VIVA, HAIL CAESAR, PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES, and other Feb 5 Openers — Reviews by Jennifer Merin

viva posterFair warning, this week’s openers won’t do much to move the needle on Hollywood’s diversity issues, where women — the majority of the population — are represented in minority numbers in almost every capacity, on screen or behind the scenes. But several of this week’s theatrical releases qualify as “by and/or about” women and they deal with women’s issues. They are provocative and provide comic relief. On the serious side, Viva is the a tale of a transvestite’s ascent to stardom, and for comedy seekers, there is Hail Caesar, in which a Hollywood star kicks off her mermaid tail and asserts self determination. And Pride and Prejudice and Zombiescasts the Bennett girls as warrior defenders against the black plague’s undead. Read the reviews>>

read more

AWARDS INTELLIGENCER: Johnny Depp Nabs Leonard Maltin’s Golden Statuette — Quendrith Johnson reports

JohnnyDeppHand-300x168Leonard Maltin just tells it like it is, but with such heart and insight for viewers. So much so that the elder statesman of cinema had a life achievement award renamed after him at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF) in 2015: The Maltin Modern Master Award. Last night his legacy was cemented as A-List actor Johnny Depp, or “Jonathan Christopher Depp,” as Maltin called him, came to Santa Barbara International Film Festival to accept The Other Golden Statuette. Read more on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

read more

CINEMA CITIZEN: Release of TRAPPED is timed to Supreme Court decision on TRAP laws

trappedFilmmaker Dawn Porter’s Trapped, the abortion rights film that won Sundance Film Festival 2016′s U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Social Impact Filmmaking, is set to open theatrically on March 4, with subsequent broadcast dates in June on Independent Lens. The film’s nationwide release, timed for social impact, comes just as the U.S. Supreme Court takes on Whole Woman’s Health v. Hellerstedt, the landmark case that will determine the constitutionality of “TRAP” (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws. Read more on CINEMA CITIZEN

read more

NORM OF THE NORTH — Review by Susan Granger

Riffing on the animated popularity of “Ice Age” and “Frozen,” this CGI tale introduces an amiable, appealing, English-speaking polar bear named Norm (voiced by Rob Schneider) who dances the Arctic Shake. After his King of the North grandfather (voiced by Colm Meaney) disappears, greedy Mr. Greene (voiced by Ken Jeong), an unscrupulous real estate developer, decides to airlift pre-fab condos, turning their pristine wilderness into a tourist attraction. Read more…

read more

JANE GOT A GUN, KUNG FU PANDA 3, 50 SHADES OF BLACK and other Jan 29 openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

Jane Got a Gun posterJane Got a Gun, a Western starring Natalie Portman as a woman determined to save her husband from outlaws trying to kill him, is a complex, suspenseful drama. Kung Fu Panda 3 is an entertaining family film that will bring out your inner child. 50 Shades of Black satirizes Grey, but neither satisfies. In The Boy, a nanny is hired to care for boy who is a life-size doll — or maybe not. Freaky scary. Confessions of a Serial Monogamist, set in Toronto’s Queer community, plumbs commitment issues faced by a lesbian in love. Read the reviews>>

read more

On #OscarsSoWhite, Genre Inclusion, and Enabling the Status Quo – Candice Frederick comments

The blinding whiteness of the Oscars nominations is on the tips of everyone’s tongues–again. Honestly, it shouldn’t surprise anyone that once again the Academy completely ignored performances from people like Benicio del Toro (Sicario), Abraham Attah (Beasts of No Nation), Samuel L. Jackson (The Hateful Eight), Rinko Kikuchi (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter) and all the lead actors in Straight Outta Compton. We all know they have a looooong history of blatantly ignoring some of the best talent of color ever to walk the earth. In an industry that continues to pat itself on the back, suck its own b*lls, and self-congratulate over and over (so much so that that they don’t have just one award, they have a season of awards), none of this is shocking. But what might be the most frightening thing about all of this is that there are actually people out there who scoff at accusations of Academy discrimination. Read more>>

read more

2015 EDA Awards Winners and Photo Gallery

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists’ 2015 EDA Awards winners were announced on January 12, 2016. Top honors went to Spotlight, which won four EDA Awards: best film, best director, best original screenplay and tied for best ensemble. We presented the award certificates to Sasha Pfeifer, the Boston Globe investigative journalist who is portrayed by Rachel McAdam in the film. See photos here.

read more

KUNG FU PANDA 3 – Review by Susan Granger

As “Kung Fu Panda 2” ended, Po’s long-lost biological father Li realizes, “My son is alive.” So this third installment of the animated trilogy is about Po (voiced by Jack Black) reuniting with Li (voiced by Bryan Cranston) and discovering his roots in their ancestral panda village, while coping with Kai (voiced by J.K. Simmons), a self-righteous, power-hungry spirit that’s risen from the dead, leading zombie-like warriors. Read on…

read more

Hollywood’s Diversity Politics Reach an Intersection – Jennifer Merin comments

The complaints about the lack of diversity in this year’s Oscars nominations, targeted primarily at the acting categories, attribute the problem to the Academy’s predominantly “old white men” constituency, shifting the main media focus from feminist #HollywoodBoysClub concerns to the equally important but more general #OscarsTooWhite issue. Many of us, however, would like to focus on this as a moment of intersection between the two related protests. Read more…

read more

AWFJ Movie of the Week, January 25-31: JANE GOT A GUN

Jane Got a Gun poster Opening Jan. 29, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Jane Got a Gun, the long-gestating Western starring Natalie Portman as a high plains woman seeking to save her husband from the outlaw gang who are after his blood. Read on…

read more