AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

12/25/08

Revolutionary Road: Fifties Feminist Roots Implode On Screen



At any moment, we expect the depressed, chain smoking gilded cage suburban house pet Winslet to morph into Sylvia Plath, poised to stick her head in the oven, a premature free spirit bloodied Christ figure imprisoned behind a window in a breezy hollow world.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY AUDIO CONVERSATION WITH THE CAST AND DIRECTOR OF REVOLUTIONARY ROAD: KATE WINSLET, LEONARDO DICAPRIO, KATHY BATES AND SAM MENDES.

12/20/08

The Spirit Movie Review



CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

In this erotic manic sleuthing laced with backward babes, Paulson does female doormat duty and Eva kicks butt when not baring it, while Scarlett's shrewdie surrounds herself with murderous homicidal fatty clones, like an underworld Madonna bossing around an obedient crew of paunchy boy toys.

12/18/08

The Year In Movies 2008: The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

CLICK TO READ ARTICLE HERE

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO MY CONVERSATION WITH ACTOR MICKEY ROURKE ABOUT THE WRESTLER



BLINDNESS: Julianne Moore takes charge of the destroyed planet in this thinking man's sci-fi horror thriller, as a normal woman in a world suddenly afflicted with mass blindness. And she conveys with startling assurance, the pain of human awareness and consciousness in an also symbolically blinded world, that sight can ironically bring.



FROZEN RIVER: A gut-wrenching, contemporary economic hard times thriller, as two ballsy Canadian border single moms - white and Mohawk - are pressured into lives as smugglers of abused immigrants into the US, across the dangerous icy waters of the St. Lawrence River. Alternately heartbreaking and terrifying.

THE GOOD THE BAD, AND THE UGLY: MY RADIO COMMENTARY ABOUT THE YEAR IN MOVIES, CLICK HERE

12/16/08

Just Another Love Story

Ole Bornedal: Director



If you watched ten to twenty films a week, would you go to see a film entitled "Just Another Love Story"?
No surprise, the New York press did not show up for this screening, other than myself and one other brave soul. If the film had been entitled, "Not Just anther love Story" maybe the Scandinavian House would have had a full compliment of press to preview their forthcoming award winning film. But then that would have compromised the intent of the Director.

Ole Bornedal is a gifted, seasoned film director who displays in this professional work of art his disdain for Hollywood, for the way films that are about love gone awry are done. That said, there are also moments of extraordinary brilliance, the photography is often breath taking and the back and forth of the narrative is done with a magnificent finesse. But the ending goes on and on for almost seven minutes and the message is too thin to support such a protracted termination.

One wonders if we are made to suffer this endless ending because the Director is angry with us, the Hollywood audience or because he doesn't know how to end his films or the protracted ending is saying, as does the film, we are never satisfied. We always want more and more and in the end, that thirst for more destroys the value of what is; something akin to the American tendency to over eat. Food tastes good on the first helping but by the third, it is nauseating.


Plot: Pretty single wealthy girl and good family man/husband/father to two perfect young children meet, engage in an emotional protracted and almost promising exchange before circumstances ( the return of a former boyfriend of ill repute and heinous behavior) force them apart . And true to the state of the art, of film noir(black) all characters end up less than they started; marginalized by the powers that be and our superior knowledge of what makes a man, a man: a woman, a woman.


Recommendation: Mixed. I hated the film while I saw it but in retrospect, it gets better and better. Of particular note is the violent act that at first seems justified and then turns into something ridiculous, over the top, a violent moment of "Descent" revisited.


Opens January 9: in New York City
Village Cinema


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

Seven Pounds Movie Review




Suicide by jellyfish, don't ask. Paging Dr. Kevorkian.


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

12/14/08

Yes Man: A Tale Of Two Hotties




There's the usual grotesque older woman sex maniac (Fionnula Flanagan) minus dentures, who's always the butt of chuckling scorn in these sorts of comedies. So how come nearly the same age difference between Carrey and Flanagan also exists between Carrey and that goofy big bangs brunette Deschanel off screen, but when it's an older guy rather than an older woman, it's all about romance and not ridicule.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

12/12/08

Cadillac Records
2008
Director: Darnell Martin
Cast: Jeffrey Wright, Beyoncé Knowles, Adrian Brody

About half way through Darnell Martin’s Cadillac Records, there’s enough of a lull that you wonder suddenly, where is Beyoncé Knowles anyway? We’ve met Muddy Waters (Jeffrey Wright), Little Walter the teen-age mouth-harp prodigy (Columbus Short), Howlin’ Wolf (riveting British actor Eamonn Walker) and Chuck Berry (Mos Def). So where’s Beyoncé? After all, she’s one of the movie’s major draws as legendary platinum blond blues singer Etta James in her early days on Chicago’s Chess Records label. One of the most enduring discoveries of Chess’ founder, Polish immigrant Leonard Chess (Adrian Brody), multiple Grammy-winner James, spectacularly troubled then, has survived most of the film’s other characters. She released her most recent album, All the Way, in 2006, and her signature rendition of the torch song “At Last” graces more than twenty film and television sound-tracks.

So it’s one of the film’s pleasures – and its story-telling accomplishments – that just as you wonder where a character is, just when the story has unfolded in such a way as to demand her appearance, there she is.

In this richly ambiguous, compact scene, Chess – who scoured the South for Black talent during his label’s run from 1950-69 – meets James because she’s brought to his hotel room for an impromptu audition by his brother Phil (the only appearance in the film of Chess’ actual business partner, but more about that script decision below). The film is narrated by Chess Records’ major songwriter Willie Dixon (Cedric the Entertainer), who says as the hotel room door swings open - by way of transition from the last scene and setting up the double meanings about talent and sex and tenderness and money and resentment and gratitude and who’s in charge that thread through all the future interactions between James and Chess – that Leonard Chess “was looking for women too...”

Helping herself to a seat on his bed, James asks if “we’re gonna do it right now?” Yes, says Chess, he’s leaving town in the morning. Well, it’s hard, counters James, “when you’re not in the mood.” “She’s not in the mood!” mutters an exasperated Chess. Then James strolls into the bathroom and from there starts singing, shyly at first. Of course there are two revelations here – what the Chess brothers heard, and Beyoncé herself. Then Willie Dixon finishes his sentence: “… he was looking for a woman to go up against his men.”

This film might have unfolded in another, more expected way. Martin has said that Columbia Pictures wanted a standard Leonard Chess biopic. In that scenario, the doomed romance rumored between Chess and James would have taken center stage early, leaving little room for the four male musicians on whom Martin spends the first half of her film, and little sense of what going “up against them” might actually mean for James as a musician. James would hardly be a musician at all in that scenario, but instead – you know the type - a naïve, unschooled, rawly talented force of nature.

Instead of that standard biopic, Martin set out to portray the music and the musicians coming out of the great mid-century migration north (we meet Muddy Waters in 1941, share-cropping in Mississippi, listening to Alan Lomax’s quavery recording of himself, saying “I feel like I’m meeting myself for the first time,” before he lights out for Chicago), how R & B became “popular” and “crossed over” (besides appealing to white bobby-soxers, Chuck Berry successfully sued the Beach Boys for stealing his “Sweet Little 16” and passing it off as their own in the hit “Surfin’ USA”), how the music overlapped with and influenced the Civil Rights movement (Howlin’ Wolf immediately sets Chess straight about who gives orders to his band members and Little Walter’s response to white cops personifies a tidal shift). Since Martin makes room for these characters up front instead of using them as background – and they are all superbly played – when they find Chess is looting their royalties, that betrayal has real bite because you know them as well as you know him.

And by removing Phil Chess, Martin replaces the standard two-white-brothers narrative – a huge space occupier – with a very different “story of two men,” as Willie Dixon calls it at the start. By using alternating scenes to introduce and follow Chess in his pre-impresario days – junkyard owner dreaming of buying a bar – and Mississippi share-cropper Muddy Waters, Martin structurally underscores the parallel importance of their stories. And that’s only the beginning of dramatic parallels between them – for example, each has a decent and long-suffering wife, and brief but personal, nuanced exchanges of the sort that occur, when you think about it, between equals. Now some reviewers don’t like this movie, I suspect because it so disrupts expectations of what – and who – it “should” have been about. So you better see it quick. Like Bryan Barber’s Idlewild – remember how that film, so steeped in a wonderful fluency with its screen musical forebears, was dismissed by critics as “derivative”? – it might only be here for a minute.

Review by Nancy Keefe Rhodes

Darnell Martin wrote and directed two previous features, I Like it Like That (1994) and Prison Song (2001), and directed Suzan-Lori Parks’ script for Their Eyes Were Watching God (2005). All three are available on DVD.

12/10/08

Frost/Nixon
Ron Howard

This film has been talked about on channel 13 Charlie Rose and talked about in the press and talked about and talked about so why see it?

I saw the original TV Frost/Nixon interview. I remember ex-President Nixon and where I was when I saw him, live on TV, resigning the Presidency. Why go back there again?

Because this is the guts of history, the moment when we can see into the wheels that turn to create the quality of our lives. And here we have another expose on the President and on how television works or fails to work and a close-up focused on an intensely lonely man who we all hated because we hadn't met up with the likes of George W Bush.

At the hands of Ron Howard, Director and Peter Morgan writer Nixon appears as a tragic historical figure for whom one could almost feel sorry if he hadn't destroyed so much of what people were taught to believe or been responsible for so many deaths and so much physical destruction.

Maybe Nixon did us all a big favor. He appears to epitomize the home grown boy no one wants to claim as their own. Just by being Nixon: corrupt, monomaniacal, devious, liar, manipulator. He could be a big time drug dealer, a Blackwater guns for hire or Governor of Illinois.

The question remains; how can we raise our children to be nothing like Nixon or George W Bush or all the other corrupt politicians who people our World. Their lack of compromise, their failure to invoke the power of negotiation before the bullet or the bomb, their failure to work within the legal boundaries of the system is legendary.

See Nixon suffer. Watch him squirm, watch his face distort with emotion that no one ever thought he had.

Frank Langella's acting is superb and should earn him an Oscar.

Of course you will see this film. The only question is, at what age should children see it.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
CARGO 200 A VOYAGE INTO LIVING HORROR, RUSSIAN STYLE
Direcor: Aleksei Balabanov

Plot:
CARGO 200 begins in 1984 with the introduction of two brothers: a Soviet Army colonel, and the head of the Faculty of Scientific Communism at Leningrad University. The university professor travels to visit his mother in a remote town. When his car brakes down, he stops at a rural farmhouse occupied by a husband, wife and their Vietnamese farm hand. The professor engages in a philosophical argument about the existence of God with the family patriarch, whose heated criticisms of official atheism are fueled by Utopian dreams and vodka distilled in the family barn.

Meanwhile, a young man and the daughter of a Soviet secretary of a regional party committee meet at a party. The couple decides to take a drive, and their destination is the rural farmhouse. Lurking in the shadows of the farmhouse is Zhurov, a character vaguely based on Russian serial killer Gennady Mikhasevich. Although Mikhasevich was simply a depraved lunatic, Balabanov presents Zhurov as an emblem of both human perversion and the manifest corruption of the Soviet government. Zhurov’s appearance signals a series of loathsome events that form the rest of the film's narrative.

COMMENTARY
Aleksei Balabanov is a strong anti communist. He is also a gifted film maker and Cargo 200 is a testament to his genius.
He knows how to twist the truth just enough to create a film that is truly vile There I was riveted to the screen, to the story and even the gory details did not prompt me to get up, get out of sight of this extravaganza of a smite on a regime that I can not truly embrace.
Communism in Russia in the 1980s couldn't have been so corrupt, so difficult to live under. Certainly it wasn't as bad as Stalin but according to this director my impression is wrong.
He has made a film that simulates and pretends to be a documentary when in fact it is a function of his imagination, one that is filmed with material taken from real life, using actors who appear; to be ordinary non actor people but the truth remains, Cargo 200 is a film and not a documentary.

This is an important distinction. Confusion of this sort is the basis of the most deceptive propaganda. Every frame, every moment is designed to bring to the attention of an unknowing viewer the horrors of Communism, Russian style that many consider not communist but a totalitarian resign without the fundamentals of a communist economic system. And what is it now? Hasn't an upper middle class been created at the expense of the quality of life of the working class. History needs more of a conversation than Balabanov has offered.

I don't know whether to recommend the film to be seen or to be avoided but it is certainly a controversial film

You decide. On a night when you are teetering on boredom this film will push you far away from this uncomfortable emotional mundane state of human existence.


opens in New York on January 2, 2009

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

12/8/08

Doubt: The Devil Wears A Habit





Why are our most esteemed older actresses always relegated to all those ghastly shrew roles. And there's something awfully hypocritical and, yes, sexist about these entire proceedings. And it's not just those shamelessly manipulative scenes of the priests making merry over wine and sumptuous dinners in their separate quarters, while the nuns pick over their unappetizing looking meals like fussy crones with chronic indigestion.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

12/7/08

The Duchess: A Commentary




Ms. Miller:

I have been reading movie reviews of "The Duchess" and you are the only reviewer that understood the main point of the movie. Right away, I made the connection between Georgiana's era and Hillary Clinton being told to go home and iron her husband's shirts..... over 200 years later. Such progress. Women are still assigned roles and there are still plenty of "Dukes" trying to keep them in their place. I guess, we not only owe Hillary and her ilk a big thank you , but the Georgianas', too, who fought back to the best of their ability during their era. When I was a young woman, you would have been allowed to write only in the society pages and I am not that old. Thus, we would have been deprived of your keen insight. I will be following your reviews from now on.

Sincerely,
Judy L.

ALL OF US: Director Emily Abt

This is a documentary to inspire, to make us aware of the seriousness of the issue of HIV/Aids and the ill health in prisons and in the army to say we have had enough ineffective action. We all must get involved to save ourselves, to save the planet.

If this sounds like something you have heard before, it is and that is what makes this documentary noteworthy It is done in such a way that every woman who sees it can say yes, this has happened to me, I have been in a "compromising" position with a man, when I wanted to say no, when I did say no and yet, he prevailed.


There is something fundamentally wrong with how men and women relate to one another and that is a strong sub-plot of this film. it is not up to women to change but men must become the focus of effort-to-remedy for any change of note to take place.

Now is the time. It is always the time but Pureland films has given us new reason, new inspiration to renew our efforts.

the photography is outstanding and the editing is close to perfect. It is compelling, emotional and heart warming to know women can and do make films that make a difference

If you can't see it in the movies, rent the DVD or ask your librarian to get it for all to see, free of charge. Or you can support the cause by purchasing the DVD from the website
www.allofusthemovie.com.




Linda Z
WBAI Women'Collective

12/6/08

While She Was Out: Battered Wife Get-Even Thriller



Kim Basinger does a Dirty Harriet in this weapons of asskicker destruction, pit bull with lipstick get-even suburban housewife thriller. And without bringing Alec Baldwin into it, you do the math.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

Day The Earth Stood Still Movie Review


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

11/30/08

Wendy And Lucy Movie Review



Writers:
Jonathan Raymond (writer)
Kelly Reichardt (writer)


Cast(patial list)

Michelle Williams ... Wendy
Will Patton ... Mechanic


wendy and lucy is a coming of age film of an adolescent girl who has elected to take a car trip with her dog Lucy up to Alaska where she hopes to find a summer job and reach adulthood en route.

This is an intensely moving film. Its emotional worth is achieved through the excellent acting of Wendy, Michelle Williams, in a most subtle yet striking performance, and the slow-elongated scenes reflective of the way most working class and bohemian people think and live their lives. There is always a palpable undercurrent, of disaster, an outbreak of over powering destructive force because of the steady course Wendy tries to steer. Her failures are many and yet in the end her achievement is remarkable.

An American 2008 film without glitter, without intensity of action without super this or super that and without the introduction of state of the art animation is a film to cherish, to support and to hope, that the human experience that allows the audience to feel what they want without being told through music or action is a delight. A relic of the past that will hopefully grow stronger, more plentiful next year

U.S. Theatrical Premiere Wednesday, December 10 at Film Forum, NYC
FilmForum.org

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

11/27/08

The Reader Movie Review


Underage desire converges with perverse passions of the political sort, where in the case of one's country, love is basically blind. A remarkably brilliant and subversive guilt by erotic association thriller.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

11/21/08

Other People’s Pictures
2004/2007
Directors: Lorca Shepperd & Cabot Philbrick
Documentary

Review by Nancy Keefe Rhodes

When Syracuse native Lorca Shepperd and her husband/collaborator Cabot Philbrick set out to make Other People’s Pictures, they expected their documentary would focus on the trade in vernacular snapshots and albums that goes on at flea markets, auctions, antique and second-hand shops.

“We thought it would be about the economics and mechanics of that market,” she said by phone recently from New York City, where the couple both work in television documentary. “But the emotions that collectors had about these photographs were really the whole point. We realized that after we started – that this film transcends the niche.”

A casual, sometime collector of the odd “snap” herself, Shepperd was sent to Manhattan’s Chelsea Flea Market by a friend. There she discovered multiple dealers with bins and tables full of cast-off snapshots and regular, sometimes impassioned customers. She was struck by seeming contradictions – that people fleeing sudden disasters like fires can emerge with little more than pets and family albums, yet there’s a flood of recycled snapshots for sale.

Their buyers in turn wonder aloud about their hobby in un-hobby-like terms that recall early superstitions about photography’s eerie capacity to capture frozen likenesses. Are they stealing a stranger’s past? wonders one, while another – speaking to the power of a rapid, unexpected attachment – says she’s the “foster parent of ghosts.”

Shot on week-ends between November 2001 and the summer of 2004, Other People’s Pictures had a brief theatrical run that brought the filmmakers National Public Radio coverage and good reviews. It’s done well at festivals and won some awards. At 53 minutes – really sized for television – the film has screened on the Documentary Channel. Now it’s available on DVD, which may bring it the wider film audience it deserves, even though its commercial distributor, Cinema Guild, seems not to have been particularly energetic about getting it out there to some obvious outlets like Netflix.

Other People’s Pictures comprises overlapping interviews with snapshot collectors and dealers, along with interludes of stills drawn from particular sub-categories of images that people collect. One of the film’s many charms is that Shepperd and Philbrick seem to be equally fond of these quirky, compelling, largely anonymous images and the people who seek and cherish them. Largely filmed at the Chelsea Flea Market, Other People’s Pictures also takes us inside a few of these collectors’ homes.

We might call such collectors “vernacular curators” and each has evolved a specialty. Lisa, who says she can’t afford “real photographs” but second-hand snaps are within her price range, favors early 20th century images of “women with attitude,” often the proud early drivers behind the wheels of cars. The gallery drawn from her collection alone makes this film worth seeing. Japanese-American Don, transplanted to New York, collects images from his native Hawaii. Dan frames and hangs what he calls “banality of evil” photos – snaps of Nazis at weddings, in family groups and relaxing. Leslie collects what he calls the hidden history of male affection. And there’s Fern and Peter and Ken and Leonie, plus several dealers who expound on the virtues of their chosen display method – single images loose in bins, offered by category in boxes or albums, and that’s not counting the fierce debate over whether to break up intact family albums.

For all the flea market chaos, considerable selection is involved here. Shepperd says they scanned over 1,500 images during filming, then used about 300 in the feast that is the final cut. They also survey the range of sub-categories enthusiasts seek: pictures taken at beaches, pictures with flash “shadows,” train wrecks, blurred images of people in motion, photo booth snaps, Down Syndrome children, joke photos or visual puns, mutilated photos with a face cut or scratched out, even people eating watermelon.

That last actually comes from the DVD extras, which add almost double the material of the original documentary. Profiles of two dealers detail how far and seriously they search for wares. And there are several more collectors, including a travel writer, an artist who uses the notations on the backs of snaps in her exhibitions and – though identified here only as “Marty” for her collection of snaps of women with cameras – the photographer Martha Cooper, who pioneered photographic records of early Hip-Hop graffiti and more recently the related global phenomenon of B*Girlz dance battles.

Shepperd says she and Philbrick are “just tossing around ideas” for another film at this point. Meanwhile, Other People’s Pictures ranks as a Genuine Find.

*******
“Other People’s Pictures” is available online for personal purchase at www.other-peoples-pictures.com, which includes galleries of film stills & print resources on vernacular photography.

11/15/08

TWILIGHT MOVIE REVIEW


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE


While not exactly the sexually suggestive The Man Who Came For Dinner, Twilight zones out on conjuring a defiant inter-species dating fantasy in the Obama era, that might be termed Close Encounters Of The Thirst Kind.

11/9/08

Changeling: 'Revealing, Insightful and Powerful'



Ms. Miller's recent review of Changeling by Eastwood almost moved me to tears, revealing a perspective on discrimination and abuse faced by women throughout recent history that I had never considered. Her writing helps me understand these issues from a point of view that escapes the male perspective and informs me of a tragic history that must not be forgotten.

Thank you, Ms. Miller for your efforts, insights and contribution to moving our country forward.

Sincerely,
C. Nagle


READ REVIEW HERE

Body Of Lies: A South African Perspective

I couldn't agree more with Ms Miller about the ridiculousness of this movie. After an extremely long time I left the theatre without watching the second half!

N. Khan
South Africa

READ REVIEW HERE

11/7/08

Ballast




2008
Director: Lance Hammer
Cast: JimMyron Ross, Michael Smith, Jr., Tarra Riggs
by Nancy Keefe Rhodes

Like Courtney Hunt’s Frozen River, another first feature film that took honors home from this year’s Sundance festival, Lance Hammer’s Ballast tells the story of a near-the-edge family just before Christmas whose hard-scrabble lives occur against a masterfully shot, austere and sweeping landscape – in Hunt’s film, the frozen St. Lawrence River of northern New York and in Hammer’s, the Mississippi Delta.

Hammer opens his film with what amounts to a visual prayer. Twelve-year-old James (JimMyron Ross), a slight boy in a big parka, crosses a rolling open field, hurrying toward thousands of geese that start up suddenly from the frozen stubble, flying across the vast magic-hour horizon. It’s crucial this occurs first because what comes next – before the barest possibility that James’ hopes might turn out - is almost unremittingly difficult.

Ballast opened in New York City on October 1st and has theatrical bookings across the U.S. through the end of February. Unlike Frozen River, which recently did so well here in Central New York that it was held it over twice, Ballast will screen here just once – next Tuesday at 8:00 PM at the Westcott. I'm encouraging everyone to do whatever it takes so they can see it there on the big screen.

Ballast is one of those films in which it seems like not much happens – Hammer says he hopes the narrative “has remained minimal and unobtrusive” – until you try writing a plot summary and realize that the characters’ intertwined histories and ties look a lot like the ancient, vine-covered tree that James’ eyes rest on when his gaze comes back to earth after that first shot. Down that road lives Lawrence Baptiste (Michael Smith, Jr.), introduced in wordless grief before a buzzing TV set. His twin brother Darius lies in the next room, having gotten in bed and intentionally overdosed. When a neighbor checks – the brothers haven’t opened their convenience store in several days – Lawrence shoots himself. While he’s in the hospital, James breaks in, steals his pistol and, once he’s home, begins robbing Lawrence, immediately because James’ mother, Marlee Sykes, (Tarra Riggs, whose hare-trigger performance deserves notice at year’s end) can’t keep food in their tiny trailer; also because Darius was James’ father.

Some of the best scenes occur when Lawrence allows James to order him around at gun-point. Suicidally depressed anyway, the massive older man could easily disarm this jittery boy (later he does, in a quiet, quick move that proves the point but doesn’t detour into drama). Meanwhile, in the stillness between them, attention and curiosity start to flicker. After an unglamorous, frightening brush with some thuggish older boys – the pistol merely enrages them – James and Marlee move into Darius’ little house next door to Lawrence. Marlee, insisting upon her place in the scheme of things, re-opens the store and, one inch at a time, the three start over. This is nearly de-railed any number of times, none more wrenching than the night, while they share dish-washing, that Lawrence tries to embrace Marlee and she pulls away, furious, misunderstanding him, sure “this is all you were after.” Watching, James holds his breath – and we’re right there with him.

Hammer filmed Ballast in nine Mississippi Delta townships with a cast of mostly indigenous non-professionals, using available light, no music and a script evolving over two months of rehearsal. Trained as an architect, Hammer has an evident expressive ease with space that amplifies his characters’ sparse dialogue and low-key affect. Against the expansive landscape outside, inside scenes are sometimes filmed in silhouette, or characters occupy cramped rectangles of light in one corner of the screen – the view through a door or down a hallway. Or, for example, when seeking gang approval, James wheels his scooter down a narrow, garbage-strewn ally, you can see this path will be a wrong turn for him.

Both Frozen River and Ballast come from white filmmakers who portray communities of color. Hunt’s film vividly manifests the tensions between Akwesasne Mohawks and outsiders in the complicated, edgy bond between the two mothers. Hammer refrains from this, choosing a different emphasis. Lawrence’s white neighbor John Dixon (Johnny McPhail), benign, stops by because he’s worried, looks out for Lawrence’s dog and finally coaxes Lawrence out of the house to share a steak. But because of this, Hammer's film has the space to dwell more deeply on the Black characters’ relationships with one another.

Ballast comes to Syracuse and screens in the community courtesy of Dropped Frames, a film society based in Syracuse University’s Transmedia department that also hosted the second annual Upstate New York Film Festival in late September, a one-night showcase of short films and videos by regional artists. The L.A.-based Hammer, who wrote, produced, directed and edited Ballast, will speak on campus Tuesday afternoon and again after the screening Tuesday night. He is Dropped Frames’ third visiting artist this fall. In September Emily Hubley brought her animation feature, The Toe Tactic, and last month Ronnie Bronstein was here with Frownland.

*******
A version of this review appeared in the 11/6/08 issue of the Syracuse City Eagle weekly.

11/5/08


Quantum Of Solace Movie Review:

Revenge as a dish best served with a cold Martini.


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

10/31/08

A Christmas Tale:
Armaud Desplechin

Starring: Catherine Deneuve, Mathieu Amalric, Melvil Poupaud, Anne Consigny, Chiara Mastroianni, Laurent Capelluto, Jean-Paul Roussillon

The French love their homes, their generation homes and in this film, a Christmas Tale they love the people who have claim to sharing the at-home family holiday by virtue of birth and special selection as sexual partner. I am glad that I am excluded from the festivity because seeing it from afar is more than enough for me

This is a long and draining film that seems to say little with all too many words sprinkled generously with extensive moments of no action.
The acting is superb and if that is why you see films, to watch great acting, you will not be disappointed. But the story lacks a punch and love conquering all doesn't do it for me. Maybe it will for you.

See the Christmas Tale to learn the routine of the French Christmas holiday at home ( don't go to Paris for the Christmas holiday because it is virtually deserted for the night and day).

This is a true to life film in a fairy tale sort of way that was just too over the top for me.

But if you enjoy seeing how people can change and life go on, always a little easier for wear you will be one of those viewers who go back again and again to re-experience is nicer kinder make believe world.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine: Witches Brew

10/29/08

Wings of Defeat: Targets The Kamikaze


Neda Ulaby

By Jan Aaron

Have you heard about the elderly kamikaze pilots?

It sounds like the punch line to a bad joke. But, it’s not

About 4,000 Japanese pilots killed themselves during WW II, bombing only 34 U.S. ships. Hundreds survived for various reasons: like having missions canceled, or the war ending before their number came up.

“Wings of Defeat” director Risa Morimoto, a New York based Japanese American was drawn to the story of these one-way “boy pilots” (some were teenagers) for personal reasons. Her late uncle, who trained to be a kamikaze in the Japanese Imperial forces, survived the war.

With Linda Hoaglund, born and raised in Japan, and a daughter of American missionaries as producer/writer, Morimoto went to Japan and began her investigation by contacting her family for background on her uncle. She discovered that he was a kindly man who wasn't forthcoming about his war time activities with his children, her cousins.

They find other subjects: four elderly men who survived the harsh training, and so-called volunteerism of the Tokkotai Corps, who believed they would be elevated to the status of gods upon completing their missions. (A similar promise is made to today’s Middle East suicide bombers.) The surviving men seem to have been given a zest for life. They don't seem proud of their past as kamikaze. They, in fact, look rather embarrassed about it.

By weaving in top notch archival material, such as wartime propaganda posters and movies, the filmmakers establish how we were during the war effort. Some of the most heart-breaking footage shows Japanese teens posing for their funeral portraits and toasting with sake to numb themselves before their fatal flights. Their planes held only enough fuel for one-way journeys.

The kamikaze corps wasn't established until 1944 when the Japanese government realized they had no chance of winning the war. Things disintegrated so much that emperor decreed all citizens were kamikazes.

During Morimoto’s interview, a survivor of the USS Drexel, one of the sunken U.S. vessels, makes this shocking admission: “We would have done that,” referring to the kamikaze missions, “We had people who were that patriotic.” Thus the border between patriotism and blind obsession is blurred and “Wings of Defeat” causes us to think. It’s revelatory about war and the government’s responsibility to their people during war.




Wings Of Defeat: Another Commentary

By Linda Z

This documentary explores the intimate details through memory of the surviving kamikaze Japanese warriors during WWII

The kamikaze were the Japanese warriors trained to crash their planes into Allied targets in World War II. Around 4,000 of them died during the war's last days.

This is an extraordinary documentary in terms of the ebb and flow of the interviews and information presented and the wealth of information that the warriors were willing to convey

Clearly Neda Ulaby has a gift that enables people to trust her even with the cameras running. The results is a long overdo

In this masterpiece documentary done with the delicate touch of a woman and the persistence that is seemingly inherent in her gender, we now have a discussion, a view of what it was like to be Japanese and to face the potential of certain death at a young age. What did inspire the boys to give their lives for their country knowing that the deck was stacked against their ever coming home once they hit the skies.

was it love of Japan?
love of the Emperor to whom they had been indoctrinated into believing blindly from the time they were born, something like the way millions of people are brainwashed into believing the religious saga of choice. Was it the Saki they downed deep into their bodies before they ran off to their death machine, their all too small and inadequate plans, or was it an inherent nature that pushed them into believing that they were doing the right, the only thing: to die for their country and meet whatever there is in the hereafter?

Are the kamikaze a portrait of a terrorist or a picture of people trapped into a world that did not value human life, (much as the world today fails to value human life) and were forced to do what they didn't want, what their parents didn't want, what no sane man in tune with the reality of the potential of their own death, would ever do of their own free will.

Spend the money, take the time, see Wings of Defeat and then buy it to keep as a reminder.

More information is online at: http://www.edgewoodpictures.com/wingsofdefeat

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine: Witches Brew

10/24/08

The First Basket

David Vyorst
writer/producer/director

Narrator Peter Riegert


The First Basket explores through vintage film and current voices, the important Jewish history of basketball while revealing the assimilation of European Jewish people into the American way of life.


At center sage in this documentary is the moment when Ossie Schectman, a Jewish kid from Brooklyn, made the first basket for the New York Knickerbockers back in 1946


This documentary chronicles the elevation of basketball from its roots, (invented by Dr. James Naismith in Springfield MA) to today when it enjoys a huge viewing audience in this sports crazed American way of life. It is a story told through those now old men who made history with their personal and team worthy performances.

This is a story about men, minus any love for women, with only an occasional momentary smile or nod to the mothers who raised the men and the fathers who struggled to bring food into the tenements where the children slept in over crowded conditions. The coaches replaced the players parents in importance, and their homes were secondary to the settlement houses where the children played ball.

This is not an easy documentary to see. It is a tragic yet real portrayal of how these same Jews once eager to be part of the American Culture went on to establish their own Olympic games for Jews only and left their allegiance to American culture in favor of their own State, their own self imposed isolation for which all Americans now contribute financially and the middle east citizens give their lives and livelihood to support the distinctly Jewish/Israel way of life.

But if you like basketball, if you like to see history unfold and if you like to remember or learn about a past way of life and a former era when people seemed to fight less even with war raging, while Hitler rose to fame and fortune, see this documentary. You won't regret the experience.

And if you want to see the "greats" come back to life, see them in The First Basket:

Red Auerbach, Red Holzman, Dolph Schayes, Red Sarachek, Barney Sedran, Eddie Gottleib, Abe Saperstein, Ossie Schectman (that above-mentioned kid from New York who scored the eponymous First Basket), Ralph Kaplowitz, Sammy Kaplan and many more.


RT: 86 minutes. Visit The film's website: www.thefirstbasket.com.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT vine: witches brew

House Of The Sleeping Beauties: Sexually Desirable When Drugged

More aptly titled Sexually Desirable When Drugged, the movie features slumbering sex slaves in what seems like a role-over-and-play-dead necrophiliacs brothel for grumpy old men. And nothing less than a romanticized and lusty aesthetic portrayal of virgin date rape.



CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

The Lazarus Project

Combines chilling psychological Halloween season horror with other scary notions like medical experimentation, death row, criminal redemption as an extinct idea, and religious tyranny.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

10/1/08

RELIGULOUS Larry Charles, Director




Excert from the October 25, 1988 New York Times
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE

'Government officials, religious leaders and film directors condemned today an apparent arson attack against a Paris theater that was showing Martin Scorsese's film ''The Last Temptation of Christ.'' The fire Saturday night left 13 people hospitalized, 1 of them in serious condition.

The fire, if it proves to be arson, would be the most serious incident in a series of attacks against the film in Paris, Lyons, Nice, Grenoble and several other French cities. The incidents have included the clubbing of moviegoers and the throwing of teargas and stink bombs in theaters.

The film, which seeks to show the human side of Jesus and which includes a scene in which he imagines having sex with Mary Magdalene, created a storm of controversy throughout France well before the movie opened in 17 theaters in Paris on Sept. 28. The Theater Is Gutted'


The religious right is a force not to be ignored. Above the law of the land they consider their actions justifiable due to the will of God and the need to preserve an image of Jesus as their Savior. They do not bargain because those who disagree with their interpretation of the word of the lord is a devil. Even in France where Joan of Arc is revered as a saint, proven not to be the devil, the image of the devil lives on and is used to justify murder, plunder, and the arson of public property.


Hopefully Bill Maher's film, done with as even a hand as possible and with a generous sprinkle of humor and good will towards all will survive those who consider their mission in life to save all, particularly those who chose not to be saved.

If for no other reason than to assert your right to disagree, to explore, to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the first amendment of freedom of expression, see this film. Candy rosary beads are optional but mint flavored crosses are a must.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine:witches Brew

City Of Ember

Bill Murray on grouchy mayors, sardines and caviar, the experience of eating and being eaten in a movie, and stunt gluttons.


CLICK TO READ HERE

Summer Hours: Olivier Assayas A New York Film festival selection

cast:
Juliette Binoche
Charles Berling
Jeremie Renier

Nature, time, modernity are captured in this 2008 film that uses the art world of revered objects to bring past things to light in modern day France.

The characters are three forty something siblings, their spouses, their childern who experience the movement of time when they pay their last visit to the family home. The oblicatory reunion has rules, timing of its own with its not so hidden agenda to remember, to interact with their mother and to look to the future when the house, their mother and its exquisite art objects will no longer be a tangible part of their lives.

The abandonment of the family residence held together by an aging matriarch heralds doom of yesterday and a new beginning for tomorrow. It is the connection to nature in which the home is situated, to the movement of time from which no one escapes and the emergence of the next generation with all their energy and uniqueness that form the material of this intense, yet slow moving film experience.


Summer Hours is not for every one. If you enjoy those high intensity, stimulus overloaded extravaganzas this film will leave you wanting. But if you have the time and the patience to experience a film emerge as if from within rather than bombarding you from without, this film will be a rewarding and memorable experience.

A New York Film Festival Selection:
Ziegfeld theater 9p.m. Oct 2



inda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine: witches brew

9/28/08

Fireproof:: Reader Comments, And Comments On The Comments

The religious right has been quiet too long. We need to find our voice, write to our opponents, let our voice join with the voice of God and spread the message that Jesus brought into the minds and hearts of million, billions, soon to be trillions of humans

We need to come out and let his voice bring us freedom, the freedom to live in harmony, the freedom to oppose the murder of the unborn and the murder of those born but not yet converted into the ways of those who really "know".

The need for religion to become part of politics is long overdue. We need to join forces with Political powers without fearing the loss of our revenue from the not soon enough taxed income of our ever growing land and land holdings.

We need to teach our young to care more about God and the here after than what goes on on earth and we need to do this before the store(our accumulated wealth) is given over to a government, or to immoral, unmarried and childless adults. We need to examine the American budget, with the largest military spending to help the government bolster the murder of those not blessed by the Lord or those who dared to disagree with us in terms of their thoughts, their appearance, their place of origin.

We need to unite in tangible action. This moment of urgency has never been more pressing than Now, while fear of almost everything is in the air and people feel the helplessness from living without God or Jesus by our sides. This film, P. Miller's review and the subsequent comments help to focus our needs, our strengths and our inability to think for ourselves particularly in the here and now, on this blog site where peace and love and tolerance for divergence in opinion seem to be lacking.

Today we speak out against the likes of Prairie Miller and her brazen review. Tomorrow we will glory in the voice of Sara Palin as she speaks loud and clear for us, for motherhood and the religious right.

I can't wait. Can you?


Linda Z

9/27/08

Body Of Lies Movie Review: Imperialism Is Sexy?

While the macho swagger and bullying tactics of these CIA interlopers around the planet have all the finesse of a wrestling ring, imperialism is made to comes off as really sexy.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

9/22/08

New York film Festival selection: the WindMill Movie

a film by
Alexander Olch
produced by
Susan Meiselas

The Windmill is an extraordinary documentary not just because the story is interesting but because it demonstrates the very best in documentary film making. The Windmill is an experience rather than a story told, that is revealed with the intent of bringing to the screen the genius of Richard(dick) P. Rogers along with his nontraditional way of life. What made him an extraordinary person is first his genius and secondly his life choices and the interactions with his mother that propelled him to be different; as different as she was, he became. What he lacked was insight into himself. His fear of seeing who he was kept him from finishing his life's goal of a documentary that was about him rather than others. That goal has been met in this film, achieved with painstaking devotion and talent by Alexander Olch.

I enjoyed this film because of the subject, richard P rogers and because of the creativity displayed such as the after birthday party balloons filling the living room like sperm swimming inside a woman's body. There was a poetry in images and thought that seemed to radiate intelligence, delicate selction of material and an overall compulsion to have richard live on in the mind of those who knew him and those who didn't

this achievement worth seeing.

Sunday Oct5
6p.m. Ziegfeld theater


Lina Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT vine:witches brew

New York Film Festival's The Class

There is something so compelling about the experience of seeing or being part of a work place where love and respect for one another prevail on a daily basis.
That is what Laurent Cantet has achieved by selecting the real students as actors and basing the story on the teacher who also wrote the book upon which the film is based.
This film reflects the real deal, the junion high school experience of working class french life, an intense view of who these children are and how their teachers strive to provide the best way to educate and discipline them, when needed.


The film's director, Laurent Cantet's intent was to present the class as " a sounding board, a microcosm of the world, where issues of equality or inequality - in regards to opportunity, work and power, cultural and social integration and exclusion - play out concretely" To achieve this goal and have the experience be emotionally gripping is the task he achieved with concument skill.


The New York Film Festival has done us all a favor by bringing the Class to the New York City cinema.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine:witches brew

9/19/08

Quilombo Country

Quilombo Country
Leonard Abrams Director
Narrated by Chuck D(Public Enemy rap star)

Plot: Brazilian slaves, those that escaped and rebelled live in villages separate from the modernized world of the big city.
Quilombo Country provides an intense view of these villages and the people's way of life that is far beyond the world of money, greed and "prosperity"

Commentary:
There is something almost magical about the primitive third world life style of those who are able to hold onto their traditional way of life in spite of all the pressures worldwide to conform to the here and now of the 21st. century. This documentary, Quilombo Country, affords the viewer an opportunity to see, to go back in time, to find what is so poignantly missing in our world; and to find other people not yet at the mercy of the greedy capitalistic world except of course that their continued existance is always in peril.


This 73 minute documentary tells a story with Chuck D, the famous rap artist best known for Public Eneny narrating the tale. He adds an element of importance and immediacy to our viewing experience. We are allowed to honor the importance of Brazilian slaves who earned their freedom for their ability to create and sustain a life afer slavery. It is an inspirational experience, a view of the unknown but knowable that will bring hope and wonder to its audience.


this is the kind of film that allows us to face the turbulent times of today with an image that beyond despair life here on earth will bring its own rewards.


opens in New York City's Pioneer theater
155 East Third Street
Septtember 19-25


A good film for the family to see and discuss: The film's creator, writer-director, Leonard Abrams will take questions after the Friday and Saturday screenings.


Linda Z
WBAI women's collective
RT Vine:Witches Brew

9/18/08

NY Film Festival: Sexuality And Government: A Conversation With Nagisa Oshima About In The Realm Of The Senses


Baring much more than bodies, Oshima delves deeply into subconscious carnal desires under the influence of society, and the eternal human contradictions between liberating sexual impulses and erotic enslavement.

By Prairie Miller

While the Japanese Imperial Army marched through Tokyo in 1936, fanning the flames of fascism and raising flags and guns, geisha maid Sada Abe was seen wandering the streets in a state of rapture waving the freshly severed genitals of her married lover Kichizo. Agreeably strangled by Sada during pursuit of the ultimate sexual high, Kichizo very likely left this world horizontally and with a painful grin on his face.

This real life, mysterious incident, which would have kept U.S. tabloids hyperactive for months, was preempted by the Japanese advance into a not quite unrelated but infinitely bloodier flirtation with militarism and World War II. But master director Nagisa Oshima resurrected the story four decades later in 1976 with In The Realm Of The Senses, his daring plunge into the first artistic porno film ever and perhaps the most erotically controversial movie of all time.

Oshima, who was only a teenager during World War II, but who has been profoundly influenced as a filmmaker by those years, brilliantly constructed In The Realm Of The Senses as sexual expression of the consequences of fanaticism and imperialism on the Japanese soul and flesh. Baring much more than bodies, Oshima delved deeply into subconscious carnal desires under the influence of society, and the eternal human contradictions between liberating sexual impulses and erotic enslavement.

Oshima, himself a contradiction as eminent Japanese movie legend and the most notorious bad boy of cinema in defiance of conservative Japanese traditions, poses with In The Realm Of The Senses the philosophically seductive question: Does a form of government dictate the way people have sex?

As proof that film critics are as much a product of their culture as filmmakers, Oshima expressed amusement in an interview with me about Western claims to know all about the Eastern mind in general. "I use sexuality to protest anything," said Oshima, referring to American journalists who have made a habit of interpreting the boundless sexuality of In The Realm Of The Senses as a rebellion against Japanese inhibitions.

He made clear that his interest is more in raw instincts and motivations beneath the layers of social etiquette. "That is a very big part of the thinking of Occidental people, not ours. I was interested in examining sexuality because it is strongly concerned with the subconscious motivations of human beings. When you are submerged in sex, you are not so conscious or in control of how you behave, not so aware or premeditated. So the subconscious is very alluring to me."

In the film, Sada is a young prostitute laid off at a brothel, who has to start at the bottom of the food chain as a maid at a new one run by a married couple. The husband Kichizo routinely samples the women on a whim, and grabs Sada one day while she's scrubbing the floors, "overwhelmed by the thought that her irresistible hipsmust have made men weep." Though Kichizo only intended her as an appetizer to one of the in-house geishas, he's bewitched by her sexual insatiability.

At first Kichizo is content to marvel at her sexual addictions, sitting back with a cigarette and commenting how strange Sada is while he comes in her mouth. When secrecy from Kichizo's wife becomes too annoying (Sada has to play her banjo loud while sitting on his cock, he stashes Sada away in a secret sex nest across town. Obsession soon becomes an exhausting ordeal, with the couple thinking about giving up eating and sleeping as distractions from a thirst for pure erotic appetite.

Eventually roles start to reverse, with Sada as the sexual aggressor and Kichizo viewing her as a "man eater" who has taken possession of his genitals.

While the couple becomes ever more isolated, virtual prisoners of love in pursuit of superhuman sexual pleasure, they grow increasingly estranged and hostile to the world around them, abusing, assaulting and raping the servants who just want to come in and change the sheets. Drunk on lust and in a perpetual sexual stupor, for them public sex around town becomes no big deal. For purposes of pleasure, it's the surrounding special effects that count.

They're soon lured into the final unexplored realm: sado-masochism and lots of rough sex. Kichizo craves to be strangled, his suffocation heavily symbolic of the couple's hermetically sealed world, and the rest is history.

The real clue to the film's symbolism is in its more politely suggestive, alternate title, 'Empire Of The Senses.' For Oshima, the sexual fixation of his characters is surely not in opposition to, but parallels national values. With intimate human activities linked to social behavior, a deep connection forms between obsession and fanaticism. Feudal notions of absolute worship and mindless obedience are manifested in the couple's relationship, along with self-isolation, insularity, suspicion and a predatory attitude toward the outside world, which also characterized Imperial Japan. Here, the assisted sexual suicide of Kichizo is not unconnected to kamikaze fever, and also potentially interchangeable is the unhealthy worship of an emperor or a lover's dick.

Oshima told me that "the biggest influence on me as a filmmaker was the defeat of Japan in WW II. Perhaps the basic feeling it left me with is that this world is absurd." The director talked about his involvement as a rebellious leader in student movements, and how he has been a target of censorship by government authorities as a defiant independent filmmaker. (In The Realm Of The Senses was smuggled secretly into France for editing, banned in Japan, and seized by U.S. Customs just before its scheduled screening at the 1976 NY Film Festival). "It was an age of change in Japan after WW II, so we expected Japan would change very much. But all that happened is that it became Americanized."

"Everything went back to the past and we were very disappointed, we fought this tendency. Also, the war in Korea started, and we feared the return of Japanese militarism, so we fought Japanese authority. We wanted to destroy conventional morality in Japan, and we expected to find something new. I thought my filmmaking and my existence itself was a form of social protest."

Oshima, who in person startles with his level of intensity and energy for a man in his sixties, has a passionate commitment to his art that seems to well up from the same uninhibited sensuality that saturates In The Realm Of The Senses. It nearly borders on the auto-erotic, in a cerebral kind of way.

"I want to provocate myself first of all, with my films," he said with a mischievous smile as he struggled to express himself with only a partially mastered but fascinating sense of the English language. "I'm very happy if my films provocate people. I don't want to be tied to any subject or any way of filmmaking. If not, I can't make a good movie. I like to be very free when I make a film. This kind of challenge excites me, I want to be excited by myself."

Prairie Miller

9/16/08

The Duchess: Sexual Subversion In Corsets

The Duchess: Not just another royal goddess in a gilded cage costume drama, the film couldn't be more current now, when women bidding for the highest political offices are told to go home and take care of their kids or iron male shirts. Sexual subversion in corsets.


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

9/14/08

BoogieMan The Lee Atwater story

Stefan Forbes: director/producer
rt: 86 min

Is this film a parody, a satire of what American politics has become? Is it the horror story of the decline in American way of life? If it is even close to what is truth then Boogie Man is a horror story come true. Ethics be damned. This is a story of how to win an election where the rules regulating what is said are few if any.

To see politicians such as tucker eskew, howard fineman laugh at the political dirty tricks of lee Atwater as if it were all so much fun. To hear the story of this Carl Rove look and sound and think alike, with all the lies, the catering to the lowest denominator evoked in the wake of human fear and trepidation is to be treated to a worse then Alien drama because we know this is the real deal.


The excuse that seems to satisfy those with even a modicum of conscience is that politics is war. But that assertion deserve further illumination. Who is at war. And against whom. What sides are drawn and what, after the end has been achieved, is the price of this victory.


The current political scene is unquestionably one of money speaking to money. It is also the black versus white war and the war against women by men and women who want to hold fast to a past where child birth is paramount, even more important that the life of the mother to be.

It is a unique time in women history given the inclusion of women into positions of gainful employment formerly reserved for men only. But at the same time, women are now forced into multi tasking or in eliciting the radical man who will take on the ' stay at home father" role. To all of this there is bound to be a backlash, a cry from women to reassert their unique role as the procreator of the species and by men who are confronted with competition from those they deem their inferior.

This 2008 election is about women more than the policies of the hopeful politician who stand before us promising change. Both 'want to be leaders' are so similar in most of their agendas that one is hard pressed to vote for either on the basis of which country they will invade next and for how long.

What is significant is their difference on sex education, on abortion, on the right of a woman to make life altering decisions regarding her own body. The assertion that Sara Palin is a "good mother" seems to be the rallying cry against women who might not want to be a good mother as Sara is said to be. A good mother becomes the battle cry on the front lines of the war against women.

Is being a good mother enough?. Sara Palin is trying to put her values, her concept of the rightful role of women as mother onto the lives of millions of Americans and those in dire need of birth control world wide who would be at the mercy of her power. Again I ask, what is a good mother and does Sara Palin meet the criterion.


Critical women need to examine the difference between having a woman rise to power, which is very significant versus which woman is being pushed forward as the next Vice President and potential ruler of the United States.

How she got to where she is and how she will be delivered to the American public is the essence of Boogie Man. it is a film to be seen. I don't particular care for horror flicks and this one is no exception, except of course, it isn't a fairy tale. it is real. A deadly expose


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine: witches brew

The Family That Preys: Sitcomish Sermonizing, Sudsy Mayhem, And 'Family Values Is The Best Revenge' Tirade As Usual

The Family That Preys: Sitcomish sermonizing and Tyler Perry's trademark 'family values is the best revenge' anthem, awash as usual in sudsy mayhem.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

9/11/08

Towelhead; laugh, cry, think like a woman

Alan Ball Director,
screen writer,
producer

rt: 116 min


How can rape of a thirteen year old girl by an adult man, overt racial prejudice against blacks and Muslims, making fun of the American flag and the Iraq war be brought to the screen without resorting to a black versus white, good versus bad presentation. How can these loaded subjects make us laugh except in the hands of an expert director, Allen Ball, and an author(Alicia Erian)upon whose work this riveting,funny yet tragic story is based.

The key to this achievement is the humor. And the complexity of the characters, the compelling performances by each of the actors and a story that gives us a view of ourselves when we were young and shows what we have become. Not evil just basically out of control and insensitive to others.


Towelhead raises the bar against the horror of life, against the one sided, get the enemy at any cost. It brings us face to face with a reality that doesn't end with a new law or the police policing our interactions to the detriment of us all. This film looks at life and life's events through the eyes of a woman( a rarity in itself) and it is not to be missed.


I was particularly struck by the rape scene played by a 20 year old actress in contrast to the film Hounddog where the rape scene was played by a thirteen year old girl. This selection of actress made Hounddog controversial.
Hounddog brought to the fore the subject of child protection. The film industry seems to consider protection important for the viewer with all their ratings, and the child actor be damned, I think the industry should be more in tune with their actors protection and less focused on who sees what.

Towelhead is a film to be embrace and applauded. If you see one film, support one cinematic effort this year, Towelhead is the film see.

now playing at the Angelica theater on Houston street, New York City



Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine: Witches Brew

Warner Independent pictures
in assoc. with Indian Paintbrush
This is that Production
In assoc. with Your Face Goes Here entertainment

9/6/08

Righteous Kill Movie Review

Righteous Kill Movie Review

CLICK HERE TO READ REVIEW

New York film festival: Get ready

The New York Film Festival has announced this years film events starting September 26th.

The New York film festival is focused on bringing to public attention films that might not ever be shown again. Excellence in film making is not just a matter of dollars and cents. It is a craft, a multi-facated art, a skill. The New York Film Festival has taken the time to see what films are being made in order to bring them to public attention. A film like, "a girl cut in two" was showcased at the New York film festival but took years to reach the IFC New York City village theater.

For those who think film is something more than money for the industry or money to bring life into a community, I recommend you find the time, mark your calendar and be ready for another great season of film viewing.

Below is the Public Schedule of showcase events.

WE encourage our readers to add yours impression and thoughts on what you see. After all, with so many featured films, even our Critical Women team can't review them all.

if you want to give a head's up on particular films you want us to review, tell us now, in the comment section.

46th New York Film Festival, Sept. 26 - Oct. 12
Complete Public Schedule Announced

NEW YORK, Sept. 5, 2008––The Film Society of Lincoln Center announced the complete public schedule for the 46th New York Film Festival today. The Film Society’s annual showcase of the current state of contemporary filmmaking will run Sept. 26 to Oct. 12, while the official sidebar, In the Realm of Oshima, continues to Oct. 13. The majority of festival screenings will be at the Ziegfeld Theatre, 54th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues. Opening and Closing Night screenings will take place at Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, while several special events, panels and the popular HBO Films Dialogues will be at the Film Society’s Walter Reade Theater and in the adjacent Samuel B. & David Rose Building at the Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse.

As previously announced, the festival with open with Laurent Cantet’s “The Class” and close with Darren Aronofsky’s “The Wrestler.” Clint Eastwood’s “Changeling” is honored as the festival’s Centerpiece. The HBO Films Dialogues will recognize the remarkable careers and skills of festival favorites Aronofsky, Jia Zhangke, Wong Kar-wai and Arnaud Desplechin. Special events include filmmaking Martin Scorsese presenting a Technicolor screening of “Pandora and the Flying Dutchman;” Alloy Orchestra on stage with the New York premiere of their newest score, accompanying “The Last Command;” a variety of special panels that will examine current film criticism and discuss issues raised by the films “It’s Hard Being Loved by Jerks” and Guy Debord’s “In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni;” and other events.

Presented by the Film Society, the annual New York Film Festival showcases new works by both emerging talents and internationally recognized artists, including numerous New York, U.S., and world premieres.

The 46th New York Film Festival is sponsored by Chopard, The New York Times and Sardinia Region Tourism. Additional support from illy caffè; HBO Films; 42 Below Vodka, Maxell; and Wines from Spain. Participating sponsors include Stella Artois, Technicolor, agnes b., the Film Foundation and American Express Preservation Screening Program, and Kodak. Special thanks to Cineric; Dolby; CTS; Josephina; O'Neals; The Park Lane Hotel. Trailer courtesy of Bunker New York and Nuncle. The 46th New York Film Festival is made possible with public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

The Film Society of Lincoln Center was founded in 1969 to celebrate American and international cinema, to recognize and support new directors, and to enhance the awareness, accessibility and understanding of film. Advancing this mandate today, the Film Society hosts two distinguished festivals. The New York Film Festival annually premieres films from around the world and has introduced the likes of François Truffaut, R.W. Fassbinder, Jean-Luc Godard, Pedro Almodóvar, Martin Scorsese, and Wong Kar-Wai to the United States. New Directors/New Films, co-presented by the Museum of Modern Art, focuses on emerging film talents. Since 1972, when the Film Society honored Charles Chaplin, the annual Gala Tribute celebrates an actor or filmmaker who has helped distinguish cinema as an art form. Additionally, the Film Society presents a year-round calendar of programming at its Walter Reade Theater and offers insightful film writing to a worldwide audience through Film Comment magazine.

MEDIA CONTACTS:
Jeanne R. Berney, (212) 875-5416, jberney@filmlinc.com
Gabriele Caroti, (212) 875-5625, gcaroti@filmlinc.com



46th New York Film Festival, Sept. 26 – Oct. 12
Complete public screening schedule

EVENT TITLES
NYFF – Festival main slate film
OSH – NYFF Sidebar: In the Realm of Oshima
VAG – Views from the Avant-Garde
SE – Festival special event

SCREENING LOCATIONS
ZT – Ziegfeld Theatre, 54th St. between 6th and 7th Avenues
AFH – Avery Fisher Hall, Broadway and 65th Street
WRT – Walter Reade Theater, 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway, upper level
KP – Stanley H. Kaplan Penthouse, 65th St. between Amsterdam and Broadway, 10th Floor


Friday, Sept. 26
8:00 26A OPENING NIGHT: The Class, 128m (NYFF/AFH)
9:00 26B OPENING NIGHT: The Class (NYFF/ZT)

Saturday, Sept. 27
11:00am Cruel Story of Youth, 96m (OSH/WRT)
12:00 27A Hunger, 96m (NYFF/ZT)
1:00 27B PANEL: Film Criticism in Crisis? (SE/WRT)
3:00 27C 24 City, 112m (NYFF/ZT)
3:00 A Town of Love and Hope, 62m, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy, 24m (OSH/WRT)
4:45 Night and Fog in Japan, 107m (OSH/WRT)
6:15 27D Happy-Go-Lucky, 118m (NYFF/ZT)
7:00 Diary of a Shinjuku Thief, 94m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 Pleasures of the Flesh, 90m (OSH/WRT)
9:30 27E Wendy and Lucy, 80m, with Cry Me a River, 19m (NYFF/ZT)
midnight In the Realm of the Senses, 110m (OSH/WRT)

Sunday, Sept. 28
12:00 28A Happy-Go-Lucky (NYFF/ZT)
12:30 The Man Who Left His Will on Film, 94m (OSH/WRT)
2:30 The Sun’s Burial, 87m (OSH/WRT)
3:15 28B Wendy and Lucy, with Cry Me a River (NYFF/ZT)
4:00 28C HBO FILMS DIALOGUES: Jia Zhangke (SE/KP)
4:30 Empire of Passion, 106m (OSH/WRT)
6:15 28D Hunger (NYFF/ZT)
6:45 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence, 122m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 28E I’m Gonna Explode, 106m, with This is Her, 12m (NYFF/ZT)
9:15 Taboo, 100m (OSH/WRT)

Monday, Sept. 29
4:30 A Town of Love and Hope, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy (OSH/WRT)
6:00 29A I’m Gonna Explode, with This is Her (NYFF/ZT)
6:15 Cruel Story of Youth (OSH/WRT)
8:15 A Town of Love and Hope, with Diary of a Yunbogi Boy (OSH/WRT)
9:15 29B Tony Manero, 98m, with Love You More, 15m (NYFF/ZT)

Tuesday, Sept. 30
4:30 The Sun’s Burial (OSH/WRT)
6:00 30A Tony Manero, with Love You More (NYFF/ZT)
6:20 The Catch, 105m (OSH/WRT)
8:30 Night and Fog in Japan (OSH/WRT)
9:15 30B The Northern Land, 122m, with Surprise!, 18m (NYFF/ZT)

Wednesday, Oct. 1
6:00 1A Summer Hours, 103m, with Ralph, 14m (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 FREE PANEL: The Place of Oshima (OSH/WRT)
9:00 Shiro of Amakusa, The Christian Rebel, 100m (OSH/WRT)
9:15 1B Waltz with Bashir, 90m, with I Don’t Feel Like Dancing, 7m (NYFF/ZT)

Thursday, Oct. 2
4:30 Shiro of Amakusa, The Christian Rebel (OSH/WRT)
6:00 2A Waltz with Bashir, with I Don’t Feel Like Dancing (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 Pleasures of the Flesh (OSH/WRT)
8:40 Band of Ninja, 100m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 2B Summer Hours, with Ralph (NYFF/ZT)

Friday, Oct. 3
4:30 Japanese Summer: Double Suicide, 98m (OSH/WRT)
6:00 3A Gomorrah, 137m (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 3B VAG 1: In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni, 100m (VAG/WRT)
9:30 3C Four Nights with Anna, 87m, with Pal Secam, 14m (NYFF/ZT)
10:00 In the Realm of the Senses (OSH/WRT)

Saturday, Oct 4
11:15am 4A Lola Montès, 115m (NYFF/ZT)
12:00 VAG 2: The Warmth of the Sun, 100m (VAG/WRT)
2:30 4B Night and Day, 144m (NYFF/ZT)
3:30 VAG 3: Andrew Noren, 101m (VAG/WRT)
6:15 4C Ashes of Time Redux, 93m, with Dust, 7m (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 VAG 4: Nathaniel Dorsky, 70m (VAG/WRT)
8:45 VAG 5: Bruce Conner tribute, 89.5m (VAG/WRT)
9:15 4D CENTERPIECE: Changeling, 140m, with Wait For Me, 3m (NYFF/ZT)
midnight 4E Ashes of Time Redux, with Dust (NYFF/WRT)

Sunday, Oct. 5
11:15am 5A CENTERPIECE: Changeling, with Wait For Me (NYFF/ZT)
12:00 VAG 6: Time of the Signs, 84m (VAG/WRT)
3:00 5B Four Nights with Anna, with Pal Secam (NYFF/ZT)
3:00 VAG 7: Craig Baldwin, 123m (VAG/WRT)
4:00 5E HBO FILMS DIALOGUES: Wong Kar-wai (SE/KP)
6:00 5C The Windmill Movie, 80m, with Quarry, 12m (NYFF/ZT)
6:00 VAG 8: still wave, 102.5m (VAG/WRT)
9:00 5D Gomorrah (NYFF/ZT)
9:00 VAG 9: James Benning, 112m (VAG/WRT)

Monday, Oct. 6
6:00 6A Afterschool, 106m (NYFF/ZT)
6:00 6B The Last Command, 88m (SE/WRT)
8:30 6C The Last Command (SE/WRT)
9:15 6C The Headless Woman, 87m, with I Hear Your Scream, 11m (NYFF/ZT)

Tuesday, Oct. 7
4:30 Sing a Song of Sex, 103m (OSH/WRT)
6:00 7A Che, 268m (NYFF/ZT)
6:40 Violence at Noon, 99m (OSH/WRT)
8:45 Japanese Summer: Double Suicide (OSH/WRT)

Wednesday, Oct. 8
4:30 Death by Hanging, 117m (OSH/WRT)
6:00 8A The Headless Woman, with I Hear Your Scream (NYFF/ZT)
7:00 Diary of a Shinjuku Thief (OSH/WRT)
9:00 8B Afterschool (NYFF/ZT)
9:00 Sing a Song of Sex (OSH/WRT)

Thursday, Oct. 9
4:30 Dear Summer Sister, 96m (OSH/WRT)
6:00 9A Tokyo Sonata, 119m, with Love is Dead, 17m (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 Boy, 97m (OSH/WRT)
8:30 Three Resurrected Drunkards, 80m (OSH/WRT)
9:00 9B Tulpan, 100m, with Deweneti, 15m (NYFF/ZT)

Friday, Oct. 10
2:00 Three Resurrected Drunkards (OSH/WRT)
3:45 Kyoto, My Mothers Place, 50m, with 100 Years of Japanese Cinema, 52m (OSH/WRT)
6:00 10A A Christmas Tale, 150m (NYFF/ZT)
6:15 10B Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, 122m (SE/WRT)
9:00 Max mon amour, 98m (OSH/WRT)
9:45 10C Let It Rain, 110m, with Unpredictable Behaviour, 5m (NYFF/ZT)

Saturday, Oct. 11
11:15am 11A A Christmas Tale (NYFF/ZT)
1:30 11B HBO FILMS DIALOGUES: Darren Aronofsky (SE/KP)
3:00 11C Chouga, 91m, with Gauge, 9m (NYFF/ZT)
4:00 Death by Hanging (OSH/WRT)
4:30 11D HBO FILMS DIALOGUES: Arnaud Desplechin (SE/KP)
6:00 11E Tulpan, with Deweneti (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 11F The Day Shall Dawn, 87m (SE/WRT)
9:00 Merry Christmas Mr. Lawrence (OSH/WRT)
9:15 11G Tokyo Sonata, with Love is Dead (NYFF/ZT)

Sunday, Oct. 12
11:15am 12A Let It Rain, with Unpredictable Behaviour (NYFF/ZT)
1:00 12B It’s Hard Being Loved by Jerks, 119m (SE/WRT)
2:30 12C Bullet in the Head, 85m (NYFF/ZT)
4:30 The Man Who Left His Will on Film (OSH/WRT)
5:15 12D Serbis, 90m, with Maybe Tomorrow, 12m (NYFF/ZT)
6:30 The Ceremony, 122m (OSH/WRT)
8:30 12E CLOSING NIGHT: The Wrestler, 109m, with Security, 13m (NYFF/AFH)
9:00 Dear Summer Sister (OSH/WRT)

Monday, Oct. 13
2:00 Taboo (OSH/WRT)
4:00 Kyoto, My Mothers Place, with 100 Years of Japanese Cinema (OSH/WRT)
6:30 Empire of Passion (OSH/WRT)
8:45 Taboo (OSH/WRT)


All times p.m. except where noted

9/5/08

The Tree of Life: a documentary film by Hava Volterra

Playfull art, original historical footage and documentary voices, held together with the voice of director, Hava Volterra.

A personal family saga that illuminates the fascinating history of the Jewish people in Italy.

Commentary:
If you want an enjoyable and artistic film filled with everyday emotions with which we can all identify this film, The Tree of Life, is for you.

It is so beautifully done, the art work interspersed with real people enhances the enjoyment of the production. The music is outstanding and the sound quality, the voices of the people who talk to the viewer, are mostly regular voices not enhanced to make an extraordinary impression.

The footage from days gone by is compelling without being emotionally draining. The recapitulation of Hitler's invasion into the Jewish person's ordinary life is done with unusually delicacy that makes this film a gem.

I particularly liked the image of modern day U-Haul inserted into an historical scene to devote the "move".

For me all 76 minutes of 'The Tree of Life' are worthwhile




Opens Friday, September 12,
at the New York City
Pioneer theater


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine:witches brew

HOUNDDOG

Directed by Deborah Kampmeier

Starring Dakota Fanning, Robin Wright Penn, Piper Laurie, David Morse and Afemo Omilami

Plot: twelve year old white southern, poor girl who thrives on Elvis Presley's Hounddog is thrawted in her life's ambitions when brutally raped by a teenage local boy.

Hounddog is replete with fatal flaws that distract from the potentially powerful story the director feels compelled to relate:

1. the film pivots around the song, Hounddog made super famous by Elvis Presley. The director failed to fact check on the origins of the song and she got it all wrong

2. one of the male characters is poorly drawn. He is a black man from the south, does not speak in his own vernacular. He speaks in a white persons voice with educated language although the character is supposedly poor without benefit of a formal education. This error of authenticity lingers well after the film is over

3. it is one thing to put a twelve year old actor on the screen for short periods of time but to make this fledgling actor into the main character for an hour and forty minute film tries the captive audience's endurance. She is neither sexy nor an attractive woman with whom any adult might want to see more of and she is by all standards less than a seasoned professional actor. To have her engage in a rape scene is just bad judgment for which there is no substantial justification.


4. why this twelve year old girl was throwing up towards the end of the film was not clearly stated but when asked, the director said she was not pregnant after her brutal rape but that vomiting is a natural response to a sexual intrusion into a pre-adolescents body

5. how did the girl go from wanting to kill her father at the beginning of the film, for his physically brutal treatment of her, for which we are to believe she has permanent scars, to saying to him in her parting shot, "I love you"? where did this love come from? there was nothing from him that to my mind might change her feelings of rage to pure love.

I am certain that the viewer will find more fatal flaws but I prefer to go beyond what was wrong into what was outstandingly good about the film; the photography was outstanding, the music was excellent.

historical background was poor. The compulsion to tell a story without real depth or subtlety of performance did real damage to an effort that I wanted to applaud but couldn't

opens September 19, 2008

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

9/4/08

Towelhead: Kicking Open The Suburban Bedroom Door

Towelhead happens to be that rare story making a bold leap into the nearly alternate universe known as the woman's point of view.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

8/29/08

The Women Review: Sex, Lies And Shopping

This new and not improved George Cukor remake dabbles in an exclusively perky patrician female milieu of smart and sassy, if also frivolously inclined backtalk babes.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

8/25/08

Frozen River: Sisterhood Surviving Racial And Economic Strife

Frozen River:
Director Courtney Hunt has achieved a remarkable work with Frozen River, that is both a poignant and exquisitely life-affirming sisterhood rite of passage, and a rare glimpse into the burdened but enduring spirit of the Mohawk Nation.


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

Vicky Cristina Bacelona: A second review by Linda Z

Starring: Scarlett Johansson, Penélope Cruz, Rebecca Hall, Javier Bardem, Chris Messina
Director: Woody Allen
Screenwriter: Woody Allen


Maybe Woody Allen's film, Vicky Cristina Barcelona
is not for everyone. Maybe the world is divided into those who relish sex and striving for love and adventure from those whose intelligence can not embrace animalistic strivings with ease and relative comfort.

I thought Vicky Cristina Barcelona was funny and compelling and posed a real question. Is the exciting life worth living or should we all settle down into the groove for which we might be rewarded with money, stability, friends who interest us not at all with their chatter about money, and house decorations while our minds are on love, passion, sex in all its variation.

The chemistry created and sustained by the strong actors was electrifying I felt as if they could do almost anything on screen and they certainly did go beyond the conventional. But so does the subject matter. For me no one was a "slut" not the men nor the women. They were mature adults trying to find and live with a passion that is not always encountered in life but when it is, it is an experience not easily forgotten


In contrast to Elegy, the recent adaption for the screen of Phillip Roth's novel, I thought Vicky Cristina Barcelona was written more with today's women in mind, There certainly were enough women actors of note used to convey the experience. Where as Elegy had only one woman of importance and several strong male actors.


Elegy is about the "dirty old man" who finally understands he has to go beyond the young and the beautiful woman to find the love that he so desperately needs.
In Elegy the woman gets lost. We know nothing of Penelepy Cruz's life beyond her relationship to the dirty old male professor.


Whereas in Vicky Cristina Barcelona we find that woman. We have a conversation with her and she emerges, not with a clarity of purpose as much as a victim of our puritanical society that so many are forced to adhere to, forced to live their personal lives within the narrow dictates of what is right rather than what is deemed "slutty"

In the world of money, of the highly educated, can there be room for passion, for deviation from the norm? I hope so.

For sanity sake, let us be free; sexually, socially, politically, financially.


Both films were extremely well done. I had trouble appreciating Elegy but each film is compelling in their own way. If you take the adventure into sex and sexual relationship and the worship and exploration of love I recommend both films be part of your experience.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT Vine:Witches Brew

8/22/08

Babylon A.D. Movie Review

Babylon A.D. Movie Review
More travelogue and hi-tech tall tale than terror ride, Babylon A.D.'S apocalyptically minded explosive action sequences often seem seriously out of synch, as if assembled by a dyslexic editing crew.

CLICK HERE TO READ REVIEW

Disaster Movie Review

Disaster Movie Review
Disaster Movie is a much too agreeable satire lite, when it should be going more for the cinematic jugular.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

8/20/08

FLOW: IRENA SALINA

Water is the Essence of Life

I know about water. I drink only bottled water. I know there is a dramatic shortage of water world wide and the multi-national corporations are buying up water and this is the ever present and growing concern for the survival of our fragile world along with global warming and lack of affordable heat and oil for our all too many cars and the entire agricultural industry's hunger for oil to create their fertilizer that fuels our Corn and Wheat and stuffs our cows with too much fat, illness and premature demise.

So why would I travel two hours to see a 84 minutes documentary on a subject that I already have sufficient knowledge; a film that promises to be just another source of concern and worry that I can do nothing about.

Why?

Not just because Flow was selected by the Sundance Film Festival 2008
Not just because the subject is ever pressing but
because everything that I thought I knew about water was just the tip of the iceberg, a tiny fraction of reality that surrounds the process of privitization of Water. Who's water is being bought and by whom?
And what is the relationship between water and chemicals used for medicine, fertilizers and modern day weapons of mass destruction.

This documentary replete with the tragedy of what has happened and continues to happen to our water differs from other must see documentries such as King Corn, because it provides a positive sense of hope, of remedial action.

As with every film compelled by strong emotion and a wealth of supportive detail, Flow doesn't stop haunting us after it is over.

If saving the planet is as simple as seeing a film, there is no convincing reason for not seeing this extraordinary documentary,
even if you live on planet Mars


SEPTEMBER 12, 2008
OPENS IN NEW YORK AND SELECT CITIES



Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
RT VINE:WITCHES BREW