ALL I WISH — Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

Should a 60-yr-old actress permanently be typecast as a mom or a grandma? Sharon Stone can answer that question with an emphatic no way! When first-time director Susan Walters took a chance on a major script change from Stone, she opened the anti-ageism floodgates for all females. You see, Walters sent the script to Stone inquiring if she’d play the lead’s mom—Stone replied back that it would be more interesting to play the lead daughter role, not to mention it’s a storyline viewers haven’t seen before. When Walters replied that that the character she had in mind wears a bikini, plays beach volleyball, smokes pot, dances in bars, drinks shots, doesn’t want marriage and has casual sex, Stone sent the message, “Don’t change a thing other than the age.” Sharon Stone still rocks. Continue reading…

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PACIFIC RIM UPRISING — Review by Susan Granger

Anticipation of the international box-office is what propelled this generic sequel to Guillermo del Toro’s 2013 epic “Pacific Rim,” which flopped in the United States but made millions overseas. Laden with special-effects, its sci-fi plot pitted humans against the Kaiju, which are alien-engineered sea monsters that emerged from a multidimensional gateway, known as the Breach, located on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. Continue reading…

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DEMON HOUSE — Review by Liz Whittemore

demon house posterParanormal investigation is all fun and games until people are physically affected by something the eye cannot see. Are demons real? Can objects be possessed by spirits? Death seems to surround certain places on Earth. Somewhere in America once stood a home called the “Portal to Hell” and it wasn’t as long ago as you might think. Continue reading on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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LOVE SIMON — Review by Susan Granger

This new, upbeat romantic comedy has already broken records: it’s the first major studio PG-13 wide-release, playing in multiplexes, as opposed to art houses, to revolve around an openly homosexual adolescent. Based on Becky Albertalli’s 2015 YA novel, “Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda,” the narrative introduces popular, 17 year-old high school senior Simon Spier (Nick Robinson), who ruefully notes he’s never ‘the leading guy.’ Instead, he’s relegated to being ‘the best friend.’ Continue reading…

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MADAME — Review by Martha K. Baker

It takes a very special filmmaker to turn a movie peopled by meanies into a worthy film. Sally Potter does it currently with “The Party,” but Amanda Sthers misses by a wide margin in “Madame.” The titular character is mean, haughty, and arrogant — no one you would want to break bread with. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 30: OUTSIDE IN

motw logo 1-35Lynn Shelton’s “Outside In” is a delicately rendered, poignant drama about the power of human connection. It centers on Chris (Jay Duplass, who co-wrote the screenplay with Shelton), who’s just spent 20 years in prison after being convicted of a crime that wasn’t really his fault (wrong place, wrong time). Out on parole largely due to the tireless advocacy and research work of his former English teacher, Carol (Edie Falco), Chris returns to a small Pacific Northwest town that welcomes him back but doesn’t really have any idea what to do with him. Continue reading…

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UNSANE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

unsane posterAs a piece of craft, Unsane is a smack in the face to what Hollywood has become in recent years, bloated with megabudget action fantasies full of impossible monsters and superheroes that demand armies of CGI grunts to create. Using off-the-shelf iPhones, apps, lenses, and drones, Steven Soderbergh — who served as his own cinematographer, as he often does — shot the film mostly in one location, with a small cast and almost impossibly tiny crew. They prepared not so much in secret as under the radar, because that’s easy to do — it’s almost inevitable — with such a small production footprint. Unsane’s budget? A measly $1.2 million… which is the precise same dollar amount as Soderbergh’s very first film, Sex, Lies, and Videotape, almost 30 years ago. And that was considered low-budget then. Continue reading…

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THE BOY DOWNSTAIRS — Review by Susan Granger

The problem with awkward, indecisive, ordinary people is that they’re dull to watch – and filmmaker Sophie Brooks’ low-key rom-com hits all the boring buttons. Returning to New York after spending three years in London, 30’ish Diana (Zosia Mamet) is an aspiring writer who, ostensibly, works in a bridal shop but, judging by her spacious Fort Greene apartment, is still being financially supported by her indulgent father. Continue reading…

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MARY MAGDALENE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

mary magdelene posterWhy didn’t Jesus have any female Apostles? Well, he kinda did, in Mary Magdalene — technically, Mary of Magdala, the small village in Galilee she was from (maybe); or Mary the Magdalene — who in the contradictory books of the New Testament is either the only person to witness or one of a group of women to witness Jesus’ resurrection. So, why isn’t there a Gospel of Mary? Well, there kinda is, though it was only rediscovered in the late 19th century and is considered to belong to the Apocrypha, and not part of the accepted canon of the Bible. So why wasn’t Mary’s testimony considered appropriate to be included in the “official” Scriptures from way back when? Continue reading…

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OUTSIDE IN — Review by Nikki Baughan

outside in posterFor her first feature in four years, filmmaker Lynne Shelton (Humpday, Your Sister’s Sister) turns in a bittersweet exploration of time lost, opportunities missed and the redemptive power of human connection. Co-writing with star Jay Duplass, who takes the central role of ex-con Chris, struggling to readjust to life in his small home town of Granite Falls, Washington, after 20 year in prison for a crime he didn’t commit, Shelton has created a film that finds dramatic power and emotional resonance in the smallest, most seemingly mundane of moments. Continue reading…

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FINAL PORTRAIT — Review by Erica Abeel

Alberto Giacometti (Geoffrey Rush) paints a portrait of his friend James Lord (Armie Hammer) in a sterile exercise about the artist’s quest for perfection. The main takeaway from this drama-free film helmed by Stanley Tucci is that Hammer is in need of a new agent. Continue reading…

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I KILL GIANTS — Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

I Kill Giants, the story of a preteen who stuggles with family trauma is based on the graphic comic book series of the same name. The series was written in 2008 by comic book writer Joe Kelly, of Deadpool and Uncanny X-Men fame with artist J. M. Ken Niimura. Danish filmmaker Anders Walter directs his debut feature. If you’ve read all seven issues of the graphic novels, it would seem conceivable to adapt the series into a feature film, as the work is astonishing. The undertaking would be no easy feat – as the casting, as well as the narrative for the main star absolutely, has to be spot on. Here, the casting of the pre-teen is perfect. Continue reading…

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NICKY’S FAMILY (2013) — Retroview by Jennifer Merin

nicky's family poster artIn Nicky’s Family, filmmakers Matej Minac and Patrik Pass use reenactment and impressive archival footage to tell the story of Sir Nicholas Winton’s amazing mission to save children from certain extinction in Nazi death camps. The filmmakers interviewed many of the children (now senior citizens) who were saved, and their descendants – all of whom consider themselves to be Winton’s family. Those who’ve been found and counted number about 6,000 souls. The film introduces many of them, letting us know what they’ve accomplished, including important scientific discoveries and social progress that might never have happened had the children not been rescued. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN.

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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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TOMB RAIDER — Review by Sarah Knight Adamson

Yes, it’s a Non-stop Vvdeo-game with little pizazz. Tomb Raider (PG-13) stars Swedish actress Alicia Vikander in the remake of Laura Croft -Tomb Raider, made in 2001 and starring Angelia Jolie. Both editions are based on a popular video game. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 23, 2018: MADAME

motw logo 1-35Despite its (mostly) posh characters and haute Parisian dinner-party-centric premise, “Madame” isn’t just a zinger-filled drawing-room comedy. Rather, director/co-writer Amanda Sthers’ film is a cleverly satirical and easy to swallow examination of class, privilege, self worth, and the bone-deep insecurities that plague us all, whether we’re hosting luminaries or serving them coffee. Continue reading…

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LA CHANA — Review by Jennifer Merin

la chana posterCapturing all of the passion and personal expression that permeates flamenco and illuminates the dance form’s most engaging performers, Lucija Stojevic’s La Chana profiles the career and artistry of Antonia Santiago Amador, the hugely popular flamenco goddess revered by dance afficiandos for her force of nature spirit and extraordinary footwork. The great La Chana’s career peaked during the late 1960s, just before she inexplicably shunned her celebrity and mysteriously vanished from the dance world. Continue reading…

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THE DEATH OF STALIN — Review by Martha K. Baker

death of stalin posterAnyone familiar with the work of Armando Iannucci has an inkling of the tack he takes with “The Death of Stalin.” Even one episode of the awarded TV series, “Veep,” or one frame of the 2009 film, “In the Loop,” presages what viewers will find in this non-historic look at a post-mortem. Iannucci is not known for being Mr. Nice Guy. Indeed, his curses are spiders, webbing their way across the screen to shock and amuse. He analyzes bureaucracies that drop to bended knee to ask for teasing and poking. Such is the case surrounding the titular event of Josef Stalin’s end. Continue reading….

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THE FORGIVEN — Review by Susan Granger

Based on Michael Ashton’s play, “The Archbishop and the Antichrist,” this intense docudrama examines the (fictionalized) relationship between the iconic South African cleric Desmond Tutu and a notorious, white-supremacist murderer who is seeking clemency. In the mid-1990s when the Archbishop (Forest Whitaker) was appointed by then-President Nelson Mandela to head the Truth and Reconciliation Committee to confront the atrocities of apartheid, one of the defendants was Afrikaner Piet Blomfeld (Eric Bana), an unrepentantly racist psychopath. Continue reading…

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MADAME — Review by Cynthia Fuchs

madame poster small“I think it’s going to rain.” Anne (Toni Collette) turns to her husband Bob (Harvey Keitel), her blond hair perfectly styled, her eyes hidden behind giant designer sunglasses. “Why do you have to be so pessimistic?”, she asks. The couple is paused during their bicycle ride through Paris, a suggestion by her therapist to spend some “romantic” time together. “I am not pessimisteeque,” he smiles, “I’m realisteeque,” the faux French accent underlining just how much he dislikes living in a city where “everything is old.” Anne looks away, her straddling her sturdy rental bike: “They’re the same thing for you.” Continue reading…

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EVERY DAY — Review by Susan Granger

Based on David Levithan’s YA best-seller, this angst-filled, adolescent fantasy revolves around someone who awakens every morning in a different body. While the novel took place through the eyes of A, a sensitive soul who temporarily occupies the bodies of unsuspecting teenagers for a period of 24 hours, this dramedy shares the focus with 16 year-old Rhiannon (Angourie Rice) who is taken for granted by her cocky, chain-smoking boyfriend Nathan (Justin Smith). 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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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Sebastian Lelio examines the emotional stigma of transgender in this sensitive, Oscar-winning Chilean film. In Santiago, Martina Vidal (Daniela Vega) and Orlando Onetto (Francisco Reyes) are in love. She’s a young waitress/cabaret singer; he’s 20 years older, the owner of a printing company. After celebrating Martina’s birthday one evening, Orlando becomes ill, suffering a fatal aneurysm. Martina rushes him to the emergency room, but he dies on the operating table. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK, March 16, 2018: IN THE LAND OF POMEGRANATES

motw logo 1-35Anyone who’s ever wondered why the possibility of peace in the Middle East seems permanently out of reach should watch “In the Land of Pomegranates,” Hava Kohav Beller’s thoughtful, thought-provoking documentary about the bitter Palestinian/Jewish conflict. Beller, an octogenarian who previously earned an Oscar nomination for 1991′s “The Restless Conscience: Resistance to Hitler Within Germany 1933-1945,” spent more than a decade making this new film, and her patience pays off. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Inclusion tops box office with BLACK PANTHER and A WRINKLE IN TIME — Brandy McDonnell reports

Ignore the headlines about Black Panther dominating A Wrinkle in Time at the box office. Yes, the commercial and critical juggernaut that is Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther has topped earnings on the domestic cinema release list for the fourth consecutive week, relegating Ava DuVernay’s much-hyped adaptation of Madeline L’Engle’s beloved femme-centric young-adult book into second place. But both movies are from Disney, which thus far has winning tickets in the inclusion category for 2018. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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