The Soul Journey of ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’

What are we to do when something nags us inside and won't let our attention go? What are we, soft humans, to think when we are caught being so very different from the crowd and feel no remorse- feel nothing but the irrepressible urge to follow the thing that calls our name? Obsessed, possessed, crazy- … Continue reading The Soul Journey of ‘Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter’

The Quiet Lineage of Class War: ‘Little Accidents’

America, "the land of the free", is a vast space with two borders that bleed drinkable prosperity and a center that struggles to keep the so-called American Dream alive. I hesitate not to explore the ways in which America is impoverished educationally, intellectually, morally, and spiritually. As an American woman, I cannot afford to withhold … Continue reading The Quiet Lineage of Class War: ‘Little Accidents’

‘Appropriate Behavior’: The Importance of Unromantic Comedy

In an awards season teeming with adorable, quirky romantic comedies, Desiree Akhavan's decidedly unromantic comedy is a nice departure from average depictions of relationship woes. In 'Appropriate Behavior' protagonist Shirin (played by writer/director Akhavan) struggles with finding her way in the world, stuck between her traditional Iranian family's expectations and her own desires after a … Continue reading ‘Appropriate Behavior’: The Importance of Unromantic Comedy

‘Obvious Child’: A Continuation of Last Year’s Brilliant Feminist Rom-Com Magic

Back in 2014, I wrote that 'In a World' was the first truly feminist romantic comedy I'd ever seen. The fact that there was a female protagonist with sexual and career-oriented agency, who's main focus was not how her hair looked when her crush walked by, but that she liked him...and he liked her. There's … Continue reading ‘Obvious Child’: A Continuation of Last Year’s Brilliant Feminist Rom-Com Magic

‘Marnie’: The Complexities of a ” Sex Mystery”

"One might call 'Marnie' a 'sex mystery', if one used such words." - Alfred Hitchcock 'Marnie' is by far the most extreme vision of frigidity Hitchcock ever explored. Adapted by Jay Presson Allen from Winston Graham's novel of the same name, it serves as an oddly seductive screen commentary about the origins of psychosis in … Continue reading ‘Marnie’: The Complexities of a ” Sex Mystery”

‘Still Alice’ and the Empathetic Eye

According to the Alzheimer's Association, one in three seniors are diagnosed with Alzheimer's or some other form of dementia. There are currently 5 million Americans living with Alzheimer's, and a new patient is diagnosed every 67 seconds. Given the striking number of families this disease affects, the discussion about a cure and preventative methods is … Continue reading ‘Still Alice’ and the Empathetic Eye

A Debut: Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’

* Spoiler alert Awards season 2015 is brimming with brazenly self-aware stories. Well, no one can say such a thing about mediums on media with 100% certainty because filmmakers so often make the "it's just a movie" claim like they had no intentions or responsibility about influencing public consciousness about social issues whatsoever, but I'd … Continue reading A Debut: Dan Gilroy’s ‘Nightcrawler’

‘Foxcatcher’: Unforgiving Expectations

Foxcatcher is based on violent and disturbing real life events. The extent to which these events are portrayed truthfully is unknowable, but nonetheless there is an abundance of social truth in the performance of the three leading men in the film. The protagonist, Mark Schultz, is played with full belief in the body and mind … Continue reading ‘Foxcatcher’: Unforgiving Expectations

‘St. Vincent’: Bright Spot of this Awards Season

A critic wrote not too long ago that Bill Murray needs to drop his 800-number and get an agent so he can snag that Oscar-winning role he so deserves. I think that review alone should've prepared the Academy to honor his next performance- it only seems fair. * Serious Man Voice: "Oh, reeeally? You think … Continue reading ‘St. Vincent’: Bright Spot of this Awards Season

Old / Interesting: Deviant Women in Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘The Weight of Water’

Kathryn Bigelow is known for her gut-wrenching studies of contemporary warriors and putting modern war tactics on display to the possible peril of her public reputation. Fortunately for her, this venture has proven to be undeniably captivating, in spite of being the subject of massive amounts of controversy. After all the talk, she is recognized … Continue reading Old / Interesting: Deviant Women in Kathryn Bigelow’s ‘The Weight of Water’

Old / Interesting: M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Unbreakable’

I recently read a crude article in which some journalist attacked M. Night Shyamalan's entire career. It was so plain mean, I won't link to it- you're left to web search (if you like soggy yellow rags). Anyway, just after skimming this brutal assessment and finding that it went just a step beyond multiple other … Continue reading Old / Interesting: M. Night Shyamalan’s ‘Unbreakable’

‘The Lady Vanishes’ – To Judge and to Fear

Conspiracy Thrills One life. Hitchcock tended toward the kind of funny that pokes fun at institutions and systems. In "The Lady Vanishes", the humor and drama are essentially about trusting one's self in unbelievable situations. To start, the jolly older woman -Ms.Froy- who ends up caught in a conspiracy plot on her way home to … Continue reading ‘The Lady Vanishes’ – To Judge and to Fear

Choreographing Feeling: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

I finally got a chance to see Wes Anderson's latest, 'The Grand Budapest Hotel'. I must say that it made me feel like filmmaking was all arts captured and choreographed into colors and shapes before me. The perfection of the character's movements is ironic, the look and feel of their fortunes and misfortunes is mechanical, … Continue reading Choreographing Feeling: ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’

You know what? 5 Reasons Why ‘Dear White People’ is a Must-See Dramedy

1. Woman with a Camera: In a film which seeks to expose a great number of social issues, giving multiple characters ways of telling and managing their own stories allowed the story to keep moving and these storytellers to keep developing without pausing too much for explanatory notes. When Sam White (Tessa Thompson) holds up … Continue reading You know what? 5 Reasons Why ‘Dear White People’ is a Must-See Dramedy

A Purist Rom-Com: A Touch of Death in ‘The Trouble with Harry’

From death cometh life and the living can be ridiculous! Fascinating! Oh good, good grief! Alfred Hitchcock always liked his films to have a sense of humor about them, and "The Trouble with Harry" is the height of funny stuff. There's this man who happens to have died at the apex of everybody's favorite hiking … Continue reading A Purist Rom-Com: A Touch of Death in ‘The Trouble with Harry’

The World of ‘Outlander’ vs. the Spectacle of ‘Reign’

I love history and I truly appreciate that people who run television networks think historical characters are worth putting on T.V., but why must it all be inaccurate? Can it not be spectacular and real and massively viewed, all at once? Why did a show like "Reign" make it past the first season? Sensationalism. Targeting … Continue reading The World of ‘Outlander’ vs. the Spectacle of ‘Reign’

‘It Makes Me Happy’ – A Short Film About a Little Pianist

Meet Meagan Cook Mora, a ten year old award-winning pianist from Costa Rica. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uGVBAA7QZj8 I shot and edited this film when Meagan was on her second trip to NYC, set to perform at Carnegie Hall. The footage in the beginning of the video is from various performances she's done since she began playing professionally at … Continue reading ‘It Makes Me Happy’ – A Short Film About a Little Pianist

Psychopathy in Hitchcock Thrillers ‘Rope’ (1948)

Character Study: Rupert Cadell ('Rope', 1948) I recently read an article in which the author questioned whether a psychopath could be a good person. Scientists have studied psychopathic behaviors enough that they’ve come full-circle, considering that psychotic people should be viewed with empathy and even admiration. After all, they are focused, not driven by emotions, … Continue reading Psychopathy in Hitchcock Thrillers ‘Rope’ (1948)

A Look at Police Violence & Race in Ryan Coogler’s ‘Fruitvale Station’

Oscar Grant was shot by a policeman at Fruitvale Station in Oakland just after midnight on January 1st, 2009. He was unarmed and had not been charged with any form of misconduct. Grant was shot in the back by an officer who later had his charges reduced because he explained that he mistook his gun … Continue reading A Look at Police Violence & Race in Ryan Coogler’s ‘Fruitvale Station’

‘Gideon’s Army’: Documenting the Justice System

Public defenders uphold the constitutional right of an accused citizen to have defense under the presumption of the court that they are innocent until proven guilty. They exist as the line between the for profit prison system and the constitution itself. The state’s defender (otherwise known as a prosecutor) seeks to prove guilt, which is … Continue reading ‘Gideon’s Army’: Documenting the Justice System

Documentary: Framing Cultural Violence in ‘The Act of Killing’

'The Act of Killing' The way viewers react to Joshua Oppenheimer’s documentary 'The Act of Killing' comes down to the way each viewer is able to expand their notion of the act of killing. In the liberal, privileged and mono-cultured West, we vaguely, yet virulently, understand murder (especially mass murder) as an unforgivable crime. Abstractly, … Continue reading Documentary: Framing Cultural Violence in ‘The Act of Killing’

Quiet Hipster Films / A Cinematic Whisper in Black/White: ‘Frances Ha’

Frances, O, Frances, where are you? Brooklyn, in the era of Hipsters and post-feminist feminists, in which no twenty-something without a trust-fund can get by on just one job, one gig, or one talent. Not if she pays her own rent and wants to live. That’s where. The words “But I should save money… so … Continue reading Quiet Hipster Films / A Cinematic Whisper in Black/White: ‘Frances Ha’

Gun Violence On-Screen in ‘Blue Caprice’

The truest expression of horror is exacting terrifying measures on innocent creatures in an emotionless state. 'Blue Caprice', based on true events, is a horror film. Without much blood, and with very little intimate expression on the part of the murderer, the viewer is left with a knot of unknowing in their vulnerable belly: this … Continue reading Gun Violence On-Screen in ‘Blue Caprice’

‘20 Feet from Stardom’ Review

From the first moment, '20 Feet from Stardom' inhale-exhales devotion. Devotion to a group of mega-talented performers who held up (and still do) the music industry during the come one come all simultaneous golden eras of soul, rock n’ roll, blues, jazz, funk, r&b- decades of human soul blessed vocal support by extraordinary professionals trained … Continue reading ‘20 Feet from Stardom’ Review

A Knock-out Drama: the Private World Explored in ‘Concussion’

'Concussion': She said “I have to do something.” Abby Ableman reads and vacuums at the same time, fixes up hole-in-the-wall apartments in Manhattan, and spends inordinate amounts of time in cycling classes, amidst the aimless, though healthy-minded chatter of other soccer moms. Most importantly, Abby violently, helplessly curses at her son when he hits her … Continue reading A Knock-out Drama: the Private World Explored in ‘Concussion’

Oscars Watch: Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’

Cate Blanchett’s Oscar-winning role in 'Blue Jasmine' was the grittiest and most econo-socially relevant of the season. There was the sweetest Dame Judi Dench in 'Philomena', the raspiest, most frightening Meryl Streep in 'August: Osage County',a sultry, mysterious, and brilliant yet cracked Amy Adams in 'American Hustle', and of course Sandra Bullock’s space heroine of … Continue reading Oscars Watch: Cate Blanchett in ‘Blue Jasmine’

The First Feminist Rom-Com: ‘In a World’

'In a World…' is perhaps the only successful feminist critique of the entertainment industry to ever have been brought forward in the form of a romantic comedy. The story: an eccentric and graceless yet very attractive female protagonist named Carol Solomon lives under her glaringly misogynistic VoiceOver artist father’s (the big-wig Sam Sotto) reluctant wing, … Continue reading The First Feminist Rom-Com: ‘In a World’

Reality, History, and Silence: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

'Dallas Buyers Club' could be a film that alters the way audiences view people of varying sexual expression. It could be that kind of resource for filmgoers, but the press surrounding more than one awards acceptance speech by a particular cast member has been drawing attention to the rub of the industry: actors don’t have … Continue reading Reality, History, and Silence: ‘Dallas Buyers Club’

Americana: A Tribute to Nothingland in A. Payne’s ‘Nebraska’

Nebraska: a story of the heartland. An Americana gem. Black and white and cold throughout, Alexander Payne’s latest feature seems to be a carefully crafted study of small town living. An old man journeys from Montana to Nebraska to cash in what he believes to be his golden ticket. No one in the story actually … Continue reading Americana: A Tribute to Nothingland in A. Payne’s ‘Nebraska’

Fading Glamour and Psychological Grit in ‘American Hustle’

Who’s the criminal in a thieving system? In a band of uglies, who’s the worst? We audience members love watching horrible people make bad choices. The length of the average feature length film gives us just the right amount of time to decide who we feel sympathy for, who did the darkest deeds, who deserved … Continue reading Fading Glamour and Psychological Grit in ‘American Hustle’

10 Films That Passed the Bechdel Test in 2013 | Tribeca

Here are ten films from 2013 that actually pass the Bechdel Test. This test, which assesses only the most basic presence of women on-screen, is strangely difficult to apply to most American films, but this year you could use count ‘em out on *both* hands. With Sofia Coppola beside Noah Baumbach beside Ridley Scott and … Continue reading 10 Films That Passed the Bechdel Test in 2013 | Tribeca

The Primordial Darkness of ‘August: Osage County’

An alternative tagline for the screen version of August: Osage County could be “Streep and Roberts go darker than ever, fist in fist”. The thriller angle of this drama is seeing these two women, who have stunned audiences in award-winning biopics and the like for decades, revel in portraying what turned out to be possibly … Continue reading The Primordial Darkness of ‘August: Osage County’

Analysis of Hitchcock’s ‘Saboteur’

Hitchcock’s thriller 'Saboteur' exemplifies the director’s drive for subverting his audience’s sympathies. There is a daringly clarified critique of systematic injustice in the form of a single misjudged civilian taking on a class of evil that operates somewhere between the powers of government and industry, far above the heads of common workers: the saboteurs, those … Continue reading Analysis of Hitchcock’s ‘Saboteur’

The Beautiful Evil: Hitchcock’s ‘Shadow of a Doubt’

'Shadow of a Doubt' is a beautiful example of the study of Evil. We are constantly confronted with images and descriptions of violence, and in these accounts of atrocious acts we rarely get a chance to consider the criminal from any angle beyond criminality. Where evil meets innocence, and where it wins over good people, … Continue reading The Beautiful Evil: Hitchcock’s ‘Shadow of a Doubt’

On Realism and Telling History: ‘Lincoln’

Spielberg’s 'Lincoln' is a story molded out of cold facts and softened by clever anecdotal interludes between Lincoln and his advisors (vice president, wife, and the people who look after his household). Of course Abraham Lincoln is so well-known to most audience members that the historical backdrop is easily set, allowing the storyline to progress from … Continue reading On Realism and Telling History: ‘Lincoln’

The Indie Film World Reformation

"The indie theatrical release is dead" proclaimed Michael Kang, the indie film director of Kimberley Rose Wolters’s new feature-length romantic comedy "4 Weddings". In a Q&A session that was quickly overtaken by the current woes of the indie film industry, this was the most disconcerting comment made by Kang, Rose Wolters, or actress Iliana Douglass. Kang continued … Continue reading The Indie Film World Reformation

Ideas of Searching in ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

The first mistake a movie-goer can make is to assume that the way the story they came to see is going to be told in the only way it could have been told. This is particularly true of documentaries, because they are about, before all else, information. Documentarians tell stories by organizing information in their own way, and as with any good … Continue reading Ideas of Searching in ‘Searching for Sugar Man’

So Yong Kim’s Portrait of An Absent Father, ‘For Ellen’

"Please stop. You’re going to make me sad." The pivotal moment in So Yong Kim’s heartbreaking portrait of paternal irresponsibility is when the namesake of the film speaks up in a whisper: “Please stop. You’re going to make me sad.” Her father, whom she met for the first time just hours before, fears he may never see her … Continue reading So Yong Kim’s Portrait of An Absent Father, ‘For Ellen’

‘J. Edgar’: Making History With History

John Edgar Hoover founded the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which, among other things led the United States into a new era of surveillance. He is portrayed, by all accounts, as having been completely consumed by his career, though this may have been due to the unbearable oppression he faced as a gay man in Washington … Continue reading ‘J. Edgar’: Making History With History

‘Beginners’ Confront The End in Fear / Stall Death With Love

Ewan McGregor plays things so gentle, that it is nearly impossible not to empathize with his characters. In Beginners, he plays a protagonist who confronts quite a lot at once, and relatively later in life: death, true love, profound sadness, existential anxiety, the fear of dying alone, the fear of staying with someone he doesn’t … Continue reading ‘Beginners’ Confront The End in Fear / Stall Death With Love

The Brilliant Star: Michelle Williams in ‘My Week With Marilyn’

Michelle Williams stars in a movie where she is sidelined by the plot- how did that happen? No one involved would ever admit it, but she is the sugar, the cherry, the charm, even the star, but playing Marilyn Monroe is viewed as an ornamental project. The irony here is extreme: a biopic film has been … Continue reading The Brilliant Star: Michelle Williams in ‘My Week With Marilyn’

‘Albert Nobbs’: “A Woman Passing…” or Succeeding in a Cruel World

ALBERT NOBBS is the story of a man. Is it? Is that what matters? The film is summarized as follows on the film’s official web-page: “Award winning actress Glenn Close plays a woman passing as a man in order to work and survive in 19th century Ireland.” This is true, simple. Still, throughout the film, … Continue reading ‘Albert Nobbs’: “A Woman Passing…” or Succeeding in a Cruel World

Oh, Look! There Are White Heteronormative People Starring in A Woody Allen Film And It Has Been Nominated For An Oscar

'Midnight in Paris' is a beautiful, delicious, sexy film with a sweet cast. The plot is led straight from beginning to end without a struggle. It is interesting and breezy. That said, it’s absolutely usual and palatable. There’s adultery, psychoanalysis-worthy monogamy issues, wealth, surveillance, awkward parental units, blame-the-maid antics posing as class war commentary, and … Continue reading Oh, Look! There Are White Heteronormative People Starring in A Woody Allen Film And It Has Been Nominated For An Oscar

The Clothes Come On: Documenting Butt Naked’s Redemption

  Re·demp·tion (noun) 1.an act of redeeming  or the state of being redeemed. 2. 3. 4.atonement for guilt.   General Butt Naked Murderer, sadist, cannibal, Liberian tribal leader, devil worshipper, religious advisor, criminal, father, husband, Christian, redeemer. To be redeemed, one must be devoted to deliverance from the sins they have committed, so as to keep them forever in the past. Joshua Milton Blahyi is better known … Continue reading The Clothes Come On: Documenting Butt Naked’s Redemption

‘Natural Selection’is a Feminist Feat

NATURAL SELECTION is a feminist film: there’s a lady protagonist on a mission that involves quite a lot more than her body and the journey sets her free of all social restraints, even the need for love. She is strong, without self-pity, and proactively seeks out pleasure and accomplishment without being punished for it. While … Continue reading ‘Natural Selection’is a Feminist Feat

Maryam Keshavarz’s ‘Circumstance’

CIRCUMSTANCE is the story of two young women who try to live the lives they desire under an increasingly brutal dictatorial government. Materially privileged Atafeh Hakimi (Nikohl Boosheri) introduces her socially stigmatized friend, Shireen Arshadi (Sarah Kazemy), to the Tehran underground. There after school and before curfew, behind blinds blocking sunlight from makeshift clubs, the … Continue reading Maryam Keshavarz’s ‘Circumstance’

‘Another Earth’ & Earthly Redemption

The elements of science fiction in ANOTHER EARTH accentuate the most important human elements of the story: forgiveness, alienation, victimization, and how to carry a burden. Protagonist Rhoda Williams is just about to start her life as a student at MIT, when she crashes into a car, killing a man’s wife, son, and unborn child. … Continue reading ‘Another Earth’ & Earthly Redemption

Elena Beloff’s Zaritsas: Russian Women in New York

Zaritsas: Russian Women in New York Elena Beloff is a Russian woman who loves living in New York. She came to the city ten years ago as a student and has since found parallel fields as a healer (she is a certified and practicing hypnotist) and filmmaker. In 2010, she debuted a film about Russian women in New York, one … Continue reading Elena Beloff’s Zaritsas: Russian Women in New York

Discussion After the Amazing Women in Film Panel with Thelma Adams

Thanks to Thelma Adams, the moderator of this years Amazing Women in Film panel at the Woodstock Film Festival, I got to participate in an enlightening and exciting discussion on Facebook about the state of women in film. Check it out by clicking the link above. I nearly burst with excitement at the chance to … Continue reading Discussion After the Amazing Women in Film Panel with Thelma Adams

Filmmaker Elena Rossini writes about the state of women in film

I really recommend this link and the blog that hosted the piece - The Beheld. Also take a look at Rossini’s http://theillusionists.org/ to get a taste of what it means to be a feminist in the eerily elusive yet totally pervasive world of film and media. Filmmaker Elena Rossini writes about the state of women in … Continue reading Filmmaker Elena Rossini writes about the state of women in film