LIMELIGHT – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

Filmmaker Billy Corben’s glitzy documentary, Limelight, follows the rise and demise of New York club lord, Peter Gatien, who ruled the city’s nightlife during the 1980s, until his trend-setting establishments, including the eponymous Limelight, were shut down by officials who accused Gatien and his crew of employees of using the popular premises to distribute illegal drugs.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK August 6, 2021: BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE

Wildfires aren’t a new phenomenon in California, but it’s only in the last few years that the idea of “fire season” has become an inescapable fact of life. Lucy Walker’s viscerally powerful documentary Bring Your Own Brigade expertly explores the complex factors that have led to that devastating reality (hint: It’s more than climate change), not just in the Golden State but around the world, and offers the hopeful possibility that it’s not too late to turn things around.

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BRING YOUR OWN BRIGADE – Review by Jennifer Merin

Bring Your Own Brigade is filmmaker Lucy Walker’s courageous and compelling documentary about an extremely hot topic: the ongoing inferno of wildfires in Southern California and elsewhere on the West Coast and, by extension, across the nation. Walker’s eye witness camera captures close up images of the uncontrolled fires cutting through affluent communities in wide paths of devastating destruction. She follows local residents who are fleeing their homes on car-congested bands of blacktop cutting through raging flames and she records up close and personal accounts of survivors whose property was miraculously spared and others who lost all of their worldly goods to the to the rampaging blaze.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 30, 2021: AILEY

Jamila Wignot’s captivating documentary Ailey is a welcome burst of celebration. This thoughtful chronicle of the life and work of groundbreaking, enormously talented dancer/choreographer Alvin Ailey centers Black pride, creativity, self-identity, empowerment, and achievement. And, of course, it captures the unforgettable performances that made Ailey and his company famous around the world.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 23, 2021: PLAYING WITH SHARKS: THE VALERIE TAYLOR STORY

Valerie Taylor started diving with sharks back when, as archival footage reveals, it was considered droll to refer to her as a “mermaid” who was there to support and presumably fawn over the male divers. But based on what we learn of her in Sally Aitken’s entertaining documentary Playing with Sharks, it seems likely that if Taylor ever heard that description, she probably rolled her eyes and left the guys eating her bubbles.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 16, 2021: MAMA WEED

If necessity is the mother of invention, as the saying goes, then being short on cash must be the godfather — or, in this case, godmother — of trying your hand at a life of crime. Such is the situation in Jean-Paul Salomé’s Mama Weed, which stars Isabelle Huppert as Patience Portefeux, a police translator whose lack of funds leads her to seize a golden, albeit illegal, opportunity.

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Alexandra Heller-Nicholas’ Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study – Book Review by Marietta Steinhart (Guest Post)

To mark the ten-year anniversary of her compelling book Rape-Revenge Films: A Critical Study, Australian film critic Alexandra Heller-Nicholas (who is a member of AWFJ) has released a seriously revised, second edition, including an exciting new chapter on women-directed rape-revenge films before and after the #MeToo Era. A lot has happened since 2011 and if the author sounds angry, she says, it’s because she is.

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CROPSEY – Retroview by Jennifer Merin

‘Cropsey’ is an urban legend that haunted Barbara Brancaccio and Joshua Zeman while they were growing up in Staten Island, NY. In this 2009 documentary, the filmmakers return to their childhood environs to investigate the myth about the elusive boogeyman, wacko and supposed satanist who allegedly lived in the abandoned ruins of the notorious Willowbrook Mental Institution, which he used as a base for abducting and killing local children. Ultimately, the discovery of the body of a missing girl proved the legend to be true.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK July 9, 2021: BLACK WIDOW

Fun on fairly standard action flick level. but look a little deeper, and you’ll see that Cate Shortland is telling a story about women’s agency and right to choose. Not every woman can stick up for herself with knives and acrobatic fight moves, but we can all speak up for our sisters and stand by their side when they need our help. Or a helicopter to fly.

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BLACK WIDOW – Review by Jennifer Merin

Cate Shortland’s directorial perspective and prowess are evident in every frame of Black Widow. She has not only created a beautifully crafted and technically impressive flick, she’s planted seeds for serious thought and discourse that make Black Widow meaningful and memorable. You don’t need to be an MCU aficionado to enjoy Black Widow, and it may not make an MCU devotee of you, but film has sufficient substance to maybe make you want to watch it twice.

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