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.

Review: Dear Frankie

Dear Frankie is a 2004 film, but just joined the features available on Amazon Instant Video. It was new to me, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Emily Mortimer is Lizzie, the mother of 9 year-old Frankie (Jack McElhone). Lizzie’s mother Nell was played with chain-smoking verve by the late Mary Riggans. The three of them have been on the run from Frankie’s father for years. Lizzie and her mother are guarded and restrained and remain that way throughout the film. The film is emotionally charged, but in a vigilant and contained way. Lizzie and her mom are holding it in, but just barely.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Dear Frankie”

Watch This: Trailer for By the Sea

By the Sea not only features the most beautiful people in the world, it looks like the most beautiful settings and images in the world. Written and directed by Angelina Jolie (or Angelina Jolie Pitt) and starring Angelina and Brad Pitt it looks emotionally powerful but tensely contained. This couple is emotionally distant but perhaps violently connected.

Filmed in Malta, the setting is 1970’s France. Here’s the film’s description:

Set in France during the mid-1970s, Vanessa, a former dancer, and her husband Roland, an American writer, travel the country together. They seem to be growing apart, but when they linger in one quiet, seaside town they begin to draw close to some of its more vibrant inhabitants, such as a local bar/café-keeper and a hotel owner.

poster for By the Sea

Judging from this trailer, every scene is exquisitely composed and shot. This is Angelina Jolie’s 6th effort as a director. I think it’s time to add her to the list of masters at the craft.

The film is due out in November.

Study: Inequality in Gender, Race and LBGT Status

An extensive study from USC’s Media, Diversity, & Social Change Initiative (@MDSCInitiative) released last week. The 100 top‐grossing fictional films from 2007 – 2014 (excluding 2011) were studied. That was 700 films with 30,835 characters. All speaking or named characters were assessed. The study puts numbers to things we already knew were there, but here’s proof.

Here are a few of their key findings. Infographics are taken from the study results.

Only about 30% of speaking parts went to women.

Only about 30% of speaking parts went to women

Only 21 of the 700 films featured a female lead and only 3 of those were from an underrepresented racial group. None were over 45.

Only 21 of 700 films featured a female lead

Females as young as 13 are over-sexualized and dressed in skimpy attire.

Women are oversexualized

Films are overwhelmingly white. In 2014, 17 films did not have a single speaking character who was Black or African American.

73% of all characters are white

Of 4610 speaking characters in 2014, only 19 were gay, lesbian or bisexual. There were no transgender characters.

There were no transgender characters

In all those years, there were only 28 women directors in the top 700 films. There were only 19 Asian directors, one of whom was female. Of the top 700 films, there have been 45 black directors.

28 unique female directors

Women Directors, Oh L

Reading over Little White Lies list of the 100 Greatest Films directed by women gave me an idea. I decided to start using the tag Women Directors on all my blog posts when I write about films or TV shows with women directors.

I went back through a lot of old posts and added the tag. (Hope I didn’t miss anything, but I probably did.) I had to add the tag to every one of my series of posts about the opening credits of The L Word and I realized that one of the revolutionary things nobody mentions when they continue to write about The L Word still today is the sheer number of women directors they used on that show.

Remarkable, indeed.

Watch This: Trailer for Addicted to Fresno

I don’t know when I’ve been quite this excited about a movie. Addicted to Fresno is so perfect!

Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne are co-dependent sisters in "Addicted to Fresno."
Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne are co-dependent sisters in “Addicted to Fresno.”

What exactly do I mean by perfect? Well, it stars Judy Greer and Natasha Lyonne as sisters who are completely nutso – funny already, that. Then there’s the rest of the cast: Molly Shannon, Aubrey Plaza, Clea DuVall, Allison Tolman and Jessica St. Clair. Don’t forget the writer Karey Dornetto and the director Jamie Babbitt. It’s an explosion of brilliant women. See? Perfect.

Oh, wait. I think there are some guys in the film, too. Maybe Ron Livingston, Fred Armisen, and Malcolm Barrett.

Lyonne’s character is a hotel maid. Her sister, Greer’s character, is a sex addict who blows into Fresno and gets a job in the hotel with her sister. They have a mishap of sorts with a dead body. It isn’t clear from the trailer what the mishap is or why a cart full of sex toys is the solution, but I cannot wait to find out.

Addicted to Fresno will be available on demand September 1 and will be released in theaters October 2. Laughter will be allowed.

Review: Your Sister’s Sister

Your Sister’s Sister stars Emily Blunt as Iris, Rosemarie DeWitt as Hannah, and Mark Duplass as Jack. It was written and directed by Lynn Shelton. She’s the blonde with the three actors in the photo above.

I’ve had it in my watch list on Netflix for a long time and never watched it. But after watching Laggies the other day, I decided it was time to have a Lynn Shelton week, so I hit play on Your Sister’s Sister.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Your Sister’s Sister”

Review: Laggies

Laggies tells the tale of Megan (Keira Knightley), who cannot grow up. She’s stuck in a high school mentality even though she has advanced degrees and has been out of high school for 10 years. She’s had the same boyfriend, Anthony (Mark Webber), since high school. Despite her college education, she’s working for her dad, standing on the sidewalk holding a sign advertising his tax business. She doesn’t have a clue about what she wants to do with her life.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Laggies”