FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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A disturbing number of people who complain about those who complain about Fifty Shades of Grey completely fail to appreciate that the sex isn’t what we complainers are complaining about. The sex is not the problem. Every sexual act in the film occurs with at least the unspoken agreement of both parties, and sometimes with explicit spoken negotiated consent. But an intimate relationship is about more than sex. Sex isn’t the only understanding between lovers that requires consent. There are boundaries that have to be respected and personal autonomy that is no one else’s to control. This is meant to be a 21st-century romance, isn’t it? So why does it feel retrograde in ways that are demeaning to both men and women? Read more>>

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Kirby Dick Talks Documenting Social Outrage — Jennifer Merin interviews

kirby dickDocumentary filmmaker Kirby Dick, known for tackling controversial and challenging subjects — such as the ‘outing’ of closeted gay politicians in Outrage (2009), exposing sexual abuse in the military in >The Invisible War (2012), and ripping the lid off rape on college campuses in The Hunting Ground (2015) — thinks of each of his films as an ongoing experiment, an investigation of subject and form that he’s never satisfied with, never quite finished with. He is, it seems, incessantly indignant about the social issues represented in his films. Read on…

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Women’s Week: Girlhood, Oscar’s Curse, and Herzog Hits on Women – Cathryn Atkinson reports

boyhoodsamanthaDoes multiple-Oscar contender Boyhood unintentionally demean girls? Current buzz points out that Richard Linklater’s epic tale explores the bright future of Mason, the young male protagonist, while tracing the ongoing collapse of confidence and gradual demoralization of his sister, Samantha (Lorelei Linklater). Meanwhile, two new studies present further evidence that women’s ambitions in the film industry are being scorched and torched. But there’s also a positive note this week: Werner Herzog finally gets it – he says he wants to make more movies with female protagonists. Read on…

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FIFTY SHADES OF GREY – Review by Susan Granger

Cleverly timed for Valentine’s Day, this film adaptation of E.L. James’ provocative novel revolves around a man’s desire for kinky sex and a woman’s determination to achieve emotional satisfaction. “I don’t do romance. My tastes are very singular,” dapper Seattle billionaire Christian Grey (Jamie Dorman) explains to naïve, virginal Anastasia Steele (Dakota Johnson), who wants love and commitment. Read on…

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OLD FASHIONED – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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So, this is the film being offered up as the Christian alternative to 50 Shades of Grey. Which turns out to be rather appropriate, for the “hero” of Old Fashioned is his own sort of controlling, demanding, and precisely, meticulously detailed about how women may and may not interact with him. He’s got a lot of rules that must be followed. It’s just that here, those rules come from Jesus in some nebulous, undefined way. Read more>>

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Hearts and Horror on Valentine’s Day — Liz Whittemore comments

only lovers left aliveMany of our favorite horror films of the past and present revolve around sane or sordid love relationships. Couples who are central to their plots and scares wear their hearts on their sleeves. Certain pairs have the know-how to survive. Others are doomed from the opening credits. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, let’s take a survey and analyze their skills. Read on…

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OSCAR CALCULUS: Why Best Actor is a Two-Way Race Between Keaton and Redmayne — Quendrith Johnson reports

redmayneand hawkingkeatonandinirrityAn informal red carpet survey may not be the most accurate way to gauge the Best Actor race for 2015, but this year the buzz confirms prevailing Hollywood insider sentiment that predicts a two-way tug between veteran Michael Keaton and newcomer Eddie Redmayne, leaving Steve Carell, Bradley Cooper and Benedict Cumberbatch on the sidelines. To understand voter calculus, let’s take a measure of the golden profiles of the Best Actor nominees, see what they bring to the gate, and reflect on what voters have said about their chances. Read on…

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TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Forget mad slashers and serial killers: this is a real horror story. And it’s all the more horrifying because it takes place in Europe (specifically, in Belgium), where protection for workers and the social safety net is so much stronger than it is in the U.S. Of course, this is a fictional story, but it is sweaty with a palpable ring of truth about the economic precariousness of everyone who isn’t rich, and the unending fear that accompanies life on the knife edge of financial despair. Read more>>

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Martha Lauzen’s Latest Stats Study: No Progress on On-Screen Gender Equality! – Jennifer Merin reports

Dr. Martha Lauzen, who heads San Diego State University’s Center for the Study of Women in Film and Television, has just released her latest study about on-screen representations of female characters in the top 100 grossing films of 2014. Dr. Lauzen has been tracking the disparity in roles for women for decades. Year after year, her exacting studies show that there is little change in the stats. Gain a few points one year, lose a few the next. Progress is flat, and that’s always the disappointing non-news. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, Feb. 9-15: WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS

Shadows AWFJ posterOpening Feb. 13, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is What We Do in the Shadows, the hilarious vampire mockumentary from writer-directors Jemaine Clement and Taika Waititi. The comedy pair have already proved they are masters of spoof with their hit TV show Flight of the Conchords, and here turn their attention to the shadowy world of the undead with similarly side-splitting results. Read on…

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