Watch This: Trailer for Advantageous

Advantageous, which took the SXSW Special Jury Prize for Collaborative Vision, will be streaming on Netflix starting June 23. The film is from writer and director Jennifer Phang.

Still from the film Advantageous

I first became interested in this sci-fi drama when I read Emily Yoshida’s SXSW report about it in The Verge. Here’s how she described the film at the time:

[Advantageous] was the first sci-fi film I had seen at the festival, as well as the first genre film in general. It’s a quiet, deliberately paced story of a woman, her daughter, and a medical procedure with philosophical implications worthy of a Black Mirror Mother’s Day special. Gwen (Jacqueline Kim, who also co-wrote the film) is a spokeswoman for a new-fangled body-swapping procedure, who must undergo the procedure herself in order to keep her job and be able to ensure a good future for her daughter, Jules (Samantha Kim). It’s moody and specific and is a rare sci-fi film to nail its human emotion — particularly the mother-daughter relationship at its center — just as expertly, if not more so, as its more lofty philosophical questions.

According to the film’s Facebook page, Jennifer Phang received the award for Best Director, and the film won in three other categories at the LA Asian Pacific Film Festival.

The film will be released in some 20+ languages and will include a version with Jennifer Phang giving director’s commentary on some of the topics explored in the film.

I’m looking forward to the film. It looks very good.

I appreciate Netflix for making the deal to stream Advantageous and for backing the recent Grace and Frankie and other female-based content.

Addendum: Now that I’ve seen the film, you can read my review of Advantageous here.

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Feminist Frequency: Positive Female Characters in Video Games

Feminist Frequency has released another in its series on Positive Female Characters in Video Games. This one discusses the character Jade from the game Beyond Good & Evil.

Jade is a wonderful character – an outstanding example of a positive female character. She’s also an example of what is needed from ALL characters in terms of positive role models. Video game makers can learn a lot from Jade and give some of her positive characteristics to many other game characters, both male and female.

I love that’s she’s saving lives, not taking lives, as most games do. She’s compassionate and believes in social justice, qualities that should be emphasized in everyone.

There’s a full text transcript of the video at feministfrequency.com/2015/05/11/jade-beyond-good-evil/.

Trailers for New TV Series with Women Leads

There are a number of TV shows being announced now. Some star women in leading roles, some have more than one woman out in front, and some even boast women of a color other than white. Let’s have a look at them.

Supergirl

Supergirl begins this fall on CBS. We’ve been given a rather lengthy first look at the series. We may be able to skip ahead to the second episode, this trailer tells so much. As a bonus, if we start the season with episode 2, the whole wardrobe problem will be solved.

Melissa Benoist is Supergirl. Chyler Leigh plays her sister Alex. Mehcad Brooks is Jimmy (sorry, James) Olsen. Calista Flockhart plays Supergirl’s boss. The boss is some kind of horrible parody on every bitchy boss ever imagined by a male writer since the beginning of the Planet Krypton. (Really, fellas, can’t anyone do better than that?)

I’ve mentioned Supergirl a couple of times previously on this blog, if you want more in depth details check out Big Casting News for Supergirl and Brain Dump: Supergirl, Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Blacklist.

So here she is, the female superhero we’ve long awaited. If I were inclined to mangle famous poems, I might say,

so much depends
upon

a red skirt
with cape

glazed with pop
culture

beside the endless
patriarchy.

The Catch

Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers are behind The Catch, which was created by Jennifer Schuur. This is a thriller centered on the brilliant Alice Martin (Mireille Enos). She’s a fraud investigator who’s about to be the victim of fraud herself. It sounds like a season long hunt for the bad guy, mixed in with other cases.

The Catch also stars Alimi Ballard as Evan, Damon Dayoub, Jay Hayden, Jacky Ido, Bethany Joy Lenz, Rose Rollins and Elvy Yost. Props to The Catch – although the star is white, there is ample diversity in the rest of the cast.

Although Mareille Enos is capable of super intense acting, I’m most looking forward to seeing Rose Rollins on my TV again.

Quantico

I think Quantico is going to take the lead on diversity. The main character is played by Priyanka Chopra, an award winning veteran of a number of Indian films. Aunjanue Ellis also has top billing on this FBI story. The plot centers around a number of recruits at the FBI training center in Quantico. Jake McLaughlin plays Ryan Booth.

Of all the previews shown in this post, I like this one the best simply because of the diversity issue. But why is there only one show like this? (I’ll mention Proof later, it helps.)

Blindspot

Blindspot is going to be one of those season long searches for the truth like Blacklist or Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. It’s about a woman who “wakes up” with no memory of her past life. She’s completely covered with fresh tattoos.

Jaimie Alexander stars as Jane Doe, with Ashley Johnson and Sullivan Stapleton backing her up in this tale about a vast international conspiracy.

Heartbreaker

Heartbreaker is a medical drama starring Melissa George. Other doctors surrounding the brilliant heart surgeon are played by Dave Annable, Don Hany, Shelley Conn and D.L. Hughley.

Jill Gordon and Amy Brenneman are among the producers for Heartbreaker.

Angel from Hell

Angel from Hell starts on CBS this fall. Jane Lynch looks happy about it, judging from her Twitter feed.

The show will be on Thursday evenings, a tough slot for any show of interest to women, especially a half hour comedy. It stars Jane Lynch, Maggie Lawson, Kevin Pollak and Kyle Bornheimer. Other information is a little skimpy at this point, but the only names I can find for writers and directors are male names.

Angel from Hell doesn’t premier until November, so there will be plenty of time to fill in the details.

I love that wild hair on Jane Lynch. Perfect.

Elsewhere on Old Ain’t Dead

There are other female-led series I’ve talked about before on the blog. If you missed those posts, here they are.

I don’t think this is a complete list of the new shows with female leads, but it gives you some female-led shows to consider for your next few months of TV watching.

The Diversity Countdown

Looking just at the starring role in these women’s series, how do we stack up on diversity?

We have

  • Melissa Benoist
  • Mireille Enos
  • Priyanka Chopra
  • Jaimie Alexander
  • Melissa George
  • Jane Lynch
  • Jennifer Beals
  • Dark Matter names the men first, so I’m not listing anyone from it
  • Emma Ishta

I’d say that is a less than outstanding rundown if you’re counting diversity points.

It’s not that I don’t want Melissa Benoist or Jaimie Alexander or the other white women on the list to have great parts. I do. Lots of great parts. I also want lots of great parts for the rest of the female human race.

Orphan Black: S3 E5 Scarred by Many Past Frustrations

“Scarred by Many Past Frustrations” is the title of season 3, episode 5 of Orphan Black. Most of the episode deals with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany, a multitude) and Helena in the Castor prison.

To recap this episode, I’ll start with the shorter bits about everyone else including Cosima, Felix (Jordan Gavaris), Mrs. S (Maria Doyle Kennedy), Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison), Art Bell (Kevin Hanchard) and the arrival of Shay (Ksenia Solo). Alison and Rachel do not appear in this episode.

Everyone Outside of Prison

Everyone is worried about what’s become of Sarah. Art is trying to call her, Mrs. S and Felix are stewing.

Shay comes into the room

Cosima is waiting for her first internet date, Shay. When she comes into the room, she’s stunning. Cosima is reduced to babbling.

Shay and Cosima talk in the bar

Shay is charming, gentle, lovely – she touches Cosima frequently and pretty much wraps her around her little finger. Shay tells her that holistic healing involves nutrition, body work and spiritual counseling. Shay leans close to Cosima and says, “Plus, I can see inside your soul.” As they talk, they are photographed by an unknown watcher.

Cosima suggests they leave. They go to Felix’s apartment. They make sexy eyes at each other and act like they are ready to jump each other’s bones. After a while Shay offers to go, because Cosima seems a bit conflicted about Delphine. Cosima agrees Shay should go, but she doesn’t look like she believes what she’s saying.

Shay and Cosima kiss

Then Shay kisses her instead of going. They end up getting more lesbian germs in Felix’s apartment.

Gracie shows up at Art’s. He learns that she lost the baby. He takes her to Mrs. S and Felix. Mrs. S is healing nicely; she’s not so beat up as she was the last few episodes.

Mrs. S and Felix

There’s a bit of discussion, but eventually they give Gracie a place to stay, shower, eat, and also some of Sarah’s old clothes. Gracie now wants to experience life – the restrictions of her father’s religion need to be cast off.

Gracie dressed like a hooker

Gracie comes downstairs looking like a hooker. She wants to go to a bar. They keep her in the house, but give her alcohol and teach her to dance. She exclaims, “I love alcohol,” and falls on the floor in agony. When the paramedics come, they see her eyes are very bloodshot.

Art meets with Patty (Natalie Krill). We met her in episode 2 after her strange sexual encounter with Rudy and Seth. She’s wearing sunglasses at night because there’s something bloody wrong with her eyes, just like Gracie.

Helena and Sarah in Prison

Helena, who says she once survived 4 months in a broom closet, is back in her cell after killing Parsons (Ari Millen, an army). She has cuffs on her ankles with a bar between them. She examines everything she sees as a potential tool or weapon. Sarah’s in the next cell.

Sarah can talk to Helena in the next cell

Sarah and Helena talk through a grate between their cells. Helena thinks Sarah sent her there and is not friendly. Sarah tries to convince her that Mrs. S did it to protect Kira, but Helena is guarded. She tries to unlock her ankle cuffs with a tiny nail, she talks to her scorpion friend about butter, and she doesn’t trust Sarah. The conversation with her imaginary friend about butter is actually relevant, because Helena is stashing pats of butter from her meals behind a loose block in her cell wall.

Sarah sees where she is

The clone Miller drags Sarah off. As he does, Sarah yells to Helena that the Castor clones are their brothers. While Sarah is gone, Helena notices that one of the bars in the window of her cell door is loose.

Sarah meets Dr. Coady (Kyra Harper), who takes blood from her.

The Castor doctors have the Johanssen baby, which they think will give them genetic material to develop a cure for the male clones. Dr. Coady patches up Mark and tells him to make sure his first ever journal of intimate contacts begins with Gracie. She takes away his wedding ring, which bothers him. Mark may actually care about Gracie.

Paul (Dylan Bruce) shows up at the prison after convincing someone higher up to keep funding the Castor program. He’s not happy to see Sarah there. He wants to be her friend. Sarah tells Helena that Paul is the one who turned her in. He says it was either Helena or Sarah. Helena finally believes Sarah isn’t the one who turned her in.

Paul yells at Dr. Coady about Sarah’s imprisonment. Paul then also goes into the room where Parsons is stored and looks at his journal of intimate contacts. It’s a list of names of women, with a lock of hair from each one.

Sarah in her cell, seated by the grate

Sarah knows Helena must have an escape plan. She wants in on it. Helena says Sarah can be her sandwich. A sandwich is a weak person you take with you because you eat them! Sarah softens Helena up by talking about what a bad mother she is and crying as she explains why she left Kira with Mrs. S so often.

Helena is compassionate and soothing when Sarah cries. The crying apparently works, however, and Helena tells Sarah how she can help with the escape plan.

Sarah starts a fight with Miller and another guard. They knock her out. She is taken to the infirmary, where she steals a pair of tweezers.

Helena unlocks the cuffs on her feet with the tweezers. She uses the bar between the cuffs to pry the loose bar from her cell window. Then she slathers herself with butter and slides out the tiny opening she created. She leaves Sarah behind, saying they are now even.

Helena gets out of her cell

Helena is the master of parkour. She scampers around, jumps from cars to rooftops, climbs straight up a wall and reaches the highest parapet of the razor wire encrusted prison wall. She hesitates there because her heart moves for her seestra. We don’t know if she jumps down to freedom or goes back for Sarah. She is perched there at the end of the episode. The whole camp below her is on high alert, looking for her.

Some Thoughts

The idea that having sex with one of the Castor clones causes sickness is an interesting turn of events. Can’t wait to see where that goes.

Something is going on with Shay. Something mysterious.

The set they are using for the prison looks like an old mission. Adobe walls, vigas, rounded parapets. It’s shot in yellow light and everything outside the walls is dark and invisible. I love that set.

Speaking of sets, what happened to Cosima’s apartment? Why is she always in Felix’s apartment – she even takes dates there.

The way we hear backstory is fascinating. In this episode we heard about Mrs. S’s husband dying in a drunken brawl and we heard about why Sarah ran off with Vic, leaving Kira behind. These tales are revealed in natural ways to enhance character development.

Helena uses the tiny nail she finds to cut her back. She feels a great release from doing it – the scene is framed and shot like sexual ecstasy. I hope at some point Helena’s cutting becomes a bigger topic of conversation.

The Title Quotation

We’re sticking with Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Farewell Address to the Nation in 1961. If only we had paid this much attention at the time. Here’s the location of this episode’s title. Our moral strength, in particular, seems to have been purchased by the 1%.

“Such a confederation must be one of equals. The weakest must come to the conference table with the same confidence as do we, protected as we are by our moral, economic, and military strength. That table, though scarred by many past frustrations, cannot be abandoned for the certain agony of the battlefield.”

Watch This: Trailer for San Andreas

I don’t think I’ve ever paid  money to see a movie starring Dwayne Johnson. That may change. The upcoming disaster movie San Andreas stars Dwayne Johnson as a father and Alexandra Daddario as his daughter. It also features Archie Panjabi, Carla Gugino, Paul Giamatti, Ione Gruffudd and Kylie Minogue.

The film description: “In the aftermath of a massive earthquake in California, a rescue-chopper pilot makes a dangerous journey across the state in order to rescue his estranged daughter.”

As you can see from the trailer, the special effects in the film look awesome. Disaster flicks aren’t my usual genre, but – Archie Panjabi. I don’t think she is going to have a very big part, but it is certainly something different from her role on The Good Wife.

All my life, which is a lotta years, I’ve been hearing that the San Andreas fault was going to crack open and half of California would fall into the sea. That’s what this movie is about.

What do you think? Will you give this thriller a try?

Orange is the New Black Season 3 Promos

June 12, people. Orange is the New Black, with the best social media staff IN THE WORLD, has visuals to help you remember that date. June 12 – got it?

There are also a few still shots besides the awesome preview video.
Taryn Manning and Lea DeLaria sit on the grass. Lea is covered with colored balls
What are we doing here? Mourning the demise of the lesbian agenda? Putting a collection of pet crickets to rest? Planning a clown school?
Kate Mulgrew and Selenis Leyva  face off
Look at those faces. I love those faces, those stares, those raised eyebrows. Litchfield never lets life get comfortable.
Taylor Schilling and Ruby Rose looking very friendly
A new person in the cast and she appears to make friends quickly. Think she’ll stir up trouble the way Vee did?
A group scene with numerous cast members looking up at something
Don’t they look a lot happier since Miss Rosa did them a great service regarding Vee? Is this not the best cast anywhere on television? Yes, it is.

Watch This: Trailer for Ricki and The Flash

I am somewhat (okay, a whole lot) excited about Ricki and The Flash. The first excitement is the star Meryl Streep. Next, there’s the writer Diablo Cody.

But wait! There’s more! Check this out:

“Meryl Streep takes on a whole new gig – a hard-rocking singer/guitarist – for Oscar®-winning director Jonathan Demme and Academy Award®-winning screenwriter Diablo Cody in Ricki and the Flash. In an original and electrifying film loaded with live musical performances, Streep stars as Ricki Rendazzo, a guitar heroine who made a world of mistakes as she followed her dreams of rock-and-roll stardom. Returning home, Ricki gets a shot at redemption and a chance to make things right as she faces the music with her family. Streep stars opposite her real-life daughter Mamie Gummer; Rick Springfield, portraying a Flash member in love with Ricki; Kevin Kline as Ricki’s ex-husband; and Audra McDonald as Kline’s new wife.”

Oh, my, what a cast. Meryl Streep singing rock and roll and slinging a guitar around like she knows what to do with it. Oh, my.

There is something so magical about Meryl Streep. Just a glance at this image of her in her costume and you know she’s going to kill in this part. In real life she’s 65, matronly, wearing glasses and a not very exciting dress. Put her in front of a camera, yell action, and something special happens. I feel lucky to be able to watch what Meryl Streep does and be amazed by it again and again.

Mamie Gummer lets herself look like hell in this film. I love that. I love the smacking that Ricki gets from her family, from her ex husband’s new wife. I love the Rick Springfield, the Kevin Kline, the Audra McDonald. This film better be good, because I love it.

Enough already with the gushing. See what you think of the trailer. The film opens August 7.

The Trailer

Meryl Streep images © 2015 – Sony Pictures Entertainment

Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Says Goodbye – Really

Kalinda (Archie Panjabi) showed up unexpectedly on The Good Wife “Wanna Partner” episode to say goodbye more properly after her mysterious disappearance a couple of weeks ago.

Ah, Kalinda, Kalinda, Kalinda

I thought a few farewell tweets from her fans (including me) would be fun to see.

 

Review: Grace and Frankie Season 1

Grace and Frankie hit Netflix last weekend and I watched every episode. It was a bit uneven, but I loved it anyway.

Sam Waterston and Martin Sheen in Frankie and Grace

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Grace and Frankie Season 1”

Orphan Black: S3 E4 Newer Elements of Our Defense

Orphan Black’s “Newer Elements of Our Defense” begins mere seconds after the end of the last episode when Mark (Ari Millen, an army) was shot in the cornfield.

Sarah and Mark

This episode mostly deals with Sarah (Tatiana Maslany, a multitude) and Mark and their race for genetic material, punctuated with bits from the other clones. Of course, they want the genetic material for different reasons: Sarah to save Helena, Mark to complete his mission.

Sarah performs emergency surgery on Mark.

Sarah manages to evade Bonnie Johannsen (Kristen Booth) and some armed men and get Mark out of the cornfield and into an abandoned house. Thanks to a pair of pliers, a bottle of vodka, and a needle and thread that were conveniently left in the house, they remove the bullet in Mark’s leg and halfway sew him back together. His second wound is a through and through.

When Mark passes out, Sarah finds the motel key in his jacket and heads there. She finds the strong box and sends some images of the contents to Cosima. From this, Cosima realizes that Henrik Johanssen managed to create at least one clone with the genetic material they seek.

Mark uses his super stamina to overcome his two bullet wounds and chase Sarah to the motel. She explains about Henrik’s Castor son. They need a bit of DNA from him to provide the original genome.

Sarah digging

Mark tells Sarah he knows where to find Henrik and Bonnie’s cloned son. They drive to a cemetery and Mark shows Sarah which grave to dig up. Just as she finds the casket, Rudy shows up. He chases Sarah into a barn (boy, barns are everywhere the last couple of weeks).

Mark and Rudy face off

In the only multi-clone shot of the week, Mark pulls rank on Rudy and tells him to stand down from running a shovel through Sarah. Rudy has the tiny casket under one arm. He and Mark embrace, then look at Sarah as they think about their directive to leave no loose ends. That’s the cliffhanger scene of the episode and we are left wondering what they are going to do with the loose end leaning against the hay bales.

Gracie lost her baby. Her mother looks at her.

Gracie (Zoé De Grand Maison) goes with her mother to a creepy cult house where everyone still believes in Henrik’s mad religion. When Gracie loses the baby, Bonnie tells her she is no longer welcome there.

Helena in Prison

Helena stars at her pork chop bone

In Helena’s part of the Orphan Black universe, she realizes while eating dinner that she can fashion a key out of her pork chop bone, which she gnaws into shape.

In preparation for an escape, she gets herself taken to the infirmary. From there she can scout around for an escape plan. The only problem is, to get taken to the infirmary, she will be tranquillized. She ties a cord around her arm to slow the movement of the drug through her blood stream.

The scorpion urges Helena to keep moving.

Even so, she’s groggy while scouting around. She must be cheered on by her little clicking friend the scorpion, who urges her to keep moving.

When the drug wears off, she’s back in her cell. She uses the pork chop bone to get out. She finds another clone: Parsons. We’ll just call Parsons Mr. Topless, okay?

Helena sees that Parsons' brain is exposed

Parsons begs Helena to kill him. She is kind and gentle with him, but obliges him by running a scalpel through his brain. Her delay to perform a mercy killing gives Dr. Coady (Kyra Harper) time to find her and stick her back in her cell. Let’s hope she still has the pork chop bone hidden away.

Cosima Pines for No Woman

Cosima reads the Island of Dr. Moreau

Cosima is at last reading “The Island of Dr. Moreau” in Felix’s (Jordan Gavaris) apartment. She’s on the phone with Scott (Josh Vokey) as she reads. They need some sort of key to unlock what they read.

Felix finds Cosima in his apartment. She hides the book. He says her sweater is horrible – she looks like she was mounted by a llama. Such a horrible sweater could only mean she’s pining for Delphine.

Felix and Cosima in the bar

Felix drags Cosima out to a bar. He photographs her and signs her up for a dating service, despite Cosima’s statement that she pines for no woman.

Alison Makes a Deal

Alison and Donnie (Kristian Bruun) decide to hide all their pills in a storage locker like on Breaking Bad because someone has been following Donnie around.

They load up everything and go to the garage only to find a thug waiting for them. He says that the pills Ramon had were on consignment and that Ramon ran off with the $30,000+. He takes the merchandise and says they must meet with the boss that night.

Alison and Donnie at the drug meeting

They show up that night. Alison gets frisked and sent to talk with the drug boss. Donnie has to wait with the thug.

When Alison gets in the car, she finds Jason Kellerman (Justin Chatwin), her old beau from high school. They smile, giggle, get nostalgic, and shake hands on a drug deal in which Alison promises to double Ramon’s rate. Such a sweet reunion.

Alison and Jason shake

Some Thoughts

Chris Grismer directed this episode. It’s his first turn at directing Orphan Black and I loved some of what he did. There were several beautiful long shots: Sarah and Mark backlit under a bridge, Cosima walking down Felix’s street in a red coat, the yellow-washed military compound. I loved the way everything kind of blurred and reverberated when Bonnie walked through the corn after Mark – very ominous.

I missed the information about how Felix disposed of Seth, who was in his bathtub. Maybe it happened while we weren’t looking. Maybe we’ll find out next week. If Felix cleaned up his apartment, shouldn’t he or Cosima notice a big tank of liquid nitrogen?

Ksenia Solo and Tatiana Maslany kiss in a scene from the previews for next week

The previews show the arrival of Ksenia Solo next week. She’s been advertised as a healer who comes to help Cosima. She arrives as one of the online dates Felix set up for Cosima. The first thing she does is kiss Cosima. If she’s a healer, she mistook Cosima for a succubus.

The Title Quotation

The quotation in the title again comes from Dwight D. Eisenhower. That whole 1961 speech is frightening to contemplate, but this quote is especially scary.

“Crises there will continue to be. In meeting them, whether foreign or domestic, great or small, there is a recurring temptation to feel that some spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties. A huge increase in the newer elements of our defenses; development of unrealistic programs to cure every ill in agriculture; a dramatic expansion in basic and applied research – these and many other possibilities, each possibly promising in itself, may be suggested as the only way to the road we wish to travel. “