Currently Browsing: Jan Lisa Huttner

MEET ME IN MONTENEGRO

Meet Me in Montenegro tells the story of two ex-lovers who are both down on their luck. By chance the two reunite in Berlin and lean on each other for support as their careers weather many ups and downs. A love story cleverly told, by filmmakers Linnea Saasen and Alex Holdridge, one of forgotten romance […]

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STRANGERLAND

Strangerland, a high-profile new release from Australia, promises more than it can deliver. Excellent performances from Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugo Weaving are undone by a weak screenplay–by Michael Kinirons and Fiona Seres–which totally collapses in the third act. Director Kim Farrant shows great promise, but she needs to keep a tighter reign on her screenwriters in future. (JLH: 3/5) ************************* […]

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STRAY DOG

Debra Granik made the great film Winter’s Bone a few years back, so I was eager to see her follow-up. Alas, Stray Dog is so dull I could barely stay awake. While Ron Hall seems to have lived a paradigmatic Middle American life, Granik’s “fly on the wall” approach fails to illuminate any of it. […]

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AN OPEN SECRET

Writer/Director Amy Berg unveils the harsh realities of the sexual predators that circle around young Hollywood. By documenting first-hand accounts from sexual-abuse survivors, Berg exposes the deep, dark abyss of fame taking hold of innocence. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky On February 5, 1983, NBC aired a “Very Special Episode,” of […]

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JACKIE & RYAN

Writer/director Ami Canaan Mann tells a sweet love story between a modern-day train hopper and a struggling single mother, brought together by their mutual love of music. Although the light romance drama has engaging moments, it feels like a familiar hybrid of Nicholas Sparks films and ABC primetime soap operas. (BKP: 4/5) Review by Associate […]

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TERMINATOR GENISYS

Ever wish you could go back in time and punch your past self in the face? Arnold Schwarzenegger gets to do just that in Terminator Genisys, a surprisingly entertaining continuation of the James Cameron classics. In a sea of reboots and sequels, screenwriters Laeta Kalogridis and Patrick Lussier manage to capture the essence of the […]

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Hooray for GLAMOUR (6/15)

Peek Inside the June ’15 Issue of Glamour Magazine Page 36: Interview with actress Judy Greer “Why should a man make more than me?” Page 38: Sidebar “Pop Quiz = Who Earned More?” Page 130: Chat with filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom Page 160: Cover Story on Anna Kendrick Glamour: The discussion about gender bias in […]

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A LITTLE CHAOS

Twenty years after the release of Sense and Sensibility, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet reunite onscreen in a period drama set in 17th Century Versailles. Rickman, with co-writers Alison Deegan and Jeremy Brock, create their own historical fiction by telling the story of King Louis XIV and his two landscape architects – the real André […]

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ADVANTAGEOUS

Co-written by Jennifer Phang and Jacqueline Kim, Advantageous is set in a futuristic society where women have lost footing in the workforce. A single mother, “Gwen” (Jacqueline Kim) struggles to provide for her daughter. Left with no other options, she must undergo a procedure to keep her job, a procedure that transports her consciousness into […]

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FELT

Amy Everson co-writes and stars in an unsettling drama about a young artist who is traumatized by sexual assault. Director Jason Banker bends genres with this drawn-out, bizarre take on revenge, feminism and psychological unraveling. (BKP: 3/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky Felt opens with a monologue, the film’s one and only voiceover. […]

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RUNOFF

Writer-director Kimberly Levin perfectly captures the desperation of a family trying to keep their heads above water as agricultural conglomerates wipe out local farming. The detailed plot and layered relationships, enhanced by strong performances and vivid imagery, leaves you frustrated … in the best way possible. (BKP: 4.5/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky […]

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WHAT HAPPENED, MISS SIMONE?

Nina Simone was an immeasurable talent, more than just a classically trained pianist with a powerful voice. Simone’s contribution to the world of music was substantial, as captured by this documentary. What Happened, Miss Simone, directed by Liz Garbus, paints the full picture of Miss Simone’s career, the talent, and the struggles of a brilliant […]

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THE YES MEN ARE REVOLTING

Director Laura Nix, with director-stars Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, document the comedic, tiresome journey of their fight for climate change. Known for their pranks and impersonations, Bichlbaum and Bonanno take an enjoyably different and rebellious approach to protesting. (BKP: 4/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky The film opens with a protest against […]

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BATKID BEGINS

Batkid Begins directed by Dana Nachman is a touching and uplifting documentary about the day a city came together to make a young cancer patient’s dream to be Batman come true. Kudos to wonderful people from Make-a-Wish Foundation for making this day–and so many like it–possible. (JEP 4.5/5) Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry  This incredible […]

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EDEN

A young man fascinated by the underground music scene in Paris, forms a DJ duo group called Cheers. The film spans about 20 years of music, drugs, and sex, portraying all the ups and downs of the life of a struggling artist. (JEP 3.5/5) Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry  This music centric foreign […]

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HIPPOCRATES

Full Title = Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor Two Interns–one a fresh faced newby and the other an Algerian immigrant–test the limits of patient care from inside the hierarchy of a beleagured French public hospital. Terrific performances by Vincent Lacoste and Reda Kateb. Excellent, low-key direction by Thomas Lilti who collaborated with a screenwriting team consisting of Pierre […]

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INFINITELY POLAR BEAR

1978: A mother with two young daughters copes as best she can with decisions made in more innocent times. Her husband is suffering from BiPolar Disorder, and “living on love” is no longer an option… First-time filmmaker Maya Forbes has written and directed a beautiful tribute to her extraordinary parents who–despite it all–managed to steer both her […]

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INSIDE OUT

There is a common theme that binds all of Pixar’s finest hours together: letting go. Woody waves goodbye to Andy. Marlin watches Nemo swim away. Ellie thanks Carl for the adventure. The long-awaited Inside Out is no different, telling a beautiful and insightful story about life’s curveballs and letting go of childhood. The film exudes […]

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HRWFF ’15

I saw four films in this year’s Human Rights Watch Film Festival…

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JURASSIC WORLD

Chris Pratt leads an allegorical, action-packed continuation of the Jurassic Park franchise, set 20 years after the events of the original film. Despite a satisfactory script and heavy reliance on CGI, the entertaining Jurassic World takes you on a perilous journey, back to the infamous park that has terrorized audiences for two decades. (BKP: 4/5) […]

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MADAME BOVARY (2014)

Stultifying. That’s the only word to describe this latest adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic about a woman suffering from “ennui” in 19th Century France. Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary drowns in molasses, bringing the whole cast down with her. Written and directed by Sophie Barthes with co-writer Felipe Marino, credited under the name “Rose Barreneche.” (JLH: 2/5) Review by Managing […]

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REDEEMER

In an era of entertainment saturated with superheroes, Redeemer tells a familiar tale about a vigilante whose dark past leads him down the path of justice. The low-budget action film quickly becomes repetitive, relying too heavily on gruesome martial-arts-type fight sequences. (BKP: 3.5/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky The hooded hero, known around South […]

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VENDETTA

Vendetta follows “Mason Danvers” (Dean Cain) a cop who goes on a killing rampage of revenge after his wife is brutally murdered by a criminal that he put away. What can I say? The film was a mess of terrible acting, predictable plot, and disjointed cinematography. (JEP 1.5/5) Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry Directed by […]

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THE WOLFPACK

First-time filmmaker Crystal Moselle documents the unsettling and fascinating story of seven siblings who were essentially imprisoned in their Lower East Side apartment for more than 15 years. Although the Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize winner is interesting and heartbreaking, the cryptic situation leaves many questions unanswered. (BKP: 4/5) Review by Associate Editor Brigid […]

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Hooray for FUN HOME

To Alison Bechdel: “Your swagger and your bearing and the just right clothes you’re wearing… We know you!“ Today’s Aphorism is “Never make the perfect the enemy of the good.” Or in words attributed to Confucius: “Better a diamond with a flaw than a pebble without.” When I wrote my rant about the Fun Home […]

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MEANT TO BE BROKEN

SUNDAY 6/7/15 UPDATE: I was hoping for a miracle tonight. I was hoping that when the moment came to name 2015’s Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical, the Tony Award would go to “Alison” and three names will be announced rather than one: Sydney Lucas as “Pennsylvania Alison” (~ […]

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TESTAMENT OF YOUTH

Testament of Youth, based on a memoir of the same name, follows a strong young woman bound for Oxford, who abandons her studies to become a nurse in the First World War. The story is one of love and loss, and Alicia Vikander is absolutely stunning as “Vera Brittain.” Directed by James Kent. Screenplay by Juliette Towhidi. […]

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GEMMA BOVERY

A middle-aged French baker believes his new English neighbor is a literary archetype come to life, and falls head over heels in love with his own fantasy. What looks to be a period comedy slowly reveals itself as an erudite and insightful modern tragedy. Gemma Bovery is a “Personal Best” for French director Anne Fontaine. The screenplay–which Fontaine co-wrote with […]

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I BELIEVE IN UNICORNS

I Believe in Unicorns follows a young girl named “Davina” (Natalia Dyer) who gets into her first relationship with slightly older bad boy named “Sterling” (Peter Vack). This is a story about first loves and heartbreak, and filmmaker Leah Meyerhoff invites the audience in to witness young love unravel, as something that was once great […]

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UNCERTAIN TERMS

The tension-filled drama, centering on a home for pregnant teenagers, spends more time focusing on the marital woes of their 30-year-old handyman. Director Nathan Silver makes the story feel intimate – sometimes eerie – and beautifully brings the screenplay by Chloe Domont and Cody Stokes to life. But despite the setting and mood, there are […]

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