GERMANS AND JEWS — Review by Jennifer Merin

germansandjewsNow streaming online and available on DVD, Germans & Jews, a documentary by Janina Quint and Tal Recanati, is a revelation about the contemporary cultural connection between two groups of people with a devastating history of division. It compares current trends in personal identification, political expectations and social stereotyping to those which existed during the 1930s and 40s, as prelude and during the Nazi regime. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

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THE END OF AMERICA — Retroview by Jennifer Merin

end-of-america-posterBased on Naomi Wolf’s eponymous book, The End Of America presents the ten step blueprint that Hitler and other dictators used to subvert democratic process and put an end to personal freedoms. It compares, step by step, events leading up to establishment of the Third Reich with what has happened in the United States in recent years. Directed by Ricki Stern and Anne Sundberg, the documentary is convincing and alarming. The film released theatrically in 2008. It is now available on DVD. It is still highly relevant. It should be required viewing for anyone old enough to vote or join the army. Read my full review on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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MAD MEN are Sad Men — Martha P. Nochimson comments

madmenMy recent marathon re-watch of Matthew Weiner’s smartly conceived and beautifully realized Mad Men series turned into a provocation to thought. I became increasingly aware that the AMC/Lionsgate television series, now available on DVD and other platforms, is a very clever portrayal of current society as a network of disconnection, an entrapping tangle in which manipulative behavior and thinking only of one’s own interests is mandatory for success. But the show also reveals that the Mad Men and their peers — both women and men — are left craving, in a million different ways, the loyalty and empathy that is missing from their lives. Read on…

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PAYBACK – DVD Review by Jennifer Merin

paybackposter160Using Margaret Atwood’s fascinating treatise titled Payback: Debt And The Shadow Side of Wealth as a point of departure, acclaimed Canadian filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal engages a compelling cast of renown commentators to expound on the notion of debt and its wide ranging implications about human civilization and the future. Not all debt is economic. There is environmental debt, too. And, when has someone guilty of a crime paid his or her ‘debt to society?’ This compelling documentary leads to essential and urgently needed consideration of public policy. Concerned citizens, see this film! Read more>>

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THIRST (Blu-ray) – Review by Kimberly Lindbergs

Few film subjects have been as exploited, examined and scrutinized as vampires. These blood sucking monsters are a favorite topic of horror filmmakers and fans, morbid romantics and angst-ridden pubescent teens. In recent years the vampire genre has lost some of its bite thanks to a spate of predictable and tired films made for kids and undiscriminating adults. But during the 1970s, a particularly inventive and pivotal decade for vampires in cinema, audiences were treated to an abundance of creative movies and telefilms that reimagined, subverted and deconstructed vampire legend and lore. This is one such film. Read more

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JANES DEAN: ULTIMATE COLLECTOR’S EDITION (Blu-ray) – Review by Kimberly Lindbergs

The original rebel, the first rock star, the cultural icon of teenage disillusionment, an American legend and the Sphinx of Youth. These are just a few of the labels that have been used to describe James Dean but I like to remember him as a one of our greatest actors. Read more>>

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KOCH – Review by Jennifer Merin

Three-term Mayor Ed Koch ran NYC from 1978-1989, revitalizing the city and stirring up a lot of controversy. Love him or hate him, Koch still commands a lot of attention. This fine biodoc by Neil Barsky gives him his due, past and present. Read more>>

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FIDEL! – Review by Jennifer Merin

The completely restored version of “Fidel!,” Saul Landau’s classic documentary profile of Fidel Castro, is available on DVD and VOD. Masterfully shot and edited, the 1969 documentary is a revelation about

Castro’s relationship with the Cuban people nine years after is ascent to power. The film offers fascinating insights into contemporary Cuba and Cuban history. Read more>>

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AWFJ Women On Film – “Circus” – Review by Jennifer Merin

This comprehensive, colorful and thoroughly entertaining epic documentary about the Big Apple Circus is enchanting, thrilling and so up close and personal that you can almost smell the grease paint, sweat and Tiger Balm. Read more>>

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AWFJ Women On Film – Elia Kazan on DVD – Carrie Rickey comments

Beyond “On the Waterfront,” what are the essential Elia Kazan movies? A new box set has ‘em all: Read more>>

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Women On Film – Documentaries for Women’s History Month – Jennifer Merin recommends

These superb documentaries that are made by and about women are ideal for viewing during March, officially designated Women’s History Month. Read more>>

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Women On Film – “FTA” on DVD – Jennifer Merin reviews

FTA is an anti-war documentary that went missing shortly after its premiere in 1972. Now restored and available to the public, the film is an important record showing the strength of the American people’s opposition to the Vietnam War. Read more>>

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Women On Film – “Frozen River” On DVD – Jennifer Merin reviews

Judging from the well-deserved accolades that continue to roll in, “Frozen River” is unmistakably being hailed as one of 2008′s best films. Written and directed by Courtney Hunt, and starring Melissa Leo and Misty Upham as two compelling female lead characters whose thrilling adventure and evolving relationship have a remarkably feminist arc, “Frozen River” is an exemplary expression of a woman’s perspective on women’s issues and women’s solutions.

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Women On Film – “FTA,” introduced by Jane Fonda At IFC Center – Jennifer Merin reviews

“FTA,” the legendary documentary that chronicled Jane Fonda’s tour of US military bases with an anti-Vietnam War cabaret show, disappeared from public view one week after its theatrical release in 1972.

Three decades later, the film’s negatives were discovered, a print was made and “FTA” is again in the spotlight, with Jane Fonda introducing two screenings at the IFC Center in New York to launch the DVD release. Read more>>

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Women On Film – “I’ve Loved You So Long” on DVD – Jennifer Merin reviews

This moving French film about the reunion of two sisters long separated by circumstances and guilt is must-see cinema.

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Women On Film – “The Duchess” on DVD – MaryAnn Johanson reviews

Is it my fault if “The Duchess” isn’t as ‘all that’ as it thinks it is? Read more>>Read more>>

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Women On Film: “Towelhead” on DVD – MaryAnn Johanson reviews

Towelhead is that extreme rarity of American film: a movie that is about a teenage girl’s fumblings through the confusions of early adolescence, about figuring out what sex is all about, discovering some of the amazing things her own body can do, and simply finding a way to break free of the overarching influence of her parents and learn who she is herself. Read more>>

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DVD Review: “Talk To Me”

“Talk to Me” is a biopic about real life Washington DC-based radio DJ and talk show host Petey Green (played by Don Cheadle) who ruled the airways during the turbulent 1960s. It was a time of protest and social unrest. When Dr. Martin Luther King was assassinated, the city’s furious and frustrated black population broke into riots and widespread looting. It was Green’s no nonsense talk–often rife with his own rage–that actually restored order to the city.

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DVD Review: Fiddler On The Roof Collector’s Edition

Whether seen on large screen or small, Fiddler On the Roof’s engaging musically enhanced storytelling is an all embracing exhilarating experience.

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DVD Review: Moonstruck Deluxe Edition

Marketers aren’t just fooling around when they release the deluxe edition of the DVD of “Moonstruck” at Valentine’s Day, the way one might target an arrow at a viewer’s heart.

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DVD Review: Little Miss Sunshine

Meet the Hoovers, a dysfunctional family of quirky individuals who have bad traits ranging from overzealous optimism to heroin addiction– but who remain, through a series of ordeals that would stress out saints– endearing, engaging and utterly entertaining.

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DVD Review: Idiocracy

Just as Children of Men hits the big screen, revealing a future tale in which humankind has lost reproductive capability and faces extinction, the DVD of Idiocracy delivers to the small screen a futuristic story in which the human population has been dumbed down due to the intelligentsia’s intentional deference of child bearing (until it’s too late) while boorish intellectually-deficient folk breed like bunnies.

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DVD Review: Quinceanera

Quinceanera, a small independent film that took several prizes at Sundance, captured a lot of hearts when it was released last year. It’s the story of a girl coming of age in a Los Angeles’ Mexican-American Echo Park neighborhood, a community that observes the tradition of Quinceanera– an elaborately staged celebration marking a Latina girl’s debut into womenhood on her fifteenth birthday.

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DVD Review: 49 UP

Based on the Jesuit maxim “Give me the child until he is 7, and I will show you the man,“ the Up series began in 1963 as a one-shot documentary (directed by Paul Almond) showing how a diverse group of English seven-year-olds– boys and girls from different regions and varied socio-economic backgrounds–viewed their world. It was a way to project what Britain might be like when these kids grew up to be adults in the year 2000.

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