Dec 13, 2018

The Best Quest Films of 2018

A still from Rungano Nyoni's "I Am Not A Wtich"

My Winners (in alphabetical order):

Daughter of Mine (Figlia Mia)
I am Not a Witch
Leave No Trace
The Apparition
The Rider
The Miseducation of Cameron Post
Please Stand By

Dec 2, 2018

My Latest Interviews

KiKi Lane as Tish in Barry Jenkins' new film. (Courtesy of Annapurna).

My interview with Barry Jenkins for If Beale Street Could Talk is here: Jenkins' breakout film was Moonlight (2016), set in his home state of Florida. It won the young writer-director two Oscars, Best Picture and Best Adapted Screenplay.

Tao Zhao as Quaio in Zia Zhangke's latest film. (Courtesy of Cohen Media).
My interview with Chinese filmmaker Jia Zhangke for Ash is the Purest White is here: The award-winning "art house" writer-director is best-known for A Touch of Sin (2013) which won Best Screenplay at Cannes, but he has made many other wonderful films including the recent Mountains May Depart (2015). Nearly all of his movies are set in the Chinese province of his birth.

Finally, my interview with another award-winning "art house" director, Italian filmmaker Alice Rohrwacher, for Lazzaro Felice, will appear in the Winter issue of Cineaste. You will have to purchase that at Barnes & Noble or your local newsstand.

Nov 6, 2018

Friday Harbor Film Festival

That's me on the far right with Lynn Danaher at the 6th Annual Friday Harbor Film Festival's Filmmakers Forum, a panel I moderated. The festival is on San Juan Island in Washington; Danaher is the event's co-founder, along with Karen Palmer. As a media guest, I also had the privilege of moderating two post-screening Q&As. My piece on the festival appears in Film Journal International:

Oct 4, 2018

New York Film Festival Coverage (Updated 11/6)

My coverage of several films at the festival begins with Robert Minervini's What You Gonna Do When the World's on Fire?

A still from "What You Gonna Do" is of the King brothers, Titus and Ronaldo (L-R).

Here is a link to my post on the documentary's press screening and post-screening Q&A (on Film Journal International's Screener Blog):

Here is a link to my interview with Jia Zhangke for Ash is the Purest White, on the main slate at the New York Film Festival:

Sep 8, 2018

Tomatometer Approved Critic

I was pleased to be named an "approved critic" recently for the Rotten Tomatoes website. It provides a brief bio and lists my present and past reviews and features. I hope you will visit it:

Just added . . . and Published

Rungano Nyoni's hero in "I Am Not a Witch"
Summer teaching, and now the start of the 2018-2019 academic year, as well as the upcoming New York Film Festival press screenings, have not and will not leave me much time to update my compendium website. I do want to call attention to a terrific girl's quest film opening this week in New York City, I am Not a Witch. My review is here: (I've added other links to film reviews and features in the last few weeks.)

My interview with Debra Granik for Leave No Trace appears in the current issue of Cineaste. You have to purchase the print magazine; only selected features appear on the website.

Jun 30, 2018

Our Revised Anita Hill Moment

History Lesson

Dr. Anita Hill was sexually harassed by a man who now sits on the U.S. Supreme Court. If you are a woman and old enough to remember the riveting 1991 testimony of the then 35 year-old law professor, you no doubt recall that the only great divide in this country during the Senate Committee confirmation hearing for Clarence Thomas was along gender lines. There was no question in any woman's mind of the veracity of Dr. Hill's testimony, only in the minds of about half of the senators who voted for confirmation. Clarence Thomas slipped by with one of the lowest margins ever recorded in confirmation votes for Supreme Court justices, 52-48.

One of the Democrats who voted for confirmation is still a senator, Richard Shelby (D, Alabama). We are well-rid of Joe Biden, who was especially hostile to Dr. Hill. While many of the most rebarbative and misogynist Republicans, such as Arlen Specter, are gone, Orrin Hatch (R, Utah) is not. He now serves as president pro tempore of the U.S. Senate. If that is not frightening enough, every woman and every right-thinking man in this country, should be terrified by the fact that President Trump will be choosing nominees for the Supreme Court in the coming weeks.

Representation of Women in Journalism

I mention this history because we are now at another “Anita Hill moment” in the United States, one in which record numbers of women are running for public office, as they did after the Thomas confirmation. Many of them are women of color, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who will soon occupy a Congressional seat for the 14th District of the great state of New York. While I find this encouraging, as an author and film critic, I feel the need to report that in my corner of the world, in film journalism, very little has changed despite all the rhetoric flying around about supporting women’s filmmaking.

Every day I get announcements of new women’s film programming at various venues, most recently, for the upcoming Toronto Film Festival. That’s terrific, but what I do not see is programmers reaching out to women filmmakers and critics to chair panels at these events. I rarely see women’s faces when I attend film festival events or filmmaker Q&As, even when they feature female filmmakers. In the audience at press screenings, most of us are white, and there is often only one female critic in a group of 30 men, so our voices are naturally drowned out. Programmers and curators need to pay attention to the ratio of women and men in press screenings, and on their panels. Start counting.

Apr 24, 2018

My 2018 Tribeca Film Festival Coverage

Ilhan Omar, the first Somali-Muslim woman to become an American legislator. (Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)
My review of Norah Shapiro's documentary, Time for Ilhan, which is making its world premier at the festival, is here:

A snapshot from Love, Gilda, of legendary comic Gilda Radner. (Photo courtesy of Tribeca Film Festival)

Lisa D'Apolito's documentary, Love, Gilda, is about the late Gilda Radner, best-known as an original cast member of "Saturday Night Live." My review of the film, which made its world premier at Tribeca, is here:

This is an e-mail sent to media critic and web series producer Anita Sarkeesian, one of Cynthia Lowen's subjects the documentary Netizens. (Photo courtesy of Susan Norget Public Relations)

 My review of Cynthia Lowen's documentary, Netizens, about cyber crimes committed against women is here:

Apr 15, 2018

Notes on Recently Published Features and Reviews

Recy Taylor, the subject of the documentary The Rape of Recy Taylor.
I have added links to my interview with John Curran for Chappaquiddick, an historically significant film about the events surrounding the death of Mary Jo Kopechne. Also newly posted is my interview with Chinese filmmaker Chloe Zhao for The Rider, one of the best narrative films released this year. My interview with Nancy Buirski for The Rape of Recy Taylor, a groundbreaking documentary chronicling the culture of rape during the Jim Crow era, is in the Spring issue of Cineaste (not online but still on newsstands), along with my review of Criterion’s Blu-Ray release of Orson Welles’s Othello (1952).

Feb 2, 2018

An Alternative to the Super Bowl: Women's Films, Women's Voices

A still from Christine Choy and Marlene Dann's "To Love, Honor and Obey," screening at Metrograph in New York City.
 The film industry has definitely embraced the female demographic lately, filmmakers, distributors and public relations representatives trumpeting "women-led movies" or "directed by a woman." The fact is that many of these films are not about women at all, nor are they shot from a female character's point-of-view, and if they are, they would not do not pass the Bechdel Test.

One refreshing alternative opening this weekend, "Tell Me," is a series of films by and about women (and curated by a woman) at New York City's Metrograph movie theater. Another is Please Stand By, a woman's quest film starring Dakota Fanning, that will open across the country. Ms. Fanning's character is autistic, an even more unusual twist in female-centered narratives. My review of the film is here: Here is my article about "Tell Me:

Jan 4, 2018

Writing During the Winter Storm with No Name

This is 10th Avenue in New York City at about 4 PM today. The broad, two-lane street, which leads to the Lincoln Tunnel (between Manhattan and New Jersey) would be clogged with traffic if it were any other day. Take a look at the flag atop the building at the left. The wind was about 30 mph. and gusts were fierce. I love snow . . . and this much snow slows the city down. I have to admit that it slowed me down, too. I did not get much writing done, except for two Twitter posts, and the link I added here under "Features, Print and Online" for my interview with Maysaloun Hamoud. Her movie,"In Between," opens tomorrow and it features three very unusual female, Muslim characters.