TONI ERDMANN — Review by Susan Granger

Going into the Oscar Foreign Language race as an overwhelming favorite, German filmmaker Maren Ade’s poignant comedic-drama revolves around a practical-joking father who tries to reconnect with his uptight daughter by creating an outrageous alter-ego. Within that context, Ade satirically tackles feminism, workplace sexism, international capitalism, and German arrogance within the European Union.
After his beloved dog dies, divorced, middle-aged music teacher Winifred Conradi (Peter Simonischek) feels totally lost. So he tries to reconnect with his only child – daughter Ines (Sandra Huller) – who is obsessive about her executive consulting work in Romania. Read on…

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OSCAR Nominated Animation Shorts — Review by Martha K. Baker

“Short” is right. Most of these films run fewer than 10 minutes with one longer than a half-hour. And “sweet” is right, too, in a way, if “sweet” stretches to mournful. The Oscar-nominated Short films advance the concept of brevity as good and worthy. Read on…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 10 – 17: A UNITED KINGDOM

a united kingdom poster

A United Kingdom is director Amma Asante’s earnest, thought-provoking drama about the real-life passion between Botswana’s beloved Seretse Khama (David Oyelowo) and Englishwoman Ruth Williams (Rosamund Pike). Set in post-WWII England and Africa, the film sheds light on an important, still-relevant slice of history, addressing issues of race, politics, and colonialism while also telling a heartwarming love story. Read on…

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THE WEEK IN WOMEN: The Women of HIDDEN FIGURES — Brandy McDonnell Reports

hidden-figures-5Once the feel-good film of awards season, ‘Hidden Figures’ is now a big winner and a big moneymaker. Throughout this film awards cycle, Hidden Figures has been the crowd-pleasing, uplifting fan favorite. This weekend, the fact-based period drama about the African-American women who worked behind the scenes at NASA during the space race won the top prize at the SAG Awards and crossed the $100 million mark at the domestic box office. Will the film’s success make a difference? The real women whose stories are told in the film hope it will. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN…

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Salma Hayek, Jessica Williams and Jill Soloway Spar at Sundance — Thelma Adams reports

The roots of the women’s brunch brouhaha that emerged between Hayek and Williams and extended out to include those present including Shirley MacLaine and Alfre Woodard were generational, racial and sexual, reflecting the larger critical split in the women’s movement beyond the petri dish of the Sundance Film Festival. Read more>>

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DON’T KNOCK TWICE — Review by Liz Whittemore

dont knock twice posterThe man with a hook for a hand, Bloody Mary, Slenderman — why are we so hooked on urban legends? Is it to scare ourselves silly? Or, perhaps it’s to see terror rise in someone else. We should know better than to test fate at this point, but we don’t. In the new horror film, Don’t Knock Twice, a troubled young girl wrangles her estranged mother into fighting a battle they may not be able to win.,even though they’re fighting together against evil instead of fighting each other. Read the full review on I SCREAM YOU SCREAM.

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SILENCE — Review by Susan Granger

Filmmaker Martin Scorsese (Kundun, Last Temptation of Christ) is obviously fascinated with the foundations of faith, adapting Shusaku Endo’s 1966 historical novel about two Jesuit priests who travel from Portugal to Japan to find their mentor who is rumored to have renounced his religion under torture. In 17th century Buddhist Japan, Catholicism has been outlawed and its believers persecuted. But fervent Father Rodrigues (Andrew Garfield) and Father Garrpe (Adam Driver) are determined to track down Father Ferreira (Liam Neeson). As they search, they minister to converted villagers who risk their lives to hide them from the wily Inquisitor (Issei Ogata) and his interpreter (Tadanobu Asano), who give suspected Christians the opportunity to recant by stepping on an image of Jesus or the Virgin Mary. Read on…

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On Making SEEING IS BELIEVING: WOMEN DIRECT – Guest Post by Filmmaker Cady McClain

cady mcclain headshotCady McClain has been speaking to female directors, chronicling their stories for her serialized documentary, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct. Interviewees include Sarah Gavron, Lee Grant, Meera Menon, Betty Thomas and other accomplished directors, as well as next generation women filmmakers just blazing career paths. Not yet ready for release, Seeing is Believing: Women Direct elucidates skills needed to succeed as a woman director; women mentor women by sharing their experiences via filmed interviews. Here, McClain writes about her filmmaking process, why she’s making this documentary and what she’s learning from doing so. Read more on THE FEMALE GAZE

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OKLAHOMA CITY — Review by Brandy McDonnell

It may be heartrending and stomach-churning to watch, especially for Oklahoma natives and residents like me, but the new PBS documentary “Oklahoma City” is timely and vital viewing. The harrowing film, which made its world premiere last month at the Sundance Film Festival, does more than just recap the destruction wrought by Timothy McVeigh’s truck bomb. Read more on THE WEEK IN WOMEN.

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THE COMEDIAN — Review by Susan Granger

Back in 1983, Robert De Niro played a sociopathic wannabe celebrity in Martin Scorsese’s “The King of Comedy,” starring Jerry Lewis. Obviously, the delusional character intrigued De Niro because in “The Comedian,” he’s a former TV sit-com star, Jackie Burke. Aging Burke has hit hard times, unable to move beyond nostalgic references to “Eddie’s Home.” One night when an obnoxious heckler with a web-cam taunts him at a comedy club in Hicksville, Long Island, he clobbers the guy in a scuffle that winds up on YouTube. Read on…

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