BAYWATCH — Review by Susan Granger

This raunchy, big-screen riff off TV’s ‘90s action-comedy “Baywatch” kicks off the silly summer season with tryouts for the elite team of tanned, toned lifeguards that patrol Emerald Beach. Under the watchful eye of no-nonsense Mitch Buchannon (Dwayne Johnson), the wannabees are narrowed down to pudgy Ronnie Greenbaum (Jon Bass), sassy Summer Quinn (Alexandra Daddario) and cocky Matt Brody (Zac Efron), a disgraced bad boy who thinks his two Olympic gold medals should make him a shoo-in. Continue reading…

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THE FIFTH ELEMENT — Review by Cynthia Fuchs

“This woman is mankind’s most precious possession.” So exclaims Father Cornelius (Ian Holm), gazing with awe and adoration at Leeloo (Milla Jovovich). The priest has been awaiting her arrival for years, and now, in 2263, hopes against hope that she’ll fulfill the prophecy and save the world. Continue reading…

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ALIEN: COVENANT — Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1979, Ridley Scott helmed the shocking sci-fi thriller “Alien,” starring Sigourney Weaver, and containing one of the most terrifying moments I’ve ever seen on the screen, heralded by the memorable slogan: “In space, no one can hear you scream.” 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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THE FIFTH ELEMENT — Review by Dorothy Woodend

On the eve of another Luc Besson science fiction extravaganza (the director’s new film Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will be released July 21st, 2017), it is worth recognizing his first space romp The Fifth Element. The film is celebrating its 20th Anniversary this May, and it remains a curious example of French sensibility, mixed with American genre action, and spiked with a sweet dose of insanity. Long before Guardians of the Galaxy fused campiness and space ships, Besson’s vision took flight, combining sex, sass, aliens, and the age old quest to save the world and get the girl, in that order. Continue reading…

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Cannes First Look: OPHELIA — Michelle Hannett reports

Currently in production in Prague, here’s a first look at director Claire McCarthy’s Ophelia, starring Daisy Ridley.

Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova

Photo Credit: Julie Vrabelova

Set in the 14th Century but spoken in a contemporary voice, Ophelia is a dynamic re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Continue reading…

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SNATCHED – Review by Martha K. Baker

‘Snatched’ fits the pattern for gross-out movies. Eight joke ops. Count ‘em: eight. Some produce outright laughter; others just acknowledge that a joke landed. But that’s it for laughlines in Amy Schumer’s latest film, “Snatched.” Add to that some pretty smarmy stereotyping, and even the feminist device of a mother/daughter plot barely balances the grossness. Continue reading…

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MOVING MIDWAY — Documentary RetroReview by Jennifer Merin

moving midway posterGodfrey Cheshire, the noted and highly acclaimed film critic, uses his cinematic smarts and sensibility to good effect in Moving Midway, his first feature documentary about the relocation of his ancestral home, an antebellum North Carolina plantation named Midway, from its original location, now rapidly being encroached upon by Raleigh’s urban sprawl, to a more secluded and peaceful spot, still on family property, several miles away. The film is a fascinating study of family, location and changing times in the South. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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THE FIFTH ELEMENT — Review by Jennifer Merin

Luc Besson’s classic femme-centric scifi actioner is being re-released in theaters to mark the film’s 20th anniversary. Concurrently, SONY is preparing a special edition Blu-ray/DVD, which will be available in July 2917. As the new version of Wonder Woman is about to blockbust her way into into women’s psyches, it’s the perfect time for The Fifth Element to appear again on the big screen and re-establish her place among our galaxy of superstar cinematic female heroines. Read full review on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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THE WOMEN’S BALCONY — Review by Susan Granger

The highest-grossing film in Israel in the past three years, this good-hearted, yet provocative comedic drama is about the power of women in a battle against modern religious fundamentalism. 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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AWFJ EDA Awards @ DOXA 2017: The Winners!

As DOXA 2017 draws to a close, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists is delighted to announce the winners of this year’s EDA Awards for Best Female-Directed Feature and Best Female-Directed Short’ both presented at the festival’s awards ceremony on Saturday, May 13 in Vancouver. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: MANKILLER sets Premier, Female Directors at LAFF and DOXA, Robbie’s DREAMLAND

Mankiller, a documentary about Wilma Mankiller, the first woman chief of the Cherokee Nation, will premiere in July at LA Film Festival, which also boasts that 42 percent of its programmed films are directed by women. Margot Robbie is set to produce and star in Dreamland, a heist thriller. Vancouver’s DOXA Documentary Film Festival recognizes women directors with AWFJ EDA Awards and other honors. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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AWFJ EDA Awards @DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Justine Harbonnier on ANDREW KEEGAN IS MOVING

JUSTINE HARBONNIERFilmmaker Justine Harbonnier takes us to Montreal, where the city’s oldest house is being moved to make way for posh modern condos. Her profound and poetic film reflects her questions about how such moves impact a neighborhood and its residents, and others who pass by without even noticing these changes that effect the future of their city. Read what she has to day about making the film and her future plans on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Jessica Kingdon on COMMODITY CITY

JESSICA KINGDON DOXA HEADChina’s Yiwu Market is one of the largest shopping complexes in the world. Gorgeously shot, thematically focused and politically resonant, Jessica Kingdon’s ethnographic essay film blurs the boundary between consumer goods and the humans who sell them. Malls consume more than they are consumed, Small spaces, time lost,immersion in distraction. Read what Jessica Kingdon has to say about the making and meaning of her film on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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THE DINNER — Review by Martha K. Baker

Oren Moverman, the brilliant director of “The Messenger,” displays his talents as writer and director in “The Dinner.” Some viewers might see the plot, written by Moverman and based on Herman Koch’s novel, as far too complex. However, Moverman teases the complexities apart with striking effect. Continue reading…

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SNATCHED — Review by Susan Granger

Goofy comedienne Goldie Hawn (“Overboard,” “Bird on a Wire”) hasn’t made a film in 15 years, so I was really looking forward to her return to the silver screen, particularly teaming up with fearlessly funny Amy Schumer. Reviving her obnoxiously neurotic “Teamwork” persona, Schumer plays Emily Middleton, a potty-mouthed loser whose rock-star boyfriend (Randall Park) dumps her just after she’s splurged on a ‘nonrefundable’ vacation-for-two at a resort in exotic Ecuador. Continue reading…

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A QUIET PASSION — Review by Martha K. Baker

Anyone who knows anything about Emily Dickinson (1830-1886) knows she led a circumspect life. Her passions were banked, her circle small, and her relationships few. For years, she was often the only female in anthologies of American literature, and she still reigns supreme among her sisters and brothers in the canon. Continue reading…

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KING ARTHUR: LEGEND OF THE SWORD — Review by Susan Granger

Director Guy Ritchie diminishes the magnificent Arthurian legend and the mythology of the sword known as Excalibur to brutal butchery in this indecipherable medieval muddle. Continue reading…

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NORMAN — Review by Susan Granger

The satirical subtitle says it all: “Norman: The Moderate Rise and Tragic Fall of a New York Fixer,” as New York-born Israeli writer/director Joseph Cedar fashions a dryly witty character study. Continue reading

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AWFJ EDA Award @ DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Julia Hechler on LES CLOYS

julia hechler doxa2017In a particular Parisian neighborhood, residents have devised a means of establishing their own cultural identity and reclaiming their person power through the creation of a slanguage they call Verlan (back to front). American filmmaker Julia Hechler captures their trending tongue on film. Read what she has to say about the importance of language, getting to know your subjects and her next career moves on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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AWFJ EDA Awards @DOXA 2017 Filmmaker Interview: Cat Mills on FIXED!

cat mills doxa filmmakerRepair cafes are popping up around the world as a community-based antidote to throwaway culture. In Cat Mills’ EDA Award-nominated short, Fixed!, we get a glimpse inside Canada’s first repair cafe in Toronto, where a team of dedicated volunteers are helping their neighbors, one fix at a time. Read what she has to say about her beautifully crafted film, its riveting subjects, and her career. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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AWFJ EDA Awards @ DOXA Filmmaker Interview: Elisa Chee on LUCY

elisa chee filmmaker doxaNominated for the AWFJ EDA Award or Best Female-Directed Short at DOXA 2017, Vancouver-based filmmaker Elisa Chee uses masterful animation to recall the story of a domesticated chimpanzee called Lucy and a human named Janis Carter, the caretaker who made it her life’s work to rehabilitate Lucy and return her to her natural environment. Read what she has to say about her beautifully crafted short film, its subjects, animation in documentaries and her career on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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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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