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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AWFJ Movie of the Week, May 11-17: MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

Opening May 15, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Mad Max: Fury Roaddirector George Miller’s high octane reboot of his 1979 post apocalyptic action classic. Tom Hardy (Locke, Child 44) steps into the lead role that originally made a star of Mel Gibson, his Max Rockatansky becoming a figurehead for revolution in a world where humanity has completely broken down. As gangs roam the arid desert landscape, fighting to the death for basic supplies, Max and fellow traveller Furiosa (Charlize Theron) pose an unlikely challenge to the blood-thirsty, sociopathic status quo. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, April 27-May 3: AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON

Opening May 1, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Avengers: Age of Ultron, the latest installment in the box office beating superhero franchise from writer-director Joss Whedon. This time around, Tony Stark’s (Robert Downey Jr.) attempts to reactivate an old peace keeping programm go terribly awry, and the Avengers must re-team to defeat the villainous Ultron (voiced by James Spader) in his nefarious plan to take over the world. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, March 16-22: KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER

Opening March 18, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Kumiko, The Treasure Hunterthe beguiling new film from actor-writer-director David Zellner and his co-writer brother Nathan Zellner. Their story is simple, yet brilliant. Lonely Japanese worker Kumiko (Rinko Kikuchi; The Brothers Bloom, Pacific Rim) finds a VHS copy of the Coen Brothers’ classic 1996 crime caper Fargo and, convinced by the title card assertion that it’s a true story, believes it to be a genuine treasure map that will lead her to a large stash of cash buried beneath the Minnesota snow. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, March 9-15: CINDERELLA

Opening March 13, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Cinderellaa live-action retelling of the classic fairy tale from actor/director Kenneth Brangh, who follows up previous films Jack Ryan:Shadow Recruit and Thor with something altogether more gentle. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb. 23-March 1: MAPS TO THE STARS

Opening Feb. 27, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Maps to the Starsthe new film from director David Cronenberg (Videodrome, Cosmopolis, Maps to the Stars). The screenplay by Bruce Wagner (Scenes from the Class Struggle in Beverly Hills) takes a deeply satirical look at the inner workings of the LA film industry. Mia Wasikowska takes the role of Agatha, a new arrival in Hollywood, who finds herself working as a personal assistant to the unhinged actress Havana (Julianne Moore), who is haunted by the ghost of her dead mother and never far away from a complete breakdown. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb. 9-15: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

Shadows AWFJ posterOpening Feb. 13, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is What We Do in the Shadows, the hilarious vampire mockumentary from writer-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. The comedy pair have already proved they are masters of spoof with their hit TV show Flight of the Conchords, and here turn their attention to the shadowy world of the undead with similarly side-splitting results. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb. 2-8: JUPITER ASCENDING

jupiterascendingposter160Opening Jan. 30, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Jupiter Ascending, the latest offering from writer-director siblings Andy and Lana Wachowski. For their hotly anticipated new film, the Matrix filmmakers stay loyal to the genre in which they made their name with a future-set sci-fi drama that is shaping up to be one of the cinematic experiences of the year.

The brilliant Mila Kunis stars as titular hero Jupiter Jones who, despite being born under signs that depicted future greatness, has had nothing but bad luck. When Caine (Channing Tatum), a genetically engineered hunter, arrives on Earth to find her, Jupiter realizes she does indeed face a great destiny; one that could have a huge effect on the entire cosmos. Read on…

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