Currently Browsing: Bechdel-Wallace List

PARADISE

Parable about an innocent named “Lamb” (Julianne Hough) who discovers a painful truth: sometimes bad things happen to good people. Raised as an Evangelical Christian, Lamb heads off to Las Vegas for answers. Either God is not omnipotent, or she is not a “good” person. Engaging dramedy with a gentle gut punch. (JLH: 3.5/5) Click […]

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CONCUSSION

Robin Weigert is terrific as “Abby,” the stay-at-home Mom in a Lesbian relationship, who almost inadvertently starts servicing other women on the side. What makes Stacie Passon’s Concussion so different from Belle de Jour (to which it will no doubt be compared) is that women want different things from Abby than Luis Buñuel’s Johns wanted from their […]

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I USED TO BE DARKER

Director Matthew Porterfield (working with screenwriter Amy Belk) creates an oblique & melancholy drama set in Baltimore but with no local color. Two musicians (Ned Oldham & Kim Taylor) who have been married for years, are splitting up, which should be sad… but there is so little back story that it’s impossible to care about them. […]

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AFTER TILLER

In 2009, physician George Tiller was murdered in his church by Pro-Life activists who refused to accept that 3rd Trimester Abortions could ever be justified. This is an important story about the 4 physicians in the USA who continue to provide these services in their own clinics, but unfortunately it just preaches to the already […]

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MY LUCKY STAR

This adorable RomCom from the New China (now relatively prosperous & totally consumer-driven) was directed by Dennie Gordon & based on a story she wrote with Ming Beaver Kwei & Amy Snow. (Note however that IMDb gives the screenplay credits to a committee: Snow plus Chris Chow, Hai Huang, & Yao Meng.) “Sofie” (Ziyi Zhang) works in […]

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ENOUGH SAID: Rant by Jan Lisa Huttner

What was already a very good film about two people named “Eva”(Julia Louis-Dreyfus) and “Albert” (James Gandolfini)–both wounded by divorce and wary about trying to take a new run at love–becomes even more resonant with the tragic loss of Gandolfini (so wonderful here in what has since become his final major role). One more thing […]

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SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN

Of all the groups giving awards in 1953, only the WGA got it right: “Best Written American Musical” prize for Betty Comden & Adolph Green? Hooray! Now recognized as one of the Best Musicals ever made anywhere on Planet Earth, this Gene Kelly classic makes merry with Hollywood lives impacted by the transition from silent […]

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AND WHILE WE WERE HERE

See Kat reach for the stars. See Kat fall on her face. Obvious intention is to “update” the Roberto Rossellini classic VOYAGE TO ITALY from 1954 (starring Ingrid Bergman & George Sanders as a squabbling English couple in Naples). Alas, writer director Kat Coiro gets trapped in her own conceit & ends up with Tourist Porn. Sad to […]

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MOTHER OF GEORGE

So much to love in this story of a woman from a traditional Nigerian family desperate to conceive a child, but screenplay by Darci Picoult leaves too many plot holes in need of filling. Actress/Playwright Danai Gurira is luminous in the central role, but she is also too old to be who she is supposed to […]

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WADJDA

9/25/13 UPDATE: It’s official! Saudi Arabia has named Wadjda as their candidate for the 2014 Best Foreign Language Film Oscar. Make no mistake, readers, this is really big news!!! This superlative first feature by Haifaa Al Mansour (Saudi Arabia’s first female director) cleverly puts a spunky tween named “Wadjda” in the foreground, but the film […]

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ADORE

Lifelong friends enter uncharted territory in a film that turns out to be much more interesting than prurient trailers would lead you to believe. Naomi Watt (as “Lil”) & Robin Wright (as “Roz”) are both terrific actresses & so gorgeous that it is easy to believe they would be objects of desire for much younger […]

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TOUCHY FEELY

Allison Janney plays a “Reiki Master” who helps a sister (Rosemarie DeWitt) & brother (Josh Pais) appreciate the healing gift of touch. Despite excellent performances all around, this observant family dramedy written & directed by Lynn Shelton is somehow a bit too gentle & “spaced-out” to work as well as it should. The pain we […]

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AFTERNOON DELIGHT

Young Jewish matron (Kathryn Hahn) who appears to have everything questions her choices & wonders how to make a good life for her family… & herself. Like the run of SIX FEET UNDER (during which writer/director Jill Soloway was a core team member), film takes some unexpectedly dark turns to rare & heartfelt places. Plenty […]

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THE LIFEGUARD

“Leigh” (Bell) is just about to turn 30 & nothing has turned out as planned. So she returns home & promptly disrupts the stability of those she was once so eager to flee. Surprisingly insightful drama by writer/director Liz W. Garcia is anchored by terrific a central performance. Who knew Bell could go this deep? […]

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TMI: CITY OF BONES

Full title = The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones. Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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AUSTENLAND

American 30something (Keri Russell) travels to Merrie Olde England so she can wear Regency gowns & pretend to live in a Jane Austen novel… if only for a week. Is this the female version of Fantasy Baseball Camp??? A cute idea badly bungled by director Jerusha Hess & co-screenwriter Shannon Hale who refuse to populate […]

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INCH’ALLAH

Evelyne Brochu plays Chloe, a well-intentioned MD simultaneously living in 3 worlds: her patients are on the West Bank; her apartment is in Israel; her Canadian mother is on Skype. We never know why she came or how long she has been there. When the story opens, the pieces are already crumbling. Great intentions, terrific […]

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IN A WORLD…

Wonderful premise poorly executed. Even tho he died in 2008, Don Lafontaine–the man who made the words “In a world…” resonate in a gazillion movie trailers–remains the king of Voice Overs. Film is about the guys competing to replace him & whether they will allow a chick in their sandbox. Such a great idea, but first-time […]

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LOVELACE

BioPic about Linda Lovelace (Amanda Seyfried) who broke all the rules for pornography in the early 70s before escaping from her abusive husband/manager (Peter Sarsgaard). Kudos to co-directors Rob Epstein & Jeffrey Friedman for their inventive storytelling which lures us in & then looks behind the mirror. Every supporting player gets on base & Seyfried […]

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CASTING BY

We all know filmmaking is a collective art form, but usually we forget. This excellent doc explores the unsung role of Casting Director, zeroing in on the career of Dougherty, a NY-based Casting Director who helped change the face of Hollywood films in the 1960s, coaching stage actors like Glenn Close, Al Pacino, Jon Voight etc […]

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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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