Currently Browsing: FF2 Media

ZERO DARK THIRTY

Three years ago, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to receive a “Best Director” Oscar. Now she stands poised to do it again with her new film Zero Dark Thirty. But even if she doesn’t win, Bigelow will almost certainly achieve the one “Personal Best” that has so far eluded her grasp, Zero Dark Thirty […]

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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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MIDDLE OF NOWHERE

Two of the big winners at this year’s Sundance Film Festival addressed the devastating effects of prolonged incarceration on African-American family life. Is this a mere coincidence? I don’t think so. Middle of Nowhere is the story of a woman left behind. When we first meet Ruby (Emayatzy Corinealdi), her husband Derek (Omari Hardwick) is […]

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THE LONELIEST PLANET: Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

The Loneliest Planet is the story of a 30 year old woman named “Nica” (Hani Furstenberg) who travels well off the beaten path with her fiancé “Alex” (Gael Garcia Bernal) and their Georgian guide “Dato” (Bidzina Gujabidze). These three people are quite alone in the wild, and despite the quiet that surrounds them, the mountains […]

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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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SIMON AND THE OAKS

A young boy named “Simon” (Jonatan S. Wächter) makes a fateful choice on his first day in a new school, and his actions that day change the course of his life. Set in Sweden between 1939 and 1949 (the decade which surrounds World War II), Simon and the Oaks is a sweeping historical epic filled […]

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HYSTERIA

Tanya Wexler’s new film Hysteria is a marvel of “loose/tight” properties. On the one hand, it’s tremendously funny. On the other hand, I was always laughing through my tears. Set in London circa 1880, Hysteria is loosely based on the career of Joseph Mortimer Granville, the English physician who patented the first electromechanical vibrator. As […]

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WHERE DO WE GO NOW? Review by FF2 Media

Nadine Labaki’s breakout film Caramel was firmly set in contemporary Beirut, but her new film Where Do We Go Now? is magical realism. A mythical Lebanese village, surrounded by landmines, is dominated by one church & one mosque. Exhausted by intramural feuding & senseless death, the women of the village seek ways to distract their […]

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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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W.E.

Pampered “Wally Winthrop” (Abbie Cornish) has reached a crisis point in her marriage to a man she thought was Prince Charming. The year is 1998, and Wally seeks refuge at Sotheby’s New York at the precise moment in time when they are preparing for one of the biggest auctions in history: 44,000 items once owned […]

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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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WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN

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 […]

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YOUNG ADULT

Beautiful people travel on a special road through life, but in their fascinating new film Young Adult, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody show us what happens when doors start closing on someone who has always glided through them. When the film opens, beautiful “Mavis Gary” (Charlize Theron), now in her late 30s, is […]

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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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I DON’T KNOW HOW SHE DOES IT

Sarah Jessica Parker plays “Kate Reddy,” a bundle of nervous energy who is burning her candle at both ends and threatening to flame out. At home, Kate has a husband and two kids plus a nanny, a mother-in-law, and a row of empty little bags she must fill with birthday goodies. It’s a mostly female […]

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THE BEAVER

“Walter Black”” (Mel Gibson) is stuck at the bottom of an all-consuming depressive cycle, and his wife “”Meredith”” (Jodie Foster) has lost hope. Then Walter discovers a ratty old hand puppet, and a miracle occurs: Walter is able to reclaim his voice through “the beaver.” Beaver’s ebullient personality lifts Walter from the depths and starts […]

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IN A BETTER WORLD

“Anton,” the central character in Susanne Bier’s Oscar-winning film In a Better World, is a physician who divides his time between the comforts of Denmark and the rigors of an African refugee camp. Although surrounded by poverty and hardship, Anton knows who he is in Africa. He does his job and most days he wins: […]

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JANE EYRE

A heroine created in the Victorian Era has indelibly imprinted herself on our cultural imagination. Her basic problem is the same problem every young person must face: whom can she trust? Here in the early 21st Century, “Jane” has a feisty core of self-reliance, so she learns to trust her own instincts, staying faithful to […]

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RED RIDING HOOD

A heroine created in the Victorian Era has indelibly imprinted herself on our cultural imagination. Her basic problem is the same problem every young person must face: who can she trust? Here in the early 21st Century, “Valerie” (aka “Red Riding Hood”) has a feisty core of self-reliance, so she learns to trust her own […]

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CONVICTION

After a difficult childhood spent in and out of foster care, “Betty Anne Waters” (Hilary Swank) marries young and starts building a little nest. But when her volatile older brother “Kenny” (Sam Rockwell) is arrested, Betty Anne’s world slowly turns inside out. Much to her own surprise, Betty Anne learns she’s not the kind of […]

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THE TEMPEST (2010): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Julie Taymor’s new adaptation of The Tempest is a marvel of sight and sound! First performed in 1611, William Shakespeare’s final play is the culmination of both life wisdom and theatrical craft. The focus of Shakespeare’s drama is a wizard named Prospero. Once the ruler of Milan, Prospero was deposed by his brother, set adrift, […]

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THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT

Teenagers “Joni” (Mia Wasikowska) and “Laser” (Josh Hutcherson) are half-siblings raised by lesbian couple “Jules” (Julianne Moore) and “Nic” (Annette Bening) who used the sperm of a single donor. Joni’s just about to leave for college, but before she goes Laser convinces her to help him track down their bio-Dad. Joni’s call comes totally out […]

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WINTER’S BONE

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 […]

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PLEASE GIVE

“Kate” (Catherine Keener) lives in a cramped Manhattan apartment and owns a resale shop specializing in vintage furniture. She’s been comfortable in her own skin for years, but as the film opens, something’s bugging her, and that something is her 90-year-old neighbor “Andra” (Ann Guilbert). The smell of death is suddenly permeating her home as […]

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THE RUNAWAYS

In Floria Sigismondi’s new film The Runaways, Dakota Fanning and Kristen Stewart play archetypes: two wide-eyed innocents, fractured halves of one whole, negotiating the drug-fueled, gender-bending, mind-blowing ‘70s. How much is historically true?  Who cares?  The Runaways is a feature film, not a documentary, and what moved me most were the performances.  That said, writer/director […]

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An Open Letter to the Women of AMPAS

Why YOU should vote for The Hurt Locker “The ‘cumulative’ factor of a series of pre-Oscar wins can be a powerful aphrodisiac for Academy voters.”  So says Pete Hammond of the LA Times, quoting “one producer and former studio head who told me he very much understands the psychology of Oscar voting.” Yes, ladies, the […]

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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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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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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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