Currently Browsing: January 2008

Invitation to Free CARAMEL Screening

Get Your Pass for the 1/15 CARAMEL Screening     If you live in metro Chicago, please come to a FREE screening of CARAMEL @ the Landmark Century Centre Cinema (Clark & Diversey) on Tuesday January 15th @ 6:45 PM.  Passes are limited, so if you would like one, please follow instructions on the pdf file (attached @ […]

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DGA Noms Announced

       The Directors Guild of America just announced its nominees for 2008 & surprise, surprise, women directors are completely shut out yet again 🙁        So who’s missing?  Here are the names I would add if I ruled the world: Kasi Lemmons: TALK TO ME Mira Nair: THE NAMESAKE Julie Taymor: ACROSS THE […]

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YES

She (Allen) is wealthy, successful, & married. He (Abkarian) is a refugee with limited economic or social resources. Magnetic energy pulls them together until mundane realities force them apart. Can they find their way back from “No” to “Yes”? Poetic and beautifully filmed, with a wonderful soundtrack & mesmerizing acting. More on YES.

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YENTL

Love her or hate her, it’s time to acknowledge Barbra Streisand’s YENTL as a triumph of personal film-making. Why doesn’t Mandy Patinkin sing? Because all the songs are soliloquies – a passionate inner voice yearning for self-expression. Message to Barbra: The Academy gave even less to Hitchcock’s VERTIGO, but history speaks. More on YENTL.

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THE WOODSMAN

After 12 years in prison, a sex offender faces the challenge of rebuilding his life under the harsh scrutiny of family members, co-workers, & policemen. Bacon does an extraordinary job (wounded, sad, & afraid of his own shadow), while Kassel’s camera disturbingly captures how vulnerable children are to adult predators. More on THE WOODSMAN.

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WIT

A woman (Thompson) who has devoted her entire life to scholarship & academic excellence finds she has become “the text” rather than the teacher when she agrees to participate in an aggressive chemotherapy research protocol. A gripping & compelling tour of the healthcare system from the patient’s point of view. More on WIT.

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WILBUR WANTS TO KILL HIMSELF

Wilbur’s a Glaswegean Peter Pan haunted by his mother’s early death. Rather than face illness, aging & new losses, he keeps staging suicide attempts which never quite succeed. Then fate calls his bluff & the brother who’s always been his anchor needs his help. Can Wilbur grow up in time? More on WILBUR WANTS TO […]

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WHAT’S COOKING?

Four matriarchs (African-American, Jewish, Latina, & Vietnamese) roll up their sleeves to prepare Thanksgiving dinners for their separate clans. Your mouth waters as you mentally savor the multiple ethnic juices. Then the guests assemble & the psychodramas begin. All of the actresses are excellent & each ensemble rings true. More on WHAT’S COOKING?.

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Film Review: THE WHALE RIDER

Pai is the daughter of a long line of Maori chiefs, but although he loves her & knows she’s gifted, Pai’s grandfather won’t train her in tribal ways because she’s a girl. Film beautifully depicts New Zealand village life, but it’s less successful at capturing the story’s essentially spiritual dimension. More on THE WHALE RIDER.

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WATER

Hooray for Deepa Mehta: Water was nominated for an Oscar today in the Best Foreign Language Film category 🙂 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! For original review on the Digital Filmmaker website… Or click here to print review as a pdf: WATER Review 1938: Child marriage is still legal in India & Gandhi is creating the first ripples of […]

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Film Review: WALKING AND TALKING

Low budget indie version of HBO’s SEX & THE CITY. A single woman wanders around Manhattan sorting through her emotions after her “best friend since high school” announces her wedding plans. Catherine Keener, Oscar nominated for BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, plays the lead. Ann Heche is the bride-to-be. More on WALKING AND TALKING.

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Film Review: A WALK ON THE MOON

Set against the backdrop of “one small step for man,” this is the story of a woman who married young, then discovers hidden aspirations through an affair with a 60’s flower child, eventually finding her way back to her old life on new terms. The cast members are all highly effective.  More on A WALK […]

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Oscar Noms for AWAY FROM HER?

The Hollywood Foreign Press Assoc (the people behind the Golden Globes), the National Society of Film Critics, & multitudinous others have made Julie Christie a front runner for this year’s Best Actress Oscar, so I just gave the film a second look. Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve always loved Julie Christie & I think she’s wonderful […]

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THE BAND’S VISIT Rant

      I just came from my 2nd screening of THE BAND’S VISIT, winner of the Israel Film Academy’s 2007 Ophir Award for Best Feature Film.  The first time I saw it, I enjoyed it well enough, but it left a sour taste in my mouth & now I know why.  SPOILER ALERT: Why does Dina sleep […]

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BLACK BOOK Rant

      The first time I saw BLACK BOOK, I was at a critics screening, so I saw it way before anyone else I knew (except selected Chicago colleagues, of course).  I absolutely LOATHED this film, & I assumed others (especially women) would too.  So imagine my amazement when various friends (several schvesters among them) told me they […]

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WAITRESS

Charming fairy tale about an abused woman (Keri Russell) struggling to find the inner courage to build a new life for herself. Told completely from Jenna’s POV, none of the male characters amount to much but the camaraderie between working women on the job (one of whom is played by writer/director Adrienne Shelly) is beautifully […]

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Film Review: THE VIRGIN SUICIDES

PRIDE & PREJUDICE twisted inside out. Five sisters with a manipulative mother & a distracted father enter adolescence under neighborhood scrutiny. The pressure proves too great, & the five girls kill themselves. Their story is told by the neighborhood boys, who become obsessed with their failure to prevent the tragedy. More on THE VIRGIN SUICIDES.

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Film Review: VIRGIN

Like THE SCARLET LETTER, this film depicts a conservative community dealing with an illegitimate pregnancy. Here, however, the condition is the result of drug-induced date rape & the expectant mother, who has no memory of the incident, sincerely believes hers is another child of God. Moss’s perfect performance anchors everything. More on VIRGIN.

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Film Review: VANITY FAIR

Becky Sharp (Witherspoon) is a plucky young woman scheming for her place in English society during the Napoleonic Wars. But unlike more refined adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels, the Empire (especially India) is a colorful counterpart to the goings-on, giving a modern edge to infighting over money & class distinctions. More on VANITY FAIR.

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Film Review: UNDER THE TUSCAN SUN

Unabashedly life-affirming film about a woman taking a second chance after facing crushing disappointments – the female empowerment version of “If you build it, they will come.” Lane grows luminous as she escapes her San Francisco depression by piecing together the elements of her new life as an Italian earth mother. More on UNDER THE […]

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Film Review: TULLY

Preposterous plot (involving mysterious hospital bills) weighs down a number of excellent performances in this coming-of-age drama set on a small Nebraska family farm. Burrus is particularly moving as “Tully Senior,” a quiet man who hides his deep emotions under rigidly fixed habits. The sun shines when he finally smiles. More on TULLY.

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Film Review: THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT

August, 1984: Deborah Sykes goes missing. Winston-Salem police zero in on a black man, Darryl Hunt, who is quickly arrested, convicted, & imprisoned for life. It takes 20 years for North Carolina authorities to exonerate & release him. Compelling story, but the telling is too linear, literal & plodding. More on THE TRIALS OF DARRYL […]

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Film Review: A THOUSAND ACRES

Adaptation based on Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning meditation on KING LEAR. This searing film rages against residents of an Iowa town for averting their eyes while a power-mad tyrant (Robards) abused his daughters. Pfeiffer’s ferocious as the middle daughter. Cast totally against type, it’s the best performance of her career. More on A THOUSAND ACRES.

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THIS IS MY LIFE

Probably sensing that this was her one shot as a lead, Julie Kavner (beloved for her TV roles as “Brenda Morgenstern” & “Marge Simpson”) hits a homerun in this dramedy about a divorced mother of two who wants to be a stand-up comedienne. Samantha Mathis also shines as her teenage daughter. Writer/Director Nora Ephron makes […]

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Film Review: THIRTEEN

Two out-of-control L.A. teens drink & shoplift, then experiment with drugs & sex, while their bewildered parents/guardians, obsessed with problems of their own & watching from the outside, try to figure out what’s “normal” for today’s adolescents. Hunter’s particularly impressive & both girls are strong, but Jan wanted more backstory. More on THIRTEEN.

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Film Review: THINGS BEHIND THE SUN

A 12 year old girl is brutally gang-raped. Years pass & her life is controlled by Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She has flashbacks she can’t put into context, & keeps finding herself standing drunk in front of a house she can’t identify. A sincere & moving depiction of an important story. More on THINGS BEHIND […]

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Film Review: THELMA & LOUISE

Split decision: While “Highly Recommended” by both of us, we each see this film differently. Jan sees an exhilarating feminist classic celebrating the ebullient chemistry between Davis & Sarandon. Rich sees two abused women in an alcoholic haze spiraling out of control. Diagnostic incident: when the truck explodes. You decide! More on THELMA & LOUISE.

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Film Review: THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD

First Broadcast date = 3/6/05 on ABC-TV. Jan enjoyed the ABC broadcast even with all the commercials, but Rich got frustrated & gave up, so he advises you to wait for the DVD. Beautifully acted version of Zora Neal Hurston’s classic novel. More on THEIR EYES WERE WATCHING GOD.

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Film Review: THE TAO OF STEVE

Dex was one of the “cool guys” in college, but 10 years have passed & he’s still trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up. He’s reintroduced to Syd at the reunion; he barely remembers her, but she sure remembers him. Charming, low-key romantic comedy. More on THE TAO OF […]

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Film Review: TALK TO ME

Biopic stars Cheadle as “Petey” Greene, a radio DJ who became the voice of Black Washington after the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. Terrific story, fabulous performances; captures both the man & his times in high-energy mix of comedy & tragedy. Oscar noms NOW for Cheadle, Henson & Lemmons. More on TALK TO ME.

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