Meet Soundarya Rajnikanth, director of VELLAI ILLA PATTADHARI 2 — Interview by Mythily Ramachandran (Exclusive)

Soundarya Rajnikanth headshotA career in films was inevitable for Soundarya Rajnikanth, the youngest daughter of Tamil superstar Rajnijanth. Soundarya stepped out of her father’s shadow in 2014 to direct her first film, Kochadaiiyaan, an animated period film shot with motion-capture technology, a first in the history of Indian cinema. Director Soundarya returns with her second feature, the live action Vella Illa Pattadhari 2 (Unemployed Graduate, in Tamil), a sequel to the eponymous Tamil blockbuster released in 2015. Read Indian film journalist Mythily Ramachandran’s exclusive interview on The Female Gaze.

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THE EMOJI MOVIE — Review by Susan Granger

For technology luddites and those who have never encountered a smartphone, Emoji are pictographs and ideograms that are used to convey electronic messages via texts. Originating on Japanese mobile phones in the late 1990s, Emojis were popularized by Apple’s iPhone and soon adopted by Android and other mobile operating systems. Their addictive popularity led to inclusion in the Oxford English Dictionary and Merriam-Webster. While their meanings can be culture-specific, their use is now almost universal. Continue reading…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: USC Studies Show Numbers Still Dismal for Women in Film –Brandy McDonnell reports

Two studies released in the past week out of the University of Southern California confirm that films remain predominantly white and male both in front of and behind the cameras – meaning that basically everyone else — from women and people of color to LGBT individuals and people with disabilities — remain woefully underrepresented. Read the shocking stats and more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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ATOMIC BLONDE — Review by Susan Granger

As the Berlin Wall crumbled in 1989, a behind-the-scenes spy thriller was unfolding, revolving around undercover MI6 agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron), who was dispatched to retrieve information vital to the safety of Western intelligence. As she’s being debriefed by her handlers (Toby Jones, John Goodman), it’s revealed that another MI6 agent, James Gascoigne, had a list of every espionage officer in the city on both sides of the Cold War conflict. Comtonue reading…

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PATTI CAKE$ — Review by Cate Marquis

PATTI CAKE$ is a winning underdog tale, about an overweight 23-year-old white woman whose youthful dreams of being a rapper are fading while she struggling to get by in lower working class New Jersey. Patti (Australian actress Danielle Macdonald) lives with, and takes care of, her hard-drinking, sometimes abusive mother (Bridget Everett) and wheelchair-bound Nana (Cathy Moriarty) in a cramped, squalid apartment. Patti supports them all working as bartender in a local dive bar. and her only escape is rapping and hanging-out with her only friend, fellow rapper Raneesh (Siddharth Dhananjay). She calls him Jheri and he calls her Killa P., but daily Patti stoically endures the neighborhood bullies who call her Dumbo. Together with a shy, angry black punk rocker (Mamoudou Athie ), Patti takes a last shot at her dream. Continue reading…

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DETROIT — Review by Cynthia Fuchs

detroit posterDetroit‘s focus on the 11 hours at the Algiers doesn’t expose racism as deviance as much as it displays its patterns. Like the other two movies in Kathryn Bigelow and Mark Boal’s war film trilogy, Detroit lurches occasionally, from journalism to sensationalism, from personal experiences to cultural critique. Less invested in any particular character than The Hurt Locker or Zero Dark Thirty, the new film poses a compelling challenge to that framework as a way to interrogate systems. Its focus on racism, the driving force of this war (as it is of most wars) presents it as a pathology and a system, alive in a past that is hardly over. Continue reading…

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DETROIT — Review by Diana Saenger

Detroit is about the riots that took place in Motor City in 1967. Kathryn Bigelow directs, Mark Boal (The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty) wrote the screenplay. These multitalented filmmakers have taken a true life drama and produced a film that should be shown on every TV in every home in America. Continue reading…

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THE DARK TOWER — Review by Susan Granger

If you read Stephen King’s sprawling eight-novel saga, which reportedly took more than 30 years to assemble, you may understand what’s happening on-screen. If not, it’s an epic hit-or-miss proposition. The story begins in earthquake-plagued Manhattan, where teenage Jake Chambers (Tom Taylor) is suffering horrific nightmares following the death of his fire-fighter father. When his mother (Katheryn Winnick) sends him to an asylum for psychiatric evaluation, he escapes, literally running for his life. Continue reading…

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Ann Hui and OUR TIME WILL COME — Marilyn Ferdinand comments

At a time when the outlook for women working in Hollywood appears just as bleak as ever, it’s wonderful to note that directors like Ann Hui are still working at or near the top of their game. Hui, 70, is a highly acclaimed Chinese filmmaker who is associated with the Hong Kong New Wave that includes Tsui Hark, John Woo, and Wong Kar-wai. Hui has 31 directing credits, including one of the best treatments of aging I have ever seen, A Simple Life (2011). She has told a variety of stories over her career, but her signature strength is the sympathy and meticulous detail she brings to her observations of ordinary people, especially as her desire to work on socially conscious projects has grown. 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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