KINGSMAN: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE — Review by Susan Granger

Following his deliriously surprising “Kingsman” (2015), Matthew Vaughn’s cynical, R-rated sequel continues the stylized spoof of James Bond spy stories. With her retro-50s headquarters hidden deep in Cambodian rainforest ruins, the megalomaniacal villain is Poppy Adams (Julianne Moore), the world’s most successful – and demented – drug dealer, who manages to destroy most of the Kingsman knights along with their bespoke tailor shop on Savile Row. Continue reading…

read more

SHOT — Review by Martha K. Baker

‘Shot’ sticks to clichés. Let’s say you never imagined the results of one gun shot on a community or a couple or a culprit. Let’s say you are woefully ignorant or willfully unlettered in the violent world around you. But, let’s say, you want to learn, to pick up just a skosh of information about the consequences of violence. Plus, you’re open to experimental film. Then, “Shot” is for you. Or for social studies classes of 6th graders for whom clichés are still fresh and discussable. For you and them, “Shot” works. Continue reading…

read more

BATTLE OF THE SEXES – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

battle of the sexes poster There’s a necessity to a movie like Battle of the Sexes, an urgency to be seen, that goes beyond its sheer entertainment value, which is also enormous. It doesn’t feel like the essential history lesson that it is, though would that it didn’t make me rather depressed to see how little has really changed in 44 years. Somehow, the directing team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris has captured the amusement value of retro kitsch without their film being actually kitschy (perhaps because its subject matter sadly feels so au courant). Somehow they’ve made a film that quietly debunks the spurious notion that feminism can’t be fun by itself being fun, full of cheery bashes at outrageous sexism and an aura of sporting (in all senses of the word) can-do spirit. Continue reading…

read more

AMERICAN ASSASSIN — Review by Susan Granger

Derivative but diverting, this timely political thriller centers on covert U.S. operatives zeroing in on terrorist factions and renegade mercenaries. It begins on the Spanish island of Ibiza, where Mitch Rapp (Dylan O’Brien) proposes to his blonde, bikini-clad girl-friend, Katrina (Charlotte Vega). She accepts, but their idyllic vacation ends in a bloodbath when Katrina is killed, along with other beach-goers, by Uzi-toting Muslim terrorists from a Libyan group under Adnan Al-Mansur (Shahid Ahmad). Continue reading…

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 22 – 29, 2017: BATTLE OF THE SEXES

motw logo 1-35Battle of the Sexes takes its name from the historic 1973 grudge match between tennis superstar Billie Jean King (Emma Stone) and former champ Bobby Riggs (Steve Carell). But the movie is about so much more than that singular game, no matter how big that game turned out to be. It’s about acknowledging and accepting who you are, standing up for what you believe, and using your voice to fight for the people who need you. Continue reading…

read more

At TIFF: New Zealand’s Maori Women Directors talk WARU — Gill Pringle reports

waru posterTold from the viewpoint of nine female filmmakers, Waru is the first feature film from New Zealand to be made by Maori women since Mereta Mita’s Mauri almost 30 years ago. Eight female Maori directors each contributed a ten minute vignette, presented as a continuous shot in real time, that unfolds around the tangi (funeral) of a small boy (Waru) who died at the hands of his caregiver. The vignettes are all subtly interlinked and each follows one of eight female Maori lead characters during the same moment in time as they come to terms with Waru’s death and try to find a way forward in their community. In Maori, waru means 8. Continue reading Gill Pringle’s exclusive report from TIFF on THE FEMALE GAZE

read more

BATTLE OF THE SEXES — Review by Susan Wloszczyna

battle of the sexes posterThose of us still upset over Hillary Clinton’s election loss as well as the ugly gender-based backlash unfairly aimed at her book tour will be glad to bask in the nostalgic glow of Battle of the Sexes. The year was 1973, a time when the feminist movement was in full swing and dumb bra-burning jokes and derisive comments about hairy-legged libbers were all the rage. And nothing quite symbolized the fight for equal rights quite so well than when 29-year-old Billie Jean King, the top female tennis player in the world, kicked the butt of 55-year-old self-proclaimed male chauvinist pig Bobby Riggs on primetime TV that was watched by 90 million viewers worldwide. Continue reading…

read more

MOTHER — Review by Susan Granger

If you needed proof of the adage “Love is blind,” look no further than Jennifer Lawrence starring in her boyfriend Darren Aronofsky’s macabre horror/melodrama that’s tinged with increasingly hysterical, pseudo-religious overtones. Writer/director Aronofsky (“Black Swan,” “The Wrestler”) blends “Rosemary’s Baby” with “Requiem for a Dream,” making the cynical assertion that – for the artist – creative inspiration is more important than love or life itself. Continue reading...

read more

BATTLE OF THE SEXES — Review by Jeanne Wolf

“Battle of the Sexes” is not your traditional sports drama. You’re probably expecting to spend a lot of time watching the ball go back and forth across the net in this biopic based on the classic match watched by millions between the Number One Women’s tennis player Billie Jean King and former champ and unstoppable hustler Bobby Riggs. Continue reading…

read more

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

read more

BATTLE OF THE SEXES — Review by Cate Marquis

Emma Stone gives a strong, appealing performance in BATTLE OF THE SEXES, a well-meaning if uneven film about the 1973 tennis match between tennis great Billy Jean King and Bobby Riggs. It is overstating it to call it a Billy Jean King biopic. Instead it focuses on a cultural pivot point when 29-year-old women’s tennis champion Billy Jean King (Stone) took part in a match against a clownish self-described male chauvinist named Bobby Riggs (Steve Carrell). But despite his buffoon behavior and penchant for wearing outlandish costumes during matches, Bobby Riggs was no ordinary clown on the court but a former tennis champ and Hall of Famer. The comedy distracted his opponents on the court, concealing the fact that at 55, Riggs was still a formidable tennis player. Continue reading…

read more

IT — Review by Susan Granger

After the film industry’s weakest Labor Day weekend ever, the release of this new Stephen King-based thriller made the box-office sizzle, more than doubling the record set by “Hannibal” for the biggest horror movie opening of all-time. Helmed by Argentinean director Andy Muschietti (“Mama”), it relates Chapter One of a story about a demonic clown that starts in 1989 in Derry, Maine, and will, eventually, end in the present day. Continue reading…

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 15 to 22, 2017: DOLORES

motw logo 1-35It’s a safe bet that many folks, if asked to name someone associated with the United Farm Workers of America union (originally the National Farm Workers Association), would draw a total blank. Some might come up with Cesar Chavez. But very few are likely to mention Dolores Huerta, despite her countless contributions to the UFW beginning in the 1960s and her continuing role as an outspoken intersectional activist who fights for feminism, civil rights, environmentalism, and more. Continue reading…

read more

DOLORES — Review by Sheila Roberts

dolores posterPeter Bratt’s tightly paced, vibrant documentary profiles tireless labor activist Dolores Huerta who never doubted her calling and how it gave meaning to her life. Huerta played a pivotal role in the founding of the United Farm Workers Union alongside Cesar Chavez. As a key grassroots organizer and union strategist with serious lobbying and negotiating skills, she found herself at the intersection of a social revolution in the ‘60s and ‘70s that encompassed racial and labor justice, the environment, feminism and gender equality. Continue reading…

read more

THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Diana Huey’s ‘LITTLE MERMAID’ reminds us why diverse casting matters — Brandy McDonnell reports

Even Diana Huey doubted that she would be cast as the lead in the national touring production of the latest stage adaptation of Disney’s “The Little Mermaid.”
It wasn’t because she couldn’t sing the iconic songs while suspended from a harness or play a rebellious teenage mermaid princess who becomes a mute human in the second act. It was simply because she was born in Japan. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

read more

A YEAR BY THE SEA — Review by Susan Granger

Based on Joan Anderson’s New York Times best-selling memoir, filmmaker Alexander Janko has made one of those rare, feel-good films that celebrates middle-aged women. At her son’s wedding reception, Joan (Karen Allen) learns that her husband’s New York office is moving to Wichita, Kansas, and she’s expected to go along with the unexpected relocation. Continue reading…

read more

TULIP FEVER — Review by Martha K. Baker

I took the loveliest little nap during the screening of “Tulip Fever.” The theater’s temperature was just right, the seat was comfy, and the company was cozy, so I drifted off. When I awoke, I hadn’t missed much in this romance where two lips kiss while tulip prices rise. Continue reading…

read more

TULIP FEVER — Review by Susan Granger

Filmed in 2014, then shelved, this costume drama fails on almost all levels, despite a prestigious cast that includes three Oscar-winners: Christoph Waltz, Alicia Vikander and Judi Dench. So what went wrong? Continue reading…

read more

HOME AGAIN — Review by Martha K. Baker

‘Home Again’ squeaks by as “romcom,” almost begging to be made fun of. It encourages the critic in everyone to have a field day with adjectives describing its mediocrity, with phrases applied like plasters to its clumsiness, with capital letters to proclaim its failure as an end-of-summer romantic comedy, known by the conflation “romcom.” Continue reading…

read more

VICEROY’S HOUSE — Review by Martha K. Baker

‘Viceroy’s House’ lays historical foundation for today. It’s more than half-way through “Viceroy’s House,” a historical look at the partition of India, before the word “oil” leaks out. The film explains so terribly much about then, 1947, as well as now, 2017. And it pays to watch this well-crafted look at that moment over there. Continue reading…

read more

MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 8 to 15: STRONG ISLAND

motw logo 1-35Infuriating, fascinating, and deeply emotional, Strong Island is the deeply personal chronicle and commentary by documentary filmmaker Yance Ford about his search for an explanation of and accounting for why the man who killed his brother was never charged with the crime and walked away without any punishment. Yance’s brother, William Ford, a young African-American man, was shot and killed in 1992 by a White auto mechanic after a verbal altercation at the repair shop where the latter worked. William’s death shocked the Ford family and left them devastated. Continue reading…

read more

Yance Ford on STRONG ISLAND, Grief and Injustice — Jennifer Merin interviews

yance ford headYance Ford has been an influential member of the documentary film community for some years, working as a programmer for POV and commissioning the works of others. With Strong Island, he turns his smarts and skills to making in a highly personal documentary about the murder of his brother and the impact that heinous event had on his family. He sat down with me to discuss Strong Island, rage and grief, injustice and wonderment. Continue reading on CINEMA CITIZEN

read more

MOTHERLAND — Review by Nikki Baughan

motherland posterOnce a cloistered activity that went on behind firmly closed doors, childbirth has become a familiar activity on screen, from big-scale Hollywood drama to small-screen fly-on-the-wall factual series. Audiences are, however, unlikely to have experienced it as presented by Ramona S. Diaz’s Motherland, which follows the staff and patients of Dr Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in the Philippine capital of Manila – the busiest maternity ward on the planet which caters to the country’s poorest women and where childbirth is more of a group activity than an intimate moment. Continue reading…

read more

STRONG ISLAND — Review by Cate Marquis

strongislandposterSTRONG ISLAND is a documentary that seems at first to focus on a murder never prosecuted more than two decades later. But as we gradually discover, the documentary is really about the impact of that injustice on family left behind. No reason for the failure to charge the killer with murder is given to the victim’s middle-class, suburban Black parents but the fact that the 19-year-old shooter was White raises questions. Continue reading…

read more

THE TRIP TO SPAIN — Review by Martha K. Baker

Bottom line: The Trip to Spain is not as good as The Trip or The Trip to Italy, but what do you expect? The comedy team of Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon does not appeal to everyone, but under Michael Winterbottom’s direction, The Trip series also offers food and travel for your delectation. Continue reading…

read more