MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 17, 2019 : Amy Poehler’s WINE COUNTRY

If you can’t get to wine country with your own girlfriends anytime soon, you could do far worse than tagging along with Amy Poehler, Maya Rudolph, Rachel Dratch, and their crew as they celebrate female friendship in all its messy glory. Blending crisp whites and robust reds with both humor and introspection, Wine Country is like a cross between a buddy comedy and a midlife-crisis therapy session.

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WINE COUNTRY – Review by Jennifer Merin

Amy Poehler’s directorial debut is a truly femme centric production — cast and crew — through and through The ensemble is essentially a feminist reunion of Saturday Night Live sketch comediennes. And, Liz Cackowski and Emily Spivey’s script stakes out and covers territory that is certainly familiar to women who will delight in seeing the film’s refreshing feminist perspective on screen.

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WILD HORSE, WILD RIDER – Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

It may sound like a reality TV show, but it’s an annual event that has become a way of life for devoted participants. It’s The Extreme Mustang Makeover Challenge, and it’s the subject of this documentary film. The premise is simple: place 100 wild mustang horses in the hands of 100 capable trainers and give the trainers 100 days to tame the mustangs, teach them a series of tricks and perform with them as a horse and trainer team in a competitive horse show.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 10, 2019: Mary Harron’s CHARLIE SAYS

motw logo 1-35Bringing a female gaze to one of the 20th century’s most notorious criminals and the influence he exerted over his zealous followers Mary Harron’s Charlie Says is a compelling look at the power of community and the need to belong. By focusing her film on the women around Charles Manson, rather than directly on Manson himself, Harron shows us how that need can lead to delusion, denial, and destruction.

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THE FIRST SATURDAY IN MAY – Documentary Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Filmmakers John and Brad Hennegan follow six trainers as they put their amazing and beautiful thoroughbred horses–including the fabulous and tragic Barbaro–through the paces leading up to the Kentucky Derby, the annual race that takes place on the first Saturday of May. Think of this documentary as a cross between Seabiscuit and The Horse Whisperer, but it’s a true story told with actual footage.

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CHARLIE SAYS – Review by Jennifer Merin

Charlie Says is a truth-based narrative that explores the lives and mindsets of the vulnerable young women who were key members of Charles Manson’s ‘family’ and were brainwashed into complete acceptance of his warped philosophy–and into following his orders in daily life and in the unimaginably brutal 1969 slayings of actress Sharon Tate and friends who had gathered at her Los Angeles home.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK May 3, 2019: Laura Steinel’s FAMILY

Stories about stand-offish/lonely/workaholic adults being transformed by their relationship with precocious/charming/offbeat kids aren’t hard to find in Hollywood, but — until Family — none have hinged on the transformative power of acceptance by the Juggalos. And that helps make Laura Steinel’s quirky, poignant comedy about a reluctant aunt and her awkward niece stand out from the crowd.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 26, 2019: Jennifer Townsend’s CATCHING SIGHT OF THELMA & LOUISE

Few films have made the kind of impact on feminist-minded moviegoers as Thelma & Louise did when it hit theaters in 1991. Ridley Scott’s story of female friendship and empowerment struck a powerful chord with women (yes, men, too, but let’s let the ladies own this one) — one that still resonates almost three decades later. In the compelling documentary Catching Sight of Thelma & Louise, director Jennifer Townsend, helming her first film at age 80, digs into exactly why the movie had — and continues to have — such an impact.

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Ebertfest 2019: A Glorious Celebration of Cinema – Jennifer Merin reports

Roger Ebert’s Film Festival, aka Ebertfest, is unique in its pure and glorious celebration of cinema. The annual four-day program, which just completed its 21st edition, consists of but a dozen films. Ebertfest is quite compact, as film festivals go. But, this joyful movie event has enormous heart, and it emanates influence and inspires empathy far beyond Champaign, Illinois, the college community in which it makes its home and has found its soulmate.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK April 19, 2019: BE NATURAL – THE UNTOLD STORY OF ALICE GUY BLACHE

motw logo 1-35Briskly paced and packed with fascinating information about one of film’s true pioneers, Pamela B. Green‘s Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blache is a crash course in film history — or, more accurately, film herstory. Because, as it turns out, the roots of cinematic storytelling are as feminine as they can be.

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