THE BENEFACTOR – Review by Susan Granger

With a dazzling resume that includes “Pretty Woman” and “An Officer and a Gentleman,” now 66 year-old Richard Gere seems to be attracted to eccentric character studies, following “Arbitrage” (2012) with “Time Out of Mind” (2014) and now his cinematic interpretation of Francis L. Watts – a.k.a. Franny. Read on…

read more

CAROL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

carol poster The first beautiful thing about Carol is its sheer perfection as a movie. As an example of how filmed storytelling can paint characters so vivid you feel like they are people you have always known, and then drop you into their world and wrap you up in the enrapturing emotions they are experiencing. On the level of craft, what movies do isn’t done better than how Carol does it. In a way that only cinema can do, it presents a story about the things that people do not — can not — say to one another but is instead conveyed by glances, by body language. Performances at once delicate and passionate are made even more effective by how the camera captures them. Read more>>

read more

Femme-centric STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS’ box-office tops Golden Globes earner THE REVENANT – Brandy McDonnell reports

daisy-ridley-the-force-awakensStar Wars: The Force Awakens took top North American box office for its fourth weekend, grossing $41.6 million from 4,134 theaters for a total $812 million. It’s the first movie to cross $800 million in the U.S., and it’s got a female leading character who is central to the plot. This is the third year in a row that the top-grossing movie of the year has featured a female main character. It even bested this year’s Golden Globes big winner, the gritty mostly-male survival tale, The Revenant, and other Golden Globe grabbers. Read more in THE WEEK IN WOMEN

read more

THE DANISH GIRL – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

danishgirlposter I’m not sure The Danish Girl does justice to Lili Elbe, to the transgender cause, or even to the notion that there are binaries that need to be smashed. I simply never believed that Copenhagen landscape painter Einar Wegener was harboring the secret that someone who appeared to the outside world to be a he was actually a she. It’s not that Eddie Redmayne, who portrays the artist, is too masculine for the role; he’s actually quite pretty as Lili, but I’m not talking about appearances. It’s that there isn’t an inkling of support anywhere in the film for the idea that Einar really is a transgender woman. Read more>>

read more

STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENS: Feminism, and Diversity — Candice Frederick comments

All we need now is a WOC sci-fi protagonist and we’ll be getting somewhere. Here’s my take on Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and its implications for feminism and diversity in sci-fi. Read more>>

read more

THE HATEFUL EIGHT – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

hatefuleightposter There are no characters to like in Eight. It’s impossible to even hate them, never mind to root for them: they are not even bare approximations of people, and they all operate on the same flat level that suggests they know that they are cardboard cutouts in a bit of disposable exploitation junk. To be fair, they don’t have much of a story to engage with: what passes for plot here is mostly a roundrobin of trash talk, dick-measuring, and bloody violence. And all of that would probably be fine if Eight was nothing more than a quick and dirty 87-minute splatterfest. Read more>>

read more

AWFJ Movie of the Week, January 11-17: A PERFECT DAY

a-perfect-day-poster Opening Jan. 15, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is A Perfect Day, the new drama from Spanish writer/director Fernando Leon de Aranoa about a group of aid workers attempting to resolve a crisis in an armed Balkan conflict zone. Read on…

read more

LAMB, YOSEMITE, THE FOREST and ANESTHESIA Open Jan 8 – Reviews by Jennifer Merin

lamb poster art
As usual, the first week in January isn’t prime time for the release of new movies. The film industry is prepping the Oscars; moviegoers are catching contenders before the Academy’s highly anticipated nominations reveal on January 14. Braving the pre-Oscars lull, are several femme helmed and/or femme-centric films that shouldn’t be overlooked. Lamb, Yosemite, The Forest and Anesthesia point the way to a new crop of films by and about women in 2016, and here’s hoping it’s a bountiful one. Read the reviews>>

read more

THE GIRL KING – Review by Susan Granger

Legendary Greta Garbo was the first on-screen “Queen Christina” (1933), ruling Sweden in the middle of the 17th century and stunning Europe by abdicating her throne. Now, Finnish director Mika Kaurismaki attempts to explain her defiant actions, tying into her sexuality and feminist empowerment in this perhaps overly literal biopic. Ascending to the throne as Queen-elect at the age of six, young tomboy Kristina was the only surviving legitimate child of King Gustav II Adolf (Samuli Edelmann) and his mentally unstable German Queen Maria Eleonora (Martina Gedeck). Raised to rule by Chancellor Alex Oxenstierna (Michael Nyqvist), she officially became Queen at age 18 in 1644. Read on…

read more

SICARIO: Where’s the Awards Love? – Candice Frederick comments

Sicario is absolutely brilliant. The cinematography (shout out to the great Roger Deakins), the acting (literally, every cast member adds such a terrific element to the narrative), and Taylor Sheridan’s screenplay–all led by director Denis Villeneuve–make for a brilliant film. But Sicario has been shut out of most of the major awards contests? Why? Read more>>

read more