Cate Marquis

Cate Marquis is a film critic and historian based in the St. Louis, Missouri area. Marquis reviews film for the St. Louis Jewish Light weekly newspaper and Playback: stl website, as well as other publications. The daughter of artist Paul Marquis, she was introduced to classic and silent films by her father, as well as art and theater. Besides reviewing films, she lectures on film history, particularly the silent film era, has served on the board of the Meramec Classic Film Festival and is a long-time collaborator with the St. Louis International Film Festival, serving on various juries.

 

Articles by Cate Marquis

 

93QUEEN — Review by Cate Marquis

Documentary filmmaker Paula Eiselt brings us an inspiring story of women helping women in 93Queen. A group of women in a Brooklyn Hasidic community see a need for an ambulance service to help women in their community, a service they dub Ezras Nashim (“Helping Women”). Continue reading…

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DARK MONEY — Review by Cate Marquis

Kimberly Reed’s Dark Money is a chilling but fascinating look at the way money from hidden, out-of-state and even foreign government sources can be used to influence or disrupt state-level political races in this country. Reed uses a state legislature race in Montana as an example, where out-of-state organizations use dark money to fund an effort to gain control of its legislature and direct public policy for those special interests. Although the specific example is Montana, it it is a clear illustration of the power of unlimited hidden money to influence local elections in the wake of the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, a cautionary tale for other states also being targeted for similar efforts. Continue reading…

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DARK RIVER — Review by Cate Marquis

Clio Barnard gives us a glimpse into the hard life of sheep farmers in Yorkshire through the eyes of a woman who returns home to the sheep ranch where she grew up after a fifteen year absence. Alice (Ruth Wilson) works as a sheep shearer for hire, having left home young and never returned. When she learns of her father’s death, her strange reaction to the news immediately raises the question of abuse in our minds, a suspicion quickly confirmed by flashbacks of a young Alice (Esme Creed-Miles) experiencing sexual abuse at the hands of her father (Sean Bean). Continue reading…

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LEAVE NO TRACE — Review by Cate Marquis

Debra Granik’s Leave No Trace is a gem of a film, a quietly gripping drama about a father and daughter living in a large heavily-forested park outside Portland, Oregon. The power of this film is in its warmth and authenticity, particularly in the the close bond between father and daughter. The film has moments of fear and suspense but there are no car chases, explosions or mayhem, just the drama of human life, a veteran coping with his trauma and trying his best to raise his daughter, a daughter who loves her father but does not share his inner demons. Continue reading…

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WOMAN WALKS AHEAD — Review by Cate Marquis

Director Susanna White’s woman-centric Western stars Jessica Chastain as a painter who travels from New York into the West with the intention of painting Sitting Bull. Once again, Chastain lands a role as a strong woman carving out her own way in the world. The story is based on a real person, who did travel to North Dakota and became a confidant and adviser to the Lakota chief. Continue reading…

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WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST — Review by Cate Marquis

Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, Lorna Tucker’s documentary of British punk fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, profiles a remarkable woman whose successful career grew out of her roots as a founder of the punk rock movement. Tucker introduces us to a true rebel, whose fashions are infused with both punk style and her own political activism, a woman who is as bold and cutting-edge in her 70s as in her 20s. Continue reading…

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NANCY — Review by Cate Marquis

nancy posterAndrea Riseborough plays a young woman who lives a life barely connected to reality in director Christina Choe’s Nancy. Nancy is is a lonely person, more connected to her cell phone and her online life than her life of caring for her sickly, complaining mother Betty (Ann Dowd) in the run-down home they share. Mom criticizes and complains to her daughter about being neglected but Nancy can barely break away from the fantasy life she prefers to the grim real one with her mother. Continue reading…

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SOCIAL ANIMALS — Review by Cate Marquis

social animals posterWriter/director Theresa Bennett’s debut feature film Social Animals is a light, quirky comedy about modern romance, Austin, TX style. Social Animals doesn’t offer social commentary, so much as kind of mock social commentary, and is so packed with quirk and ironic Millennial humor about sex, friendship, relationships and just trying to make a living, that it may explode. Continue reading…

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MARY SHELLEY — Review by Cate Marquis

It is a bit surprising that no one else has made a movie about English author Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and the writing of her book Frankenstein, arguably the first science fiction novel. Interestingly, it is Haifaa Al-Mansour, a ground-breaking woman who directs Mary Shelley. Al-Mansour is the first Saudi woman director, and the film’s script is by another woman, Emma Jensen. Elle Fanning plays Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, the teen girl who falls for poet Percy Bysshe Shelley, an admirer of her radical philosopher father William Godwin. Continue reading...

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MOUNTAIN — Review by Cate Marquis

Mountain starts in a different way from most films about mountains and their majesty. Instead of opening with mountains, we see black and white images of an orchestra tuning up and actor Willem Dafoe preparing to deliver his narration as the opening credits roll. Then there is a brief quote, “Those who dance are considered mad by those who cannot hear the music,” and the mountains make their entrance. Perhaps that opening quote describes those who risk all just to climb the planet’s highest peaks. Continue reading…

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RBG – Review by Cate Marquis

RBG POSTERThis documentary gives us the low-down on this brilliant but reserved attorney who is having an unlikely turn as a cultural darling. The documentary RBG starts out with clips of Republican or politically-conservative men reviling Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg as if she were the devil incarnate. For these right-leaning white men, she may well be just that, or at least their worst nightmare, a characterization the small but mighty RBG might embrace, or maybe even relish. Continue reading…

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LET THE SUNSHINE IN — Review by Cate Marquis

Juliette Binoche plays a middle-aged Parisian artist who is searching for true love, the French-language Let the Sunshine In. Director Claire Denis takes us on as emotional journey with Binoche, one that leads more to self discovery and insights than romance, as her character explores romantic possibilities. Surprisingly, this is the first film collaboration of these two giants of French cinema. The film is billed as romantic comedy but the comedy is both subtle and very French. Also very French are the conversations, which often tend towards the philosophical and world weariness, with a dash of idealistic hope. Continue reading…

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LITTLE PINK HOUSE — Review by Cate Marquis

A pink house is not for everyone but it was just right for Susette Kelo, especially with a lovely river view. When a local economic redevelopment organization tries to seize the Connecticut cottage she so lovingly rehabbed for a project to lure a Big Pharma company to the financially-strapped town, she fights – all the way to the Supreme Court. Continue reading…

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MABEL MABEL TIGER TRAINER — Review by Cate Marquis

MABELMABELPOSTERMabel Mabel Tiger Trainer tells the surprising, forgotten story of the first woman tiger trainer, Mabel Stark. Born into poverty in Tennessee and growing up the daughter of a sharecropper in Kentucky, Mabel lost her father as a child and later her mother before she essentially ran away with the circus. Mabel fell in love with tigers when she first saw one in California, and against strong opposition and the prevailing belief that women could not handle big cats under the big top, she did just that. Not only did she succeed in learning how to train tigers by the “kindness method,” Mabel and her tigers eventually became the star act with Ringling Brothers. Continue reading…

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OUTSIDE IN — Review by Cate Marquis

Writer/director Lynn Shelton and co-writer Jay Duplass craft an intriguing, moving drama about the emotional bond between a man just released on parole after 20 years and his former teacher who worked tirelessly for his release. Continue reading…

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MADAME — Review by Cate Marquis

Madame is a French comedy of manners from writer/director Amanda Sther, that plays with what happens when a wealthy hostess suddenly discovers that she needs one more dinner guest to avoid having the unlucky number 13, and decides to pass off her maid as one of the guests. But this is no costume drama set in the 18th century – this story takes place in modern Paris, with Harvey Keitel and Toni Collette playing the wealthy American couple, living in a Paris mansion. Continue reading…

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IN THE LAND OF POMEGRANATES — Review by Cate Marquis

LAND OF POMEGRAATES POSTERThe conflict between the Palestinians and the Israelis is one of the intractable conflicts of the world. Even naming the country is fraught with emotion. If you say Israel, Palestinians object, and if you say Palestine, Israelis protest. Finding a path to peace is very rocky going. Director Hava Kohav Beller’s In The Land of Pomegranates examines that conflict in a human and evenhanded way, though the voices and experiences of people on both sides. The documentary’s title refers to Gaza, an area known for growing pomegranates. Pomegranates are considered a symbol of rebirth but “pomegranate” is also slang for a hand grenade. Continue reading…

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CLAIRE’S CAMERA — Review by Cate Marquis

South Korean director Hong Sangsoo takes us to the Cannes Film Festival, not for a tale of red carpets and glittering parties but a quiet little contemplative drama about people on the fringes of the festival. Claire’s Camera is a South Korean/French production in Korean, English and a little French. Claire is Isabelle Huppert, playing a teacher from Paris who is attending the Cannes Film Festival with a friend who has a film in the festival. At loose ends, Claire meets and instantly bonds with another person on the other side of the velvet rope, a young South Korean film sales associate, Manhee (Kim Minhee). Continue reading…

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OH LUCY! — Review by Cate Marquis

oh lucy posterDirector Atsuko Hirayanagi makes a strong feature film debut with “Oh Lucy,” a Japanese dramedy with a darker, absurdist undercurrent. Hirayanagi’s film is a tale of a middle-aged single Japanese women gaining a new view of life after signing up for a course to learn English that requires her to don a curly blonde wig and adopt a new identity as “Lucy.” Hirayanagi focuses on a type of character often overlooked and offers her unexpected second chance in life. The director also peppers her film with little absurdities alternating with some moments of bracing darkness. Continue reading…

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HALF MAGIC — Review by Cate Marquis

Three women with “man troubles” and low self esteem decide to form a team to both make their sex lives better and get what they really want in their love relationships, with a little help from some “magic candles,” in Heather Graham’s female-centric romantic comedy Half Magic. Continue reading…

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THAT’S NOT ME — Review by Cate Marquis

In the Australian comedy, That’s Not Me, Alice Foulcher plays Polly, a struggling actor in Melbourne whose life is turned upside down when her twin sister Amy, also an actor, sudden launches into international fame. Ironically, the role that gave Amy the exposure she needed to win a part in a big movie was a part in a soap opera that Polly had turned down. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Cate Marquis

A Fantastic Woman begins on a romantic note, with an older man listening to a singer with a band. In high heels, short skirt, and a golden voice, Marina Vidal is pretty but there is something a bit different her. The couple go out, then back home. Late at night, the man awakens and doesn’t feel well. Despite a desperate rush to the hospital, Marina loses her beloved to an aneurysm. In her grief, Marina faces a new problem, her older lover Orlando’s (Francisco Reyes) disapproving family, and then police who seem overly interested in her gender. Continue reading…

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MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER — Review by Cate Marquis

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a gorgeously animated Japanese film about a red-headed English girl named Mary who follows a black cat into the forest behind her great aunt’s country house, and finds herself transported into a magical world of witches. Continue reading…

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THE SHAPE OF WATER — review by Cate Marquis

Magical, evocative and haunting, THE SHAPE OF WATER blends Cold War thriller, fairy tale and monster movie genres in director Guillermo Del Toro’s best film since PAN’S LABYRINTH, as well as one of the year’s best. Continue reading…

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THE POST — Review by Cate Marquis

Steven Spielberg delivers a remarkable and timely film about freedom of the press, a story set in 1971 that has striking echoes for the present. President Nixon, who disdains the press, seeks to prevent publication of embarrassing secret government documents that expose decades of deceit of the American people on the Vietnam War. Continue reading…

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