THE FUTURE (Tribeca 2023) – Review by Joan Amenn

What seems to be a criminal procedural drama at first blush is actually a political allegory in this finely acted, beautifully framed film by Noam Kaplan. Subtly representing the destructive nature of the Palestinian Israeli conflict through the interaction of two women, The Future is at its best when Samar Qupty and Reymonde Amsellem are verbally sparring with each other as the former plays an alleged assassin and the latter is her interrogator.

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AWFJ Presents: Julie Taymor’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Review by Joan Amenn

Anyone who found themselves uninspired by their high school English classes might remember that there was a small spark of fun to look forward to, if they were lucky. Should your instructor assign you to read, or better yet, watch a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you could anticipate some magical entertainment. Julie Taymor staged her own version of the classic in 2014 and fortunately, it was captured on film because it is astonishing.

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KILI BIG – Review by Joan Amenn

Director Ida Joglar takes us on an inspiring and empowering journey with the members of the “Curvy Kili Crew” in this wonderfully touching film that explores the impact a support group can have on personal growth. Although the women of the “Crew” have experienced painful stereotyping for being plus sized, they find solidarity and compassion for each other as they setnout to scale one of the most famous mountains in the world, Kilimanjaro.

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MY NAME IS SARA – Review by Joan Amenn

On the Polish border of Ukraine, two young refugees flee their Nazi pursuers in 1942. This is how My Name is Sara opens and it is a nail-biter of a first act as we see Sara (Zuzanna Surowy) being separated from her family as World War II devastates her home country. Her true story of survival at a terrible cost is the plot of the film and it makes for a compelling opening and closing with a bit of a slog in the middle.

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FAIR PLAY – Review by Joan Amenn

Based on a book of the same name by Eve Rodsky, director Jennifer Siebel Newsom attempts to bring a light touch to some very somber statistics about the effects of gender roles in families struggling to maintain their work life balance. Seen through the somewhat fractured prism of the recent Supreme Court ruling on Roe v. Wade, some of the humor can make a viewer wince rather than ruefully chuckle but the points raised are worth pursuing.

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AWFJ Presents: Julie Taymor’s A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM – Review by Joan Amenn

Anyone who found themselves uninspired by their high school English classes might remember that there was a small spark of fun to look forward to, if they were lucky. Should your instructor assign you to read, or better yet, watch a performance of Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, you could anticipate some magical entertainment. Julie Taymor staged her own version of the classic in 2014 and fortunately, it was captured on film because it is astonishing.

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TREES OF PEACE – Review by Joan Amenn

In the 1990’s Rwanda was torn apart by violence between the Hutu and Tutsi tribes that pit neighbor against neighbor in a bloody genocide. This film, based on that horrible time in the country’s history, is quietly devastating in telling the story of four women thrown together in their struggle to stay alive amid incomprehensible mass slaughter. Director Alanna Brown keeps her camera tightly focused on her four female characters as they learn more about each other and how the outside conflict impacts them all.

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DECEPTION – Review by Joan Amenn

It helps, but is not mandatory, to know something about the work of author Philip Roth when viewing this adaptation of his novel, Deception. The book is mostly dialog between its two main characters so any attempt at translating it to film is a daring project. Director Arnaud Desplechin takes it on with a strong sense of the rhythmic nature of the give and take between the two lovers that make up the plot. However, the underlying themes of self-loathing and obsession bog down the story, making it feel stifling and static at times.

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SEATTLE INTERNATIONAL FILM FEST WRAP – Joan Amenn reports

Since 1976, the Seattle International Film Festival has been a welcoming venue for those underrepresented creatives who have struggled to have their voices heard and their visions seen. SIFF has grown to be a year-round source of inspiration with many events being offered and even a summer camp for kids, but the festival is its heart. Held this year from Apr 14 – 24), the festival’s focus was — as it has always been — on diversity.

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UNPLUGGING – Review by Joan Amenn

Unplugging goes all in on exploring the pitfalls of our addictions to our electronic devices, in a shrewdly satirical and slightly annoying way. The jokes don’t always land but the main characters, a couple who are trying to reconnect with each other, are amusing enough to keep us journeying with them in their weekend escape from the pressures of email, texting, and roaming Wi-Fi connections.

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