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Washington DC-based LESLIE COMBEMALE writes as Cinema Siren on her own and other websites. She hosts the influential “Women Rocking Hollywood” panel at San Diego Comic-Con.

  Female Film Critics 24/365  recent blog posts

OSCAR NOMINATED DOCUMENTARY SHORTS 2019 — Review by Diane Carson

Each year, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences nominates five films for the Short Documentary Oscar. This year’s five contenders are in equal measure heartbreaking and uplifting. Each confronts a calamitous problem, and yet individuals achieve breakthroughs to impressive awareness or astonishingly respond admirably to those in dire need.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Netflix Taps Brie Larson and Lynette Howell Taylor – Brandy McDonnell reports

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson and Oscar-nominated producer Lynette Howell Taylor have made a two-picture worldwide rights deal at Netflix for films produced by Howell Taylor’s 51 Entertainment. Netflix has acquired Unicorn Store, Larson’s directorial debut, as well as Lady Business, which will be the next film she stars in and possibly her sophomore outing as a director.

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Celebrating the Women Behind THE WIFE — Jeanne Wolf reports (Exclusive)

The Wife is coming home — which means, of course, that the award-winning film is releasing on home video, making it more readily available to the wider range of viewers who should see it. It’s a film that celebrates the strength of its central female character, and the DVD release is a good time to celebrate the women who brought the compelling story to the big screen.

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DAUGHTER OF MINE – Review by Loren King

Two very different women in a sleepy small town, bound by a shared secret … if that sounds like a Lifetime movie, or even a delicious Douglas Sirk melodrama, Daughter of Mine, from director Laura Bispuri, is anything but. It’s a compelling, naturalistic tale of motherhood and mother love, with a memorable young girl, Vittoria (Sara Casu), at the center of a stormy, primal relationship.

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WHAT MEN WANT – Review by Susan Granger

Hollywood’s current penchant for gender-flipping – like Ghostbusters (2016) and Oceans 8 (2018) – continues with this raunchy remake of Nancy Meyers’ romantic comedy What Women Want (2000), starring Mel Gibson. Hard-working Ali Davis is a selfish, ambitious, Atlanta-based sports agent who is passed over for a long-overdue promotion to partner by her chauvinistic boss , who points out that, although she reps Serena Williams, none of her clients are from the “big three” sports leagues: NBA, NFL and MLB.

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IF BEALE STREET COULD TALK – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

In a better world, If Beale Street Could Talk would be nothing more — and nothing less — than a beautiful love story, merely the sweetly sexy blossoming of passion between 19-year-old Tish (glorious newcomer KiKi Layne) and family friend Fonny (Stephan James), whom she grew up with.. We don’t live in that better world.

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DAUGHTER OF MINE – Review by Susan Wloszczyna

Set against the raw and rocky primordial landscape of Sardinia, Laura Bispuri’s Daughter of Mine is an intriguing if loosely told tale of two mothers, feral party-girl Angelica (Alba Rohrwacher) who gave birth to a look-alike daughter and Tina (Valeria Golina, hardly aged since starring in 1988’s Rain Man), a church-going factory worker with raven tresses who has invested her whole life to making sure the girl has been raised right and wants for nothing

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ST. AGATHA – Review by Liz Whittemore

Director Darren Lynn Bousman (the Saw franchise, Repo! The Genetic Opera) has a new feature in St. Agatha. The premise might seem cliche at first glance but it becomes much more nuanced as the film progresses. The standout performances have to be from the gaggle of young pregnant women being held captive at this mysterious convent.

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SERENITY – Review by Susan Granger

This alleged neo-noir thriller is beyond disappointing. Chain-smoking, Iraq War vet Baker Dill (Matthew McConaughey) is a fishing boat captain, catering to tourists while obsessively pursuing an elusive, giant tuna, dubbed “Justice,” off a Caribbean-like island called Plymouth, described as “the most beautiful island in this damn dirty world.”

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Women’s View at Palm Springs International Film Festival 2019 – Marietta Steinhart reports (Guest Post)

Programmed by a team of six remarkable women, plus two men, the 2019 Palm Springs International Film Festival showed 228 films of which 55 were either directed or co-directed by women (about 24 percent), leaving room for more female directors in the future. Nevertheless the festival has no lack in films with or about women.

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