blogs at Ferdy on Films and reviews for Cine-File. She is a member of AWFJ’s Team #MOTW and curates AWFJ’s Women in Film lists

  Female Film Critics 24/365  recent blog posts

MOWGLI – Review by Diane Carson

Mowgli reinterprets The Jungle Book for today’s world. Since 1942, there have been numerous film and television adaptations of Rudyard Kipling’s beloved 1894 magazine stories collected as The Jungle Book, including translation into over thirty-six languages. It’s no wonder since the array of imaginative, appealing and frightening animals offers a rich metaphor for human behavior, with man-cub Mowgli our surrogate in this lawful but unforgiving world.

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motw logo 1-35.Nadine Labaki’s painfully honest drama about a street-smart Lebanese boy who sues his parents for neglect (“for giving me life,” as he tells the judge) is relentlessly gritty, but it also never loses its humanity. The latter is largely thanks to 12-year-old Zain (Zain Al Rafeea), the compelling character at the center of the story. Because, despite every awful thing life throws in his path, he never stops caring for those who’ve earned his affection.

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SPOTLIGHT December 2018: Shelley Stamp, Film Historian, Curator and Educator

This month marks the release of the new six-DVD set “Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers” presented by Kino Lorber and Library of Congress. Author and film historian Shelley Stamp curated this ambitious compilation of works by women directors — some well-known; many unknown — with a focus on American films from 1911-1929. Spanning every genre and style, this collection is a revelation — which is why Stamp deserves this month’s Spotlight.

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LEVEL 16 – Review by Alexander Heller-Nicholas

Level 16 is a YA film that never patronizes its audience, whatever their age. Its teen characters are complex and convincingly written and performed, and at its heart lies a friendship that has solidified in a context deliberately designed to forbid such relationships forming. Level 16 is an engaging, earnest and thrilling feminist fairy tale that both consciously riffs on earlier films and yet maintains an original vision without becoming clichéd or predictable.

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Taymor’s Steinem biopic casts Lulu Wilson, Julianne Moore – Brandy McDonnell reports

Lulu Wilson, 13, has been picked to play young Gloria Steinem in Julie Taymor’s biopic The Glorias: A Life on the Road. Julianne Moore will play Steinem present dat, and Alicia Vikander is in negotiations to play the feminist and activist from ages 20 to 40. The film will be based on Steinem’s memoir.

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CAPERNAUM – Review by Nikki Baughan

Joining a host of recent works of both fact and fiction – such as Sudabeh Mortezai’s Joy and Gabrielle Brady’s Island Of The Hungry Ghosts – which highlight the refugee crisis engulfing the globe, Capernaum is a gut-punch reminder that the rise of isolationist politics is leaving swathes of human casualties in its wake. Devastating but utterly essential cinema

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WIDOWS – Review by Diane Carson

Thematically and cinematically Widows is a fresh, creative take on the heist film, exactly what director Steve McQueen fans would expect. In 2013 he won three Oscars, including Best Motion Picture of the Year, for 12 Years a Slave, the first time in Academy Award history for such an honor to a black director/co-producer.

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CAPERNAUM – Rreview by Susan Wloszczyna

Capernaum is part Oliver Twist, part Slumdog Millionaire, but with only a modicum of a fairy-tale ending. Much like last year’s The Florida Project, children pay a high price when their impoverished circumstances are the result of selfish adults who lead careless lives. The difference is that Zain (played by Zain Al Rafeea), the streetwise 12-year-old Lebanese boy who barely has room to sleep amongst his countless siblings, is playing a real-life version of himself.

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