MINIMATA – Review by Susan Granger

It’s hard to imagine a Johnny Depp film being ignored but that’s what happened after Minamata premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival back in 2020, when Covid shuttered most theaters. Depp plays renowned W.W.II photojournalist W. Eugene ‘Gene’ Smith, who, by 1971, had become a jaded recluse: broke, wasted, estranged from his children, and suffering from PTSD.

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LIVING (Sundance FF 2022) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Director Oliver Hermanus and writer Kazuo Ishiguro have that rare mix of hubris, knowledge of film history, and love of subject that have led to adapting the screenplay of writer/director Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 masterpiece Ikiru. Bill Nighy’s performance and the evocative cinematography that captures mid-century London make Living a film that will have its own staying power and great value in repeat viewing. Shame on any critic that points to Ikiru in denying the richness of Living. Note to Hermanus and Ishiguro: Kurosawa would be proud.

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HOPE GAP – Review by Diane Carson

Among the most popular and praised films from last year, Marriage Story dramatizes, often painfully, a young couple’s separation and alienation. As if adding a postscript, Hope Gap focuses even more intensely on the dissolution of a twenty-nine year marriage. However, instead of giving equal weight to wife Grace and husband Edward, the profile stacks the deck against Grace.

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THE KINDNESS OF STRANGERS – Review by Cate Marquis

Zoe Kazan and a fine ensemble of actors play characters on the margins of life in Manhattan in Danish writer/director Lone Scherfig’s The Kindness of Strangers. The narrative has a stream of dark comedy as it follows the lives of a mixed bag of struggling strangers.

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THE BOOKSHOP — Review by Cate Marquis

In 1950s Britain, a widow moves to a small English village, buys a old house in town that had stood empty for years, with the intention to open a bookshop. Sounds harmless enough, maybe even something the village would welcome. But Florence Green (Emily Mortimer) does not find it so. It isn’t so much the bookshop that is the problem, although one seemly friendly villager offers her the not-to-encouraging advice that people around there don’t read. Well, the villager admits, there is one reader, the reclusive Mr. Brundish (Bill Nighy) but he never leaves his decaying mansion. No, the real problem,as it turns out, is not lack of readers, but that Florence happened to pick as the spot for her bookshop the very old house that a powerful local aristocrat Violet Gamat (Patricia Clarkson) had her eye on, planning to turn the building that everyone in town calls “the old house” into an “arts center.”

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MOVIE OF THE WEEK March 24 – 31, 2017: THEIR FINEST

motw logo 1-35Opening March 24, THEIR FINEST is AWFJ’s #MOTW. Lone Scherfig’s delightful British World War II dramady is about a talented young woman hired to write patriotic screenplays to bolster the spirits of Brits as they stiff upper lip-it through air raids and rationing. Story and script are super, and the satiric reveal about propaganda and the movies plays particularly well today.

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