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…
Mix a few dashes of “Argo,” a smidge of “Monuments Men” (admittedly, there’s not all that much worth taking), and a hearty dollop of “Hope and Glory,” and you’ll start to get an idea of what to expect from “Their Finest.” This World War II-set romantic dramedy follows a scrappy group of British filmmakers/propagandists who find themselves scrambling to make a morale-boosting movie based on an inspiring true story … sort of. Read on…read more
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…
Our goal is to present a compendium of AWFJ members’ perspectives on Oscars 2017. Not surprisingly, the views vary widely from utter enthusiasm to complete dismay, with mix of meh in between. Quite a few of our members opted out of the project, claiming awards burn out, indicating frustrations with the Academy’s new press procedures and/or stating that this year’s entire awards campaign and media buildup was either too political or not political enough. Read what Jeanne Wolf, Susan Wloszczyna, Moira Sullivan, Diana Saenger, Sheila Roberts, Nell Minow, Brandy McDonnell, Michelle McCue, Karen Martin, Kimberly Lindbergs, Leba Hertz, Candice Frederick, Marilyn Ferdinand, Chaz Ebert, Katherine Brodsky, Liz Braun, Betsy Bozdech and Erica Abeel have to say about Oscar 2017 on AWARDS INTELLIGENCER…read more
Where would we be without Shirley MacLaine? Ever since her first appearance in cinema (Hitchcock’s The Trouble with Harry), the woman has proven to be a wild card in the best sense of the term. Think of the jilted office girl that captivates Jack Lemmon in The Apartment, the ripeness and sass of Sweet Charity, or the remarkable mother from hell in Terms of Endearment. La MacLaine injects a tartness, intelligence and slyness into her performances that elevates even the most well-trod of narrative tropes. Read on…read more
From Nowhere has the peculiar timing of being released in theatres in the midst of the current maelstrom around immigration in the US. The film premiered last year at the SXSW Festival, where it picked up an audience choice award. Back in those innocent and unsuspecting days of yore, the film was relevant and topical, but now it is essential. As the US president threatens to muster the National Guard to round up the undocumented, From Nowhere offers up a portrait of three young lives caught up in this Kafkaesque situation. Read On….read more
Horror and fantasy film have long been a birthplace for emerging talent. Steven Spielberg, Sam Raimi, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, Ridley Scott, Kathryn Bigelow, and Gareth Edwards – all cut their teeth in genre cinema before moving onto other things. Director Anne Hamilton is in fine company, and her new film American Fable emerges from this august tradition, trailing references aplenty. Read on…read more
Opening 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…read more
Opening March 11, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Eye in the Sky, the tense new war thriller from director Gavin Hood starring Helen Mirren, Alan Rickman and Aaron Paul. Read on…
Opening Dec. 18, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Star Wars: The Force Awakens, a film which surely needs no introduction other than to say it’s the latest instalment in the classic sci-fi franchise, helmed by JJ Abrams. Read on…read more
Opening July 1, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Magic Mike, the follow-up to Steven Soderbergh’s surprise 2012 hit about a troupe of male strippers taking the world by storm. That film’s assistant director Gregory Jacobs (Wind Chill) takes over where Soderbergh left off, while original star Channing Tatum returns as the eponymous Magic Mike. Three years after he left the stripping lifestyle behind, Mike is persuaded to join the remaining Kings of Tampa – sadly, sans Matthew McConaughey’s scene-stealing Dallas – for one last blow-out performance in Myrtle Beach. Read on…read more
Opening Feb. 27, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Maps to the Stars, the 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…read more
Opening Feb. 20, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Wild Tales. This Oscar nominee for best foreign film is interweaves six stand-alone, thematically connected shorts into a compelling feature about venting frustration and exacting revenge. Read on…read more
Opening 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…read more
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…read more
Opening Dec. 3, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Wild, Jean-Marc Vallee’s follow-up to 2013′s Dallas Buyers Club, which won stars Matthew McConaughey and Jared Leto Academy Awards for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor respectively (and was also nominated for Best Picture). Expect similar accolades for Reese Witherspoon, as critics are calling her lead performance one of the best of her career. She takes the role of real-life hiker Cheryl Strayed, who embarked on an 1,100 mile solo trek along the challenging Pacific Crest Trail in a bid to overcome the untimely death of her mother. It’s a raw and honest turn from Witherspoon, who also produced the film, showcasing both her natural talent and impressive dramatic range. Read on…read more
Opening Nov. 14, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Imitation Game, the compelling real-life story of mathematical genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, along with a crack team of numerologists, broke the Nazi’s fiendish Enigma code during World War II. Read on…read more
Opening Nov. 14, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Beyond the Lights, the latest film from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the award-winning filmmaker behind the likes of Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees. Here, British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who recently wowed in Amma Asante’s glorious Belle, takes the central role of Noni, a talented young musician on the brink of superstardom. Although she seems to be achieving everything she ever wanted, Noni soon finds herself struggling with her newfound fame, but a burgeoning relationship with her bodyguard (Nate Parker) could provide the stability she needs. Read on…read more
Opening Oct. 31, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Nightcrawler, the blistering directorial debut of screenwriter Dan Gilroy (The Fall, The Bourne Legacy). Gilroy also penned this rapid-fire satire in which the unending demands of the 24 hour news cycle are the catalyst for some seriously questionable behaviour from those who report it. One such man is former drifter – and confirmed sociopath – Lou Bloom (Jake Gyllenhaal) who, after accidentally discovering his natural talent for nocturnal crime journalism, trawls the dark streets of LA searching for increasingly salacious content to satisfy network news boss Nina (Rene Russo). Read on…read more
Opening Oct. 10, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Whiplash, writer/director Damien Chazelle’s adaptation of his Sundance winning short film. At 29, Chazelle is carving out an interesting career; his eclectic resume already features the screenplay for recent Hitchcockian thriller Grand Piano, starring Elijah Wood, and Whiplash has been attracting high critical praise from all corners.
It stars Miles Teller (The Spectacular Now, Project X) as a promising young drummer who enrolls at a prestigious music academy. His burning desire to make music is put to the test, however, when he comes up against a tutor (JK Simmons) whose virulent desire to push his students to success borders on the sadistic. Read on…read more
The Alliance of Women Film Journalists (AWFJ) has extended its EDA Awards festival program to include presentation of juried EDA Awards for best female-directed narrative and documentary features at the 2014 Edinburgh International Film Festival, held from June 18 to 30, 2014. The EDA Award winners were announced and EDA Award certificates presented by AWFJ President Jennifer Merin at EIFF’s awards ceremony on June 27, at Edinburgh’s FilmHouse. AWFJ jurors presented three awards to female-directed films at EIFF this year. Read on…read more
Opening May 2, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Ida, a stunning black-and-white film from British filmmaker Pawel Pawlikowski. This is his third feature, but the first to be set in his native Poland. Set in the 1960s, Ida takes a fascinating look at that country’s post-World War II legacy and its Communist era. It is also an entertaining road movie as a young nun about to take her final vows discovers that she is Jewish, sending her on a journey with her ex-Party aunt to discover what became of her parents during the war. AWFJ panelists were impressed by the performances from newcomer Agata Trzebuchowska, the stunning cinematography and the surprising sparks of humor in the film. Don’t miss this one. Read on…read more
Opening April 18, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Fading Gigolo, a quirky and tender New York comedic fantasy written and directed by John Turturro, who also stars as Fioravante, an unspectacular florist who is in need of money and so takes a turn at the world’s oldest profession– and is surprisingly, spectacularly successful.
Costar Woody Allen as his pal and pimp, along with Sharon Stone, Liew Schreiber, Jill Scott and Bob Balaban give seductive performances that bring engaging eccentricity, genuine warmth and subtle humor to the film.
This is Turturro’s fifth feature, and it’s a winner. Read on…read more