Author: Grace Porter

Dunkirk Is a Technical Marvel That Plays a Bold Character Game

Overview: A military failure strands nearly half a million Allied soldiers on a beach in northern France during WWII, and with German forces closing in, the soldiers face a near-impossible evacuation. Warner Bros.; 2017; Rated PG-13; 106 minutes. Genre Bending: A few soldiers, walking through the deserted streets of a picturesque town made up of quaint buildings along cobblestone streets, scour through the open shop windows searching for food, water, cigarettes, anything left behind. Small paper leaflets swirl around them, picking up in gusts of wind. One solider gathers a few, quickly scans the sheets, and then crumples them...

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Wonder Woman Is A Better Movie Than The World Deserves

Overview: Diana, warrior and Princess of the Amazons, leaves her homeland when an American pilot, Steve Trevor, crashes on Themyscira and tells her of a great war. In her quest to bring peace to the world, she discovers the scope of her powers and the truth behind who she really is. Warner Bros. Pictures; 2017; Rated PG-13; 141 minutes. Wonder: It was the first scene in Themyscira in which we see Amazon warriors Antiope (the ever-perfect Robin Wright) and Philippus (Ann Ogbomo) in battle training that I realized something was off. The hype surrounding Wonder Woman, skepticism over its...

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Hidden Figures Favors Drama Over Impact

Overview: Three black women employed by NASA in the early 1960s solve mathematical equations essential to the success of the space program’s manned missions. 20thCentury Fox; 2016; Rated PG; 127 minutes. Women in History: In the early 1960s, a team of black women worked for NASA as mathematicians and engineers to help the U.S. beat the Soviets in the race to space – and none of us knew about them. Hidden Figures shines the spotlight on three real-life women: Katherine G. Johnson (Taraji P. Henson), a brilliant mathematician who graduated high school at 14, college at 18, and taught math before becoming the...

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Jackie Is All Towering Performance

Overview: In the week after President John F. Kennedy’s assassination, his wife, Jackie, is tasked with making impossible decisions to preserve his legacy while grieving publicly and privately. Fox Searchlight Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 100 minutes. “A man may die, nations may rise and fall, but an idea lives on.”: Jackie (Natalie Portman) slides up to the front of the hearse to ask the driver if he knows who James Garfield was. What about William McKinley? No? Abraham Lincoln? Yes, of course he knows who Abraham Lincoln was. What did he do? He was the president who freed the...

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THE LION: An Interview with Benjamin Scheuer

THE LION begins without introduction. This one-man musical is simply staged – Benjamin Scheuer, his suit, and six guitars—each characters in their own right—tell the autobiographical, coming-of-age story of now thirty-something Scheuer’s relationship with his father, first love, family discord, and devastating medical diagnosis. The musical is written and performed by Scheuer; he’s charming, witty, and poised, and, most of all, generous with his story. He’s a brilliant lyricist, the kind who doesn’t waste a word. Music, the thing that binds him to his father, is his  tool for forgiveness, redemption, and clarity, and in listening to his words,...

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Allied is a Narrowly Focused World War II Drama

Overview: A Canadian intelligence officer and a French resistance fighter pose as a married couple to assassinate a Nazi ambassador in Casablanca in 1942. They start a new life in London but are soon forced to confront realities of the war. Paramount Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 124 minutes. Come for the Spies, Deal with the Love Story: If ever there were a film sabotaged by its trailer, it would be Allied. It is clever, though, to sell the film as an espionage thriller since much of its audience wouldn’t attend if they knew ahead of time that this is...

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Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk Meanders Aimlessly

Overview: After a brutal battle in Iraq, Billy Lynn and his fellow soldiers are hailed as heroes and brought home for a victory tour, but through flashbacks it’s revealed that the realities of the war in Iraq and Americans’ perceptions are vastly different. TriStar Pictures; 2016; Rated R; 110 minutes. Comedy, Tragedy: In the second to last scene, where the (not) Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is saying goodbye to Billy Lynn (Joe Alwyn), it finally occurred to me that Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk might have been a black comedy. But I’m not exactly beating myself up over not getting...

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Is It Still Scary: Return to Oz

From 1995 to 1996, my sister subjected my family to a daily viewing of The Wizard of Oz. Daily. As in she convinced each of my recently divorced parents that she’d be less traumatized by our broken family if she got to eat Ramen Noodles for dinner every night, sitting in front of the TV, watching her rapidly deteriorating VHS copy of the beloved 1939 classic. Maybe in hopes of expanding our movie collection or perhaps in a desperate fit of, “I can’t fucking watch The Wizard of Oz one more time,” my dad introduced us to Return to...

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Bad Moms and the Fiction of Motherhood

As I broach the subject of parenthood – well, as I continue to be badgered by others about when (not if) I’m going to have children – I’m trying to wrap my mind around how I’m going to do that, how I’m going to do it all. It occurs to me that maybe I don’t have to do it all, but it also occurs to me that I don’t see a mom not doing it all. I want a wildly successful career, a home in a rather expensive city, and a happy, engaged marriage—all things that will require effort...

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Fuller House is Nostalgic Regurgitation

Let’s clear a couple things up right off the bat: With very little (almost no) coercion, I agreed to review this with an open mind, because I used to be a die-hard Full House fan. To my first point, if I’m totally honest, I wasn’t fighting my fellow AE writers off of this assignment, and I wasn’t particularly eager to devote six and a half hours of my life to Fuller House, if you can imagine. I did sign up hoping to find some bright spots in the obviously questionable reboot and to throw out a not-completely scathing article into the sea...

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What Cinema Taught Me About Being British

I always fancied myself a British woman—the kind who was born in the wrong country, of course. But alas (do Brits say “alas”?), I was born in the good ole U.S. of A. Though, if I am more well suited as a brash American, I surely should have at least married a British man. But as my husband so kindly reassures me, there’s still time and he believes in me. He’s not bad for an American.* So while my life has been tragically un-British, luckily I have films to teach me everything there is to know about being British....

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Joy Sees Lawrence Fighting Russell’s Missteps

Overview: A semi-biographical drama about entrepreneur Joy Mangano’s invention of the Miracle Mop in the early ‘90s. Fox 2000 Pictures; PG-13; 2015; 124 minutes. Oh, David O. Russell: Jennifer Lawrence stars as our titular character in her third collaboration with Director David O. Russell, who also co-wrote Joy with Annie Mumolo (Bridesmaids). Lawrence is too young to play Joy Mangano, a divorced mother of three, which is a problem especially evident when the audience is asked to believe she’s aged 20 years, but she was too young for her roles in Silver Linings Playbook and American Hustle, too. Like...

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10 Great Christmas Movies

It’s Christmas Eve, and if you haven’t managed to get in the Christmas spirit yet, there’s still time! And I know no better way to shake the Scrooge and bring on the Buddy the Elf than a Christmas movie marathon. As for those of you born with that unshakable Christmas craze, you already know the value of a good holiday flick, so crank it up a notch with a re-watch of one of the picks below and be sure to weigh in with your favorite Christmas movie in the comments section below. While there are dozens of Christmas films to...

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The Danish Girl Moves On Autopilot

Overview: The Danish Girl is loosely based on the lives of artists Gerda and Einar Wegener, a married couple navigating Einar’s transition to become a woman (Lili Elbe) through one of the first known sexual reassignment surgeries in the early 1920s. Focus Features; 2015; Rated R; 119 minutes. Here, Oscar, Oscar, Oscar: It’s hard to imagine better leads than Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander, fearlessly portraying the death of a marriage and delicately navigating the difficult course of a male to female transition in the early 20th century. The film is striking, the costumes elaborate, and the score lovely. And despite...

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Toy Story: 20 Years Later

I was the perfect child. My parents will tell you so. Emphatically, even. Why they went on to have a second child is a mystery my family – and this world – may never resolve. But one fateful November morning two and a half decades ago, I lost my only child status to a very round, undeniably adorable baby sister. My parents had made the tragic mistake of replacing me with a chubby, bald, wide eyed baby, and I simply couldn’t compete*. It unleashed the start of the great Maxwell sibling rivalry—for the following 16 years. In 1995, Toy Story...

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