A MOST VIOLENT YEAR – Review by Susan Granger

Set in New York City during the winter of 1981, statistically the most dangerous year in the city’s history, J.C. Chandor’s intense noir-thriller combines political intrigue with industrial corruption. Ambitious, idealistic Hispanic immigrant Abel Morales (Oscar Isaac) started as a fuel truck driver for a heating oil distributor. When he marries the mob-connected boss’s daughter Anna (Jessica Chastain) and they take over the family business, he discovers it’s not easy being honest in the crime-riddled city. After making a deal to purchase a waterfront storage facility, Morales is faced with a series of brutal anonymous attacks, hijacking his drivers and stealing his fuel. Egged on by Anna and his lawyer (Albert Brooks), he turns to desperate measures to protect his property, his family and his chunk of the American Dream. Read on…

read more

THE CASE AGAINST 8 – Review by Jennifer Merin

CASEAGAINST8POSTERThe Case Against 8 chronicles activists’s efforts to overturn California’s Prop 8, the civil rights-squashing ban on same sex marriage. Filmmakers Ben Cotner and Ryan White’ behind-the-scenes access shows how civil rights activists from both sides of the aisle — most notably the ultra-conservative GW Bush backer Ted Olson and strongly liberal Al Gore backer David Boies, and their respective law partners – joined forces to fight legislation putting individuals’ rights, as guaranteed by the US Constitution, under the decision-making control of the government. Read on…

read more

ANNIE – Review by Susan Granger

ANNIE_INTL_1SHT_TSR_LK2_06.indd“Annie” had its world premiere in August, 1976, at Goodspeed Opera House in East Haddam, CT. No one associated with that show or its subsequent incarnations could have possibly envisioned this cloying, superficial debacle. Based upon Harold Gray’s popular comic strip “Little Orphan Annie,” the Depression-era story revolved around an optimistic moppet, her dog Sandy and her benefactor, billionaire Oliver “Daddy” Warbucks.Updated to the present with a multicultural cast, the sassy, spunky tyke (Quvenzhane Wallis) is temporarily adopted by a cynical cellphone mogul, Will Stacks (Jamie Foxx), as a ploy for voter appeal when he runs for Mayor of New York City. At his side are his assistant Grace (Rose Byrne) and campaign manager Guy (Bobby Cannavale). Read on…

read more

2014 AWFJ EDA Awards Categories

For 2014′s year end awards, the Alliance of Women Film Journalists will present AWFJ EDA Awards in 25 categories, reducing the list from the 31 categories in 2013. Categories for elimination were selected by polling AWFJ members. AWFJ recognizes the contributions and concerns of women in film with the Female Focus and EDA Special Mention categories. Nominations will be announced on December 29, 2014. The winners will be announced on January 12, 2015. For the list of categories, read on…

awfjbestpicturesample300

read more

WILD – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

wildposter

Cheryl Strayed was a mess. She was in the midst of divorcing her husband; she’d ruined their marriage with her constant random screwing around with strangers. She was using heroin. She was lost. So, in the summer of 1995, she figured maybe she might be able to find herself by hiking a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail. Which she did. And then she wrote a book about her transformative experience. And now it’s a movie. Read more>>

read more

AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 15-21: MR. TURNER

Opening Dec. 19, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Mr. Turner, the latest work from celebrated British writer/director Mike Leigh (Secrets and Lies,Vera Drake, Another Year). A look at the last 25 years of the life of artist JMW Turner, his screenplay highlights the master as man, detailing both his prodigious artistic talent and the emotional vulnerability that defined his character. Read on…

read more

ELECTRICITY – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

electricityposter

Lily has epilepsy. But Electricity is as far from a film about disease or disability as you can imagine. Instead, for 30ish Lily, it’s just one more challenge in a life that has had more than its share of them. Childhood abuse that may have caused her condition is hinted at, which may also explain why her family is shattered and scattered. And yet Lily retains a resolute, almost steely kindness and optimism; Agyness Deyn effortlessly imbues her with a strange and lovely quality that somehow combines likability with aloofness: you want to hug her, but you refrain because you know she probably wouldn’t want it. Read more>>

read more

INHERENT VICE – Review by Susan Granger

You don’t have to be stoned to watch Paul Thomas Anderson’s laconic adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s pulpy crime mystery, but I suspect it would ease the tedium. Read on…

read more

Women Rule Whistler Film Festival – Literally! – Katherine Brodsky reports

whistlerff2014

The Whistler Film Festival (WFF) was founded some 14 years ago by Shauna Hardy Mishaw, its current executive director. Over time, WFF emerged as a significant player within the Canadian film fest circuit. Known for its intimate, casual environment, WFF is a major draw for filmmakers and industry leaders alike (this year, industry attendance doubled!).

Mishaw’s loyal and tireless admin team consists largely of women, most of whom have been with the festival for many years, supporting WFF through its ups and downs and setting the stage for film-centric hospitality for which WFF is known. filmmakers and industry honchos mingle, and deals are made not only through scheduled one-on-one meetings, but also in the hot tub or on the ski slopes. Read on…

read more

AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 8-14: INHERENT VICE

Opening Dec. 12, the AWFJ Movie of the Week is Inherent Vice, the latest work from writer/director Paul Thomas Anderson (There Will Be Blood, The Master). An adaptation of Thomas Pynchon’s novel – Anderson being a self-confessed mega fan of the author – the film reunites Anderson with his Master star Joaquin Phoenix, who here takes the lead role of cop Larry ‘Doc’ Sportello. Working in LA in 1970, Sportello is fuelled – like most of the city – by a heady mix of drink and drugs, and finds himself rather over his head while investigating the disappearance of ex-girlfriend Shasta (ethereal newcomer Karen Waterston). Read on…

read more