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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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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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TREADING WATER

Review of Treading Water by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky “We all have our little quirks,” declares therapist “Catherine,” (Carrie-Anne Moss) “some are physical, some are psychological. And it is those quirks that make us unique.” Sweet comedy/drama Treading Water tells a classic love story with a modern day twist. Devoid of feuding families or […]

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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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THIS AIN’T NO MOUSE MUSIC

Fabulous doc about Chris Strachwitz–the founder of Arhoolie Records–and his passionate love for American Roots Music. Combines classic performance footage with great interviews plus snippets of youngsters bringing these old traditions to new generations. FYI, co-director Chris Simon is the widow of Les Blank (to whom film is dedicated) & this helps account for the […]

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TO BE TAKEI

To tell you the truth, I was never a fan of the original Star Trek series. I understood that Gene Roddenberry had done something fabulous with the melding of races and over time, I understood why some people thought it was wonderful. I never developed any warm feeling towards any of them (although it would […]

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TAMMY

Oh, my. Regular readers know I wasn’t a big fan of Bridesmaids, but I liked The Heat a whole lot. So in spite of the previews (which I saw again and again for weeks on end), I was hoping for the best. Alas Tammy is an embarrassing mess. It honestly breaks my heart to say […]

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TANZANIA: A JOURNEY WITHIN

What begins as a light, tourist trip to Beautiful East Africa (Dar es Salaam! Mount Kilimanjaro!) turns more serious when a sunny American named Kristen Kenney follows her African friend Venance Ndibalema home & discovers the realities of poverty & disease in his ancestral village. Director Sylvia Caminer jumps right in, so what we learn about Kristen […]

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THE RAPE OF EUROPA

Opens tomorrow in NYC. Review coming soon.

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TALES OF US

Opens tomorrow in NYC. Review coming soon.

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TWO LIVES

Opens today in NYC. Review coming soon.

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THE TRUTH ABOUT EMANUEL

Delicate psychological drama about loss & longing written & directed by Francesca Gregorini (based on a story she wrote with Sarah Thorp). One woman is unable to have children. One woman is the mother of an infant who died. One woman is the daughter of a woman who died giving birth to her. Can they find the […]

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TRICKED

Critically important topic of teenage prostitution in the USA is handled with maximum commitment but minimal skill. Co-directors John Keith Wasson & Jane Wells have a lot of great footage showing that vulnerable teens–mostly but not all girls–are lured into relationships with charismatic hustlers, then turned out on the street. But without focus, Wasson & […]

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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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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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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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THE CENTRAL PARK FIVE: Review by FF2 Media

Around 9 PM on April 19, 1989, a twenty-eight year old investment banker entered Manhattan’s famous Central Park and began jogging up Park Drive North. Unbeknownst to her, police had already received reports about a youth gang in that general vicinity, and when she was found a few hours later—brutally raped, beaten, and left for […]

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THE FIFTH HEAVEN

Dina Zvi-Riklis’s new film The Fifth Heaven is set in Palestine at the close of World War II. Jewish residents, terrified by the Nazi advance across Europe and North Africa, have been giving their all to their British protectors for years, but now that the defeat of the Third Reich appears imminent, their thoughts turn […]

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TAKE THIS WALTZ

Writer/Director Sarah Polley’s new film Take This Waltz  begins when “Margot” (Michelle Williams) is away from home. She’s a writer on assignment in Nova Scotia, doing her job and minding her own business. On the plane back to Toronto, she’s seated next to “Daniel” (Luke Kirby), someone she’d spotted in Louisbourg but didn’t really interact with. Side-by-side, however, […]

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THIN ICE

Fortysomething Mickey Prohaska (Kinnear) can no longer rely on good looks & charm to get his way. But trying for an easy score, he suddenly finds himself in way over his head. Beautifully cast new film by the Sprecher Sisters is a perfect dramedy: very funny AND very sad. Arkin & Balaban are hilarious, Crudup […]

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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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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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TWILIGHT

Jan loved this swoon-inducing romance about star-crossed lovers living in a Twin-Peaksy town in the Pacific Northwest made extra moody by Carter Burwell”s great soundtrack. Sure, so Edward”s a “vampire,” but this isn”t a film about fangs & blood, it”s about feeling overwhelmed by new passions dimly understood. Not yet seen by Rich. Click HERE […]

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TROUBLE THE WATER

Award-winning doc about Hurricane Katrina melds first person and third person perspectives into a taut 96 minutes that both captures the moment and provides the context.  Aspiring rap artist Kimberly Rivers Roberts just happened to have a new camcorder with her as storm clouds started building over New Orleans, and that helped her to become […]

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THINGS WE LOST IN THE FIRE

Spectacular performance by Del Toro with strong back-up from supporting cast somewhat undone by Berry, who doesn”t have sufficient intensity to hold the center as a widow coping with the violent death of her slightly too-perfect husband (Duchovny). Del Toro”s an addict shaken clean by events. Click HERE for FF2 haiku.

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THEN SHE FOUND ME

April”s biological clock is ticking so loud that she”s unable to attend to almost anything else in her life, but by film”s end she”s learned to broaden her view of parenthood & open herself to genuine Tikun Olam. Hunt directs herself in lead role, eliciting warm performances from her very strong cast. Click HERE for […]

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Film Review: TROUBLE THE WATER

Pen’s Points: ccccc Click here to download my FWA Review as a pdf.           Trouble the Water is the story of an aspiring rap artist named Kimberly Rivers Roberts who just happened to buy herself a cheap camcorder one day.  According to the press kit, her intentions were totally mundane (“recording birthday parties and family […]

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TWO LIVES PLUS ONE

Éliane Weiss (Emmanuelle Devos) is the French-born daughter of Polish Holocaust survivors. She’s always been “a good girl,” stable, reliable, and dedicated to her family, but her father’s recent death has caused her to turn inward. One day she receives unexpected encouragement from a surprising source, and she proceeds to make big changes that upset […]

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Film Review: TULLY

Preposterous plot (involving mysterious hospital bills) weighs down a number of excellent performances in this coming-of-age drama set on a small Nebraska family farm. Burrus is particularly moving as “Tully Senior,” a quiet man who hides his deep emotions under rigidly fixed habits. The sun shines when he finally smiles. More on TULLY.

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Film Review: THE TRIALS OF DARRYL HUNT

August, 1984: Deborah Sykes goes missing. Winston-Salem police zero in on a black man, Darryl Hunt, who is quickly arrested, convicted, & imprisoned for life. It takes 20 years for North Carolina authorities to exonerate & release him. Compelling story, but the telling is too linear, literal & plodding. More on THE TRIALS OF DARRYL […]

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