“Flying: Confessions of a Free Women” – Joanna Langfield reviews

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If the idea of watching six hours of a privileged young woman pondering whether or not she should have a child makes you nervous, this extraordinary documentary will prove all the more surprising. Because Jennifer Fox’s epic, intimate film manages to look at not just one version of sex in the city, but amazingly, an entire world of women and their own questions of identity.

How did Fox pull this off? From one perspective, it’s a natural. Already an accomplished filmmaker, with teaching positions that take her all over the world, this is a woman used to pondering and putting it out there. And her “there” is a much broader place than most of us are fortunate to share. After all, how many of us can claim to have friends, really good, close friends all over the planet? Then again, as we watch how Fox begins to even wonder if she wants to have a baby, we also begin to wonder how many of us even have really good friends who live in our same city.

Fox’s journey essentially kicks off in a Manhattan hospital room, where one of her closest friends is about to go under the knife for a brain tumor. Scary stuff. And, understandably, the kind of life changing kick in the butt that can make anyone in its midst start to reevaluate. What it does for Jennifer is bring up that old question of children. Should she trade in her hard won freedom to nestle down and raise a baby?

Should she try to get pregnant with the far away married man she believes is the love of her life? Or should she allow herself to settle for the nice guy who seems to offer a cozy security, even if he isn’t quite so thrilling?

In the day to day of her life, Fox begins to look for answers from her family, the women she has befriended in other societies and newcomers, some of whom are facing far more immediate threats to their lives than risking sexual freedom. The filming goes on for five years and, through Fox’s camera, we all learn, love and lose.

Of course, there are times all this become irritating and self- indulgent. But Fox is smart enough to keep the camera moving, pulling us along through the mundane and deftly into yet another scene that is fresh and compelling.

I was often astonished at the honesty I was witnessing here, fascinated by universal emotions and truths, pained at the heartaches. And those are reactions I wish I had more often to film, an art that all too often settles for far less.

Flying: Confessionals of a Free Woman will be screened as a miniseries on the Sundance Channel in May and released as on DVD later in the month.

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Joanna Langfield (Archived Contributor)

Her voice is heard throughout the 50 states and around the world by more than one million listeners on her syndicated radio programs: Joanna Langfield’s People Report and Video and Movie Minute. She’s also seen and heard as a regular contributing commentator on CNN International, CNN, Fox News and CNBC. In print, her articles have been published in such high profile magazines as Video Review and McCall’s. Joanna Langfield is known for taking interviews to another level with probing looks at celebrities’ insights rather than just their latest projects. As a result, she’s secured a niche among the nation’s premier interviewers and movie critics. Joanna began her career on the production staff of a local Boston television station. She then focused her energies towards radio and produced talk shows at WMEX-AM in Boston. After moving to New York, she became executive producer at WMCA-AM for talk show personalities Barry Gray and Sally Jessy Raphael. She began hosting a one-minute movie review spot which, in turn, led to her top-rated weekend call in-show, The Joanna Langfield Show (1980-83). Joanna moved to WABC-AM to host The Joanna Langfield Show on Saturday nights from 9:00pm to midnight. It was the highest rated show in its time slot. From 1987-1989, Joanna hosted Today’s People on the ABC Radio network, which was fed daily to over 300 stations around the country. She also appeared on WABC-TV as a regular on-air contributor. In 1989, Joanna formed her radio production company, Joanna Langfield Entertainment Reports, to syndicate her radio reports. She is considered to be one of the top authoritative commentators on the entertainment industry. Read Lagfield's recent articles below. For her Women On Film archive, type "Joanna Langfield" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).