AWFJ Movie of the Week, July 21-27: LUCY

lucyOpening July 25, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Lucy, the latest action movie from writer-director Luc Besson, best known for The Fifth Element, La Femme Nikita and The Professional. Action It Girl Scarlett Johansson stars as a woman who gains the ability to use one hundred percent of her brain function, turning her into an unstoppable killing machine. Besson has created his share of strong, female action heroes and Johannson is turning into that rare actor who is interesting to watch in both big-budget action movies, like The Avengers, and riskier films, like Under the Skin. It will be fascinating to see what Besson and Johansson have created together in Lucy. Read on…

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Park Chan Wook Discusses Genre Twists in THIRST – Jennifer Merin interviews

park chan wook jerusalem ff cropped160At his Jerusalem Film Festival Masterclass, the Korean master filmmaker talks about how his life in 1980s Korea inspired Thirst, his genre bending vampire movie. This, he says, is his personal favorite among all of his films to date. He comments that he identifies with the film’s central character, a priest-turned-vampire, because he’s always trying to justify his decisions and actions. His revelations about audience manipulation through sound design are particularly fascinating. Read more>>

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FINDING VIVIAN MAIER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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Part portrait of a reclusive woman built up piece by piece via meticulous detective work, and part scolding of how the art establishment jealously guards its perimeters and only grudgingly bestows its approval, this is an extraordinary examination of a remarkable artist who was difficult, contradictory, and mysterious. It’s the kind of warts-and-all yet nonjudgmental study we’re used to seeing about male artists but hardly ever about women, and it becomes a stunning detonation of our expectations about creative people. Read more>>

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What SEX TAPE Gets Right About Marriage — Kristy Puchko Comments

sextapeRight now the Cameron Diaz/Jason Segel sex-comedy Sex Tape has an embarrassingly low 19% on Rotten Tomatoes. Frankly, I was surprised to see the critical consensus was against the latest comedy from director Jake Kasdan. This is in part because the screening I attended was flush with rich laughter throughout. But moreover, it’s because I–as a married woman–was personally elated to see that in the midst of this decidedly daffy comedy, there are some great things that Sex Tape gets right about long-term relationships.

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SEX TAPE – Review by Susan Granger

In the prologue, Annie (Cameron Diaz) blogs incessantly about the spicy sex life she enjoyed with her husband Jay (Jason Segel) when they met in college, when they first copulated, the second time they copulated and right on up to the time they married and had children (Sebastian Hedges Thomas, Giselle Eisenberg). Then suburban life – and exhaustion – robbed them of carnal pleasure. So she comes up with the idea sending the kids to Grandma (Nancy Lenehan) overnight, during which time they make a three-hour sex tape, depicting all the anatomical positions in “The Joy of Sex.” Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, July 14-20: MOOD INDIGO

Mood IndigoOpening July 11, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Mood Indigo, another unusual romance from director Michel Gondry, who is known for unique interpretations of love stories that incorporate fantastical, surreal elements. This time Gondry creates a stylishly quirky fantasy world that includes a piano that makes cocktails, a dining room on rollerskates and a cloud-shaped vehicle. French novelist Boris Vian’s cult novel provides the inspiration for the film, which stars Audrey Tautou and Romain Duris who embark on a whirlwind romance that is threatened when an unusual illness plagues Tautou’s character; a flower begins to grow in her lungs. It’s the kind of twist that fits perfectly well with Gondry’s inventive imagination. Read on…

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BOYHOOD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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We’ve seen children grow up onscreen before. Ron Howard. Jodie Foster. All the Harry Potter kids. But not like this. Not in a single film. Richard Linklater had the audacious idea to shoot a story about almost the entire span of one boy’s childhood using the same actors over the course of a dozen years. Audacious because such a long production time — probably the longest ever in the history of cinema — comes with unique challenges. Audacious because in retrospect, it seems like such an obvious idea, and yet either no one thought of it before or no one had the nerve to try it. Read more>>

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MOOD INDIGO – Review by Jennifer Merin

hr_Mood_Indigo_2 copyIn Mood Indigo, filmmaker Michel Gondry presents a delightfully stylish and quirky fantasy world in which a lonely Parisian inventor (Romain Duris) creates all sorts if life-enhancing and enchanting machines that turn daily tasks and ordinary endeavors into kinetic art. In the midst of this mechanical paradise, a flourishing love affair is threatened by a flower that takes root in a young woman’s lung. This is Gondry’s auteurship at its best! Read more>>

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SNOWPIERCER – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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There’s a reason why Snowpiercer is getting handled with the timid kid gloves of an arthouse release by the industry, quietly dribbling into a few cinemas here and there instead of getting a big opening-weekend push out onto three thousand screens. It’s a reason that has a lot to do with what the film has to say about human nature, hope, despotism, and a revolutionary spirit that might want to counter that despotism. What Snowpiercer is about offers too harsh a condemnation of the powers that be, of which Hollywood is but one arm. Read more>>

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PALO ALTO – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

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I can’t wait for the day when James Franco finally comes out of the performance-art closet and reveals that almost everything he’s done in the past, oh, ten years or so has been part of an intricate ongoing practical joke to yank celebrity culture and our knee-jerk worship of those who are famous. His turn as the charlatan man behind the curtain in Oz the Great and Powerful was a big clue, I think. He’s waiting for someone — anyone — to debunk the smoke and mirrors of the fame that allows him to churn out increasingly ridiculous pontifical junk. And no one does. And so here we have Palo Alto, yet another attempt to get someone — anyone — to say, “You’re not actually serious with this, are you?” Read more>>

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