williamscwKelly Reichardt's new film braids together the lives of three women living in and around a town in central Montana, not exactly the middle of nowhere... but close enough.

This time, Reichardt-the-Writer has created a screenplay based on stories by award-winning author Maile Meloy, but Reichardt-the-Director has used many of her usual crew members (notably cinematographer Christopher Blauvelt and composer Jeff Grace), as well as muse Michelle Williams (who has appeared in four of the six films Reichardt has released since 2000).

Scene-after-scene of almost wordless intimacy come together to create a haunting peek into real American lives so often ignored. (JLH: 4.5/5)

Review by FF2 Editor-in-Chief Jan Lisa Huttner

A new film by Kelly Reichardt? Always music to my ears.

This time, Reichardt has created a screenplay based on stories by Maile Meloy (a writer whose name is new to me). How many Meloy stories? How faithful to the source? I have no idea. All I know is that I love this film!

Reichardt has created her plot--such as it is--by braiding together the lives of three women living in and around the town of Livingston (more or less in the center of Montana, midway between Billings and Butte).

Laura Dern is "Laura," an attorney with a solo practice which is probably as successful as her circumstances allow. One of her cases involves a worker's comp claim that has been lost to legal shenanigans on the part of the employer. Although she has sincere empathy for her client "Fuller" (Jared Harris), his refusal to take no for an answer becomes exasperating and then life-threatening. derncw

Michelle Williams is "Gina," someone who seems to have everything, but knows in her heart that she really doesn't. There is something patronizing about the odd way her husband "Ryan" (James Le Gros) is acting, and teenage daughter "Guthrie" (Sara Rodier) has reached a stage so obnoxious that Gina has given up on her (at least for the time being). So, like many women, Gina is channeling her excess energy into home improvements. This leads her to visit "Albert" (Rene Auberjonois), an elderly neighbor who has some rare stones on his property. Will Albert sell them? Maybe...

Lily Gladstone is "Jamie," a ranch-hand who spends almost all of her time caring for animals. One evening, she stumbles into an adult education class taught by "Beth" (Kristen Stewart) someone who took the job without realizing where the classes were to be held and what the time commitment would be. Nevertheless, Beth commutes back and forth week after week, and Jamie--starved as she is for human contact--comes to depend on her even though she has no interest in--and no aptitude for--the content of Beth's classes.

Dialogue is always spare in a Reichardt film. The characters rarely use words to describe themselves. Backstories are thin. Explanations are anathema. So all of the interpretive work rests with the audience. We must watch with care, observe the little details Reichardt has planted onscreen with such delicate understatement, appreciate how perfect the casting is (especially newcomer Gladstone who holds her own in this Oscar-caliber company), and patiently align all the puzzle pieces until "it" comes together.

Do this, and I promise, you will leave the theater much richer than when you arrived.

© Jan Lisa Huttner (10/14/15) FF2 Media


Top Photo: Michelle Williams as "Gina."

Middle Photo: Laura Dern as "Laura."

Bottom Photo: Lily Gladstone as "Jamie."

Photo Credits: Nicole Rivelli

Q1: Does Certain Women pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test? GreenA2016


While Gina, Laura, and Jamie never interact with one another, they all interact with other women in their lives. Gina has a contentious relationship with her daughter "Guthrie" (Sara Rodier). Laura has a professional relationship with her assistant "Patty" (Ashlie Atkinson). And Jamie has a relationship with "Beth" (Kristen Stewart) that cannot be described without spoilers. However, suffice it to say that none of these conversations are "about men" in anyway.

Note that both Laura and Jamie have wonderful feline companions and Jamie also has her horses. Meanwhile Gina eventually has the stones that spent decades weathering in front of Albert's house. These stones once held up the walls of an old schoolhouse, therefore they are highly symbolic in an oh so subtle Reichardtian way.

Q2: Where is Livingston, Montana? Not quite the middle of nowhere...


Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: B-D | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-3-07-02-pmFrom director April Winney and writer-star Don Scime, The David Dance is a well-meaning, thought-provoking film about the host of a gay radio talk show who uses his medium to help those struggling with their sexuality. Despite its sweet premise and important message, the film struggles to decide what it wants to be – the antithesis of its message about learning to be confident in who you are. (GEP: 3.5/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

An opening scene finds “Danger Dave” (Scime) hosting his cleverly-titled radio show, Gay Talk. He is arguing with a fundamentalist anti-gay “family expert” about the nature of homosexuality – in other words, sparring with his fellow radio show host who sees the world as a place where gay teens can “reverse” their sexuality. “It hurts God’s heart,” claims his opponent.

David fires back with a Jed Bartlet-style argument about other archaic Bible references that most can agree were never meant to be taken literally. It sounded better coming from Martin Sheen, but it’s a good argument just the same. Throughout the film, Gay Talk is where David is most at peace – helping others and telling stories that celebrate the love of gay men and women across America.

We quickly learn that David isn’t as confident as he seems to his listeners – he’s actually a depressed, insecure gay man who has lost his sister and still speaks to her ghost. The plot jumps back and forth, showing his interactions with “Kate” (Antoinette LaVecchia”) before her death – she is considering adoption and contemplating motherhood when we see her alive, but the circumstances surrounding her death and where it has left David in his own life remains a mystery throughout most of the 108 minutes.

Scime and Winney make David’s present-day pain evident through long silences, sad music and by slapping a gray film over the world around him. His talk show is cancelled, his sister is gone, his elderly parents forgetful.

screen-shot-2016-10-15-at-3-02-04-pmScime’s script probably resonated beautifully on the page – I can imagine reading it as a novel or seeing it as the stage play it was intended to be, and feeling touched and interested by David’s plight. But from the mouths of the cast on camera, The David Dance feels written. Very little of what the characters say feels natural – David’s budding love story with his show’s technical advisor, “Chris” (Guy Adkins) could have been sweet and supplementary to the movie’s theme, but their dialogue lacks that necessary something to make the audience care about them. “You’re ballsy,” David tells Chris. Yet we never see Chris actually being ballsy…The David Dance does a lot more telling than showing.

Even David’s relationship with Kate, the cornerstone of the plot, feels like a contrived back-and-forth exchange with canned lines like “I thought I could count on you,” and “are you really going through with this?”

In spite of some cringe-worthy acting and contrived writing, David is right when he says of his radio show, “Someone might be listening…that makes it important.” Someone might be watching who is struggling with sexuality, confidence, or the death of a loved one - someone who needs this to feel better. That makes The David Dance important.

© Georgiana E. Presecky FF2 Media (10/15/16)


Top Photo: Chris is there for David in his time of need.

Middle Photo: David feels most at home in his studio.

Bottom Photo: Chris and David discuss how rare it is to find people who feel the same way about life that they do.

Photo Credits: Brave Lad Films

Q: Does The David Dance pass the Bechdel-Wallace test? 


Posted in Reviews: B-D | Leave a comment


maxresdefaultDirected by Keiichi Hara and written by Miho Maruo and Hanako Sugiura, Miss Hokusai is an animated dramatization of the life of iconic Japanese artist, Katsushika Hokusai. However, the film’s true focus is on Hokusai’s daughter, “O-Ei” (Erica Lindbeck), and her exploration of her own art and the conflicts she faced in her familial life. The film pulls from Japanese mythology, adding a fantastical element to the otherwise small story about art and family.  (JEP: 3.5/5)

Review by Associate Editor Jessica E. Perry

Miss Hokusai is stunning in it’s animation, in that it utilizes the often forgotten 2D animation style. That, in and of itself, makes the film unique and compelling. But its small story, not uncommon in Japanese animated flicks, makes the film’s focus as a whole unclear, unsure of what and whose story it is actually telling.

Set in 1814 in Edo, Japan (now known as Tokyo) , a young woman “O-Ei” (Erica Lindbeck) lives with her father, the acclaimed artist “Hokusai” (Richard Epcar). They don’t clean or cook, focusing only on their art. And when a place becomes too cluttered and messy to do their work, they move. Bouncing from place to place for their painting, “two brushes and four chopsticks” are all they need.

O-Ei often paints commissioned works for her father when he grows tired or frustrated with a project, signing his name at its completion. Although her work goes uncredited, her painting technique is immensely powerful, her paintings often causing trouble for people in their busy city. misshokusai_a

Perhaps the most touching and profound sequences of the film are between O-Ei and her younger sister “O-Nao” (Courtney Chu). O-Nao was born blind, and their parents sent her away. While Hokusai refuses to visit his young daughter, O-Ei visits O-Nao regularly, taking her on adventures around their city, and watching in awe at the young girl’s appreciation for the beauty of the world through sight, touch, and smell.

The painter Katsushika Hokusai is not a fictional character, but an acclaimed Japanese artist of the 19th century. His story has often been told, but his daughter O-Ei’s story has not. Writers Miho Maruo and Hanako Sugiura place their focus on O-Ei’s role in Hokusai’s successful artistic career, while also giving audiences a look into her personal and professional life as a single young woman pursuing art while trying to take care of her sister.

While O-Ei’s interactions with her sister are arguably the best parts of the film, this storyline seems so separated from what the screenwriters want to say about O-Ei’s life as a painter. The resulting narrative often feels disjointed, audiences left to question what the film is ultimately trying to say. With that said, the animation is striking and the mythical elements from Japanese culture that permeate the story give the film a fantastical element, lending beauty to the paintings come to life of dragons and other mythological characters, making for a captivating viewing experience.

©Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (10/15/16)sarusuberi_sp_story2_p1

Top Photo: “O-Ei” (Erica Lindbeck) walks though the streets of Edo, Japan.

Middle Photo: “Hokusai” (Richard Epcar) completes a painting only to have it taken over by O-Ei after the current version is ruined.

Bottom Photo: O-Ei describes the beautiful red flower to her younger sister “O-Nao” (Courtney Chu).

Photo Credits: GKids

Q: Does Miss Hokusai pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016

Yes, definitely!

O-Ei and her sister O-Nao share many conversations about the beauty of the world around them as they explore the wonders of their city.

Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: K-M | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

THE 13th

The 13thThis morning on MSNBC, Joy Reid providing excellent coverage of Donald J. Trump's insistence on the guilt of the Central Park Five. This week?!? Despicable!!!

Meanwhile, I have spent much of the week embroiled in debates about Nate Parker. Bottom Line? IMHO, you can see The Birth of a Nation or not. Despite its best intentions, The Birth of a Nation is just OK as a film. It's something of a Django UnchainedTwelve Years a Slave mash-up, breaking no new ground.

On the other hand, Ava DuVernay's new film The 13th is a masterpiece, totally on point, and of the moment. (Yes, including specific references to the CP5!)

If you believe Black Lives Matter, the film to see THIS weekend is Ava DuVernay's film The 13th. Have I seen both of these highly controversial films with my own eyes? Yes, I have. So believe me or not, that's your choice. I report. You decide.

Ratings The 13th (JLH: 5/5) The Birth of a Nation (JLH: 3.5/5)

Here is my review of The Central Park Five for WomenArts. Full Review of The 13th coming soon…

© Jan Lisa Huttner (10/8/16) FF2 Media


Top Photo: Ava DuVernay with Angela Davis.

Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: # | Leave a comment

37 (Kitty Genovese)

filmz.ruWriter/Director Puk Grasten retells the infamous story of Kitty Genovese, the 28-year-old woman stabbed to death as 37 bystanders watched, listened and failed to intervene. Focusing on a handful of fictional characters, Grasten captures the eerie, stomach-churning atmosphere of the Kew Gardens (Queens) apartment complex on March 13, 1964. (BKP: 4/5)

Review By Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky

It’s a name on a sheet of looseleaf paper. In a binder. In a notebook. They fill the word banks on a Psychology worksheet.

Kitty Genovese. The Bystander Effect.

Memorize. Test. Repeat.

But behind the vocabulary terms and a sensationalized American crime story was a 28-year-old woman named Catherine Susan Genovese who was raped and murdered in the early morning hours of March 13, 1964. Rather than detailing the step-by-step account of the fateful evening, Puk Grasten shifts the focus to fictional neighbors in the apartment complex, each of whom have demons that drown out Kitty Genovese’s screams.

The African American Smith family moves into the mostly white, mostly middle-class neighborhood with a young son (Marquise Gary) and baby on the way. Loving mom “Joyce” (Samira Wiley), strong-willed dad “Archibald” (Michael Potts) deal with parenting woes and marriage trouble, much like their neighbors, “Mary” (Maria Dizzia) and “Bob” (Jamie Harrold) Cunningham. gonzales

Flickering lights and dim-lit hallways set the tone as another married couple, “George” (Thomas Kopache) and “Florel” (Lucy Martin) Bernstein grapple with the loss of their daughter, an unclear, underdeveloped subplot of an otherwise strong narrative. They desperately trying to raise and comfort their mentally-unstable granddaughter, “Debbie” (Sophie Lillis) who keeps count of each and every step she takes.

Grasten’s recreated world has hints of the unusual, bizarre tones reminiscent of a Stephen King novel: a dripping faucet, creaky floors, old cat ladies sleeping in their rocking chairs.

The tipping point into the supernatural is unnecessary, however, with Debbie using a Ouija board and imagining her demonic mother sitting at her bedside. Much like drinking orange juice after using mouthwash, the paranormal storyline in historical fiction feels like an unsettling match. Both are fine and good, but not together.

While the complex lives of these families carry on--full of tension, heartbreak and everyday distractions--the life of a young woman on her way home from work was being tragically cut short. The world Grasten creates beautifully encapsulates the time and place of a true-life event, with a fictional twist on the people surrounding it. Much like Jack and Rose boarding an ill-fated ocean liner in Titanic, the characters in 37 are not  historically accurate. The intrigue, however, is very much real, thanks to the realistic depiction of broken marriages, mental instability, racial tension and above all else, the fate of being a "bystander" at a moment of historical import.  

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


Top Photo: Maria Dizzia as a stressed-out wife “Mary Cunningham.” Yes, she is right there, but she's also oblivious to everything except her own pain.

Middle Photo: Adrian Martinez as "Gonzales" (the doorman at the Mowbray apartments).

Bottom Photo: Marquise Gary as new neighbor “Troy Archibald,” a black child forced into a white neighborhood by a father with something to prove.

Photo Credits: Regner Grasten Film, Game 7 Films

Q: Does 37 pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016


“Kitty Genovese” (Christina Brucato) has a brief scene with her young friend “Debbie” (Sophie Lillis). Kitty agrees to attend her birthday party the next day (something which will obviously never happen). Other that that, however, Christina Brucato has very little screen time... Meanwhile, Debbie tries to invite a few girls her own age, but that won't happen either.

However, Debbie does have a well-developed relationship with her stern, but loving grandmother "Florel" (Lucy Martin). And there are also two mysterious elderly women in one apartment who don't talk much to each other but do seem to love their cats.


Everything Brigid says is totally on point. The problem for me was going in knowing a whole lot--and one might even say way too much--about the real Kitty Genovese case. Therefore, it was hard to get a grip on Puk Grasten's POV.

In the Q&A, Grasten (who is Danish) said she did years of research for the screenplay... but it's honestly hard for me to see much actual "research" about Kitty Genovese in the film she had actually made.

And yet, as Brigid says, the atmosphere is potent. And while the people on screen may not stand in well for actual neighbors, the idea that people were absorbed in their own lives rings true. Keep in mind that Kitty Genovese was murdered in the middle of the night, so anyone who was actually up at that odd time might well have had personal #$@& unfolding that had nothing to do with anything that might also be happening outside on a dark, chilly street.

One thing I definitely loved were the commercials on TV, real commercials which rang distant bells. Grasten was obviously tickled that other people in the Q&A loved them too.


Photo Credit:  Juan Ignacio Angel Blanco Durán

Downloaded from Murderpedia with permission.

Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: # | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


ait-top-editedCo-written and directed by Marina Donahue, All in Time is the story of a banker named “Charlie” (Sean Modica) who quits his well-paying New York City job, moves back home, and follows his dream of managing a rock band. But when things begin to fall apart, he is forced to make the difficult decision of either giving up his dreams and going back to his well-paying job, or continue to fight for the band he loves and the girlfriend of his dreams.

Unfortunately, All in Time misses its mark due to inactive writing with poor character development, and melodramatic performances. (LMB: 1.5/5)

Review by FF2 Associate Lindsy M. Bissonnette

“Charlie” (Sean Modica) is a banker in NYC. He makes great money, but hates being so far away from his overly-perfect girlfriend “Rachel” (Vanessa Ray), and his favorite band, “The Damnsels,” which are both in Pennsylvania. When he realizes one of the band members of “The Damnsels” may quit, he makes the decision to quit his well-paying bank job, and move back into his parent’s house to become the band’s manager in hopes of bringing them to a broader demographic. ait-middle

With cliché and predictable dialogue, Rachel and Charlie hit a rough patch, and so does the band. The fact that Charlie is a banker and has trouble managing the band’s financials seems odd. He takes out a mortgage on his parent’s home in hopes of finishing a new demo for the band, but when the recording takes longer than expected, he is left scrambling.

Then there is Rachel. She is overly supportive of Charlie who continuously takes her for granted and barely makes it home for their anniversary, and then schedules an event for the band on her birthday. There is a big reveal two thirds of the way through the film that I wont reveal, but because it is so poorly constructed and unsupported by the rest of the film, instead of pushing the plot forward, it screeches to a stop.

Between the weak plot line and poor character development, the film drags on. In the end, All in Time is mainly just a story about a privileged white man who gets upset when he does not get everything he wants.

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

Top Photo: Charlie and Rachel watch “The Damnsels” perform live.

Middle Photo: Charlie and his coworker discussing his desire to be the manager ,of “The Damnsels.”

Bottom Photo: “The Damnsels” drum set.

Photo Credits: Scott Krycia

Q: Does All in Time pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?


None of the females in the film (of which there are few) talk to each other. And when women do speak in the film, they talk about, or to, Charlie.

Posted in Reviews: A | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


Opens Friday (10/7/16) in NYC. Review coming soon…

Posted in Reviews: B-D | Leave a comment


girl-on-train-2016-01Adapted for the screen by Erin Cressida Wilson, The Girl on the Train—based on the international-bestseller by author Paula Hawkins—is slow moving at its onset, but once it get’s going, the film catapults you into the mystery of a missing woman, and all of the whispers and lies that come along with her disappearance. A gripping thriller told from multiple perspectives, but ultimately focusing its lens on the drunken divorcee “Rachel” (Emily Blunt), The Girl on the Train does its job as a compelling mystery that will keep you guessing until the very end. (JEP: 3.5/5)

Review by Associate Editor Jessica E. Perry

“Rachel” (Emily Blunt) rides the commuter train from the suburbs into Manhattan and back everyday, enamored by the perfect couple she watches from the train and haunted by the picture perfect life she had in the home just a few houses down.

Living in said home, is her ex-husband “Tom” (Justin Theroux), and his mistress-now-wife “Anna” (Rebecca Ferguson) and their new baby. Rachel watches from the train, as Anna looks out on her backyard where the train runs though, smiling down at her beautiful baby. Rachel, tormented by the baby she and Tom were unable to have, turned to drinking in her time of personal struggle. Tom turned to an extremely willing Anna, and built the life for them that was almost Rachel’s.

Living just a few houses up the street, is the perfect couple Rachel has tied her sanity to. She watches “Megan” (Haley Bennett), young and beautiful, loving and being loved by her picture perfect husband “Scott” (Luke Evans). From her seat on the train, from a distance, what Megan and Scott have is the epitome of perfection.

Rachel’s life, on the other hand, is far from perfect. She rides the train alone each day, just her and her water bottle filled with booze. She leaves each morning and returns “home” each night to the single room she’s unpacked her suitcase in at her friend “Cathy’s” (Laura Prepon) apartment. Cathy tries her best to sober Rachel up, her drunkenness only leading her to leave slurred voicemails on Tom’s phone and lurk, unwanted, outside of their house.

While the film ultimately declares Rachel its main character, we do get a little from Megan and Anna’s perspectives as well, giving audiences bits and pieces of information about these two women that Rachel doesn’t have. Megan is Anna and Tom’s nanny. She’s taken the position because her husband thinks it’ll make her less restless—as she explains to her therapist “Dr. Kamal Abdic” (Edgar Ramirez)—but a haunting secret from her past makes caring for their child too much.

One afternoon, Megan abruptly quits claiming she’s been offered a new job at a gallery, and insinuates that since Anna does not work, she can be without the the help for a while until she finds a replacement. Anna, on the other hand, is afraid to be alone in the house because of one afternoon when a drunk Rachel came inside the house and took her baby. Anna is fearful of Rachel, urging Tom to cut all ties with her, and yearning for the simpler times when she was doted on as “the other woman.”

allison-janney-zoom-a273baf0-c6f9-40eb-a1e6-cc1345feeba1One day while riding the train, Rachel looks out upon Megan and Scott’s house, just like each day before it. But this time, instead of finding her perfect couple, she sees Megan out on the balcony, wrapped in the arms of another man. Something inside Rachel snaps. How could this woman betray her husband in that way? How could she have willingly shattered perfection? All the feelings of her own husband’s betrayal come rushing back, and Rachel turns to booze to block out the pain of it all.

That evening she exits the train, not at her own stop, but at the one before it that lets off at Tom and Anna, and Scott and Megan’s neighborhood. Rachel stumbles from the train, her thoughts and memories of the night disjointed. A woman in a tunnel. A red jacket. Her own voice yelling at the retreating figure.

Rachel wakes the next morning, back at Cathy’s apartment, covered in blood, scrapes, and bruises, unable to remember what happened the night before. When “Detective Riley” (Allison Janney) shows up at her apartment asking questions, Rachel doesn’t have the answers. Megan has gone missing. And Rachel was seen drunkenly wandering the streets of Megan’s neighborhood the same night as her disappearance. While Rachel doesn’t have the answers about her own whereabouts or actions that night, she can tell Detective Riley that she saw Megan with another man when she was watching from the train.

Megan’s disappearance gives Rachel purpose, something she’s been missing in her life for a long time. Although perhaps misguided, Rachel is determined to help find Megan, befriending her husband Scott and sharing with him the information of Megan’s other man. A bit troubled, perhaps Megan ran away? Perhaps she was taken?

As the narrative unfolds, the circumstances surrounding Megan’s disappearance throw each character into question. Rachel struggles to piece together her own memories of the events of that night, making her an unreliable narrator, and a suspect in Megan’s disappearance all the same.

Directed by Tate Taylor and adapted for the screen my Erin Cressida Wilson, The Girl on the Train takes a while to setup its characters, its circumstances, and its mystery. But once Megan’s disappearance rocks the small New England town, the thriller begins, a gripping tale reminiscent of the 2014 hit Gone Girl. Although both films were based on New York Times Bestsellers, I have yet to read either book. Going into the theater blind as to the mystery and the players in The Girl on the Train, I am given the luxury to be impartial to the film as a film, and not the film as a comparison to the book on which it is based.

With that said, although The Girl on the Train boasts a strong female cast—including a small, albeit revelatory role by Lisa Kudrow as “Martha,” Tom’s ex-boss’ wife—there was little character development for any of them. Emily Blunt’s performance as Rachel was phenomenal, but her character was given little growth, and her only triumph is motivated by the unveiling of the true character of another, instead of by her own thoughts and actions. Megan and Anna are dealt with in largely the same way, each woman at a different stage of their lives in relationships and family. However, as a whole, Wilson has delivered a compelling screenplay, that I cannot say does or does not compare to the novel from which it is based, but does promise to be the next big blockbuster thriller.

©Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (10/12/16)the-girl-on-the-train-emily-blunt

Top Photo: "Anna" (Rebecca Ferguson) and her husband (Rachel's ex-husband) "Tom" (Justin Theroux) at home.

Middle Photo: “Detective Riley” (Allison Janney) shows Rachel Megan's photo, questioning her whereabouts on the night of Megan's disappearance.

Bottom Photo: "Rachel" (Emily Blunt) watches "Megan" (Haley Bennett) from the train.

Photo Credits: Barry Wetcher

Q: Does Girl on the Train pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?GreenA2016


Although almost all of the conversations between Rachel, Megan, and Anna revolve around men, Rachel has a few conversations with her roommate “Cathy” (Laura Prepon) that pass the test. Cathy expresses her concern about Rachel’s drunken behavior, and Rachel expresses her gratitude to Cathy for letting her stay in the spare room in her apartment.

Additionally, although Lisa Kudrow’s role is small, her character plays a big role in Rachel’s life, one conversation turning her world upside down—or perhaps right side up.


Note: This review is from the perspective of someone who has NOT read the novel. For a review from the POV of someone who has read the novel, click HERE for Guest Critic Elyse Thaler's post.

Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: E-G | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


middle-school-the-worst-years-of-my-life-poster-2016Based on the best-selling children’s book series from James Patterson, Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life is a surprisingly meaningful kids comedy about surviving those tough preteen years. From director Steve Carr and co-writers Chris Bowman, Hubbel Palmer and Kara Holden, the movie’s solid cast, quick comic timing and moving plot transcend age group to create a memorable story about growing up and becoming who you are. (GEP: 5/5)

Review by Social Media Manager Georgiana E. Presecky

Standout actor Griffin Gluck stars as “Rafe,” the titular middle-schooler who gets through the day by doodling characters in his notebook. When borderline totalitarian “Principal Dwight” (Andy Daly) deems the sketches a distraction that goes against the school’s strict policies, he destroys them and tells Rafe to focus on schoolwork. He watches as his beloved drawings get erased before his very eyes, the characters he’s worked so hard to create, evaporating because of a power-wielding principal who thinks he knows best.

Rafe’s friend “Leo” (Thomas Barbusca) declares he’s tired of having “the fun sucked out of childhood,” and he and Rafe go to work on a planning an all-out war on the school’s rulebook. From silly pranks like filling the trophy case with water to covering the entire hallway in colorful sticky notes, the pair start a “Rules Aren’t For Everyone” movement that gives their fellow classmates the freedom to express themselves and see beyond the limits standardized education can sometimes place on them.

While it has been accused of being agenda-driven, Middle School is about so much more than test scores and stifling children’s potential by focusing on grades instead of learning. These are just a small part of a larger balance – between silly slapstick jokes for the kids (that had a fair share of adults in the theater laughing) and important lessons about self-expression, the catharsis of art and just how difficult facing the school day can be when life at home isn’t what it used to be. Bullies, mean teachers and long days can be hard enough – when no one asks how you’re doing outside of all that, it’s even tougher.

57f73cbb3dd31-imageThe film’s adults are just as good as the kids – Lauren Graham is her wonderful, teary-eyed, hilarious self as Rafe’s mother; Rob Riggle plays her bozo boyfriend in his usual over-the-top but humorous way; Retta is typical laugh-out-loud Retta; Adam Pally is the teacher all of us secretly wish we had in middle school – the hip, stick-it-to-the-man, sarcastic homeroom teacher who recognizes kids’ real potential and understands their point of view.

I loved this movie for an almost embarrassing amount of reasons – mainly because for every wonderful, inspiring, life-changing teacher I’ve had in my life, there was another angry, self-motivated one waiting in the hallway, telling me and my classmates to stick to the script and keep our heads down. While rules of course serve an important purpose and are at the heart of Middle School’s plot, it’s what the audience learns about Rafe and his family life that moved me to tears – the real reason he needed a notebook to get lost in, a reason to give the world his proverbial middle finger. Gluck plays this expertly for an actor so young, and it’s impossible not to grin all the way through his performance.

Kids’ movies today are lacking a certain something that Middle School has. It never talks down to its audience and even gives them a sad, heartwarming twist you wouldn’t expect from its cheesy poster. Take it from a young adult who grew up watching films like The Goonies, Matilda and The Princess Diaries - this film has a sense of adventure, a real meaning, funny jokes and an actual purpose aside from pure entertainment.

Kids don’t need to be talked down to - in movies or in life. They’re a lot smarter than modern scripts sometimes give them credit for. For all the goofs and gags combined in Middle School, there’s even more heart. And who hasn’t imagined getting harmless revenge on their psychotic teacher or self-serving boss? You? You’re lying.

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


Middle Photo: Principal Dwight takes on Rafe and Leo.

Bottom Photo: Griffin Gluck crushes his starring role as Rafe, who has trouble behaving in school because of the rough circumstances he and his family face at home.

Photo Credits: Lionsgate

Q:  Does Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life pass the BechGreenA2016del-Wallace test?

Yes. While a majority of the film focuses on Rafe and Leo's mission to destroy the rulebook, one particularly poignant scene between Rafe's mom "Jules" and his sister "Georgia" is crucial to the film's surprisingly sophisticated and sweet storyline.

Posted in Reviews: K-M | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment


cassiedoesinterviewOpened last Friday (10/7/16) in NYC.

Review coming soon by FF2 Intern Kimi K. Kumar…


Top Photo: Cassie Jaye doing one of her interviews.

Bottom Photo: Cassie learns important statistics from MRA activist Harry Crouch.

Photo Credits: Jaye Bird Productions.

Posted in Bechdel-Wallace List, Reviews: Q-S | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment