By Jennifer Merin
WeNews film critic
Friday, July 8, 2011
"Life Above All," is Jennifer Merin's top vote for movies coming out in July. It's a runaway success in South Africa and tells a story of friendship and devotion helping to overcome the social stigma surrounding HIV in rural South Africa.
A very different film, "Love, Etc.," by Jill Andresevic, follows several New York love relationships in a lighthearted and entertaining way, from two aging love birds who've been living and writing songs together for decades, to a gay man who connects with a surrogate mom who bears twins for him.
Today, July 8, James Marsh debuts his latest documentary, "Project Nim," about the chimp who was removed from his birth mother and adopted by a group of women to test whether chimps can be educated to communicate with humans. The endearing baby Nim bonds with his "moms" and learns to use sign language, yet his species-specific behaviors render poor Nim an outcast among fellow chimps.
On July 15, take an obligatory dip into the mainstream to enjoy the Harry Potter finale. The release of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2," marking the end of an era in cinema, is deemed so culturally significant that New York's Museum of the Moving Image is presenting the previous "Potter" films in a week-long series (July 6-13) leading up to the event.
Wayne Wang's "Snowflower and the Secret Fan" opens with less fanfare on July 15. This gentle and loving story about female friendship traces the Chinese tradition of women taking an oath of lifelong friendship--jin-shei--from ancient to modern times. Based on Lisa See's popular novel, the film is a delightful celebration of feminism and it deserves your box office support.
On the other hand, steer clear of "Tabloid," also opening July 15. The subject of the latest documentary from acclaimed filmmaker Errol Morris is Joyce McKinney, the disturbingly eccentric and attention-seeking former Miss Wyoming. It's easy to see why Morris would find McKinney fascinating. But, in interviewing McKinney for the film, Morris provokes what is clearly a delusional woman. That turns the film itself into an obscene piece of tabloid exploitation.
July 22 brings the opening of "Sarah's Key," a female-centered trans-era drama starring Kristen Scott Thomas as a Paris-based American journalist who becomes obsessed with investigating the infamous and all-but-forgotten "Vel' d'Hiv raid." In July 1942, French police aided Nazis in rounding up 13,152 French Jews for deportation to German death camps. There's no historical revisionism here-- based on Tatiana De Rosnay's best selling novel, the film is an important and revealing fictionalized account of a heinous historical moment.
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In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for About.com (http://documentaries.About.com ) and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists (http://www.AWFJ.org ), a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada. She is also a member of the Broadcast Journalists Association.
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