By Jennifer Merin
WeNews film critic
Friday, January 6, 2012
It's that bated-breath time before Oscar nominations, when movie-lovers are in retrospect. Jennifer Merin offers her own top-10 list, but also opens your eyes to such fabulous new fare as Wenders' biodoc on dancer and choreographer Pina Bausch.
Queen Latifah, Dolly Parton and Keke Palmer light up the screen in "Joyful Noise," a rousing musical about competing choir members who have different strategies for winning the national choir competition. Grand spectacle, good performances and great music.
In "Sing Your Song," filmmaker Susanne Rostock documents the life, career and political activism of the great Harry Belafonte, who continues, at age 90-something, to rock the establishment with his take on social issues. Belafonte's power and longevity, so aptly illustrated in the film, is inspiring. Rock on!
With significant Oscar buzz for director/writer Lynne Ramsey and star Tilda Swinton, "We Need To Talk About Kevin" is a deeply disturbing narrative drama about an inexplicably bad kid and the havoc he causes in his family and their community.
On Jan. 18, documentarian Frederick Wiseman's "Crazy Horse" rides into theaters. The film is an insightful and respectful look behind the scenes at the legendary Paris nightclub that features females dancing in the nude.
On Jan. 20, "Declaration of War" opens. It's a heart wrenching French film about a young couple coping with their toddler's cancer diagnosis. Based on their own true story, director Valerie Donzelli and writer Jeremie Elkaim also star in this poignant, inspiring drama.
Also opening Jan. 20 is "One for the Money." Directed by Julie Anne Robinson, it's written by Stacy Sherman, Karen Ray and Liz Brixius and is based on the novel by Janet Evanovich. All in all, it's a female-centered crime comedy in which Katherine Heigl stars as the newly divorced Stephanie Plum, who gets a job at her cousin's bail bond business and winds up on the trail of an ex-beau. Cute and mindless.
I must also highly recommend something worth watching from the comfort of your own couch. Connie Field's remarkable "Have You Heard From Johannesburg" airs on PBS Independent Lens throughout January. This series of six films chronicling South Africa's long, hard battle for equality and social justice is a must-see masterpiece and a great kick off for 2012 movie watching.
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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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