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

1/29/09

HE SAID, SHE SAID: New In Town



HE SAID...

By Gerald Wright

Director: Jonas Elmer
Running time: 96 minutes
Release date: January 30, 2009
Genre: Comedy, Romance and Drama
Distributor: Lionsgate
MPAA Rating: PG-13

I heard that romantic comedies are a staple for many women. When there is an underlying plot of a failing economy in the U.S. involved, it brings a political characteristic to the many characters in this romcom (romantic comedy).

Lucy Hill (Academy Award winner Renee Zellweger) is a Miami, Florida "power businesswoman" in the world of male power brokers. She comes from humble beginnings, however she has tasted the good-life and loves it. In order to compete with the "big-boys" and climb the corporate success ladder, she has become extremely aggressive in taking on projects. She takes on an assignment to downsize a plant in rural Minnesota and finds it difficult to make crucial decisions. This is the underlying plot of the U.S. failing economy, where the corporate worlds' greed is ignoring the everyday working public. Renee's real life background is of humble beginnings. Before she got her big break in the film industry, she once worked as a waitress in a strip-club. So, I would assume she got in character by recalling the big shots that snubbed her.

Once she arrives in frigid cold Minnesota from sunny Florida, absurdly dressed in summer attire, she gets a rude awaking to what cold weather feels like. At this part of the film, which is barely the opening scenes, I knew it was going to be a bumpy ride. Why would an intelligent woman who has overcome the sexual harassment which is so relevant in the business world, not know how to dress in freezing weather - or even change clothing aboard the plane for freezing weather? Is this a bad script? The premise of the story is that she falls in love with the town and its people, which stars Frances Conroy and Siobhan Fallon Hogan as the very funny Trudy Van Uuden and Blanche Gunderson. Their mid-western traditions of sewing, gossiping and cooking kept this film amusing. J.K. Simmons (Juno and The Closer t.v. series) as a veteran union man of the plant gives a good solid lift in his performance to this mediocre film.

However, in every romantic comedy there is always an involvement of deception. In this movie Lucy meets Ted (Harry Connick, Jr.), the man of her dreams. Ted is a union man a.k.a shop steward and single dad of a early teen daughter. Is this the perfect singles match-up? Perhaps not. The new found awareness of Lucy's feelings about shutting down a complete town that depends on a manufacturing plant (which she is directed to dismantle) and the romantic entanglements that she has with Ted, comes a continual battle between comfort and longing.

Harry Connick, Jr. has the ability to pull off a role, but in this case his portrayal of a easy going widower and father of a teenage girl just doesn't fit. His performance is too relaxed and mild mannered for his love interest Lucy who is quite feisty. Renee gave a solid performance, however that isn't enough to carry this film as a lead actress.

I found it difficult to enjoy this film. I realize that the audience is suppose to fall in love with the romance of the character, however there wasn't any genuine chemistry between Renee and Harry. The plot is set up for these two lovers to come together, even against all odds. Renees' character Lucy is to be the spark interest in Harrys' character Ted in order to help create comedic situations as the two desires create humorous confrontations and conflicts. But that spark doesn't ignite a fire between these two actors.

The driving motivations in this genre actually are to grow out of immense pain and loss. The only pain I received was watching this film and the loss was of my time.


SHE SAID...

By Prairie Miller

City versus country, red state/blue state faceoffs, a borderline dragon lady in distress, and class struggle at the dinner table. And the first movie this year to go toe to toe with the looming financial crisis, and those who suffer its effects most. Norma Rae In Stilettos...

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

JACC Political Cinema Nominations Announced On Air


KIT KITTREDGE: AN AMERICAN GIRL: Nominated for OUR DAILY BREAD AWARD, for the most positive and inspiring workingclass images in a movie. A timely gem of a girl power tale for audiences of all genders, big and small, about a diminutive pre-feminist surviving The Great Depression and seizing the historical moment, with a nose for news and an aversion to glass ceilings and the word 'no'.

Included as part of the presentation of The JACC Awards, is an interview with Vera Farmiga, who plays a disillusioned CIA agent in Nothing But The Truth, a JACC contender for LA PASSIONARA AWARD.

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW

CLICK TO READ KIT KITTREDGE REVIEW HERE


The James Agee Cinema Circle
Progie nominations, also known as *THE ANTI-OSCARS* were presented with commentary on Pacifica Radio's WBAI Arts Magazine in NY 99.5 FM at 2pm, on 1/27/09 and archived at WBAI.org. The winners will be announced in mid-February on Air America Radio, just prior to and in oppositon to the Academy Awards.

Other JACC Awards honoring women include: LA PASSIONARA AWARD: For the most positive female images in a movie, and in light of the historically demeaning portrayal of women in movies; ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Named after brutally slain young actress, Adrienne Shelly. For the movie this year most opposing violence against women; KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For Best Actress. Named for Karen Morley, who was driven out of Hollywood in the 1930s for her leftist views, but who maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

VISIT THE JAMES AGEE CINEMA CIRCLE HERE

1/23/09

New In Town Movie Review



Frozen nipples, a borderline dragon lady in distress, and class struggle at the dinner table. And the first movie this year to go toe to toe with the looming financial crisis, and those who suffer its effects most. Norma Rae In Stilettos.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

1/19/09

Reader Mailbag: Hollywood Does It Right With Changeling



Dear Prairie Miller:

Such a nice review of The Changeling - and a lot of other facts learned from it as well! This movie wasn't perfect, indeed it was quite flawed in many aspects, but there was something about it that left me breathless by the time the credits started rolling. And I'm not easily impressed!

This was a trademark Clint Eastwood film, but I felt it was very different from his other works such as Million Dollar Baby. For once, I had no problem with Angelina Jolie's acting - so powerful yet understated - although her character was too saintly for my taste. Finally, Hollywood did something right!

Above all, it was the story that had the biggest impact on me, and I hope I can find a movie or book as good as Changeling. To think that this is based on a true story..
If you're a fan of the movie Changeling and want to know more about Sanford Clark and Gordon Northcott, I just learned that writer Anthony Flacco has a publishing deal with Sterling for The Road Out of Hell: Sanford Clark and the True Story of the Wineville Murders. It's being described as a psychological thriller written in cooperation with the adult living son of Sanford Clark. The book, I'm told, will be out in Fall '09.

I look forward to reading more of your reviews, especially more of dark psychological drama! If you have more to recommend me, please do!!

Hannah

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

1/17/09

Domesticating Female Desire At The Movies




The Fallen Woman And The Rise Of The Screen Siren: The Case Of The Pervert's Guide To Cinema, Kim Novak, And Disempowerment By Suicide In Vertigo.




Sophie Fiennes' The Pervert's Guide To Cinema showcases a gabby shrink's repetitive, often meaningless psychobabble about movies, intermittently projecting male anxiety and aggression on objectified female desire and its imagined culpability. Astute analysis or personal obsession? Paging the shrink's shrink.


CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

1/13/09

The Torturer: a.k.a Force Drift




Director: Graham Green

From the moment the Torturer started and I, the viewer, was confronted with the image of a torturer, I felt my mind drift to irrelevancies, to almost anything but this low keyed action film that I elected to view.

As the film switched from the actual reenactment of the torture scenes to the plush recovery sessions with the "doctor" apologist for the system of law in support of torture, I anticipated with every change of scene a relief, an end to the torture I experienced as a passive bystander.
Of course, there was none.

As the scenes went first from the actual events of torture to the recollection of the torture sessions from a comfortable upholstered artistically decorated professional office I surrendered to the process, to the moment with the dawning realization that the torturer himself was now out of his mind and that I too was in a limbo state of sanity.

Torture is no longer a lofty and widely disputed intellectual debate about whether or not it leads to finding out the "truth". For me the acts of torture speak to the endless reaction of a vivid imagination, and a science gone wrong without regard to the consequences we face for the torture victim on either side of the process.

This is an anti torture film done with a great deal of thought, of first hand knowledge and a commitment that this is not the way to find the meaning of life nor the source of a potentially deadly act.

As a film The Torturer might reach more viewers but this film is essentially a play to be redone over and over again.

Ideal audience would be politicians
Ideal performers, high school students.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

1/12/09

Gran Torino Review

Directed by Clint Eastwood

Bigot, racist
Korean war veteran with a purple heart

hates his family
his children (who call only when they want something)
his neighbors
his church,
he mocks
and avoids

sits on his porch with his dog
with whom he converses
watches gangs emerge
and take over
intimidate with random violence
until....

This is a story of Clint Eastwood
Dirty Harry with a conscience
who sees the police as worthless
corrupt, prone to the same reckless violence
the same lies and rationale for their crimes as
the criminals they are paid to control

this is a story worth telling
and certainly worth seeing

Clint Eastwood, Director, Actor
at his best
as he reflects on our world and introduces
immigrant actors who are worth watching
now and in future films

It is fun, action filled and hard hitting
Need i say more?


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
WFCC member

1/11/09

The Garden Movie Review


Kati Lopez, The Garden


Scott Hamilton Kennedy, Director

A presentation of:
The Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund
Docs on the Shortlist

On Saturday night 1/10/2009, 7 p.m." The Garden" was shown to an enthusiastic public. As late as the previous Thursday Tribecca had not sold enough tickets to make the screening worthwhile. But by Saturday night it was a sold out crowd that battled the City snow to see this documentary. It was a mostly young, thirty something crowd who remembers not long ago or maybe even still frequents the Forever 21 clothing stores.

The Garden chronicles the southern California neighborhood South Central 14 acre Community Farm where in 1992 the riots broke out following the police beating of Rodney King and their subsequent acquittal. This event is repeated with the courts, the politicians, the money and land holders of Los Angeles prevailing as they set about destroying the community garden where the riots once ravished the land subsequently saved through the community's tedious and successful agricultural efforts.

This subject, the destruction of squatters' property and the Community Gardens is one that resonates strongly with New Yorkers. Every day new bigger-than-life buildings are erected, more concrete poured upon our land while the little bit of grass, of foliage disappears never to be seen again even with the activation of the million tree agenda.

In The Garder, Scott Hamilton Kennedy brings into sharp relief the political lies by the unabashed politicians and the court's twists and turns seemingly without reason and behind closed doors, and the ego driven people emerge from beneath their thin covers, those who would rather have land lie baron, unusable dirt than have it be made into green lettuce or food fit for a dinner table.

This is a documentary done with real artistry, with the heavy hand of a team of people who care about the "community' and the youthful energy to persist until they get the story out, the story that the U.S. press hides from its citizens.

The Tribeca and Gucci foundation are committed to bringing to light just this type of hidden political story and Scott Kennedy has met their challenge with an effort well worth the price of admission.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

1/9/09

Conversations With Women Critics

CONVERSATIONS WITH WOMEN CRITICS, a feature of the WBAI Arts Magazine Tuesdays at 2pm EST, airing on WBAI Radio in NY 99.5 FM, and on Web Radio at WBAI.org. Tune in to hear Chicago critic Jan Lisa Huttner challenge the Oscar and Golden Globe nods for Slumdog Millionaire, and the outrageous disappearance of Loveleen Tandan from recognition as co-director.

CLICK TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

WFCC Member Sparks SLUMDOG Brouhaha in Wall Street Journal


LOVELEEN TANDAN, CO-DIRECTOR OF SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE


Dear Friends of Women Filmmakers,

The SLUMDOG brouhaha has reached today's Wall Street Journal, with a few quotes from/references to yours truly, especially this:

"After the 2009 Golden Globe nominations were announced in December, a Chicago film critic launched an online campaign to question the governing Hollywood Foreign Press Association about why Ms. Tandan had not been nominated for best director along with Mr. Boyle. "If she's co-director during the filmmaking and marketing process, why isn't she co-nominee when the awards are passed out?" says campaign organizer Jan Lisa Huttner."

"Ms. Huttner hasn't dropped her effort. She says her real mission (with Oscar nominations coming Jan. 22) is to spotlight how rare it is for female directors to be in the awards race. Only three women have been nominated for best director Golden Globes (Barbara Streisand won for "Yentl"), and three have been nominated in that category at the Oscars, with no winners."

"Ms. Tandan's link to Hollywood has been as a casting director. Director Mira Nair hired the New Delhi native to fill the sprawling cast of her 2000 film "Monsoon Wedding" and recommended her to Mr. Boyle. "She is hugely responsible for the foundation of 'Slumdog,' " says Ms. Nair. "Once you trust that it is authentic, you can go with the pop quality of it. She had the nose for it."


CLICK HERE TO READ COMPLETE ARTICLE



Jan Lisa Huttner
Women Film Critics Circle
JUF News/Fund for Women Artists
& Managing Editor of FILMS FOR TWO
www.films42.com
www.TheHotPinkPen.com

The next International SWAN Day (Support Women Artists Now) will be on Saturday, March 28, 2009! Read all about it at: www.SwanDay.org

1/8/09

The Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2008 Ceremony



DISFIGURED

The Women Film Critics Circle held their annual Awards Ceremony on January 8th. The Ceremony was broadcast live on WBAI Radio, with WFCC members, award winners and guests.

TO LISTEN TO THE SHOW, CLICK HERE

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 46 women film critics and scholars from around the country, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. They came together five years ago to form the first women critics organization ever in the country, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully. WFCC also prides itself on being the most culturally and racially diverse critics group in the country by far, and best reflecting the diversity of movie audiences.

THE WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2008

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

Changeling

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
Frozen River

BEST STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
Jennifer Lumet: Rachel Getting Married

BEST ACTRESS
Melissa Leo: Frozen River

BEST ACTOR
Mickey Rourke: The Wrestler

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

Abigail Breslin: Kit Kittredge and Definitely Maybe

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS: *TIE*
Sally Hawkins: Happy-Go-Lucky
Meryl Streep: Mamma Mia!

BEST FOREIGN FILM
I've Loved You So Long

BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Secret Life Of Bees

BEST UNRELEASED MOVIE
How The Garcia Girls Spent Their Summer

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Nothing But The Truth

BEST MUSIC

Cadillac Records

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE

Eve: WALL-E

BEST FAMILY FILM

WALL-E

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Meryl Streep

ACTING AND ACTIVISM
: Natalie Portman

**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women:
Changeling

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America:
Ballast

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity:
Battle In Seattle

COURAGE IN ACTING
:
Deidra Edwards in DisFigured: For redefining conventional standards of female physical beauty and pride on screen, and promoting positive images of big bodied women.

BEST DOCUMENTARIES:

GROUNDBREAKER:
A Walk To Beautiful: Mary Olive Smith

ABOVE AND BEYOND:
Wings Of Defeat: Risa Morimoto

COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
:
Traces Of The Trade: Katrina Browne

MOST OFFENSIVE MALE CHARACTERS

Choke: Sam Rockwell's lewd leading man sexaholic Victor, may be the first on screen designated dirty young man ever.
Hell Ride: Larry Bishop carries a torch for the opposite sex, and not in that way.
Role Models: Paul Rudd and Sean William Scott master the dumbing down downer, while dabbling in the 'dickish dick' syndrome and man/boy boobie love.
Towelhead: Aaron Eckhart's graphic take the unhealthy male psyche in America, from sexual abuse and racism to foreign aggression.
Zack And Miri Make a Porno: Jason Mewes matches dirty talk kid antics with Swallow My Cockuccino porn smut production method acting.

TOP TEN HALL OF SHAME

The Hottie and the Nottie: The female world according to Paris, and existing only inside Hilton's head, that standing deliberately beside every gorgeous and irresistible babe is a total female dog, sporting acne, rotting teeth, hairy bod and furry toes.

Hounddog: While the sexualization on screen of then twelve year old actress Dakota Fanning is dismissed by the filmmaker and some anti-rape organizations because it's intended to focus on a grave crime, one hand washing the other is not the point.

House Of The Sleeping Beauties: More aptly titled, Sexually Desirable When Drugged, the film allows lewd elderly director Vadim Glowna to star himself as molester and rapist of a series of nude adolescent slumbering sex slaves. A romanticized and lusty aesthetic portrayal of date rape.

The Life Before Her Eyes: In other words, a woman's place is in the delivery room. Not exactly a road movie, but certainly an anti-abortion mandatory teen motherhood guilt trip. All that's missing are the pamphlet tables in the theater lobbies.

Made Of Honor: To hell with safe sex, as a supremely horny lecherous guy gets to be Prince Charming husband material. A womanizer's guide to wedded bliss.
The Family That Preys: Battered wife slugging as comic relief. Ha Ha.

Roman Polanski: Wanted And Desired: A premeditated act of promotional propaganda masquerading as a balanced documentary. And in the service of exonerating - with a creative genius defense - the noted fugitive from justice filmmaker's rape of a drugged female child.

Savage Grace: Julianne Moore's really Bad Mommy among the many crowding the screen this year once again, as her too much information bored socialite hits on her teen son. A depressing and meaningless tabloid cinema smutty glimpse into the depraved family lives of stuffy rich and infamous designer couch potatoes.

The Women: Sex, Lies And Shopping, as filthy rich leisure class females lament their personal woes as victims, not so much of men, but workingclass women.

Zack And Miri Make A Porno: See Most Offensive Males above.

**ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower20rack in her bathroom, to make it look like a suicide. He later confessed that he was having a “bad day.” Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.

**JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.

**KAREN MORLEY AWARD
: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for f emale stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE

WFCC.wordpress.com
Criticalwomen@gmail.com

1/7/09

Grand Theft Auto: The Underbelly of Cadillac Records




By Sikivu Hutchinson

Midway through the recently released Cadillac Records, director Darnell Martin’s film on the groundbreaking record label Chess Records, Martin depicts rock pioneer Chuck Berry unleashing his signature “Sweet Little Sixteen” guitar riffs against scenes of surfing revelry. Berry’s song was notoriously pilfered by the Beach Boys in their song “Surfin’ USA,” a homage to white California youth subculture. Chewed up and spat out by an imperialist marketing machine, Berry’s music becomes yet another Jim Crow soundtrack for Americana pleasure. The first African American female to direct a studio film, Martin’s take on the Chess saga breathes new life into the all too familiar history of gifted black musicians ripped off by a white record promoter. Chronicling the rise of Chess artists Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Berry, Little Walter and Etta James, Martin highlights their struggle to gain just compensation and recognition in a culture whose appetite for “black music” would ripen into a multi-million dollar industry during the 1950s. The avarice of record company owner Leonard Chess, who amassed a fortune from the music of these artists, paying them off with Cadillac cars and shady contracts, is a vivid reminder of the plantation ethos that drives American pop music.

It’s no revelation to say that white appropriation of African American derived music and idioms has been a cornerstone of mainstream American cultural identity, yet Martin’s film throws the question of consumption, commerce and the capitalist subtext of white pleasure into vivid relief. In the film young white women flock to black guitar players at segregated concerts, parading their relative racial and sexual freedom, oblivious to the consequences for black men. For white Americana, the rise of 1950s rock and R&B transformed racial otherness into a more mainstream adventure, a resort vacation into unexplored vistas of self-discovery that even white consumers with a few cents for a 45 record could take. White postwar prosperity and suburbanization made blackness all the more appealing because of its transgressive potential. As long as actual black people remained “out there,” in segregated urban ghettos and rural communities, black cultural production would continue to be a seductive bromide. The 1956 Interstate Highway Act paved the way to white suburbia and ignited a car culture that was baptized in the sounds of rock and R&B. As suburban white flight exacerbated residential segregation, black music became the commodity of choice for a new generation of young white consumers. Yet in the film, scene after scene of crushing poverty, racist police abuse and public humiliation endured by Waters and company underscores the parasitic relationship between white consumption and spatial apartheid. For scores of white record buyers and musicians, classics such as Wolf and Willie Dixon’s “Backdoor Man” and Berry’s “Roll Over Beethoven” would become standards, while segregated black spectators would grow up watching Hollywood scenes of white romance and redemption against the backdrop of black music.

Like Motown, Stax Records and other black-dominated labels, the work of the Chess artists established a new language for white self-invention while foregrounding the disparity between white and black postwar opportunities. The parallels between this history and the commodification of hip hop are compelling. As hip hop has spanned the globe netting mega millions for white corporations it has become another metaphor for imperialist exploitation of black America. Though Berry ultimately won song writing credit on Surfin’ USA after a threatened lawsuit, the film leaves us with the image of the hip swiveling Elvis Presley; his legacy and global empire forged on the backs of African American geniuses unknown and unrecognized in American music history.

Sikivu Hutchinson is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor of blackfemlens.org, an online journal of feminist criticism. She is also on KPFK Radio's Beneath The Surface in Los Angeles, a member of the Women Film Critics Circle, the James Agee Cinema Circle, and a contributor to The WBAI Radio Womens Show in New York City.

The Unborn






CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE



A mostly outlandish tale of really possessive, attention deficit disorder dybuks who can't make up their mystical minds about which body is cool enough to inhabit. And concocted by inane idea gurus who think that genocide and motherhood make for really effective spooky narrative devices to exploit.

Serbis [Service] Review



Directed by Brillante Mendoza

This is the most complicated, physically challenging film I have yet to see. The Director takes his audience into the ins and outs of a family owned soft porn movie theater that functions as their domicile as well as their source of livelihood and the not so hidden livelihood of the gay sex community.

The family life spans four floors of small, cluttered rooms, at least two bathrooms where one is seemingly always flooded or almost so. Laundry hangs everywhere and clothes fought over. Teenage male cousins value what they wear enough to go to battle over one yellow dead man's t-shirt.

The bathing facilities and methods of bathing and the lack of privacy in this ultra busy building often seen through the eyes of a young boy is overwhelming in detail dwarfing the plot; the reason why we are watching this extravaganza of stimuli.

It isn't just that the family life goes on while the film goers come and go that makes for the general confusion. It is the camera's going up and down stairs and into and out of rooms as the story unfolds while we meet and interact mentality with the men and the ultra busy women who drive the family and the film into continual activity and borderline prosperity intermixed with the family saga, (every family has its saga)

The plot is thin but the film captures a way of life in a country I know little about and that makes it a worthwhile experience. It is a life style so different from my own; so noisy, so many people, so much outside traffic and clothes and religious statues and activity and in the middle of one more flight of stairs up and then down and up again and around, I felt almost dizzy but happy nonetheless that I was allowed to see this other side of life, a life where women rule.

Multi-tasking has never been seen as intense nor compelling as it is in Serbis.

Like rain falling down from all directions, Serbis envelopes the viewer. It feels like the film went on and on when in reality it was only 93 minutes.
Why did it end?

I wish it had gone on and on and on. There was so much more to see, to learn, to understand.


Opens January 30th at the Angelika Film Center, New York City

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective


Festival De Cannes New York Film Festival
Official selection Film society of Lincoln Center 2008
Competition

1/3/09

Silent Light: Sex, Lies And Pacifism



Silent Light: Dubious anger management, born again beloved cadavers, Mennonite hot sex, and exotic uptight when not horny gringo fundamentalists through Latino eyes.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE


Silent Light premieres January 7th at NYC's Film Forum.
FilmForum.org

Reader Mailbag: Nailing Eastern Promises


To: Prairie Miller

I just read your review on Eastern Promises. I couldn't stop laughing. EXACTLY what I was thinking and you nailed it. And why are there over one hundred gushing reviews on Rottentomatoes.

What is with that?

Thanks for the great review. So funny.

D. Malatesta


...Barbershop throat slitting, nude macho wrestling and eye gouging in a bathhouse, and far too willing underage Ukrainian sex slaves. A double vodka, please.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

Surviving Revolutionary Road



Revolutionary Road

Directed by Sam Mendes

Synopsis: Based on the celebrated 1961 Richard Yates novel, director Sam Mendes' "Revolutionary Road" is the story of a young couple (Oscar� nominees Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) trying to find fulfillment in an age of conformity. Trapped in a world of encoded convention, they dream without faith, as lies and self-deceptions build to explosive consequences. (RT)

Starring: Leonardo DiCaprio, Kate Winslet, Michael Shannon, Kathryn Hahn, David Harbour, Kathy Bates


Richard Yates, the author of the book upon which this film is based never earned his rightful place in American literation while alive. But now that he is no longer here, Sam Mendes has made a film out of this masterpiece novel and Richard Yates will live on in the minds and hearts of those who take the time to see this extraordinary film.

Revolutionary Road a trip from the American Revolutionary War to the banality of the suburban life that stiffles and destroys humanity. The film remains thankfully and skillfully true to the book. The dialogue, every item captured on camera, the customs, the pictures on the walls, the furniture and that kitchen, unmistakably 1950"s, capture the feel of the 50's where fear pervailed; where people lived under the cloak of repressive McCarthism the likes of which people in this counry never experienced and never thought they would when they died for liberation from the English Monarchy.

Revolutionary Road presents the life of the fifties housewife in brazen detail, the banality, the loneliness, the space between the houses endless without benefit of the "desperate housewives" peering behind freshly laundered curtains. There were no women leaning on rolled up towels peering into city streets from their windowsills. In the suburbs there was the too big house and the for-show-only front lawn where drama erupted and backyard parties where everything not allowed flourished.

Revolutionary Road does not focus on the children or the mandatory 'dinner table' of this era. It magnifies the life of the adults, the women who stay home and the men who go to work, to business. The crowd rushing into and out of train stations the pre-Kennedy hat, the heavily liquored lunches, and the rise into corporate America with a nod to the hum drum grind of the easily forgotten twenty year man who kept the company afloat.

I lived in this era. I survived and that makes this film even more riveting. Remembering when, along with the other film goers who remember now, what we had conveniently forgotten.

The brilliant performances, the script, the music, the cinematography, culminate in the unrelenting brilliant fulfillment of the vision Richard Yates brought into our lives, the lives that made corporate America an industry, a family, a total way of life and love.

Bring back into consciousness what you have forgotten and reach out to those who never knew. See Revolutionary Road because...it is our history, the history of middle class America before women found their voice.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

1/2/09

Waltz With Bashir: Dances With Uzis



The Israeli director and damaged vet doesn't flinch from the images of Palestinian refugee youth with crucifixes carved into their chests by their captors, the screams and slaughter of the women, children and elderly, and the gnawing self-accusation - am I now the Nazi? Dances With Uzis.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

THE WAR MOVIE TODAY: CLICK HERE TO READ MY AUDIO CONVERSATION WITH WALTZ WITH BASHIR DIRECTOR, ARI FOLMAN, AND TOM CRUISE, STAR AND PRODUCER OF VALKYRIE

1/1/09

Mumia Abu-Jamal On Eartha Kitt: Artist And Political Martyr


EARTHA KITT (1928-2008)

By Mumia Abu-Jamal
Mumia.org


For generations, the name, Eartha Kitt, was synonymous with sexy, sultry, and outspoken.

In an industry where careers can sometimes be measured in minutes, Eartha Kitt was the real thing, for quite a while; dancer, singer, actress, and on occasion, a comedian.

Since the tender age of 14, she worked the stage, and for nearly 7 decades, she left her indelible imprint by her work on the big screen, TV, and on recordings.

On Jan. 26, 1928 she was born in South Carolina as Eartha Mae Kitt.

She danced, sang, and acted her way into the hearts of millions.

In 1968, she dared speak out against the Vietnam War, when the war was raging at it's hottest, and was both blacklisted and hounded for doing so. That's because she spoke at a photo op at the White House in the face of First Lady, Lady Bird Johnson (wife of Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson). For daring to speak her mind at the heart of the empire, and for denouncing an Imperial war, the media and the state tried to 'disappear' her. She had to go abroad to find her freedom of speech, where she remained for nearly a decade.

For those who want to see her as a seductive chanteuse, the 1958 film, St. Louis Blues, starring Nat King Cole, Ruby Dee, Pearl Bailey and the gospel great, Mahalia Jackson, is a great source. For a slightly comic turn, see her as an amorous entrepreneurial cougar on the hunt for a young Eddie Murphy in the 1992 film Boomerang starring Halle Berry as the principal love interest.

Although she was known as the quintessential sex kitten for her acting, her public outspokenness came at quite a cost. Her comings, goings, doings and sayings were tracked by both the FBI and the CIA.

She moved through life with an intelligence, wit and nerve that made her distinctive and unforgettable.

Eartha Mae Kitt was 80.

--(c) '08 maj

[Source:African Arts and Letters, eds, Appiah, Kwame Anthony and Henry Louis Gates, Jr., (Phila., PA: Running Press, 2004.]
==============

The Power of Truth is Final -- Free Mumia!

Audio of most of Mumia's essays are at: http://www.prisonradio.org

PLEASE CONTACT:
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AND OFFER YOUR SERVICES!

Send our brotha some LOVE and LIGHT at:
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A Life in the Black Panther Party*, from South
End Press (http://www.southendpress.org); Ph.
#1-800-533-8478.]

2008: Final Close Ups on Faces Framed in Classic Films



Cyd Charisse and movie magic.

2008 Marked By Final Close Ups on Faces Framed in Classic Films Such as GWTW, Casablanca: Notes on Nina Foch, Van Johnson, Edie Adams & Others

By Penelope Andrew*


A significant theatrical loss in 2008 was that of the versatile and lyrical actress Lois Nettleton who worked in all three mediums--film, television, and theater—and did so brilliantly. Anita Page, born in 1910, who starred with Gable, Valentino and Joan Crawford, worked up until this very year in Frankenstein Rising, which is currently in post-production. Two of the youngest actors who passed away were Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain, I’m Not There) and Brad Renfro (The Client, Ghost World). In their brief careers in film, they created touching characters that may stand the test of time.

Screenwriter Anthony Minghella who also directed nine films including The English Patient, The Talented Mr. Ripley, and Truly Madly Deeply died well before his time. In 2009, his adaptation of Nine will be released without him.

This year even saw the passing of two actors from Gone With the Wind (1939)--Evelyn Keyes who played Suellen O’Hara, sister to Vivien Leigh’s Scarlett and Fred Crane who portrayed Stuart Tarleton one of Scarlett’s many (many) beaus and twin brother to George Reeves’ Brent. Joy Page--who had a small, but memorable part as a young newlywed in Casablanca (1942) whose virtue is saved by Humphrey Bogart’s Rick—died in April. And then there were losses like Cyd Charisse, Jules Dassin, Paul Scofield, Suzanne Pleshette, Richard Widmark, Charlton Heston and Sydney Pollack that defy adequate memorializing. Just mentioning their names evokes a sense of movie magic.

Like Doris Day, Edie Adams, who died in October, was a wonderful singer and actress in comedies (Lover Come Back, It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World) and dramas (Love With the Proper Stranger, The Best Man). Unlike Day, she seldom portrayed leading ladies in film.

Adams conquered Broadway in a variety of musicals and plays winning the coveted Tony Award in 1956. She sparkled in television commercials as the spokesperson for Muriel Cigars, one of her trademarks to this day. She worked often in television and her 1960 appearance in the final episode of The Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour where she sings a lovely and melancholy version of “That’s All” is a classic, ironic moment of TV history (Ball and Arnaz were divorced one month later).

Nina Foch was also not often cast as a leading lady in film but always made her unique contributions felt. Born in The Netherlands in 1924, she began working in Hollywood around 1943. In 1945, she got her big break in My Name Is Julia Ross. Foch was a gifted actress, television and theater director, an uncredited assistant director on The Diary of Anne Frank, and a much sought after acting coach and teacher.



Actress Nina Foch b.1924 died on December 5, 2008. She worked in film and television and performed in Shakespeare on Broadway.


Foch is best known for appearing in An American in Paris, The Ten Commandments, Spartacus and as secretary Erica Martin in Executive Suite. This role in director Robert Wise’s film was so miniscule that he had to cajole her into doing the part. It paid off with an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress, the film’s only Oscar nod in an acting category. Foch managed to eclipse the performances of her formidable co-stars--William Holden, Barbara Stanwyck, Fredric March, Shelley Winters and Walter Pigeon--who had much larger roles. The National Board of Review wisely tapped her for Best Supporting Actress of 1954.

From the 1940s through the 1960s, Foch took on Broadway as Cordelia in King Lear, Olivia in Twelfth Night, and Dynamene in A Phoenix Too Frequent.

Foch hit the television circuit during its Golden Age appearing in such venerable institutions as The General Electric Theater, The Dick Powell Show, Playhouse 90 and Kraft Television Theatre. Working steadily from the 1970s through the new millennium, she made appearances in The Mod Squad, Lou Grant (winning herself an Emmy), and L.A. Law and proved a genius at comedy playing off David Spade in Just Shoot Me! in 2000. Her final screen appearance was in 2007 in an episode of The Closer.

Foch was an unintentional but natural scene stealer in the tradition of great actresses like Lynn Redgrave (think Kinsey, Gods and Monsters), Peggy Ashcroft, Edith Evans, Judith Anderson and Patricia Neal. She remains the leading lady in her own stunning career as an artist.

What can you say about an actor whose trademark was wearing red socks? Van Johnson began making films—ironically, mostly pictures about WWII in which he was not allowed to serve due to a car accident that almost cost him his life--in the early 1940s. Like Adams and Foch, he thrived in the Broadway theater (La Cage aux Folles, Pal Joey), Hollywood films, and television (Rich Man, Poor Man receiving an Emmy nomination).

Johnson was leading man to Deborah Kerr (The End of the Affair), Elizabeth Taylor (I Remember Paris), Judy Garland (In the Good Old Summertime marking the debut of a 3-year-old, newcomer Liza Minnelli) and Jane Wyman (Miracle in the Rain). He was a player in Hollywood’s most elite club of actors: Humphrey Bogart (The Caine Mutiny), Spencer Tracy (A Guy Named Joe), Katharine Hepburn (State of the Union), Irene Dunne (The White Cliffs of Dover), Gene Kelly and Cyd Charisse (Brigadoon), Ginger Rogers, Walter Pigeon and Lana Turner (Weekend at the Waldorf), Greer Garson (Madame Curie) and Robert Mitchum (Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo). Johnson was a consummate performer.

The media did not forget Paul Newman. He was the subject of hundreds of tributes and obituaries on websites, magazines, newspapers, radio and television. All totaled--even combined with the mourning and accolades displayed in countless articles appearing all over the world—these were insufficient to sum up a face, a career and a life such as his.

Sadly, late December marked the passing of singer/actress, cabaret performer extraordinaire and civil rights/anti-war activist Eartha Kitt, playwright/Nobel Laureate Harold Pinter (The Homecoming), and director Robert Mulligan (To Kill A Mockingbird). The world won't be quite the same without them, but their lovely work endures.


A different version of this article appeared in The Huffington Post:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/penelope-andrew/many-faces-framed-in-clas_b_153646.html


*Penelope Andrew is a writer/editor with a special interest in film, culture, the arts and social justice issues. She is also a certified psychoanalytic psychotherapist and practices in New York City. Her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Universal Press Syndicate, The Hellenic Voice, and The New Manhattan Review. She is active in The SaveDarfur Coalition and a member of The Phi Beta Kappa Society, Amnesty International, The Film Forum, The Women Film Critics Circle, and The American Association for Psychoanalysis in Clinical Social Work. She is also a Fellow of the NYSSCSW.

She can be reached at: PeneAndrew@aol.com.