Currently Browsing: 2011

Mazel Tov, Schvesters!

This week the Library of Congress added 25 new films to the National Film Registry including two classics by Jewish women filmmakers: Hester Street (written & directed by Joan Micklin Silver) and Norma Rae (directed by Martin Ritt & co-written by Harriet Frank J. with her husband/long-time writing partner Irving Ravetch). According to the LA […]

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We Bought a Zoo

Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo is the story of a widower with two young children who decides to uproot his family and do something completely different. This is another Aline Brosh McKenna screenplay (written this time in collaboration with director Cameron Crowe) and I liked it a lot. Full review coming soon. […]

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Penny’s Picks Published!

Last summer, way back when, I told you I was “road testing” a collection of reviews at Chicago’s Printer Row Lit Fest… Well, it’s finally here & you can order a copy from Amazon today! I know everyone tells you ePublishing is really easy, but of course it’s not. So huge thanks to FF2 interns Alma Garcia & […]

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Kudos, Michael Sims!

All week I’ve been embroiled in nasty fights about my awards posts (comparing winners of the Chicago Film Critics Association awards to winners of the Women Film Critics Circle awards). Some of the guys are now furious with me & flaming me & getting bent out of shape because I’ve implied that they are intentionally […]

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WFCC 2011

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s 2011 achievement awards from the Women Film Critics Circle — of which I am a proud member! Unless otherwise noted, the award goes to the director on behalf of the entire cast & crew. BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN [TIE]: The Iron Lady (Phyllida Lloyd)/We Need To Talk […]

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CFCA 2011

UPDATE: CFCA Award Winners for 2011 BEST PICTURE: The Tree of Life BEST DIRECTOR: Terrence Malick–The Tree of Life BEST ACTOR: Michael Shannon–Take Shelter BEST ACTRESS: Michelle Williams–My Week with Marilyn BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR: Albert Brooks–Drive BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jessica Chastain–The Tree of Life BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY: Michel Hazanavicius–The Artist BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY: Steve Zaillian […]

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Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy

The devil is in the details, or in this case not… Reduced to 120 minutes, John Le Carre’s great Cold War novel has been boiled down to bare incidents with little emotional pull. Huge cast of great British actors of the Boomer generation give innumberable curt speeches that fail to illuminate either the plot or […]

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Another Earth

My Bad! Yesterday I was filled with despair about the lack of women candidates for the 2012 Spirit Awards, but I just watched Another Earth (co-written by Brit Marling–the only woman to receive a nomination yesterday), & I loved it! What took me so long? Well, Another Earth was marketed as a SciFi film (which […]

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2012 Spirit Noms

Candidates for the 2012 Independent Spirit Awards were announced this AM & I’m still stunned. In the Best Director category: No women directors. In the Best Feature category: No films with women in lead roles. In the Best Screenplay category: No women screenwriters. In the Best International Film category: No women filmmakers. And the Robert Altman honoree (Best Cast): […]

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12/10: Anita Hill!

 On December 10, 2011, Celebrate Illinois’ 5th Annual Jane Addams Day with Special Guest Professor Anita Hill!   Date: Saturday, 12/10/11 Time: 10 AM–Noon Location: The Chicago Temple @ 77 West Washington This program is FREE & open to the Public! Program planned in collaboration with AAUW-IL, Inc (the Illinois Division of the American Association […]

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AAUW-IL Wecomes Ibtisam

AAUW-Illinois members welcome Palestinian filmmaker Ibtisam Mara’ana, who drove all the way out to Oregon, IL (just south of Rockford) to screen her film Paradise Lost at Fall Conference. A lively Q&A after the screening ranged from the intensely personal to the provocatively political, with all 46 particpants eagerly engaged until moderator Erika Nicketakis finally called it a […]

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Saturday in the Park with Jane

To: Julia Bachrach Department of Planning & Development Chicago Park District Dear Julia, Thank you again for inviting me to the ReDedication Ceremony for the “Helping Hands” sculptures created in my honor by Louise Bourgeois. I think CPD has done a lovely job of adorning the space next to Clark House to maximize the significance of Ms. […]

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I DON’T KNOW… Review

Summary: Sarah Jessica Parker plays “Kate Reddy,” a bundle of nervous energy who is burning her candle at both ends and threatening to flame out. At home, Kate has a husband and two kids plus a nanny, a mother-in-law, and a row of empty little bags she must fill with birthday goodies. It’s a mostly […]

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I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT

Sarah Jessica Parker plays “Kate Reddy,” a bundle of nervous energy who is burning her candle at both ends and threatening to flame out. At home, Kate has a husband and two kids plus a nanny, a mother-in-law, and a row of empty little bags she must fill with birthday goodies. It’s a mostly female […]

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Rededicating Bourgeois Sculptures!!!

In 11/07, as I was in the final stages of prep for the very first Jane Addams Day in Illinois, Mary Jane Jacob told me about the Louise Bourgeois sculptures buried in storage & unseen by anyone in years. And I wrote: “So here’s one definite goal for the next Jane Addams Day in 2008: […]

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Happy Birthday, Melissa!

From my ’08 Chat with Melissa Leo about Frozen River, the film that moved her from the fringe to Hollywood’s “A List“: “Women form alliances throughout time in odd and various ways. I’m thinking of people like Queen Elizabeth and her Ladies-in-Waiting. Who was really running that country? Was it Elizabeth and the men in the […]

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SOS for THE WHISTLEBLOWER

An excellent film on an extremely important subject is going down & deperately needs YOUR help at the Box Office.  Please consult this list & if The Whistleblower is playing anywhere near you, please, please try to see it this weekend!  Click HERE to read our interview with director Larysa Kondracki on FF2.  This is our […]

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HIGHER GROUND

Sincere adaptation of memoir by Carolyn Briggs, Higher Ground is directed by & stars Vera Farmiga.  “Corrine” (played as a teen by Farmiga’s sister Taissa) marries her rock musican boyfriend, but disappointment eventually drives them to seek consolation in religion.  Longer review coming after I see this a 2nd time with RB.

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ONE DAY

“Oh, your daddy’s rich and your mamma’s good looking, so hush little baby don’t you cry.” Lone Scherfig’s new film One Day begins with a wordless prologue dated 2006: actress Anne Hathaway swims laps in a very blue pool and steers her bicycle through the backstreets of London while traffic noises provide modern counterpoint to […]

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THE HELP: Rant Two

Although based on a novel by Kathryn Stockett, the screen version of The Help was written & directed by Tate Taylor, so it doesn’t fall into the “women filmmaker” category (which requires a woman either directing &/or writing the screenplay). So it’s not in Penny’s niche, & she’s not obligated to write a review of […]

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THE HELP: Rant One

Although based on a novel by Kathryn Stockett, the screen version of The Help was written & directed by Tate Taylor, so it doesn’t fall into the “women filmmaker” category (which requires a woman either directing &/or writing the screenplay).  So it’s not in Penny’s niche, & she’s not obligated to write a review of it […]

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THE WHISTLEBLOWER Review

1/24/12 Update: The Whistleblower just received four “Genie Award” nominations (the Canadian Oscar) & is now available on DVD! See this terrific film ASAP! Here’s our FF2 Haiku: Kathryn Bolkovac is a cop in Lincoln, NE with some personal problems so her boss suggests a stint as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia: “You”ll earn 100K in […]

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RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES

12/20/11 UPDATE: Rise of the Planet of the Apes is now available on DVD. I recommend it highly, & when the time came for me to submit nominations to my two critics groups (the Chicago Film Critics Assoc & the Women Film Critics Circle), I nominated Andy Serkis both times for “Best Actor” honors 🙂   In the interim, […]

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SWAN-Filled Vacation!

I’m back from my terrific vacation & guess what: way far away on the remote Shetland Islands (midway between Scotland & Norway in the middle of the North Sea & home of the famous “Shetland Ponies“), I found Shetland Jewellery.  And guess what: their logo is a swan!!! Here I am (below) with Master Jeweler Marina–who […]

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THE NAMES OF LOVE

The Names of Love is a delightful French riff on Annie Hall in which the son of a Jewish Holocaust survivor (Jacques Gamblin) falls hard for the daughter of a refugee from Algeria (Sara Forestier). Very sexy (very French!), with wacky humor that is ultimately serious in intent. Since Annie Hall is still Woody Allen’s Best of […]

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TWIN SISTERS

Twin Sisters, a lush epic drama from the Netherlands, charts 20th Century cataclysms through the eyes of two girls separated in early childhood. After their parents’ death, robust young “Anna” (Nadja Uhl) is placed with rural relatives in Germany, while sickly “Lotte” (Thekla Reuten) is given over to urban relatives in Holland.  Anna is cruely used; forced to […]

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BRIDE FLIGHT

Lush historical epic begins in 1953 when four Dutch strangers meet on an airplane bound for New Zealand. Screenwriter Marieke van der Pol did her homework, interviewing people who actually took this flight (nicknamed “the Bride Flight”) filled with women promised to men who had recently emigrated from war-ravaged Holland.  She plays with multiple time periods, giving each […]

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LARRY CROWNE Review

“Larry Crowne” (Tom Hanks) is a really good guy.  Content in the knowledge that he’s done everything he’s supposed to do, Larry wears an upbeat, can-do smile on his face.  Surely, he’s earned a piece of the American Dream. But in the opening moments of Larry Crowne, this solid citizen’s world falls to ruin.  He’s abruptly fired from his job […]

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PRLF ’11 Pix

Had a table once again under the IWPA canopy at the Printers Row Lit Fest.  This year I sold SWAN Day buttons, magnets, & totebags & I even had a “proto-book” (review copies of a real book I will release later this summer through CreateSpace). Huge thanks to Alma Garcia and Julia Kulovitz for helping out (as well as […]

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HWC #5 Pix

My Bad: Got a new camera months ago, but I’m only just now posting photos from Women’s History Month.  All credit goes to my neighbor & computer wizard Dan Flavin without whom these would all be lost forever. So anyway, here I am at Harold Washington College in the Chicago Loop giving my 5th annual […]

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