Dorothy Woodend

Dorothy Woodend has been the film critic for The Tyee since 2004. Her work has been published in magazines, newspapers and books across Canada and the US, as well as a number of international publications. Dorothy is also the Senior Festival Advisor for DOXA Documentary Film Festival in Vancouver.

 

Articles by Dorothy Woodend

 

AWFJ Movie of The Week December 2: JACKIE

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Mythmaking has long been a staple of American movies. Pablo Larraín’s film portrait Jackie tackles one of the greatest of American myths — that of first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. In the week following her husband’s assassination, Mrs. Kennedy granted an interview to Life Magazine. The film uses this as a framing device, and as an almost surgical means to dissect the psyche of its titular character. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, November 21 – November 25: Miss Sloane

Film Title: Miss. SloaneIf you have the stomach for corruption in the political arena, then director John Madden’s new drama Miss Sloane might be just the ticket. If you have had your fill of politicking, bad behaviour and ruthlessness in the real world, watching even more on movie screens might seem a little like an extended torture session. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, November 14 – November 18: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantastic-beasts-poster“The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born; now is the time of monsters.” – Antonio Gramsci’s famous phrase has been making its way around the internet at the moment. If anyone knows a thing or two about beasts and monsters, it is author J.K. Rowling. Way back in June, Ms. Rowling wrote a rather interesting and timely essay. Read on….

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, November 7 – November 11: Arrival

arrival-posterEnglish has always been the de facto language of science fiction. Even when James T. Kirk and the crew of the USS Enterprise embarked on their original five-year mission, every new alien species they encountered helpfully spoke English. When language fails, and aliens arrive, making odd noises and gestures, we had Independence Day’s Will Smith punching them in the face and saying, “Welcome to Earth.”  Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 31 – November 4: LOVING

loving-posterThe landmark case of Loving v. Virginia challenged the anti-miscegenation laws in the US, and arguably changed the country. But at the centre of the story were two people who, quite simply, were in love and wanted to be married.

Director Jeff Nichols’s previous film Midnight Special was a world away from the homespun, deeply humble reality of Richard and Mildred Loving. But the two films share a common attention to the reaction of people caught up in something larger that fractures and shatters their understanding of the world. In all of Nichols’s work it is the primacy of family and love that drives the story. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 24 – October 28: Gimme Danger

gimme-danger-poster-copyThere is a danger in meeting your idols, not only meeting them, but making films about them. The pairing of indie Auteur Jim Jarmusch (Dead Man, Down by Law, Stranger Than Paradise) and Iggy Pop ought to have been a sonic blast that scraped the stage clean and left only a few raggedy bits clinging on. In fact, it is not. Rather it is a perfectly nice film about the rise and eventual implosion of the most seminal of punk acts, old Iggy and The Stooges. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 17 – October 21: Moonlight

moonlight-posterThe eight-year gap between Barry Jenkin’s first film Medicine for Melancholy and his sophomore follow-up Moonlight has been a source of some considerable anxiety, not only for the filmmaker himself, but for all the cinephiles eagerly awaiting Jenkins’s new work. Read More…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 10 – October 14: CERTAIN WOMEN

certain-women-poster-copyKelly Reichardt’s body of work, River of Grass (1994), Old Joy (2006), Wendy and Lucy (2008), Meek’s Cutoff (2010); and Night Moves (2013) has established her as a major American cineaste. Her latest film, Certain Women, maintains her masterful, yet quiet trajectory. The film, based on a series of short stories from Maile Meloy, features a remarkable quartet of women including Laura Dern, Kristen Stewart, Michelle Williams and newcomer Lily Gladstone. Set against the small town vistas of the American Northwest, captured in bone-dry beauty by Reichardt’s longtime cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt, Certain Women shares with her earlier films the same attention to truth, mediated by plainspoken compassion and humility. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, October 3 – October 7: THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

girl-on-the-train-posterPaula Hawkins’s runaway successful novel The Girl on the Train is part of a new genre called ‘Mom Noir’, along with Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and a number of other titles like The Woman in the Cabin or The Girl in the Red Coat. This new genre follows hot and heavy on the heels of ‘Mom Porn’ with the Fifty Shades of Grey series and The Twilight saga. The numbers are always touted when talking about such literary phenomena. The biggest selling, chart-breaking, hyperbole. What is less celebrated is the quality of the books themselves. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, September 26 – September 30: MISS PEREGRINE’S HOME FOR PECULIAR CHILDREN

miss-peregrine-posterThe origins of Ransom Riggs’s book Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children began with a collection of random photos that the author had scrounged together from flea markets and swap meets over the years. Riggs’s grab bag of oddities predominantly featured archival images of creepy-looking kids doing strange things. In one such photo a po-faced child with Pre-Raphaelite ringlets and a white party dress levitates a few feet above the ground. In another, a farm boy sits on the ground clutching two dead-eyed dolls. A certain aura of the ominous hangs over these images, like mist on a lake. They draw the eye, compelling viewers to search the edges of the frame for additional clues as to the source their power. Read On…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, September 19 – September 23: Queen of Katwe

queenofkatwe-poster-resizrIn director Mira Nair’s hands Queen of Katwe, the true story of chess prodigy Phiona Mutesi becomes more than a Disneyfied triumph. The film, based on Tim Crothers’s book of the same title, engages squarely with the reality of life in the Ugandan slum. Read On…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, September 12 – September 16: Bridget Jones’s Baby

bridget jones's baby posterBridget Jones, patron saint of single ladies is back. Long before the film entered theatres, it had picked up a small firestorm of controversy over its star’s changed appearance. Variety critic Owen Gleiberman shot himself, repeatedly, in the foot as he tried to maintain that Zellweger’s face was, in some fashion, a betrayal of ordinary beauty that had vaulted her to fame in the first two films. Read On…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, September 5 – September 9: CAMERAPERSON

cameraperson posterKirsten Johnson’s film Camerperson begins with a simple quote. “For the past 25 years I’ve worked as a documentary cinematographer. I originally shot the following footage for other films, but here I ask you to see it as my memoir. These are the images that have marked me and leave me wondering still.” Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 29 – September 2: The Light Between Oceans

 

light_between_oceans_posterAs we wave goodbye to a truly wretched slate of summer blockbusters, the season of serious films kicks off with a new cargo of epic stories, sweeping vistas and major actors. One film has every single one of these things – Derek Cianfrance’s adaptation of M.L. Stedman’s debut novel The Light Between Oceans. The film will have its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, before its release on September 2 in the US. Read On…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 21 – August 26: Southside With You

southside with you posterSouthside With You is a love song to America’s first couple, Barack and Michelle Obama. In the fall of 1989, long before history anointed them, the pair met as colleagues at a Chicago law firm. Twenty-eight-year-old Barack (Parker Sawyers), Harvard graduate, summer associate, and secret smoker, has eyes for Michelle Robinson (Tika Sumpter), second-year associate, would-be-world changer, serious woman. She is his supervisor. He is her junior. At the outset of their day, Michelle is explicitly clear that this is not a date. And so, it begins. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 15 – August 19: BEN-HUR

BEN HUR POSTEROne’s first thought on the remake of Ben-Hur might be “Why, exactly?” The era of sword and sandals epics may have reached a fever pitch in 1959, with Chuck Heston traipsing about in a metal skirt and breastplates, but even in the early days, the camp factor was high. To wit: Tony Curtis and his liquid eyes getting Laurence Olivier into hot water in Spartacus (1960). The genre seems to be periodically rediscovered every few years, with the likes of Russell Crowe (Gladiator), Christian Bale (Exodus: Gods and Kings) and Gerard Butler (The 300) donning the iron miniskirt for a bit of manly action. Read On…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 8 – August 12: Florence Foster Jenkins

florence_foster_jenkins_poster Meryl Steep adds another character in her pantheon of infamous dames — be it Margaret Thatcher, Julia Child, or Emmeline Pankhurst. This time it is an actual operatic grande dame in the form of Florence Foster Jenkins. The indomitable Jenkins came to fame (or more correctly, infamy) as an operatic soprano of highly dubious talent but soaring amounts of hubris and delusions of grandeur on a Wagnerian scale. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, August 1st to 5th: SUICIDE SQUAD

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The latest comic book adaptation to hit summer screens is David Ayer’s hyperbolic super villain extravaganza. You would have to be in a coma to miss the veritable onslaught of marketing. Whether it’s strange stories about Ayer’s directorial methodology (read: manipulation) of his cast members, or the fact that the production had an on-set therapist — the film differentiates itself with a focus on the villains of the story. Read on…

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Kelly Reichart’s mid-career retrospective — Dorothy Woodend reports

kelly reichert 2The five-film program at Vancouver’s Cinematheque captures Reichert’s characteristic balance of sorrow and joy in a world of hard times and bad choices. The program, spanning almost the length of Reichardt’s career thus far, presents Old Joy (2006), Wendy and Lucy (2008), Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and Night Moves (2013) — which were all co-written with her writing partner, Jon Raymond — and her first feature, River of Grass (1994), in a new restoration. Read more>>

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STRAIGHT OUTTA COMPTON – Review by Dorothy Woodend

A Parental Advisory: I took my teen son to a film that invokes Michael Brown’s America, but conceals another history. Read more>>

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THE TRIBE – Review by Dorothy Woodend

Silent Cries for Humanity. There’s nothing like Eastern European cinema to fuel the bonfire of your cynicism. Read more>>

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THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E. – Review by Dorothy Woodend

Spies, Spies, Everywhere Spies. Guy Ritchie directs a 1960s carbon copy for our culturally exhausted age. Read more>>

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MAD MAX FURY ROAD – Review by Dorothy Woodend

An Action Opus with a Gentle Core. It’s a good sign when you bump into a couple of people you know who are just exiting the film that you are about to see. It’s an even better sign when those people say, “I wish I was you, seeing it again for the first time.” Read more>>

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ME AND EARL AND THE DYING GIRL – Review by Dorothy Woodend

Um, Now Can We Have a Girl’s Coming of Age Film? It’s always about a boy. But along comes “Me and Earl and the Dying Girl’ and ‘Ben’s at Home’. Read more>>

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DOXA FEST 2015 – Dorothy Woodend Reports

Attention Documentary Lovers: Paradise Is Coming! DOXA Fest, Vancouver’s documentaries-only film festival, is almost here! Here’s a preview listing what’s on and what not to miss. Read more>>

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