Currently Browsing: 2014

2014: Penny’s Top Picks

Best Feature Film of 2014: Selma Runner Up: Birdman Best Director of 2014: Ava DuVernay (Selma) Runner Up: Alejandro González Iñárritu (Birdman) Best Documentary of 2014: Gringo Trails Runner Up: Life Itself Best Foreign Language Film of 2014: Aftermath Runner Up: Winter Sleep Best Actress of 2014: Amy Adams (Big Eyes) Runner up: Angelina Jolie (Maleficent) Best […]

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BIG EYES (2014): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

1958. You are living in a tract house in a northern California suburb. Your husband is at work. With a sudden burst of energy, you pack a few bags, hustle your daughter into the car, and drive as far and as fast as you can. You are a painter with decades of training in your […]

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BIG EYES: The Pushback

It started in the NYWIFT Q&A I attended on December 14th… One of the members of the audience stood up and told screenwriters Scott Alexander & Larry Karaszewski that they had been unfair to Walter: “You did hours of interviews with Margaret, but you didn’t have an opportunity to interview Walter. Don’t you think you have […]

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SELMA

Superlative film captures the essence of the three marches lead by Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama which lead to the passage of the 1965 Voting Rights Act. (JLH: 4.5/5) Directed by Ava DuVernay based on an original screenplay by Paul Webb. Click HERE for our FF2 Haiku. Highly Recommended by both me & […]

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UNBROKEN

Opens today in NYC in limited release. Review coming soon.

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ANNIE (2014)

Latest update of cartoon heroine from the Great Depression finds the irrepressible tween warming the heart a Telecom zillionaire (Jamie Foxx) and teaching life lessons to a depressed foster mother (Cameron Diaz) & a repressed workaholic (Rose Byrne). Not bad, but not good either. The worst problem is that no one in the cast can really […]

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A SMALL SECTION OF THE WORLD

Review of A Small Section of the World by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Set in a poor, green mountain region of Costa Rica during the economic downturn of the 1990s, Lesley Chilcott’s documentary follows of a group of coffee manufactures and their journey of entrepreneurial success. With the men of their families off looking for work, […]

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THE HOBBIT: FIVE ARMIES

FULL TITLE = The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

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BILLY BATES

Review of Billy Bates by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky A tortured artist makes for a tortured audience in Jennifer DeLia’s psychological drama Billy Bates. The film explores the world of the titular character “Billy Bates” (James Wirt) and his destructive ways of creating artwork. Dealing with parental issues and inner demons, 33-year-old Billy finds […]

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THE COLOR OF TIME

Review of The Color of Time by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky James Franco and 11 of his NYU graduate students attempt to bring C.K. Williams’ poetry to life in The Color of Time. With a stellar cast including Mila Kunis, Zach Braff, and Jessica Chastain, the film sacrifices narrative structure for the sake of […]

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DO YOU KNOW WHAT MY NAME IS?

Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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FREE THE NIPPLE

Review of Free the Nipple by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Actress and first-time director Lina Esco tackles women’s rights in her new, appropriately titled film Free the Nipple. At only 79 minutes long, the well-intentioned flick is drawn-out, predictable, and uninspiring. Esco’s political statement begins when her character “With,” interviews feminist activist “Liv” (Lola […]

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ISN’T IT DELICIOUS?

Written and directed by Michael Patrick Kelly and co-written by Kathleen Kiley, Isn’t It Delicious brings us the comically dysfunctional Weldons as they are forced to confront their familial baggage when their mother, “Joan” (Kathleen Chalfant), is diagnosed with lung cancer. Father “Bill” (Keir Dullea), the more-liked parent and the martyr after Joan’s past affair, […]

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DELUSIONS OF GUINEVERE

Ariana Bernstein stars as “Guin,” a former child star now grown into a pump & narcissistic adult who still hopes to be a successful actress even though she has neither good looks nor great talent. Desperation drives Guin inevitably to reality TV, where she & the film dangle inconclusively until the final credits mercifully begin […]

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THE FOXY MERKINS

Directed by Madeleine Olnek and co-written by its stars Lisa Haas and Jackie Monahan, The Foxy Merkins brings us the friendship of “Margaret” (Lisa Haas) and “Jo” (Jackie Monahan), a pair of lesbian sex workers who cater to East Village housewives. The comedy often writes itself in the strange situations that come from this premise. […]

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LIFE PARTNERS

Review of Life Partners by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Susanna Fogel and co-writer Joni Lefkowitz tell the story of two best friends dealing with growing up and growing apart in the new film Life Partners. With their Felix/Oscar relationship going strong for years, Type-A “Paige” (Gillian Jacobs) and hipster lesbian “Sasha” (Leighton Meester) find […]

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MISS JULIE (2014)

Jessica Chastain plays “Miss Julie,” a highborn lady of the Anglo-Irish gentry on a downward trajectory. Colin Farrell plays “Jean,” a lowly manservant reaching up for the stars. He is charming; she is unhinged. Liv Ullmann is one of the great actresses of her era, but has never found her footing as a director. So why […]

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MURDER OF A CAT

Review of Murder of a Cat by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Gillian Greene’s bizarre, unfunny Murder of a Cat has a pretty straightforward plot: the murder of a cat. In an attempt to be a spoof on who-dun-its with a splash of 90s sitcom nostalgia, the wacky plot fails completely and wastes significant talent […]

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SHE’S BEAUTIFUL WHEN SHE’S ANGRY

Review of She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Mary Dore’s timely documentary feels like a textbook come to life, following the story of the Women’s Rights Movement from its conception to today’s ongoing battle. Filled with an abundance of video clips, pictures and engaging interviews, She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry […]

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TAKE CARE

Review of Take Care by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Writer Liz Tuccillo’s new comedy starring Leslie Bibb and Thomas Sadoski tells a story about letting go or holding on to past loves. What had the potential to be a home-run romantic comedy ultimately ended up feeling lackluster and uninspired. A love/hate dependency theme is ever-present in […]

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ZERO MOTIVATION (2014): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Two young women are assigned to the HR Dept at a remote military outpost. Yes, they are soldiers in the mighty Israeli army, but they spend most of their time pushing paper and playing computer games. Hilarious consequences ensue… By the time Zohar (Dana Ivgy) & Daffi (Nelly Tagar)—armed with staple guns—had their final shoot-out, I was laughing […]

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THE BABADOOK

“Amelia” (Essie Davis) comes undone in this excellent Australian drama about a young widow locked in a deteriorating co-dependency with her young son “Samuel” (Noah Wiseman). Is The Babadook a psychological thriller or a horror flick? I choose to think shrink because writer/director Jennifer Kent carefully sets the timeframe before events get nuts… But see The […]

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REMOTE AREA MEDICAL

For one weekend, the NASCAR speedway in Bristol, Tennessee is transformed into a hub of pop up medical care… and boy do local people need it! Prospective patients start arriving days in advance–camping out in their cars–so they can be sure of getting a precious admission ticket. Heart-breaking & inspiring, & probably relevant to almost […]

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THE RULE

Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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A GIRL WALKS HOME…

Full Title = A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night Weird and exhilarating vampire film set in a mythical Iranian nightscape called “Bad City” (although it was actually filmed outside LA). “The Girl” (Sheila Vand) prowls the dark streets of Bad City covered by her black chador, preying on low life scum. Then she meets “Arash” […]

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BAD HAIR

Writer/Director Mariana Rondón’s coming-of-age film Pelo Malo (also known as Bad Hair) is a Venezuelan tale about a boy in search of his identity. Originally screened in the at the 2013 Toronto International Film Festival, the film tackling homophobia, racism and poverty is worth the watch. (BKP: 4/5) Review by Managing Editor Brigid K. Presecky Set […]

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FOOD CHAINS

Opens tomorrow in NYC. Review coming soon.

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STONES IN THE SUN

Opens tomorrow in NYC. Review coming soon.

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THE SLEEPWALKER

Review of The Sleepwalker by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Mona Fastvold’s thriller The Sleepwalker tells the ominous story of two-half sisters and the eerie unfolding of their family secrets. The dreary indie film begins with “Kaia” (Gitte Witt) and her boyfriend “Andrew” (Christopher Abbott) living in an inherited estate centered in the woodlands of […]

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ALWAYS WOODSTOCK

Guilty Pleasure about a girl who gives up the “cool life” in Manhattan & returns to her rural roots so she can be a singer/songwriter in the tradition of gals from the last generation like Joni Mitchell (represented here by the Katey Sagal character “Lee Ann”). Allison Miller is fine as “Catherine,” but the star […]

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