1 item from 2017
By Joseph Allen and Kelsey Moore
If the movies are any indication, then we are in for one hot yet refreshing summer. Some of the season’s biggest and action-filled flicks feature powerful, female-led narratives, and goodness, do they come out in full force. The much anticipated female-led “Wonder Woman” is the first to hit summer screens, and if that’s not giving the finger to the male-dominated blockbuster, we don’t know what is.
July also has its fair share of action with Charlize Theron’s “Atomic Blonde.” This spy thriller sends Theron’s character to Berlin during the Cold War in order to save one agent whilst exposing others.
In between superheroes and spies, however, there are plenty of festival darlings and lighthearted comedies to enjoy. Marti Noxon’s “To The Bone,” which premiered at Sundance, features Lily Collins as a young woman battling anorexia. The film is based on Noxon’s own experience with an eating disorder and truthfully tackles the fine line between self-acceptance and despair. Gillian Robespierre’s “Landline” reunites Robespierre with “Obvious Child’s” Elisabeth Holm and Jenny Slate. It tackles the messiness of family, growing up, and adultery.
“Girls Trip,” on the other hand, is the perfect comedy to help beat the summer heat. Featuring the talents of Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish, this ensemble film follows four friends as they rekindle both their friendships and sense of adventure during a girl’s weekend to New Orleans.
August brings a slew of socially conscious titles, including several directed by women. Kathryn Bigelow’s highly anticipated follow-up to “Zero Dark Thirty,” “Detroit,” tells the story of the 1967 Detroit riots, and speaks to our present moment, one where it feels like little has changed in the 50 years since.
“Whose Streets?,” a documentary about the Ferguson protests, speaks to “Detroit’s” continued relevance as a story of racial animus. Co-director Sabaah Folayan gives us an inside look at the protests, and takes the temperature of a community still filled with righteous anger.
Sundance breakout “Step,” directed by Amanda Lipitz, also debuts in August. The documentary chronicles the hardships of a Baltimore school’s step team during their senior year, and explains how important the team has become for the girls on it.
Here are just some of many women-centric, women-directed, and women-written films releasing this summer. Be sure to keep up with Women and Hollywood for exhaustive monthly previews!
All descriptions are from press materials unless otherwise noted.
Before she was Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot) she was Diana, princess of the Amazons, trained warrior. When a pilot crashes and tells of conflict in the outside world, she leaves home to fight a war to end all wars, discovering her full powers and true destiny.
Did you know? Gal Gadot has been very adamant about the film’s feminist framework, stressing that Diana is “free of internalized sexism and any knowledge whatsoever of socialized gender roles.”
“Beatriz at Dinner”
“Beatriz at Dinner”
Beatriz (Salma Hayek), an immigrant from a poor town in Mexico, has drawn on her innate kindness to build a career as a health practitioner in Southern California. Don Strutt (John Lithgow) is a real estate developer whose cutthroat tactics have made him a self-made, self-satisfied billionaire. When these two polar opposites meet at a dinner party, their worlds collide and neither will ever be the same.
Did you know? “Beatriz at Dinner” opens this year’s Sundance Film Festival London, and certainly feels like a timely release. In fact, John Lithgow’s character reminds us of a certain real-world real estate developer who is currently inhabiting the Oval Office.
“Maudie,” based on a true story, is an unlikely romance in which the reclusive Everett Lewis (Ethan Hawke) hires a fragile yet determined woman named Maudie (Sally Hawkins) to be his housekeeper. Maudie, bright-eyed but hunched with crippling arthritis, yearns to be independent, to live away from her protective family and she also yearns, passionately, to create art. Unexpectedly, they become a couple. “Maudie” charts a woman seeking her personal freedom, her unending fight to sustain it, and her surprising rise to fame as a folk painter.
Did you know? Maud Lewis was a Canadian folk artist who possessed no formal training. “Maudie” — which is currently playing in Canada — has ignited a renewed interest in her work. In fact, a painting recently found in a thrift shop just sold for $45,000, approximately three times its appraised value.
In this edgy R-rated comedy, five best friends from college (played by Scarlett Johansson, Kate McKinnon, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer, and Zoë Kravitz) reunite 10 years later for a wild bachelorette weekend in Miami. Their hard partying takes a hilariously dark turn when they accidentally kill a male stripper. Amidst the craziness of trying to cover it up, they’re ultimately brought closer together when it matters most.
Did you know? Some would call this a gender-reversed redo of the late ‘90s film “Very Bad Things,” starring Christian Slater. But, let’s be honest: with this ensemble of A-listers and comedic geniuses — we’re looking at you, Kate McKinnon and Ilana Glazer — Aniello’s film is sure to bring a lot more laughs and intrigue.
“The Beguiled” is an atmospheric thriller from acclaimed writer/director Sofia Coppola. The story unfolds during the Civil War, at a Southern girls’ boarding school. Its sheltered women (Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, Emma Howard, Oona Laurence, Angourie Rice, and Addison Riecke) take in an injured enemy soldier (Colin Farrell). As they provide refuge and tend to his wounds, the house is taken over with sexual tension and dangerous rivalries, and taboos are broken in an unexpected turn of events.
Did you know? Director Sofia Coppola does not consider this a remake of the 1971 film. Instead, she wanted to “tell the same story, but flip it to the women characters’ point of view” as they were the ones “cut off during that time, left behind during the war.”
Ellen (Lily Collins) is an unruly, anorexic 20-year-old who spent the better part of her teenage years being shepherded through various recovery programs, only to find herself several pounds lighter every time. Determined to find a solution, her dysfunctional family agrees to send her to a group home for youths, which is led by a non-traditional doctor (Keanu Reeves). Surprised by the unusual rules — and charmed by her fellow patients — Ellen has to discover for herself how to confront her addiction and attempt self-acceptance, in order to stand a chance against her demons. (Sundance Film Institute)
Did you know? This is a deeply personal project for Noxon. As she discussed with Women and Hollywood, she, too, battled anorexia and bulimia for over 10 years. By exploring this experience in her film, Noxon aims to show just how real these diseases are and how far they are from “an issue of vanity.”
Rural England, 1865. Katherine (Florence Pugh) is stifled by her loveless marriage to a bitter man twice her age (Paul Hilton), and his cold, unforgiving family. When she embarks on a passionate affair with a young worker (Cosmo Jarvis) on her husband’s estate, a force is unleashed inside her so powerful that she will stop at nothing to get what she wants.
Did you know? Though she made a memorable impression in Carol Morley’s “The Falling” and TV crime thriller “Marcella,” this marks the first major leading role for Florence Pugh, who is receiving fantastic reviews for her performance.
When four lifelong friends (Regina Hall, Queen Latifah, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Tiffany Haddish) travel to New Orleans for the annual Essence Festival, sisterhoods are rekindled, wild sides are rediscovered, and there’s enough dancing, drinking, brawling, and romancing to make the Big Easy blush.
Did you know? Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith have not been onscreen together since 1996. Their first collaboration, “Set it Off” (also starring Vivica A. Fox and Kimberly Elise), examines the personal and financial struggles of four women who decide to start robbing banks together.
The Manhattan of 1995: a land without cell phones, but abundant in CD listening stations, bar smoke, and family dysfunction. Enter the Jacobs. Eldest daughter Dana’s (Jenny Slate) looming marriage to straight-laced Ben (Jay Duplass) prompts a willful dive into her wild side, while her younger sister, Ali (Abby Quinn), is still in high school but leads a covert life of sex, drugs, and clubbing. After discovering love letters penned by their father (John Turturro), the sisters try to expose his apparent affair while keeping it from their all-too-composed mother (Edie Falco). (Sundance Film Institute)
Did you know? Gillian Robespierre and Elisabeth Holm previously collaborated on critically acclaimed “Obvious Child,” which also stars Jenny Slate. As Ropespierre told Women and Hollywood, her new film explores the “female perspective of monogamy across multiple generations.”
The crown jewel of Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service, Agent Lorraine Broughton (Charlize Theron) is equal parts spycraft, sensuality, and savagery, willing to deploy any of her skills to stay alive on her impossible mission. Sent alone into Berlin to deliver a priceless dossier out of the destabilized city, she partners with embedded station chief David Percival (James McAvoy) to navigate her way through the deadliest game of spies.
Did you know? Charlize Theron fought for her character’s no-strings-attached, one-night stand with a female agent. After all, as Theron herself rhetorically asks, “Why is it that James Bond can sleep with every girl in every movie” and nobody questions his lack of emotional investment?
A decade after “An Inconvenient Truth” brought climate change into the heart of popular culture, comes the riveting and rousing follow-up that shows just how close we are to a real energy revolution. Vice President Al Gore continues his tireless fight traveling around the world training an army of climate champions and influencing international climate policy. Cameras follow him behind the scenes — in moments both private and public, funny and poignant — as he pursues the inspirational idea that while the stakes have never been higher, the perils of climate change can be overcome with human ingenuity and passion.
Did you know? During an interview with Women and Hollywood, Cohen explained that she wanted audiences to leave the film feeling “empowered — like change is possible and in their hands.” This thirst for change continues throughout her personal work; she is a co-founder of the Catapult Film Fund, which provides development funding and informal mentorship to documentarians.
“From the Land of the Moon” — Co-Written and Directed by Nicole Garcia
“From the Land of the Moon”
In 1950s France, Gabrielle (Marion Cotillard) is a passionate, free-spirited woman who is in a loveless marriage and falls for another man (Louis Garrel) when she is sent away to the Alps to treat an illness. Gabrielle yearns to free herself and run away with André.
Did you know? “From the Land of the Moon” was one of only three female-directed films that played in competition at last year’s Cannes Film Festival. Garcia’s work was in good company, as Andrea Arnold’s “American Honey” and Maren Ade’s “Toni Erdmann” also graced the screen. Think this year’s Cannes is any better? Check out Women and Hollywood’s infographic and festival thoughts.
Baltimore is a city that is fighting to save its youth. This documentary chronicles the trials and triumphs of the Senior girls on the high school’s Step Team as they prepare to be the first in their families to go to college — and the first graduating class of The Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women. “Step” is more than just a hobby for these girls, it is the outlet that keeps them united and fighting for their goals.
Did you know? “Step” was awarded the U.S. Documentary Special Jury Award for Inspirational Filmmaking at Sundance 2017 and was picked up at the festival by Fox Searchlight for $4 million.
In the summer of 1967, a handful of rioters took over the city of Detroit following a police raid on an unlicensed bar. Army paratroopers, National Guardsmen, and state and local police were called on to help put a stop to the rioting, which lasted for five days. What sparked the riots was the racism and discrimination of the police force that was felt within the city by the African American population.
Did you know? This is the third collaboration between Kathryn Bigelow and screenwriter Mark Boal, who also worked together on “Zero Dark Thirty” and “The Hurt Locker.” Both Bigelow and Boal won Oscars for the latter.
Ingrid (Aubrey Plaza) is an unstable young woman with a checkered past of obsessive behavior. She secretly moves to Los Angeles to get close to Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen) — an Instagram “lifestyle guru” with a fabulous artist boyfriend, a camera-ready terrier, and an array of new products and brands to promote to her followers. After Ingrid adopts a Taylor-made identity for herself, her machinations to prove she’s Bff material for her Insta idol are underway — that is, until she meets Taylor’s obnoxious brother Nicky (Billy Magnussen), who threatens to tear down her façade. (Sundance Film Festival)
Did you know? “Ingrid Goes West” won the Salt Screenwriting Award at Sundance 2017, and was picked up by distributor Neon.
Based on one of the longest-running New York Times bestsellers, “The Glass Castle” tells the story of Jeannette Walls’ (Brie Larson) unconventional upbringing at the hands of her deeply dysfunctional and uniquely vibrant parents (Naomi Watts and Woody Harrelson), and her journey towards acceptance and fulfillment.
“Whose Streets?” (Documentary) — Co-Directed by Sabaah Folayan
The activists and leaders who live and breathe this movement for justice bring you “Whose Streets?” — a documentary about the Ferguson uprising. When unarmed teenager Michael Brown is killed by police and then left lying in the street for hours, it marks a breaking point for the residents of St. Louis County. Grief, long-standing tension, and renewed anger bring residents together to hold vigil and protest this latest tragedy. In the days that follow, artists, musicians, teachers, and parents turn into freedom fighters, standing on the front lines to demand justice. As the National Guard descends on Ferguson, a small suburb of St. Louis, with military grade weaponry, these young community members become torchbearers of a new wave of resistance.
Did you know? As Sabaah Folayan told Women and Hollywood, “Whose Streets?” exists to “honor those who put their lives and livelihoods on the line to fight for our constitutional rights.”
In a coming-of-age story straight out of Jersey, an unlikely rapper (Danielle Macdonald) finds her voice as a one-of-a-kind hip-hop legend in the making in “Patti Cake$,” the first feature film from acclaimed commercial and music video director Geremy Jasper. Set in gritty strip-mall suburbia, “Patti Cake$” chronicles an underdog’s quest for fame and glory with humor, raw energy, and some unforgettable beats.
Did you know? The film has been compared to “8 Mile” and “Hustle & Flow,” but it’s a departure from these films because its central figure is a woman. “Patti Cake$” examines the barriers women face in entering the world of hip hop. At the same time, it questions whether its central figure is appropriating black culture.
“The Unknown Girl”
“The Unknown Girl”
Dr. Jenny Davin (Adèle Haenel) runs a busy bare-bones medical clinic on the outskirts of Liege. Late one night, hours past closing time, Jenny ignores a buzz at the clinic’s door. The next morning she learns that this buzz came from a young woman in need of help, and that this unidentified caller is now dead. Weighed down by guilt and the thought of an unknown girl in an unmarked grave, Jenny applies her methodical, diagnostic mind to the case, making it her mission to find out who this woman was, and who, or what, was responsible for her death. (Toronto International Film Festival)
Did you know? The film’s directors, the Dardenne brothers, initially wanted to cast Marion Cottilard in the role, but ended up casting her in the Oscar-nominated “Two Days, One Night” instead.
Summer 2017 Film Preview was originally published in Women and Hollywood on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story. »
- Kelsey Moore
1 item from 2017
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