THE NEON DEMON, NUTS!, THE SHALLOWS, SEPTEMBERS OF SHIRAZ, and other June 24 Openers — Reviews by Jennifer Merin

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neon demon posterThe Neon Demon stars Elle Fanning as a young model caught up in the frightful ambitions of LA’s runway realm. In The Shallows, Blake Lively plays a surfer who’s under shark attack. Septembers of Shiraz is about a Jewish Iranian family who must flee Shiite fundamentalist rule. In The Last Treasure Hunt, an estranged sister and brother must come together to decipher their recently deceased father’s will. This week’s documentaries include Penny Lane’s Nuts!, about a quack who claimed he could cure male impotence with goat testicle transplants, and Sharon Shattuck’s From This Day Forward, a filmmakers personal documentary about her transgender dad, plus Jessica Yu’s Misconception, delving into overpopulation, and How Do You Like Me Now?, T-Rex and Garn (aka Yarn). Read the reviews…

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Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin

Jennifer Merin is the Film Critic for Womens eNews and contributes the CINEMA CITIZEN blog for and is managing editor for Women on Film, the online magazine of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, of which she is President. She has served as a regular critic and film-related interviewer for The New York Press and About.com. She has written about entertainment for USA Today, The L.A. Times, US Magazine, Ms. Magazine, Endless Vacation Magazine, Daily News, New York Post, SoHo News and other publications. After receiving her MFA from Tisch School of the Arts (Grad Acting), Jennifer performed at the O'Neill Theater Center's Playwrights Conference, Long Wharf Theater, American Place Theatre and LaMamma, where she worked with renown Japanese director, Shuji Terayama. She subsequently joined Terayama's theater company in Tokyo, where she also acted in films. Her journalism career began when she was asked to write about Terayama for The Drama Review. She became a regular contributor to the Christian Science Monitor after writing an article about Marketta Kimbrell's Theater For The Forgotten, with which she was performing at the time. She was an O'Neill Theater Center National Critics' Institute Fellow, and then became the institute's Coordinator. While teaching at the Universities of Wisconsin and Rhode Island, she wrote "A Directory of Festivals of Theater, Dance and Folklore Around the World," published by the International Theater Institute. Denmark's Odin Teatret's director, Eugenio Barba, wrote his manifesto in the form of a letter to "Dear Jennifer Merin," which has been published around the world, in languages as diverse as Farsi and Romanian. Jennifer's culturally-oriented travel column began in the LA Times in 1984, then moved to The Associated Press, LA Times Syndicate, Tribune Media, Creators Syndicate and (currently) Arcamax Publishing. She's been news writer/editor for ABC Radio Networks, on-air reporter for NBC, CBS Radio and, currently, for Westwood One's America In the Morning. She is also a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).