THE EXPERIMENTAL CITY — Review by Diane Carson

The Experimental City chronicles an inventive, futuristic venture. Athelstan Spilhaus is not well-known but should be. He can still teach our environmentally abusive and wasteful society a great deal, for he spearheaded an impressively progressive, inventive futuristic venture beginning in the 1960s. Spilhaus and a distinguished steering committee, including Buckminster Fuller, researched and proposed an experimental city of 250,000 residents to be built in northern Minnesota. Continue reading…

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 22, 2018: WOMAN WALKS AHEAD

motw logo 1-35History becomes “her”story (with a few factual tweaks) in Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead, which introduces audiences to Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a determined portrait artist who defies convention — and the U.S. government — in the late 1880s to fulfill her dream of painting legendary warrior Sitting Bull and learning about the Lakota people (who are part of the Sioux tribes). Chastain delivers another excellent performance as Weldon, who ultimately finds more than artistic inspiration on the open prairies. Continue reading…

read more

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Filmmaker Amy Scott talks HAL and Women in Hollywood — Brandy McDonnell interviews

amy scott hedshotAmy Scott was inspired to helm Hal, her first feature film, after reading Nick Dawson’s Being Hal Ashby: Life of a Hollywood Rebel. Chronicling the influential insider’s career, Scott’s documentary is an insightful chapter in Hollywood history. “It was a fascinating look at his life and his journey. And I just connected with Hal because he was an editor for a number of years, won an Oscar for editing ‘In the Heat of the Night.’ And he directed his first film when he was 40, and I thought, ‘Hmm, OK, it’s not too late,” Scott said. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

read more

NYWIFT’s AfriAmerican Immigrant Screening: Local Stories, Global Themes – Madeline Johnson reports (Exclusive Guest Post)

nywift logoIn Astoria’s historic Kaufman Studios, filmmakers from the African diaspora shared local stories that reverberated deep into universal themes and questions as part of the fourth annual New York Women in Film & Television’s (NYWIFT) Women Filmmakers: Immigrant Stories screening on May 31, 2018. Highlighting narrative and documentary shorts about the New York immigrant experience, the selected films covered issues ranging from the #MeToo movement to Trump’s travel ban, and from the immigrant experience to what it means to be American. Continue reading on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

WOMAN WALKS AHEAD — Review by Nikki Baughan

woman walks ahead posterThe exploration of history through the female experience remains a rare thing in filmmaking – and perhaps nowhere more so than in the Western genre. Director Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead boldy takes on this overtly masculine cinematic landscape with this sensitive portrayal of real-life Native American rights campaigner Catherine Weldon, who travelled from 1880s New York City to the Dakota plains in order to paint legendary Chief Sitting Bull and subsequently became embroiled in their fight to regain control of their lands. Continue reading…

read more

MOUNTAIN — Review by Diane Carson

mountain posterMountain surveys attitudes toward the world’s highest peaks. Director Jennifer Peedom’s documentary essay is as varied as the subject it tackles. From black-and-white archival footage of the first mountaineers to contemporary high-tech daredevils, the relationship between humans and mountains encompasses everything from awe to terror, triumphs to disasters, enthralled obsession to unfettered risk taking. While not in depth on any one element, this overall meditative, fairly solemn consideration delivers a moving tribute to nature and a provocative examination of individuals confronting our highest peaks. Continue reading…

read more

INCREDIBLES 2 — Review by Susan Granger

14 years after the original, Brad Bird’s digitally animated superhero franchise has a super sequel, revolving around the Parr family. Bob, Mr. Incredible (voiced by Craig T. Nelson), is the traditional strong, protective patriarch and Helen (voiced by Holly Hunter), is his flexible wife – a.k.a. Elastigirl. Violet (voiced by Sarah Vowell) is their angst-laden teenage daughter, while Dash (voiced by Huck Milner) is her rowdy, impulsive younger brother, and Jack-Jack (voiced by Eli Fucile) is the baby. The family’s best friend is Lucius Best – a,k.a. Frozone (voiced by Samuel L. Jackson). Continue reading…

read more

Summer Docs Watch: The Missing Honeybees — Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

more than honey posterCommentaries posted across the internet report that as summer progresses across the nation, fields of clover coming to bloom sweeten the air with their delicate fragrance. But the web buzz is that the honeybees, usually attracted to pollinate the flowers, are in absentia this year, as they have been for several years past. Several extremely good documentaries that have been released during the past decade, have set off alarms about the missing honeybees by chronicling and explaining ‘colony collapse disorder,’ the phenomenon that threatens to put honeybees on the endangered species list, to upend the ecosystem and to disastrously disrupt our food supply. Continue reading…

read more

AMERICAN ANIMALS — Review by Diane Carson

American Animals tells the astonishing, true story of a rare book heist. The narrative twists and turns conventional heist movie formulas into a riotous blend, thereby delivering a wildly creative, tragicomic remix. It begins with a perfect flourish. Interviews capture astonished, appalled parents trying unsuccessfully to fathom how four privileged young men, their sons, could go so wrong that they decided to steal extremely valuable books from Transylvania University’s special collection. Continue reading…

read more

OCEAN’S 8 — Review by Susan Granger

oceans 8 posterOpening with a scene reminiscent of Steven Soderbergh’s Ocean’s Eleven (2001), this caper comedy introduces the late, lamented Danny Ocean’s younger sister Debbie (Sandra Bullock), leaving prison after five-years, eight months and 12 days behind bars. Swinging into action, Debbie purloins beauty products from Bergdorf Goodman, forges a posh Manhattan hotel registration, liberates a suitcase off a bellman’s cart and contacts her cool wing-woman Lou (Cate Blanchett) to explain an intricate scheme she’s been working on during her incarceration. Continue reading…

read more

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…

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 15, 2018: WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST

motw logo 1-35Some iconic personalities are so much larger than life that it’s easy to forget that they’re real people who’ve led real lives — which makes it all the more fascinating to learn those details and really get to know the person behind the personality. Such is the promise, and payoff, of Westwood: Punk, Icon, Activist, Lorna Tucker’s insightful, fascinating documentary about English fashion designer Vivienne Westwood. Continue reading…

read more

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Alfre Woodard Talks Inclusion, ‘Luke Cage’ and What’s Next — Brandy McDonnell interviews

alfre woodardAlfre Woodard, named one of the deadCenter Film Festival’s 2018 Oklahoma Film Icon Award winners, considers herself an “original gangster,” saying that after four decades in show business she has seen plenty of trends come and go. That includes the trend of including women or people of color in movies and television shows just because it happens to be fashionable at the moment, or because someone else had success doing it. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

read more

HALF THE PICTURE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

halfpicture.PIf you’ve been paying the teensiest bit of attention, there isn’t a lot in Half the Picture that will be news to you. But there is so much authority and insight in this film that is it essential viewing nevertheless for anyone who cares about all the great stories we are not seeing on our TVs and in our multiplexes because the voices of women storytellers are far too often stifled. With her feature debut, director Amy Adrion delivers a straightforward talking-head documentary that gives time and space — much needed cultural breathing room — to some remarkable female film/TV directors and industry watchers to discuss all the ways in which women get shut out of the power corridors of the pop-culture dream machine, and constantly undermined if they do manage to find their way inside. Continue reading…

read more

THE YELLOW BIRDS — Review by Jennifer Merin

yellow birds poster new small>Alexandre Moors’ powerful drama shatters notions that going to war makes heroes of ordinary men. Neither Bartle (Alden Ehrenreich), age 21, nor Murph (Tye Sheridan), who is barely 18, have any idea about what they want to do with their lives, so they join the military. They meet in basic training, and bond as brothers, determined to get through the military drill together. Their conmection is strengthened when Bartle meets Murph’s doting and very anxious mom (Jennifer Aniston), at an on base family dinner before the two deploy to Iraq, where they quickly learn that war is not a video game. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN…

read more

WESTWOOD: PUNK, ICON, ACTIVIST — Review by MaryAnn Johanson

WESTWOOD POSTERShe’s been a fixture of the counterculture since, well, she helped invent the punk aesthetic in London in the 1970s with her then-partner Malcolm McLaren, who dressed the band he managed — the Sex Pistols — in clothes she made, such as a T-shirt with straitjacket-esque too-long sleeves. Today, in her 70s, she remains an iconoclast in her artistic sense, her designs alive with funky prints and retro-futuristic shapes, as well as in her business sense: her company is almost unique among the big designers in that it is completely independent, not a subsidiary of a global corporation. So it’s difficult to believe that there hasn’t been a significant documentary about Vivienne Westwood until now. Continue reading…

read more

OCEANS 8 — Review by Martha K. Baker

Oceans 8 continues the franchise with diamonds. The Oceans probably stole their family tree. Every branch, from Danny Ocean on down, holds a con artist. It’s Debbie Ocean’s turn to steal. Would that she have pulled off her heist with her eight titular companions with a bit more levity and a lot more suspense. Continue reading…

read more

UPGRADE — Review by Susan Granger

If you’re into grisly, gruesome, dystopian sci-fi, you might watch this low-budget, revenge saga from writer/director Leigh Whannel (“Saw,” “Insidious”). One evening when automobile mechanic Grey Trace (Logan Marshall-Green) takes his tech-exec wife, Asha (Melanie Vallejo), to visit a reclusive client, billionaire inventor Eron (Harrison Gilbertson), Asha’s self-driving car goes awry – after which she is killed by a gang of thugs and he is left as a quadriplegic. Continue reading…

read more

HOTEL ARTEMIS — Review by Martha K. Baker

Hotel Artemis: can you spell ‘dystopia’? Chances are you are not likely to see a movie like Hotel Artemis any time soon. Yes, it can be classified as science fiction in the subcategory of dystopia, and, because it’s set in 2028, it shares aspects of futuristic films and violent film wherein things blow up good. But the plot and backstory of Hotel Artemis are intricate, the characters interesting, and camera work is masterful inside this black and red color scheme. Continue reading...

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 8, 2018: NANCY

motw logo 1-35Fragile, unpredictable, and melancholy, the tone of writer/director Christina Choe’s debut feature Nancy is a lot like its main character, a lonely, rather purposeless and very sad woman who desperately needs meaning in her life. Played to perfection by Andrea Riseborough, the character of Nancy is complex, captivating, deliberately difficult to read and often hard to root for, but you can’t help getting caught up in her search for purpose and connection. Continue reading…

read more

SPOTLIGHT June 2018: Andrea Riseborough, Actress, Director, Producer, Outspoken Activist

andrea riseborough head 3This month’s Alliance of Women Film Journalists SPOTLIGHT is on quadruple talent Andrea Riseborough, who in addition to writing, acting, and producing, has recently added directing to her arsenal of skills and cache of passions. If her name only barely rings a bell, don’t worry. As a performer, Riseborough is a chameleon who prefers to slip herself completely into each acting role. She never looks the same way twice. In fact, even if fans have been following her career since her first appearance, they are still unlikely to know her real hair color. They may not even be able to recognize her on the street. In speaking to Riseborough about her career and latest role as producer and star of the indie release Nancy, she makes it clear she couldn’t care less about celebrity recognition. Continue reading…

read more

Cannes Film Festival 2018: The Fight for Inclusion Continues — Moira Sullivan reports

cannes festival 2018 logoOfficially, this was the year for women at Cannes. It is a year that is only meaningful if the number of films made by women selected to the festival increases. The realization that Cannes is a hunting ground for sexual predators can never be erased thanks to Asia Argento’s face to face in the closing ceremony. Festival de Cannes may not continue under the same exclusive terms of the past, but this is the year where acknowledging the achievements of women was dynamically profiled. Inclusion is yet to come. Continue reading…

read more

Créteil Films de Femmes 2018: The 40th Anniversary — Moira Sullivan reports

creiteul festival logoThe “Créteil Films de Femmes” International Women’s Film Festival is an ongoing showcase of films made by women since 1978. This year the 40th anniversary event was held from March 9-18. Through the years guests such as Agnès Varda, Delphine Seyrig, Maria Schneider, Rachel Perkins, Bernadette LaFont, Chantal Akerman, Irene Papas, and Jeanne Moreau have met the public, showed their films and discussed their work. Although attendance has shrunk considerably since its inception, it is an important cultural event sponsored by the French government and municipality of Créteil. There is no struggle for inclusion as in Cannes: women’s films are selected to be honored 100%. Credit is due to Jackie Buet and her “equipe” (team), a phenomenal artistic director whose dynamic testimony is read up on opening night and summarized at the closure of the festival. Buet is an astute cultural critic and outstanding feminist whose work through 40 years of festivals is exceptional. The Créteil Festival celebrates inclusion whereas Cannes Film Festival is known for institutional exclusion. Continue reading…

read more

THE SEAGULL — Review by Diane Carson

The Seagull masterfully present Chekhov’s character study. Nineteenth-century Russian playwright Anton Chekhov wrote psychologically insightful, emotionally powerful plays, among them The Cherry Orchard, Three Sisters, Uncle Vanya and The Seagull. Good actors love sinking their teeth into the vortex of intertwined, colliding lives with irreconcilable priorities and/or personalities. All of this is on display in director Michael Mayer’s new cinematic adaptation of The Seagull. Continue reading…

read more

POPE FRANCIS: A MAN OF HIS WORD — Review by Martha K. Baker

In 2013, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected Pope of the Roman Catholic Church. He was the first pope to take the name of Francis. He was also the first pope from the Americas, South America to be exact. He faces the camera in a biodoc dedicated to his life. Continue reading…

read more