this is the story of a Jewish widower (Menashe Lustig) who has lost custody of his beloved 10 year-old son, Rieven (Ruben Niborski). According to strict Hasidic custom, the youngster cannot be raised by a single parent. He must live with a father AND mother, so Menache’s married, financially secure, judgmental brother-in-law, Eizik (Yoel Weisshaus), has become Rieven’s condescending guardian. Continue reading…

read more

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS — Review by Susan Granger

From Luc Besson, the visionary French director of “Lucy” and “The Fifth Element,” comes this $200 million sci-fi fantasy, consisting of an episodic series of missions originating on Alpha, a space station in the Magellan Current that keeps expanding, adding new entities, becoming an intergalactic, multicultural hub. Continue reading

read more

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Gadot Seeks Gold, Chastain Joins X-MEN, Woodard Becomes Lionesque and Lamarr Gets Documentary — Brandy McDonnell reports

Warner Bros. will mount an Oscar campaign for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, striving to get first-ever comic book film nominations. Jessica Chastain joins the X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast as Lilandra Neramani, Princess-Majestrix of the Shi’ar Empire, a humanoid species with birdlike attributes. Alfre Woodard will be the voice of Simba’s mom in director Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s The Lion King. And, come November, Hedy Lamarr returns to silver screens with the release of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary directed by Alexandra Dean and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

read more

DETROIT — Review by Pam Grady

detroit posterIn the summer of 1967, while the West Coast grooved to the Summer of Love, Detroit burned in five days of rioting that pitted the African American community against the arrayed forces of the Detroit police department, Michigan state police, and the National Guard. In her most potent film to date, Kathryn Bigelow reteams with screenwriter Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) to stunningly recreate that time. Continue reading…

read more