MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 24: BOMBSHELL – THE HEDY LAMARR STORY

motw logo 1-35“Bombshell” is the perfect title for a documentary about Hedy Lamarr. Not only was Lamarr a renowned Hollywood screen siren (aka a “bombshell”), but she also helped invent signal-hopping radio-based technology that was used to guide Allied torpedoes (literal bombshells) during World War II, a system whose DNA can be seen in the Bluetooth and WiFi systems we all rely on today. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 17: THE BREADWINNER

motw logo 1-35The Breadwinner is a powerful, gorgeously animated film about Parvana, a remarkable little girl caught in untenable circumstances in Taliban-controlled Kabul, Afghanistan. From the studio and filmmakers who previously gave us The Secret of Kells and other animated gems, “The Breadwinner” isn’t your typical mainstream “cartoon” fare. Based on the same-named novel by Deborah Ellis (who has co-screenwriting credit with Anita Doron), director Nora Twomey’s remarkable film tells a deep, thoughtful story replete with elements of both pain and joy, despair and hope. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 10: MUDBOUND

motw logo 1-35Telling the intertwining stories of two families — one white, one black — living on the same piece of rural Mississippi farmland in the 1940s, Dee ReesMudbound blends strong performances, notable cinematography, and heartbreaking human drama. It’s clear things are going to get grim from the opening sequence, in which adult brothers Henry and Jamie McAllan (played by Jason Clarke and Garrett Hedlund, respectively) try to bury their father despite the onslaught of a torrential downpour, which leaves both men shaken and covered in mud. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Best Femme-Helmed, Femme-Centric Films of 2017, November Update

motw logo 1-35Focusing specifically on films directed by women as well as those featuring strong female lead characters and female-centric stories, AWFJ’s Team #MOTW has endorsed more than 40 exceptional films during 2017, to date. Because we pick only one film per week for #MOTW endorsement, we’ve had to pass up a good number of superb films that qualified, but were not our collective top choice. In August we paused to list the Best Femme-Helmed, Femme-Centric Film of 2017, to Date, including #MOTW selections and others we’d particularly liked. Now that awards season is beginning, we’re updating that list to include films released from August through the end of October. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: October 27: NOVITIATE

motw logo 1-35If your idea of life in mid-20th-century convents is all about kindly nuns solving problems like Maria and climbing every mountain, Novitiate will be a real eye-opener. Writer/director Margaret Betts’ first feature-length drama tells the sometimes-bleak story of Cathleen (Margaret Qualley), an earnest young woman from Tennessee who decides to take the veil in the early 1960s, on the eve of the far-reaching Vatican II reforms that would change traditional church life forever. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 20: THE DIVINE ORDER

motw logo 1-35Several decades after the Sexual Revolution swept across the United States (and around the world) during the late 1960s, it’s all too easy to gloss over just how earth-shattering a change the movement for greater feminine freedom made in the lives of so many women and their families, and to women’s roles in society. Petra Volpe’s entertaining political dramedy, The Divine Order, tells the story of unstoppable women who defied local traditions and oppressive husbands to fight for greater personal freedom. The film offers a compelling reminder of why we must continue to press forward for women’s rights. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK October 13, 2017: TAKE MY NOSE…PLEASE!

motw logo 1-35Any woman who’s ever felt dissatisfied with any aspect of her appearance — so, pretty much every woman — will find something to relate to in “Take My Nose … Please!” Documentarian Joan Kron (directing her first film at the age of 89!) blends her subjects’ personal stories with a broader survey of the media’s impact on female body image to create a film that’s simultaneously provocative and empathetic (as well as frequently laugh-out-loud funny). Continue reading…

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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…

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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…

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SPOTLIGHT September 2017: MaryAnn Johanson, FlickFilosopher.com Film Critic and Activist

awfjspotlightsmallsmallOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPioneering film critic MaryAnn Johanson celebrates the twentieth anniversary of her popular FilckFilosopher.com website this month; an impressive enough feat in itself. That MaryAnn has established herself as a distinct, influential and prolific feminist critic in a fiercely competitive and male-dominated industry, however, is testament not just to her boundless knowledge of and passion for film, but also of her extraordinary tenacity and determination. Continue reading…

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The Evolution of FlickFilosopher.com — Jennifer Merin reports

When MaryAnn Johanson began her popular FlickFilosopher.com twenty years ago, internet film criticism was in its infancy. Reviewing screenshots taken of the site’s homepage over the past two decades shows how MaryAnn grew the site, responding to tech changes and to evolving formats for presentation. She set a distinctive style for herself and has continually pushed the envelope for other film bloggers. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK September 1- 8: SCHOOL LIFE

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School Life, director Neasa Ní Chianáin’s sweetly pellucid portrait of Headfort School in County Kells, Ireland feels like a sojourn in another simpler age. Inside the school’s rambling hallways and comfortably shambolic classrooms, a proper education, in all senses of the term, is unfolding. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 11 to 18, 2017: PATTI CAKE$

motw logo 1-35Opening August 18, Patti Cake$ tells the story of aspiring New Jersey rapper Patricia “Killa P” Dombrowski, portrayed by Australian actress Danielle Macdonald in a breakout perfomance. Patti lives with her single mom, Barb (Bridget Everett), and grandmother, Nana (Cathy Moriarty), in near squalor in urban New Jersey. Barb spends her evenings getting drunk and bitterly reveling in memories of her youthful days of near-stardom as a pop singer — a dream that fell by the wayside when she got pregnant with Patti. Patti, without outbursts of rebellion or resentment, sustains the family with menial jobs, while literally dreaming every night of stardom, as over-the-top visions of famous rapper O-Z (Sahr Ngaujah) float through her sleeping mind. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK: Best Femme-Helmed, Femme-Centric Films of 2017, To Date

motw logo 1-35Focusing specifically on films directed by women as well as those featuring strong female lead characters and female-centric stories, AWFJ’s Team #MOTW has endorsed 31 exceptional films during 2017, to date. Because we pick only one film for our Movie of the Week endorsement, we’ve actually had to pass up a good number of other superb films that qualified, but were not our collective top choice. Now that we’ve arrived at the midway point in this year’s release schedule, we’re pausing to look back at all the films we’ve considered for #MOTW endorsement, and we are pleasantly surprised to note the volume of wonderful films made by and about women. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 28-August 4: STEP

motw logo 1-35An inspiring documentary about a group of African-American teen girls who find success through a mix of hard work, grit, high expectations, and dedicated mentorship, Amanda Lipitz’s Step is both engaging and uplifting. It follows the competitive step-dancing team at the Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a public charter school with a very ambitious goal: that all of its graduates attend college. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood’s sexist ways and box-office prospects — Brandy McDonnell comments

It’s been a lackluster summer at the domestic box office, and it may just be that Hollywood’s failure to adapt to the reality that women moviegoers want to see more movies starring women that has at least in part caused this summer’s blahs. Warner Bros. Pictures, however, reached a rare milestone this weekend by exceeding the $1 billion mark at the domestic box office. The studio owes a lot of its 2017 success to the superheroic performance of Wonder Woman, which surpassed Disney/Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” to become the summer’s highest-grossing film with $389 million. Continue reading on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 21-28: 500 YEARS

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500 Years is the third film in director Pamela Yates’ trilogy about Guatemala. Expansive in its coverage, and impassioned about its subject, the film is very much a classic social justice documentary, right down to the final scenes of enormous crowds thronging the city streets, demanding change. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 7 – 14: LETTERS FROM BAGHDAD

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The word indefatigable may well have been fashioned for the likes of Gertrude Bell. At a time, when women were largely confined to the domestic sphere, Bell climbed mountains, rode camels, palled about with Lawrence of Arabia, and penned letters, mountains of them, all the while dressed in impeccable fashion.Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: ‘Where Are The Women?’ Project, plus Geena Davis, Elizabeth Moss and Suzy Amis Cameron — Brandy McDonnell Reports

It costs Hollywood nothing to make movies that treat women well, and in fact, those films are less risky business. That’s one of the many interesting conclusions MaryAnn Johanson came to after spending 16 months crunching the numbers for her ‘Where Are the Women?’ project. Plus the latest news on Geena Davis, Elizabeth Moss and Suzy Amis Cameron. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Aug 3 – Aug. 9: THE DIARY OF A TEENAGE GIRL

thediaryofateenagegirl_poster copy Opening August 7, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Diary of a Teenage Girl, the directorial debut of actress/writer Marielle Heller (A Walk Amongst The Tombstones ). British actress Bel Powley (A Royal Night Out ) plays headstrong 17-year-old artist Minnie, living with her mother Charlotte (Kristen Wiig) in 1970s San Francisco and indulging in a sexual relationship with Charlotte’s boyfriend Monroe (Alexander Skarsgård). Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, June 22-28: A LITTLE CHAOS

Opening June 26, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is A Little Chaosactor Alan Rickman’s second directorial feature after 1997’s The Winter Guest. Set in 17th Century France, it stars the ever-glorious Kate Winslet as Sabine De Barra, a landscape gardener chosen to help design and construct the immense gardens of King Louis XIV’s palace at Versaille. It’s a gargantuan task that brings her up against famed gardener Andre Le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) and, while the two initially butt heads amongst the hellebores, a shared passion for the natural world soon sees attraction blossom. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, June 8-14: JURASSIC WORLD

Opening June 12, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Jurassic Worldone of the most hotly anticipated movies of the year. An astonishing 22 years after the original film wowed us with its cutting edge special effects – which still hold up today – and 14 after Jurassic Park III, we return to the dinosaur theme park Isla Nebular to find it fully operational and pulling in visitors. Technology, it seems, has evolved to such an extent that safety is guaranteed; but, when a new attraction malfunctions, things go very bad, very quickly. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, June 1-7: TESTAMENT OF YOUTH

Opening June 5, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Testament of Youth, featuring a stunning central performance from up-and-coming star Alicia Vikander (Son of a Gun, Ex_Machina) as a headstrong young British woman suddenly having to cope with major changes to her life brought on by the outbreak of World War I. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, May 25-31: SAN ANDREAS

Opening May 29, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is San Andreas, is this year’s requisite big-budget visual effects extravaganza from director Brad Peyton (Journey 2: The Mysterious Island). Starring Dwayne Johnson as a helicopter pilot struggling to reach his daughter after a massive earthquake rips through California, the real star of the show will surely be those edge-of-the-seat FX effects which showcase large-scale devastation in all its eye-popping glory. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, May 18-24: TOMORROWLAND

Opening May 22, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Tomorrowlandthe new summer family blockbuster from Disney and director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), who co-writes with Damon Lindelof (Prometheus, World War Z) and newcomer Jeff Jensen. Inspired by the ever-popular Tomorrowland segment of Disney’s theme parks, the story follows teen science geek Casey (Britt Robertson, TV’s Under the Dome) as she discovers the existence of a secret, futuristic world hidden in the midst of time and space that may hold the fate of humankind. Teaming up with mysterious Tomorrowland inhabitant Athena (Raffey Cassidy, TV’s Mr Selfridge)  and former boy genius turned miserable grown up Frank (George Clooney), Casey must draw on all her knowledge, ambition and positivity if she is to realize her full potential and make a real change. Read on…

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