Review: 3 Generations

For all the problems and rebranding involved in bringing 3 Generations to the screen, I expected it to be a mess. It was actually quite good. The emotions were real and alive. The performances were excellent. Continue reading “Review: 3 Generations”

Review: Mothers and Daughters

Mothers and Daughters is a series of slightly interwoven tales about mothers and daughters that came out in 2016 just in time for Mother’s Day. It has an absolutely fabulous cast. Continue reading “Review: Mothers and Daughters”

Review: In the Valley of Elah

In the Valley of Elah from 2007 is a searing condemnation of the war in Iraq. The story is a mystery about a father and a cop who investigate the son’s murder just outside a mythical Army base in New Mexico.  Continue reading “Review: In the Valley of Elah”

Watch This: Trailer for The Meddler with Susan Sarandon

The Meddler looks like a knockout. Susan Sarandon and Rose Byrne as mother and daughter. Guess which one’s the meddler. Yeah, not too hard.

Written and directed by Lorene Scafaria, the film also stars Megalyn Echikunwoke and a Harley riding J.K. Simmons. A few other actors you may recognize in the film include Amy Landecker, Jason Ritter, Lucy Punch, Laura San Giacomo, and Harry Hamlin. It’s a big cast. Continue reading “Watch This: Trailer for The Meddler with Susan Sarandon”

Watch This: Trailer for About Ray

Elle Fanning stars as a transgender (female to male) teen in About Ray. Ray’s mother is played by Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon plays his grandmother. Tate Donovan is his absent father. It’s an incredible cast, although there may be some criticism that an actual transgender actor didn’t get the part of Ray.

The film looks to be partly about Ray’s journey, but also about how Ray’s family reacts and reaches acceptance of his transition. It appears to be a bit of a bumpy ride, as you might expect. Ray is still in high school – does he want to change schools? Oddly, Ray’s grandmother Dolly, who is herself a lesbian, doesn’t understand the distinction between sexuality and gender. But Ray’s younger siblings might get it immediately. Here’s rooting for Dolly to figure it out.

The director is Gaby Dellal, who also wrote the story for the film. The screenplay was written by Nikole Beckwith. The story is set in New York City. The release date for About Ray is September 18, 2015.

Susan Sarandon Takes on TV

Hollywood is officially over. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little bit. But Susan Sarandon just signed up to do a TV series called Graves to air on the Epix channel in the fall of 2016.

Sarandon will play Margaret Graves, who is a former First Lady of the United States. Her husband is played by Nick Nolte. It’s been 20 years since her husband left office, and Margaret Graves has developed political ambitions of her own to help her husband right the wrongs of his administration. Continue reading “Susan Sarandon Takes on TV”

7 Upcoming Films with Female Protagonists

Over the next few months there will be several films with women leading the cast coming to your theater. I celebrate every one! Here are a few – I probably missed some. Let me know in the comments if there’s something I missed that shouldn’t be missed.

Laggies

Keira Knightley and Chloë Grace Moretz head up the cast of Laggies.

You’re Not You

You’re Not You features Emmy Rossum and Hilary Swank with Josh Duhamel providing the male lead.

The Good Lie

The Good Lie belongs 100% to Reese Witherspoon.

Gone Girl

In Gone Girl, Rosamund Pike is the gone girl. We also get lots of Ben Affleck. Did you read this book? It must have been hard to adapt as a movie because of the unreliable narrator issue. Be interesting to see if they can make it work.

The Skeleton Twins

The twins in The Skeleton Twins are played by Kristen Wiig and Bill Hader. Luke Wilson is also in this one.

The Congress

Oh dear, some really serious stuff is going on with Robin Wright who is playing Robin Wright in The Congress. Is it too soon to start drawing interconnections with every woman on the planet?

The Last of Robin Hood

I hesitated to include The Last of Robin Hood because it’s really about Errol Flynn (played by Kevin Kline). And it’s about an old Errol Flynn taking a young woman as a lover. All kinds of YUK. But there seems to be enough of Dakota Fanning and Susan Sarandon justify it.

A Few More Films Mentioned Recently

Several more upcoming films featuring women in the leading roles have been mentioned here lately. Just as a reminder, they are:

Watch This: Trailer for The Calling

In The Calling Detective Inspector Hazel Miscallef (Susan Sarandon) realizes there’s a serial killer loose in her area of Ontario, Canada. Generally all I need to know about a film is that Susan Sarandon is in it to be interested.

Susan Sarandon in The Calling
Susan Sarandon in The Calling

From the trailer the film looks grim and a bit gruesome.

However, the thriller does have a great cast. In addition to Sarandon, there’s also Gil Bellows, Ellen Burstyn, Topher Grace, and Donald Sutherland.

Here’s the plot description:

Detective Hazel Micallef hasn’t had much to worry about in the sleepy town of Fort Dundas until a string of gruesome murders in the surrounding countryside brings her face to face with a serial killer driven by a higher calling.

The film opens August 29 but it’s a limited release, so you may have to watch for it to make it to most locations.

Watch This: Another Trailer for Tammy

The preview made me laugh so much, I cannot wait for Tammy! And, if Melissa McCarthy wasn’t enough to make you love this movie, it also has Susan Sarandon and Kathy Bates.

Also listed in the cast for this film, but not shown in the trailer, are Allison Janney, Gary Cole, Mark Duplass, Toni Collette, Nat Faxon, and Dan Aykroyd. Everybody in Hollywood wants to be in a movie with Melissa McCarthy, and for good reason!

You don’t need to watch fireworks on July 4. You need to watch Tammy.

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.]