SPOTLIGHT   

LIZ WHITTEMORE helms ReelNewsDaily.com, hosts Girls On Film Podcast, blogs horror at I SCREAM YOU SCREAM, serves as a member of Team #MOTW and as an AWFJ Board Member.

  Female Film Critics 24/365  Recent Blog Posts

MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 22, 2021: IDENTIFYING FEATURES

Heartbreaking and quietly powerful, writer/director Fernanda Valadez’ debut drama Identifying Features shines a light on the complex, tragic realities of

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MLK/FBI – Review by Pam Grady

Filmmaker Sam Pollard doesn’t just bring history to life, but Dr. Martin Luther King himself. There he is: living, breathing, changing hearts, minds, and society. MLK/FBI serves as a timely reminder. Set in a past that is rapidly receding, it speaks directly to the era we are living through now with a politicized FBI and Justice Dept. Hoover was a villain who misused his office to persecute a man whose only crime was leading the fight for equal rights. Hoover’s heirs are still at it, with more sophisticated surveillance equipment and more targets, people who wear bullseyes on their backs simply for advocating for justice and change. It is institutional behavior that was and is the nation’s shame.

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THE WHITE TIGER – Review by Diane Carson

Tackling India’s repressive, inflexible caste system, The White Tiger chronicles Balram Halwai’s fawning deference, growing resentment, and eventual violent rejection of his submissive station. Adapted from Aravind Adiga’s 2008 Man Booker Prize winning novel, director Ramin Bahrani manages to create a quirky, even occasionally and unexpectedly amusing presentation of Balram’s abject subservience evolving into self-assured entitlement.

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MY LITTLE SISTER -Review by Valerie Kalfrin

My Little Sister, Switzerland’s entry for the foreign language Oscar category, ostensibly lets audiences peek inside the complex relationship between fraternal twins as one struggles with cancer. While that’s a poignant part of this tender drama, the film’s underlying story is more about how much the titular sister gives to everyone but herself.

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OUR FRIEND – Review by Carol Cling

Too bad Charles Dickens has dibs on the title Our Mutual Friend. It would have worked perfectly for Our Friend – which played at Toronto International Film Festival 2019 as The Friend.. The latter is what Matthew Teague titled his Esquire magazine article about his wife’s losing battle with cancer – and their best friend’s role in helping them deal with the agonizing reality. This screen adaptation adaptation ricochets through the years so relentlessly you need a spreadsheet to chart who’s who, who’s where – and why they keep saying things everybody already knows.

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A WOMAN’S WORK: THE NFL’S CHEERLEADER PROBLEM – Review by April Neale

A Woman’s Work: The NFL’s Cheerleader Problem, a documentary directed by Chinese-Canadian filmmaker Yu Gu, focuses primarily on two cheerleaders’ personal stories and their legal battle for better pay and working conditions in the male-dominated industry. The NFL has coddled the owners and used cheerleaders since its inception, paying mascots and beer slingers more than the hard working dancers the fans come to see, and cheer on their teams. Some get no pay, some get less than the legal minimum wage.

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HERSELF – Review by Diane Carson

Director Phyllida Lloyd dramatizes a complex, difficult issue in Herself, namely, domestic abuse and the struggle to escape its emotional and physical toll. Nurturing her girls Emma and Molly, while fending off husband Gary’s manipulative intimidation, Sandra must honor his court-required weekend visitations, even though Molly sobs and begs to opt out of any time with her father.

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PIECES OF A WOMAN – Review by Susan Granger

As their story begins, pregnant Martha (Vanessa Kirby) is feted at an office baby shower, while her husband Sean (Shia LaBeouf), a construction engineer on a Charles River bridge project in Boston, is so eager to become a father that he frames the ultrasound photographs of their daughter to hang in the nursery.

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IDENTIFYING FEATURES – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

With Identifying Features, first-time director Fernanda Valadez valiantly avoids the usual drug-wars action thriller. Instead, she has delivered a harrowing drama about the migration crisis at the U.S. southern border that is far more intimate and poignant as it focuses the lives of people looking for a better life and the danger involved in doing so.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK January 15, 2021: ALL IN: THE FIGHT FOR DEMOCRACY

The United States has never truly been a democracy, because it has never fully supported voting rights for all of its citizens. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t hope for the future. By focusing specifically on Stacey Abrams’ work and experiences in Georgia, All In reveals the path to true democracy — and, guess what? It works, but it’s hard.

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