Watch This: 3 Upcoming Films Starring Women

Because I took a week off, I got a bit behind mentioning upcoming films that feature women in the leading role. To compensate, I combined them into this post featuring trailers for She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry, Miss Meadows, and The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1.

She’s Beautiful When She’s Angry is a provocative look at the birth of the women’s liberation movement between 1966-1971. It reintroduces the wide-reaching movement with poetry readings, women’s rock bands, and zaps (impromptu protest actions). The film links the previous era to today’s war on women. It makes an impassioned case for reviving feminism as a mass movement.

Miss Meadows is a school teacher with impeccable manners and grace. However, underneath the sweet exterior hides a gun-toting vigilante who takes it upon herself to right the wrongs in the world by whatever means necessary.

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1 finds Katniss Everdeen in District 13 after she literally shatters the games forever. Under the leadership of President Coin and the advice of her trusted friends, Katniss spreads her wings as she fights to save Peeta and a nation moved by her courage.

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Review: Big Driver

From a story by Stephen King, Big Driver is the story of a novelist bent on revenge after falling victim to a brutal crime. It is a made for Lifetime TV film. It stars Maria Bello, Olympia Dukakis, Joan Jett, Ann Dowd and Will Harris.

There are spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Big Driver”

Watch This: Olive Kitteridge

Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout, is a wonderful book – it won the Pulitzer. Olive is a stern New Englander, an aging former school teacher, and one of the best characters to ever inhabit the pages of a book. I cannot think of anyone more perfect to play her than Frances McDormand. If I were envisioning any actor to play Olive as I read the book, it would have been Frances McDormand.

According to HBO, “Olive Kitteridge tells the poignantly sweet, acerbically funny and devastatingly tragic story of a seemingly placid New England town wrought with illicit affairs, crime and tragedy, told through the lens of a woman whose wicked wit and harsh demeanor mask a warm but troubled heart and a staunch moral center.”

Richard Jenkins plays her husband Henry. Bill Murray will play Jack Kennison.

Lisa Cholodenko is directing the mini-series, which will air on two nights in November on HBO.

The only thing wrong with this mini-series is that it will be on HBO, which I don’t have. If you get HBO, I strongly urge you to get acquainted with the marvelous cast of interesting characters that surround Olive Kitteridge.

Olive Kitteridge photo by JoJO Whilden

Watch This: Inside Out

Watch a few seconds of trailer for Inside Out coming from Pixar next year. You have to wade past some bragging first.

Inside Out is Pixar’s second film with a female protagonist. Maybe they learned something from Brave after all.

A few of the voices involved in Inside Out include Amy Poehler, Mindy Kaling, Phyllis Smith, and Kaitlyn Dias. I find this cast list promising. I know these women incite joy and happiness in me – definitely not sadness or anger.

Watch This: Teachers

TV Land announced some new original half-hour comedies. I’m not a big fan of half-hour comedies, although I do love to watch TV Land’s Hot in Cleveland.

Among the new shows is one called Teachers which stars a whole improv group of women – The Katydids. The Katydids are Caitlin Barlow, Katy Colloton, Cate Freedman, Kate Lambert, Katie O’Brien and Katie Thomas. These funny women also wrote and starred in the web series hit that the TV series is based on. In addition to writing for and starring in Teachers, they will also serve as executive producers.

With so many women at the top levels of Teachers, I’m going to give it a chance to convert me.

Check out the trailer or watch the teachers in action in the web series to see if you think you’ll be a fan. Here’s the trailer.

I don’t have any information about when the series will begin airing on TV Land.

Watch This: Clip from Still Alice

Still Alice stars Julianne Moore as Dr. Alice Howland, a renowned linguistics professor who starts to forget words because of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. The film is based on Lisa Genova’s 2007 bestselling novel of the same name.

Still Alice will have a limited release in December, which means Julianne Moore will be in the running for an Oscar nomination for the film for 2014. The major release for the film will come in January 2015. There’s some talk that Moore might be nominated for an Oscar for Maps to the Stars for 2014. Two Oscar worthy performances this year! Those make for pretty good odds for Moore to win a long-deserved but illusive Oscar for 2014. She’s been nominated 4 times, but has no wins yet. I remember watching her back in 1999 in Cookie’s Fortune, thinking what an amazing performer she was. I think same thing every time I watch her in anything. She’s an enormous talent.

In Still Alice, the Howland family around Alice include her husband John (Alec Baldwin) and her 3 grown children: Lydia (Kristen Stewart), Anna (Kate Bosworth) and Tom (Hunter Parrish).

From mostly glowing reviews for Still Alice from TIFF, the film appears to be quiet and subdued, but honest and touching.

There isn’t an official trailer yet, but this brief clip was released. It shows something of the relationship between Alice and daughter Lydia.

I’ll be on the lookout for trailers and other information about this film as year’s end draws closer.

Watch This: Big Eyes

Big Eyes is a biopic directed by Tim Burton. It’s about Margaret Keene (Amy Adams) an artist who painted big eyed children famous in the 1950s and 60s. Her husband Walter (Christoph Waltz) took credit for her work.

This plot is so 1950s and 1960s! I speak from experience when I tell you that the legal struggles Margaret Keene had with her husband were typical of the way men treated their wives during that time. I’m looking forward to seeing the shy artist step into her power and claim her own fame in this film.

Big Eyes is set for a December 2014 release – on Christmas Day, actually.

Images © 2014 – The Weinstein Company

Starts Today! Red Band Society

Here’s the latest preview for Red Band Society, which starts tonight on Fox. I’ll be watching. If you plan to watch, come back tomorrow and let us know what you thought.

This dramedy stara Octavia Spencer, Dave Annable, and a batch of young people whose names you’ll probably learn within a couple of weeks of watching the show. I spotted Wilson Cruz in the preview; I hope he’s a regular.

It’s about kids on a cancer ward, and the narrator is in a coma. What could go wrong?

Update!

It’s the morning after the premier, which I tried to watch. I say tried because I fell asleep about half way through from lack of interest. The series was too juvenile for me, the characters too stereotypical. This makes me really sad because I would love to get enthusiastic about anything that gave Octavia Spencer a leading role. I hope it appeals to the younger crowd and keeps an audience and a following because – Octavia Spencer.

What did you think?

Review: Redwood Highway

Redwood Highway is an indie film starring Shirley Knight as an intrepid grandmother who walks 60+ miles along the Redwood Highway to get from her retirement home to her granddaughter’s wedding on the Oregon coast.

Mild spoilers ahead.

I suppose I didn’t really need to point out that this 2014 film was an indie production. Can you imagine that a Hollywood production would star Shirley Knight in a leading role (despite the fact that she absolutely kills in this part)?

The film was written, directed and edited by Gary Lundgren.

Marie Vaughn (Shirley Knight) hates living in her retirement home. She fights with her son Michael (James Le Gros) about it constantly. When her granddaughter Naomi (Zena Grey) uninvites her to her wedding because she’s such a negative old biddy, Marie decides to go to the wedding to spite everyone. And she’s going to get there on her own two legs.

Marie is my kind of woman. Fit, bold, and not in need of anybody’s permission. Marie may a bit too mad at the world as the film begins, but she isn’t too rigid to change.

She starts trekking across Oregon’s beautiful countryside and along the way meets people who treat her like an old friend such as Pete (Tom Skerritt) and Stacia (Michelle Lombardo). They help her with first aid, places to sleep and offers of rides. She refuses the rides.

Tom Skerritt is a favorite of mine. I’ve loved him since way back in the days of Picket Fences, an unforgettable show with an unforgettable cast. He has a small part in this film, but it’s nice to see him.

Stacia gets her drunk and gives her a bed in which to sleep it off
Stacia gets her drunk and gives her a bed in which to sleep it off

Marie spends several nights camping in the woods, one night sleeping in a treehouse Pete built, and one night sleeping in Stacia’s house after beating everyone at pool in Stacia’s bar.

Her son has every cop in Oregon out scouring the country looking for her. She eludes them all without even trying.

In addition to the friendly folks who encourage her along the way, she also runs afoul of a couple of meth heads who want to steal all her money. That scene was the only scary moment in the trek to the coast.

Through it all she’s dealing with memories of a lost love from long ago, a sailor named Tommy. There are parallels between her relationship with Tommy and her granddaughter’s upcoming wedding on the beach. Marie thinks she sees her Tommy several times and even has imaginary conversations with him.

She makes it, of course, that’s completely predictable, but she does it with panache, and comes out at the end a wiser woman.

Redwood Highway is a delightful and inspiring film. I completely recommend it. It’s available on Netflix and Amazon Prime.

Take a look at the trailer.

Images © Redwood Highway

Review: Thanks for Sharing

Thanks for Sharing boasts a great cast in a fair story about people in a 12-step group for sex addiction. The film gives superficial treatment to 4 sex addicts’ story lines. Mark Ruffalo, Tim Robbins, Josh Gad and Alecia Moore (Pink) are the sex addicts; all are in the same support group.

Thanks for Sharing poster

Tim Robbins and Mark Ruffalo have been in the group and “sober” for a while. Newcomers Josh Gad and Pink join the group as the film starts.

Tim Robbins is in a stable relationship with a very underused Joely Richardson. He is estranged from his son, played by Patrick Fugit. A good part of his recovery efforts in the film deal with healing his relationship with his son.

Mark Ruffalo meets Gweneth Paltrow’s character as the film starts and wants to have a normal relationship with her after going for 5 years without being with anyone. She’s not without her own hangups, but his hangups definitely trump hers. He’s terrible at having a normal relationship.

Josh Gad probably has never had real sex in his life and has a creepy mother wonderfully played by Carol Kane. Inexplicably, he and Pink become good buddies and help each other with their recovery.

Finally there is Pink, whose problems are given the most cursory treatment. <sarcasm> Obviously, the men’s stories are more important than a woman’s. </sarcasm>

Here’s the trailer for this 2013 film.

Thanks for Sharing is worth watching, even though it isn’t the best film you’ve ever seen. If I were giving stars, I’d give it 3 out of 5.