UNFRIENDED — Review by Susan Granger

Like Unfriended, Simon Verhoeven taps into social media to propel this tech-terror thriller which starts out with a provocative premise before it inevitably dissolves into clichéd carnage. College student Laura Woodson (Alycia Debnam-Carey) is undoubtedly one of the most popular coeds on campus. Since she has more than 800 ‘friends,’ she graciously accepts a ‘friend’ request from lonely Marina Mills (Liesl Ahlers), a strange, hoodie-clad, Goth-like classmate. Continue reading…

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VICTORIA AND ABDUL — Review by Martha K. Baker

Victoria and Abdul scores on every point, defining the biopic “based on a true story.” Not one single false step. No blurred foci. Under Stephen Frears’ impeccable direction, Lee Hall’s script, based on Shrabani Basu’s remarkable research, shines into the far back reaches of the theater. The cast, topped by Dame Judi Dench, acquits itself beautifully. Continue reading…

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BATTLE OF THE SEXES — Review by Susan Granger

This sports drama serves up the story behind the famed 1973 exhibition tennis match between 29 year-old Billie Jean King and 55 year-old Bobby Riggs, who bragged he could beat any woman player in the world. As reigning Wimbledon champion two years running, King (Emma Stone) was in her prime, while brash, gambling-addicted Riggs (Steve Carell) was Wimbledon’s champion back in 1939. So with great fanfare on September 30, King was carried, like Cleopatra on a chaise, into the Houston Astrodome by bare-chested guys, while Riggs, wearing a yellow Sugar Daddy jacket, arrived by rickshaw. At the net, King handed Riggs a squirming piglet, confirming his male chauvinist status. Continue reading...

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BRAD’S STATUS — Review by Susan Granger

Writer/director Mike White tackles a particularly privileged mid-life crisis as a neurotic father takes his talented 17 year-old son on a New England college tour.
Although he lives in a beautiful suburban home in Sacramento, California, with his loving, supportive wife Melanie (Jenna Fischer), angst-riddled Brad Sloan (Ben Stiller) never stops whining and complaining. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 29, 2017: FIRST THEY KILLED MY FATHER

motw logo 1-35Heartbreaking and powerful, First They Killed My Father is Angelina Jolie’s adaptation of activist Loung Ung’s memoir about her childhood in Cambodia under the Khmer Rouge’s murderous regime. In the film, young Loung (Sareum Srey Moch) and her family — mother, father, several siblings — are enjoying a comfortable, happy life in Phnom Penh in 1975; then Pol Pot’s army marches into the city, abruptly orders everyone else out, and rounds them up into work camps, where they’re expected to obey orders instantly and give up any pretense of individuality or agency. It’s all for the greater good of their new-and-improved nation, they’re told. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Dench is Awarded, Kruger is Lamarr-ed, Hamilton is TERMINATOR-ing — Brandy McDonnell reports

Dame Judi Dench, turning 83 on December 9, will receive the Santa Barbara Film Festival’s Kirk Douglas Award on November 30. Douglas turns 101 on — coincidentally — December 9. Congrats to both! Diane Kruger is slated to produce and star in a miniseries about Hedy Lamarr, the movie star with a brilliant mind and many scientific inventions to her credit. And, Linda Hamilton is returning after a 25-year hiatus to the ‘Terminator’ franchise, as an older but equally kickass Sarah Connor. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN News: McGowan @ Tallgrass FF, Gerwig @ Austin FF, Payday for Jenkins, Curtis and HALLOWEEN — Brandy McDonnell reports

Rose McGowan is being honored by the Tallgrass International Film Festival in Wichita, Greta Gerwig’s well-reviewed ‘Lady Bird’ has been selected to open the Austin Film Festival, Patty Jenkins has sealed a deal for ‘Wonder Woman 2′ that makes her the highest paid female director in history, and , and Jamie Lee Curtis returns to the ‘Halloween’ franchise. Read all the details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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2017 EDA Award Categories

The Alliance of Women Film Journalists is pleased to announce the 2017 EDA Awards categories. Celebrating our 10th annual awards season, we present EDA Awards in 25 categories divided into three sections, the BEST OF AWARDS, FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS AND EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS. Nominees in each category are determined by AWFJ members who submit nominating ballots. There are currently 77 voting AWFJ members. The full membership list is accessible here. And the 2017 EDA Awards categories are:

AWFJ BEST OF AWARDS
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.

Best Film

Best Director

Best Screenplay, Original

Best Screenplay, Adapted

Best Documentary

Best Animated Film

Best Actress

Best Actress in a Supporting Role

Best Actor

Best Actor in a Supporting Role

Best Ensemble Cast – Casting Director

Best Cinematography

Best Editing

Best Non-English-Language Film

EDA FEMALE FOCUS AWARDS
These awards honor WOMEN only.

Best Woman Director

Best Woman Screenwriter

Best Animated Female

Best Breakthrough Performance

Outstanding Achievement by A Woman in The Film Industry

EDA SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

Actress Defying Age and Ageism

Most Egregious Age Difference Between The Lead and The Love Interest Award

Actress Most in Need Of A New Agent

Bravest Performance

Remake or Sequel That Shouldn’t Have Been Made

AWFJ Hall of Shame Award

2017 EDA AWARDS TIMELINE:

Nominees for all categories will be announced on December 3, 2017.

Final Voting Ballots will be distributed on December 3, 2017

Final Ballots will be due by December 5, 2017

EDA Award winners will be announced on December 9, 2017

————————————————————————————————
Read the 2016 AWFJ EDA Awards Winners List
Read about 2016 AWFJ EDA Awards in the News
Read more about the Alliance of Women Film Journalists
Read more about the AWFJ EDA Awards
Read the AWFJ Membership ListAWFJ BEST OF AWARDS
These awards are presented to women and/or men without gender consideration.

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TIFF’s Kathleen Drumm on the 2017 Festival’s ‘Share Her Journey’ Initiative — Interview by Julide Tanriverdi

tiff kathleen drummThere is always talk that there are not enough women in Hollywood. The latest study from the Center for the study of Women in Television and Film at San Diego State University revealed at the beginning of the year that only 7 percent of all directors working on the 250 highest-grossing domestic releases in 2016 were female – shockingly a decline of two percent compared to numbers in 2015 and in 1998. How is this possible? Why are we always talking and writing about this if there is no improvement? But change might be in the air – at least in Canada. Continue reading…

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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

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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…

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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...

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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…

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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.

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Meet Upcoming Indian Director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari — Interview by Mythily Ramachandran (Exclusive)

Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari (2)Indian director Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari’s first film, Nil Battey Sannata,’ (Hindi for Zero divided by Zero), released last year, was so successful she had to do a second version in Tamil. She premiered her second film, a hilarious romcom titled ‘Bareilly Ki Barfi’ (Hindi for ‘Bareilly’s Candy’) last month. Both films are femme-centric and, as Indian critic Mythily Ramachandran reports, Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari is here to stay. Read Mythily Ramachandran’s interview with Ashwiny Iyer Tiwari on THE FEMALE GAZE.

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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…

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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…

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