Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: 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.



Fifty Shades Of Grey Review: Nude, Un-Plucked And Un-Waxed Cruel Manipulation On Screen

By Monica Castillo

'...Johnson holds onto Anastasia’s bubbly energy and plays with the power dynamics of her character’s troubled relationship. Her body language shifts from shy and insecure to ashamed of her dirty deeds to tapping into her “inner goddess” and confidently rocking her normal-looking body. Johnson is not made up to look like a porn star: we see hair on her legs, untrimmed pubic hair and wearing very little makeup for most of the movie. The audible gasps in my audience over her first nude scene were a sign of how little we see un-plucked and un-waxed women engaging in and enjoying sex.

Unfortunately, Mr. Grey’s Jamie Dornan does not equally rise to the occasion. With a special clause to shade his privates from the camera, Dornan never seems to be at ease with the explicit nature of the movie. He doesn’t relish his character’s highs and lows, leaving the audience to beg for more acting chops. Dornan wears the suit well but sometimes disappears into its folds on the way to becoming America’s next top sex symbol. His distanced energy leaves the bulk of the chemistry to be sparked by Johnson’s ingĂ©nue. It's just a tad unsatisfying to watch as he cruelly manipulates her for little to no reward...'

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Monica Castillo is the Entertainment Reporter for International Business Times. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.

So Yun Um Does Sundance 2015

YO! I am back full throttle with my Sundance vlog and this is a real good one! I had the pleasure of going to my first ever Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and it was everything I had expected and more. The combination of the freezing cold, sleepless nights, and lack of warm food really made me feel like I was a wild chicken running around with my head cut off but it was all part of the great experience! I did not go to as many swanky parties but you bet your ass that I got to watch tons of mind-blowing, forward-thinking, and super duper fresh films! I cannot wait for all these films to come out so you can just gorge on the next level of beauty and innovativeness these films have to offer! And in tribute to Sean Baker's Tangerine which was wholly shot on the iPhone 5s (GASP!), I decided to shoot my entire vlog on my iPhone! So LEGGO!

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So Yun Um writes for and Crome Yellow. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle

All The Wilderness Review: An Intimate Voyage Into Sound, Sorrow And Solitude

By Kaneisha Montague

All the Wilderness simply put, is a remarkable piece of art in every form. The film managed to create a musical beauty behind an intimate topic. A refreshing take on the subject of death; All the Wilderness explores the effect on a family after the passing of a father. There’s a nostalgic feel to this 2015 film, it reignites the importance of sound, and the film is artistically cradled by music. The actors’ commentary is simply complimentary; an art in silent films that other films may find difficult to capture. The scratches of James’ record player spinning old classical music are made important. Every sound is made more present than we are used to experiencing. The previous in it-self, set the tone for a film that gave a redefined meaning to noise.

Carl Sandburg’s poem “Wilderness” plays a pivotal role in the connection between the tales of the wilderness that James’ father used to tell him about and the coming to terms with James’ lost and acceptance of himself. “Each man’s wilderness is his own” his dad used to say.

Leaving behind a wife Abigail Charm (Virginia Madsen) and a coming-of-age son James Charm (Kodi Smit-McPhee), only the mother has seemed to begin to move past the tragedy but she believes her son has not “socially adjusted”. James becomes obsessed with death; documenting the death of everything/everyone around him; from house flies, to birds to his pet hamster Elliott. He worries his mother beyond the point of control, leaving her no choice but to take him to a shrink. James reluctantly attends his sessions with no desire of ever leaving his sarcasm at the door or give way for the doctor to explore his suppressed feelings.

As all coming of age films, a love interest is introduced, there in the shrink’s waiting room, we meet Val. The counterpart to what we have come to know of James; sarcastic and scarred from the past. Val opens up to James about her attempting to commit suicide after the divorce of her parents when she was 11. James fills Val in on the passing of his father. The two bond beyond romantic attraction. Along with his love interest, James meets two street kids Harmon (Evan Ross) and Gunny (Hannah Barefoot) who push him out of his shell and allow him to finally live and experience a more enjoyable type of darkness; alcohol, smoking, late nights, friends etc. James becomes destructive and disrespectful towards his mother, driving a rift between their already corrupted relationship.

Harmon’s friendship with James, we begin to notice, is equally beneficial. Harmon, a secret pianist, lets James into his musical world, which in turn sets Harmon free just as Harmon does for James. The two are torn apart when Harmon is caught kissing Val. Upset and confused, James returns to the shell of himself. Almost as if he’d witnessed death twice. With nowhere else to release, he finally confides in his shrink who then reveals that he himself knew of James’ father before he died. James is shocked by the fact that the shrink also adds that James is nothing like his father.

The film silently withholds the fact that James’ father committed suicide by jumping off of a city bridge. What’s even more chilling is James finally admitting to his mother that he witnessed the entire scene. James revisits the bridge and has finally come to the point in his journey where he is ready to accept and carry his father’s “wilderness”. “I keep this wolf because the wilderness gave it to me.”

This riveting, must-see coming of age film with a musical twist on the intimate subject of suicide is well worth the watch. Indulge.

Kaneisha Montague is a filmmaker based in Metro Atlanta. She is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.


Girlhood: Journey Stripped Of Culture And Unique Experience

By Kaneisha Montague

Celine Sciamma’s "Bande De Filles" or "Girlhood" is an enduring but troubling coming of age film. Ironically released along the same time as the popular, longitudinal coming of age film "Boyhood" the two are far from similar. Marieme (Karidja Toure) stars as the young French girl of African descent, struggling to find her footing. The opening scene of two all-girl football teams playing against each other followed by a group walk home and separation, leads the viewer to believe the story is in fact about the comaraderie of this Band of Girls/ Girl Gang. Marieme, once separated from her friends during the walk home, immediately entraps us within her separate world. We are then introduced to her love interest, and the several dynamics of her single parent home. It appears as though Marieme is the eldest girl sibling, while her older brother has assumed the position of father and strikes fear into his younger sisters. Marieme’s mother is out of the house throughout the majority of the film, working as a janitor and forcing Marieme to be the caretaker of the house and the eye of admiration for her younger sister.

While attempting to find her footing, Sciamma brings us to a pivotal point in Marieme’s life. Complications with grades push Marieme into her only other option; vocational school. While upset with the path she must take, she simultaneously meets a group of troubled girls that consider themselves bullies. When accepted with open arms, Marieme takes a turn for the worst and begins to mirror the personality and acts of the group leader. From fights, to drug distribution, to prostitution, the main character shifts the term "Girl Gang" or "Band of Girls" to a more literal definition of the phrase. Marieme lives in careless moments, and fully invests in pockets of happiness that she shares with her new "Girl Gang." Though we can clearly see that Marieme has accepted her new troubled life, a lot of moments are left empty and unfulfilled. The viewer can assume and anticipate the outcome of a scene, but Sciamma neither brings scenes to complete fruition nor provides them with closure. Intimate scenes are bare of true emotion. Emotional connections are acted out, but not translated well enough for the viewer to feel it.

Though attempting to be relatable, the film strips just about every aspect of culture and unique experience from the audience to enjoy. Marieme speaks French and her family appears to be of African descent, we can only assume and therefore an opaque understanding of time and place is created. Americanized music, clothing and conversations prevent the viewer from truly journeying with the main character. Sciamma’s approach on translating this idea of "Girlhood" is smothered by modernized scenes and an overly commercialized storyline.

It would have been great to see what “Girlhood” truly means and feels like for a French speaking young woman of African descent.

Kaneisha Montague is a filmmaker based in Metro Atlanta. She is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.


The Berlin Film Festival Report 2015

WFCC Member Tar Karajica Covers Berlin 2015 For Variety

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Tara Karajica writes for Variety, Screen International, Festivalists and The Film Prospector. She is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.