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


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

12/30/13

Race, Sex And Tea Party Culture In Hollywood


 By Sikivu Hutchinson

'...For many people of color, going to 21st century movies is a soul-sucking exercise in being trained to see power through white eyes, often with the strategic pomp of a black soundtrack. Death by trailer, it is the masochistic pleasure of being bludgeoned into mental submission by the narrative of white heroism (in the form of Mark Wahlberg, Matt Damon and George Clooney), white hetero-normative romance (in the form of faceless anorexic white girls and boys slobbering over and devouring each other) and white domesticity in white picket fence communities...'

CONTINUE TO READ ARTICLE HERE

Sikivu Hutchinson is the editor of Blackfemlens.org, and she is a commentator on Pacifica's KPFK Radio in Los Angeles. Sikivu is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

12/18/13

THE WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS AND CEREMONY 2013

   Philomena: United States In Collusion With Catholic Church Child Trafficking Drama On Screen  


The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of sixty-five women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media. We came together in 2004 to form the first women critics organization in the United States, in the belief that women's perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully.

LISTEN TO THE WFCC AWARDS 2013 CEREMONY SHOW HERE

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE 2013

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

Philomena
RUNNER UP:
Mother Of George

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Enough Said, Nicole Holofcener
RUNNER UP: Inch' Allah, Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Julie Delpy: Before Midnight
RUNNER UP: Nicole Holofcener, Enough Said

BEST ACTRESS

Judi Dench: Philomena
RUNNER UP: Barbara Sukowa: Hannah Arendt

BEST ACTOR

Chiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years A Slave
RUNNER UP: Michael B. Jordan: Fruitvale Station

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

Onata Aprile: What Maisie Knew
RUNNER UP: Waad Mohammed: Wadjda

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

Melissa McCarthy: The Heat
RUNNER UP: Greta Gerwig, Frances Ha

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Wadjda
RUNNER UP
: Inch' Allah

 BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Philomena
RUNNER UP:
Girls In The Band

WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Bling Ring
RUNNER UP: Machete Kills
       
BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
  
12 years A Slave: Chiwetel Ejiofor
RUNNER UP: Enough Said: James Gandolfini

WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
   
Only God Forgives
RUNNER UP: Out Of The Furnace

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Stories We Tell
RUNNER UP: Girls In The Band

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
Before Midnight: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke

BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Hellen Mirren in Phil Spector
RUNNER UP: Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

Before Midnight
RUNNER UP: Enough Said

BEST ANIMATED FEMALES

Frozen
RUNNER UP:
The Croods

BEST FAMILY FILM
The Wind Rises
RUNNER UP: Black Nativity

WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE

Ginger & Rosa
RUNNER UP TIE:

Winnie Mandela
August: Osage County

*SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS*


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

EMMA THOMPSON: For her eclecticism in switching from period films to fantasy genre, to contemporary settings. And embodying all kinds of women with raw and pure interpretations.

ACTING AND ACTIVISM AWARD

CHARLIZE THERON: For her work for The Global Fund, and for starting the Charlize Theron Africa Outreach Project. Which educates young people about HIV/AIDS

COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
LAURA POITRAS: For bringing the Edward Snowden NSA revelations to light, driven into exile in Germany for doing so, and currently making a documentary about it.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD:
A film that most passionately opposes violence against women
Augustine
RUNNER UP:
Lovelace
 
*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD:
For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
12 Years A Slave
RUNNER UP: Go For Sisters 

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD:
For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
Winnie Mandela
RUNNER UP: Wadjda

COURAGE IN ACTING: [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Soko: Augustine

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD
[Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
Sandra Bullock: Gravity

BEST SONG: Would You Bleed For Love. Jennifer Hudson, Winnie Mandela

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD:

*Kristin Scott Thomas
  Only God Forgives
 













JUST KIDDING AWARD: Best Male Images In A Movie: Last Vegas

*WFCC HALL OF SHAME*

Blue is the Warmest Color: I went in knowing almost nothing except general buzz but I hated the sex scenes which were way too long and midway thru I couldn’t wait to flee the theater. Coming out I read how many takes Kechiche required and I was thoroughly repulsed. Who was this for? Then I read the graphic novel and discovered that critical plot points were deleted. Like the fact that Adele’s parents find her in bed with Emma which is why she has to move out — and I was enraged. A three hour movie, and Kechiche is so busy salivating over his actresses that he can’t bother telling a coherent story. Hype for this film makes me nauseous!

Blue is the Warmest Color: It's so obvious a dude with a fetish directed this, it's not only unappealing, it's creepy. His overcompensating hubris isn't worth the praise this is receiving.

The Canyons: Women depicted as powerless and manipulative. Plus, the acting is horrid.

Captain Phillips: The whole might of the USA coming down on 3 starving Somalis?! Repulsive. When the obscenely beefy SEALS arrived and the audience started to cheer, I felt I was watching a 'macho' director brainwash audience members into blindly accepting the worst stereotypes of jingoistic male behavior.

Dallas Buyers Club: Shame on Dallas Buyers Club for completely ignoring the LGBT as a group who drove the fight against AIDS to the forefront. The only time gays were mentioned was to let Matthew McConaughey's homophobic redneck character get a laugh at the expense of Jared Leto's transsexual character. The film made it seem as if the whole AIDS community stood on the shoulders of Ron Woodruff when in fact, groups like Act Up were starting the war for proper testing and more drugs way before Ron entered into the picture. It completely demeaned the backdrop Dallas Buyers Club was utilizing for their own characterizing "hero" agenda. Also the film took an extreme opinion against the AZT drug in favor for a plot line when in fact it was helping some patients. The only saving grace was Jared Leto's fantastic performance but unfortunately it wasn't enough.


  Enough Already: Why is it that when actresses and even screen goddesses hit a certain age, they're all cast as nags, loons and shrews. No matter how accomplished any of these films may be, the tally of older actress shrewish nags on board is really high this year, as usual. Including Oprah Winfrey in The Butler, Meryl Streep and Julia Roberts in August: Osage County, Cate Blanchett and Sally Hawkins in Blue Jasmine, June Squibb in Nebraska, Kristin Scott Thomas in Only God Forgives, and Julianne Moore in Carrie. Refreshing exceptions being Judi Dench in Philomena, Yolonda Ross in Go For Sisters, and Mary Steenburgen in Last Vegas.

Gravity: The women in this group make meaningful choices each year so they speak for me in these areas, the lone exception being Sandra Bullock's performance in Gravity. She's a fine actress, but I found the character to be whiny, cowardly, and full of the wrong stuff - a damsel in distress who needed a man (even if it was just her imagination) to pull her out of danger. I can hardly believe they'd send someone so panicky into space. Give me Sigourney Weaver any day. 

Les Salauds [Bastards]: All of the women in this film are depicted as complicit in their own oppression and exploitation. Though it’s a patriarchal system that they exist within, they refuse to fight for themselves or each other, even when a minor is involved. The indictment then is not of the men but of the women. I found this problematic and disappointing from Denis.

Spring Breakers: No depth, little plot and a pitiful depiction of today's college kids. Gratuitous in nothing more than flesh and violence. A grossly and dangerously skewed depiction of young women and their values in today's America.

*Please Note:
The WFCC Top Ten Hall Of Shame represents the ‘don’t tell me to shut up’ sidebar contribution of individual members, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Circle. Or may even dissent from an awarded nomination. Also, members may be objecting to particular characters in a film, and not the entire movie. Clarification: If an aspect of the movie is intentionally negative to make a point, rather than offensive, that is not under consideration for this category.

*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 female 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.

*The Women Film Critics Circle*

12/8/13

The Women Film Critics Circle Award Nominations 2013

          DANAI GURIRA, MOTHER OF GEORGE  

The Women Film Critics Circle has announced its 2O13 unique nominations for the best movies this year by and about women. And outstanding achievements by women, who get to be rarely honored historically in the film world.

The Women Film Critics Circle is an association of 64 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, radio, online and TV broadcast media.

They came together in 2004 to form the first women critics' organization in the United States, 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.

Critical Women On Film, a presentation of The Women Film Critics Circle, is their journal of discussion and theory. And a gathering of women's voices expressing a fresh and differently experienced perspective from the primarily male dominated film criticism world.

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN
Mother Of George
Philomena
The Sapphires
Winnie Mandela

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN
Enough Said: Nicole Holofcener
Girls In The Band: Judy Chaikin
Hannah Arendt: Margarethe von Trotta
Inch Allah: Anaïs Barbeau-Lavalette

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]
Julie Delpy: Before Midnight
Nicole Holofcener: Enough Said
Darci Picoult: Mother Of George
Alice Winocour: Augustine

BEST ACTRESS
Judi Dench: Philomena
Danai Gurira: Mother Of George
Jennifer Hudson: Winnie Mandela
Barbara Sukowa: Hannah Arendt

BEST ACTOR
Chiwetel Ejiofor: 12 Years A Slave
James Gandolfini: Enough Said
Michael B. Jordan: Fruitvale Station
Joseph Gordon Levitt: Don Jon

BEST YOUNG ACTRESS
Dianna Agron: The Family
Onata Aprile: What Maisie Knew
Elle Fanning: Ginger & Rosa
Waad Mohammed: Wadjda

BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS
Lake Bell: In A World
Greta Gerwig: Frances Ha
Scarlett Johansson: Don Jon
Melissa McCarthy: The Heat

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Augustine
Hannah Arendt
Inch Allah
Wadjda

BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Girls In The Band
Just Like A Woman
Philomena
Sunlight Jr.

WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Bling Ring
Machete Kills
Sharon Stone, Lovelace
Oprah Winfrey, The Butler

BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
12 years A Slave: Chiwetel Ejiofor
Don Jon: Joseph Gordon Levitt
Enough Said: James Gandolfini
Mandela: Long Walk To Freedom: Idris Elba

WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
The Fifth Estate
Oldboy
Only God Forgives
Out Of The Furnace

BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Fabulous Fashionistas
Phil Spector: Helen Mirren
Pussy Riot
Raltat

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Before Midnight
Enough Said
The Hot Flashes
Wadjda

BEST ANIMATED FEMALE
Frozen [Kristen Bell as Anna]

BEST FAMILY FILM
The Wind Rises

WOMEN'S WORK/BEST ENSEMBLE
Ginger & Rosa
The Hot Flashes
Just Like A Woman
The Sapphires
Winnie Mandela

SPECIAL MENTION AWARDS

*COURAGE IN FILMMAKING: Laura Poitras. For bringing the Edward Snowden NSA revelations to light and driven into exile in Germany for doing so. And currently making a documentary about it.

*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women
Augustine
Lovelace
Wadjda

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
12 Years A Slave
Go for Sisters

*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity
Augustine
Wadjda
Winnie Mandela

COURAGE IN ACTING
[Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Soko: Augustine

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD: [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
Sandra Bullock: Gravity

BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN
Free Angela Davis And All Political Prisoners
Girls in the Band
Stories We Tell
Sweet Dreams

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD
Kristen Thomas: Only God Forgives

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
Before Midnight: Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke

BEST SONG: Jennifer Hudson, Winnie Mandela: 'Would You Bleed For Love'

*WFCC HALL OF SHAME*

*Please Note: The WFCC Top Ten Hall Of Shame represents the 'don't tell me to shut up' sidebar contribution of individual members, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Circle. Also, members may be objecting to particular characters in a film, and not the entire movie. Clarification: If an aspect of the movie is intentionally negative to make a point, rather than offensive, that is not under consideration for this category.

The Canyons: Women depicted as powerless and manipulative. Plus, the acting's horrid.

Blue is the Warmest Color: I went in knowing almost nothing except general buzz but I hated the sex scenes which were way too long and midway thru I couldn't wait to flee the theater. Coming out I read how many takes Kechiche required and I was thoroughly repulsed. Who was this for? Then I read the graphic novel and discovered that critical plot points were deleted. Like the fact that Adele's parents find her in bed with Emma which is why she has to move out-and I was enraged. A three hour movie and Kechiche is so busy salivating over his actresses that he can't bother telling a coherent story! Hype for this film makes me nauseous.

*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 female 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.

11/14/13

Go for Sisters: Thriller or Female Buddy Movie?


By Penelope Andrew
Huffington Post

'...I knew the work of all the actors, except Yolonda Ross, even though she's been on HBO's Treme and won a Gotham Award for the film Stranger Inside. Her performance is what ultimately makes this a successful, female buddy film, Fontayne has evolved into a woman, who has no more use for guns, booze, drugs, men or prison, but leaves plenty of room in her life for friendship.'

CONTINUE TO READ HUFFINGTON POST ARTICLE HERE 

*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 member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

10/19/13

The Fifth Estate: Disney/ABC Media Empire David And Goliath Demonization Of Assange



It would seem unusual to label a dramatic feature a biopic, when the content is based solely on the accusations of an admitted adversary with a vendetta against the subject in question. But once again, The Fifth Estate, an unabashed demonization of the sinister state secrets whistleblowing website Wikileaks and its head hacker extraordinaire Julian Assange, is all about what Hollywood does best - the one side to every story school of moviemaking. Or is it?

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Features of Arts Express: Expression In The Arts are hosted by Prairie Miller, and air nationally on the Pacifica National Radio Network and WBAI/Affiliate Stations, including WPRR Public Reality Radio. And if you'd like to Express yourself too, you can write to: ArtsExpressradio@gmail.com 

10/13/13

Mediastan Movie Review: Ferreting Out The Presstitutes


By Prairie Miller

Sometimes it can be said that a documentary is exemplary for not accomplishing what is set out to do. And the Julian Assange Wikileaks production Mediastan may have succeeded in not doing just that. As those Wikileaks foot soldiers fail in their mission to find remote and presumably uncorrupted media organizations courageous enough to publish the damning cables leaked by far more courageous whistleblowers than these press outlets prove to be.

Increasingly doomed to extinction on the endangered list, so to speak, is mainstream journalism. The victim of a tug of war between the corporations gobbling up the pitiful remains, and incestuously connected powerful political interests - too often one and the same - journalism has given rise in the wake of this fate to its deplorable mutation - presstitutes.

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Features of Arts Express: Expression In The Arts are hosted by Prairie Miller, and air nationally on the Pacifica National Radio Network and WBAI/Affiliate Stations, including WPRR Public Reality Radio. And if you'd like to Express yourself too, you can write to: ArtsExpressradio@gmail.com

10/12/13

Mother Of George: Exquisitely Drawn Film Portrait Of Female Identity Theft Disappeared By Marriage


By Jan Aaron 

Simply telling the story of Andrew Dosunmus' enticing feature Mother of George, doesn't convey the movie's extraordinary visual power. The film's poetic impact begins with preparations for a colorful Yoruba wedding in Brooklyn, with close-ups of the wedding parties of Ike (Danai Gurira), the newly arrived Nigerian bride, and Ayo (Isaach de Bankole), her groom. 

Ayo works with his younger brother Biyi (Tony Okunghowa) at a restaurant overseen by their mother, (Bukky Ajayi). After the ceremonies, the women gather around the bride, giving her child rearing tips. While the men counsel the groom on how to hide his infidelities.
         
Thus, director Nigerian Dosunmu and screenwriter Daniel Picoult carefully begin to document the friction that ensues when the rigid gender expectations of Nigerian tradition clash with more liberal opportunities that Ike's new home offers. And when after eighteen months, Ike hasn't become pregnant, Ayo becomes enraged when she offers to get a job to pay for a fertility specialist. He refuses to even go to the doctor, fearing it will reveal that he's infertile.
         
By this time, Ma Ayo (Bukky Ajay), who holds on to old fashioned ideas, believes her own  happiness lies in having a grandchild. Even if it means that Ike must provide one with another partner. Thus she enlists Ayo's big brother Biyi - who has been keeping secret his affair with Ayo's best friend Sade (Yaya Alafia), fearing that her Western values will offend his family. 

One of the film's greatest achievements it to present exotic characters with a familial dilemma that crosses international borders and cultures. A further delight of this drama, is the way filmmaker Dosunmu and Bradford Young's gorgeous cinematography highlight Ike in colorful Nigerian dresses. Which make her seem like some distant goddess on congested Brooklyn streets. 

Ike is also shot in close-up, so that we see the world from her narrow perspective. As she stands out from the crowd, like a marvelous exotic addition to Brooklyn's landscape.

Jan Aaron writes for Education Update, and is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.  

9/7/13

Winnie Mandela The Movie: 'Strike A Woman, And You Strike A Rock!'



 Sometimes it can be rather strangely said, that it's a miracle when a particular film even exists, warts and all. And this could not be more true about Darrell J. Roodt's South African inspirational biopic, Winnie Mandela.

So rather than minutely dissecting everything that's far too sketchy or illogical about this screen portrait - touching on the both tragic and triumphant lives of that historic couple leading the tremendously courageous and complex struggle to liberate apartheid South Africa - let's just cut to the chase, so to speak. And talk about what really matters in this immensely important and inspiring movie.

Jennifer Hudson somehow manages to fill the enormous shoes of Winnie Mandela - wife and comrade in arms of once officially reviled revolutionary leader and subsequent former South African President Nelson Mandela (less effectively and awkwardly depicted by Terrence Howard) - over those terrible oppressive decades. And a towering historical figure despite her errors, and charges pertaining to South Africa's civil war violence that have been leveled against her.

Though how the right wing apartheid government incited civil war and may have even framed her, is not - and in fact never is - part of any cinematic record tracing those years. Along with that other persistent elephant in the room - in fact plaguing Western cinema in general - the Marxist roots of the South African mass struggle fueling the militant African National Congress in the vanguard of that insurgency, and the Mandelas themselves.

 

South African filmmaker Darrell J. Roodt has said of his probe into this brave but eventually broken relationship based on Anne Marie du Preez Bezdrob's biography Winnie Mandela: A Life: "Most importantly, I wanted to focus on the beautiful and tragic love story of Nelson and Winnie Mandela, that was crushed by what history did to them." Which is really when this rough around the edges work is at its very best, and a groundbreaking perspective on the personal versus political in movies. In contrast to the conventional tendency to admonish characters - real and otherwise, and women who are also mothers in particular - who take time away from their families to change the world.

A multi-tasking mother and freedom fighter, Mandela is admirably presented as seeing no difference or division between the two, and the plight of all children of the nation. And as such, she is eternally bestowed with the title of Mother Of The Nation. Initially conveyed to her, smuggled via a note in her prison excrement bucket, while confined and tortured in a solitary hellhole for eighteen months.

And though the Creative Workers Union, South Africa's version of the Screen Actors Guild, mounted a protest against the film for putting foreign actors like Hudson in the starring roles, there is something seemingly unanticipated, that just magically works. And perhaps it's the tension of Hudson's own youthful initiation into the acting world along with an unfamiliar culture, that fuses with Winnie Mandela's own story of a somewhat mystified provincial girl, abruptly and emotionally swept into the role of fierce leader. And without any ideological background or life script to guide her.

Along with Hudson's gift - which may have amazed and inspired her as well - to spontaneously radiate resolve, determination and unwavering conviction, and breathe vivid life into this provocative portrait. Even while madness precipitated by her imprisonment and persecution, threatens to destroy her at every turn. And that on the contrary much to the frustration of the government torturers, 'They have only made me stronger.'


Which returns full circle back to the critique of the production with far too much on its plate, and its many imperfections. And those flaws upstaged by the revelations and moments of consciousness, in deciphering the many defining ingredients of human struggle on this planet. And with the emblematic slogan in the film that encapsulates this narrative and this historical moment in time, 'Strike a woman, and you strike a rock.'

And which leads to anticipation of Roodt's next dramatic biopic project, Robeson. About that towering and unsung tragic American activist and martyr to McCarthyism in this country during the middle of the last century. If Roodt was getting warmed up for this exceedingly controversial subject with Winnie Mandela, he will surely be up to the task.




Prairie Miller
Pacifica Radio Network
Arts Express Syndicate

6/4/13

Black Rock Movie Review: The Horror Of Rape Culture



By Monica Castillo
Bitch Magazine

 '...So what is the horror in this horror film? Black Rock is much more complex than your average run-of-the-mill “run from danger, pretty lady” kind of movie. Instead, it’s a bro-code that terrorizes women and instead of scene after scene of blood and guts, Black Rock’s horror is muted, taking place mostly in the tense fight sequences with men twice their size. Director Aselton credit is onto something...'

CONTINUE TO READ THE REVIEW HERE

Monica Castillo writes for Bitch Magazine, Paste Magazine and DigBoston.com, and can be heard on Film Geek Radio and Cinema Fix. Monica is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

5/25/13

The Bling Ring Movie Review: More Bling Than Ring Of Truth In A Post-Occupy World

          The Real Bling Ring: Where's The Bling?                                                
'...Then what might The Bling Ring intimate on some significantly more solemn rather than shallow level. Placing this frivolous fare in the context of say, an anthropological artifact, some clarity manifests itself perhaps as a kind of post-Occupy reality. That is, while many Hollywood movies through time have exuded the projected paranoid flavor of fending off attacks upon their entitled class by the poor at home and the countries abroad that they have in actuality been exploiting, the current economic crisis which has seen the significant impoverishment of the middle class, may have supplied an additional downgraded economic adversary into the mix. Hence, the newly far less entitled hungering youth in the elite's increasingly self-perceived as vulnerable luxuriant midst...'

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller
Arts Express Syndicate

5/22/13

The Cannes Film Festival Reports 2013: Annette Insdorf On Location

                          Ari Folman's The Congress

Annette Insdorf is our correspondent at this year's Cannes Film Festival 2013. We are honored to feature her coverage each year, which will also include breaking news announcing the winners at the end of the Festival.

Professor Insdorf has reported from Cannes for over a quarter century, previously co-anchoring with the late 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 report for Arts Express, as our correspondent reporting from Cannes this year.

The Cannes Film Festival Reports

By Annette Insdorf

'...What was the smartest thing I did in preparation for the 2013 Cannes Film Festival? It wasn't doing research or watching screeners in advance, but packing my elegant waterproof boots and a new compact umbrella. The constant rain for four days since the cinematic extravaganza began on May 15 not only dampened the usually sizzling atmosphere, but left many wet and gelid toes in its wake. At least I was able to walk to screenings and parties with happy feet and relatively dry black-tie attire...'

CONTINUE TO READ THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL REPORT HERE 

Cannes Film Festival Wrap-Up Report

In her final Wrap-Up Report for Newsblaze and Arts Express Radio on location at the Cannes Film Festival, Annette Insdorf reflects on this year's events and trends. Along with impressions and directions within the current film world.

READ THE CANNES FILM FESTIVAL WRAP-UP REPORT HERE

Annette Insdorf is the Director Of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and the author of Indelible Shadows: Film And The Holocaust, and other books on cinema. 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.

Annette Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

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Women Film Critics Circle Awards 2012

ICI-BAS [Down-Below] The male fantasy horror of 'rape romance' on screen. A WFCC Hall Of Shame pick in tribute to the unnamed Indian student and rape murder victim, in the kind of traditional culture where women and girls are pressured to marry their rapists.

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

A Royal Affair

BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

Zero Dark Thirty

BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER [Screenwriting Award]

Two Days In NY [Julie Delpy]
  
BEST ACTRESS

Anne Hathaway, Les Miserables
   
 BEST ACTOR
 Daniel Day-Lewis, Lincoln
   
BEST YOUNG ACTRESS

Quvenzhanee Wallis, Beast Of The Southern Wild
   
BEST COMEDIC ACTRESS

Maggie Smith, Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Where Do We Go Now

BEST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
Zero Dark Thirty

WORST FEMALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE
**TIE
 Killer Joe
 Think Like A Man
 
BEST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Lincoln
   
WORST MALE IMAGES IN A MOVIE

Killer Joe
 
BEST THEATRICALLY UNRELEASED MOVIE BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

Hemingway And Gellhorn

BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES
Zero Dark Thirty
   
BEST ANIMATED FEMALES
Brave
   
BEST FAMILY FILM
**TIE
Life Of Pi
Rise Of The Guardians

LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD

Barbra Streisand

ACTING AND ACTIVISM.AWARD

Sally Field
Field is a dedicated advocate for women's rights. She has served on the Board of Directors of Vital Voices Global Partnership, an international women's NGO, and has co-hosted the Global Leadership Awards. Field suffers from osteoporosis and has become a vocal advocate for women's health issues, encouraging early diagnosis of such conditions through technology, such as bone density scans.
   
*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women **TIE

 Compliance
 The Invisible War

*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: For best expressing the woman of color experience in America
  Middle Of Nowhere
   
*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: For best exemplifying a woman’s place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity

  A Royal Affair

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
  Helen Hunt, The Sessions

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]
  Helen Mirren, Hitchcock
  
 BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT A WOMAN
 Queen Of Versailles
   
 WOMEN’S WORK: BEST ENSEMBLE
 The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel   
 

BEST SCREEN COUPLE
 Moonrise Kingdom: Bill Murray and Frances McDormand
   
*WFCC HALL OF SHAME* 

Bachelorette with Kirsten Dunst, had all sorts of ditzy former high school classmates getting together for the wedding of a girl they used to make fun of. Just stupid on so many levels: male strippers, drinking, general girly silliness.

Ici-Bas [Down Below]. Rape romance: A raped nun (Celine Sallette) falls in love with her rapist.

Skyfall: 'Bond Girl' is only on screen long enough to sell trailers and products like OPI's 'Skyfall Collection' of nail polishes, and gets bumped off at the end of Act II; M turns into a cowering incompetent and gets bumped off at the end of Act III; and the female sharp-shooter in Act I loses her nerve and leaves 'Field Operations' to become an office assistant in Act III. I loved the Sean Connery/James Bond films as a kid. Women got to be part of the action; the Bond Girl was always there to celebrate success at the end. But as a 50th anniversary tribute to the Bond series made in 2012, Skyfall truly broke my heart!

MOMMIE DEAREST WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR AWARD

 *Helena Bonham Carter
  Les Miserables    


 

BEST LINE IN A MOVIE 2012
  "...You can't kill the animals in a movie, only the women." - Christopher Walken/Seven Psychopaths

 JUST KIDDING AWARD
:
 Best Male Images In A Movie: Magic Mike


*Please Note: The WFCC Top Ten Hall Of Shame represents the ‘don’t tell me to shut up’ sidebar contribution of individual members, and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of the entire Circle. Also, members may be objecting to particular characters in a film, and not the entire movie. Clarification: If an aspect of the movie is intentionally negative to make a point, rather than offensive, that is not under consideration for this category.

 *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 female 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.