Currently Browsing: Jan Lisa Huttner

SISTERS

Sisters is a big, broad, bawdy delight. Screenwriter Paula Pell–a member of the Saturday Night Live team for the past decade and Emmy-nominated with the SNL team for recent anniversary shows–knows her stars perfectly. And director Jason Moore (best known for the first Pitch Perfect film) knows how the keep the whole dizzy, ditzy ensemble […]

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Who is Clara Royer?

JAN RANTS: Can anyone tell me who Clara Royer is & why her name might be important this year? Can anyone tell me who Rebecca Lenkiewicz is & why her name might have been important last year? Just a few months back, in February, the Polish film Ida received the Oscar for Best Foreign Language […]

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THE WINDING STREAM

Full Title = The Winding Stream: The Carters, The Cashes, and The Course of Country Music Exhilarating film about the Carter Family, Country Music stars from the dawn of recorded music right up to today. Filmmaker Beth Harrington has directed The Winding Stream with skill and smarts, and Mike Olson contributes terrific photoanimations to make the pre-Selfie Era come alive […]

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THE GIRL IN THE BOOK

Intriguing first feature written and directed by filmmaker Marya Cohn puts a new spin on the sexual betrayal of a fourteen year old girl. This victim appears to come from the best of homes, but her abuser can see that she has no one to protect her, so he takes what he wants with no concern for consequences. Cohn–directing […]

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CAROL (2015)

Director Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy have made a new film that is all parts but no whole. Based on Patricia Highsmith’s semi-autobiographical lesbian romance The Price of Salt, Carol has impeccable production values, but perfunctory character development and a predictable plot. And even though the Supreme Court recently affirmed Gay Marriage in the USA, the […]

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SUFFRAGETTE

Superb film directed by Sarah Gavron with a screenplay by Abi Morgan. Women from London’s East End risk their lives so that women in England will win the right to vote. Brava! (JLH: 4.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner On June 14, 1913, thousands of women wearing purple flowers accompanied the casket of […]

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THE KEEPING ROOM: Review by Brigid Presecky

The Keeping Room, a film that has been deemed the “the feminist Western” is an engaging look at an untold part of history. Brit Marling leads the trio of women–two sisters and their former slave–as they encounter the threats, dangers and hardships during the final days of America’s Civil War. Directed by Daniel Barber with […]

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SPLit Preview by Jan Lisa Huttner

In her stunning new film, writer/director Deborah Kampmeier uses familiar images from her prior films (e.g., the naked women in the lake in VIRGIN, the snakes in HOUNDDOG, etc) to go in daring new directions that are even deeper, darker & more rewarding. Amy Ferguson is very good as “Inanna” (an actress piecing together a career in […]

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ZIPPER (2015): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Zipper is a tense, riveting film about “male privilege.” Patrick Wilson plays a prosecutor who has risen to the top of his local queue and is now under consideration for high political office. But when a new witness in an ongoing investigation offers him a peek into the world of high-priced “escorts,” his well-ordered world […]

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THE GREAT MAN

The Great Man is a great movie–one of the best I have seen so far in 2015. Two young men from very different parts of the world meet and bond in the French Foreign Legion. When they are ambushed in Afghanistan, one makes great sacrifices to save the other, but once separated, their paths diverge. […]

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LEARNING TO DRIVE

Isabel Coixet brings us a feel good unconventional romantic comedy about a woman going through a divorce, who decides it is time to learn to drive so she can visit her daughter. Through all the ups and downs, she finds surprising support and friendship from her driving instructor. (JEP: 3/5) Review by Contributing Editor Jessica […]

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TEN THOUSAND SAINTS

Filmmakers Shari Springer Berman and Robert Pulcini throw a lot of love–and an excellent cast–at Eleanor Henderson’s novel Ten Thousand Saints, but success eludes them. Unfortunately, their adaptation is a bit of a “paint by numbers” exercise that never manages to fully engage. (JLH: 3/5) Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner (with additional two cents […]

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A GAY GIRL IN DAMASCUS

Canadian filmmaker Sophie Deraspe has made a stunning docudrama about a French woman caught up in an online scam during the early days of The Arab Spring. Is this effective filmmaking? Definitely! Is this ethical filmmaking? I’m not quite sure. (JLH: 3.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner A filmmaker’s quandary: If you really believe in the […]

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TRAINWRECK: Amy Schumer’s Summer

A Message from Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner This morning, Amy Schumer received a coveted Emmy nomination in the highly competitive “Best Comedy Actress” category alongside some of the most beloved female stars–Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Edie Falco, Lisa Kudrow, Amy Poeler, and Lily Tomlin–on the current television scene. Her show–Inside Amy Schumer—also picked up six nominations for […]

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TRAINWRECK (JLH)

Comedienne Amy Schumer is feisty and adorable in her first staring role, but the film–which she wrote–was directed by Judd Apatow. And Apatow, as the reigning master of mainstream comedy, succeeds in softening all of Schumer’s edges. There are some laugh-out-loud moments, especially in the first half, but the long, slow slide into a predicable finale weighs the whole film […]

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STRANGERLAND

Strangerland, a high-profile new release from Australia, promises more than it can deliver. Excellent performances from Nicole Kidman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugo Weaving are undone by a weak screenplay–by Michael Kinirons and Fiona Seres–which totally collapses in the third act. Director Kim Farrant shows great promise, but she needs to keep a tighter reign on her screenwriters in future. (JLH: 3/5) ************************* […]

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STRAY DOG

Debra Granik made the great film Winter’s Bone a few years back, so I was eager to see her follow-up. Alas, Stray Dog is so dull I could barely stay awake. While Ron Hall seems to have lived a paradigmatic Middle American life, Granik’s “fly on the wall” approach fails to illuminate any of it. […]

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Hooray for GLAMOUR (6/15)

Peek Inside the June ’15 Issue of Glamour Magazine Page 36: Interview with actress Judy Greer “Why should a man make more than me?” Page 38: Sidebar “Pop Quiz = Who Earned More?” Page 130: Chat with filmmaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom Page 160: Cover Story on Anna Kendrick Glamour: The discussion about gender bias in […]

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A LITTLE CHAOS

Twenty years after the release of Sense and Sensibility, Alan Rickman and Kate Winslet reunite onscreen in a period drama set in 17th Century Versailles. Rickman, with co-writers Alison Deegan and Jeremy Brock, create their own historical fiction by telling the story of King Louis XIV and his two landscape architects – the real André […]

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EDEN

A young man fascinated by the underground music scene in Paris, forms a DJ duo group called Cheers. The film spans about 20 years of music, drugs, and sex, portraying all the ups and downs of the life of a struggling artist. (JEP 3.5/5) Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry  This music centric foreign […]

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HIPPOCRATES

Full Title = Hippocrates: Diary of a French Doctor Two Interns–one a fresh faced newby and the other an Algerian immigrant–test the limits of patient care from inside the hierarchy of a beleagured French public hospital. Terrific performances by Vincent Lacoste and Reda Kateb. Excellent, low-key direction by Thomas Lilti who collaborated with a screenwriting team consisting of Pierre […]

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INFINITELY POLAR BEAR

1978: A mother with two young daughters copes as best she can with decisions made in more innocent times. Her husband is suffering from BiPolar Disorder, and “living on love” is no longer an option… First-time filmmaker Maya Forbes has written and directed a beautiful tribute to her extraordinary parents who–despite it all–managed to steer both her […]

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MADAME BOVARY (2014)

Stultifying. That’s the only word to describe this latest adaptation of Gustave Flaubert’s classic about a woman suffering from “ennui” in 19th Century France. Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary drowns in molasses, bringing the whole cast down with her. Written and directed by Sophie Barthes with co-writer Felipe Marino, credited under the name “Rose Barreneche.” (JLH: 2/5) Review by Managing […]

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MEANT TO BE BROKEN

SUNDAY 6/7/15 UPDATE: I was hoping for a miracle tonight. I was hoping that when the moment came to name 2015’s Best Performance by an Actress in a Lead Role in a Musical, the Tony Award would go to “Alison” and three names will be announced rather than one: Sydney Lucas as “Pennsylvania Alison” (~ […]

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GEMMA BOVERY

A middle-aged French baker believes his new English neighbor is a literary archetype come to life, and falls head over heels in love with his own fantasy. What looks to be a period comedy slowly reveals itself as an erudite and insightful modern tragedy. Gemma Bovery is a “Personal Best” for French director Anne Fontaine. The screenplay–which Fontaine co-wrote with […]

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ALOFT

Jennifer Connelly is so compelling as a struggling single mother in Claudia Llosa’s new film that narrative details like whys and wherefores pale next to the need to find her again after she disappears. (JLH: 4/5) Review by FF2 Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner Aloft is a strange and mysterious new film written and directed by […]

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(DIS)HONESTY

Superlative documentary about the life work of Behavioral Economist Dan Ariely blends lecture footage with first-person interviews and great graphics to tell us who we really are and how we really make the “rational” decisions that determine our personal, professional, and political lives. Must See film directed by Yael Melamede. Highly recommended by both me & Rich! […]

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THE FAREWELL PARTY

Jewish Humor walks the razor’s edge between comedy and tragedy in this mordant “laugh through your tears” dramedy co-written & co-directed by  Tal Granit and Sharon Maymon. (JLH: 4.5/5) Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner Since the time of Sholem Aleichem, Jewish Humor has been said to walk the razor’s edge between comedy and tragedy, […]

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EVERY SECRET THING

Am I never satisfied? Here is a film with prominent actresses like Elizabeth Banks, Dakota Fanning, and Diane Lane carrying a woman-centered film, plus award-winning female filmmakers behind-the-camera. (Amy Berg is the director while Nicole Holofcener wrote the screenplay.) It passes the Bechdel Test with no if, ands, or buts, so am I satisfied? Not I […]

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ONE CUT, ONE LIFE (2014): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner

Filmmaker Lucia Small tracks the final days of her colleague and friend Ed Pincus. The goal is to tell a first-person documentary from two equal points of view (Ed’s POV and Lucia’s POV), but unfortunately Small has bitten off more than she can chew. Although there are a few memorable sequences, most of the the film […]

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