Opening Nov 29 – Dec 5, 2021- Margaret Barton-Fumo reports

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The Alliance of Women Film Journalists highlights movies made by and about women. With a vigilant eye toward current releases, we maintain an interactive record of films that are pertinent to our interests. Be they female-made or female-centric productions, they are films that represent a wide range of women’s stories and present complex female characters. As such, they are movies that will most likely be reviewed on AWFJ.org and will qualify for consideration for our annual EDA Awards, celebrating exceptional women working in film behind and in front of the camera. Our members are feature writers, columnists and regular contributors to a variety of media outlets and many of us publish regularly on the festival circuit. Our critical voices are widespread and diverse. We invite you to join us in tracking weekly releases of particular interest. And we welcome information about new films that will help us to keep our records updated and our critics alert. Below is a concise list of new releases set for the week of November 29 to December 5 that are of particular interest:  

Wednesday, December 1 

  • Adrienne – HBO Documentary Films (HBO) – USA – Documentary directed by Andy Ostroy, the late Adrienne Shelly’s widower. As the muse of Hal Hartley’s indie classics and as writer / director of the critically acclaimed film Waitress, Adrienne Shelly was a shining star in the indie film firmament before her murder in 2006.
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  • The Advent Calendar – Shudder – France / Belgium – French female-lead horror. Eva, an ex-dancer, is now living in a wheelchair, unable to walk. When her friend Sophie gives her an old wooden antique advent calendar before Christmas, she realizes each window contains a surprise that triggers repercussions in real life.
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  • The Power of the Dog – Netflix (Cinemas; Netflix) – UK / Australia / USA / Canada / New Zealand – Drama written and directed by Jane Campion, based on the novel by Thomas Savage. Charismatic rancher Phil Burbank inspires fear and awe in those around him. When his brother brings home a new wife and her son, Phil torments them until he finds himself exposed to the possibility of love. Starring Benedict Cumberbatch and Kirsten Dunst.

Friday, December 3 

  • Benedetta – IFC Films (Cinemas) – France / Belgium / Netherlands – Drama directed by Paul Verhoeven, starring Virginie Efira, Charlotte Rampling, Daphne Patakia. A 17th-century nun in Italy suffers from disturbing religious and erotic visions. She is assisted by a companion, and the relationship between the two women develops into a romantic love affair. Based on the book by Judith C. Brown.
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  • Home – Gravitas Ventures (Cinemas, VOD) – Germany / France / Netherlands – Drama written and directed by Franka Potente, starring Jake McLaughlin and Kathy Bates. An ex-felon returns home from prison and must confront the demons of his past.
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  • Mixtape – Netflix – USA – Family film written by Stacey Menear and directed by Valerie Weiss. When a young girl accidentally destroys the mixtape that belonged to her mother, she sets out to track down each of the obscure songs on the cassette.
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  • Red Pill – Midnight Releasing (VOD) – USA – Horror-comedy written and directed by Tonya Pinkins. The eve of the 2020 election, a posse of progressives ride into red country armed with heart, humor, and naiveté. They should have brought heavy artillery.
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  • The Scary of Sixty-First – Utopia / Shudder (Cinemas; Shudder release December 24) – USA – Drama directed by Dasha Nekrasova, co-written by Nekrasova with lead actress Madeline Quinn. Two roommates’ lives are upended after finding out that their new Manhattan apartment harbors a dark secret.
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  • Silent Night – RLJE Films (Cinemas, AMC+) – UK – Horror-dramedy written and directed by Camille Griffin, starring Keira Knightley and Annabelle Wallis. Nell, Simon, and their boy Art are ready to welcome friends and family for what promises to be a perfect Christmas gathering. Perfect except for one thing: everyone is going to die.
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  • Try Harder! – Greenwich Entertainment (Cinemas) – USA – Documentary directed by Debbie Lum. Seniors at one the best public high schools in the country face the pressure of applying to elite colleges.
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  • Wolf – Focus Features (Cinemas) – Ireland / UK / Poland – A high-concept arthouse drama about a boy who believes he is a wolf. Written and directed by Nathalie Biancheri, starring Lily-Rose Depp and George MacKay.

Film descriptions are adapted from press releases. Titles highlighted in red have links to full reviews. Stay tuned in for next week’s releases! Contact us if we’ve overlooked anything.

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Margaret Barton-Fumo

Based in New York, Margaret Barton-Fumo has contributed to Film Comment since 2006. Her monthly online column, “Deep Cuts,” focused on the intersection of film and music. She has interviewed such directors, actors, and musicians as Brian De Palma, James Gray, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Williams, and has additionally contributed to Senses of Cinema and Stop Smiling. She is the editor of Paul Verhoeven: Interviews, published by the University Press of Mississippi.