Watch This: Trailer for Lucky Them

Lucky Them stars Toni Collette as a rock journalist in danger of losing her job. To hang on to it, she’s forced to go after a story involving an old boyfriend.

The film, directed by Megan Griffiths, is due out beginning May 30.

Toni Collette in Lucky Them
Toni Collette in Lucky Them

This is really a film about accepting change. Changes in Collette’s character Ellie Klug, changes in the music business, changes in the publishing business. Oliver Platt stars as Ellie Klug’s boss.

Oliver Platt in Lucky Them
Oliver Platt in Lucky Them

Thomas Haden Church stars as a documentary filmmaker who follows Klug around as she attempts to learn what happened to a long disappeared rock star. A rock star Klug had a relationship with and hasn’t let go of yet.

Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them
Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them

Ryan Eggold is Klug’s current love interest, as you see in the following preview.

Toni Collette is remarkable; I’d be happy to watch her act in anything. This film looks like an interesting examination of a woman’s life – a woman of a certain age – who hasn’t come to terms with her own story yet.

The script was co-written by Emily Wachtel, Caroline Sherman, and Huck Botko.

Watch This: Trailer for Decoding Annie Parker

Decoding Annie Parker stars an Oscar nominee and an Oscar winner right off the top: Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt. They are patient and doctor. It’s sensible to expect fabulous performances from these two.

Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul in Decoding Annie Parker
Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul in Decoding Annie Parker

The story is based in fact and tells about the pioneering doctor who first helped science understand the genetic link to breast cancer and the patient who was part of her testing.

Helen Hunt in Decoding Annie Parker
Helen Hunt in Decoding Annie Parker

Decoding Annie Parker is due out May 2. Also in the cast are Aaron Paul, Alice Eve, Bradley Whitford, Chris Mulkey, Corey Stoll, Maggie Grace, Marley Shelton, Rashida Jones and Richard Schiff. I’m looking forward to discovering what Maggie Grace does in this film, since I just discovered who she is recently and think she’s a terrific actor.

Here is the trailer. If you go to the film, please let us know what your opinion of it is.

Steven Bernstein, who has more credits as a cinematographer than as a director, is the writer and director of the film.

A Personal Manifesto

A couple of decades ago I realized everything in my life up to that point had been determined by men. I can hear my friend Denise shouting, “It’s the patriarchy, stupid!” That’s not it – at least not completely. The patriarchy is still with us. But inside my head, things have changed.

Let’s start with ancient history. I grew up when the movies were westerns with Roy Rogers or Gene Autry. Or they were war movies with Aldo Ray and Montgomery Clift. Stories were about men. Books were about men. In college, I majored in English and I read dozens of books by dead white men. Men were supposed to rule the world and women were supposed to let them. I lived with a man who controlled and manipulated everything about my life. And I let him.

Then I stopped letting him.

After that, I wanted to think some new thoughts. I wanted to learn about feminism, which had passed me by. I wanted to read books by women, I wanted to see movies about women, hear songs sung by women, and see TV shows about women.

I’m not saying I started hating men. I like men. I have a son who is the finest man you could ever know. It wasn’t about men. It was about women, about finding the feminine, about understanding the female heart and mind, about finding the essence of what it is to be a woman.

The first thing I did was start reading books by women: Alice Walker, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danicatt, Margaret Atwood, Sara Paretsky, Amy Tan, Mary McCarthy, Annie Proulx, Leslie Marmon Silko, Jeanette Winterson, Sandra Cisneros, Dana Stabenow, Rita Mae Brown, Zora Neale Hurston, Joan Didion, Gloria Steinem, Diana Galbaldon, Nora Roberts, Elizabeth Berg, Janet Evanovich, Sarah Waters, Rita Dove. I didn’t care if it was great literature or a speed-readable romance as long as it was by a woman.

No more war movies, no more westerns, no more guys coming of age (girls coming of age are acceptable), no more buddy films about guys. I became attached to films like “The Secret of Roan Inish” and “Practical Magic” and “Thelma and Louise” and “How to Make an American Quilt” that told stories about women. I decided what to go see based on who the female star was – the male star didn’t matter. Did it have Meryl Streep, Susan Sarandon, Queen Latifa, Sandra Bullock, Meg Ryan, Julie Christie, Angela Bassett, Shirley MacLaine, Holly Hunter, Halle Berry, Alfre Woodard, Julia Roberts? I was there.

I started to get a bit picky, a little more demanding. The woman had to really be there. Be a person who added to the film. If “The Fugitive” advertised Sela Ward and she got offed in the beginning so all we could do was watch the hero run around, I was pissed.

Television had some women to offer. There was Mary Tyler Moore. Carol Burnett. There were shows with a lot of male characters and a few memorable female characters. “China Beach” had both Dana Delany and Marg Helgenberger. “Northern Exposure” had Janine Turner and several other interesting women. “The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd” was all Blair Brown. “Cagney and Lacey” – Woohaw! “Any Day Now” with Annie Potts and Lorraine Toussaint – double woohaw! The four fabulous women on “Sisters” – a quadruple woohaw.

In the last couple of years some really good female led TV has come along. “Saving Grace,” “The Closer,” “In Plain Sight,” “Hawthorne,” “The Good Wife,” “Weeds.” I’m loving it.

And, there was “The L Word.” A show that was practically all women. I so, so loved it. I thought I loved it because I liked Jennifer Beals. I watched every old Jennifer Beals movie that I’d missed over the years. I found dancers, cops, crooks, a naive housewife, a madam, a psychic, a blind wise woman, singers, liars, the bride of Frankenstein and a whole lot of other people, but I didn’t find Jennifer Beals. I only found characters. That’s when I realized the thing that really attracted me was the character of Bette Porter on “The L Word.”

Bette Porter. A strong woman who stands up for herself. She’s not perfect, but she’s powerful and inspiring and a leader. She seems very real there inside the TV.  She’s who I’ve been looking for in all the books, in all the movies, in all the TV shows. She’s in the courageous politicians I look up to. She’s in the tech savvy leaders I admire like the founders of BlogHer. She’s in the organizers for charity and the women who fight against injustice. She’s in the writers who tell stories that change the world. She’s in my daughter, who’s raising a kid with no help from the father. She’s in my granddaughters, who don’t take shit from anybody.

Real women I know have courage and strength and power. Maybe even I do. I’ve been trying to figure that one out for about 20 years. I could be close to an answer.

[Reprinted from Two decades of women on First 50 Words.  This post was first written in August 2010. I decided to repost it here as well because it’s relevant to why I started this blog.]

Black Inequality in Film (Infographic)

This infographic is from The New York Film Academy, who also produced the Gender Inequality in Film infographic I ran a while back.

It’s very detailed, therefore the text is small, but if you use your browser’s View menu or the Cmd/Ctr + keys on your keyboard to Zoom the page, the infographic will enlarge to a readable size.

New York Film Academy takes a look at black inequality in film

Watch This: Trailer for Belle

Belle will be in theaters May 2. It looks good to me and has a terrific cast. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw from Touch, Undercovers, and Larry Crowne. The film is based on a true story about an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle.

Also featured in the cast are Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Sarah Gadon, James Norton, Tom Felton and several more well-known actors.

Themes around race, class, and the status of women promise to make this film meaningful. The mindset of the British in the 18th Century is under the microscope here, but the same issues are still with us today.

I hope it isn’t one of those films where the good white folks save the poor helpless mulatto girl – the preview doesn’t sound like it will be.

The cast talks about the film in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The director Amma Asante also appears in this interview.

Reelz Channel Announces Dates for Bomb Girls Movie

Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy will premier in the U.S. on the Reelz Channel on Memorial Day, May 26. The Canadian drama about women working in a munitions factory during World War II began as a TV series. The two hour movie Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy is the completion of the tale.

Ali Liebert as Betty and Jodi Balfour as Gladys in Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy
Ali Liebert as Betty and Jodi Balfour as Gladys in Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy

The film is set in 1943 as the Battle for the Atlantic rages and the demand for bombs from the women working at Victory Munitions is at its highest. The press release from Reelz Channel explains:

Under constant pressure to turn out more bombs, as well as work on a new secret sonar line, the women of Victory Munitions band together in a tight bond of support and friendship. But when a disturbing menace appears in the form of a saboteur among the factory workers, Gladys Witham (Jodi Balfour), a fiery young woman from privilege, is covertly recruited by Allied Intelligence to find the traitor, forcing her to spy on her best friends, co-workers and fellow agents and call into question everyone and everything she trusts. Bomb Girls: Facing the Enemy also stars Oscar(R)-nominee and Golden Globe(R)-winner Meg Tilly as Lorna Corbett, Charlotte Hegele as Kate Andrews, Ali Liebert as Betty McRae, Anastasia Phillips as Vera Burr, Antonio Cupo as Marco Moretti, Peter Outerbridge as Bob Corbett, Michael Seater as Ivan Buchinsky, Jamie Elman as Jakob Berman, and Catherine Berube as Helen Buchinsky.

The press release didn’t mention Tahmoh Penikett, but I’m sure he’s going to be in the cast of the movie since he’s the fellow from Allied Intelligence who recruits Gladys.

Vera and Lorna working together
Anastasia Phillips as Vera and Meg Tilly as Lorna in Bomb Girls

Sundays are for watching Bomb Girls on Reelz

Set your DVRs, people. Reelz will run the original TV series in full as well. Announced times for that are:

  • Sunday, April 13: Season 1- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, April 20: Season 1- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, April 27: Season 2- episodes 1-3 starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, May 4: Season 2- episodes 4-6 starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, May 11: Season 2- episodes 7-9 starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, May 18: Season 2- episodes 10-12 starting at 11am ET
  • Saturday, May 24: Season 1- all six episodes air back to back starting at 11am ET
  • Sunday, May 25: Season 2- episodes 1-6 air back to back starting at 11am ET
  • Monday, May 26: Season 2- episodes 7-12 air back to back starting at 3pm ET

Review: Unhook the Stars

Unhook the Stars is from 1996, and it’s a gem. I completely recommend it to you.

Unhook the Stars poster
Unhook the Stars poster

The film features Gena Rowlands as Mildred, the widowed mother of two adult children and the neighbor of Monica (Marisa Tomei) and her son J.J. (Jake Lloyd). When the film begins, Mildred is a buttoned down suburban housewife with a well-ordered life in spite of her two imperfect offspring.

Monica is a mess. Her life is a mess, her marriage is a mess, and she’s a mess of a mother. Mildred ends up babysitting for young J.J. and comes to regard him as her best friend.

Jake Lloyd and Gena Rowlands in Unhook the Stars
Jake Lloyd and Gena Rowlands in Unhook the Stars

Mildred’s daughter Annie (Moira Kelly) is an angsty mess herself, caught in the midst of a rebellion to separate herself from her mother. Mildred’s son Ethan (David Sherrill) is Mr. Success and mom’s clear favorite child.

Monica and J.J. have an effect on Mildred’s life in her empty nest of a suburban home. One effect Monica has on her it to take her out drinking where Mildred meets a truck driver named Tommy, played by Gérard Depardieu.

Unhook the Stars is a character study – a portrait of Mildred. Mildred is beautifully written and played to perfection by Gena Rowlands. Mildred is so clearly drawn and her evolution through her relationship with her children, her neighbors, and her potential suitor in the form of Tommy is masterfully done. I loved the story about how a woman comes into her own, finally, after what she thought for years was her real life as a wife and mother ends. It’s a tale of reinvention.

To a lesser degree, the film is also a portrait of Monica. Marisa Tomei just kicks ass in this part as a disorganized, inept, boozy mom and wife.

The film is a bit of a family affair. Rowlands’ son Nick Cassavetes co-wrote and directed the indie production.

I’m old enough to have reinvented myself a couple of times, and it is pure joy to watch Gena Rowlands go through a similar process in this film.

Image Credits: Unhook the Stars ©1996 Miramax Films.

Watch This Film: They Wore Pink

Here’s a Friday treat to start your weekend off right. Watch an entire short film.

The short film They Wore Pink is from Canadian writer and director Terry Miles. He’s the writer/director responsible for A Night for Dying Tigers and Cinemanovels.

The two stars of this short film were also in Miles’ other films: Lauren Lee Smith and Tygh Runyan.

I love the slow way Terry Miles tells a story. Even in a nine minute movie, he manages to hold on to things and unpeel them in unique ways.

If you want to see how masterful Miles is at writing, directing and even editing be sure to watch A Night for Dying Tigers. It’s beautifully told – complicated, intricate, and detailed – and the editing choices in it are something I’ve never seen anywhere else.

This short film is a microcosm of his talents.

Here is the complete film.

On Twitter, Terry Miles is @tkmiles, Lauren Lee Smith is @L_L_S and Tygh Runyan is @RunyanTygh.