ABSOLUTELY FABULOUS, HOOLIGAN SPARROW, SUMMERTIME, PINK ZONE and other July 22 Openers — Reviews by Jennifer Merin

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absolutely fabulous posterAbsolutely Fabulous: The Movie, the screen adaptation of the BBC sitcom, has BFFs Edina (Jennifer Saunders) and Patsy (Joanna Lumley) in hilarious misadventure on the Riviera, eluding police who want for them for the disappearance and/or possible murder of fashion icon Kate Moss. Silly. Hilarious. Absolutely delightful. Hooligan Sparrow chronicles Chinese human rights activist Ye Haiyan’s dramatic protests against forced prostitution and for justice for school girls sexually assaulted by a Hainan Provence principal. First time director Nanfu Wang risked her safety to make this real reveal about women’s rights in China. For feminist drama, Catherine Corsini’s Summertime stars Cecile De France and Izïa Higelin as star-crossed lesbians working out their passionate relationship in conservative rural France. Lights Out is a femme-centric horror flick with psychological roots that twist the plot into compelling, authentically scary family drama. Pink Zone is a scary futuristic sci-fi flick in which mean girls must work together to escape a deadly virus. First time director Benjamin J. Walter wrote, directed, shot and edited Pink Zone as his thesis film for UCLA’s Directing Program. “Fight Valley” is a femme-centric actione that pins brutal woman-on-woman fighting sequences to a scant plot about a woman who joins an underground women’s fight club to find out who killed her sister. Don’t Worry Baby” is a romancedy that presents a worrisome narrative about two men who are vying for a woman’s attention, and they happen to be father and son. It’s a new take on an old theme, but the woman still serves primarily as the plot catalyst, and not entirely her own person. Read the reviews…

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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 a member of the Critics Choice Association in the Film, Documentary and TV branches and a voting member of the Black Reel Awards. For her AWFJ archive, type "Jennifer Merin" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).