WOMAN WALKS AHEAD — Review by Susan Granger

In the 1880s, a wealthy, widowed artist, Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), traveled by train from New York City to the Lakota Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in the Dakota Territory to paint a portrait of iconic Chief Sitting Bull, the last surviving Sioux warrior to defeat Lt. Col. George Custer almost 15 years earlier. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK June 22, 2018: WOMAN WALKS AHEAD

motw logo 1-35History becomes “her”story (with a few factual tweaks) in Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead, which introduces audiences to Catherine Weldon (Jessica Chastain), a determined portrait artist who defies convention — and the U.S. government — in the late 1880s to fulfill her dream of painting legendary warrior Sitting Bull and learning about the Lakota people (who are part of the Sioux tribes). Chastain delivers another excellent performance as Weldon, who ultimately finds more than artistic inspiration on the open prairies. Continue reading…

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WOMAN WALKS AHEAD — Review by Nikki Baughan

woman walks ahead posterThe exploration of history through the female experience remains a rare thing in filmmaking – and perhaps nowhere more so than in the Western genre. Director Susanna White’s Woman Walks Ahead boldy takes on this overtly masculine cinematic landscape with this sensitive portrayal of real-life Native American rights campaigner Catherine Weldon, who travelled from 1880s New York City to the Dakota plains in order to paint legendary Chief Sitting Bull and subsequently became embroiled in their fight to regain control of their lands. Continue reading…

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WOMAN WALKS AHEAD — Review by Cate Marquis

Director Susanna White’s woman-centric Western stars Jessica Chastain as a painter who travels from New York into the West with the intention of painting Sitting Bull. Once again, Chastain lands a role as a strong woman carving out her own way in the world. The story is based on a real person, who did travel to North Dakota and became a confidant and adviser to the Lakota chief. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Women Protest at Cannes, Chastain-led 355 Scores Deal, Witherspoon’s Girls Film Program — Brandy McDonnell reports

Cannes Film Festival 2018 Jury Chair Cate Blanchett and Palme d’Or-winning director Agnes Varda stood among 82 women in film who gathered on the red carpet at the Lumière Theater to protest the 71 year old festival’s exceptionally poor record on inclusion of women in all areas of festival programming, and demand greater equality for women in the film industry. Also at Cannes, the Jessica Chastain-led spy thriller 355 scores a big deal with Universal Pictures. And, Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine media company is joining with AT&T and Fresh Films to create the AT&T Hello Sunshine Filmmaker Lab for teenage girls. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 5, 2018 : MOLLY’S GAME

motw logo 1-35In “Molly’s Game,” writer/director Aaron Sorkin introduces us to Molly Bloom (Jessica Chastain), a complicated woman who’s all the more fascinating because she’s real. Smart, resourceful, competitive, driven — Molly succeeds at whatever she puts her mind to. At first, that’s skiing; pushed hard by her demanding father, Larry (Kevin Costner), she becomes an Olympic-level champion who seems destined for gold…until a random accident ends her skiing career for good. continue reading….

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MOLLY’S GAME — Review by Cynthia Fuchs

mollys game poster“This woman does not belong in a RICO indictment. She belongs on a box of Wheaties.” Attorney Charlie Jaffey (Idris Elba) gives a rousing speech near the end of Molly’s Game, one where he defends his client, Molly (Jessica Chastain), against a pair of government prosecutors. They want her to give up information on the men who played in her high stakes poker games. Charlie, it turns out, is borrowing his defense from his daughter Stella (Whitney Peak), who sees in Molly a role model and a hero. Continue reading…

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MOLLY’S GAME — Review by Beth Accomando

Aaron Sorkin created TV’s “West Wing” and “The Newsroom,” and won an Oscar for his script for “The Social Network.” Now he makes his feature film directing debut with “Molly’s Game.” You may not know Molly Bloom’s name but she was an Olympic class skier who suffered a career-ending injury and then ran an exclusive high stakes poker game that attracted Hollywood celebs and the FBI’s attention. As played by Jessica Chastain, Molly’s a smart, type A personality who seems able to adapt to any situation and who can succeed at anything she puts her mind to even when idiot men get in her way. Continue reading…

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MOLLY’S GAME — Review by Susan Granger

Jessica Chastain (“Zero Dark Thirty,” “Miss Sloane”) is sensational as the Colorado-born skier who became America’s poker princess. After years of training to become world freestyle champion, Continue reading...

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Gadot Seeks Gold, Chastain Joins X-MEN, Woodard Becomes Lionesque and Lamarr Gets Documentary — Brandy McDonnell reports

Warner Bros. will mount an Oscar campaign for Wonder Woman, Gal Gadot and director Patty Jenkins, striving to get first-ever comic book film nominations. Jessica Chastain joins the X-Men: Dark Phoenix cast as Lilandra Neramani, Princess-Majestrix of the Shi’ar Empire, a humanoid species with birdlike attributes. Alfre Woodard will be the voice of Simba’s mom in director Jon Favreau’s remake of Disney’s The Lion King. And, come November, Hedy Lamarr returns to silver screens with the release of Bombshell: The Hedy Lamarr Story, a documentary directed by Alexandra Dean and distributed by Zeitgeist Films, in association with Kino Lorber. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Chastain, Thurman, Adams and ‘Captain Marvel’ in the News — Brandy McDonnell reports

Jessica Chastain’s strong stand on equal pay, Uma Thurman to head Cannes’ Un Certain Regard jury, Amy Adams will receive the American Cimemateque Award. Ama Boden and Ryan Fleck tapped to helm ‘Captain Marvel,’ and more news in this week’s THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Caro and Chastain challenge status quo, Robbie scores revisionist ROBIN HOOD, Ivy Film Fest plays women composers and more — Brandy McDonnell reports

Set to direct Disney’s live action remake of Mulan, Niki Caro becomes the fourth woman director to helm a $100-million movie. Jessica Chastain says she is looking for roles that push against societal constraints. Margot Robbie set to star in Marian, a revisionist version of the macho Robin Hood tale. Women composers are featured at this year’s Ivy Film Festival, Brown University’s student-run showcase. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN

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THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE – Review by Susan Granger

As years go by, more and more poignant survival stories that have been buried in Holocaust history are surfacing. This one begins on a beautiful day in 1939 at Poland’s Warsaw Zoo, where Antonia Zabinska (Jessica Chastain) is helping her husband Jan (Belgian actor Johan Heldenberg) tend the animals. That afternoon, she resuscitates a newborn elephant calf who cannot breathe – with its distraught mother’s at her side. But then German aircraft appear overhead, and bombs reign down, killing many of the terrified beasts, while others escape to roam the city’s streets. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 31- April 7, 2017: THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE

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The Zookeeper’s Wife is a powerful, emotional ​fact-based ​drama about both the depth of human suffering experienced during World War II and the remarkable courage and strength of character that ordinary women and men demonstrated when their friends’ and neighbors’ lives were in danger. Jessica Chastain stars as Antonina Zabinska, a warm, gentle wife, mother, and animal lover who helps her husband, Jan (Johan Heldenbergh), run the Warsaw Zoo in late-1930s Poland. Read on…

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THE ZOOKEEPER’S WIFE — Review by Cate Marquis

The Zookeeper’s Wife is not only an inspirational true story told through a lush historical film but a women’s cinema trifecta: A female star in the lead role, a woman director and a woman author. The director is Niki Caro, who rose to fame with Whale Rider, another film with a determined female central character, and the film is adapted from Diane Ackerman’s book of the same name. The star is Jessica Chastain, who plays Antonina Zabinska, a little-known hero during the Holocaust, who ran the Warsaw zoo alongside her husband Jan in pre-World War II Poland. When the Nazis invade their country, Antonina and her husband sheltered hundreds of Jewish men, women and children in their home on the zoo grounds, and therefore saved their lives. 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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AWFJ Movie of the Week, November 21 – November 25: Miss Sloane

Film Title: Miss. SloaneIf you have the stomach for corruption in the political arena, then director John Madden’s new drama Miss Sloane might be just the ticket. If you have had your fill of politicking, bad behaviour and ruthlessness in the real world, watching even more on movie screens might seem a little like an extended torture session. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, April 18 – April 24: THE HUNTSMAN WINTER’S WAR

Huntsman winters war posterOpening April 22, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is The Huntsman: Winter’s War, the lavish sequel to 2012 fantasy Snow White and the Huntsman. Charlize Theron returns as evil queen Ravenna, who is locked in a bitter war with her sister Freya (Emily Blunt). Chris Hemsworth also returns as The Huntsman, part of an army sworn to protect Freya, who falls for fellow hunter Sara (Jessica Chastain). Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Producer Tweets Call Out Sexism, Disney Princesses Don’t Talk, Chastain’s Production Co and More — Brandy McDonnell Reports

megan-fox-transformersIf awareness is key to bringing about change, then producer Ross Putman deserves kudos for his new Twitter account @femscriptintros. And with tonight’s “The Wonderful World of Disney: Disneyland 60″ special, it’s a good time to look at new research about the amount of time Disney princesses get to talk in their own films. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Are 2015′s Gender Gains Sustainable? Plus Blanchett, Streisand and Hollywood’s Most Powerful Women — Brandy McDonnell Reports

DAISY RIDLEY STAR WARSAs 2015 comes to a close, the question becomes are women’s box office successes just milestones in a particularly good feminist year? Or are they markers on the road to true change? The truth is, movies about and directed by women were not the rarity they’ve become since the early days of Hollywood. The entertainment industry has had its moments, particularly in the 1980s, when it vowed to open opportunities for women and seemed to do so for a while before slipping back into its comfort zone of unconscious bias and systemic sexism. What’s on the horizon? Plus Cate Blanchett signs on for Thor, Barbra Streisand is honored, Women in Film names grant recipients and this year’s list of the most powerful women in Hollywood. Read about it all in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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BALLERINA’S TALE, ROOM, MEADOWLAND, WATCHERS OF THE SKY and Other Oct 16 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

abt_poster_copyA Ballerina’s Tale pays tribute to the talent and tenacity of Misty Copeland, the African American ballerina who defied racial stereotyping to grand jete from corps de ballet into principal roles. Watchers of the Sky is filmmaker Edet Belzberg’s profile of international activist Raphael Lemkin, who defined ‘genocide’ and fought tirelessly to punish and prevent it worldwide. Beasts of No Nation is a harrowing tale of an African boy who’s forced to become a soldier. Room, Truth and Meadowland feature exceptional performances by Brie Larson, Cate Blanchett and Olivia Wilde, respectively. Momentum and Assassin boast badass female leading characters, played by Olga Kurylenko and Qi Shu, respectively. Crimson Peak casts Mia Wasikowska and Jessica Chastain in great Gothic spectacle. Read the reviews.

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FREEHELD, HE NAMED ME MALALA, THE MARTIAN and Other Oct 2 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

freeheld posterIn Freeheld, Julianne Moore and Ellen Page are brilliantly courageous and poignant as domestic partners crusading for spousal benefits. He Named Me Malala is Davis Guggenheim’s documentary intro to the Pakistani schoolgirl who came close to dying for the cause of girls’ education, and won a Nobel Peace Prize. The Martian, a fascinating and thrilling sci-fi adventure, is Matt Damon’s film, but Jessica Chastain and Kate Mara as heroic female astronauts thrust me into a positive orbit. Plus femme-helmed Northern Soul and Addicted to Fresno, and femme-scribed Partisan and Labyrinth of Lies. Read the reviews…

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CRIMSON PEAK – Preview by Liz Whittemore

Crimson-Peak-poster-200x300With Guillermo del Toro‘s fascination for Gothic horror, Crimson Peak should be right up his aesthetic alley, along with his other iconic films Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. While del Toro has also delved into the sci-fi and comic book world with the Hellboy films (soon to be a trilogy) and Blade II, his eye for fantasy and horror is really his forte. Judging from the recently released trailer, Crimson Peak promises to be a great addition to del Toro’s filmography. Read more and watch the trailer>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 29-Jan. 4: A MOST VIOLENT YEAR

Opening Jan. 2, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is A Most Violent Year, the latest work from writer/director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call, All is Lost). It takes place in New York City in 1981, the most crime-ridden year in the history of the Big Apple, and stars Oscar Isaac as immigrant and heating oil company boss Abel Morales. Along with his wife Anna (Jessica Chastain), Abel works hard to make his business a success, but is beset by challenges including hijackers who steal the oil from from his trucks and a vindictive district attorney (David Oyelowo) seemingly hell bent on destroying the company. And so, as the city erupts into violence behind him, Abel embarks on a mission to turn his luck around. Read on…

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A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Review by Lynn Venhaus

In the golden era of 1970s filmmaking, gritty crime dramas like “A Most Violent Year” were standard fare. What a pitch-perfect blast from the past this 2014 gem is, simmering with menace and richly textured performances. Wunderkind writer-director J.C. Chandor, in rolling-boil Sidney Lumet mode, makes a compelling statement about the American Dream with this original film. Read more>>

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