DAMSEL – Review by Nadine Whitney

Subverting fairy tale tropes has become somewhat a trope in itself. Damsel starring Millie Bobby Brown does nothing particular to add to the feminist conversation surrounding the empowerment of young women — if anything it takes from it. Damsel is unfortunately a minor and forgettable action driven dark fantasy fairy tale. The themes are at odds with how the film is presented. There is no mystery or intrigue, the characterisation is flat, and the story happens precisely the way one expects it to. There needs to be more films about empowering young women, and a failure such as Damsel might do more damage than good to the cause of depicting self-defined heroines in cinema.

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DAMSEL – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Damsel, the new fantasy adventure on Netflix starring Millie Bobby Brown, fits squarely within the performer’s confident, feisty brand. The 20-year-old, also an executive producer here, shot to fame in 2016 as Eleven, a girl with telekinetic and psychic powers, in the Netflix series Stranger Things. In Damsel, Brown plays Elodie, a spirited princess who faces off against a dragon after an arranged marriage ends with her tossed into a pit as a sacrifice. While the film’s title and setup toy with the trope of the damsel in distress, Brown is so self-assured, there’s never any sense that Elodie is in real peril, which saps the film of significant tension.

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African-American Film Critics Association Awards – Nikki Fowler reports

The African-American Film Critics Association’s (AAFCA) awards ceremony, held on March 1 at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel, marked a much-deserved moment of celebration for Black creators and actors who’ve been unexpectedly snubbed by other awards groups this year. Although no longer tagged as #OscarsSoWhite, the Academy Award nominations slate had glaring omissions of Black creatives and actors, including Gina-Prince Bythewood and The Woman King, Chinouye Chukwu and Till and Elegance Branton and The Inspection, and all of the brilliant talent associated with those and other superb Black films.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Bassett, Blanchett and Curtis honored at Santa Barbara Film Fest – Brandy McDonnell reports

Angela Bassett, Cate Blanchett and Jamie Lee Curtis will be honored with tributes at the 2023 Santa Barbara International Film Festival. Bassett will receive the Santa Barbara International Film Festival’s Montecito Award, given to a person in the entertainment industry who has made a great contribution to film. With her powerhouse supporting turn as Queen Ramonda in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, she became the first performer to earn an Golden Globe acting nomination for a film from the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

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BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER – Review by Valerie Kalfrin

Wakanda Forever, then, had a tall order to fill, and if it’s flawed in parts, it also acknowledges this loss and moves forward in a way that’s ultimately satisfying. The plot is sometimes messy, with many moving parts, but the film gives its actors—especially Wakanda’s formidable women—powerful performances and moments to shine. Ultimately, Wakanda Forever delivers an emotional sendoff fit for a king—and a message that Wakanda, cherished by its creators onscreen and off, will carry on.

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BLACK PANTHER: WAKANDA FOREVER – Review by T.J. Calllahan

Wakanda Forever has the least action of any superhero film in the MCU. And when there is action, the fighting is flat. It’s just not exciting and that’s really why most movie watchers go to Superhero pictures. Wakanda does have a strong message about family and tradition and a fierce Angela Bassett. She’s “spear-tacular”, above and below sea level, while swimming was an unfathomable task for a few other actors.

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GUNPOWDER MILKSHAKE – Review by Leslie Combemale

Gunpower Milkshake is proof that you can have five talented, compelling actors acting the hell out of themselves and it still won’t make up for a one-dimensional derivative script. I’d still crawl through teargas to see Karen Gillan, Lena Headey, Angela Bassett, Michelle Yeoh, and Carla Gugino in an assassin sisterhood, but it’s a real disappointment they didn’t have a script that could leverage their combined star power and thespian skill.

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SOUL – Review by Pamela Powell

Disney Pixar has done it again with “Soul” thanks to the inspirational co-writing and co-directing of the renowned artist Pete Docter who gave us Up, Inside Out and Toy Story. It’s a remarkable story, perhaps geared more toward adults than children, that sends a perfect message of living our best lives each and every day.

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SOUL – Review by Martha K Baker

One will have to deal with whether Pixar’s animated Soul, is at all appropriate for — or even appealing to — children. But children delight in only what they want in animation, leaving the rest for adults. Soul has a lesson, one children can afford to learn, about our purpose in life, about our spark, about our music. While the film’s concentration on Black artists, on female brass players, and on avoiding Black stereotypes is commendable, its falling into the Great Beyond is questionable.

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