Betsy Bozdech

Betsy Bozdech is the Executive Editor of Common Sense, for which she also reviews films. Her film reviews and commentaries also appear on Reel.com and Hollywood.com.

 

Articles by Betsy Bozdech

 

MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 18-25: DETROIT

motw logo 1-35Intense. Infuriating. Immediate. Kathryn Bigelow‘s powerful, often-heartbreaking historical drama Detroit is all of these things and more. Set amid the chaos, violence, and anger of the riots that dominated Motor City during the summer of 1967, the film’s narrative focuses on the police brutality that took place at the Algiers Motel on July 25 and 26 of that year, and the justice system’s subsequent whitewashing of that heinous event. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 11 to 18, 2017: PATTI CAKE$

motw logo 1-35Opening August 18, Patti Cake$ tells the story of aspiring New Jersey rapper Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski, portrayed by Australian actress Danielle Macdonald in a breakout perfomance. Patti lives with her single mom, Barb (Bridget Everett), and grandmother, Nana (Cathy Moriarty), in near squalor in urban New Jersey. Barb spends her evenings getting drunk and bitterly reveling in memories of her youthful days of near-stardom as a pop singer — a dream that fell by the wayside when she got pregnant with Patti. Patti, without outbursts of rebellion or resentment, sustains the family with menial jobs, while literally dreaming every night of stardom, as over-the-top visions of famous rapper O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah) float through her sleeping mind. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 28-August 4: STEP

motw logo 1-35An inspiring documentary about a group of African-American teen girls who find success through a mix of hard work, grit, high expectations, and dedicated mentorship, Amanda Lipitz’s Step is both engaging and uplifting. It follows the competitive step-dancing team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a public charter school with a very ambitious goal: that all of its graduates attend college. Continue reading…

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WATCHING GENDER: How Stereotypes in Movies and on TV Impact Kids’ Development — Betsy Bozdech reports

It’s no secret that what kids see on screens has an impact on what they believe and who they become. That’s particularly true when it comes to gender; media that perpetuates rigid gender roles and stereotypes can affect kids’ sense of self, relationships, and career aspirations. Common Sense Media’s new research brief, “Watching Gender,” explores the effects of gender-biased media (specifically in TV and movies) on children’s development. It’s all part of the Gender Equity Is Common Sense initiative, which will lead to the creation of new tools and strategies to promote positive role models and representations for kids everywhere. Continue reading…awfj gender image study

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Three — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. The first question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Then we asked them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet. And, finally, we requested their thoughts on which characters they consider role models for young women and girls who are eager to see a wide range of female characters in the media. Read on…

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part Two — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Now we ask them what woman (or group of women) in history should have her story told on screen, but hasn’t yet? Read on…

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Bentonville Film Fest Women-on-the-Street, Part One — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100At the Bentonville Film Festival, female filmmakers find themselves surrounded by mentors, peers, and filmgoers who celebrate women’s creativity and success in every aspect of the entertainment world. Attracting women at every career level, the annual event encourages diversity and inclusion both in front of and behind the camera, and provides the ideal ambiance for taking a feminist pulse on the industry by collecting comments on topics of importance. AWFJ’s three-part BFF Woman-on-the-Street series does just that. We caught up with 2017 attendees (including festival founder Geena Davis) to gather their thoughts on key issues of concern to women in film. The first and most pressing question was about the current challenges they face in getting their work funded, produced, and recognized. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 2 -9: SAMI BLOOD

motw logo 1-35“Sami Blood,” set primarily in 1930s Sweden, tells the heartbreaking and eye opening story of Elle-Marja (Lene Cecilia Sparrok), a teenage girl of the Sami, a semi-nomadic indigenous people whose highly sophisticated traditional culture and way of life are completely intertwined with the reindeer they herd and breed throughout Northern Scandinavia. Framed by contemporary scenes in which an elderly Elle-Marja (now known by the Swedish name of Christina) reluctantly returns to the homeland and traditions she fled as a girl, the film is a moving coming-of-age story about a young girl wrestling with issues of cultural identity and destiny in addition to all of her typical teenage angst. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, May 26 to June 2, 2017: THE FIFTH ELEMENT

motw logo 1-35Twenty years after it cleaned up at the box office while simultaneously polarizing critics, Luc Besson’s colorful, action-packed sci-fi extravaganza is as bonkers as ever. It has elements that are reminiscent of both “Total Recall” (1990) and “Stargate” (1994), but “The Fifth Element” is loudly, proudly its own beast — and it all hinges on Milla Jovovich’s iconic performance. Continue reading…

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Bentonville Film Festival 2017: Diversity, Inclusion, and Women Everywhere! — Betsy Bozdech reports

BFF_Logo_Transparent2017_Scaled_100Founded in 2015 by actress/gender-equality advocate Geena Davis and ARC Entertainment executive Trevor Drinkwater, the Bentonville Film Festival (BFF) concluded its third annual week of, as it proudly says in its mission statement, “championing women and diverse voices in media.” The 2017 festival ran from May 2-7, with 70 films — episodic content, shorts, and feature-length dramas and documentaries — competing in several jury- and audience-awarded categories. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 19-26: THE WEDDING PLAN

motw logo 1-35An earnest drama about faith and love, “The Wedding Plan” follows Michal (Noa Koler), a thirtysomething Orthodox Israeli woman who’s ready — more than ready, really — to get married and build a life with her new husband. Things seem to be on the right track until her fiance, Gidi (Erez Drigues), calls things off just a month before their wedding. To the surprise of her friends and family, Michal moves forward with plans to be married in 30 days; invitations are sent, the hall is booked, the dress is bought. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 12- 19: PARIS CAN WAIT

motw logo 1-35If you’re looking for an escape from the stress of everyday life (especially these days) — and who isn’t? — you could do far worse than joining star Diane Lane and director Eleanor Coppola for a food-, wine-, and scenery-filled road trip through France in “Paris Can Wait.” Reminiscent of both “A Good Year” and Lane’s own “Under the Tuscan Sun,” this is the kind of sun-kissed cinematic respite that we all need sometimes. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: April 14-21, 2017: HEAL THE LIVING

motw logo 1-35Melancholy and moving, Heal the Living is a quiet, affecting French drama about organ donation. It weaves multiple characters’ stories together as it explores both the heartbreaking loss and the heady promise of renewed life. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 7 – 14, 2017: CARRIE PILBY

motw logo 1-35She may be a genius, but Carrie Pilby (Bel Powley) still has a lot to learn about human nature — and herself. This Manhattan-set indie comedy follows 19-year-old Harvard graduate Carrie as she navigates life and love, which isn’t easy, given that she overthinks literally everything. Like a distaff Holden Caulfield, Carrie is frequently trapped in her own head, suspicious of others’ motives and so many steps ahead of everyone she interacts with that she’s virtually incapable of things like casual conversation and dating. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 31- April 7, 2017: THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

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The Zookeeper’s Wife is a powerful, emotional ​fact-based ​drama about both the depth of human suffering experienced during World War II and the remarkable courage and strength of character that ordinary women and men demonstrated when their friends’ and neighbors’ lives were in danger. Jessica Chastain stars as Antonina Zabinska, a warm, gentle wife, mother, and animal lover who helps her husband, Jan (Johan Heldenbergh), run the Warsaw Zoo in late-1930s Poland. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 24 – 31, 2017: THEIR FINEST

motw logo 1-35Mix a few dashes of “Argo,” a smidge of “Monuments Men” (admittedly, there’s not all that much worth taking), and a hearty dollop of “Hope and Glory,” and you’ll start to get an idea of what to expect from “Their Finest.” This World War II-set romantic dramedy follows a scrappy group of British filmmakers/propagandists who find themselves scrambling to make a morale-boosting movie based on an inspiring true story … sort of. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 17-24, 2017: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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It may be a “tale as old as time,” but there’s plenty that’s new and fresh in Disney’s live-action take on one of folklore’s most enduring opposites-attract stories. First and foremost is Emma Watson as Belle, the independent, book-loving French girl who dreams of “adventure in the great wide somewhere” and ends up the captive of the surly, bitter, cursed Beast (Dan Stevens) after trading her own freedom for her father’s (Kevin Kline). Watson’s Belle is smart, confident, courageous, and feisty — she adds a welcome dash of our beloved Hermione to a character who was already considered one of Disney’s more admirable, self-sufficient princesses. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 10 – 17, 2017: THIS BEAUTIFUL FANTASTIC

motw logo 1-35Nobody does twee quite like the English, especially when it comes to stories about innocent romance, cantankerous old men who turn out to have hearts of gold, and neglected gardens begging to be restored to blooming beauty. This Beautiful Fantastic covers all of that ground and then some as it introduces viewers to Bella Brown (Jessica Brown Findlay, aka Downton Abbey’s beloved Lady Sybil), a librarian/aspiring children’s author who suffers from a variety of afflictions — a bit of OCD here, a little nature phobia there — that are all portrayed, in typical cinematic fashion, as charming quirks rather than potentially debilitating conditions.
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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 10 – 17: A UNITED KINGDOM

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A United Kingdom is director Amma Asante’s earnest, thought-provoking drama about the real-life passion between Botswana’s beloved Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Set in post-WWII England and Africa, the film sheds light on an important, still-relevant slice of history, addressing issues of race, politics, and colonialism while also telling a heartwarming love story. Read on…

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