From The AWFJ Archive: MoMA’s Sally Potter Retrospective – Jennifer Merin comments

Let’s praise Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) curator Sally Berger for putting together a remarkable and well-deserved retrospective (July 7 to 24) of the films and video of Sally Potter, the brilliant British feminist moviemaker with a genuinely unique and fascinating vision.
Potter‘s films are never easy escapes, and she’s often had mixed reviews, but as director, writer, actress, dancer, choreographer and composer, Potter is a rare entity: the complete cinematic artist. She invites you to profound emotional insights and transports you to uncharted realms of imagination and intellect. Continue reading…

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THE BALLAD OF LEFTY BROWN — Review by Diane Carson

lefty brown posterThe Ballad of Lefty Brown is a retro western of revenge and frontier justice. Announcing lofty intentions in its opening, The Ballad of Lefty Brown begins with an onscreen quotation from Frederick Jackson Turner, influential historian of the American West. He wrote, “The frontier environment is at first too strong for the man. He must accept the conditions which it furnishes or perish.” The character study that follows highlights that dichotomy: adapt or die. Continue reading…

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50 SHADES FREED — Review by Susan Granger

The final episode of this inexplicably successful, soft-core porn franchise opens with billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dornan) dazzling his bride, Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson),with an ostentatious display of his staggering wealth: his jet, his yacht, his chef, etc. Continue reading…

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THE PARTY — Review by Anne Brodie

Sally Potter’s scathing social satire The Party, shot in black and white in three claustrophobic rooms is a gem, and thankfully short given the compression of nerves and tears and emotion. What may be the most unpleasant dinner party of all time brings together a perfectly presentable group of middle class English friends – a politician, artists, a banker, a professor, a realist and a healer. Continue reading…

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12 STRONG — Review by Susan Granger

This contemporary war picture celebrates the brave soldiers who fought against Al Qaeda -without probing too deeply into the political justification or disillusioning aftermath of their heroic efforts. Green Beret Operational Detachment Alpha 595 consists of a 12-member U.S. Special Forces squad sent into mountainous northern Afghanistan shortly after 9/11. Their mission is to take the Taliban stronghold of Mazar-i-Sharif within three weeks – before the winter snow hits. Continue reading…

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THE PARTY — Review by Moira Sullivan

THE PARTY POSTERSally Potter’s eighth feature The Party occupies a sitting room, kitchen, garden and bathroom populated by veteran actors Kristin Scott Thomas, Cherry Jones Cillian Murphy, Emily Mortimer, Timothy Spall and Patricia Clarkson. The skill of the dialogue in this sitting room drama written by the UK independent filmmaker moves the film forward but equally important are ten carefully selected songs that punctuate the gathering. These have significance for each of the scenes and are inseparable from the images. With the exception of a British anthem, the selections are recorded by international artists – arias, ballads, jazz and rhythm and blues, ska, and tango. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Diane Carson

In an early scene in Chilean director Sebastián Lelio’s A Fantastic Woman, performing on stage, the transgender, sultry nightclub singer Marina flirts with Orlando, her older lover and partner. They return to their apartment, make love and go to sleep before a medical emergency initiates the tragedy Marina will face and the treatment she’ll contend with from Orlando’s family. Continue reading…

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WILDCATS — Review by Courtney Howard

wildcats posterDirector Michael Ritchie’s film WILDCATS should’ve hit at the right time, with more women entering the workforce in the 80’s, but didn’t thanks to a tepid reception from critics and audiences alike. The general response was that it wasn’t as solid as Private Benjamin, Hawn’s career-defining comedy about a privileged trophy wife forced to find her identity in the Army after her husband dies. However, it’s my personal belief that Ritchie’s comedy about a girls-track-coach-turned-inner-city-football-coach – one whose abilities are underestimated by practically everyone – is a far greater, underappreciated, often misunderstood, and wildly feminist gem. Continue reading…

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A FANTASTIC WOMAN — Review by Moira Sullivan

A Fantastic Woman (“Una Mujer Fantastica”, Chile 2017)) opens on the expanse of the majestic and torrential flow of the Iguazú Falls located on the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil. Its visually moving beauty is photographed by Benjamín Echazarreta and eloquently accompanied in a flute and harp composition by Matthew Herbert who scores the film. The cascade of water plummets from several sides of the mountain ridge, creating a massive vortex called “Garganta del Diablo” – the “Devil’s Throat”. Mist emanates in slow motion from this voluptuous wonder as it hits the rocks below. It is surprising that this marvel is named for a malevolent force, but this is also the paradox of the dramatic development in this well-crafted and poignant film. Continue reading…

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK February 9: THAT’S NOT ME

motw logo 1-35Alice Foulcher does triple duty in “That’s Not Me,” starring as both aspiring Australian actress Polly and her identical twin sister, Amy (also an actress), as well as co-writing with director Gregory Erdstein. The result is an appealing exploration of ambition, identity, and the whims of showbiz. The movie’s focus is mainly on Polly, who’s wanted to be an actress her whole life and dreams of getting her big break, even while she’s working a day job at a local cinema. Continue reading…

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