RAYA AND THE LAST DRAGON – Review by Leslie Combemale

Raya and the Last Dragon is definitely a fun, exciting animated feature, with most entertainment found in the vocal interpretations and endlessly gorgeous visuals, that bring the film to a compelling level, and raise the plot, which, though it offers exciting action, a fresh perspective, and Disney’s first Southeast Asian princess, ultimately fits the ‘Disney Magic’ formula‘ and business as usual.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Awkwafina and Karen Gillan Reunite for SHELLY – Brandy McDonnell reports

Jumanji: The Next Level co-stars Awkwafina (Crazy Rich Asians) and Karen Gillan (Guardians of the Galaxy) are set to reunite for the action-comedy Shelly, described as a high concept film that combines high school nostalgia, comedy and action, with a tone that is a mix of Mean Girls and Barry.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: AMPAS ’20 Invitees are 45% Women – Brandy McDonnell reports

The 2020 class of invited Academy members is 45% women, and includes Zazie Beetz, Awkwafina and Olivia Wilde. among others. Additionally, 36% if the invitees are from underrepresented ethnic/racial communities, and 49% are international artists and industry executives from 68 countries.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Awkwafina Gambles on fact-based BACCARAT MACHINE – Brandy McDonnell reports

Awkwafina is set to star in SK Global’s upcoming The Baccarat Machine (working title), a feature inspired by the true story of the most successful female gambler in modern history, Cheung Yin “Kelly” Sun, who teamed with living legend poker player Phil Ivey to beat the system.

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK November 1, 2019: PARADISE HILLS

Alice Waddington’s lush, imaginative directorial debut builds such a convincing dystopian world that you’d be forgiven for assuming it must be based on some intricate, “Hunger Games”-like series of YA novels. But Brian DeLeeuw and Nacho Vigalondo’s tale of privileged young women at a very unusual “finishing school” called Paradise Hills is a true original.

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PARADISE HILLS – Review by Nikki Baughan

An off-kilter, steampunk blend of Disney, The Handmaids Tale and The Stepford Wives, writer/director Alice Waddington’s feature debut is entirely as intriguing as that sounds. A visually unique, narratively striking study of society’s attempts to control women, to mold them into an acceptable version of femininity, its determinedly fantastical elements are anchored by its strong themes and excellent performances.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Awkwafina’s Two New High-Profile Projects – Brandy McDonnell Reports

With her signing on to two high-profile projects in less a month, we’re seeing another phase in the rapidly morphing career of Awkwafina, the rapper who broke out as a comedic actor in last year’s blockbuster Crazy Rich Asians and is gaining early awards consideration for her finely nuanced lead turn in this year’s critically acclaimed drama The Farewell.

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THE FAREWELL – Review by Susan Granger

Written and directed by Lulu Wang, based on her own experiences, this intergenerational-bonding comic drama revolves around a Chinese-American artist, Billi (Awkwafina), living in Brooklyn, who returns to her hometown in northeastern China when she learns that her adored Nai-Nai – grandmother in Mandarin- has Stage IV lung cancer.

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THE FAREWELL – Review by Martha K Baker

The story is based, not on a true story, but on a true lie. Billi, a woman of Chinese extraction lives in America, but part of her heart remains with her grandmother, her Nai Nai, in China. When she learns that Nai Nai has been diagnosed with cancer and, further, that the family is gathering for a wedding as a ruse to say good-bye to the matriarch, she stubbornly insists on joining.

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