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

8/14/09

Inglourious Basterds: Tarantino's WWII Rocks



A glourious rude mix 'n match of subtitles, nazi scalps, guerrilla warfare cinema and testicle blood-soaked subterranean French cellar saloon shootouts, the movie is a vintage QT Western European western. In other words, Tarantino's WWII heartfelt warsploit rocks.

CLICK TO READ REVIEW HERE

8/13/09

Baad And Baader: The Baader Meinhof Complex Review


HE SAID....

Martina Gedeck brilliantly portrays Meinhof, a married woman with twins, who like Gudrun Ensslin left her child for idealism. Meinhof joined the group in 1968 after the attempted assassination of student activist Rudi Dutschke, which provoked her to write protest articles on topics such as the Vietnam War...

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Gerald Wright
HDFEST.com
Film Showcase



SHE SAID....

Bold more-than-meets-the eye brand of moviemaking, this impassioned political thriller takes no sides in a radical movement with extreme women front and center, while dissecting the Red Army Faction's ideological seduction of actually one fourth of the German population.

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller



...But then, that is the point of the film. To bring to our attention the thoughts, the ways of Revolutionaries whom we might not know and can't understand. After the full experience of two and a half hours of The Baader Meinhof Complex, one cannot continue to think we are all knowing, all caring, all right.
This is not a summer evening's casual date flick. It is a provocative and brilliant creation that will remain in the viewer's mind.
Whether or not we want to remember, we will.


CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective


My One And Only: Marilyn Monroe, Blanche Dubois And Busting Out Of The Gilded Cage



...A kind of stinging screwball blend served up raw, and a magnificently impressive tribute, warts and all, to a woman who was no Thelma & Louise, but hardly the coy shrinking violet she was often pressured to be either. And with Renee Zellweger in an award worthy performance, as a fashion plate mix of Mariyn Monroe and Blanche Dubois. And very much the pre-feminist womanchild feigning sexual empowerment, while into denial about the lot of 1950s conventions that still shackled females to caged bird social and economic dependence on men....

CLICK TO CONTINUE READING REVIEW HERE

LISTEN TO EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH GEORGE HAMILTON HERE


MY ONE AND ONLY

By Linda Z

Director: Richard Loncraine

Actors: Renee Zellweger, Kevin Bacon, Logan Lerman

Written by Charlie Peters

Inspired by incidents in the life of actor and Hollywood icon George Hamilton:

Good story
Great script
Great acting

fun
courageous
entertaining
inspiring
poignant
true to life story:

a family film
for everyone
except those who define themselves
the holders of sacred family values
with God on their side, not ours.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

American Casino: Sub-Prime Mortgages Made Simple?


A Film By Leslie and Andrew Cockburn

...I went to see American Casino with all the anticipatory urgency this complicated subject of mortgages gone awry creates, and left feeling even more confused. Only now I am certain I will never understand the world of finance that has seriously diminished the quality of my life and destroyed the lives of many I know and have heard about.


CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective



...If this sounds somewhat like the sort of Ponzi scheme that got Bernard Madoff busted but let everyone else there off the hook, think sacrificial lamb serving as distraction to an entire tainted system. American Casino: Home invasion, Wall Street style.

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller

Commentary On Film


There seems to be a trend in film today whereby the illusion of power is being brought to the screen with Vampires and Witches, mythical/imaginary role models empowered with more than the tools and abilities with which we are innately endowed.

Witches against the police or on their side, witches being the good and the bad women in our midst, seem to have taken over where the super human like man once reigned.

Sci-fi presides, gives bizarre dimension to reality because ordinary emotional experience is suspended. Or is it? Action, high tech production is what our youth spend money to see, to enjoy.

This trend is happening in the context of the American people gone awry due to the Bush administration's deliberate policy to ignore public protest against the Iraqi War from its inception, before the bombs fell and the Iraqi people were murdered by the millions, the Americans by the thousands.

This perceived and real powerlessness to effect the U.S. and world ruling elite is countered not with real assessment, but with the soothing hand of film that provides an illusion of power to millions who know power is not within their grasp; not under the Bush administration and not with Obama in power. These men just steer the course of a destiny that leads directly into a downward trend with periodic eruptions of doom and destruction, and erosion in the quality of human life.

The experienced powerlessness in the face of disaster is true for women who are empowered on film with witch's powers, and the ability to ride high on the wire as it once was. And still is for the super man who becomes the humanitarian we all want to know or to be.

Obama is already a huge disappointment, going back on one promise after another. Except, of course, the promise to invade Afghanistan; to destroy, to conquer, to take command through what ever means possible. That he once promised to hear and act upon the pain of ordinary citizens (the community) means that he knows what is right. That he goes back on his word means that he doesn't care to hear and respond. And it makes him a more potent enemy of the people than Bush, who presented the truth without the glory of being idealized.

And in the pursuit of some imagined need that this third world country, Afghanistan seems to pose for this "miracle" President and not for the rest of the world, the U.S. administration on high, elicits the young who are the life blood of hope, of possible change and potential ability for us to escape from the horrors of impending universal destruction, which is on the minds of people everywhere.

Imagine a world without war. Imagine films without World War II as the main attraction. Would film have survived?

Imagine a world where War stops, and men and woman come home. Imagine if all those young and middle aged people don't have the military as a possible place to gain/earn money.

Imagine if the military budget is naught.
What would happen to the value of the dollar?

Imagine if more people lived into middle and old age.
How would the ruling elite address the problem of overpopulation right here in the U.S.A.?

Think of the unemployment problem, think of the scientific problems,
think of the problem of spreading the wealth.

What if Joan Rivers and Donald Trump and their TV shows promoting the value, the glory of wealth were deemed immoral, taken off the air and the participants were put in jail for excessive accumulation of wealth.

Image if being wealthy were a crime, punishable in a court of law.
Imagine if murder and torture were not a potential source of empowerment, but the heinous crimes that they are.

Imagine if we didn't need witches and supermen and vampires with all their variety of changes and bizarre empowerment, to gain control over ourselves and restore the fragile links of love, of honest enjoyable, competition, of debate, of conflict resolution without violent or quasi-violent behaviors.

Imagine if film focused on the real feelings of fragility that we all feel, and brought creative solutions into the vacuous world of ideas that dominate our films, our media, our minds.

Imagine,
Films, the battleground for our survival, filled with attractive provocatove ideas and genuine feelings portrayed through artistic media that it portends to be.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

8/12/09

DISTRICT 9: Artsy Vertigo, Creature Discomforts, And Inter-Species Sex For Sale

Pregnant Man: I Did Not Have Sex With That Alien

Artsy vertigo, racial profiling from outer space, black on prawn violence, Nigerian gangsters into cannibalistic health food diets, and inter-species creature sex for sale. And no, I did not have sex with that alien.

While Hollywood's early venture into science fiction predominantly pandered to public panic related to the Red Scare, the postmodern sci-fi paranoia of choice, if District 9 is any indication, seems to be the color black. In utter disregard of the loathsome racist history of apartheid in their country creating the dismal reality of poverty and pending chaos today, a team of white South African filmmakers has concocted a racially coded alien invasion mockumentary in the guise of entertainment...

CLICK TO CONTINUE READING REVIEW HERE

READER MAILBAG: South Africans Okay Racial Profiling As Entertainment

As a South African I can say that I found Prairies preachy, outraged tone offensive in the extreme. She has no idea what it was like growing up in a military dictatorship and what the sensibilities of South Africans are. This film is going to be interesting for us, as it is set in an environment that is essentially familiar, but wrapped up in Hollywood action. It's something I'm sure people in SA will find interesting and liberating, as it embraces the darkest side of our lives, and then essentially frappes it; creating something new and unrecognisable. We live in a country with a tortured, twisted past... We've been longing for some lighthearted entertainment, something that looks us in the eye and affirms our difficulties, but in the end simply entertains. This might well be it. With the recent past steeped in shoot-to-kill fascist extremism, this film might help lighten us up a bit. Maybe not, but give us a chance, Prairie. This is our country, after all.

Kind regards,
Jed C.
South Africa

I have no problem with negative reviews of movies, I do not however agree with some of the points you made. I am a South African and saw the xenophobic attacks and murders on the Zimbabwean illegal immigrants as the economy started its downward trend in the past two years.

These newcomers were blamed for some of the financial difficulties and lack of jobs. Businesses were burned down and quite a few immigrants were killed in violent attempts to remove them from their homes.

Our news featured stories exactly like the ones in the movie of the poor indigenous people applauding the actions of those responsible of these deeds. They did however also show people against these attacks, the problem with this was however that the people shown were usually the ones losing out financially as they were the owners of the premises destroyed, and some of them were also attacked for leasing their premises to these illegal immigrants.

Although I can agree that the portrayal of Nigerians in this move is negative, I must also point out that if you read our newspapers and see our news reports the amount of violent crimes performed by Nigerians crime syndicates in our country is staggering.

This coupled with the news at some time last year when albinos had to get government protection as they were being killed and body parts sold to be eaten in the belief that it gives you great power, makes the attempts by the movie to act as a metaphor for these deeds, current day xenophobia and previous apartheid not that unwarranted.

Now in the last paragraph you state that the movie is dull, loud and oppressive, if that was the basis of the negative review fair enough. However from the way it is written it appears to be an afterthought.

The main problem you apparently have is that white South Africans took real life events concerning the bad treatment of black people during apartheid and in more modern times the treatment of illegal immigrants linked with the rise in violent crime with their influx and used it as entertainment in an allegorical sci-fi movie, maybe if they used great exaggeration I would feel the same. But all these events in the movie (non sci-fi action parts) have real life parables.

Even the witch doctor parts have real life similarities. Not the majority but a very large part of the South African civilization still uses witch doctors and there are even laws that allow witch doctors/traditional healers to book off a person for sick leave similar to health care professionals.

I liked Bruno from Sacha Baron Cohen, but I find it funny that in your review for that movie you did not object to using sexual assault as a way to get responses. Think about it - he got partially undressed and tried to force himself on that politician, clinging onto his leg while he was trying to leave.

With the hunters in the tents he got naked, invaded their tents during the night where they refused him with verbal words and after repeated attempts they started to get more physical in nature, yes those moments were funny but if a man gets naked and repeatedly tries to break into your sleeping quarters when you say no, that guy is going to jail for sexual assault/misconduct.

However in the case of District 9 you seem to be offended that the makers of the film used normal interviews with people without going to extremes to get a response and then use it in a movie for entertainment purposes. I personally find the real life xenophobic views of immigrants a lot more reprehensible that using those interviews transplanted into a sci-fi movie to show the same xenophobic views using aliens as an allegory.

Doesn't it strike you as odd that you are so offended by this movie that you take it upon yourself to be the voice of outrage and contempt for these people? We here in South Africa fought for a long time to make our own voices heard and count for something; apparently all we had to actually do was get you to decide for us what is right and what is wrong.

I can't really speak for others but apparently some of us need you as our voice as we are to stupid to realize that when we spout lovely xenophobic views about others and are told that it is going to be used in a movie, it may get twisted into something more reprehensible.

Instead of showing some of us as the xenophobes we are for hating other human beings of a different nationality, we are now portrayed as something far more disgusting - people who hate a different species in a fictional movie for being a drain on our resources. How will we live through this injustice carried out against us.

Reading your review I learned basically nothing about the experience of viewing this movie as you were to busy getting onto your moral soap box for people who actually know how to speak for themselves.

Anonymous
South Africa

Viewer Distinguishes District 9 From The Evening News

I know, DISTRICT 9 is a take on the evils of Apartheid. Apartheid = bad. I get that.

Honestly, it made no sense whatsoever.

We're expected to believe that intelligent aliens possessed of interstellar and other priceless technologies would just be herded into ghettoes and left there? Ridiculous!

We're expected to believe the U.N/Americans/Russians/Chinese wouldn't have at least a huge presence on board that alien ship? Nonsense.

We're expected to believe that known foreign warlords would be allowed to operate openly in that ghetto, possibly acquiring dangerous technologies all the while? Preposterous.

We're expected to believe that, at the end, they shoot down the shuttle with ease, yet appear to forget they've done it as they don't attempt to do so again when it starts to limp up to the main vessel -- in spite of all the TV cameras reporting this is happening. What? No one in command is paying attention? Good Grief.

We're expected to believe this company (where's the real army?!) stores alien weapons of possibly enormous destructive capabilities in a DOWNTOWN building? With no more security than a few rent-a-cops? Say what?!?!

We're expected to believe that the city has had this enormous vessel hanging over it for TWENTY YEARS yet no one has had the brains to think that, just maybe, at some point the batteries will run down in the thing and it'll fall down, go BOOM? I know I'd move my business out from under. Yet these people don't think this might be a good idea? This redefines stupidity.

I could go on, but this should suffice to show how unbelievable it is that the same man who gave us the beautifully crafted LORD OF THE RINGS adaptations is guilty of this piece of crap.

The Starwolf

Hi Starwolf:

Amen! Thank you.
It's unbelievable, how viewers are talking about this movie like it's the evening news.

What are they selling at the theater refreshment stands, Koolaid?

By the way, Jackson is off the hook, sort of. He produced this movie but he's not the director.

Prairie

Likes Review For All The Wrong Reasons

Dear Prairie Miller,

I think you need to add "movie plot spoiler" to your credentials at the end of your review. Seriously. Just because you hated a movie doesn't mean you have to spoil it for everyone. Hell, maybe those people will actually get the point of the movie instead of just grabbing a megaphone and shouting "RACIST!" The film is meant to be as realistic as possible and, well... do your research, there is A LOT of organized crime in Nigeria that has spread to hundreds of countries, Johannesburg's South Africa being one. Now no one is saying that ALL nigerians are criminals, but you just cant help but jump there, huh? Just can't help but make that leap, yeah? These people exist whether you like it or not. By the way, there are some pretty evil white people in the movie too. And the "white dominated government" you speak of? Are you referring to the MNU? That was a privately contracted company put in charge of evicting aliens because the government couldn't handle the situation... No government ties what so ever... probably because the government's run by a bunch of dumb white guys, right? Maybe, maybe...

I do want to congratulate you on one thing: you're article, as biased and irrational as it is, was one of the more thought-provoking articles I've read in a while... mainly because I had trouble wrapping my brain around your reasoning.

J. Telich

To Sir, With Loathing

If you don't think this movie is fantastic or at the very least good. If you can't appreciate the well written dialogue coupled with excellently played out action and a wonderful new sci-fi story then I think they should find someone who actually likes movies to write these reviews. Because you sir, have no taste

Nathan B.

Cinema Hath No Fury Like A Fan Fave Scorned

hey dummy, Reverse Racism is still racism and everyone can see through your well worded review that you're a big ol' racist. Critics are supposed to be unbiased, you want to give objective rants then toss out that critics card you got. Rotten Tomatoes really needs to clean house with some of these critics, the tomato rating isn't meaning what it used to be.

FuryoftheFilmFan

Film Critics Not Obstetricians

This email is a question about the review of "One Love:A Bittersweet Reproductive Romance".

I saw that the film will be playing at a nearby theatre in a couple of weeks. From what I read it seems like a great film, and I'm very intrigued.

However, my fiance is pregnant now. Is this a 'safe' film for her to go see? Is it very depressing? Please let me know if you can.

Regards,

Derek B.

Whew....This is certainly an unprecedented question for a film critic. Perhaps an obstetrician would know better!

And congratulations on your approaching fatherhood, the best of luck!

Prairie

CW Review By Nancy Rhodes About Oil Exploitation Is Sweet

Hi, nice blog , thanks for sharing this [review of Sweet Crude]. I was also searching for a movie, Crude.

Atul

Crude is Joe Berlinger's doc about oil spoils in South America. He & Sandy were at Colgate Univ together in the early 80s as it happens.

Nancy Keefe Rhodes

"Sweet Crude" at DocuWeeks


Sweet Crude
2009
USA
Director: Sandy Cioffi
Featured IDA DocuWeeks selection

Review by Nancy Keefe Rhodes

To say Sweet Crude is “about the oil industry in the Niger Delta” leaves out a lot. It is certainly about the half-century-plus history of US oil companies in the Niger Delta – where we get 10% of our oil now and will get 25% in less than another decade – and it is certainly about a long tradition of local resistance to that presence on environmental grounds – by the well-known executed Ken Saro-Wiwa but also by the region’s women. And it’s also about how a filmmaker considers and reconsiders her role as filmmaker versus advocate, how a film can shift and change over several years’ time....

CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE READING REVIEW

Nancy Keefe Rhodes covers film, photo and visual arts. She lives in upstate New York and is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle, a sister organization of the WBAI Women's Collective.

8/11/09

BIG FAN: The importance of hero worship over personal fame and fotune

Written and directed by Robert Siegel (“The Wrestler”) and long time editor of The Onion newspaper)
Starring Patton Oswalt, Kevin Corrigan, and Michael Rapaport
and equally important is
Marcia Jean Kurtz: an award winning actor, director, producer who holds a B.S in dance from the Juilliard School and might win another award for her performance as Big Fan's Mother


BIG FAN is a giant of a film about the little people in U.S.A. who live off the work and lives of the "giants" the heroes in our midst. Sports portrayed as a life fulfilling daily event where aggression can be fully vented without harm to anyone except when it gets out of control. The front and center importance of talk radio is a delight to the viewing audience who has heard their voices and always wondered how certain people get on the air when others have so much trouble getting their phone calls answered.

The Big Fan in this film(Patton Oswalt) is so addicted to sports, radio talk shows that nothing else seem to matter. He is ridged, unchanging even when fame and fortune of huge unimaginable proportion come knocking at his door.
He is the man we know because he bends the rules for no one. He is the person we choice to not understand.to dismissed as a nerd.

The mother(Marcia Jean Kurtz) is a wonderful character, a person almost a clique but the scene between our film's hero and his mother are priceless. And the use of dolls on the family sofa,reflected in the car's dashboard Madonna, the clothes bar separating the son and mother's bedroom, the expression of family values that make us remember what we chose to forget, are little touches of genius that make us laugh and cry.

The list of great visual, verbal moments keep adding up and it isn't just because I, like so many of the cast and crew and the Producers and Director, are well seasoned New Yorkers. i think with Big Fan, New Yorkers might set a trend, at least, I hope so.

Big Fan Opens August 28th
Angelica Theater
New York City


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

8/9/09

One Love: A Bittersweet Reproductive Romance


A fifteen minute short with the heart and soul of a full length feature film, One Love is actually the story of many lovers, but all, except one, with a singular shared intense passion - to have a child. Director DJ Matrundola, clearly a master of concise dramatic brevity, has infused his collection of four intertwined vignettes about pending parenthood with uncommon sensitivity and eloquence that is astonishing to behold.

The stories of four pregnancies that touch the lives of its characters in vastly different ways and converge by chance at the same hospital, One Love begins in a pub where a very drunk and angry young woman (Vanessa Matsui) goes into labor after sliding off a bar stool. A Good Samaritan (Jon-Paul Khouri) escorts the woman nearly against her will to the local hospital where one anxious infertile couple is arriving to finalize an adoption, and another awaits with euphoric anticipation the birth of their first child in the delivery room. And in an initially comical interlude, yet another expectant couple waits in the emergency ward to seek medical attention for the husband's nosebleed. Which is being temporarily controlled with, well, his wife's tampons.

A lyrically crafted journey that evolves as spontaneously as the flow of life itself, One Love is a seamless crystallization of all those casual chance encounters along the way that comprise the mystifying agony and ecstasy of human destiny. And undeniable evidence that less can indeed be miraculously more.

Running Hooks Pictures
OneLovethefilm.com
4 stars

Prairie Miller

8/7/09

What's the Matter With Kansas?

Lilla Day Monroe and Lillian Mitchner, Kansas Good Government Club founders, circa 1890

Joe Winston's WHAT'S THE MATTER WITH KANSAS is a documentary, (loosely based on the Thomas Frank book of the same name), on the verge of being released to an audience who may not know what is on the minds of the people who are forming a proto fascist movement in the United States.

We are afforded a closeup view of the people's home lives, their pains, failures and the source of what makes them smile involuntarily.

What drives the masses who stampeded upon the abortion doctor, the great courageous Dr. George Tiller and who is making the life of today's politicians a living nightmare as they go to "the community" to be heard, to discuss the new health care reforms. And are met with the Pacifica Radio WBAI style disruption by mobs of "loose cannons" who question if in fact Obama is an American citizen.

It isn't the American flag on the lapel that bothers the likes of the Kansas City denizens who are being pushed off their land (still) and drowned in a flat, barren environment of the Midwest. It is the pressing issue of abortion, God's will and Obama who is now their enemy, the Devil in our midst.

This is what we learn from the documentary, What's the Matter with Kansas. A lesson that will defy your ability to curb your sympathy but curb it we must, or be consumed by the likes of violent vigilantes in all the wrong places.
Be horrified, be informed, read the book. And if you can see the documentary before it gets destroyed, I recommend the experience, a provocative evening of entertainment.

Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective

8/6/09

HE SAID, SHE SAID....Julie & Julia

Julia A La Carte

HE SAID....

By Gerald Wright

One major point that was emphasized in this film was the adoring and supportive husbands of both Julie and Julia. Speaking for the men who watch this movie, it is nice to know that we are recognized for the support we give to our successful women counterparts in their endeavors. Because when you are a couple, it is a "WE Thing" - not a "ME Thing."


CLICK TO CONTINUE READING REVIEW HERE

Gerald Wright
HDFEST.com
Film Showcase


SHE SAID....

By Prairie Miller

We hear much less than we'd like to about who exactly the rather skimmed over Julia Child was as a fascinating and far more complex personality beyond the kitchen stove. And also the impact of a dark time in US history, the McCarthy period, traditionally mislabeled as America's age of innocence, and present but diluted in this movie. So what we're served up to whet rather than fully satiate the appetite essentially, despite Streep's vivacious performance, is Julia Child a la carte....

CLICK TO CONTINUE READING HERE

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO JULIE & JULIA INTERVIEWS WITH MERYL STREEP, STANLEY TUCCI AND NORA EPHRON