Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World

If I had seen Seeking a Friend for the End of the World before I heard Bo and Lauren talk about being so happy to be together for the end of the world, I would have made a comment about this film in that Lost Girl post. I don’t think it’s really the end of the world on Lost Girl, but in Seeking a Friend for the End of the World, a 70-mile in diameter asteroid is hurtling toward earth, and it really is the end of the world.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Seeking a Friend for the End of the World”

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Review: Ride

Ride was written and directed by Helen Hunt. In Ride, Helen Hunt plays the worst helicopter mom of all time to her college-age son Angelo (Brenton Thwaites). When he goes to California to spend the summer with his dad, she secretly follows him and watches his every move.

Spoilers ahead.

Continue reading “Review: Ride”

Watch This: Trailer for Breathe

Breathe is a film from actress-turned-director Mélanie Laurent (Inglorious Basterds, Beginnings). It’s in French with English subtitles and will be released in the US in late September.

Joséphine Japy and Lou de Laâge in Breathe

Joséphine Japy and Lou De Laâge as two young girls whose all-consuming friendship takes a dark turn.  Here’s the film synopsis:

A taut, nuanced story about the depths of female friendships and the dark side of teenage infatuations, Breathe, the sophomore directorial effort from Mélanie Laurent, is an assured adaptation of the sensational French young adult novel of the same name. Charlie (Joséphine Japy) is seventeen and bored. Her estranged parents are too caught up in their own drama to pay her much attention. School holds no surprises either, and Charlie grows tired of her staid friends. Enter Sarah (Lou de Laâge), a confident and charismatic new transfer student who brings with her an alluring air of boldness and danger. The two form an instant connection, and through shared secrets, love interests and holiday getaways their relationship deepens to levels of unspoken intimacy. But with this intimacy comes jealousy and unrealistic expectations, and soon the teens find themselves on a dangerous trajectory toward an inevitable and unforeseen collapse.

Isabelle Carré plays Charlie’s mother in Breathe.

For readers, a movie tie-in edition of the novel the film is based on will be published by St Martin’s Griffin in September. It is a translation of Anne-Sophie Brasme’s novel written when the author was just seventeen years old. It spent several months as a bestseller in France after its publication in 2001.

Watch This: Trailer for Miss You Already

Miss You Already stars power pair Toni Collette and Drew Barrymore in a drama about best friends. Dominic Cooper and Paddy Considine play the men in the lives of these two friends. 

The synopsis reads, “Miss You Already is an honest and powerful story following two best friends, Milly (Toni Collette) and Jess (Drew Barrymore), as they navigate life’s highs and lows. Inseparable since they were young girls, they can’t remember a time they didn’t share everything –secrets, clothes, even boyfriends — but nothing prepares them for the day Milly is hit with life-altering news. A story for every modern woman, Miss You Already celebrates the bond of true friendship that ultimately can never be broken, even in life’s toughest moments.”

Based on the two main characters and the relationship they show in the previews, I would watch this movie no matter what. You want a movie about women’s lives? This is one. I support that 100%.

The film is directed by Catherine Hardwicke with a screenplay by Morwenna Banks.

Miss You Already will be released on November 6.

The New Season on Independent Lens

It made the news when Lois Vossen was promoted to executive producer of the PBS documentary series Independent Lens. That makes Vossen one of the top ranking people at PBS. The series she’ll head caught my attention when I saw the articles about her promotion. The commitment to independent film she talks about is wonderful and important.

Independent Lens begins its 14th season on November 9. Take a look at some of the films and any female film makers to be in the new season.

Stray Dog

The season opens with Stray Dog, which is billed as a “stereotype-shattering portrait” of Vietnam veteran Ron Hall directed by Debra Granik. Granik directed the Jennifer Lawrence star-making film Winter’s Bone.

East of Salinas

East of Salinas scene

Laura Pacheco is the producer and director of East of Salinas. The director of photography is also a woman: Jackie Mow.

The film description: “East of Salinas is a story about immigration, childhood, and circumstance. With little support at home, Salinas, California third grader José Ansaldo often turns to his teacher, Oscar Ramos, once a migrant farm kid himself. Oscar helps José imagine a future beyond the lettuce fields where his parents work. But José was born in Mexico — and he’s on the cusp of understanding the implications of that. As we watch this play out, we begin to understand the cruelty of circumstance — for José and many millions of migrant kids like him. East of Salinas asks: What is lost when kids like José are denied opportunities?”

Meet the Patels

Meet the Patels is directed by Ravi Patel and Geeta Patel. Geeta Patel is the cinamatographer and a producer. Geeta Patel is also one of the writers, along with Ravi Patel and others.

Meet the Patels is described thus: “. . . a laugh-out-loud real life romantic comedy about Ravi Patel, an almost-30-year-old Indian-American who enters a love triangle with the woman of his dreams… and his parents. This hilarious heartwarming film reveals how love is a family affair.”

In Football We Trust

In Football we Trust is directed by first time feature film makers Tony Vainuku and Erika Cohn. The film synopsis is “In Football we Trust intimately portrays four young Polynesian football players struggling to overcome gang violence, family pressures and near poverty as they enter the high stakes world of college recruiting and the promise of professional sports.” There’s quite a pipeline of Pacific Islanders coming to the U.S. to play football.

Autism in Love

Autism in Love “follows four adults with an autism spectrum disorder as they pursue and navigate through romantic relationships.” Matt Fuller is the director.

When the new season of Independent Lens begins in November, it will be on Monday nights on PBS.

Happy Valley S 2 Now Filming: New Series Cast Revealed

With this short note, Twitter carried the announcement of the beginning of filming for season 2 of the BBC drama Happy Valley. The 6 episode season again stars Sarah Lancashire as police sergeant Catherine Cawood. Returning are James Norton as Tommy Lee Royce and Charlie Murphy as Ann Gallagher. George Costigan is back as Nevison Gallagher with Karl Davies returning as Catherine’s son Daniel. Siobhan Finneran returns as Catherine’s sister Clare.

Even though the murderer, rapist and kidnapper Tommy Lee Royce is in prison in season 2, he remains part of the story. The police in The Calder Valley in West Yorkshire have other problems as well. The plot description for season 2 is, “Catherine suspects there may be another serial killer on the loose and makes a gruesome discovery that will have shocking repercussions for her and her family.”

Katherine Kelly, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Amelia Bullmore, Kevin Doyle

Joining the cast are Kevin Doyle, Katherine Kelly, Julie Hesmondhalgh, Shirley Henderson, Amelia Bullmore, Matthew Lewis, Con O’Neill, and Vincent Franklin.

Sarah Lancashire as Catherine Cawood

Happy Valley has been nominated for or won over 30 awards, including Best Drama Series award at the 2015 BAFTAs with writer Sally Wainwright named Best Writer at the 2015 BAFTA Craft Awards. Plus it earns my personal award for being freakin’ fantastic.

I wrote recaps of season 1 of Happy Valley and it can be streamed on Netflix.

Happy Valley Images © 2014 – Red Production Company Limited

Review: Welcome to Me

Welcome to Me stars Kristen Wiig as a mentally ill woman who wins $86M in the lottery and puts herself on a TV show that is all about her. Kristen Wiig is fantastic in this part and proves her talent as a dramatic actress with her portrayal of Alice Klieg.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Welcome to Me”

Watch This: Trailer for Big Stone Gap

Big Stone Gap looks like an old-fashioned romantic comedy from a bygone era. The comedy might be a bit on the silly side, but I’m completely sold on the cast. It stars Ashley Judd, Jane Krakowski, Jenna Elfman, and Whoopi Goldberg. All that female awesome is countered by Patrick Wilson as the romantic leading man.

Ashley Judd and Patrick Wilson in Big Stone Gap

There are other well known actors in the film, including Chris Sarandon, Jasmine Guy, Anthony LaPaglia, John Benjamin Hickey, and Judith Ivey. Dagmara Dominczyk will play Elizabeth Taylor. Big Stone Gap was written and directed by Adriana Trigiani.

Here’s the plot synopsis:

Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia, the tiny town of Big Stone Gap is home to some of the most charming eccentrics in the state. Ave Maria Mulligan is the town’s self-proclaimed spinster, a thirty-five year old pharmacist with a “mountain girl’s body and a flat behind.” She lives an amiable life with good friends and lots of hobbies until the fateful day in 1978 when she suddenly discovers that she’s not who she always thought she was. Before she can blink, Ave’s fielding marriage proposals, fighting off greedy family members, organizing a celebration for visiting celebrities, and planning the trip of a lifetime-a trip that could change her view of the world and her own place in it forever.

The 1978 setting explains Whoopi Goldberg’s hairdo and all the interest in whether or not a woman approaching 40 has a husband.

The movie is based on a best-selling novel by writer-director Trigiani and filmed entirely on location in her Virginia hometown. Patrick Wilson’s family also comes from Big Stone Gap, VA. I suspect some of the extras will be persons of importance to either Trigiani or Wilson.

This is Trigiani’s first directing effort. She’s worked as a producer and has written a number of best selling novels. The film will be released October 9, 2015.

Images © 2015 Picturehouse.

Watch This: Trailer for About Ray

Elle Fanning stars as a transgender (female to male) teen in About Ray. Ray’s mother is played by Naomi Watts and Susan Sarandon plays his grandmother. Tate Donovan is his absent father. It’s an incredible cast, although there may be some criticism that an actual transgender actor didn’t get the part of Ray.

The film looks to be partly about Ray’s journey, but also about how Ray’s family reacts and reaches acceptance of his transition. It appears to be a bit of a bumpy ride, as you might expect. Ray is still in high school – does he want to change schools? Oddly, Ray’s grandmother Dolly, who is herself a lesbian, doesn’t understand the distinction between sexuality and gender. But Ray’s younger siblings might get it immediately. Here’s rooting for Dolly to figure it out.

The director is Gaby Dellal, who also wrote the story for the film. The screenplay was written by Nikole Beckwith. The story is set in New York City. The release date for About Ray is September 18, 2015.

Review: Dear Frankie

Dear Frankie is a 2004 film, but just joined the features available on Amazon Instant Video. It was new to me, and thoroughly enjoyable.

Emily Mortimer is Lizzie, the mother of 9 year-old Frankie (Jack McElhone). Lizzie’s mother Nell was played with chain-smoking verve by the late Mary Riggans. The three of them have been on the run from Frankie’s father for years. Lizzie and her mother are guarded and restrained and remain that way throughout the film. The film is emotionally charged, but in a vigilant and contained way. Lizzie and her mom are holding it in, but just barely.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Dear Frankie”