Watch This: Trailer for Lucky Them

Lucky Them stars Toni Collette as a rock journalist in danger of losing her job. To hang on to it, she’s forced to go after a story involving an old boyfriend.

The film, directed by Megan Griffiths, is due out beginning May 30.

Toni Collette in Lucky Them
Toni Collette in Lucky Them

This is really a film about accepting change. Changes in Collette’s character Ellie Klug, changes in the music business, changes in the publishing business. Oliver Platt stars as Ellie Klug’s boss.

Oliver Platt in Lucky Them
Oliver Platt in Lucky Them

Thomas Haden Church stars as a documentary filmmaker who follows Klug around as she attempts to learn what happened to a long disappeared rock star. A rock star Klug had a relationship with and hasn’t let go of yet.

Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them
Thomas Haden Church in Lucky Them

Ryan Eggold is Klug’s current love interest, as you see in the following preview.

Toni Collette is remarkable; I’d be happy to watch her act in anything. This film looks like an interesting examination of a woman’s life – a woman of a certain age – who hasn’t come to terms with her own story yet.

The script was co-written by Emily Wachtel, Caroline Sherman, and Huck Botko.

Watch This: Trailer for Decoding Annie Parker

Decoding Annie Parker stars an Oscar nominee and an Oscar winner right off the top: Samantha Morton and Helen Hunt. They are patient and doctor. It’s sensible to expect fabulous performances from these two.

Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul in Decoding Annie Parker
Samantha Morton and Aaron Paul in Decoding Annie Parker

The story is based in fact and tells about the pioneering doctor who first helped science understand the genetic link to breast cancer and the patient who was part of her testing.

Helen Hunt in Decoding Annie Parker
Helen Hunt in Decoding Annie Parker

Decoding Annie Parker is due out May 2. Also in the cast are Aaron Paul, Alice Eve, Bradley Whitford, Chris Mulkey, Corey Stoll, Maggie Grace, Marley Shelton, Rashida Jones and Richard Schiff. I’m looking forward to discovering what Maggie Grace does in this film, since I just discovered who she is recently and think she’s a terrific actor.

Here is the trailer. If you go to the film, please let us know what your opinion of it is.

Steven Bernstein, who has more credits as a cinematographer than as a director, is the writer and director of the film.

Black Inequality in Film (Infographic)

This infographic is from The New York Film Academy, who also produced the Gender Inequality in Film infographic I ran a while back.

It’s very detailed, therefore the text is small, but if you use your browser’s View menu or the Cmd/Ctr + keys on your keyboard to Zoom the page, the infographic will enlarge to a readable size.

New York Film Academy takes a look at black inequality in film

Watch This: Trailer for Belle

Belle will be in theaters May 2. It looks good to me and has a terrific cast. The film stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw from Touch, Undercovers, and Larry Crowne. The film is based on a true story about an illegitimate mixed race daughter of a Royal Navy Admiral who is raised by her aristocratic great-uncle.

Also featured in the cast are Emily Watson, Miranda Richardson, Tom Wilkinson, Penelope Wilton, Sarah Gadon, James Norton, Tom Felton and several more well-known actors.

Themes around race, class, and the status of women promise to make this film meaningful. The mindset of the British in the 18th Century is under the microscope here, but the same issues are still with us today.

I hope it isn’t one of those films where the good white folks save the poor helpless mulatto girl – the preview doesn’t sound like it will be.

The cast talks about the film in this interview with The Hollywood Reporter. The director Amma Asante also appears in this interview.

Will You Watch Black Box?

The new series Black Box, set to begin on ABC on April 24 looks like something I’ll like. Will you be watching?

Kelly Reilly in Black Box
Kelly Reilly and David Ajala in Black Box

The series stars Kelly Reilly as Dr. Catherine Black, a neuroscientist who works on the cutting edge of brain research. Dr. Black suffers from mental illness and attempts, somewhat imperfectly according to the previews, to hide this from her scientific colleagues.

Vanessa Redgrave in Black Box
Vanessa Redgrave in Black Box

Her psychiatrist is played by Vanessa Redgrave. Any time Vanessa Redgrave wants to take a part in anything, I’m ready to watch it! Having her in something is like having the goddess herself included.

Also in the cast are Ditch Davey as Dr. Ian Bickman and David Ajala as Will, Catherine’s boyfriend.

So, let’s add this up.

  1. A leading character in a TV series has a mental illness. It isn’t what the story is about, it’s just who she is. Okay, Homeland has been there before, but this is network TV.
  2. There’s an interracial relationship. It’s just her relationship, not a big thing.

This could get interesting!

The series is written Amy Holden Jones, who wrote Indecent Proposal, Beethoven, and Mystic Pizza. It’s co-produced by Ilene Chaiken from The L Word, who also holds the title showrunner for the series.

There are some clips and previews for the show at ABC-TV.

3 Reasons to Catch up on Continuum

Are you a fan of Continuum? If not, I’m here to convert you.

First, check out this extended preview of season 3, episode 1. It’s from Showcase, the Canadian source of the show. The series is set in Vancouver. It appears on SyFy in the U.S, where season 3 just began airing.

If this show passed you by, here are three big reasons to catch up with Continuum and continue to watch the new episodes.

1. Rachel Nichols Stars

That’s right, a female led science fiction tale. This one is a time travel story. Rachel Nichols stars as Kiera Cameron, who comes from 65 years in the future. In her own time, she has a husband and son to whom she wants desperately to return.

Rachel Nichols in Continuum
Rachel Nichols in her Continuum body suit.

Part of her life as a law enforcement officer from the future is the marvel of a body suit she wears that connects her to any information she needs and is a nerdgasm of awesome tech.

2. It’s Action Packed and Future Techy

When she arrives in our time, Kiera becomes a cop who astounds everyone in the department because she seems to know things no one else knows. Her cop partner in this timeline is played by Victor Webster. Her boss is a cranky Brian Markinson. (Brian Markinson seems to fill every casting niche when a cranky boss is needed.)

Victor Webster and Rachel Nichols in Continuum
Victor Webster and Rachel Nichols in Continuum

Part of the reason she knows everything is her body suit, and the other part is that she is connected to Alec Sadler. In the future, Alec Sadler is rich and part of the corporation. He invents the time machine. In our time, he is a young computer genius played by Erik Knudsen who tries to help Kiera and tries to figure out why his future self sent her back to him. His computers are in her head.

There are terrorists from a group called Liber8 who want to free themselves from the corporation. One of my favorite leaders of Liber8 is played by Roger Cross. Other time travelers also want to change the future, or, like Kiera, return to the future they once had without causing any changes.

3. The Themes and Issues are Relevant

In the future, there is no government, there is only the corporation. How’s that for an important and topical theme?  As we come closer and closer to a money-run country rather than a democratic country, story lines dealing with all aspects of what this means are worth exploring.

If you want to catch up and have to pay to do it, season 1 is better than season 2. The idea that there was no government, only the corporation, was a big part of season 1. In season 2, the stories were more about the police chasing the terrorists who are out to change the future – in other words, more police procedural and less time travel and sci fi. As you saw in the video above from episode 1 of season 3, there may be a return to the high tech, time travel, roots of the story in season 3. Season 3 is just starting on SyFy on Friday nights.

How to Catch Up

The first two seasons are available on Netfix. For those of you with access to Netflix, you’re golden.

At the Continuum channel on YouTube, you can catch up on episodes from season 1 and 2 at $1.99 per episode. It’s also $1.99 per episode on Amazon Prime, with the entire season going for $14.99.  That’s cheaper than the iTunes price, which is $2.99 per episode.

SyFy has a few videos, but not full episodes.

A Season One 101 photo gallery at SyFy contains 20 photos with descriptions that can help you understand what is going on in the story and who a lot of the characters are. Speaking of photo galleries, check out this Pinterest Continuum board.

[Note: This post was syndicated on BlogHer.com.]

Continuum Images © 2013 Syfy Media

Female Characters are Profitable

Results from a large study by FiveThirtyEight show that having meaningful female characters in a film can be as profitable for filmmakers as the male led films.

In a report at The Dollar-And-Cents Case Against Hollywood’s Exclusion of Women, FiveThirtyEight details how they conducted the study and the results. The measurement used in the survey, imperfect though it is, is the Bechdel Test. To pass the Bechdel Test, a film must,

  • have two named women
  • the women have a conversation with each other
  • the conversation isn’t about a male character

In the study, FiveThirtyEight, “analyzed 1,615 films released from 1990 to 2013 to examine the relationship between the prominence of women in a film and that film’s budget and gross profits.”

Here are some of their findings.

More films pass the Bechdel test now than in the past. They illustrate this information in this chart.

Films passing the Bechdel test over time
Films passing the Bechdel test over time

Films that do pass the Bechdel test often have lower budgets that the big money films featuring only male casts. However, the study found, “The total median gross return on investment for a film that passed the Bechdel test was $2.68 for each dollar spent. The total median gross return on investment for films that failed was only $2.45 for each dollar spent.”

Dollars earned for dollars spent
Dollars earned for dollars spent

The fact is, women in a film with meaningful roles beyond being something pretty on the arm of the male lead can bring in the dollars.

I urge you to read the complete report, because there’s a lot more to it than my quick summary here.

Frozen image ©Disney

3 Reasons Hot in Cleveland is Fabulous

Hot in Cleveland is in its 5th season on TVLand. I don’t enjoy sitcoms as much as dramas, but this one is pure delight. What makes this sitcom stand out in the crowded landscape of 30 minute comedy shows? Here are 3 good reasons.

1. The cast projects pure fun

The central cast of Hot in Cleveland
The central cast of Hot in Cleveland, Wendy Malick, Valerie Bertinelli, Jane Leeves, and Betty White.

The women who form the central cast of Hot in Cleveland are having such a romp with this show. Their enjoyment of the silly antics they are up to is infectious. It’s goofy and they know it, but they appear so delighted to be where they are, doing what they are doing that it spills out of the TV and into your living room.

Georgia Engel is around as a regular and she steals scenes with precision – and the cast loves it when she does.

2. Betty White

Betty White!

This show has Betty White.

Betty White
Betty White

There are benefits to having Betty White on your show. She’s funny. She can deliver a line like no one else. She brings all of TV history to the show with her and she’s not afraid to use it – which leads to reason number 3.

3. Fantastic guest stars

This show has Betty White. Everyone who has ever worked in TV is willing to be on a show with Betty White. On one episode you might see the entire cast from The Mary Tyler Show. Carl Reiner or Susan Lucci or Cedric the Entertainer or Pat Harrington, Jr. or Joan Rivers might show up at any moment, deliver a line or two and disappear.

When someone like Pat Harrington, Jr., who was on One Day at a Time with Valerie Bertanelli, shows up, there’s always some hilarious double take as the two look each other over.

If Carol Burnett guests, Tim Conway might come shuffling into the scene with that hilarious walk he did for years on The Carol Burnett Show. Tim Conway is willing to come to Hot in Cleveland, shuffle across the stage, say one silly thing to Carol Burnett, and be done. Name one other show that can entice actors to do something like that! You never know who will enter a scene on this show to get a well-deserved laugh.

Have some fun. Watch Hot in Cleveland.

Images from Hot in Cleveland © 2011 Viacom International Inc.

Watch This: Eliza Dushku Kicks Butt

Here’s a short film making the rounds right now. It’s called The Gable 5 and is apparently part of a larger plot and series about something I cannot discern. However, Eliza Dushku runs around in a tank top and kicks butt for the entire film, which is really all you need to know.

Review: Season 3 of Blue from WIGS

Season 3 of Blue from WIGS went online on Friday. It’s on Hulu, not on YouTube. It’s also available on WatchWIGS.com. While still free, even on Hulu, it has a different feel from the first two seasons.

Blue poster © WIGSCO, LLC
Blue poster © WIGSCO, LLC

The story and Blue as a character aren’t different. Blue’s still the same mysterious and guarded mom/escort she was in the first two seasons. It’s the shift to Hulu that’s different.

In seasons 1 and 2, which are still available on YouTube, the episodes were each a single scene of 6 or 8 minutes. The four new episodes of season 3 are longer, each one would basically fill an hour long drama on a regular TV channel. There are a whole helluva lot of ads, also like regular TV. Fox happens to own Hulu, and the longer episodes feel more expensively produced and more corporate. Like they might show up on Fox.

The non-corporate, non-establishment and daring experimental nature of the entire WIGS project and library of films was a big draw for me. Each series was about women, each series was quickly made on a limited budget. Each series had women in the lead who were well-known and who were willing to take part in an experimental and innovative idea to try to find a way to use new media to get more stories about women out into the world. I really loved that aspect of WIGS. In July of last year, I wrote my original impressions of WIGS in WIGS: Web Series Extraordinaire.

Do Watch Blue

The edgy experimental feeling may be gone, but don’t let that stop you from watching season 3 of Blue. Julia Stiles is as good as ever as the mom who has a secret life as a call girl. Uriah Shelton still does a great job as her teenaged son, Josh. Blue still struggles with her past, her mother (a marvelous Kathleen Quinlan), her mysterious former lover, step-father and nemesis Olsen (James Morrison), her co-workers at her day job as an accountant. The series is still directed by Rodrigo García.

In Series 3, Blue’s apartment is filled with Blue’s moocher of a sister Lara (Jane O’Hara – who is Julia Stiles actual sister) and Lara’s girlfriend Satya, played by the golden-voiced Alexz Johnson. In the midst of this crowding, there are complications with Josh’s girlfriend (Brooklyn Lowe) and Blue falls for one of her clients, played by Eric Stoltz. We peer more deeply into Blue and several other characters develop more depth as well.

There’s some evolution in the writing in season 3 of Blue. The man Blue was somewhat attracted to in season 2 disappeared. We meet several new characters and some of the characters important in the first two seasons only make brief appearances. One thing was so illogical it was hard to understand: in a two bedroom apartment with guests taking over Josh’s bedroom, why does Blue need to leave her bedroom, too? Both Josh and Blue end up sleeping on the fold out couch.

Nevertheless, Blue remains great storytelling with a fascinating central character. I miss that sense of adventure that the short episodes of WIGS on YouTube gave me – that sense that I was part of something that could move stories about women ahead in the public consciousness. I miss the sense that by supporting WIGS, I was supporting films about women.

The enthusiastic support from me and many others like me got noticed, because Hulu showed an interest, which means big corporate dollars are interested in these stories about women. Hurrah, it worked. But dang, I miss the excitement of how it began.

Check out Paloma, too

Also out with a new episode last week is the WIGS series Paloma. Paloma stars Grace Gummer and was written and directed by Julia Stiles.

Addendum

Seems I was wrong about the two bedrooms: