33 Experts and Me Share Notable Female Characters

Bo from Lost Girl and the words 33 experts and me

I read a wonderful article called 33 Experts Share Their Notable Female Characters Of Recent Years at Bang2Write.

Bang2Write asked screenwriters, directors, literary agents and other industry pros to talk about the female characters they thought were most important in recent years.

The names they mentioned were absolute favorites of mine: Carrie from Homeland, Kalinda from The Good Wife, Lizbeth from the Millennium Trilogy, Catherine from Happy Valley, Stella from The Fall, the women from Scott & Bailey and Last Tango in Halifax, Hushpuppy from Beasts of the Southern Wild, Michonne and Carol from The Walking Dead, various clones from Orphan Black, practically everyone from Orange is the New Black.

There were many more names mentioned by these experts. I loved reading their reasons and explanations for why they picked certain characters. I loved the females they named.

As I read each of the picks by the 33 experts I was surprised that no one mentioned Bo from Lost Girl. There are some awesome female characters on Lost Girl. Particularly Bo, who is strong and growing increasingly more powerful. She wears her power with grace and uses it with heart. She’s unaligned with either side in her world. She’s protective of those she loves. She makes mistakes – huge ones. She’s less than perfect, but she’s searching, yearning to improve.

Bo’s bisexual. As far as I know the only other female bi characters on television are Callie on Grey’s Anatomy and Kalinda on The Good Wife. Bisexual women are misunderstood and mistreated by the culture at large and even by the LGBT community. Since I’m a believer that #RepresentationMatters, I think having a bi character portrayed in a positive light is a powerful thing.

So while I agree with every single female named by the experts, I want to mention Bo as one they forgot. I’m not an expert. I’m merely a consumer of movies and television with notable female characters – I look for them every day. I seldom watch anything that does not have notable female characters. I support notable female characters with enthusiasm.

But don’t forget Bo on Lost Girl.

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House of Cards: Trailers, Posters and Dates

The release date on Netflix for House of Cards is Friday, February 27. All 13 episodes of season 3 will be available then.

Poster for House of Cards

In season 3, Frank Underwood (Kevin Spacey) is the President, Claire (Robin Wright) is First Lady. I forget the exact details of how Frank Underwood manipulated himself into the Presidency. I must go back and review season 2 before Feb. 27.

Most of the season was filmed in Maryland, but the finale was filmed in northern New Mexico in the Santa Fe and Las Vegas area. I’ll definitely be on the lookout for places I recognize in the finale!

Netflix calls this preview a moving poster. It doesn’t show much of anything except the Underwoods looking Presidential.

The official season 3 trailer is much more exciting – and drum laden.

Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones Set for Netflix

Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones is a comic book come to life featuring a female character. Marvel Television in association with ABC Studios for Netflix have stepped up to the heroine based story with this upcoming series.

Continue reading “Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones Set for Netflix”

Netflix Doc: What Happened, Miss Simone?

Available later this year only on Netflix will be Liz Garbus’ documentary What Happened, Miss Simone? about the life of singer Nina Simone. Here’s the publicity blurb about the film.

Classically trained pianist, black power icon and legendary recording artist, Nina Simone lived a life of brutal honesty, musical genius, and tortured melancholy. In the upcoming Netflix original documentary, Academy Award® nominated filmmaker Liz Garbus interweaves never-before-heard recordings and rare archival footage together with Nina’’s most memorable songs, creating an unforgettable portrait of one of the least understood, yet most beloved artists of our time.

There’s another film about Nina Simone in the works – a biopic starring Zoe Saldana. This Netflix documentary will show Nina singing her own songs and shouldn’t be confused with the other film.

The two films will bring the attention of young people who might not be familiar with Nina Simone into her fandom. It seems to be the moment to rediscover the wonderful talents of the singer who died at age 70 in 2003.

Here’s the first official trailer for the documentary.

Learn more about the film and about Nina Simone at ninasimone.com.

Lila: Take a Moment to Brighten Your Day

Lila is a short film by Carlos Lascano that will make you smile and will brighten your day. The actress playing Lila is Alma Garcia. The film uses magic and art and reality to tell a brief but charming tale.

Lila is the conclusion of a trilogy beginning with A Short Love Story in Stop Motion and A Shadow of Blue. (The link to A Shadow of Blue is to the trailer. There are several versions  of the film with different music, but this is the only thing I could find with the original music.)

I wish I had Lila’s eyes in my life. I’d be grinning, too.

Fangirling Over Sarah Lancashire

There are many more videos on YouTube featuring Sarah Lancashire than there were only a few months ago. I enjoyed watching a bunch of them, but found these three to be the most interesting.

The first one is scenes from Happy Valley. The thing I loved most about Sarah Lancashire’s performance in Happy Valley was her kickass toughness, her physical strength and bravery. That is captured perfectly in this video from zanzibar. (Love the user name choice.)

Another fan video I found delightful, also from zanzibar, is called Au Naturel. It’s images of Sarah just being herself in interviews and at awards ceremonies.

The third one is fun because Sarah is singing and dancing. She’s performing “Nobody” from Betty Blue Eyes.

Thanks to the talented fans (especially zanzibar) who take the time to create these videos and post them so people like me can get a Sarah Lancashire fix.

Entangled

This is the plot synopsis:

A scientist initiates her brain-dead partner’s secret experiment to find out what happened to him. But what she experiences is a mind-bending reality that threatens both their lives.

Also in the film are Aaron Abrams, Joey Klein, and Tennille Read.

Here’s the entire Entangled.

After watching the film, I think we can agree that Tony Elliott should not propose this solution for the multiplicity of Maslanys on Orphan Black.

Review: Transparent

Transparent was fascinating and compelling. I watched it all the first weekend it was out on Amazon Prime. It’s a coming out story for the character brilliantly played by Jeffrey Tambor.

I’ll try to review it without giving away too many surprises that can’t be gleaned from simply watching the trailer. The review has some mild spoilers.

Maura at her leisure
Maura at her leisure

Late in life, Mort decides to come out and live full time as a woman – Maura. Season 1 was about coming out. If there are hormones or other options in Maura’s future, that will come later. It’s more than Maura’s coming out story. It’s a story about the repercussions for everyone around the transgendered person, particularly the children and the ex-spouse.

Tambor plays Maura with great dignity and sadness. There is occasional joy, but also considerable pain. I’ve seen Tambor in many parts where he is ridiculous, but here he is quiet, vulnerable and stately.

Judith Light as Shelly
Judith Light as Shelly

Judith Light as the ex-wife, Shelly, is absolutely outstanding. In my opinion, it’s the best role she’s ever had in many years as an actor, and she doesn’t waste a second of it. She’s wonderful in the part.

Each of the children has their own particular anguish to deal with in addition to the big news from dad. The 3 children of Mort and Shelley are Sarah (Amy Landecker), Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) and Josh (Jay Duplass). Maura comes out to each child in a different way, and each of them deals with it in a different way. There’s a lot of gender stuff in this story, and not all from Maura.

Sarah with her kids
Sarah with her kids

Sarah leaves her husband Len (Rob Huebel). She takes up with a former lover named Tammy, who is played with verve and charisma by Melora Hardin. Melora Hardin is so good in this part I’m making up a new rule: Melora Hardin should play only butchy parts from now on! As the season progresses, Sarah wobbles a bit between Tammy and Len and the negotiations between her kids and Tammy’s kids. One of Tammy’s ex step children enters the story late in the season and may turn out to be significant in Josh’s life. That isn’t the only child who may turn out to be important in Josh’s life.

Josh and Ali bonding over old vinyl
Josh and Ali bonding over old vinyl

Josh screws just about anything that moves but not for particularly good reasons. He has sexual issues going back to his early teens that still haunt him. Toward the end of season 1 he meets and falls for a rabbi, played by Kathryn Hahn, but this romance is confused by Josh’s past. Here’s wishing Josh and the Rabbi some good luck for season 2!

Ali is the flake. Rootless, jobless, confused, frequently high, self-centered and perhaps the most loyal and loving of the bunch. She’s clueless about who she is or what she should do with her life, but she’s trying really hard to get it figured out. She might have an undiagnosed mental illness. Carrie Brownstein plays Syd, Ali’s best friend.

Jill Soloway

Transparent was created, written, produced, and sometimes directed by Jill Soloway. Soloway has a trans parent and the story has been brewing in her for years. That’s her in the photo at the top during an interview with Jeffrey Tambor.

Soloway’s other credits include Six Feet Under and United States of Tara.

Issues

The girls out shopping
The girls out shopping

Most of the issues in the series revolve around gender identity and sexual orientation, or both at once. I mentioned that a lot of the story was about the kids’ reactions to dad switching gender roles, but there are moments showing what Maura goes through. For instance, Maura, Ali and Sarah go shopping. Where does Maura go to pee without causing a riot?

There are issues with getting the right gendered pronoun, questions about what you call your dad when dad is a woman or when Uncle Mort is now – what – Uncle Maura?

Maura and friend Marcy (Bradley Whitford) have some wonderful scenes in flashbacks to the 80s when they identified as cross dressers. Marcy thinks he’s a man who likes dressing up like a woman. But Maura doesn’t feel like a man and she doesn’t know what to do about it when cross-dressing is as close as she can come to what feels real. The flashbacks add understanding to what Mort had to endure to finally decide to become Maura to the entire world.

Jeffrey Tambor is not a Trans Actor

Before the series came out, there was a considerable amount of criticism because Jeffrey Tambor is not a trans actor. There were, in fact, 12 speaking parts for trans actors in the series. Among them, Alexandra Billings plays Davina, one of Maura’s closest friends in the trans community and the trans support group Maura attends.

Soloway has been quoted as saying that she always had Tambor in mind for the part because he reminds her of her father. Her father came out as transgender several years ago, just as Maura struggles to do in the series.

After seeing all of season 1, I think the criticism over the choice of Tambor will fade away. So much of the story is flashbacks to times when Tambor is seen as Mort. Even as the story begins, Mort is still there, struggling to explain to his 3 adult children that he is actually she.

Soloway was quoted on NPR saying about the criticism,

The world knows so little about being trans, and I know very little about being trans — I just know what it’s like to be the child of a trans person. But there’s so little trans representation [and] so few trans people who are creating content, so we really depend on the trans community to help us get it right.

If you have Amazon Prime you should definitely watch this series. It’s listed as a comedy and has comic moments, but it’s also about real and powerful issues that are much on the national consciousness now. Every performance is masterful, the writing is brilliant. As a bonus, the music choices for every episode were perfect. This show needs a soundtrack album. Watch it if you can.

Update

I just discovered this short video, which I think is relevant to the review and adds to it.

Watch This: Trailer for Transparent

Amazon released a trailer for the Amazon-only Transparent, which will begin on September 26. Right now you can see the 1st episode free, even if you don’t have Prime.

This very complicated tale stars Jeffrey Tambor as a man making a gender transition late in life. There’s a huge and wonderful cast supporting Tambor with plenty of complexity to make up a family of interesting characters.

I don’t know how old Tambor’s character is supposed to be in this show, but in real life he is 70. That puts him in a generation when the opportunity – even the idea – that one could change genders was somewhere in the realm of impossible. Young people today who feel compelled to transition manage to accomplish it at a much earlier age. I think the series title, Transparent, is a clue that the reactions of his grown children to the transition will be important.

poster for Transparent

The series was created by Jill Soloway, who has worked on such great shows as Six Feet Under, Afternoon Delight and United States of Tara.

All 10 episodes of Transparent will be available on Amazon Prime on September 26.

Amazon Tries Something New

Amazon Prime is releasing a bunch of pilot shows and asking viewers to decide if they want to see more of each one. That puts the power for what projects go forward in the hands of the viewers, which is a unique approach Amazon is trying with these new pilots.

August 28 was the release date for Hand of God starring Dana Delany and Ron Perlman.

Somehow I missed all the news reports about this experiment by Amazon Prime until I noticed this tweet from Dana Delany.

Here’s a brief look at what’s offered from Amazon Prime.

I haven’t seen all of these, but I did watch Hand of God. It was brilliant. The first episode showed how humans react to unexplainable loss and to the inexplicable processes of the mind. Some people react by turning to religion, some depend on reason or on escape. Those who believe that they have a direct line to the mind of God, as Ron Perlman does in Hand of God, often do immeasurable harm.

If you are a user of Amazon Prime I urge you to watch Hand of God and the other pilots and leave your ratings behind to influence which shows continue. After a first taste of Hand of God, I sincerely hope it continues.

The other pilots mentioned are the medical thriller Hysteria, starring Mena Suvari; the marriage comedy Really; the 1980s country club romp Red Oaks; and the romantic comedy The Cosmopolitans with Adam Brody.