“Larry Crowne” (Tom Hanks) is a really good guy. Content in the knowledge that he’s done everything he’s supposed to do, Larry wears an upbeat, can-do smile on his face. Surely, he’s earned a piece of the American Dream. But in the opening moments of Larry Crowne, this solid citizen’s world falls to ruin. He’s abruptly fired from his job… Continue reading LARRY CROWNE Review
The way West told from the female POV: Michelle Williams stars as “Emily Tetherow,” one of three women placed in precarious circumstances when their menfolk decide to split off from the main wagon train & take a shortcut. The year is 1845. They’re on the Oregon Trail bound for the fertile Willamette Valley, but first they must… Continue reading MEEK’S CUTOFF
Another high wire act from Australian writer/director Sarah Watt: sweet on the surface but zeroing in with pinpoint accuracy on the bittersweet joys & sorrows of an “average” middle class family living day-to-day in a modern first world city (once again Adelaide on Australia’s southern edge). Filled with foreboding, all we can do is keep… Continue reading MY YEAR WITHOUT SEX
Teenagers “Joni” (Mia Wasikowska) and “Laser” (Josh Hutcherson) are half-siblings raised by lesbian couple “Jules” (Julianne Moore) and “Nic” (Annette Bening) who used the sperm of a single donor. Joni’s just about to leave for college, but before she goes Laser convinces her to help him track down their bio-Dad. Joni’s call comes totally out… Continue reading THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT
Set in Jerusalem in 1947 (at the tail end of the British Mandate), The Little Traitor stars Ido Port (from Dear Mr. Waldman) as 12 year old “Proffy.” One night, failing to make it home before curfew, Proffy is stopped and questioned by a soldier named “Sergeant Dunlop” (Alfred Molina). Proffy has lived… Continue reading THE LITTLE TRAITOR
The Lovely Bones is the story of a teenager named Susie who is brutally murdered by an innocuous-looking neighbor. While Mr. Harvey fastidiously covers his tracks, Susie is trapped in a parallel universe called the Inbetween (not yet Heaven but no longer Earth), where she watches as her loved ones struggle to go on living… Continue reading THE LOVELY BONES (2009): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner
DEAD FROM THE PAIN–Argentine satire starring Pinto as an aging bureaucratic who becomes a one day news sensation when he has his “I’m mad as Hell & I’m not going to take it anymore” moment. Quick-witted & amusing, we suspect it’s also chockfull of sly local references but universal enough to recommend in any language.… Continue reading MUERTO DE LA PENA
Eloquent doc about photographer Edward Burtynsky & his extraordinary compositions, showing how 21st century industrialization is changing our visual landscape. Baichwal’s camerawork is slow & steady, drawing back from the microcosm to the macrocosm to reveal the universal implications. Click HERE for FF2 haiku.
“The ABBA Musical” – Almost unwatcheable… except… Meryl Streep is fabulous! Altho almost 60, she plays someone ~ 40, & she blows all the youngsters off the screen, especially in tandem with Gal Pal showstoppers Baranski & Walters. Rich agrees, but these miracles weren”t enough for him. Kudos to good sports Brosnan, Firth & Skarsgard.… Continue reading MAMMA MIA
Aline Brosh McKenna’s first screenplay needed to put more flesh on the Brosnan character, but overall this is a giddy romp about the accomplished daughter (Moore) of a beautiful mother (Fisher) who still thinks of herself as an ugly duckling long after she’s actually become a swan. Dress rehearsal for THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. Click… Continue reading LAWS OF ATTRACTION
Mini-Doc coming in CFIC ’08. Not yet seen by Rich. Click HERE for FF2 Haiku
Well-paced, gently-didactic story about life in Depression Era America based on popular series of stories by the AMERICAN GIRLS doll company. Breslin stars as a Cincinatti preteen with ambition, empathy, & pluck. Recommended for all (girls & boys & adults too) by Jan & Jan””s BFF Dorthea, but Rich says: Kids only. Click HERE for… Continue reading KITT KITTREDGE
First person doc is an emotional history of Kibbutz Hulata (where director Schwartz grew up), now facing hard times in the new Israeli economy. Doc focuses on 3 elderly women who recount their days as “true believers” (visiting their infants in the children’s house, shunning make-up, etc, etc). Sad, sobering, & very thought-provoking! Click HERE… Continue reading KIBBUTZ
“Salma Zidane” is a Palestinian widow living in a small house on the eastern edge of the Green Line. Her life is immediately impacted when an Israeli woman named “Mira Navon” becomes her new neighbor. As they watch each other, day after day, from windows on opposite sides of the fence running through Salma’s lemon… Continue reading LEMON TREE
We admire Breillat provocative explorations of female sexuality (especially FAT GIRL), so we really wanted to like this, but chilly 19th Century costume drama is distracting “pretty.” Camera draws eye to Aattou’s lips, Mesquida’s dress, etc, when we should be focused on Argento’s fierce performance as “a woman scorned.” Click HERE for FILMS FOR TWO… Continue reading THE LAST MISTRESS
“The ABBA Musical” – Almost unwatchable… except… Meryl Streep is fabulous! Altho almost 60, she plays someone ~ 40, & she blows all the youngsters off the screen, especially in tandem with Gal Pal showstoppers Baranski & Walters. Rich agrees, but these miracles weren’t enough for him. Kudos to good sports Brosnan, Firth & Skarsgard. … Continue reading MAMA MIA!
Well-paced, gently-didactic story about life in Depression Era America based on popular series of stories by the AMERICAN GIRLS doll company. Breslin stars as a Cincinnati preteen with ambition, empathy, & pluck. Recommended for all (girls & boys & adults too) by Jan & Jan’s BFF Dorthea, but Rich says: Kids only. Click HERE… Continue reading KIT KITTREDGE
Yulie’s an Israeli woman severely wounded by terrorists in 1978. Fahad’s the man responsible for her injuries plus a companion’s death. In this impassioned first-person documentary, Gerstel attempts of see both sides of the Arab-Israeli conflict even as Palestinians begin their second intifada & Bin Laden destroys the WTC towers. More on MY TERRORIST.
“Woman’s weepie” for the ages – Coixet even includes a clip from MILDRED PIERCE in homage. The story’s straight & simple –Polley’s a young mother dying of cancer — but the performances are remarkably deep (including wonderful cameos). It should be depressing, but to the contrary, somehow it glows with transcendent optimism. More on MY… Continue reading MY LIFE WITHOUT ME
Travel with a Jewish-American woman back to “the Old Country.” 70-minute film has three parts. First, Eileen develops detailed information about her grandfather’s family. Then she walks the streets of Lithuania he once called home. Finally, she brings all the surviving cousins together for a reunion. Wise, life-affirming, heart-warming documentary.***** For more, see the “Columns”… Continue reading MY GRANDFATHER’S HOUSE
The plot creeks around her, nevertheless Sobieski does a fine job as a lonely teenage misfit slowly blossoming under the fatherly influence of her first boss (Brooks) & Lahti has assembled a great supporting cast of well-known veterans. We know, the loose strands all tie too neatly at the end… More on MY FIRST MISTER.
Chicagoans Fortula Portokalos & Ian Miller fall in love, but hey, this is America: some of us are apples & some are oranges, but in the end, we’re all fruit. Ethnic clichés are piled on thick, but always with affection. For screenwriter/star Nia Vardalos, this IS her American Dream. More on MY BIG FAT GREEK… Continue reading Film Review: MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING
Recently recovered from a serious illness, middle-aged Clarissa Dalloway (Streep) opens her door to a beautiful summer morning that reminds her of earlier times. This loving adaptation of Virginia Woolf’s greatest novel celebrates the poignant joys of everyday life in the shadow of WWI. What a lark! What a plunge! More on MRS. DALLOWAY.
Martha (Gedeck) likes everything “just so.” She’s the best gourmet chef in Hamburg, but a pain-in-the-butt outside her kitchen. Then real life intervenes & Martha must learn to cope. Mouth-watering! Go hungry & plan a pasta chaser… & then buy the equally luscious Keith Jarrett-punctuated, jazz-filled soundtrack. More on MOSTLY MARTHA.
Rich was immediately hooked by this intense portrait of Aileen Wuornos (one of America’s first well-known female serial killers). Jan took longer but was fully committed by the inevitably heart-rending final betrayal. Theron transforms herself, becoming both physically & emotionally unrecognizable in an astonishingly raw performance. Not for the squeamish. More on MONSTER.
Relatives pour into Delhi from the four corners of the earth to play their assigned parts in a huge family wedding. Conversation is a fast-paced mix of Hindi & English. Cell phones jangle constantly. Key characters each search for a balance between social/religious tradition and the buzz of modernity. More on MONSOON WEDDING.
Expelled from Uganda by Idi Amin, a prosperous East Indian family lands in rural Mississippi, where their daughter creates a scandal by falling in love with a local black entrepreneur. Spicy multi-cultural stew (with wonderful soundtrack) anchored by Denzel Washington – a total hunk in bed & out! More on MISSISSIPPI MASALA.
Serio-comic exploration of the high school “jungle” by screenwriter Tina Fey (who wrote herself in as the math teacher/moral conscience). Lohan stars as the new girl trying to figure out where she belongs in the stratified cafeteria. Definitely engrossing. Fun for all & presumably a must-see for parents & teens. More on MEAN GIRLS.
Holly and Marina grow up in side-by-side houses in a comfortable English suburb. Neither girl has a sister, so they adopt each other, calling themselves “Harina.” Years pass. The changing times are well-captured, but there’s too much plot. Goldbacher should have focused on making the central relationship more believable. More on ME WITHOUT YOU.
“Although I am totally committed to supporting women filmmakers in their fight against the “celluloid ceiling,” my emotions were painfully mixed the day Sofia Coppola became the first American woman in Oscar history to receive a “Best Director” nomination. I thought Lost in Translation was way over-rated. I suspected that members of the Academy of… Continue reading MARIE ANTOINETTE (2006): Review by Jan Lisa Huttner