A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Moira Sullivan

A Fantastic Woman (“Una Mujer Fantastica”, Chile 2017)) opens on the expanse of the majestic and torrential flow of the Iguazú Falls located on the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Its visually moving beauty is photographed by Benjamín Echazarreta and eloquently accompanied in a flute and harp composition by Matthew Herbert who scores the film. The cascade of water plummets from several sides of the mountain ridge, creating a massive vortex called “Garganta del Diablo” – the “Devil’s Throat”. Mist emanates in slow motion from this voluptuous wonder as it hits the rocks below. It is surprising that this marvel is named for a malevolent force, but this is also the paradox of the dramatic development in this well-crafted and poignant film. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 9: THAT’S NOT ME

motw logo 1-35Alice Foulcher does triple duty in “That’s Not Me,” starring as both aspiring Australian actress Polly and her identical twin sister, Amy (also an actress), as well as co-writing with director Gregory Erdstein. The result is an appealing exploration of ambition, identity, and the whims of showbiz. The movie’s focus is mainly on Polly, who’s wanted to be an actress her whole life and dreams of getting her big break, even while she’s working a day job at a local cinema. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: SXSW Salutes Women, Harvard Honors Kunis, DGA Awards and Streep Joins ‘LIES’ Cast — Brandy McDonnell reports

Texas’ South By Southwest Festival (March 9-18) showcases several promising projects by women directors including three femme-helmed features, one documentary and a documentary series from Netflix. The Directors Guild of America presented top TV show awards to three shows focusing on women’s stories — The Handmaid’s Tale, Veep and Big Little Lies — and honored directors Reed Morano, Niki Caro and Beth McCarthy-Miller for their work on television series and miniseries. Additionally, DGA President Thomas Schlamme awards ceremony opening speech emphasized the guild’s commitment to opposing sexual harassment. Meryl Streep will join the cast of Big Little Lies in season two. And, Harvard’s The Hasty Pudding Theatricals, the oldest theatrical organization in the US, honored Mila Kunis with it’s Woman of the Year award, while also announcing that year’s production will embrace gender-neutral casting. Read all the details in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THAT’S NOT ME — Review by Cynthia Fuchs

“They wanted Amy and they got the other one. That’s what they actually called you in the feedback.” Poor Polly (Alice Foulcher). An aspiring actor who works part-time selling tickets at a cinema in Melbourne, she’s reminded daily that her identical twin Amy (also Alice Foulcher) has exactly the career she wants, including a role on an HBO series opposite Jared Leto. Worse, as her agent Trish (Janine Watson) tells her, Polly is “confusing people” because they keep mistaking her for her sister. Continue reading…

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Daniela Vega and Sebastien Lelio on A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Jessica Zack interviews

daniela vega crossed legsIn conversation with Daniela Vega, it becomes understandable why the word “natural” comes up repeatedly. Her appearance may be fabulously stylish, but it’s clear that one of her motivating beliefs, in her own life as well as in her mesmerizing portrayal of Marina in A Fantastic Woman, is that “some things, some rights, are so universal, so natural, they shouldn’t even be questioned.” Continue reading…

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THAT’S NOT ME — Review by Moira Sullivan

There is nothing more painful than watching aspiring actresses pursue the road to Hollywood when they haven’t got a portfolio, an agent or acting credits. This is the premise of That’s Not Me, starring Australian filmmaker Alice Foulcher who co-wrote and served as co-executive producer in this indie directed and co-written by her husband Greg Erdstein. The film premiered at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival. Foulcher is a director, producer and writer of several successful short films, and we are looking forward to her feature length directorial debut. Continue reading…

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DEN OF THIEVES — Review by Susan Granger

Opening with the (unverified) data that Los Angeles is “the bank robbery capital of the world,” there’s also the alarming alert that a heist occurs every 48 minutes. At the Major Crimes unit of the L.A. Sheriff’s Department, ‘Big Nick’ O’Brien (Gerard Butler) is obsessed with these statistics and determined to catch recently paroled Ray Merrimen (Pablo Schreiber), whose band of former Marines-turned-bank robbers, known as “The Outlaws,” are planning to rob the downtown branch of the Federal Reserve for $30 million in unmarked bills. Continue reading...

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FILM STARS DON’T DIE IN LIVERPOOL — Review by Diane Carson

Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool finds love and compassion triumphing. Films seldom candidly portray the last days of once glamorous, sultry actresses. Admirers prefer to revisit their triumphant performances in which these women command screens with captivating energy and irresistible appeal. Kudos then to Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, an exception that dramatizes the physical and psychological challenges faced by 1940s/1950s Hollywood star Gloria Grahame in her final months. Continue reading…

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MAZE RUNNER: THE DEATH CURSE — Review by Susan Granger

In this epic finale to the YA trilogy, Thomas (Dylan O’Brien) and his buddies have survived a perilous dash through a mysterious labyrinth called The Glade and subsequent trek through a harsh desert wasteland, overseen by a quasi-governmental agency called WCKD (World in Catastrophe: Killerzone Experiment Dept.). Continue reading…

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THAT’S NOT ME — Review by Cate Marquis

In the Australian comedy, That’s Not Me, Alice Foulcher plays Polly, a struggling actor in Melbourne whose life is turned upside down when her twin sister Amy, also an actor, sudden launches into international fame. Ironically, the role that gave Amy the exposure she needed to win a part in a big movie was a part in a soap opera that Polly had turned down. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 2, 2018: A FANTASTIC WOMAN

motw logo 1-35Chile’s Oscar-nominated “A Fantastic Woman” is a modern twist on the kind of Douglas Sirk or Joan Crawford movies of the 1950’s about women in torment. Those were stories of women forced to suffer indignities but who never lost their own dignity and glamour. In the mid-century, “the problem that has no name” described by Betty Friedan had not yet led to the women’s movement, and women in film and in real life often felt invisible, as though all women cared about was keeping the house clean and the children happy. In this film, our heroine is a trans woman named Marina, played by a trans actress, Daniela Vega. The story is about her struggle to be seen for who she is and for all that she is. Continue reading…

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SPOTLIGHT February 2018: Daniela Vega, Star of A FANTASTIC WOMAN, Chile’s Oscar Contender

daniela vega head glamawfjspotlightsmallsmallTrailblazers whose groundbreaking accomplishments change the world, clearing the way for those who follow in their footsteps, are often reluctant to draw attention to themselves. Their motivation is simply to be allowed to be themselves. So it is with Daniela Vega, the first openly transgender actress and model in Chile, and star of the Oscar-nominated A Fantastic Woman. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMAN: 90th Oscar Noms Mark Milestones for Women and Diversity — Brandy McDonnell reports

In the wake of #OscarsSoWhite, #MeToo and a cavalcade of sexual misconduct scandals brought to light after explosive investigative reports about Harvey Weinstein, the 2018 Oscar nominations marked several milestones for women, African-Americans and transgender people making movies. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMAN.

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

As an ardent admirer of Chilean filmmaker Sebastian Lelio’s Gloria, about a mousy 50-ish divorcee and office worker who yearns for romance but only on her own terms, it was no surprise that his A Fantastic Woman similarly managed to take my breath away while viewing the world through female eyes. Continue reading…

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THE INSULT — Review by Diane Carson

The Insult tracks a personal and political confrontation. The personal is political and the political gets intensely personal quickly in director Ziad Doueiri’s The Insult. What begins as a minor problem escalates into legal confrontations with international reverberations. At first glance, it seems such a simple issue to resolve. Instead, it quickly becomes apparent that in the charged atmosphere of Beirut, Lebanon, nothing is truly innocuous. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Cate Marquis

A Fantastic Woman begins on a romantic note, with an older man listening to a singer with a band. In high heels, short skirt, and a golden voice, Marina Vidal is pretty but there is something a bit different her. The couple go out, then back home. Late at night, the man awakens and doesn’t feel well. Despite a desperate rush to the hospital, Marina loses her beloved to an aneurysm. In her grief, Marina faces a new problem, her older lover Orlando’s (Francisco Reyes) disapproving family, and then police who seem overly interested in her gender. Continue reading…

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Annette Bening on Being Gloria Grahame — Joanna Schneller interviews

In Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool, Annette Bening tackles the scandalous film noir starlet. Crazy casting? After sitting down with Bening, it makes a lot of sense. Continue reading

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HAPPY END — Review by Diane Carson

The cerebral Austrian director Michael Haneke refuses to explain his grim, astute snapshots of scrutinized lives: the elderly couple in his Oscar-winning Amour, the dystopian pre-WWI German village in The White Ribbon, or the French couple receiving frightening anonymous tapes in Caché. It comes, then, as no surprise, that the ironically titled Happy End captures a troubled, bourgeois French family. Continue reading…

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SAG Awards THREE BILLBOARDS, PGA Taps SHAPE OF WATER — Michelle Hannett reports

THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE OF EBBING, MISSOURIThe dark comedic drama Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri was the big winner of the night at the Screen Actors Guild Awards, taking home the award for Best Cast in a Motion Picture, Best Actress and Best Supporting Actor, at this year’s ceremony on January 21. Continue reading on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 26, 2018: MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER

motw logo 1-35Take a lonely British child, add an unexpected discovery and a previously unknown world of magic — including a special school run by powerful wizards — and what do you have? Nope, not Harry Potter. It’s Mary and the Witch’s Flower, director Hiromasa Yonebayashi’s lovely anime take on prolific British author Mary Stewart’s 1971 children’s novel The Little Broomstick. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Blanchett Chairs Cannes Jury, Women Helmers Underrepresented, Wahlberg Donates to ‘Time’s Up’ — Brandy McDonnell reports

Last year, out of the 109 people who directed the top 100 movies, just eight were women, according to the latest stats from Southern California’s Annenberg Inclusion Initiative. That’s 4.3 percent! Following the pay disparity controversy between earnings for Mark Wahlberg and Michelle Williams, Wahlberg is donating all of his take from the ‘All the Money in the World’ reshoot to the Time’s Up equality initiative. And, brava! Cate Blanchett is set to head this year’s Cannes jury. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Filmmaker Alice Foulcher on Collaboration, Multitasking, Fame and THAT’S NOT ME — Interview by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (Exclusive)

alice foulcher white shirtThat’s Not Me, the Australian independent comedy that premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival, and won audiences awards at both the Sydney Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival, was made with an extraordinarily low budget of $45,000 by filmmakers Gregory Erdstein and Alice Foulcher. Receiving rave reviews from The Guardian and Time Out, the self-funded comedy seems to exemplify a trend in Australian cinema, where creatives are finding alternate ways of making movies outside the orthodox framework of notoriously genre-shy formal, institutionalized funding bodies. The local and international acclaim for Foulcher and Erdstein’s breakout film promises the creative couple a bright future, and Foulcher here takes time to discuss the background of That’s Not Me, her feelings about the film industry in Australia, collaboration, fame and future work. Continue reading…

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WOMEN ROCK THE 23RD CRITICS CHOICE AWARDS — Sarah Knight Adamson reports

Critics-Choice-Awards-logo-620x360What a joy to attend the Critics Choice Awards on the heels of the female-driven Golden Globes Awards earlier in the week, as women across the globe were inspired by Oprah’s Cecil B. DeMille Award acceptance speech. The mood Thursday evening, January 11, was exciting to say the least. Everywhere you looked, women−whether celebrities or critics—were beaming. Yes, the room was euphoric in celebration, as finally our voices are being heard. Continue reading…

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THE INSULT — Review by Susan Granger

Ziad Doueiri’s intriguing political drama is Lebanon’s submission for the 2018 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language film and winner of the 2017 Venice Film Festival’s Best Actor Award (Kamel El Basha). In contemporary Beirut, there’s always an undercurrent of tension between Lebanese Christians and Palestinian Muslim refugees. Which is why a casual insult is blown ‘way out of proportion. Continue reading…

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MARY AND THE WITCH’S FLOWER — Review by Cate Marquis

Mary and the Witch’s Flower is a gorgeously animated Japanese film about a red-headed English girl named Mary who follows a black cat into the forest behind her great aunt’s country house, and finds herself transported into a magical world of witches. Continue reading…

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