is Exec Editor of Common Sense, where she also reviews films. Her commentaries are on Reel.com and Hollywood.com. She’s lead writer for AWFJ’s #MOTW

  Female Film Critics 24/365  recent blog posts

THE OLD MAN AND THE GUN – Review by Diane Carson

Originally a 2003 New Yorker article by David Grann, based on a true story, The Old Man & the Gun follows Forrest Tucker. Seventy-nine years old, having broken out of prison multiple times, Tucker is a confirmed bank robber who loves his work. Amazingly, most of his targets handing over the bank’s cash compliment Tucker on his polite, pleasant manner.

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Melissa McCarthy trades pratfalls and slapstick for wry wit and introspection in Marielle Heller’s keenly observed biopic “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” McCarthy plays biographer Lee Israel, whose brief time in the Manhattan publishing scene’s spotlight has passed, leaving her bitter, lonely, and strapped for cash, which ultimately leads to a life of literary crime. It’s a compelling role for McCarthy, who seems to relish the opportunity to take on more serious material.

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WEEK IN WOMEN: Hollywood Film Awards to Honor Kidman, Weisz and Chalamet – Brandy McDonnell reports

In addition to her chameleonic performances, Kidman is being recognized for her career-long support of independent filmmakers, particularly women. Through her production company, Blossom Films, she has produced many projects, including last year’s “Big Little Lies,” which was a phenomenon that entered not only the cultural, but the social zeitgeist.

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SADIE – Review by MaryAnn Johanson

Sadie has a disturbing power that sneaks up on you from an unexpected quarter, as a teenaged girl crosses the boundary from childhood to too-early adulthood. This coming-of-age story feels very universal, and would work equally well with a teenaged boy at its center, but which gets extra unnerving power by casting it as a girl’s journey.

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FIRST MAN – Review by Brandy McDonnell

The movie’s pre-release controversy over Chazelle’s decision not to include a scene of Armstrong planting an American flag on the Moon – which in the context of the film would be incredibly out of place – illustrates just how valuable what the filmmaker is doing with “First Man”: allowing us to know one of our most revered American icons as someone who was a man, first.

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HAL – Review by Brandy McDonnell

With her fascinating cinematic portrait, Amy Scott effectively contends that Hal Ashby should be elevated among the pantheon of 1970s filmmakers. With “Hal,” which premiered earlier this year at the Sundance Film Festival, where it was nominated for the Documentary Grand Jury Prize, Scott makes her argument by focusing on the seven lauded and influential films Ashby released between 1970 and 1979.

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