THREE TREMBLING CITIES – Review by Martha P. Nochimson

three-trembking-cities​Three Trembling Cities, written and directed by Arthur Vincie, is an innovative web series about immigrants in New York. Wait, don’t run for the exit. It’s not an earnest and/or sentimental diatribe about America as a country of immigrants; or a timely warning against the repulsive policies of Donald Trump, although this is a good time for America to consider its immigrant heritage. ​But the word “immigrant” has become heavy, fraught with anxiety, anger, and melancholy, and Three Trembling Cities is anything but that. Read the full review on EYE ON MEDIA.

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FENCES — Review by Anne Brodie

Fences is a set in a tiny, cramped world in a small house and back yard but the human landscape is as big as the plains. A couple and their son struggle daily with frustrated dreams, money difficulties and the domestic balance of power. As Denzel Washington’s head of the house lashes out at the ones he loves, they cower and walk on eggshells. Abuse, pain, and yearning are this family’s lot in life. So why see it? Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, December 30 – January 5: TONI ERDMANN

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Maren Ade’s film Toni Erdmann is something no one could have predicted. A three-hour German comedy about a father and daughter reunion, set against the contemporary bleakness of corporate Bucharest. On paper, this sounds like something you would run away from, screaming at the top of your lungs. But Ade’s film is simultaneously a sly take down of Neoliberalism’s economic practices, a family drama of uncompromising nuance and complexity, and a humanistic ode to the anarchic spirit that dwells inside each of us. The film has consistently popped up on critics’ top-ten lists and packed in the awards. It is fully deserving of every accolade. Read on…

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HIDDEN FIGURES stars on how working at NASA in the 1960s is a little like Hollywood — interview by Stephanie Merry

“Any upward movement for one of us is upward movement for all,” Octavia Spencer said. “If we don’t get there together, we don’t get there.” The spirit of teamwork also shows up in the plot of their movie, Hidden Figures. During the space race, NASA’s Langley Research Center employed black female mathematicians to calculate, among other things, launch and landing for the country’s first astronauts. After all, John Glenn didn’t make it into space alone, and one person who helped was Katherine Johnson, played by Henson. Spencer and Monáe play two other real-life math virtuosos, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Read more>>

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Three powerful movies this year reflect Virginia’s troubled racial history — Stephanie Merry comments

Loving shows Virginia at its most romantic and picturesque. Toward the beginning of the drama, a man takes his pregnant wife-to-be to an empty field and tells her in a slow drawl, “I’m going to build you a house right here.” The couple stand on a patchy, tree-lined stretch of grass, the rhythmic buzzing of cicadas pulsing around them. Low-hanging clouds pass languidly overhead, and the grass flutters in the breeze; humidity practically radiates off the screen. Read more>>

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HIDDEN FIGURES – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

hiddenfigures-p You know the names Alan Shepard (first American in space) and John Glenn (first American to orbit Earth). But you have probably never heard the names Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, who were pioneers in, respectively, mathematics, computer programming, and engineering at NASA, without whom those guys would never have flown. Even in histories of, specifically, the numbers nerds who made the astronauts fly, they have been ignored. Hidden Figures is the it’s-about-damn-time true story that fixes that wrong and puts paid to the notion — so prominent because it’s barely been squashed – that the only people who had the Right Stuff in the moonshot effort were white and male. Read more>>

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PASSENGERS — Review by Susan Granger

It’s a terrific sci-fi premise: Two passengers on a 120-year journey on the immense, ultra-luxurious spaceship Avalon emerge from their hibernation pods 90 years too yearly. Along with 5000 paying passengers and 258 crew, they’re headed for a distant colony on a planet called Homestead II, which offers a ‘promised land’ alternative to “overpopulated, overpriced and overrated Earth.” Read on…

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LIVE BY NIGHT — Review by Tomris Laffly

A sumptuously mounted gangster film from Ben Affleck, behind the camera for the first time since Argo, continues his intriguing offscreen career. Before he slipped on the bat mask, director Ben Affleck was a young Clint Eastwood in the making, telling quintessentially American tales of morality and heroism. With the ably executed Prohibition-era drama Live by Night, he picks up where he left off, drawing from Gone Baby Gone’s understated potency, The Town’s nail-biter car chases and shootouts, and Oscar-winning Argo’s humor and grandiose Hollywood polish. Read more>>

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WHY HIM? — Review by Susan Granger

According to writer/director John Hamburg, the idea for this crude, crass comedy about an uptight father meeting his daughter’s obnoxious boyfriend came from Shawn Levy when they were making “Night at the Museum.” What particularly intrigued Hamburg was how the world had changed since he made “Meet the Parents.” Previously, adults were in charge; now, young Silicon Valley techies have become billionaires. So he made that generational conflict the pivotal point. Read on…

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AWFJ Movie of the Week, December 19 – 23, 2016: JULIETA – by Dorothy Woodend

julieta_poster-copyPedro Almódovar’s 20th feature film Julieta is an adaptation of three Alice Munro stories. At first glance, the Spanish auteur and the Canadian writer wouldn’t appear to have anything in common. But they both share a dedication (perhaps obsession) to detailing the secret lives of women. Curiously enough, they are also united by an attraction to the more lurid, preposterous, and occasionally downright cruel twists of fate. Read on…

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