Unfinished Sky is an Australian film from 2008. It absolutely swept the Australian film awards with best actor, best actress, best cinematography, best director, best screenplay and more. It’s about two gentle people struggling to cope with the harshness of life.
Lonely sheep farmer John Woldring (William McInnes) awakens one morning to the barking of his dog and sees a battered woman staggering down the road toward his isolated outback farm.
The woman (Monic Hendrickx) speaks no English. She’s bruised and frightened. Slowly it’s revealed that she’s an Afghan with a child she wants to recover. She’s a sex slave, held captive and abused by local men John knows. As time passes, the two learn to trust each other and communicate. John keeps Tahmeena safe and hidden. Eventually violence erupts as her former captors try to take her back.
From the moment you see Tahmeena stumbling her way toward John, you know that this will be a love story, but the underlying themes of forced labor, kidnapping, danger, and violence make it a bit of a thriller as well.
I found the film on Netflix, it’s probably available from other streaming services as well.
Interesting trivia about the film is that it’s an adaptation of the 1998 Dutch film De Poolse bruid. Monic Hendrickx, a Dutch actress, played the Polish character in the original Dutch film and played the same part again as an Afghani in Australia.
I keep discovering more upcoming TV series with women in leading roles. Just when I think I’ve brought them all to your attention, I find more. This is a great problem to have!
With the Madam Secretary series going into the schedule on Sunday as a lead up to The Good Wife and Shonda Rhimes new drama How to Get Away with Murder set on the Thursday (which I shall henceforth refer to as Rhimesday) night schedule, I think we can safely predict what the two biggest female-led hits will be. Don’t overlook some of the less blessed-by-scheduling offerings I’ve mentioned lately, though, because some of them look very good.
The first trailer is Madam Secretary. It looks fabulous. If it is supposed to be some kind of play off Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, that’s just fine by me, but I don’t see a lot of Hillary in the way this is played in the previews.
Téa Leoni stars as Elizabeth McCord, a former CIA analyst turned college professor who gets recruited to fill a vacant Secretary of State job. Her husband is played by Tim Daly. Bebe Neuwirth is in the cast.
Madam Secretary was created by Barbara Hall, who has written for Homeland and Judging Amy. Morgan Freeman is one of the producers. It starts in the fall on Sundays right before The Good Wife, a piece of prime TV real estate if there ever was one.
Extant stars Halle Berry as an astronaut who returns to Earth after 13 months alone in space, inexplicably pregnant. Her husband John is played by Goran Visnjic. John is a scientist who created their robotic son. The son is played by Pierce Gagnon, who despite his young age, has had a lot of roles to his credit. Camryn Manheim, Sergio Harford, and Grace Gummer also appear. Steven Spielberg is producing.
Extant begins in July. According to one account I saw of the plot, the astronaut’s “experiences in space and home lead to events that ultimately will change the course of human history.”
Extant looks very mysterious. Do you like the mysterious ones?
The Mysteries of Laura stars Debra Messing. It’s based on a successful series from Spain. Laura’s a cop and a single mom, struggling to cope with the demands of modern life. Plus, she’s a crack shot.
I’m willing to give it a chance because of Debra Messing, but The Mysteries of Laura might be a little ditzy for my taste. I’ve enjoyed everything Debra Messing has every done – especially the recent Smash – so I’m hoping she elevates it from just silly into really funny.
This show will start in the fall on NBC.
I missed this one in my post about women led shows coming to TV. I’m always looking for shows like this. Please let me know if you find more I’ve overlooked.
Proof, the new Jennifer Beals drama coming to TNT, released an official trailer. Looks like there’s going to be some action built into the this character’s story. I don’t know if you follow Jennifer Beals on Twitter, but she shows a strong interest in science in her Twitter life. I’m thinking this whip-smart scientist part is going to fit her perfectly.
Also starring in Proof are Matthew Modine and Joe Morton. Check out Matthew Modine in this preview. Why do men look so good with gray in their hair while women aren’t supposed to be gray? I hope Joe Morton has time to do this and still be Olivia Pope’s dad on Scandal because he is the essence of danger there.
The producer for this show is Kyra Sedgwick. In case you thought acting was her only gig, she’s been producing since 1996.
Co-creator of Reddit and political activist Aaron Swartz fought for a free, open Internet. He committed suicide at a young age. This documentary looks at his life and contributions.
The film was shown at Sundance and SXSW, but I’m not finding a schedule or any updates about where it can be seen now. Watch your local small cinema and keep an eye on places like Netflix for a chance to learn more about Aaron Swartz.
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.
Season one of the BBC period drama The Paradise is available now on Netflix and DVD or from Amazon, YouTube, Google Play, and iTunes. Season 2 has shown on BBC One, but it isn’t available in the U.S. yet at any of the sources I mentioned.
The series is about the people who work in the first department store in England, The Paradise, and others who are connected to the store as friends, customers or family. Set in the second half of the nineteenth century, with all the British class issues of the time at front and center, The Paradise teems with interesting characters and events.
Carrying us into the story is Denise (Joanna Vanderham from What Maisie Knew). She is hired as a shopgirl at The Paradise.
Denise is a brilliant salesperson and quickly becomes an asset to The Paradise and a threat to her her colleagues and her immediate supervisor, Miss Audrey (Sarah Lancashire). Denise is smarter about sales and business than anyone in the store, including the owner, and quickly realizes that she wants to BE the owner. She has a gift for describing fabrics and colors in the most sensuous terms that make customers almost fall over themselves to buy.
Unmarried and an early example of what would now be called a career woman, Miss Audrey has been at The Paradise for many years. This is the show Sarah Lancashire left to play Caroline in Last Tango in Halifax. While I’ll miss her when season 2 finally makes it across the pond, I applaud her wisdom is seeing the opportunity and star potential of Last Tango in Halifax over this interesting but typical costume drama. Miss Audrey is well played and pivotal to Denise’s career, but not the best thing about The Paradise. Caroline Elliot is definitely the best thing about Last Tango in Halifax.
The owner and mastermind behind the concept of retail department store selling in England is the boss, Mr. Moray (Emun Elliott). Mr. Moray is charming and handsome and persuasive where business is concerned. He’s in mourning for his first wife while half-heartedly courting Katherine and falling in love with Denise. It might be more accurate to say he’s courting Katherine’s father who has the money to be a business investor in the store, while paying attention to Katherine in the process.
Katherine (Elaine Cassidy) is in love with Moray and rejects other more suitable men in favor of this fellow who really doesn’t care for her at all. She may grow a bit bitter about her situation in season 2.
Swirling around this key cast of characters are workers at The Paradise, members of the British upper class who revolve around Katherine’s family, and some family and friends of the characters. One in particular who is important is Edmund, (Peter Wight) who is both Denise’s uncle and a former suitor of Miss Audrey’s. Edmund runs a failing shop directly across the street from The Paradise. By the end of season 1, Denise is using her business smarts to help bring his business back.
Here’s an official trailer.
This is a fan trailer. It’s good, but the ‘viewer discretion advised’ line is kinda silly.
You can read more at the BBC One site for The Paradise. I recommend the show wholeheartedly if you have access to it on any of the streaming services I mentioned.
From Twitter Friends
I asked if any of my Twitter followers had comments about the show, and NptexasNancy responded with a comment about the shortcuts used at the end of season 1:
@OldAintDead i watched that. I like stuff about that era, even the badly done ones. I liked it actually tho ending was a bit pat.
Season 2 of Orphan Black begins with “Nature Under Constraint and Vexed.” It’s a rip-roaring beginning to the new season. Every moment of the opening show was exciting, dangerous, tense, high-stakes, fast paced drama.
Watch a preview of the first episode.
I’m not going to recap the episode, just offer a few remarks. Spoilers ahead.
Tatiana Maslany has honed her performance to a more focused and nuanced rendition of each of her characters. Each of them is a distinct and unique woman. She’s sharpened them and made them more themselves. Tatiana Maslany is amazing as these clones, simply amazing.
The monitors for the clones, particularly Cosima’s monitor Delphine (Evelyne Brochu) and Sarah’s former monitor Paul (Dylan Bruce) are walking double edged swords. Both seem to be cooperating with the enemy while trying to help their clones.
And who is the enemy? Is it Dr. Aldous Leekie (Matt Frewer) and his bioengineering firm? Or is it the clone Rachel Duncan – who gives orders to Dr. Leeki and everyone else? Or is it the religious group of Prolethians behind Helena who may be the ones who stole young Kira (Skyler Wexler) away?
And speaking of Helena, she makes a dramatic entrance in the last few seconds of the episode, trailing blood as she walks into a hospital and announces that her sister shot her. I’m really glad Helena is still around; she is fascinating and feral and vulnerable and terrifying.
Other interesting points in this episode include Sarah giving a measure of trust to Detective Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard), who is trying to help and protect her – maybe. Her decision to be honest with him will have future consequences. Felix (Jordan Gavaris) is still Sarah’s mainstay, even when he’s high and dressed in nothing but chaps. Alison is doing community theater and we see her in a song and dance routine. We don’t see anything of Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy) in this episode. Too bad, because she adds a degree of mystery to the plot. Making up for the missing Mrs. S, we do get a lot of Detective Angela Deangelis (Inga Cadranel) as compensation.
A powerful start for season 2. Every moment is electric.
Alison and Her Musical Muse
Enjoy this photo from Orphan Black, which refers to Alison’s community theater performance as well as to Felix’s 4 AM visit to Allison’s place in search of a gun for Sarah.