Matlin enters the pantheon of stars who met Oscar on their debut. Hurt is a well-intentioned teacher at a school for the deaf shaken out of his personal & professional complacency by a ferocious young woman whose world of silence is both her prison & her palace. More on CHILDREN OF A LESSER GOD.
This is a dark, obsessive tale of loneliness/lust/love set in a British prison. Tim Roth is a surprisingly charismatic, albeit unconventional “leading man.” And Julia Ormond proves once again that she’s better at brooding than pretending to be winsome in sunny comedies like her ill-fated SABRINA remake. More on CAPTIVES.
Captured by Afghani mujahideen, Danish major is rescued after his family’s been told that he’s dead. Film masterfully counterpoints their grief with his fight for survival, then depicts the consequences of his return. Extraordinary acting ensemble: Nielsen = wife, Thomsen = major, Kaas = younger brother raised in major’s shadow. More on BROTHERS.
30something Manhattanite (Posey) surprises herself by chasing a young man home to Paris after a brief post-party fling. Maybe she’s ready for romance after all? Rich felt he understood “Nora” & empathized with her anxious reticence, but even though “Julien” (Poupaud) was adorable, Jan never fully bought into it. More on BROKEN ENGLISH.
Deliberately “cheeky” melding of Jane Austen & Bollywood moves briskly thru essential plot elements while lingering lovingly over riotously-colorful dance numbers. Rai’s the self-possessed Indian “Elizabeth Bennett” & Henderson’s the peevish American “Darcy.” Babbar’s hilarious as Mom & so’s Ganatra as “Mr. Collins.” Caution: Film’s not over till Harvey arrives!!! More on BRIDE & PREJUDICE.
The acting in this film is so compelling that you simply see the lead character the way she sees herself. The director creates such a complete world that the truth of this “true story” resonates deep in the heart. Brandon is every “misfit” who ever struggled for acceptance. More on BOYS DON’T CRY.
Award-winning documentary about the children of Calcutta’s neighborhood sex workers compellingly blurs the line between art & empathy. The 8 kids at the center of the film are all bright-eyed & engaging. While teaching them about photography, Briski also tries to convince their mothers to send them to school. More on BORN INTO BROTHELS.
Early effort from director Kathryn Bigelow. Jamie Lee Curtis stars as a rookie cop who becomes the object of obsession of a vicious killer played to chilling effect by Ron Silver. Dark, tense, & thoroughly frightening. More on BLUE STEEL.
Teenage girl slides inexorably into a sexual relationship with her teacher. An important story which deserves to be well told, but in this case everything is off. The actors all have so much integrity that you want to believe the story, but it’s burdened with excessive melodrama & manipulative “coincidences.” More on BLUE CAR.
Put LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN, BLUE CRUSH & MONSOON WEDDING into a blender & out comes this multi-cultural feminist fun. Jessmida’s brilliant at soccer but Mom thinks it’s time she learns how to make a “proper” Indian dinner: meat AND vegetarian! Note: It’s not over ’til Gurinder thanks her Dad… More on BEND IT LIKE BECKHAM.
After struggling to get herself & her children north, a runaway slave (Winfrey) takes drastic steps to prevent recapture. She succeeds, but the emotional burden is enormous. This film belongs to its actresses, with Newton particularly poignant in the title role. A painful film, but “attention must be paid.” More on BELOVED.
Two people with romantic memories of one another meet again after many years. But what could be more hackneyed? His wife no longer excites him sexually. Her boyfriends are never reliable. So they talk, talking themselves into a totally predictable climax. Jan says: “Feh!” Rich is a tad more forgiving. More on BEFORE SUNSET.
American soldier suddenly disappears, leaving his wife to eek out a living in Saigon. She sends their son back to the Vietnamese heartland where he’s raised by family members who despise him until he’s old enough to begin his long search for answers. Sabina Murray’s screenplay grounds an eloquent masterpiece. More on THE BEAUTIFUL COUNTRY.
Mona (Driver) is determined to win the Miss American Miss beauty pageant, devoting her considerable energies to clawing her way to the top. This is fluffy stuff, nevertheless Driver puts it over, ably assisted by Adams & Eisenberg. Despite the naysayers, we like Mona, we really do! More on BEAUTIFUL.
First time director Jennifer Sharp “SWANs Up” after the Q&A for her screening of I’M THROUGH WITH WHITE GIRLS at the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival. This is a terrific film which definitely deserves distribution. Hey, Spike Lee: your Sista needs you to give her a boost! Read FF2 haiku. (Photo: Jan Lisa Huttner)
Read Article in Quincy HERALD-WHIG Second stop on my “Jane Addams Day” roadshow. Presented DINNER AT JANE’S to members of Quincy Branch AAUW & their guests at the Quincy Unitarian Church. For more information about DINNER AT JANE’S & all of AAUW-Illinois’ plans for Jane Addams Day celebrations statewide, visit the AAUW-Illinois website. The first annual […]
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED! We saw LARS last night @ the Chicago International Film Festival & we were both totally charmed. Jan predicts that Nancy Oliver is now on the 2008 Oscar Fast-Track for a “Best Original Screenplay” nomination. Film opens in NYC & LA today (10/12) & next Friday (10/19) in Chicago & beyond. Click here for FF2 […]
WITASWAN members welcome Helen Hood Scheer to Chicago on October 10th. Photo in the middle shows Helen, director of the new doc JUMP!, with her editor Scott Morgan during the Q&A session right after their first screening at the 2007 Chicago International Film Festival. Additional screenings are scheduled for Friday 10/12 @ 4:15 PM & Saturday 10/13 @ […]
Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, folk-singing legend, is best known as “the link between Woody Guthrie & Bob Dylan,” but he’s also the father of 2 daughters & the ex-husband of 4 wives as well as the lover of countless women & the buddy of countless men. This is his story. More on THE BALLAD OF RAMBLIN’ […]
Imaginative retelling of a western footnote. Expelled from her Boston home after the birth of her illegitimate son, Josephine has to disguise herself to stay alive. Abused & penniless, she builds a new life for herself in a rough mining town, & her secret holds until her autopsy decades later. More on THE BALLAD OF […]
Beautifully constructed mood piece walking the tightrope of father/daughter love. Jack’s a 60’s guy of independent means stubbornly clinging to life on an abandoned commune. Rose is his daughter, totally devoted but also aware that he’s sheltered her from the “real” world. Resonates well beyond the specifics of its plot. More on THE BALLAD OF […]
10/10/13 UPDATE: Away from Her is based on the story “The Bear Came Over the Mountain” by Alice Munro. Today Munro became the 13th woman in history to win the Nobel Prize for Literature 🙂 2008 UPDATE: Congratulations to writer/director Sarah Polley (nominated for the Best Adapted Screenplay Oscar) & Julie Christie (nominated for the Best Actress […]
“Cynthia” is a high school student in a dangerous urban neighborhood who finds inspiration in THE DIARY OF ANNE FRANK. Outwardly she seems quiet, but the tension within her builds until she takes dramatic public control of her own words at a rap concert. JaNyce Richardson is terrific — a triumphant debut performance!***** For more, […]
Harvey Pekar is an ornery autodidact who became a counterculture personality by creating an adult comic book series about his life in working-class Cleveland. This imaginative biopic combines interviews with the “real” Harvey, panels based on the strips, dramatic reenactments, & snippets from guest shots on the David Letterman Show. More on AMERICAN SPLENDOR.
A family in flight from Communist Hungary leaves its infant daughter behind. The child is raised by a rural couple until her parents are able to bring her “home” to Los Angeles. The director (Gardos) is telling her own story — about the mysteries of love, loss, & personal identity. More on AMERICAN RHAPSODY.
Charlize Theron plays a futuristic freedom-fighter discovering mid-mission that “the truth” is very complicated. Rich found the rules of her world too thin to be engaging. Jan agrees that Frances McDormand’s oracular role was ludicrous, but she was still drawn into Theron’s dilemma & moved by her relationship with her colleague (played by Sophie Okonedo). […]
Workaholic NYC TV producer (Perez) gets pregnant, her husband promises to “help” with the baby, & hilarious consequences ensue. SPLIT DECISION: Jan laughed so hard she fell out of her seat innumerable times, but for Rich the whole film was too overblown & the ending was way over-the-top. You decide!!! More on 24 HOUR WOMAN.
Gila Almagor’s screenplay is autobiographical & she stars here as her mother, a mentally-ill Holocaust survivor ridiculed by neighbors & totally unable to care for her teenage daughter no matter how much she tries. Heartbreaking depiction of life in the infant state of Israel: hard times with little room for pity. More on AVIYA’S SUMMER.
Four sets of characters act out their own mini-dramas & yet mysterious threads connect the four separate stories, creating a highly satisfying whole. The subject is happiness – as elusive and ephemeral as a rainbow. Arkin is outstanding as a divorced, middle-aged businessman. Alex Wurman’s melancholy piano-driven soundtrack sets the mood. Click HERE to read […]
30-something Parisian photographer now living in Manhattan returns home with her latest boyfriend (Goldberg) in tow. Jan loved this RomCom in which Delpy artfully riffs on her own onscreen persona (basically playing the opposite of her BEFORE SUNRISE/SUNSET character), but Rich was confused by shifts in tone between comedy & tragedy. More on 2 DAYS […]