HUNGER GAMES: THE BALLAD OF SONGBIRDS AND SNAKES – Review by Susan Granger

When the original Hunger Games devoured the silver screen in 2012, I vividly remember the savage power of its pop culture message about formidable female empowerment, particularly in contrast with its banal, dull, boring prequel Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes. Directed by Francis Lawrence, this epic, tri-part dystopian dirge is set 64 years before the original trilogy. The essence of what’s lacking in this franchise film: Katniss Everdeen, the resourceful, heroic character embodied by charismatic Jennifer Lawrence.

Read more

ASTEROID CITY – Review by Sarah Vincent

Shot in black and white on a black box theater set in a 1957 television studio, Wes Anderson regular Jason Schwartzman plays actor Jones Hall, who seduces playwright Conrad Earp (Edward Norton) after landing the role of Augie Steenbeck in Earp’s latest play, the titular Asteroid City. This intimate backstory is one of several behind-the-scenes vignettes about the production of Earp’s final work, which is shot in color – a dreamy, Southwest-evoking palette of teal, orange and tan. A recent widower, single dad and former war photographer, Augie is one of many offbeat parents taking their gifted children to the 1955 Junior Stargazer convention. A brief extraterrestrial visit interrupts the proceedings, triggering a government-imposed quarantine with no travel and no communication with the outside world and sparking a widespread crisis about the meaning of life.

Read more

AWFJ Movie of the Week, Dec. 22-28: BIG EYES

Opening Dec. 25, AWFJ’s Movie of the Week is Big Eyes, Tim Burton’s study of painter Margaret Keane (Amy Adams), whose phenomenal success in the 1950s and ’60s gave way to legal wranglings after her husband (Christoph Waltz) claimed credit for her work. Read on…

Read more