THE PRANK (SXSW 2022) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

A sweet little gumdrop of a film with a deliberately bitter aftertaste, The Prank is the charming black comedy revenge fantasy we need right now. While the plot may be too OTT for some, it is surely these very excesses that make the film the wild ride that it is as it puts the casual cruelty of youth in its crosshairs. The Prank is far from didactic, however, and director Maureen Bharoocha does an impressive job creating an immersive world where the slights of adolescence sting oh-so sharply, and the fleeting yet all-encompassing irrationality of the moment seems to somehow make sense.

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THE PRANK (SXSW 2022) – Review by Joan Amenn

The Prank purrs like a twisted kitten when Rita Moreno and David Keith face off against each other. As high school physics teacher Mrs. Wheeler and principal Henderson respectively, there mutual loathing bubbling under a veneer of professional courtesy is just priceless. There are some great moments of satirical commentary about the fleeting attention spans induced by social media but the plot is fairly predictable.

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AWFJ Announces 2021 EDA Award Winners – Jennifer Merin reports

The Power of the Dog sweeps the 2021 AWFJ EDA Awards with Wins in 11 out of 25 Categories. Multiple EDA Awards also go to Belfast and Encanto, and curator Maya Cade claims the Outstanding Achievement Award for founding the Black Cinema Archives. Dame Judi Dench and Ms. Rita Moreno are our Grande Dames, and guess who captured the She Deserves A New Agent Award.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Marilyn Ferdinand

It’s hard to imagine what cinema would be like without remakes. From the lowliest programmers to the most bizarre arthouse films, no producer, director, or film star seems immune from thinking, “I wonder what I could do with that.” But taking on a remake of a film as beloved and revered as Robert Wise and Jerome Robbins’ West Side Story (1961) is another matter.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Pam Grady

The most curious alteration director Steven Spielberg and screenwriter Tony Kushner make to the American musical classic West Side Story in their hotly anticipated remake is to take away from the central couple Tony and Maria their tragic theme, “Somewhere,” a song of longing for a brighter future when all seems lost. Instead, they give it to Valentina, the elderly owner of the drug store, where Tony’s gang, the Jets, hang out.

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WEST SIDE STORY – Review by Diane Carson

Director Steven Spielberg makes so many good choices for his remake of the iconic West Side Story. First, he respects the legendary, celebrated songs, showcasing their presentation through remarkable singing and dancing. Second, Spielberg infuses the 1957 story with serious contemporary issues, notably and always at the heart of the story, ethnic racism, plus rape, gang violence, and gentrification.

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RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT – Review by Martha K Baker

In her 70 years in show biz, Rita Moreno has won an Emmy, a Grammy, an Oscar, and a Tony. That’s how versatile she is as an actor, singer, and dancer. But this excellent biodoc about her long life shows her to be also political, persuasive, puckish, and dedicated — attributes that also led to all those awards.

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RITA MORENO: JUST A GIRL WHO DECIDED TO GO FOR IT (Sundance2021) – Review by Leslie Combemale

Early on in the documentary Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go For It, viewers see Rita and a friend preparing for her 87th birthday party. She’s setting up the decorations and plastic cutlery and talking to the documentarian. Within minutes, anyone who appreciates straight-shooting broads, never mind uber-talented IGOT-winning Latinas, will be completely in love.

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