Currently Browsing: Reviews: U-W
Spooky tale set in rural England: a classic Victorian “haunted house” where strange noises lure our hero “Arthur Kipps” (with his sputtering candle) into rooms long left unused… and suddenly… all the wind-up toys start moving! Pure mindless fun with a committed performance by Daniel Radcliffe (Harry Potter now grown-up). Kudos to Jane Goldman for another great genre-perfect screenplay. Click HERE for our FF2 haiku. […]
Scottish director Lynne Ramsay’s terrific new film We Need to Talk about Kevin tells the terrifying tale of a woman named “Eva Khatchadourian” (Tilda Swinton) whose teenage son Kevin has just murdered his classmates and teachers in a Columbine-like massacre. The entire story is told from Eva’s point of view; we only glimpse “the real […]
Based on a true story, We Bought a Zoo is the story of a widower with two young children who decides to uproot his family and do something completely different. This is another Aline Brosh McKenna screenplay (written this time in collaboration with director Cameron Crowe) and I liked it a lot. Full review coming soon. […]
1/24/12 Update: The Whistleblower just received four “Genie Award” nominations (the Canadian Oscar) & is now available on DVD! See this terrific film ASAP! Here’s our FF2 Haiku: Kathryn Bolkovac is a cop in Lincoln, NE with some personal problems so her boss suggests a stint as a UN peacekeeper in Bosnia: “You”ll earn 100K in […]
Seventeen-year-old “Ree Dolly” (Jennifer Lawrence) is searching for her father. Born into an insular criminal world totally foreign to most of us, Ree doesn’t know everything, but she knows a great deal more than we do, and it’s our job to catch up. Like The Godfather Saga, Winter’s Bone transcends genre rules and creates indelible […]
In only 84 packed minutes, Boll tells a complex multi-dimensional story of obstacles still facing women artists in 21st C America. As doc proves, women make great sacrifices to serve their artistic imperatives, so it is essential that women in the audience mobilize in support–for our own benefit as well as theirs! Film not yet […]
Williams will absolutely break your heart here as “Wendy,” a young woman in a battered old car trying to make it cross-country with only her dog “Lucy” for company. Williams is in every scene, tightly scrutinzed by still mysterious. Where did she come from & where is she going? Everything is present tense–we will never […]
Fascinating story about real estate pressures in Austin, TX undermined by overly-artsy direction. As a parable of our time (with a diagnostic appearances by George Bush & Karl Rove to boot), doc required balance & precision. Novice filmmaker deserved better from executive producers Terrence Malick & Robert Redford. Click HERE for FF2 haiku.
Beautifully acted & heartfelt story about a Mexican kid (Alonso) looking for his mother (del Castillo), now working illegally in LA”s underground economy. Kudos to America Ferrara for using her clout by taking an unsympathetic bit part to help open narrow minds in the current “immigration debate.” Yes, a bit long & a bit contrived, […]
Fortysomething years of frenetic activity come to a screeching halt one day when “Mary Haines” (Meg Ryan) inadvertently learns that her husband Stephen is having an affair. Retreating from men, Mary reaches out to an already large and rapidly expanding support network. Old friends offer advice, and new friends provide consolation, but in the end […]
After 12 years in prison, a sex offender faces the challenge of rebuilding his life under the harsh scrutiny of family members, co-workers, & policemen. Bacon does an extraordinary job (wounded, sad, & afraid of his own shadow), while Kassel’s camera disturbingly captures how vulnerable children are to adult predators. More on THE WOODSMAN.
A woman (Thompson) who has devoted her entire life to scholarship & academic excellence finds she has become “the text” rather than the teacher when she agrees to participate in an aggressive chemotherapy research protocol. A gripping & compelling tour of the healthcare system from the patient’s point of view. More on WIT.
Wilbur’s a Glaswegean Peter Pan haunted by his mother’s early death. Rather than face illness, aging & new losses, he keeps staging suicide attempts which never quite succeed. Then fate calls his bluff & the brother who’s always been his anchor needs his help. Can Wilbur grow up in time? More on WILBUR WANTS TO […]
Four matriarchs (African-American, Jewish, Latina, & Vietnamese) roll up their sleeves to prepare Thanksgiving dinners for their separate clans. Your mouth waters as you mentally savor the multiple ethnic juices. Then the guests assemble & the psychodramas begin. All of the actresses are excellent & each ensemble rings true. More on WHAT’S COOKING?.
Pai is the daughter of a long line of Maori chiefs, but although he loves her & knows she’s gifted, Pai’s grandfather won’t train her in tribal ways because she’s a girl. Film beautifully depicts New Zealand village life, but it’s less successful at capturing the story’s essentially spiritual dimension. More on THE WHALE RIDER.
Hooray for Deepa Mehta: Water was nominated for an Oscar today in the Best Foreign Language Film category 🙂 HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!!! For original review on the Digital Filmmaker website… Or click here to print review as a pdf: WATER Review 1938: Child marriage is still legal in India & Gandhi is creating the first ripples of […]
Low budget indie version of HBO’s SEX & THE CITY. A single woman wanders around Manhattan sorting through her emotions after her “best friend since high school” announces her wedding plans. Catherine Keener, Oscar nominated for BEING JOHN MALKOVICH, plays the lead. Ann Heche is the bride-to-be. More on WALKING AND TALKING.
Set against the backdrop of “one small step for man,” this is the story of a woman who married young, then discovers hidden aspirations through an affair with a 60’s flower child, eventually finding her way back to her old life on new terms. The cast members are all highly effective. More on A WALK […]
Charming fairy tale about an abused woman (Keri Russell) struggling to find the inner courage to build a new life for herself. Told completely from Jenna’s POV, none of the male characters amount to much but the camaraderie between working women on the job (one of whom is played by writer/director Adrienne Shelly) is beautifully […]
PRIDE & PREJUDICE twisted inside out. Five sisters with a manipulative mother & a distracted father enter adolescence under neighborhood scrutiny. The pressure proves too great, & the five girls kill themselves. Their story is told by the neighborhood boys, who become obsessed with their failure to prevent the tragedy. More on THE VIRGIN SUICIDES.
Like THE SCARLET LETTER, this film depicts a conservative community dealing with an illegitimate pregnancy. Here, however, the condition is the result of drug-induced date rape & the expectant mother, who has no memory of the incident, sincerely believes hers is another child of God. Moss’s perfect performance anchors everything. More on VIRGIN.
Becky Sharp (Witherspoon) is a plucky young woman scheming for her place in English society during the Napoleonic Wars. But unlike more refined adaptations of Jane Austen’s novels, the Empire (especially India) is a colorful counterpart to the goings-on, giving a modern edge to infighting over money & class distinctions. More on VANITY FAIR.
Unabashedly life-affirming film about a woman taking a second chance after facing crushing disappointments – the female empowerment version of “If you build it, they will come.” Lane grows luminous as she escapes her San Francisco depression by piecing together the elements of her new life as an Italian earth mother. More on UNDER THE […]