By Jennifer Merin
WeNews film critic
Friday, April 18, 2014
And among some April 18 openers catch this oddity: "The Final Member," a documentary about Iceland's Phallological Museum, a collection of carefully preserved male mammalian genitalia that needs only a human specimen to be complete.
Credit: Courtesy of Codeblack Films
(WOMENSENEWS)--"Frankie and Alice," which opened April 14, is an intense truth-based psychological drama that stars Halle Berry as Frankie, a go-go dancer who suffers from severe dissociative identity disorder. She seeks the help of a psychotherapist (Stellan Skarsgard) to silence the voices of multiple personalities who live inside her head and take over her body. She needs particular help with a 7-year-old named Genius and a racist white Southerner named Alice. The script's many voices are provided by Cheryl Edwards, Mary King and Anna Waterhouse, among others. Berry's standout performance is singularly brave and brilliant.
Today, April 18, also brings a number of notable openers.
One of them is "Visions of Mary Frank." This is John Cohen's documentary about the fine artist who is as famous for her good looks as she is for her artistic vision. During the 1950s, she was photographed by Robert Frank (her former husband), Edward Steichen, Walker Evans, Ralph Gibson and other famous shooters whose portraits of her attracted more attention than her paintings, drawings and sculpture, although her work is represented in the collections of most major American museums. This excellent biodoc will set the record straight.
"Bears," filmmaker Alastair Fothergill's latest Disneynature documentary, tracks two mother bears for a year, observing how they watch over their cubs and teach them what they need to know to survive in the Alaskan wilderness. Magnificent cinematography captures the majesty of the environment and the intimacy of the relationship between mothers and cubs. It all serves to remind us that we of the human species are not the only females on Earth.
"The Final Member" will serve to remind us that males of other species are worthy of consideration, as well. The film is a documentary about the Icelandic Phallological Museum, the world's only public compendium of carefully preserved male genitalia. The collection ranges from field mouse to sperm whale, but includes no human "member." When two men vie to donate theirs, museum founder/curator Siggi Hjartarson faces some curious challenges. The film is worth seeing. So is the collection, even if not in the flesh.
"Authors Anonymous," directed by Ellie Kanner, is a comedy about rivalries that erupt among a group of unpublished writers when their newest member, Hannah Rinaldi (Kaley Cuoco), gets an agent and signs a six-figure movie deal for her book. The upbeat film has its amusing moments, but it simply ain't a six-figure deal.
"Young and Beautiful" is French director Francois Ozon's coming-of-age drama about Isabelle's (Marine Vacth) 17th year. As she passes from one season to the next, she becomes sexually aware, has her first sexual encounter, experiments with prostitution and becomes an adult. Nominated for this year's César Award for Most Promising Actress for her performance, Vacth is definitely someone to watch.
"The German Doctor" is a narrative account of the period during which Josef Mengele, the notorious Nazi "Angel of Death," eluded Israeli agents by hiding in Argentina after World War II. In the screenplay that director Lucia Puenzo adapted from her own novel, Mengele (Alex Brendemühl) attaches himself to an Argentinean family, moving into their home in an isolated town in Patagonia. Under the guise of treating the pregnant mother and the 12-year-old daughter, Mengele continues to experiment as he did in Auschwitz. The tension-packed truth-based horror film is a riveting watch.
"The Other Woman" stars Cameron Diaz as a woman who discovers that her boyfriend--the guy she finally gets serious about--is both married and cheating on her with other women as well. In a welcome twist on the standard women-vying-for-men's-attention scenario, Melissa Stack's comedic script has the gals teaming up to take revenge on their mutual mate and genuinely enjoying their collaboration. See it for some good laughs.
In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for About.com and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, a nonprofit organization of the leading female film journalists in the U.S. and Canada. She is also a member of the prestigious Broadcast Film Critics Association.
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