TOP FIVE – Review by Susan Granger

top five poster160Chris Rock offers a glimpse of life in the celebrity bubble, playing comedian-turned-actor Andre Allen, who agrees to a day-long interview with a New York Times journalist, Chelsea Brown (Rosario Dawson). Stand-up comic Allen found fame and fortune starring in a trilogy of dumb “Hammy the Bear” movies in which he played the ursine partner of a human policeman. A recovering alcoholic trying to stay sober, he’s embarked on two mid-life endeavors. Determined to be recognized as a serious artist, he’s opening a serious, historical drama “Uprize!” about a 1791 Haitian slave rebellion (which the Times has already panned) and he’s also celebrating his upcoming wedding to beautiful Erica Long (Gabrielle Union), a shallow reality-TV star. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Nov. 24-30: THE IMITATION GAME

Opening Nov. 14, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is The Imitation Game, the compelling real-life story of mathematical genius Alan Turing (Benedict Cumberbatch) who, along with a crack team of numerologists, broke the Nazi’s fiendish Enigma code during World War II. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Nov. 17-23: A GIRL WALKS HOME ALONE AT NIGHT

Opening Nov. 14, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, the impressive feature debut of short filmmaker Anna Lily Armipour. It stars Sheila Vand as an enigmatic, hijab wearing vampire who, while stalking the mean streets of desolate Iranian town Bad City, makes a connection with fellow lost soul Arash (Arash Marandi) a young man who dreams of escaping the harsh confines of his life. Read on…

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ROSEWATER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson


I had a lot of hopes for Jon Stewart’s first foray into narrative cinematic storytelling, which he’s never done before. I expected something passionate, principled, and political. In these I was not disappointed… and I was also pleased to discover that he has an aptitude for telling a complicated story that plays on multiple levels, both personal and cultural, in a smartly streamlined, easy to swallow way. What I wasn’t expecting was his tone in Rosewater: hopeful, almost serene, even gently amusing. Read more>>

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ROSEWATER –Review by Kristy Puchko

rosewaterOver nearly two decades on The Daily Show, Jon Stewart has reported on stranger-than-fiction stories with a sophisticated sense of humor and an ardent refusal to take himself too seriously. But when buckling down to tell the troubling true story of journalist Maziar Bahari in Rosewater, the TV personality turned film director discards these signatures in favor of earnestness and a predominantly solemn tone. It’s a bold choice, but does it pay off? Read more.>>

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THE HUNGER GAMES: MOCKINGJAY – PART 1 – Review by MaryAnn Johanson


Don’t tell Hollywood I said this, but chopping the final novel of the Hunger Games trilogy into two films might be the best thing that could have happened to this franchise. I mean, it didn’t work for Harry Potter — the first Deathly Hallows film was terrible — and Peter Jackson is already two-thirds of the way (with the final third almost upon us) toward demonstrating that turning the brief Hobbit book into three long films was not artistically warranted. And it’s not even like the so-far enthralling Hunger Games films needed any help. It’s just that this might be the best possible beginning of the ending that this particular story could have gotten. Read more>>

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THE IMITATION GAME – Review by MaryAnn Johanson


To say that The Imitation Game is a fury-inducing experience is an understatement. Oh, the film, as a film, is marvelous, a combination of thrilling intellectual adventure and a sensitive and wholly engaging portrait of a man ahead of his time both personally and professionally. It’s the hypocrisy and the bigotry and the shortsightedness that the film depicts that is infuriating. And what the film implies is even more enraging. Read more>>

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Nov. 10-16: BEYOND THE LIGHTS

Opening Nov. 14, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Beyond the Lights, the latest film from writer/director Gina Prince-Bythewood, the award-winning filmmaker behind the likes of Love & Basketball and The Secret Life of Bees. Here, British actress Gugu Mbatha-Raw, who recently wowed in Amma Asante’s glorious Belle, takes the central role of Noni, a talented young musician on the brink of superstardom. Although she seems to be achieving everything she ever wanted, Noni soon finds herself struggling with her newfound fame, but a burgeoning relationship with her bodyguard (Nate Parker) could provide the stability she needs. Read on…

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NIGHTCRAWLER – Review by Sandra Kraisirideja

After watching Nightcrawler you’ll never look at local TV news coverage the same way again.

Written and directed by Dan Gilroy, the deliciously dark Nightcrawler tells the story of Louis Bloom, a young man with questionable morals and high aspirations—a potent mix that helps him blossom as a freelance videographer capturing the mayhem that happens in the wee hours of the morning in Los Angeles. Read on…

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KELLY & CAL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson


This is why we need more women making movies. This is the sort of movie we simply don’t get when it’s always men telling their stories. Kelly & Cal, the feature debut of both director Jen McGowan and screenwriter Amy Lowe Starbin, is a simple, honest, deeply satisfying, no-bullshit tale of 30something Kelly, who just can’t seem to be happy with her life — the disquieting sense that something is wrong, something is missing from suburban housewifery and motherhood is still a thing that haunts many a woman half a century after The Feminine Mystique identified the problem. Read more>>

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