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

9/23/12

The Man Who Loved Movies - And Women

               
           Andrew Sarris and Molly Haskell

The Man Who Loved Movies (and Women) Andrew Sarris Honored by MoMA, American Academy of Arts & Letters

By Penelope Andrew

'...In 1995, in the journal Film History, Andrew penned "Notes of an Accidental Auteurist." It contains a powerful statement on how much he cared about the portrayals of women on film. "I prefer Michael Powell's The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp to Welles's Citizen Kane. Prefer Welles's The Magnificent Ambersons to Kane. Why? The respective treatments of women."...'

CONTINUE TO READ HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE HERE

Penelope Andrew writes for The Huffington Post, Bright Lights Film Journal, WestView News, Arts Express Syndicate and Critical Women on Film. Penny Andrew is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

8/12/12

Motherhood, Mass Resistance And Children Of Struggle


The Chilean Building [El Edificio De Los Chilenos]

 For women who commit their lives to mass struggle, there is always a choice that men never have to make. Namely to sacrifice the option of motherhood for revolutionary struggle.

But for many of the young women who joined the Revolutionary Left Movement [MIR, Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria] coalition in Chile to rise up against the 1973 bloody repressive coup by General Augusto Pinochet against the Socialist government of Salvador Allende, the choice did not exist.

And as fiercely committed young mothers already fugitives deep into the revolutionary resistance, they were not only torn between the political and personal in ways men never confront. But the parents of these offspring were also faced with the ruthless policy of the CIA-backed Pinochet regime of engaging in the kidnapping of their children as a negotiation tactic to force the surrender of these hunted revolutionaries. Along with the now well documented horrific secret adoptions of those children of the many subsequently slaughtered political martyrs in question.

And the documentary The Chilean Building [El Edificio De Los Chilenos] not only resurrects the simultaneous heartbreaking and inspiring buried history of those children hidden away in other countries by their parents for their safety. But achieves a rare intensity as well, chronicling that turbulent time. Because the filmmaker Macarena Aguilo, just happens to be one of those children back then, who surmounted the enormous challenges of that time.

Kidnapped and disappeared by the CIA when just a preschooler as an unsuccessful bargaining chip to force the surrender of her father in hiding, Macarena was released a month later. But fearful for her future, her father arranged for Macarena to be reunited with her mother already in exile in France. And eventually Macarena joined scores of other politically at-risk Chilean children at a commune set up for them in Havana. Which came to be known as the Chilean Building.




Winner of the Best Documentary at the New York International Latino Film Festival last year, The Chilean Building is an alternately euphoric and solemn collective recollection by many of those young spunky survivors and their parents and fellow comrade guardians, of the 'tremendous invitation' that welcomed them in Cuba. And the unique experience of a society where 'everything Cuba does is for everyone,' and every house belongs to everybody,' in 'a good place for children, because everyone loves them.'

Yet at the same time, the emotionally tragic truth for which neither the children nor parents have been able to achieve closure to this day. Namely, the utopian political dream tasted in Cuba - of a society dissociated from 'consumption, individualism and competition for money.' But necessitating the enormous personal sacrifices of those Chilean parents and children, that in the end left all their lives personally damaged, but bereft of an anticipated legacy that has never been realized in Chile.

The Chilean Building is an impassioned recollection of intimate and collective memory, through difficult testimony, and heartbroken yet politically resolute letters written by parents to their children from afar through those years, and the grown children today who sublimate those traumatic feelings through healing art. Along with moments of tender humor, as when one of them recalls with delight as an only child, being suddenly surrounded by sixty new siblings. And another expressing relief - perhaps regarding his own anticipation of parenthood in a very different, disillusioning world in Chile today - that in the Chilean Building in Cuba, 'I didn't have television to screw up my head.'

And a mother's letter in particular written back then, magnifies and solidifies the sustained resilience of Macarena and those other young hearts and minds:

'Tomorrow you shall begin a path with many other children, and you'll have the loving hands of our comrades to carry you forward. If there's anything I wanted to give you and learn with you, it is to live intensely, to love with your eyes. With a desire to feel and to always move forward, trying to stay true to what we've said. And if I leave you today, it's because that small, honest commitment I gave you urges many of us, hopefully thousands, to go struggle with our comrades in Chile...And that victory shall be for you, for all the children of Chile.'

And no matter what the outcome, in a brokenhearted parent's explanation for the hopefully comprehending mind of a child, it was about a time of 'such monumental craziness, but we tried to do it well. We tried to do everything with our hearts.'

Candid and ironic, replete with raw feelings yet never truly defeatist, The Chilean Building vividly poses solemn questions about the price of struggle, but without ever quite relinquishing political hope. And as one can glean in tentative but miraculous ways as legacy, beyond the scope of this movie, such as in the case of Spanish judge, lawyer, and international jurist, Baltasar Garzón. Who leads the legal team representing Wikileaks and Julian Assange, currently seeking political asylum holed up for months in the Ecuadorian embassy in London, fighting anticipated US prosecution.

Garzón in fact, revolutionized the international justice system two decades ago by issuing an arrest warrant for  Pinochet for crimes against humanity in Chile. For which Pinochet was never in fact brought to justice, but Garzón's actions spearheaded the fight against such impunity in Latin America, and the rest of the world.

The Chilean Building is being released theatrically at The Maysles Cinema in NYC, August 13th through 19th - a Harlem theater devoted to the recognition of documentary film. More information is online at:

Magic-lantern-films.com/the-chilean-building
Mayslesinstitute.org

Prairie Miller

8/10/12

The Cannes Film Festival Reports

"Are you a war correspondent, or wife in my bed?" - Ernest Hemingway 

*LISTEN TO CANNES CLOSING NIGHT CEREMONY REPORT

Ken Loach, upon winning the Jury Prize at Cannes, for a drama about the struggles of unemployed Glasgow youth: This award signifies that cinema "is not just entertainment, it shows us who we are." 

In the first of a series of on location reports, Annette Insdorf is our correspondent at this year's Cannes Film Festival 2012. We are honored to feature her coverage, which will also include breaking news announcing the winners at the end of the Festival.

Annette Insdorf returns to the Cannes Film Festival, providing coverage of the films and events, May 16-27th. Director of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and author of the recently-published Philip Kaufman, she tells us about the most anticipated offerings of the world's most celebrated film festival-from American selections Hemingway & Gellhorn, Moonrise Kingdom and Lawless to European titles from masters Bernardo Bertolucci, Alain Resnais, Michael Haneke and Jacques Audiard. She gives a preview of Sean Penn's benefit for Haiti; the large number of documentaries in the Official Selection; and the question of female representation.

LISTEN TO CANNES FILM FESTIVAL REPORT HERE


            Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn


"I hated Vietnam the most, because I felt personally responsible. It was my own country doing this abomination. I am talking about what was done in South Vietnam to the people whom we, supposedly, had come to save. I'm seeing napalmed children in the hospital, seeing old women with a piece of white sulphur burning away inside of them, seeing the destroyed villages, seeing people dropping of hunger and dying in the streets. My complete horror remains with me as a source of grief and anger and shame that surpasses all the others."

Martha Gellhorn, Atlantic Monthly
 

Professor Insdorf is an internationally renowned educator, and her works are hailed as the definitive texts on their subjects. She has also been a jury member of numerous international film festivals. Professor Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle

Reporting from Cannes for over a quarter century, Annette Insdorf previously co-anchored the Festival with Roger Ebert for Bravo and The Independent Film Channel. Her knowledge and insight about cinema, past and present, is a veritable treasure trove of film history and culture. And we're extremely proud to have her as our correspondent reporting from Cannes again this year.

 Stay tuned for continuing features of Arts Express: Expression In The Arts. Airing On WBAI Radio's Pacifica Network and Affiliate Stations. And if you'd like to Express yourself too, you can write to: ArtsExpressradio@gmail.com

READ CANNES FILM FESTIVAL ON LOCATION REPORT HERE

4/8/12

Girls: Sex And The City In A Sea Of Uncertainty


By Winnie Bonelli
 
“Sex and the City” was a fantasy, clothed in designer rags, wealthy boyfriends, and high-profiled, lucrative careers. Taking off the rose colored glasses, HBO’s Girls introduces viewers to an entirely different breed of post-college graduate, one more akin to present reality, on Sunday at 10:30 p.m.
          
Hannah and her trio of best friends are floundering in a sea of uncertainty. Their career goals are battered by economical rough times and a scarcity of job opportunities. And instead of Mr. Big, Hannah’s “friend with benefits” is an eccentric wannabe actor (Adam Driver), who won’t answer her texts, until she’s standing underneath her window.. 
 
Even for viewers who can’t identify with Hannah’s dilemmas, humiliations, and sometimes-bad choices, Girls is a slice of life that generously delivers an equal portion of comedy and angst, laced with graphic sex scenes that bypass filmdom’s discretionary gimmicks.
        
Now meet Hannah’s alter ego – creator/star/writer/director Lena Dunham. Disarmingly real, Dunham still seems a bit befuddled by the attention notoriety brings.
        
Candid in her answers and appearing younger than her 24 years, Dunham confessed, “It’s (Girls) is closely based on my own experience of getting out of college in 2008 and not having a sense of whether I would ever get to do the thing I wanted to do, creative writing, and I was really miserable.

“I was working in a baby clothes store and just excited that I got free cookies in the afternoon. It was a really kind of confusing, frustrating time, and I saw a lot of my friends going through the same thing,” said Dunham, who was supplementing her income by babysitting.

And yes, the Manhattan-born, Brooklyn-reared actress concedes that she grew up watching Sex and the City. Dunham even bought into the propaganda that if she moved to Manhattan she’d have “a really elegant boyfriend and a really incredible shoe closet.” What greeted her instead was a harsh case of reality.

Following that sage advice of writing about what one knows best, the Oberlin College graduate Dunham penned an autobiographic screenplay titled Tiny Furniture. Raised $25,000 by begging and borrowing from family members and friends, with the exception of her grandmother. She continued,

“I was working with a great group of kids, who had gone to NYU. Film kids are really scrappy and sort of have this understanding of how to make a movie by the skin of their teeth. You feel like you have taken a ship hostage, like ‘Everyone’s coming with me,” she laughed. Artist/photographer Laurie Simmons was one of those “hostages” portraying Lena’s mother both on screen and in real life.

Tiny Furniture went on to become the film festival circuit’s darling and pivoted Dunham to indie icon status. It also attracted the attention of Judd Apatow, whose features credits include The Bridemaids. Apatow and Dunham’s friend, Jenni Konner, are now executive producers for Girls.

A little too short and pear-shaped to fit the stereotypical image of a starlet, Dunham swears she quit acting at age 11 after being cast as a bouncing ball in Alice in Wonderland. That changed when she started writing screenplays and the characters were essentially versions of herself. Then she rationed, “I don’t know who else is gonna want to do this. I guess I’ll play it.”

Filming Girls brought her face-to-face with the truth. “I realized that I do get something out of acting that I don’t get out of the rest of the process. It’s cathartic. It’s connected. It’s an adrenaline rush,” she admitted.

So what was grandma’s reaction when she finally saw Tiny Furniture and the first three episodes of Girls?  “My mom said, ‘Dottie,’ she’s like 93, ‘What do you think of the sex scenes?’ She went, ‘Oh, you know, that’s just what they do these days.”

Winnie Bonelli writes for Life & Style Magazine, The Independent [Hamptons], New Jersey Monthly and The Herald News. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

2/23/12

WFCC On The Air: Lisa Collins Hosts Chicken & Egg Pictures Radio Roundtable


Arts Express Radio: Sexually Speaking Edition

**Chicken & Egg Pictures Radio Roundtable: What's new and different in women's voices on screen. Guest host Lisa Collins, director of the black cinema icon Oscar Micheaux work in progress documentary, Oscar's Comeback, moderates.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

**Bullhead: A conversation with Belgian director Michael Roskam about his psychological thriller delving into masculinity self-esteem issues, toxic testosterone cocktails, Occupy Brussels uprising of firefighters packing hoses, and something called the underground bovine hormone mafia.

**Julian Assange infiltrates the Murdoch Media Empire: Or at least phones in as himself, to The Simpsons 500th episode Anniversary Special on the Fox Channel.

Stay tuned for continuing features of Arts Express: Expression In The Arts. Airing On WBAI Radio's Pacifica Network and Affiliate Stations, including WPRR: Public Reality Radio. And if you'd like to Express yourself too, you can write to: ArtsExpressradio@gmail.com

Lisa Collins is an independent filmmaker and journalist, and she is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle. Lisa was named by Filmmaker Magazine: 'One of the 25 New Faces of Independent Film.' She was invited to workshop her feature-length script, The Grass Is Greener at the Sundance Writers, Filmmakers and Producers Labs, respectively. The project was also invited to participate in the IFFM / IFP’s No Borders Feature Project program.

Lisa is currently in post-production with her feature documentary, Oscar's Comeback, in which 2 worlds collide at a unique annual festival in all-white town that celebrates their black native son, early 1900s homesteader-turned-film-pioneer, Oscar Micheaux. Controversial and largely forgotten, Micheaux is known to some as the Godfather of Independent Cinema. In addition to receiving support and mentorship from prestigious organization, Oscar's Comeback is proud to have been awarded repeated support from Chicken & Egg Pictures, in the form of an I Believe In You grant.

With her film partner, Mark Schwartzburt, Lisa continues fundraising and is looking forward to completing their film in fall 2012. You can check out and Oscar's Comeback on Facebook.

2/11/12

Women Film Critics Circle On The Air: Jan Huttner Disses The Oscars


**Arts Express: The Politics Of The Oscars. Hot Pink Pen movie critic Jan Lisa Huttner phones in to Arts Express from Chicago with the Oscar Blues, and rants about the upcoming Academy Awards. Jan also weighs in on movie review haikus; Tolstoy, Madame Bovary, and Jane Eyre; pen names; a tale of three film critic personas she harbors; what in the world is Swan Day; and what's up with male movie reviewers behind critic closed doors.
 
LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

Jan Lisa Huttner is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She also writes at The Hot Pink Pen, Womenarts.org and the critic dating guide Films42.com, Jan is the author of the new book, Penny's Picks: 50 Movies By Women Filmmakers.

1/30/12

Madonna Explores Female Reinvention In W.E.

                    Madonna At UK Premiere

By Annette Insdorf
The Huffington Post

'...Some of the criticism to which Madonna has been subjected is reminiscent of the barbs that were aimed at another singer-turned-actress-turned filmmaker, namely Barbra Streisand. While one can argue about degrees of talent, there is no question that determination and chutzpa characterize both pop icons.

A telling anecdote was related by Milos Forman when he was an onstage guest in my "Reel Pieces" series at Manhattan's 92nd Street Y. The filmmaker recalled that when he was casting Hair in the late 1970s, a very long line formed in Central Park for the open call for performers. The first person to audition -- the one who had stood on line longest -- was a young woman named Madonna...'

CONTINUE TO READ ARTICLE HERE

READ IN DARKNESS REVIEW HERE

Annette Insdorf is Director of Film Studies at Columbia University. She hosts Reel Pieces at the 92nd Street Y in NYC, and writes for Arts Express Syndicate. She is also an author of books on film subjects, including Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema Of Krzysztof Kieslowski, and the upcoming Philip Kaufman. Professor Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

1/26/12

Missing: A Conversation With Ashley Judd



By Winnie Bonelli

“I am not CIA. I’m a mother looking for my son.” Once she could utter that statement without dissolving into a bundle of giggles, Ashley Judd knew everything else would be a walk in the park. She mischievously added, “Kind of daunting, you know. It’s no small thing to be a trained operative for the CIA. I didn’t take it lightly.”
      
The 43-year-old film actress\humanitarian\political activist portrays a frantic, determined mom, Becca Winstone in WABC-TV’s midseason replacement  Missing, premiering at 8 p.m. tomorrow (March 15). In each hour episode, Judd manages to get chased, trampled, beaten, and shot as she treks through most of Europe’s major cities in search of her son, young Michael Winstone (Caleb Smith), who went missing during a summer internship in Italy.
       
Although fans haven’t seen much of Judd over the past few years, she’s hasn’t  been idle. Along with earning a Master in Public Administration degree from John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University, she also penned a memoir titled “All That Is Bitter and Sweet.”
        
“Obviously, I was aware that this is a golden age in television, that incredible film producers are making special TV. That once rather impermeable membrane between film actors and TV actors has completely vanished,” the Kentucky native said.
        
“I remember turning on The Big C, a show I enjoyed, and there was Liam Neeson during a guest turn. While I was in school people were sending me a lot of television material, but it was either try to get an ‘A’ in Health and Human Rights or read a script. I figured that since I was in school, I might as well go for the grade.”
        
After wrapping up her scholastic studies, she got the call. “My agent called me with that special lilt in her voice, the one which all actors love to hear – ‘I think I found the one.’ I flew to Los Angeles and met with the producers. They pitched me a sensational idea.
        
“We’re going to film 10 episodes, which does work well with the balance of my very abundant life. Hey, each episode is event TV, set in a glorious European capital. What’s not to love?” asked Judd, whose “abundant life” includes a husband – racing car driver Dario Franchitti, a global ambassadorship for YouthAIDS, a preventative program under Population Services International, and three fashion lines – AJ, Love Ashley, and Ashley Judd.
        
Working in television isn’t entirely new, considering Judd landed her first acting job back in 1991 on Star Trek: The Next Generation. The two-episode gig cast her as Ensign Robin Lefler, a Starfleet officer. Graduating afterward to the big screen, a partial  list includes Ruby in Paradise, Kiss the Girls, Double Jeopardy, Where the Heart Is, High Crimes, and 2004’s Cole Porter musical bio, De-Lovely, opposite Kevin Kline, that garnered her a Golden Globe nomination.
        
Proclaiming, “I love to fight and I find it easy and rewarding,” Judd does the vast majority of her own stunts in Missing, and fluently speaks French, Italian, but couldn’t entirely master Czech. That footage didn’t make the cut, Judd quipped, “Please get off my back, at the same time I was trying to fly a helicopter.”
       
And a bonus for any viewer that has faithfully watched and waited until a season’s finale and then unceremoniously been dismissed, producer Gregory Poirier promised a resolution, “I will tell you this story will close by the end of the season. You will feel satisfied and you will think, ‘Oh, my God. Now it’s going there.”

Winnie Bonelli writes for Life & Style Magazine, The Independent [Hamptons], New Jersey Monthly and The Herald News. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

1/25/12

Betty White On Senior Girl Power in 'Off Their Rockers.'


By Winnie Bonelli 

“I’m the luckiest old broad on two feet and I don’t take it for granted, not for one single minute,” proclaimed the perpetually young actress, comedian Betty White. “I’m just at one of those good times in your life, and there’s been so many of those through my 90 years. But I’m at one of the high spots and healthy enough to enjoy it and. I’m surrounded by friends I adore. Isn’t that kind of the best way to sign off?”

It’s going to be a long time before this particular gal ‘signs off,’ as White’s popularity continues to mount among, first, second, third, and even fourth generation fans.

 Any actress, regardless of age, would be thrilled to have one series. White’s juggling two, with any spare time left over for her animal-related charities, and literary efforts, such as the best-seller, If You Ask Me (And of Course You Won’t).

The first, TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland, casts White as a sharp-tongued Polish caretaker shooting judgmental retorts in costars Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Wendie Malick’s direction. Barely into its third season, Hot in Cleveland has been picked up for a fourth. Without a moment’s pause, NBC is launching Betty White’s Off Their Rockers this spring, following a preview aired last month.

An age-reversal spin on the Punk’d format, this adaptation of the award-winning Belgium series, Benidorm Bastards, sets a group of sassy septuagenarians loose on the unsuspecting younger generation.

Naughty, sexy, and ready to party, an airport grounded, gray-haired traveler implores a 20something “mark” to join her in the Mile High Club. In another snippet from the premier episode, an elderly woman attempts to coax individuals to sign a petition baring ugly people from reproducing.

The series wasn’t a difficult sell for White, who admits, “I love Candid Camera. It was always a surprise. And also, Allen Funt was always being confused with Allen Ludden, who was my beloved husband. So I had to watch it just because the names were so much alike. I think hidden cameras are fun if you keep them from being mean-spirited. They let you see people as they really are. We take ourselves so seriously these days.”

Best known for her long running stints as the sardonic, man-hungry Sue Ann Nivens on The Mary Tyler Moore Show and St. Olaf, Minn.-native Rose Nylund on The Golden Girls, has witnessed a lot of changes in her 63-year career on the small screen. White interjected, “Except technically, the audiences have changed more than television. When I started out, I did my first television show in my high school graduation dress. The senior class president and myself did our version of The Merry Widow. We were up on the fifth floor and the audience was standing around among the cars in the Packard Showroom. Here we were, these people on a box in the corner, it was something terribly exciting. Everything was new to people.”

She continued, “Today, the audience knows they’ve heard every joke. They know every plot. They know where you’re going before you even start. That’s a tough audience to surprise or write for. It’s highly competitive now, because the audience has gotten so much more sophisticated.”

Sophisticated or not, there’s no denying that people of all ages still relate to White’s irreverent sense of humor. For in January 2010, a grassroots campaign on Facebook called Betty White to Host SNL (Please), drew nearly 500,000 names by the time NBC slotted her in for May 8, 2010.

In her opening monologue, White thanked Facebook and quipped that she “didn’t know what Facebook was, and now that I do, I have to say, it sounds like a huge waste of time.” Apparently, viewers embraced the backhanded compliment for the appearance earned her a 2010 Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series. That Emmy joined her shiny trophies from six previous wins.

Despite the many accolades, life doesn’t always play fair. Growing uncharacteristically quiet, White said wistfully, “I have a major regret, that Allen Ludden isn’t with me.” One of Hollywood most loving and devoted couples for 18 years, Ludden succumbed to stomach cancer in June of 1981.  

Winnie Bonelli writes for Life & Style Magazine, The Independent [Hamptons], New Jersey Monthly and The Herald News. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

1/19/12

The Last Song: Tony Bennett Shares 'Body And Soul' With Amy Winehouse


 By Winnie Bonelli
   
Tony Bennett couldn’t have done it without the ladies. A follow-up to his first platinum selling collaboration album, “Duets II,” released last September, immediately rocketed to Number One status on the Billboard charts.
          
Earning three Grammy nominations, including Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album, “Duets II” has also been chronicled for a PBS documentary, “Great Performances: Tony Bennett Duets II” airing Friday, Jan. 27 (see local listings for showtimes.)
   
Appearing at the recent Television Critics Association’s winter press tour in Pasadena, the 85-year-old legend took journalists on a half-hour musical journey via time-tested standards like “The Good Life” and “The Way You Look Tonight.” Backed by an intimate group, consisting of piano, guitar, bass and drums, his well-honed vocals were flawless, his timing impeccable, and his delivery almost playful.
          
Casual, relaxed and flashing a warm smile, the natty-dressed Bennett was eager to talk about his costars on the upcoming TV special. Topping the list was Lady Gaga, who joined Bennett in the recording session on “The Lady Is a Tramp.”

LISTEN TO TONY BENNETT AND LADY GAGA DUET HERE
          
The Astoria, Queens native shared his personal impressions, “I was amazed. Lady Gaga was so prepared and so knowledgeable. She’s as good as anyone you could come up with. She is very, very talented.”
          
Bittersweet, Bennett reserved his strongest and longest praise for the late Amy Winehouse, who he joined at the famed Abbey Road Studios on the track “Body and Soul.” It reportedly was the tragic songbird’s very last recording session.
           
He recalled, “She just instinctively had the gift of knowing how to sing that good. She was influenced by Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, Ella Fitzgerald. Her dream was to become very, very famous doing that.

LISTEN TO TONY BENNETT AND AMY WINEHOUSE DUET HERE
           
“I was performing for my 85th birthday at the Palladium and the BBC was going to televise it. I wanted her on that show. My son, Danny, called two months after we did the record, and she had just died. The whole world just stopped. No one could believe it, especially in Britain.”
          
A few months later, Bennett had a chance to speak with Amy’s parents when they made a trip to America. He confided, “I remember her mother saying, ‘You know, everybody feels so tragic about her dying, but as a mother, I’m very different. All she ever really wanted to do in her life was to become world-famous. To me, even though she had a short life, she had a very successful life because she got what she really wanted. What she had dreamed about her whole life happened.’ It was so different than anything I had ever heard.”
   
The remaining roster of ladies featured with Bennett are: k.d.lang on “Blue Velvet”; Aretha Franklin with “How Do You Keep The Music Playing”; Sheryl Crow on “The Girl I Love”; Queen Latifah on “Who Can I Turn To (When Nobody Needs Me)”; Norah Jones with “Speak Low”; Natalie Cole with “Watch What Happens”; Faith Hill on “The Way You Look Tonight”; Carrie Underwood with “It Had to Be You”; rounded out by Mariah Carey with “When Do the Bells Ring For Me.”
           
Whether Bennett makes the trek to the podium Feb. 12 during CBS-TV’s broadcasting of the Grammy Awards seems almost inconsequential. Since Bennett still possesses that same degree of passion that first whet his appetite to succeed when he dropped out of high school at age 16 to help support his family.
          
Vowing to never retire, Bennett modestly admitted, “The fact that I have a hit record at 85, it feels wonderful.”

Winnie Bonelli writes for The Newark Star-Ledger, Life & Style Magazine, New Jersey Monthly and The Herald News. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

1/15/12

Haywire: Who's Better, Man Or Woman?


By Logan Nakyanzi Pollard

'...Packaged as a slick spy film, it's been mildly poo-pooed by some critics (as in, here and here) but there's another way to see it: as a significant take on commerce and the tensions between men and women, and on a continuum with an earlier work, The Girlfriend Experience.'

CONTINUE TO READ HUFFINGTON POST REVIEW HERE  

Logan Nakyanzi Pollard is a featured commentator at The Huffington Post, and has reported for ABC News and The Guardian. Logan is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

1/14/12

The Iron Lady: Hollywood, Politics And Pseudo-Feminism



'...For once the great Meryl Streep fails to create a character from inside out & seems to be merely impersonating rather than embodying the complexities of Margaret Thatcher--Britain's first (& so far only) female Prime Minister. A doty old lady dimly remembers past glories. Can you imagine anyone thinking to make a Ronald Reagan BioPic with this structure?!?...'
Jan Lisa Huttner
Films42 Movie Haiku

Jan Lisa Huttner is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle and the Chicago Film Critics Association. She also writes at The Hot Pink Pen, and is the author of the new book, Penny's Picks: 50 Movies By Women Filmmakers.


 '...Not that this deliberate confusion surrounding The Iron Lady and Thatcher hasn't already spilled over into public discourse some time ago. Take for instance, the label 'Daughters of Thatcher' championed by conservative leaning women. And for whom Thatcher as inspiration held out hope for successful future lives, even as her massive privatization has led to a financial tailspin into the economic crisis currently in progress.

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

On the other hand, there are those women referring to themselves as 'Thatcher's Girls.' A British term coined in the 1980s, when Thatcher's policies led to widespread unemployment. And a resulting upsurge in those who became prostitutes, and defiantly claimed that designation...'
Prairie Miller