THE INNOCENTS — Review by Susan Granger

In Warsaw, Poland, after the Soviet Union defeated Hitler’s Germany in W.W. II, it’s estimated that the occupying Russian troops raped 500,000 women and about 100,000 of them subsequently committed suicide. Working with several credited writers, director Anne Fontaine (“Coco Before Chanel,” “Gemma Bovary”) was inspired by the true story of Madeline Pauliac, a French doctor and Resistance fighter, who helped a group of Polish nuns, most of them virgins, who were convinced that their ordeal has doomed them to eternal damnation. Read on…

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New Rules Yield Greater Diversity for AMPAS Board of Governors — Anne Thompson reports

Thanks to new rules, this year’s Academy Board of Governors race was more intense than usual. The Academy’s 17 branches each has three governors on the board; they can serve three consecutive three-year terms. One seat is up for reelection every year. The Board of Governors actually runs the show at the Academy, determining the strategy and mission, and keeping tabs on its financial health. This year, the race was opened up to allow any of the 6200-plus Academy members to run for the board. Before, the membership voted for 50% of a nominating committee that selected candidates to present to the Board. This yielded the same favorites over and over again. Read more>>

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THE INFILTRATOR — Review by Susan Granger

It’s a new twist on a familiar story, as a law-abiding everyman becomes entangled with Pablo Escobar’s Medellin drug cartel. Back in 1986, Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston) was a devoted husband and father, working as a U.S. Customs agent in Tampa, Florida. In the opening scene, he’s about to make an undercover drug deal in a bowling alley when the microphone strapped to his chest overheats, the excruciating pain almost blowing his cover. Read on…

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GHOSTBUSTERS, GHOSTHEADS, THE INFILTRATOR, EQUALS, CAFE SOCIETY and more July 15 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

ghostbusters posterGhostbusters in no way satisfies the clamor for more women’s stories on screen. Ghostheads, a documentary about the phenomenally loyal fans of the Ghostbusters franchise, doesn’t delve into the controversy over Feig’s female reboot, but shows the impact the original has had on people’s lives. The Infiltrator is the truth-bases story of undercover agent Robert Mazur (Bryan Cranston), who bagged Columbian drug lords with female partner Kathy Ertz (Diane Kruger), a brilliant rookie agent. Equals, a dystopian romance, stars Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult as star-crossed lovers in an era when human emotion is completely repressed. Café Society also stars Stewart as the “love interest” in Woody Allen’s latest glam romantic romp set in the 1930s. The Blackcoat’s Daughter is an unnerving twist on the horror genre, set in an all-girls Catholic boarding school. The Student Body is Bailey Webber’s first film, documenting her protest against state-mandated body mass index (or BMI) testing of her high school peers. Don’t Blink – Robert Frank is Laura Israel’s profile of the life and work of the legendarily inventive photographer and filmmaker, creator of images for the ages. Read the reviews>>

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GHOSTBUSTERS: When Good Enough Isn’t Good Enough — Commentary by Thelma Adams

I rolled my eyes the moment I heard about a Ghostbusters reboot with an all-woman cast—even if it teamed Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Kate McKinnon and Leslie Jones. What’s next The Revenant with chicks? The She-Wolves of Wall Street (O.K., that’s Working Girl)? The Hateful Eight with seven menopausal women and one abused eunuch? Word to the studios: We lack penises, not brains! Read more>>

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GHOSTBUSTERS – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

ghostbusters-poster-kate-mckinnon Holy moly, Kate McKinnon has gone and created an instantly iconic new character in gleefully reckless physicist and tinkerer Jillian Holtzmann. Little girls and grownup women alike are, I guarantee you, going to be merrily cosplaying a gal who is simultaneously a snappy dresser, a devil-may-care snarkster, a master of the mysteries of the universe, and a creator of cool crap that goes boom. Holtzmann is nothing like any female character The Movies have ever seen. She is powerful in a way that has nothing to do with her appeal to men. She is brainy comic mayhem… Read more>>

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GHOSTBUSTERS — Review by Susan Granger

The infectious charm of the original “Ghostbusters” (1964) was the goofy chemistry between bright, slyly satiric “SNL” comedians (Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Harold Ramis, Ernie Hudson) and ectoplasmic special effects. The problem with this mediocre re-make is not the gender-redo but its lack of originality, along with a scarcity of in-jokes, irony and cynicism – and a repetition of the same supernatural special effects. Read on…

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THE PIONEERING WOMEN OF DOCUMENTARY FILM – Essay by MaryAnn Johanson

osajohnsonWhen we talk about the early years of cinema, there is no separating “the history of women in film” from “the history of film.” Women have been there from the beginning, and have shaped the medium in transformative ways. The idea that films could tell stories as opposed to documenting reality was hit upon by a woman, Alice Guy-Blaché, who made the very first narrative movie, in 1896. And the filmmaker who arguably created the modern documentary form was Leni Riefenstahl with 1935’s Triumph of the Will. Women have always gotten short shrift when it comes to acknowledging their contributions, but that’s not a reflection of the inestimable value of their work. Movies simply would not look and feel the way they do today without the input of women artists and innovators. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, July 10 – July 16: GHOSTBUSTERS

ghostbusters posterOpening July 15, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Ghostbusters, the hotly-awaited new all-female reboot of the beloved sci-fi franchise from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy). Read on…

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OUR LITTLE SISTER, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, OVATION, INDIAN POINT and other July 8 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

Our_Little_Sister_posterHirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister is a soulful, magical journey into the wonderous mysteries of sisterhood, brought to live action from a popular Japanese manga. Captain Fantastic follows a story line that raises issues about child rearing in a society with polluted values. Henry Jaglom’s character-driven Ovation delves into the psyche of an actress who’s looking for balance between self esteem, integrity, ambition and lust. Indian Point is Ivy Meerpol’s compelling cautionary documentary risks of continuing operation of the titular 40 year old nuclear energy plant with its very outdated technology. Plus about the Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Zero Days.Under the Sun, The Dog Lover, and Fathers and Daughters Read the reviews>>

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