Currently Browsing: Bechdel-Wallace List

THE TO DO LIST

7/30/13 Update: Listen to great interview with writer/director Maggie Carey on NPR! Kudos to writer/director Maggie Carey for creating a terrific first feature about a very brainy high school valedictorian (Aubrey Plaza) who wants to lose her virginity before heading off to college. With great respect for 3 interlocking circles (home, work & time with BFFs), there […]

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FIRST COMES LOVE

NOTE: First Comes Love is in limited theatrical release in NYC & LA, but also playing this month on HBO & TIVO. Click here for where/when info. When her mother suddenly dies, documentary filmmaker Nina Davenport decides, at age 41, to follow her heart, convincing her closest gay buddy (Eric) to be her sperm donor & […]

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BLACKFISH

Ostensible subject is the capture of an Orca calf at age 3 & how SeaWorld failed to warn staff that as an adult he had a history of attacking humans, but Cowperthwaite is after more. By the end, Tilikum is almost shouting “I am Spartacus.” New chapter in the age old story of people with […]

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GIRL MOST LIKELY

Kristen Wiig stars as a sophisticated NYC woman who seems to have it all until her life literally crumbles into beach sand. Screenplay by Michelle Morgan starts with promise but then dumbs down after a false suicide attempt meant to engage the sympathies of her errant boyfriend becomes the excuse for authorities to return her […]

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THE HOT FLASHES

Director Susan Seidelman creates a crowd-pleaser anchored by Brooke Shields as a woman who gathers her gal pals together to raise money for a mobile mammography van. “Beth” saves herself by doing good for her community, & even someone as dumb about basketball as I am can still feel the excitement of the win.  (JLH: 3.5/5) […]

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JUST LIKE A WOMAN

In his American feature film debut, award-winning French director Rachid Bouchareb (plus screenwriters Marion Doussot & Joelle Touma) riffs THELMA & LOUISE, but how times have changed! Chicago-born “Marilyn” (Sienna Miller) married for love, but now her husband is unemployed & acting out. Meanwhile Egyptian-born “Mona” (Golshifteh Farahani) is in an arranged marriage, therefore a […]

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BYZANTIUM

Oh, no, not ANOTHER vampire movie! And yet with Moira Buffini adapting her own play & Neil Jordan at the helm, Byzantium–lush romantic & heart-breaking–is a must see! Two “sisters” are adrift in a seedy coastal town. 20something “Clara” (Arterton) does what she must to keep them alive while teenage “Eleanor” (Ronan) suffers with the […]

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THE HEAT

Remember “Gracie Hart,” the adorable character Sandra Bullock played in MISS CONGENIALITY way back when? Well a dozen years & one Oscar later, Bullock is remarkably the same & Melissa McCarthy makes a great partner. Sweet, ditzy, thoroughly enjoyable screenplay by Katie Dippold, with a lot of the charm that director Paul Feig gave to […]

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RAFEA: SOLAR MAMA

Inspiring doc by Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim about the first Arab woman to attend “The Barefoot College” in India in order to be trained as a Solar Engineer for her Bedouin community in rural Jordan. Bottom Line: The process does not go smoothly! Opposition from her family (especially her husband) makes it almost impossible to […]

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THREE WORLDS

Two worlds collide & a drunk-driving incident becomes the occasion for a trenchant analysis of contemporary French culture. Excellent acting by the three principals, but alas the third world (ironically here the upper middle class world of the witness who becomes a reluctant intermediary) is more assumed than depicted. Otherwise? Perfect! (JLH: 4.5/5) Click HERE […]

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ANITA

Full Title = Anita Hill: Speaking Truth to Power Freida Lee Mock’s inspiring doc updates us on the life of Brandeis Law Professor Anita Hill 20 years after she was called to the Senate Judiciary Committee to testify after Clarence Thomas was nominated to serve on the Supreme Court. Mock rejects the “He Said/She Said” […]

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THE BLING RING

Sofia Coppola’s new film The Bling Ring is both the work of an accomplished filmmaker speaking out on important issues, and the Cri de Coeur of a mother occupied daily with raising two young daughters. The main characters in The Bling Ring are three teenagers who steal millions of dollars-worth of stuff from the homes […]

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WISH YOU WERE HERE

Felicity Price (who also co-wrote screenplay) stars with Joel Edgerton in this terrific drama about an Australian couple who get in way over their heads while vacationing at a Cambodian beach resort. Action cross-cuts in time to draw us into “the mystery” after we have come to care about the characters, & cinematography & sound […]

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HANNAH ARENDT (2012): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

NOTE: For my “Jewish Take” on Hannah Arendt, see my Blog Post on Second City Tzivi. Barbara Sukowa stars as the German-born political philosopher best-known today for her books on 20th Century totalitarianism. Von Trotta’s film (co-written with Pam Katz) focuses on her attempts to introduce nuance into discussions of the Holocaust when she covered the trial of Nazi […]

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THE ENGLISH TEACHER

Craig Zisk, one of my favorite cable TV directors (Weeds! Nurse Jackie!) makes the leap to feature films with this giddy delight penned by Dan & Stacy Chariton. Linda Sinclair (Julianne Moore) is the eponymous high school English Teacher who must wrestle with the “omniscient narrator” in her head (hilariously voiced by Fiona Shaw) to […]

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BEFORE MIDNIGHT

Last chapter in the Celine/Jesse trilogy after BEFORE SUNRISE (1995) & BEFORE SUNSET (2004), does not stand alone, but all together these three films prove that a whole really can be greater than the sum of its parts. Putting the son from his first marriage on a plane at the end of a summer together, Jesse […]

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FILL THE VOID (2012): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

6/14/13: Click here to read my “Jewish Take” on Fill The Void (posted on the JUF website). Imagine: An Israeli woman filmmaker garners worldwide awards & nominations but I am not rooting for her? Despite beautiful technique and deep anthropological detail, this story of a young woman pressured into marrying her dead sister’s husband is like […]

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FRANCES HA

Greta Gerwig (who co-wrote the screenplay with director Noah Baumbach) stars–yet-again–as a young Manhattan woman in her late 20s who is used to sailing thru life but suddenly finds herself in choppy water. Alas, we found it all a bit too self-conscious (with B&W visuals referencing Woody Allen & George Delerue music borrowed from Francois […]

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STORIES WE TELL

Sarah Polley is an incredibly talented actress turned filmmaker, and we have literally watched her grow up on screen since adolescence, so we wanted to love this acclaimed doc but found it a bit of a muddle that ultimately delivers less insight than promised. People create narratives about their lives & those narratives often differ […]

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VENUS & SERENA

7/11/15 UPDATE: Huge congratulations to always amazing Serena Williams for winning her 6th Wimbledon Championship 🙂 Click here to read all the details of the match in the UK Independent’s article “Serena Williams defeats Garbine Muguruza 6-4, 6-4 to clinch a sixth Wimbledon title of her career” Per comments below, I knew very few details of either […]

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A PLACE AT THE TABLE

Well-intentioned doc co-directed by Lori Silverbush & Kristi Jacobson explores the problem of hunger in America. It looks like such a paradox: obesity yet starvation? But the experts assembled by Silverbush & Kristi Jacobson unpack it for us: too many Americans–way too many American children–are fed junk food because junk food is cheap whereas veggies are way more […]

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A SIMPLE LIFE

Filmmaker Ann Hui (well-known in the East for her long & distinguished career but almost unknown in the West) hits a bull’s eye with A Simple Life, winner of film festival awards last year in Tallinn (Estonia) & Venice (Italy) as well as more predictable wins in China & Hong Kong. A Simple Life is the story […]

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RETURN

Completing her National Guard service in Iraq, “Kelli” has only one goal: get home & make life as normal as possible again for her husband & daughters. But it’s not so simple. Kelli can’t quite settle in & the family has new routines that don’t include her anymore. Linda Cardellini’s performance as Kelli is deeply moving. If […]

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ONE FOR THE MONEY

Like a long TV caper episode, but fun for all that. Katherine Heigl stars as a Jersey girl who starts working for her cousin the bail-bondsman after she loses her fancy sales job. Knowing nothing but her need for cash, “Stephanie” quickly learns how to shoot straight, keep her cool, & track down perps on the lam. And her […]

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THE IRON LADY (2011): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Phyllida Lloyd’s new film The Iron Lady is a bio-pic about Margaret Thatcher, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from May 1979 until November 1990. A million historical details, large and small, make Baroness Thatcher a unique individual, yet Lloyd and screenwriter Abi Morgan choose to minimize the episodes that make their subject’s life specific […]

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IN THE LAND OF BLOOD & HONEY: Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

One evening Ajla (Zana Marjanovic) & Danijel (Goran Kostic) are two young people dancing in a trendy club in Sarajevo, the next they are enemies as Bosnia descends into ruthless civil war. Brilliant debut from Angelina Jolie who wrote screenplay & directed authentic cast members speaking their own languages. Click HERE for our FF2 haiku. […]

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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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FISH TANK: Andrea Arnold Pulls Treasure from the Muck

“Mia” (Katie Jarvis) lives in an East London housing project with her mother “Joanne” (Kierston Wareing) and her younger sister “Tyler” (Rebecca Griffiths). Joanne is an arrested adolescent more comfortable in her frilly pink bedroom than her own kitchen, so Mia and Tyler are both growing up wild. Then a handsome man named “Connor” (Michael […]

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THE LOVELY BONES (2009): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

The Lovely Bones is the story of a teenager named Susie who is brutally murdered by an innocuous-looking neighbor. While Mr. Harvey fastidiously covers his tracks, Susie is trapped in a parallel universe called “the Inbetween” (not yet Heaven but no longer Earth), where she watches as her loved ones struggle to go on living […]

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AN EDUCATION

Lone Scherfig’s terrific new film “An Education” opens in a classroom in an English suburb in the early 60s. The subject under discussion is Charlotte Brontë’s novel Jane Eyre. Written over one hundred years before scene one, Jane Eyre still maintains its curious hold on the female imagination. Must we be forever reminded that Mr. […]

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