Watch This: Trailer for Clouds of Sils Maria

When Clouds of Sils Maria showed at the Cannes Film Festival, the Hollywood Reporter dismissed the film with,

Given its narrow range of concerns, Clouds of Sils Maria will be mostly of interest to aficionados of theater, acting and the notion of how real and fictional lives can blur to those involved.

Based on what I’m seeing in descriptions of the film and the fact that Kristen Stewart is huge, I’m thinking it may draw in more viewers than that. The film stars Juliette Binoche, Kristen Stewart and Chloe Grace Moretz. I suppose it’s easy for some to dismiss a film with three female names at the top of the cast, but this attracts me.

Poster for Clouds of Sils Maria

The themes in the film deal with acting and how real life and fictional life intersect, but they also deal with aging, with relationships, with hubris, and with power.

The basic plot: a 40ish actress played by Juliette Binoche is offered a part in a play that made her famous 20 years ago. Only this time, she will play the older woman in the story, with her former part going to a tabloid-feeding ingenue played by Chloe Grace Moretz. Kristen Stewart is Binoche’s assistant. Binoche and Stewart go to a remote location in Switzerland called Sils-Maria during the process of deciding whether or not to take the part.

Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria
Juliette Binoche in Clouds of Sils Maria

As I mentioned, part of the dilemma the Binoche character faces is accepting her age, but there is also a strong parallel between the plot of the play wherein  “an older woman falls in love with a scheming girl who has her wrapped around her little finger” and the relationship between Binoche and her assistant.

Any story about the relationships among women should be given a look, in my opinion. Here’s a preview.

If you’ve seen it already, or go see it, please share your reactions.

Watch This: Trailer for The Hundred Foot Journey

The Hundred Foot Journey will be released in theaters in August. The film stars Helen Mirren, Manish Dayal, Om Puri, and Charlotte Le Bon.

Helen Mirren in The Hundred Foot Journey
Helen Mirren in The Hundred Foot Journey

The plot centers around Le Saule Pleureur, a Michelin starred, classical French restaurant run by Madame Mallory (Helen Mirren). Across the street from this magnificent place an Indian family headed by the father (Om Puri) opens the Maison Mumbai. Young Hassan (Manish Dayal) has the magic touch with food. Maison Mumbai attracts attention and hungry diners. You can imagine the reaction from the icy Madame Mallory. Add a love story, and you’ve got the perfect combination for a great tale.

Here’s the first official trailer.

The Hundred-Foot Journey is based on a novel written by Richard C. Morais. Steven Spielberg will produce the film with Oprah Winfrey and Juliet Blake. Lasse Hallström is the director.

Dreamworks and Harpo Studios are producing the film.
Dreamworks and Harpo Studios are producing the film.

Anything with Helen Mirren involved captures my attention, even goofy films where she’s jumping over cars and shooting machine guns. But this film promises to be warmer and more human, a tale about opening the heart and senses to embrace the unknown.

I’m definitely looking forward to it. What about you? Think it looks good?

Recommended: Unfinished Sky

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.

William McInnes as John
William McInnes as John

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.

Monic Hendrickx as Tahmeena
Monic Hendrickx as Tahmeena

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 give the film 5 stars and recommend it highly.

Watch This: Two More Women Led Shows Coming to TV

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.

Madam Secretary

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

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?

Tea Leoni image via CBS.com

Watch This: Trailer for The Mysteries of Laura

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.

Watch This: Trailer for Proof

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.

Watch This: Trailer for The Internet’s Own Boy

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.

Hat tip to Spydergrrl’s Trailer for The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz Hits the Big Screen.

Image credit: Aaron Swartz Documentary

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.