MV5BZGExMmU4YzEtZGE0MS00YjhmLThmMjEtOWE0ZDA2M2NkNGNhXkEyXkFqcGdeQXVyMTgyNDk1OTY@._V1_Written and directed by Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse, Amateur Night is a wild ride, loosely based on real events. “Guy Carter” (Jason Biggs) and his wife “Anne” (Jenny Mollen) are expecting their first child. With no job, no health insurance, and riddled with the fear that he won’t be up to the task of fatherhood, Guy struggles to get his “ducks in a row” before the baby comes. But when he takes a delivery job as a last resort, Guy unwittingly finds himself driving three call girls, chauffeuring them from job to job in his Volvo station wagon, and getting a whole lot more than he bargained for during one wild night. (JEP: 3.5/5)

Review by Associate Editor Jessica E. Perry

“Guy Carter” (Jason Biggs) is an award-winning architect, but long since out of work, his growing family’s health insurance is about to expire and a new job is nowhere in sight. He and his wife, “Anne Carter” (Jenny Mollen) are expecting their first child, and due in a matter of weeks, Guys has found himself in a place of last resorts. When Anne finds a Craigslist listing for delivery drivers, Guy begrudgingly calls in for the job.

He meets his potential employer “Zoley” (Cedric Yarbrough) at a fast food burger joint, and since he has his own car—an ever-classy Volvo station wagon—Zoley gives him his first assignment. Starting the job immediately, an overwhelmed Guy forgets to ask about the details: the money and what exactly he’ll be delivering. To his surprise, it’s not pizza.

Zoley works for high-class call girls, providing them with protection and transportation. As the days of “Pimps” are long gone, he works for them, not the other way around. Guy’s first assignment is to pick up “Nikki” (Janet Montgomery) and deliver her to her next client, wealthy doctor “Dr. Kurtz” at his lavish Bel Air mansion.AN Middle

When Guy drops her off, he is instructed to stay in the car and wait exactly one hour until Nikki is ready to leave. But contemplating his need for the money and his distain for his new position, Guy drives off leaving Nikki with Dr. Kurtz. However, when Guy calls his wife on the way home, she instructs him to turn around, finish the job, and make sure Nikki makes it out of the doctor’s home safely.

Once Guy returns to the Bel Air mansion, things really start to get interesting. Once Guy learns how much cash he could earn from finishing out the night, the job grows more and more appealing, but the situations Guy finds himself in grow more and more outrageous. Dangerous, hilarious, and precarious situations ensue, especially when they pick up Nikki’s girls “Fallon” (Ashley Tisdale) and “Jaxi” (Bria L. Murphy) to work a crazed Bachelor party.

Amateur Night is refreshing in how Nikki and her girls are portrayed: confident, in control, and in charge. Nikki runs a business and does very well for herself, no matter her profession. While Guy has always stayed within the lines, climbed the business ladder step by step, yet finds himself jobless, penniless, and struggling to make ends meet for his growing family. Nikki teaches Guy a few things about himself, and a few things about asking for and getting what you want.

Written and directed by husband and wife team, Lisa Addario and Joe Syracuse, Amateur Night is a wild ride. Although the film’s plot gets a little carried away, and continuity issues appear a little too apparent in certain scenes, the film is entertaining in its premise, and Janet Montgomery delivers a commanding performance as Nikki.

© Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (8/7/2016)


Top Photo: Things get heated during a bachelor party when the girls' money is stolen by one of the partygoers.

Middle Photo: Anne and Guy talk about their next steps for work, baby, and family life.

Bottom Photo: Guy drives the girls to their next gig.

Photo Credits: Cinedigm Entertainment Group

Q: Does Amateur Night pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test? GreenA2016


Almost all of the conversations between the three female leads revolve around the men they service. In an extremely brief conversation between “Fallon” (Ashley Tisdale) and “Jaxi” (Bria L. Murphy), Jaxi explains how her cousin made a ton of money selling “vitamins.”

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MV5BMjQ1NTAyMDc2MF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjExNTYzOTE@._V1_UX182_CR0,0,182,268_AL_When a man loses his wife in a tragic car accident, he finds a grieving partner - and adversary - his mother-in-law. Although Five Nights in Maine leaves questions unanswered, Diane Wiest and David Oyelowo showcase their abilities in writer/director Maris Curran’s feature film debut. (BKP: 3.5/5)

Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky

“Sherwin” (Oyelowo) and his wife “Fiona,” (Hani Furstenberg) live like any married couple: in love, yet co-existing with as many problems as the rest. One late night, Sherwin gets the call that nobody should ever have to answer - Fiona was killed in a tragic car accident.

After his initial spiral of disbelief and heartache, Sherwin drives from Atlanta to Maine to see the one person who might understand his pain, Fiona’s cancer-stricken mother, “Lucinda” (Wiest). The tension that might accrue in a typical in-law relationship is more intense here, with Lucinda always being a sore point in Sherwin and Fiona’s marriage.

The story moves along as the two share both dinners and sparring matches - and a series of random events (Lemony Snicket’s original title for his book series). The who, what and where are answered, but as the film progresses, the ‘why’ is left to the imagination.


Both Oyelowo and Wiest put their talent on display for Curran, performing at the best to bring distressed Sherwin and the ill-fated Lucinda to life. Known for their recent work in vastly different genres (Oyelowo in Selma, Wiest in quiet CBS hit, Life in Pieces) the two come together to create a believably tense dynamic.

For Curran’s feature film debut, which screened at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, she brings emotion to the forefront, letting the script resonate with people who have lost a spouse, a child (or even the possibility of a child).

The unanswered questions fade to the background: Does race come into play? Maybe. Is there more to Fiona’s death than meets the eye? We don’t know. But maybe that’s the point. Maybe we don’t have to know.

© Brigid K. Presecky FF2 Media (8/5/16)


Middle Photo: David Oyelowo as “Sherwin” and Hani Furstenberg as “Fiona”

Bottom Photo: David Oyelowo as “Sherwin” and Diane Wiest as “Lucinda”

Photo Credits: Toronto Film Festival

Q: Does Five Nights In Maine pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016


Lucinda’s nurse “Ann” (Rosie Perez) provides information to Sherwin and comfort to a woman who is grappling with outliving her child.

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Opens Friday 8/5/16 in NYC. Review coming soon 🙂

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THE LITTLE PRINCEIn a tender reimagining of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince, director Mark Osborne and writers Irena Brignull and Bob Persichetti bring us an entirely new protagonist, a “Little Girl” (voiced by Mackenzie Foy), who is captivated by the Little Prince’s classic tale. As the Little Girl figures the story out for herself, Saint-Exupéry’s poignant philosophies unfold in the Girl’s own story within Osborne’s gorgeously animated world. (AEL: 4/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Amelie E. Lasker

The “Little Girl’s” (Mackenzie Foy) city is gray and uniform, the adults severe, and the children pale and uptight. When the Girl botches an admissions interview at her dream private school, her uptight single “Mother” (Rachel McAdams) is undeterred. Mother moves the family to a home in a more expensive neighborhood, where all resident children can go to the private school if they can afford it.

Mother has big dreams for her daughter, and in order to reach them she’s working to turn her small daughter into a high-achieving superhuman. With only a summer until the Little Girl’s first day at her new school, Mother has created a “Life Plan” detailing the girl’s activities in ten-minute increments, not only for the upcoming summer, but for the rest of her life.

The Little Girl is a diligent worker at first, but she is soon distracted by the antics of her neighbor, an elderly “Aviator” (Jeff Bridges). While other adults in the Girl’s life work in finance and live in identical white houses, the Aviator seems to inhabit another world, hiding out in his topsy-turvy house and repairing his airplane. When a stray propeller from the Aviator’s yard literally knocks the pieces of the Girl’s Life Plan from the wall, she is immediately captivated by the Aviator and his imaginative ways.

The Aviator gives the Girl a handmade book, a story he says nobody else understands. His artwork is immediately recognizable to us from Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince. In the story, the young Aviator meets a clever and curious “Little Prince” (Riley Osborne) from another planet.

From the book, a new animated world develops, as the Little Prince tells the Aviator about the whimsical array of characters he’s met in his interplanetary travels. He’s met a “King” (Bud Cort) who commands the sun to rise, a “Conceited Man” (Ricky Gervais) who wants to be applauded constantly, and a “Businessman” (Albert Brooks) with a seemingly useless habit of counting the stars. “Adults are certainly very odd,” proclaims the Little Prince. The Little Girl reading in her room at night, head full of the Prince’s colorful adventures, agrees.The Little Prince image middle

Throughout her summer of preparation for school, the Little Girl secretly enjoys her Little Prince story and her friendship with the Aviator. Gradually the Little Prince’s discoveries and bits of wisdom make her wonder whether growing up really has to be as rigid as her mother believes. In some of the story’s most poignant moments, a “Rose” (Marion Cotillard) teaches the Little Prince how difficult love can be. A “Fox” (James Franco) teaches him that once a person “tames” another, they are no longer strangers, but meaningful to each other forever. When the Little Prince lets the “Snake” (Benicio Del Toro) and his poison send him back home to his Rose, the Little Girl is suddenly afraid. She wants to know what happened to the Prince, and what happens to people when they grow up and get old. For the first time, the Aviator’s answers aren’t satisfying to her.

When the Aviator falls sick and is admitted to the hospital, the Little Girl decides to take her questions into her own hands. She finally gets the Aviator’s plane started, and she flies away from her neighborhood to find the Little Prince and discover what happened to him. She arrives at a small planet covered in city buildings, run by the tyrannical Businessman. Children are forbidden on this planet. Adulthood seems to her to be a dark and monotonous experience, and the Little Girl has to figure out a way to keep childlike wonder alive.

If there were one improvement to this film rendition of The Little Prince I’d like to see, it would be the fact that this adaptation simplifies the original story. The image of the dystopian city planet where the Little Girl arrives, filled with nearly brain-dead adults slaving for an all-seeing capitalist, is certainly relevant, but it erases so many of the Little Prince’s more poignant questions about compassion, imagination, and death.

This reimagining of Saint-Exupéry’s story is sensitive and beautifully crafted. The Little Girl and her Mother make a compelling pair for this modern update, especially because the Mother is not one of the frightening allegorical adults from the Little Prince’s story, but a loving and complicated figure. The old Aviator and his faith in the Little Prince after so many years are probably the movie’s best application of the book. He shows us what the story can mean to real people living lives that can be mundane and heartbreaking, and how to believe in the Little Prince after he’s gone.

© Amelie E. Lasker FF2 Media (8/26/16)

The Little Prince image bottom

Top Photo: The “Little Prince” (Riley Osborne) and the “Fox” (James Franco).

Middle Photo: The “Little Girl” (Mackenzie Foy).

Bottom Photo: The “Little Girl” (Mackenzie Foy) and the “Aviator” (Jeff Bridges).

Photo Credits: Pantazidis Panagiotis

Q: Does The Little Prince pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016


The little girl and her mother argue a lot at first, because the mother’s ambitions for her daughter are suffocating. The evolution of their relationship is very sweet and instrumental to the story’s modern update of the Little Prince’s messages.

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Screen Shot 2016-08-04 at 10.51.02 PMFrom Gwyn Lurie and a team of four other co-writers, Nine Lives is a forgettable talking-animal comedy with sporadic laughs that will likely only amuse the most avid of cat-lovers. Kevin Spacey stars as a neglectful father and husband who is magically transported into a cat’s body, embarking on a furry journey he must take to appreciate the value of family. It’s as cheesy and boring as it sounds, but has its moments. (GEP: 3/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

If you're the kind of person who thinks the funniest part of the classic Chevy Chase holiday comedy Christmas Vacation is cousin Eddie’s dog chasing a squirrel through the living room, you’ll probably really enjoy Nine Lives. 

The kids’ comedy follows “Tom” (Spacey), a big bad businessman who doesn't care about anyone or anything – except, of course, his big bad business. He's basically a less-refined, kids' movie version of Frank Underwood (Spacey's corrupt House of Cards politician), but he somehow manages to make this character’s snide selfishness pretty amusing.

Tom is obsessed with his business’ ownership of the tallest building in North America, which makes his daughter’s impending birthday celebration last on his list of priorities. He plugs “pet shop” into his GPS as he zooms through the New York City streets on the way to her party, little Rebecca’s birthday gift of a new cat a complete afterthought in his busy life.

He wanders into a cat shop owned by “Felix Perkins” (Christopher Walken). Of course it’s called “Purrkins Pet Shop” … the kind of gags you can expect throughout the 87 minutes of Nine Lives. As often seems to happen when Christopher Walken is around (Click, anyone?), lightning strikes and something mysterious happens – Tom wakes up in the body of a cat after a dangerous fall.


What follows is essentially one long YouTube video of “Mister Fuzzypants” (for real) falling off of countertops, meowing and doing cute and clumsy things while passing through the lives of his family members. He didn’t have time to pay attention to them in his human body, so this newfound four-legged perspective gives him a better idea of what his family goes through when he’s not home.

The usual somewhat-sweet clichés ensue. The family moral is admirable and refreshing, but the business side of Tom’s story might be a snooze for younger audiences. Robbie Amell holding down the fort at the office as Tom’s son “David” kept my attention for obvious reasons.

The script’s only redemption comes from Spacey's biting sarcasm. After it’s well established how miserable Tom is in his newfound feline frame, he falls from a kitchen cabinet in which silverware spills across the floor, quipping, “I should’ve landed on the knives.” The character is almost as irritated by the film’s premise as I was, which somehow made it more fun.

Cheryl Hines also provides the biggest laughs as Tom’s snooty ex-wife “Madison,” but that might just be because I find extreme human qualities more amusing than feline ones. Hines is hilarious, and as Tom’s current wife “Lara,” Jennifer Garner once again proves her diversity as an actress. When she makes that certain Jenna-Rink-in-13-Going-On-30 face, I lose it every time – even if she is chasing a cat around her luxurious Manhattan apartment.

If you or your kids are cat people, definitely take 'em. There was no shortage of laughs from theatergoers around me who have likely experienced similar mishaps with their family pets, making the humor relatable and the plot enjoyable. If you’re like me – AKA if both cats and Frank Underwood freak you out - there’s not much life in this one.

© Georgiana E. Presecky FF2 Media (8/4/16)


Top photo: Rebecca bonds with "Mr. Fuzzypants," unaware he's actually her dad.

Middle photo: Laura is adjusting to life with a new pet, not knowing he's her husband in a cat's body.

Bottom photo: Jennifer Garner steals the show as a neglected wife whose husband changes the family dynamic when he transforms into a feline.

Photo credits: Fundamental Films

Q: Does Nine Lives pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? 

Barely. Tom's daughter Rebecca has a few conversations with Madison's daughter Nicole about their friends at school and how she's struggling without her dad around.

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OLYMPIC-PRIDE-AMERICAN-PREJUDICE-posterFilled with spine-chilling and horrifying footage of events leading up to and during the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice follows the 18 African-American athletes who competed in one of the most controversial Olympic Games in history.

This documentary goes so far as to courageously confront the Jesse Owens bias in American media while shining light on the lives of the 17 other black athletes. It tackles the problems abroad, as well as those right here at home.

Writer and director Deborah Riley Draper looks deep into the lives of the amazing Olympian heroes and heroines who defied the odds, and whose stories were rarely, if ever, told. Featuring the voices of Archie Williams and James LuValle and interviews with friends and family of several of the Olympians, Olympic Pride, American Prejudice gets FF2 Media's highest rating. (LMB: 5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

In 1936, track and field was the only sport that black athletes were allowed to compete in due to rules against mingling races in contact sports. America planned to boycott the Olympics because we did not want to support Germany’s state-sponsored racism, despite our own problems with racism at home. After weeks of controversy, a vote was taken to decide America’s participation. The final tally was 58 to 56, meaning American athletes would have a chance to compete.

In 1932, Tidye Pickett and Louise Stokes both qualified for the Olympics in Los Angeles, but faced cruelty from their own team and coach. On the train ride to Los Angeles, one of their own teammates dumped water on them while they were sleeping. When they finally got to the games, their coach -- George Vreeland -- replaced them both at the last minute with white athletes. The 1936 Olympics provided a chance for these two fierce females to earn their place in history. Tidye Pickett was the first ever African-American woman to compete in the Olympic Games, and was expected to take home the gold medal for the 80-meter hurdles. But in the semifinals she tripped on the second hurdle, breaking her foot. Louise watched as Tidye was carried off the track, and vowed to take home the gold for both of them. As Louise got to the stadium to warm up, her coach told her that she was to be replaced by a white athlete. Louise would never race again, the 1940 Olympics would be cancelled due to World War II.

Unfortunately the racial prejudice did not stop there. Marty Glickman and Sam Stoller, both involved in the 4x100 meter relay, were also benched the day before their event. Olympic Pride, American Prejudice alludes to Glickman and Stoller’s Jewish heritage as the reason for the switch to appease their German hosts. Their coach insisted that they were replaced by the teams’ faster sprinters: Jesse Owens and Ralph Metcalfe. One of history's ironies.Untitled

In a last-minute effort to appear liberal and tolerant, Germany added Gretel Bergman to their team. Bergman was an award-winning and record-setting high jumper who had previously been expelled from German teams because of her Jewish heritage. Bergman's parents sent her to Great Britain for a chance to compete, but Germany forced her to return to Berlin. Even though she tied for the new German record, she was removed from the team, her record struck only weeks before the Olympics. Later, Germany claimed she was unable to compete due to injury and had been expelled due to failure to perform.

Howard King also never got a chance to compete. He was sent home due to “homesickness,” or so his coach claimed. When the Olympians finally returned home, only Jesse Owens received praise and appreciation; the others were barely acknowledged. The remaining 17 Olympic athletes were back exactly where they started, feeling that their hard work went unnoticed.

Not only is Olympic Pride, American Prejudice beautifully made, but filmmaker Deborah Riley Draper also tells a story that conclusively proves the importance of role models. These brave and amazing Olympians paved the way for future athletes. Not only were they competing for medals they were competing for equality in America.

As we watch the 2016 Rio Olympics in the coming days, let us remind ourselves of what the Olympics are truly about, promoting peace. Upon its creation, Pierre de Coubertin, founder of the modern Olympics, hoped that they would be a way of bringing people together--even countries at war--in hopes of finding a path to peace. As we root for our favorite teams, we must take a moment to appreciate how far we have come, and accept that there is still much farther to go.

© Lindsy M. Bissonnette FF2 Media (8/8/16)

OPAP Bottom

Top: The promotional poster for Olympic Pride, American Prejudice.

Middle Photo: The boys in the USA uniforms for the opening ceremony.

Bottom: US teams in uniform for the opening ceremony.

Photo Credits: Coffee Bluff Pictures

Q: Does Olympic Pride, American Prejudice pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? GreenA2016

Talking head docs are always tough to categorize, but since there are scenes of two women talking to a woman filmmaker about their mother, we give this one a yes!

Much attention is given to the relationship between Olympians Tidye and Louise, describing how they became friends over their shared love of sports, and how they coped with feeling disrespected by their coaches as well as some of the other athletes.

OPAP Middle

The 1936 Olympic Heroes, all 18 of them, in alphabetical order. Thank you for your bravery, your endurance, your passion, strength and skill, and thank you for serving your country:

David Albritton (High Jump, Silver Medalist), Cornelius Johson (High Jump, Gold Medalist), James LuValle (400M Run, Bronze Medalist), Ralph Metcalfe (4x100 Meter Relay, Gold Medalist; 100M Dash, Silver Medalist), Jesse Owens (100M Dash, Gold Medalist; 200M Dash, Gold Medalist; Broad (long) Jump, Gold Medalist; 4x100M Relax, Gold Medalist), Frederick “Fritz” Pollard, Jr (100M Hurdles, Bronze Medalist), Matthew “Mack” Robinson (200M Dash, Silver Medalist), Archibald “Archie” Williams (400M Run, Gold Medalist), Jack Wilson (Bantamweight Boxing, Silver Medalist), John Woodruff (800M Run, Gold Medalist), John Brooks, Art Oliver, Howard King, James Clark Atkinson, Willis Johnson, John Terry, Tidye Pickett, and Louise Stokes.

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MV5BMjAyOTc4Mzk5NV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMjM4Njc2OTE@._V1_Full Title = Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny

Richard Linklater: Dream Is Destiny, a bio-doc created by Louis Black and Karen Bernstein, is an infomercial on the legendary director’s long lasting career. If you are a fan of the widely adored maverick filmmaker, good! You will get to see a lot of his works. And when I say a lot, I mean everything he has every made. And despite your already proclaimed love for this renowned director, you still get to hear how incredible he is for two hours. So you’d better be obsessed before going to the theatre. (PS: 3/5)

Review by FF2 Intern Peier Shen

The film might be an attempt to imitate Mr. Linklater’s aspiration to capture time, but it’s a terrible bore nonetheless. The filmmakers embark upon the journey to chronicle the artist’s entire filmography, dating back to the indie heyday of 1991 when the sensational Slacker was made. And from there, the filmmakers faithfully record and unabashedly admire the highs and lows of Mr. Linklater’s career, including the widely celebrated (the Before trilogy, School of Rock, and Boyhood) and some commercial flops (Dazed and Confused, The Bad News Bearer, and The Newton Boys).

After listening to some of the director’s long-time collaborators (such as Jack Black, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke, Matthew McConaughey, and Patricia Arquette), we have learned little if not nothing. There is a director that knows his characters so well and his world so well. There is a director who shows his ambivalent attitude towards the studio system. There is a director who involves the actors into the creative process. There is a director who is relentless when it comes to his visions. The filmmakers as well as their participants – either out of utter admiration or timidity – do not dare to venture out of the usual qualities of any respected filmmaker.16587-3-1100

However, what perhaps is redeeming about the film is Mr. Linklater himself who has an easy-going presence that smoothly facilitates an otherwise excruciating narrative pace. During the interview, it is the artist who examines the limitation of his workings with a frank smile. Some heartwarming moments emerge in the very beginning when Mr. Black and Ms. Bernstein recount the artist’s youth. These somewhat fuzzy and sometimes crude images outweigh the empty praises that the filmmakers prepare to launch later in the film.

Folders of writings – screenplays, stories, journals, and budget sheets – unfold with warmth and we can relate to a curious mind that is not just intellectually inclined but also earnestly studious. The budget sheets, almost jokingly document the artist spending everything on diet Pepsi and movie tickets, illustrate the early symptoms of cinephilia. And as we see the idealistic youth, surrounded by like-minded members, bustling around the Austin Film Society and trying to get Slacker made and distributed, we have witnessed a small piece of history that portray the artist without embellishment.

All is said, Dream is Destiny, with its moments of illumination, is not the worst made about the filmmaker. Whether the world realizes it or not (getting or not getting an Oscar; having great films made about him or not), he will carry his humility and determination to his work – a rare quality in this day and age. Still, it is miraculous that despite a hostile market, the artist carries on! Whether the same opportunity will be open today for emerging indie filmmakers who would like to risk all (especially female filmmakers) is doubtful.

© Peier Shen FF2 Media (08/18/16)MV5BOTkyNjE5NzY5OF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwMTYyMjA1NzE@._V1_SY1000_CR0,0,1521,1000_AL_

Top Photo: Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny publicity photo

Middle Photo: Richard Linklater on set

Bottom Photo: Richard Linklater and Louis Black

Photo Credit: Courtesy of IMDb

Q: Does Richard Linklater: Dream is Destiny! pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

Oh no…

It is Rick’s show after all.

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shelleyThe horror genre has produced countless demon-filled stories that prey on viewers through spooky effects and big bads. But SHELLEY is different. Directed by Ali Abbasi (first feature), and penned by Maren Louise Kaehne (with Abbasi), SHELLEY is the non-horror horror movie, a demon-baby story that creates fear in the heart of the viewers not through monsters, but through the cinematography, eerie music and lack of cause. Kaehne’s script is a mastery of characters suffering through a psychological horror story, and the actors most definitely rise to the challenge of bringing them to life. (RAK: 4/5)

Review by Contributing Editor Rachel Kastner

‘Elana’ (Cosmina Stratan), a young Romanian mother living in Denmark, needs to find a way to pay for an apartment for herself and her son. In order to do so, she accepts a job as a housemaid to a married Danish couple, and plans to save money over the course of three years before returning. The Danish couple, ‘Louise’ (Ellen Dorrit Peterson) and ‘Kasper’ (Peter Christoffersen), lives in an isolated villa in a forest. Louise has just undergone a procedure that leaves her very weak, and Kasper tells Elena that her help will be very much appreciated. For reasons unknown to Elena, the couples live their life without running water or electricity. Elena learns that Louise is ‘hippie-minded,’ believing thoroughly in the balance of good energies and bad energies. Although Elena is started and slightly creeped by the spooky home and Louise’s weird habits, the two become very good friends. After all, they do spend all day together, every day. One afternoon, Louise confides in Elena her desire for a child, and explains that her weak body can’t carry a baby to term. A past miscarriage procedure left her without a womb to try again. Her yearning for a child is heartbreaking and honest. And so, when she offers Elena all the money for the apartment in return for carrying her child to term, Elena agrees wholeheartedly.shelleyshelley

The film takes a turn when Elena starts experiencing very strange symptoms. She often wakes in the middle of the night with hallucinations, or rashes that cover her body. Although Elena understands that there is something wrong, Louise refuses to believe it. Louise takes her to the doctor, who confirms that there is nothing, wrong – the baby looks completely healthy. As the pregnancy continues, the tension between Louise and Elena grows. The pregnancy ultimately costs Elena much more than she planned to give to Louise, and causes Louise to make some very difficult decisions.

The real trick of this film is that the first third of the film seems rather innocent. If anything, it’s spooky. It doesn’t seem out of the question to be concerned about Elena’s safety in a stranger’s isolated home without access to electricity. But after the initial days in the home, Elena’s friendship with Louise blooms. The actresses performances are subtle and beautiful, creating a sisterly bond onscreen that is completely genuine. Elena wants to have the child, not only for the money, but for her friend. But the second third of the film is where the questions arise. Are Elena’s symptoms real? Is Louise genuinely good or did she plan for this to happen? Is anything even happening? What follows in the last third of the film is a string of events that are as surprising as they are scary.

The magic touch of Abbasi’s film is its confidence in its minimalism. There is no face of a monster. The terror is built in Abbasi’s eerily lit shots and the film’s score. The absence of electricity written into the script lends itself to the dimly lit shots that Abbasi uses – many seemingly lit by only candlelight .In fact, some scenes are so difficult to see that perhaps Abbasi doesn’t want anyone to see them. And we don’t want to. Honestly, the soundscape alone is enough to bring about nightmares. Seamless mixes of eerie tones and sounds that often arise into a deafening static move the story along and aim to elevate the hairs on your arms. It works.


Photo Credits: Ali Abbasi

Top Photo: Shelley Poster

Medium Photo: Elena (Cosmina Stratan) feeling the effects of the pregnancy

Bottom Photo: Elena (Cosmina Stratan) screaming in pain.

Does SHELLEY pass the Bechdel-Wallace test?


Absolutely. The conversation between Louise and Elena surrounds the pregnancy and rising tensions that come with it, not men. Who has time for boy-talk when there is a demon child growing inside of you?

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topDirector Meera Menon’s slow moving financial drama Equity, brings us back to the familiar world of high-powered suits dominating Wall Street, but this time around, the suits in charge are the powerful women of investment banking. With commanding performances from Anna Gunn, Sarah Megan Thomas, and Alysia Reiner, Equity takes charge, delving into the perils of financial scandal and corruption. (JEP: 4/5)

Review by Associate Editor Jessica E. Perry

Directed by Meera Menon, written by Amy Fox with story by credits from Sarah Megan Thomas and Alysia Reiner, and starring a powerful female cast, Equity is a compelling look inside what’s typically regarded as a man’s world, the world of Wall Street.

This time around, the powerful players are women. However, other than the fact that they are women, gender has no bearing on the plot or on how their colleagues see them. These women are smart, respected, even a little feared. And that’s what makes this financial thriller so refreshing.

Anna Gun stars as “Naomi Bishop,” a powerful senior banker looking to take the latest and greatest of Silicon Valley startups public. Still haunted by her last IPO, which was her first fail among a string of successes, Bishop will do anything to get this win and ensure her place atop the financial world.

Bishop’s second, “Erin Manning” (Sarah Megan Thomas) is a younger banker who has been long awaiting her promotion. But each year Bishop insists that it’s not her time, or that it’s not a good time, and once again Manning’s climb up the financial lMiddleadder is stunted. When Manning learns she is pregnant, she conceals her pregnancy from her colleagues, struggling with the question: can women have it all? But other than her internal war, this news does nothing to hinder her performance in the workplace. In fact, Manning takes more initiative, and becomes more cut throat in her business prowess than ever before.

While Bishop and Manning work together to take their latest Silicon Valley startup public, “Samantha” (Alysia Reiner), an old college friend of Naomi’s and now a state attorney, makes it her mission to uncover the underhanded deals, securities fraud, and white collar crime that inhabits the financial world.

Screenwriter Amy Fox must be credited with delivering a film by women, about women, that has nothing to do with the fact that its main characters are women. And director Meera Menon takes her time with Fox’s script, slowly pacing her financial drama, to deliver audiences the ultimate payoff.

Samantha has a family, Erin is starting one, and Naomi is intentionally unmarried and unattached—except her casual relationship with fellow Wall Street titan “Michael Connor” (James Purefoy). Yet each woman is a dominating force in the workplace, and their family/maternal lives, or lack thereof, do not have any bearing on their character or ability to be just as powerful as the men that surround them. It is a world where woman can talk about success, power, money, and their desire to have it all. And that in and of itself makes Equity refreshing, honest, and well worth the watch.

© Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (8/3/16)

Top Photo: "Samantha" (Alysia Reiner) goes up against the big dogs of Wall Street to uncover the truth.

Middle Photo: "Naomi Bishop" (Anna Gunn) and “Erin Manning” (Sarah Megan Thomas) lead a meeting amongst the CEO and heads of the latest startup they're taking public.

Bottom Photo: In a symbolic game of Jenga, "Naomi Bishop" (Anna Gunn) is determined to come out on top.

Photo Credits: Perry Bindelglass

Q: Does Equity pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test? GreenA2016

 Of course!

In this case, most conversations pass the test, and you’d be hard pressed to find many that don’t.

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Into-the-ForesttttFrom writer-director Patricia Rozema, Into the Forest is a story of sisters struggling to survive in - pause for suspense – the forest. Set in the near future, sisters “Nell” (Ellen Page) and “Eva” (Evan Rachel Wood) live in a society that has become increasingly reliant on electricity for basic survival. When an unidentified force cuts off the power supply, 300 million people are left without the technology required for daily life. But what these two need the most to survive isn’t emergency generators or cans of food, it’s each other. (GEP: 4/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

Into the Forest begs these questions: how would you get by for months without light, refrigeration, transportation or contact with the outside world? Simple pleasures like listening to your favorite song or eating microwave popcorn? Grocery store shelves are bare – “no gas, no shipments.” Diseases spread like rapid fire – no vaccine refrigeration.

Most of us whine when Netflix is down or our iPhone batteries hit 10 percent. Going without these luxuries is “hard” for this generation, so the idea of surviving without food, water or access to any kind of information is unthinkable.

Rozema’s feature makes it a little too thinkable. Long, quiet sequences show the sisters struggling to stay alive and stay hopeful. Eva is a dancer whose spirit diminishes as each day passes without music; Nell’s ambitions and dreams make her increasingly stir-crazy. There’s not much more to the story than this – life gets increasingly worse as more than a year passes.

Civilization is crumbling around them, but the girls’ world truly collapses when their loving, funny father (Callum Keith Rennie) dies in a chainsaw accident. Suddenly, it doesn’t just feel like the end of the world – it is.


While Rozema makes this version of the apocalypse seem plausible with her script, the emotions of her actors are what make the tedious plot easier to bear. Page and Wood are often praised for the realism they bring to their roles, and the moments of humanity between them make 101 slow minutes worth sticking around for. Jumping for joy when their car battery starts, choosing to stay together even when Nell’s boyfriend strikes out on his own, reminiscing about their late parents - these are reminders of what we take for granted, and they’re much more interesting than long montages of the struggle for survival.

Their story is thought-provoking and sad, but Wood and Page create a memorable friendship completely separate from their desolate setting. They face harrowing circumstances – rape, starvation, disease, mold – but as their despair grows, so does their bond.

An intriguing premise and a realistically flawed but unbreakable relationship between sisters save Into the Forest from its slow pace. Most apocalyptic films focus on destruction – bad guys wiping out humanity as we know it. This raw film depicts the end of the world on a smaller scale, altering the lives of just two people and magnifying the small challenges they must face. No explosions or villains – just sisters trying not to give up on life or each other when they have every reason to.

It creates an interesting metaphor – when the world crashes down around you, how do you survive? Not from food rations or firewood, but from the resilience of the human spirit and the love of family.

© Georgiana E. Presecky FF2 Media (7/28/16)


Photos: Ellen Page and Evan Rachel Wood play sisters stranded in a forest cottage without electricity or contact with the outside world.

Photo Credits: A-24 FilmsGreenA2016

Q: Does Into the Forest pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

Yes, the film is almost entirely about Nell and Eva’s relationship.

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