AWFJ Movie of the Week, May 18-24: TOMORROWLAND

Opening May 22, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Tomorrowlandthe new summer family blockbuster from Disney and director Brad Bird (The Iron Giant, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol), who co-writes with Damon Lindelof (Prometheus, World War Z) and newcomer Jeff Jensen. Inspired by the ever-popular Tomorrowland segment of Disney’s theme parks, the story follows teen science geek Casey (Britt Robertson, TV’s Under the Dome) as she discovers the existence of a secret, futuristic world hidden in the midst of time and space that may hold the fate of humankind. Teaming up with mysterious Tomorrowland inhabitant Athena (Raffey Cassidy, TV’s Mr Selfridge)  and former boy genius turned miserable grown up Frank (George Clooney), Casey must draw on all her knowledge, ambition and positivity if she is to realize her full potential and make a real change. Read on…

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PITCH PERFECT 2, MAD MAX and Quick Hitters re Varda, Bigelow, Holmes and more — Brandy McDonnell comments

elizabeth-banks-in-pitch-perfect-2To quote the Beyonce song used in one of Pitch Perfect 2′s musical numbers, girls do indeed run the world — at least at this weekend’s domestic box office. The musical comedy reprise about an all-girls a cappella group surpassed industry expectations to gross some $70.3 million in the US and Canada, making it the highest opening weekend earner in Hollywood history for a first time director — Elizabeth Banks, who also produced and gives a stunningly funny performance as an acid-tongued a cappella commentator. The ensemble is mostly women, and Kay Cannon wrote the script. So, Pitch Perfect scores big as a film by and about women. But there’s a feeling of deja vu…Read more>>

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EVERY SECRET THING – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Documentarian Amy Berg makes her feature debut with a slow burn of a mystery, one that takes cues from her amazing fact-based films, Deliver Us from Evil and West of Memphis: the banality of evil, the inequities of the criminal justice system, the abuse that can occur when those who are supposed to love and protect the innocent and vulnerable don’t have the best intentions at heart. This isn’t an easy film, not in any way: its pace is contemplative and deliberate; it’s more about puzzling out personality than it is a police procedural; and perhaps most uncomfortably for some viewers, all the major players are female. Read more>>

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I’LL SEE YOU IN MY DREAMS, EVERY SECRET THING, GOOD KILL, MAD MAX and PITCH PERFECT 2 – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

ill see you in my dreams posterI’ll See You in My Dreams is an upbeat femme-centric dramady about 70-something woman emjoying life. Every Secret Thing is a gripping femme-centric thriller, directed by Amy Berg and scripted by Nicole Holofcener. Good Kill is a hard-hitting military drama with strong female characters. Mad Max: Fury Road is the highly anticipated second coming of the epic post-apocalyptic blockbuster, and this one’s femme-centric. Pitch Perfect 2 is billed as a comedy — I say it’s a humiliation. Read the full reviews.

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CRIMSON PEAK – Preview by Liz Whittemore

Crimson-Peak-poster-200x300With Guillermo del Toro‘s fascination for Gothic horror, Crimson Peak should be right up his aesthetic alley, along with his other iconic films Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone. While del Toro has also delved into the sci-fi and comic book world with the Hellboy films (soon to be a trilogy) and Blade II, his eye for fantasy and horror is really his forte. Judging from the recently released trailer, Crimson Peak promises to be a great addition to del Toro’s filmography. Read more and watch the trailer>>

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GOOD KILL, Drone Strikes and Voltage Pictures’ Nicholas Chartier – Quendrith Johnson comments

good killWhen Voltage Pictures President Nicolas Chartier got a wrist-slap for openly appealing to Academy voters on behalf of his project The Hurt Locker (2010), he may have been “uninvited” to the Oscars, but he certainly proved himself to be the rare creative executive who really speaks his mind. Ironically, Chartier’s thesis holds up today. To paraphrase: ‘no actor studies Shakespeare to end up in The Avengers.’ Read more>>

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Astonishing in a way that makes you feel like you haven’t seen a true action movie in a while, by underscoring how sterile and cold what has passed for the genre has been. Achieves its grotesque, magnificent brutality in an old-fashioned way: with a simple, straightforward good-versus-evil story set in a carefully conceived imaginary world brought to visceral plausibility through the sheer physicality of capturing on film real people doing real things in the real world. Read more>>

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PITCH PERFECT – Review by Susan Granger

Set three years after its 2012 surprise-hit predecessor, Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson and the other Barden University Bellas return for another try at a cappella harmony. But disaster strikes when Fat Amy’s (Wilson) spandex outfit splits during a ‘live’ television performance at Washington, D.C.’s Kennedy Center in front of President and Mrs. Obama, revealing she’s gone ‘commando,’ resulting in an embarrassing media scandal. Read on…

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TESTAMENT OF YOUTH – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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I keep saying it: Women have war stories too. War is not the exclusive province of men, whatever Hollywood would have us think. And Vera Brittain’s experiences during World War I make up one of the great women’s war stories: her 1933 book about her life and the war’s impact on her family and on British society was a bestseller, and its success gave her a public platform as a pacifist during WWII and into the Cold War. This adaptation of her Testament of Youth is a compassionate, distressing tale of a woman’s determination to find her own purpose and meaning in an era when that was not kindly looked up, and one in which women’s contributions beyond wife- and motherhood were going to become essential. Read more>>

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Of Tigernado, Black Widow and Movie Moms – Brandy McDonnell comments

tigernadoOn Wednesday night, the Tiger Safari roadside zoo in Tuttle (which is west of Oklahoma City) was hit by one of the many small- to medium-size tornadoes wandering around the landscape, and there were concerns that wild animals had escaped. It turned out that no tigers were harmed or released in the making of that tornado, but by the time that was confirmed, we had already turned tigernado into a topic trending worldwide on Twitter. Tigernado is a reference to the inexplicably popular Syfy telefilm Sharknado, and memes based on that ridiculous monster movie and its sequel soon were flying around Twitter like so much twister debris. The poster for Life of Pi also became a popular tigernado meme, especially as flood waters rose and turned streets into rivers if not oceans, and jokes about Oklahoma rolling a 5 or 8 on the Jumanji dice ran as rampant as hyped-up storm chasers. Meanwhile, all I’m thinking is that we really need to make the 2010 documentary The Elephant in the Living Room required viewing in a state this disaster prone.Read more>>

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