Review: Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks

Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks stars Gena Rowlands. That was all I needed to know about the 2014 film to pick it out of a dismal collection of male-dominated newly added films on Amazon Prime.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Six Dance Lessons in Six Weeks”

Watch This: Trailer for The Girl King

The Girl King tells the story of Queen Kristina of Sweden. Kristina was on the throne by the age of six. She was raised as a prince and learned to sword fight and was able to satisfy her intellectual pursuits as a man would.

Here’s the film synopsis:

This 17th-century drama recounts the life of Sweden’s Queen Kristina, an enigmatic, flamboyant, and unpredictable woman centuries ahead of her time who ascended the throne at age six, was raised as a prince, and strived to bring peace and education to her country-while pursuing an illicit romance with her female royal attendant. Growing up as a tomboy with a strong intellectual appetite, young Kristina (an electric Malin Buska) finds herself thrown into a political frenzy as a teenager. Saddled with the Thirty Years War between Protestants and Catholics, Kristina steers her country away from the conservatives while privately grappling with her own sexual awakening, in the form of Countess Ebba Sparre (the radiant Sarah Gadon), her lovely lady-in-waiting. Her quest to understand love runs parallel with her quest to understand humanity and the violent and restrictive forces conspiring against her. Torn between the conflict of political and personal aspirations, Kristina chooses to make one of the most controversial decisions in history.

Sarah-Gadon-and-Malin-Buska-in-THE-GIRL-KING---
Sarah Gadon and Malin Buska in “The Girl King”

Malin Buska stars as Queen Kristina, with a cast of mainly Canadian and Swedish actors around her including Michael Nyqvist, Lucas Bryant, Laura Birn, Hippolyte Girardot, Peter Lohmeyer, François Arnaud, Patrick Bauchah, Martina Gedeck, and the aforementioned Sarah Gadon.

The story of one of the most fascinating female leaders in recorded history was written by Michel Marc Bouchard and directed by Mika Kaurismäki.

Following a limited theatrical premiere, The Girl King debuts on 12/8/2015 on DVD and on iTunes, Vimeo On Demand, and at WolfeOnDemand.com.

There’s an extensive entry on Christina, Queen of Sweden on Wikipedia if you’re curious to know more.

Photos courtesy of Wolfe Video

Watch This: Trailer for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

It took 14 years, but Nia Vardalos finally brings us the second installment the Portokalos family drama in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2. The entire cast is returning!

Still of John Corbett and Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
John Corbett and Nia Vardalos in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

In addition to Vardalos, who wrote this comedy, also returning are John Corbett, Lainie Kazan, Andrea Martin, Michael Constantine, and more. Ian (John Corbett) and Toula (Nia Vardalos), who got hitched in the first big, fat wedding, now have a teenager named Paris (Elena Kampouris). Also new in the cast is John Stamos. The director is Kirk Jones.

Still of Elena Kampouris in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2
Elena Kampouris in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2

The second wedding is not young Paris, but Toula’s parents. It turns out they were never married. Any excuse for an even bigger, fatter, Greeker wedding, right?

Based on the previews, it looks as hilarious as the first film. My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 will be in theaters in March 2016.

I don’t have a list of male stars I make an effort to watch, but if I did John Corbett would be on it. I became a fan during Northern Exposure and he’s never done anything to disappoint me since.

There are some great photos on the movie’s Facebook page.

Images © 2015 – Universal Pictures

Watch This: Teaser for Season 2 of Transparent

“Did he call me sir?”

Yes, it’s almost time for Transparent season 2 on Amazon.

Amazon released a tiny clip to let you know that the characters you learned to love in season 1, are going to remain true to themselves. It’s a bit hard to tell in all the confusion, but it looks like Sarah (Amy Landecker) and Tammy (Melora Hardin) are the ones getting married.

Maura (Jeffrey Tambor), of course, is concerned about looking her best. Josh (Jay Duplass) brought his girl, the rabbi (Kathryn Hahn), and his newly discovered son to the wedding. Ali (Gaby Hoffmann) seems to be alone. We don’t see Syd (Carrie Brownstein) in this clip, but Ali and Syd are scheduled for a romance in season 2.

Based on the expression on Judith Light’s face in this very brief teaser, I’d say she is going to continue killing it as Shelly Pfefferman in season 2. New guest stars for season 2 include Cherry Jones, Anjelica Huston and Tig Notaro. Returning guest stars include Bradley Whitford and Alexandra Billings, among many others.

The series creator Jill Soloway described the new season by saying, “Season two is wild! Now that the bubble wrap is off, it’s time for the whole family to transition.”

And pronouns are still at issue. We live in a time when your choice of pronoun is a symbol of your enlightenment.

“We’re done here.”

Watch This: Trailer for The Lady in the Van

The Lady in the Van stars Maggie Smith as a homeless woman, Mary Shepherd, who parks her van in a man’s driveway and leaves it there for 15 years. Alex Jennings plays writer Alan Bennett, the man whose driveway is appropriated. It’s based on a real story.

A scene from The Lady in the Van

The film is based on a play by the same name by Alan Bennett, which he adapted for the film. Maggie Smith previously played Mary Shepherd in both the stage play and radio play of this story.

Smith looks like the grande dame of cranky in this story about an eccentric woman who just happened to find herself a home in the life of a writer who would turn her story into an award winning play.

Also in the film are Dominic Cooper, Frances de la Tour, Jim Broadbent, Sacha Dhawan, and many others.

The film opens in the US on January 15, 2016. Start your new year with Maggie Smith.

Nicola Walker in Two British Dramas Airing Now

There’s a great article in The Daily Mail titled “Why the stars of our best TV dramas are suddenly all middle-aged women: At long last, this is grown-up television” that talks about many of my favorite actresses and shows – including Nicola Walker.

Nicola Walker is my particular topic today. Walker is currently starring in two British dramas showing in the UK. She plays a police officer in both. One is River from BBC One, which will be on Netflix internationally starting November 18. The other is Unforgotten. It’s currently on iTV. I don’t know if it will be brought across the pond. If I hear anything, I’ll let you know.

River

Nicola Walker

Let’s start with River. The 6 part series stars Stellan Skarsgård and Nicola Walker. Skarsgård is a melancholy, grieving cop named River. Walker is his former partner DS Jackie “Stevie” Stevenson. Former partner (spoiler alert) in this case meaning Stevie is dead and gone. She’s gone for everyone but River, who sees her and other characters he’s investigating. River interacts with these “manifestations” as if they were there.

Real life Stevie was sassy and saucy and bright. River carries on conversations with her, listens to her sing, but seems insane to those around him. Most people would consider him insane. The only reason he’s still with the police is his 80% rate of closing crimes.

River was written by Abi Morgan.

Here’s the trailer.

Unforgotten

In Unforgotten, Walker is the lead character, a compassionate police officer who lives with her father. She’s investigating a decades old crime in which the bones of a young man are found under a demolished house. Sanjeev Bhaskar is her partner. Chris Lang is the creator of this 6 part drama.

NIcola Walker and Sanjeev Bhaskar

As DCI Cassie Stuart, Walker plays a character who is quiet and thoughtful. She runs her department with calm, rewarding good work with generous praise and sending officers to investigate with a minimum of fuss. We see her relationship with her father develop through the episodes, especially when her father reveals some long hidden secrets about her mother.

The 4 main suspects in the crime range through all aspects of British society. This series has a big cast with many faces you will probably recognize including Gemma Jones and Tom Courtenay.

Here’s the preview for Unforgotten.

Other than the fact that Nicola Walker does brilliant work in both series, the two stories have little in common. Well, she’s a cop in both series. I heartily recommend you watch them both if you get a chance.

Many people know Nicola Walker from her role as Ruth in MI5. She’s also been in recent favorites including Scott & Bailey and Last Tango in Halifax.

Watch This: Westerns with Women – Trailers for Jane Got a Gun and The Keeping Room

When I was a kid I went to the movies every week. So many of those movies were Westerns. That was in the days of John Wayne and Gary Cooper, Roy Rogers and Gene Autry. Men on horses with six shooters.

As soon as I discovered there were options that went beyond the Western, I was happy to move on.

Now and then since those ancient decades, there have been Westerns starring women. The latest are Jane Got a Gun with Natalie Portman and The Keeping Room with Brit Marling.

Jane Got a Gun

Natalie Portman

Jane Got a Gun is more the traditional Western with a twist. In this story a woman asks her ex-lover for help in order to save her outlaw husband from a gang out to kill him. The film has male writers, a male director (Gavin O’Connor), and a majority male cast.

Starring with Portman are Ewan McGregor, Rodrigo Santoro, Joel Edgerton, and Noah Emmerich. The film went through all kinds problems before and after shooting – cast changes and problems with distribution. But it’s finally ready to go.

The film is releasing in France before the US (US release date is February 2016). The only trailer at this point has French subtitles. Have a look.

The Keeping Room

Hailee Steinfeld

With Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld, Muna Otaru, and Sam Worthington in the lead, The Keeping Room is a more female point-of-view tale. The film was written by Julia Hart and directed by Daniel Barber. It released to theaters back in September 2015. You might have to wait for the streaming services to carry it before you can watch it, or catch it in a second run venue.

The plot synopsis is “Left without men in the dying days of the American Civil War, three Southern women – two sisters and one African-American slave – must fight to defend their home and themselves from two rogue soldiers who have broken off from the fast-approaching Union Army.”

Here’s the trailer.

If you caught The Keeping Room when it was first released, please share what you thought of it.

Dark New Trailer for Jessica Jones

The new trailer for Marvel’s Jessica Jones is dark enough to give me goosebumps. Less than a month until it begins on Netflix. I will be watching. Will you?

Dark, twisted, haunted, troubled, as well as super strong are a few adjectives that come to mind in that preview. I think Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter) may be the most interesting comic book spin off that has come out of the Marvel universe.

The preview introduces us to the villain Kilgrave (David Tennant), although we don’t see much but the back of his head and a demonstration of his ability to make people do whatever he wants.

If the music in the preview is an indication of the type of soundtrack that will accompany the series, I’m looking forward to that as well.

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Vulture ran a spoiler-filled article about episode one called Jessica Jones Has Hot Sex and Nuanced Sexuality (Especially for a Marvel Show) that may be of interest to you. It talks about Jessica and her relationship with Jeri Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss), Luke Cage (Mike Colter) and Trish Walker (Rachael Taylor).

Images via Netflix

Watch This: Trailer for Joy

Joy stars Jennifer Lawrence, with Robert De Niro, Bradley Cooper, Edgar Ramirez, Isabella Rossellini, Diane Ladd, Virginia Madsen, Elisabeth Röhm and Dascha Polanco. We’ve seen the names Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro together in films before and it has meant Oscar nominations for Jennifer Lawrence when we do. This film is her 3rd with director David O. Russell.

I’m not sure we need to know much beside the pedigree listed in the first paragraph, but here’s the synopsis for the film:

Joy is the wild story of a family across four generations centered on the girl who becomes the woman who founds a business dynasty and becomes a matriarch in her own right. Betrayal, treachery, the loss of innocence and the scars of love, pave the road in this intense emotional and human comedy about becoming a true boss of family and enterprise facing a world of unforgiving commerce. Allies become adversaries and adversaries become allies, both inside and outside the family, as Joy’s inner life and fierce imagination carry her through the storm she faces.

Joy tries to teach her children humility. “Don’t ever thing the world owes you anything because it doesn’t,” she says. “The world doesn’t owe you a thing.”

We need more of this attitude in the world today. There doesn’t seem to be a shred of humility anywhere in the United States. In the film Joy overcomes insurmountable obstacles to become the founder of a family empire.

The film is loosely based on the real-life Joy Mangano, who  appears regularly on the Home Shopping Network selling items as like the “JOY FleXassage™ Body Massager Pillow with Neck Massager” and her Huggable Hangers, which are HSN’s all-time most popular product.

The story was written by Annie Mumolo and David O. Russell.

Look for it in theaters on Christmas day.

Review: Dear White People

Dear White People is a film about 4 black students at a mythical Ivy League university that takes aim directly at white people with all their ignorance, bias, privilege and insensitivity. The film uses smart dialog, hilarious one-liners, and real people with real issues to deliver its message.

Spoilers ahead.

Continue reading “Review: Dear White People”