Opens tomorrow (10/28/16) in NYC. Review coming soon...

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Opens tomorrow (10/28/16) in NYC. Review coming soon...

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Opens tomorrow (10/28/16) in NYC. Review coming soon...

Posted in Reviews: N-P | Leave a comment


Opens tomorrow (10/21/16) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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mv5bmjqwntm2otezmf5bml5banbnxkftztgwndq4mzkzmdi-_v1_sx1500_cr001500999_al_Ever since Oldboy (2003), Park Chan-wook has been one of the most exciting filmmakers out there. And with the recent release of The Handmaiden, adapted from Sarah Waters’s Fingersmith, he has proved yet again he is able to reinvent the thriller genre. Set in Japanese-occupied Korea in the 1930s, The Handmaiden revolves around a bright-eyed handmaiden, a rich heiress and her perverted uncle, and a scoundrel who tries to pull an impossible scam. The South Korean auteur avoids his usual über-narrative, which indulges in sensationalism and tortures, and deals with Waters’ Victorian thriller carefully.

More attention is paid to themes of “female rebellion” and “crisis of national identity.” As a result, the impeccable visuals, accomplished by erotic colors and a camera that moves as smooth as the silky robes hung loosely on the characters, may not be the most important reason to watch this film. How Park Chan-wook manages to hint at broader topics such as gender and national relations? That is what makes this film delectable. (PS: 4.5/5)


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notashamedFrom screenwriters Robin Hanley and Philipa A. Booyens comes I’m Not Ashamed, a Christian – but predominantly human – story about the first victim of the 1999 Columbine High School shooting. Rachel Scott’s story is breathtaking and heartbreaking in its simplicity – a child of divorce and a lover of God, a giver of joy and spreader of spirit, her young life was cut short under terrifying circumstances. But her story has reached millions and continues to inspire them with this important film. (GEP: 4.5/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

Rachel Joy Scott was a lot of things – a teenager, a Christian, an actor in the school play. A friend, a coffee shop cashier, a daughter. But she was first and foremost a writer. Her journey was documented in her journals, filled with prayers, drawings and thoughts about how hard high school can be when you feel different from everyone else.

Played by an effervescent Masey McLain, Rachel has what appears to be an ordinary story. She is a young girl trying to do good, trying to make a difference in small ways. Trying to get the guy, trying to live for God without alienating her friends. I’m Not Ashamed travels with her through that fateful final year of high school at Columbine, showing her family struggles and her participation in her church. McLain plays her with earnest eyes and a perpetual smile that might be downright annoying on some actresses, but this genuine performance honors Rachel's life.

Some of the more religious points of Rachel’s journey might be off-putting to some – like me, who, though a lifelong Catholic, has found God in the smaller moments of her life, not necessarily swaying back and forth in a sun-soaked Church. But part of having faith is not questioning other people’s journeys, so “to each her own.” Plus, all of that fades into the background when we see that Rachel walked the walk – she was kind to her peers, but still struggled to forgive and be compassionate all the time. She was real, and Hanley and Booyens do well to show that she wasn’t perfect, but she was trying.

There’s plenty of plot that could be covered here – Rachel’s betrayal by her best friend, her budding friendship with a homeless teen in her Bible group, and her struggle to find a place at a school where cruelty seems to lurk in every corner. But isn’t that how every high school feels sometimes? Her parallel story with those of the gunmen, “Eric” (David Errigo, Jr.) and “Dylan,” (Cory Chapman) shows three people dealing with the hierarchy of high school in completely different ways.


While it might be necessary to the narrative, giving so much attention to the eventual murderers was my only real qualm with I’m Not Ashamed. We already know their stories – images of them playing violent video games and plotting their sickening “natural selection” raid on the school was almost too much to stomach when weighed against Rachel’s sweet and simple story. It felt wrong to delve into their twisted world – almost eerie. It would’ve fared better in the background, but the filmmakers probably deemed it necessary for younger viewers who might not be familiar with the details of what happened at Columbine that day.

In the final gut-wrenching moments of the film, a student says that Rachel was “what Christian ought to be.” I agree. I don’t think there are enough examples of that, especially not in film. Someone who doesn’t judge or discriminate based on religion, but loves and trusts instead.

In spite of its drawn-out plotlines and occasionally hokey dialogue, the message of I’m Not Ashamed will be comforting not only to Christians, but anyone who needs to be reminded: you don’t have to be a prophet or a priest to be a light for people who need it. You can be young and still have an effect on people. It’s sad that we might not know Rachel’s story if two sociopaths with guns hadn’t ended it so prematurely. But a message of compassion they tried to silence has lived on for more than 17 years because of what Rachel stood for in her life. With I’m Not Ashamed, it will reach even more people, which means she did what she wanted to do – touch people’s hearts.

© Georgiana E. Presecky FF2 Media (10/23/16)


Top Photo: Rachel is mocked for her faith in a realistic, not-exaggerated depiction of high school life.

Middle Photo: Rachel was helping a friend outside of Columbine in the final moments of her life, when the gunmen approached and asked where her God was now.

Bottom Photo: Masey McLain brought a sincerity to the role of Rachel that emulated her conviction to "be a light" where there is so much darkness.

Photo Credits: Pure Flix Entertainment

Q: Does I'm Not Ashamed pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? GreenA2016

Yes. Rachel's relationships with her mother, her sisters and her friends revolve around a lot more than the men in their lives.

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Opens tomorrow (10/21/16) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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ty-top-eidtedThe Uncondemned, written and directed by Michele Mitchell, takes an inside look at the first trial of rape as a war crime in history. The documentary follows the lives of lawyers and activists that charged Mayor Akeyesu with crimes against humanity, and shows interviews with the women who were brave enough to speak out against him.

With terrifying footage of the aftermath of war, The Uncondemned highlights the brave and heroic women who faced death threats and emotional turmoil so their stories would bring justice to those who had unjustly perished. (LMB: 4/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

In 1997, a group of lawyers and activists banded together to prosecute rape as a crime against humanity for the first time in history. The documentary follows L.A. attorney Pierre Prosper who built the case against small-town mayor Jean-Paul Akayesu with the help of public defender Patricia Sellars. Together, with the help of several others, they prosecute rape, for the first time, as a war crime, even though it had been declared as such in 1919.

Human rights activist Binaifer Nowrojee worked in the women’s rights division of Human Rights Watch (HWR) and requested to be sent to Rwanda to find testimonies of women who had been raped. While then-PhD-candidate Lisa Pruitt was sent to Rwanda to create a report defining rape as a war crime. And Sara Darehshori was sent to Kigali, Rwanda to investigate suspicions that Rwandans had committed war crimes and not been held accountable. One activist talks about the scarce office supplies, and others discuss the frustration of coming to a consensus on format, while arguing how to dividtu-middle-editede the last ream of copying paper.

The documentary is not for the faint of heart. Filled with lingering footage of war including the left-behind remains of 10,000 people, their tattered blood-stained clothes, broken glasses and shoes, all kept in a bullet hole-riddled building. The same building where their skulls and other bones are kept, as a mass grave, in haunting neatly organized rows with department-store precision. The documentary goes into detail to describe the specific horrors of war that women endured. One story that stands out is of a woman who was raped then then sexually assaulted with a sharpened cross. The attacker ripped the cross through her body from her genitals up to her skull.

Some women’s testimonies were thrown out, labeled as “incoherent.” To which the activists responded, What women would be able to coherently explain what had just happened to their bodies? Especially in a culture where women are not supposed to talk about their bodies. The defense’s response was to cast the testimonies aside because everyone knows that rape happens during war times.

In 1996, while the penalties of genocide were being debated, men and women who intended to testify had their lives threatened. One woman who testified lost her husband and daughter on the same day. But once Akayesu was taken into custody and women began testifying, the Rwandan women all agreed to only relay what they had seen, not what they had heard. They were out for justice not revenge. As Victoire Mukambanda [Witness JJ] says in the documentary: “Keeping quiet kills you softly. That pain in your heart destroys you.”

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette FF2 Media (10/23/16)tu-bottom

Top Photo: Jean-Paul Akayesu taken into custody.

Middle Photo: Victoire Mukambanda

Bottom Photo: The women who testified against Akayesu.

Photo Credits: Film at Eleven Media, LLC

Q: Does The Uncondemned pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?


There are no actual conversations between women. This is a talking-head documentary, and any conversations that take place are about Akayesu.

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IH7A1984.CR2Director Courtney Hunt’s thriller stars Keanu Reeves as a defense attorney for a high school senior accused of murdering his father. Although the courtroom drama feels like an extended version of a Law and Order episode, the performances and twisty script keep you in 93-minute-long suspense. (BKP: 4/5)

Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky

Mr. Lassiter, in the bedroom, with the knife. Guilty. At least, that’s the verdict 18-year-old “Mike” (Gabriel Basso) is facing in the courtroom as his straight-laced lawyer, “Richard Ramsay” (Keanu Reeves) pleads for his innocence.

Rafael Jackson’s screenplay takes you through the tumultuous days of past and present, centering on Mike’s relationship with his stiff and withdrawn mother, “Loretta” (Renée Zellweger) and abusive father “Boone” (Jim Belushi, impressively veering off the comedy track into a dark, disturbing role).

Their backstory is chock full of verbal and physical abuse, Mike’s inner turmoil and incidents that led to the cold-blooded killing of piggish Boone Lassiter. Viewers witness Ramsey’s aggressive fight for Mike’s acquittal, hoping for an eighth-round victory much like his hero, Muhammad Ali in the 1974 match against George Foreman. He has help, however, in a young associate, “Janelle” (Gugu Mbatha-Raw), the compass in an otherwise morally ambiguous cast of characters.

No Movie Code

Performances outweigh story here, with young Basso saying more with his eyes than with his few lines of dialogue. As a breakout young actor in recent years, from Steven Spielberg’s Super 8 and Meg Ryan’s directorial debut Ithaca, Basso has perfected the role of a timid teen with bubbling inner angst.

Unsurprisingly, the presence of leads Reeves and Zellweger are enough to keep your eyes glued to the screen. In a complete reversal from the awkward, lovelorn Bridget Jones role for which she’s best known, Zellweger transforms into a steely widow who’s been beaten down physically and mentally by bully of a husband.

Since the bulk of the script takes place in the courtroom, Hunt uses a variety of approaches to make every scene fresh, as if you are watching the trial from both the witness stand and with the members of the jury. Making viewers feel as if they belong in the room is half the battle, and something Hunt easily accomplishes.

Although critics may frown upon the last-minute “shockers” that might not be as shocking as intended, this suspenseful courtroom thriller is a nail-biting, engaging watch. And with Reeves at the wheel as protagonist Ramsay, The Whole Truth is nothing but enjoyable. So help me God.

© Brigid K. Presecky (10/21/16) FF2 Media


Top Photo: Renée Zellweger takes the stand as distraught mother and widow, “Loretta Lassiter”

Middle Photo: Jim Belushi in a flashback, as abusive husband and father “Boone Lassiter”

Bottom Photo: Keanu Reeves as “Richard Ramsey,” pleading with his client, “Mike Lassiter” (Gabriel Basso) to talk

Photo Credits: Lionsgate

Q: Does The Whole Truth pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

Unfortunately, no.

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Full Title = 100 Years: One Woman’s Fight for Justice 

100-top-edited100 Years, One Woman’s Fight for Justice is an absolute must see. Writer/director Melinda Janko follows Elouise Cobell, a Native American and banker, who fights for her people when the U.S. government refuses to give 300,000 Native Americans fair pay and compensation for using and destroying their land drilling for oil and gas. In this remarkable documentary Ms. Cobell takes on the United States Government in the largest class action lawsuit in history.

(LMB: 5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

Elouise Cobell is nothing short of a hero. This 78-minute documentary is the story of Elouise’s 30-year long journey for justice for her tribe. She tackles the issue of missing money from the Indian Trust account, as oil and gas companies continue making profit with money that rightfully belongs to the Native Americans living in poverty.

100-middle-editedOil and gas mining equipment, in combination with large trucks and mindless drilling, has left the land completely devastated and unable to hold crops or livestock. Many of the Native Americans, from the Blackfeet tribe in Montana live without basic necessities like running water, electricity, and gas, despite lines of oil and gas running through their land. Due to poorly managed accounts 300,000 people were owed money, that had somehow disappeared.

100 Years has interviews with many of the Native Americans that are affected, as well as with United States government officials on both sides of the law suit. The fearless Ms. Cobell stands up for her people time and time again in a 30-year long process, while her people continue to go without basic amenities. The documentary painstakingly explores to devastation of big companies on land, while providing an inside perspective on what it is like to take on the U.S. government. Beautiful, and poignant, 100 Years—under the careful supervision of writer/director Melinda Janko—is an absolute must see.

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette FF2 Media (10/16/16)100-bottom

Top Photo: 100 Years poster featuring Elouise Cobell.

Middle Photo: Elouise Cobell and Native Americans celebrating.

Bottom Photo: President Obama shakes Elouise Cobell’s hand.

Photo Credits: Melinda Janko

Q: Does 100 Years, pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016


There are conversations between Elouise and female Native Americans about numerous issues surrounding the threat to their land and livelihood.


After the film Q&A with Writer/Director Melinda Janko

Q: What happened with the money? Were the Native Americans paid?

A: Yes and no. Of the 3.4 billion agreed upon, only roughly half of it went directly to the people. The other half is in an account where the Native Americans can buy back their own land, and manage it themselves because the government no longer wants to be in charge of it. But if the people do not buy back their land, that money goes right back to the government.

Q: How much money did each person receive?

A: Each person received roughly $1200. Those who had oil drills on their land received more, but I don’t have those exact numbers, but those 300,000 people each only received $1200.

Q: What happens next with the documentary?

A: We are involved in several film festivals, and hopefully we will reach as many people as possible. Usually documentaries wait before attending these events, but this story and these people have waited long enough.

For more information about 100 Years visit their website and join their mailing list. On their website you can view a direct timeline of everything that happens in the film, as well as recent press about what is going on.

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