THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Big Deals for DuVernay, Caro, Boden and Arnold, and Fallout for Weinstein — Brandy McDonnell reports

British filmmaker Andrea Arnold signs to direct Big Little Lies. Disney signs Ava DyVernay, Niki Caro and Anna Boden (partnering with Ryan Fleck) to #100-million deals. ‘and the Academy establishes a code of conduct in response to the Harvey Weinstein debacle. Read details on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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COCO – Review by Martha k. Baker

​So what does your trusty film critic know? As I sat in the theater waiting for “Coco” to start, I observed the children around me. They were chattering, whining, mewling, and reporting. They were eating loudly, running rompingly, demanding attention. “What,” I thought uncharitably, “are they doing here? What will they understand of ‘Coco’?” 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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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Beauty and the Beast’ sets box office records for female-fueled films – Brandy McDonnell reports

beauty and the beast posterDisney’s live-action remake of “Beauty and the Beast” proved magical, AWFJ’s #MOTW for March 17, has set several box-office records during its first weekend in theaters. The lavish movie-musical version of the fairytale story conjured up an incredible $170 million in North America and $350 million globally. It is the biggest debut of all time for a female-fueled film, proving yet again that female protagonists are strong both on screen and at the box office. The numbers underscore the buying power of women and girls. On Friday, more than 70 percent of ticket buyers were females, with the overall weekend percentage at 60 percent, per Disney’s numbers as cited by The Hollywood Reporter. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 17-24, 2017: BEAUTY AND THE BEAST

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It may be a “tale as old as time,” but there’s plenty that’s new and fresh in Disney’s live-action take on one of folklore’s most enduring opposites-attract stories. First and foremost is Emma Watson as Belle, the independent, book-loving French girl who dreams of “adventure in the great wide somewhere” and ends up the captive of the surly, bitter, cursed Beast (Dan Stevens) after trading her own freedom for her father’s (Kevin Kline). Watson’s Belle is smart, confident, courageous, and feisty — she adds a welcome dash of our beloved Hermione to a character who was already considered one of Disney’s more admirable, self-sufficient princesses. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Mary Poppins Returns,’ plus Chastain, Bening and Kidman get gigs and Women in Special Effects — Brandy McDonnell reports

Disney has announced that production on “Mary Poppins Returns,” the studio’s sequel to its 1964 “Mary Poppins,” has commenced at Shepperton Studios. The film stars Golden Globe winner Emily Blunt and Emmy, Grammy and Tony Award winner Lin-Manuel Miranda. Directed by Oscar nominee, Emmy and DGA Awards winner Rob Marshall, the film is scheduled for a Dec. 25, 2018 release. Jessica Chastain is producing a TV series about NASA women. Nicole Kidman’s Blossom Films has optioned Janice Y.K Lee’s The Expatriates for a TV series. Annette Bening joins the cast of FX’s Hurricane Katrina anthology series. And, women rule in special effects at Lucas’Industrial Light & Magic. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Number of women directors falls, female characters have less to say — Brandy McDonnell reports

The number of female feature film directors has fallen, female characters have far less chance to talk in movies and there continues to be a huge gender pay gap in Hollywood. 2016 actually gave some reason to be hopeful about women in the movies. Disney released three stellar animated movies – Zootopia, Moana and Pixar’s Finding Dory — and all featuring female lead characters, none of them traditional damsels in distress. Women were leads in two smash sci-fi films with Arrival and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, with the latter becoming the second movie in the Star Wars saga to have a female lead. And the period drana Hidden Figures, based on real-life stories of African-American women who worked behind the scenes as mathematicians to help launch the first U.S. astronauts into space, is a hit at the box office. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOANA – Review by Susan Granger

Gather the kids and let’s be thankful for Moana (pronounced Mo-ahna) – with songs co-written by Lin-Manuel Miranda (Hamilton). On Motunui in Oceania, teenage Moana (Auli’i Cravalho) lived in an idyllic, self-sustaining Polynesian community. But, as daughter of Chief Tui (Temuera Morrison), she has been forbidden to travel beyond the barrier reef that surrounds their isolated island. When she discovers her ancestors’ sea-faring past, her ailing Gramma Tala (Rachel House) explains that she has been chosen by the ocean to control its waves. Read on…

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THE JUNGLE BOOK — Review by Susan Granger

Based on Rudyard Kipling’s magical stories and inspired by Disney’s 1967 animated classic, this eye-popping, live-action, epic adventure revolves around the man-cub Mowgli (newcomer Neel Sethi). An orphaned toddler, Mogli was found in India’s jungle by the black panther Bagheera (voiced by Ben Kingsley) and raised by a family of wolves, led by Akela (voiced by Giancarlo Esposito) and Raksha (voiced by Lupita Nyong’o). Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Disney Does Better, Women’s History Month, Women Influencers and more — Brandy McDonnell Comments

????????Disney Animation’s Zootopia set records at box office, but the film’s success is about so much more than impressive numbers. With the upcoming release of Captain America: Civil War, there are signs that Disney’s Marvel Studios is finally doing a better job of acknowledging the power of women and girls. The National Film Board of Canada will allot half of its production spending to female-directed films. New roles for Halle Berry, Shohreh Aghdashloo, Amanda Seyfried and lists of 20 women making a difference in Hollywood and movies to watch for Women’s History Month. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY – Review by Susan Granger

guardians of the galaxy Marvel expands its cinematic clout to encompass another colorful franchise, encompassing a rag-tag team of intergalactic adventurers. Headed by Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord (Chris Pratt), the quintet includes the green-skinned warrior Gamora (Zoe Saldana), vengeance-seeking Drax the Destroyer (WWW champ Dave Bautista) and two endearing CG characters: clever, cybernetically-enhanced, gun-slinging Rocket Raccoon, voiced by Bradley Cooper, and Groot, a humanoid, self-regenerating tree whose one line of dialogue (“I am Groot”) is uttered repeatedly – but with different intonations – by Vin Diesel. Read on…

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PLANES: FIRE AND RESCUE – Review by Susan Granger

Anthropomorphizing automobiles, trains, ships and planes has become a Disney specialty. This time, the comedic adventure is set in a Western wilderness area known as Piston Peak National Park. Read on…

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Review: “Dream House” – Ann Lewinson

Jim Sheridan’s thriller shifts midway from half-hearted haunted-house chills to sub-Hitchcock mind games, but at least Daniel Craig and Rachel Weisz’s chemistry offers tabloid thrills. Read more>>

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AWFJ Women On Film – “Oceans” – Review by Susan Granger

Celebrating the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, 2010, Disneynature delves into a true-life adventure: “Oceans.” Directors Jacques Perrin and Jacques Cluzaud, who made “Winged Migration” about creatures of the air, now dive deep into the mysterious waters that cover nearly three-quarters of our planet’s surface. For this Franco/Spanish/Swiss co-production, they filmed more than 200 species on 75 diving expeditions in 54 different locations in all five oceans over a period of four years.

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AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, August 14, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

Katherine Heigl would just shut up if she knew what was good for her (even if there are no decent roles for women in Hollywood), the value of female film critics, and Don Draper, the perfect imperfect man.

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