THE PIONEERING WOMEN OF DOCUMENTARY FILM – Essay by MaryAnn Johanson

osajohnsonWhen we talk about the early years of cinema, there is no separating “the history of women in film” from “the history of film.” Women have been there from the beginning, and have shaped the medium in transformative ways. The idea that films could tell stories as opposed to documenting reality was hit upon by a woman, Alice Guy-Blaché, who made the very first narrative movie, in 1896. And the filmmaker who arguably created the modern documentary form was Leni Riefenstahl with 1935’s Triumph of the Will. Women have always gotten short shrift when it comes to acknowledging their contributions, but that’s not a reflection of the inestimable value of their work. Movies simply would not look and feel the way they do today without the input of women artists and innovators. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, July 10 – July 16: GHOSTBUSTERS

ghostbusters posterOpening July 15, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Ghostbusters, the hotly-awaited new all-female reboot of the beloved sci-fi franchise from director Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, The Heat, Spy). Read on…

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OUR LITTLE SISTER, CAPTAIN FANTASTIC, OVATION, INDIAN POINT and other July 8 Openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

Our_Little_Sister_posterHirokazu Koreeda’s Our Little Sister is a soulful, magical journey into the wonderous mysteries of sisterhood, brought to live action from a popular Japanese manga. Captain Fantastic follows a story line that raises issues about child rearing in a society with polluted values. Henry Jaglom’s character-driven Ovation delves into the psyche of an actress who’s looking for balance between self esteem, integrity, ambition and lust. Indian Point is Ivy Meerpol’s compelling cautionary documentary risks of continuing operation of the titular 40 year old nuclear energy plant with its very outdated technology. Plus about the Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You, Zero Days.Under the Sun, The Dog Lover, and Fathers and Daughters Read the reviews>>

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OUR KIND OF TRAITOR – Review by Susan Granger

This cinematic adaptation of spymaster John le Carre’s 2010 Cold War thriller opens with a tantalizing glimpse of the Bolshoi Ballet, followed by the cold-blooded execution of a family on an icy, snowy road. Then it shifts to Morocco, where an estranged British couple – Perry Makepeace (Ewan McGregor), a mild-mannered poetry professor and his savvy lawyer wife Gail (Naomie Harris) – are dining in a posh café in Marrakech. Read on…

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WEINER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

weinerposter The gods of comedy surely were feeling beneficent when they arranged for a politician named Weiner to be caught in a scandal kicked off by his accidentally public tweet of a photo of his penis that was meant to be privately DM’d to a fangirl. The career trajectory of John Oliver alone confirms this: he transformed a 2013 summer fill-in hosting job on The Daily Show, one that was initially greeted with trepidation by Jon Stewart’s fans, into his own show, now an HBO and viral-video hit… and that is down to (among other clever bits) his appropriation of Weiner’s nom de sexting, Carlos Danger — yes, really *facepalm* — for comedic purposes… comedic purposes that slayed. Read more>>

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THE SECRET LIFE OF PETS – Review by Susan Granger

Admittedly, Pixar’s “Toy Story” came up with the fantasy first, but this animated adventure, set in Manhattan, explores the concept of what your pets might be up to when you’re gone for the day. Beginning with a merchandising short featuring lawn-mowing Minions from “Despicable Me,” the main story kicks into gear as Katie (Ellie Kemper) disrupts the domestic tranquility of her beloved Jack Russell terrier Max (Louis CD.K.) by bringing home a huge, shaggy mutt named Duke (Eric Stonestreet). Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, July 3 – July 9: CAPTAIN FANTASTIC

captain fantastic posterOpening June 24, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Captain Fantastic, the sophomore film from actor-turned-filmmaker Matt Ross following his well-received 2012 directorial debut 28 Hotel Rooms. Read on…

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THE INNOCENTS, THE BFG, MICROBE & GASOLINE, LIFE ANIMATED and other July 1 openers – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

the innocents poster Top picks among this week’s opening films are Anne Fontaine’s harrowing post World War II drama, The Innocents, plus Steven Spielberg’s endearing animated family fantasy, The BFG, and Michel Gondry’s charming coming of age road trip, Microbe & Gasoline. Roger Ross Williams’ enlightening documentary Life, Animated shows the role Disney animated characters played in an autistic child’s development and Susanna White’s cinema adaptation of John le Carre’s Our Kind of Traitor is thrilling. Others include Rosanne for President, The Purge: Election Year and Satanic.
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THE BFG – Review by Susan Granger

Blending live action and computer animation, Steven Spielberg has adapted Roald Dahl’s fantastical tale, featuring Oscar-winner Mark Rylance (“Bridge of Spies”) as the titular character, The Big Friendly Giant. Scripted by the late Melissa Matheson (“E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”) and directed by Spielberg, it’s set in London in the early 1980s and revolves around 10 year-old orphan, Sophie (Ruby Barnhill), a lonely insomniac who – at 3 a.m. – spies a 24-ft.-tall giant lurking about the cobblestone streets, collecting and dispensing phosphorescent dreams to unsuspecting sleepers. Read on...

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THE SHALLOWS — Review by Susan Granger

Still grieving over the death of her mother, Nancy (Blake Lively) is a medical school drop-out who decides to pay an homage visit and surf on her mother’s favorite Mexican beach: a remote, jungle-enshrouded crescent-shaped cove that’s almost totally deserted. After making a few phone calls to check-in with her dad and younger sister in Galveston, Texas, Nancy zips on the top of her wetsuit, tethers her foot to her surfboard and wades into the waves. Read on…

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