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Weekly Update for September 5: Women Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You

Weekly Update for September 5: Women Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You

Films About Women Opening

Rocks in My Pockets – Written and Directed by Signe Baumane (Opened September 3)

Rocks in My Pockets is Signe Baumane’s autobiographical “funny film about depression,” made with papier-mache, stop-motion and hand-drawn animation. This rich, deep, and very original film centers on five women in Baumane’s family and their struggles with depression and mental illness. (Melissa Silverstein)

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Signe Baumane about Rocks in My Pockets.

Kelly & Cal – Directed by Jen McGowan; Written by Amy Lowe Starbin 

Kelly (Juliette Lewis) used to be in a riot grrrl band. Now, however, she’s a stay-at-home mom with a house in the suburbs, a husband in advertising, and a new baby who won’t stop crying. Depressed and drifting apart from husband Josh (Josh Hopkins), she’s drawn to next-door neighbor Cal (Jonny Weston) — an abrasive seventeen-year old recently confined to a wheelchair after a spinal injury. Her unconventional friendship with Cal offers Kelly a chance to recapture something of her badass teenage self, but when their flirtatious banter develops into something more, it threatens to destroy the healing power of their relationship. 

It’s great to see a female lead pining for the kind of rock n’ roll past so often the preserve of the overgrown manchild on screen and, as might be expected, Lewis fits the role to perfection. She’s not just there to play kooky, however; her portrayal of Kelly is impressively nuanced and affecting. The chemistry between her and Weston is also pitch-perfect — so much so, in fact, that I couldn’t help but feel they were sold short by the film’s apparent insistence that her husband’s loss of interest in her sexually is the main reason Kelly is drawn to Cal. We are not given enough of an insight into Kelly’s relationship with Josh — or, specifically, to Josh himself — to convince us there isn’t some deeper lack being compensated for here, and the film’s conclusion feels somewhat timid and lackluster as a result. Though not without flaws, however, the writing is often well-observed, and deliberately sets out to question society’s prevailing view of what motherhood should look like, while the performances from the two leads are worth the ticket price alone. (Alice Thorpe)

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with director Jen McGowan about Kelly & Cal.

Innocence – Directed by Hilary Brougher; Co-Written by Hilary Brougher and Tristine Skyler

After the death of her mother, Beckett Warner (Sophie Curtis) moves to a new city and a new school. Being the new girl at the exclusive Hamilton Prep was never going to be easy, but when Beckett sees a fellow student plunge to her death on her first day, she realizes something is seriously wrong. This is not the first mysterious death in the school’s history, and she becomes convinced that the glamorous circle of women who run the place are up to no good. Why has the school psychiatrist got all the students popping pills? And is that really redbush tea the women are always drinking? 

Adapted from the novel by Jane Mendelsohn, Innocence is a supernatural thriller firmly aimed at theTwilight/Vampire Academy audience. That might well be off-putting to admirers of director Hilary Brougher’s previous work (The Sticky Fingers of TimeStephanie Daley), and the monumentally bad publicity artwork for the film will do nothing to assuage doubts. Yet Brougher lends Innocence a distinctive visual flair, and Beckett’s character provides a much-needed antidote to the kinds of protagonist common to similar films. She is not a pawn in a love triangle, hyper-sexualized, or forced to become old beyond her years. Instead, she is refreshingly, well, normal. Refreshing too are the lengths to which the film goes to signal her independence from her sweet but ineffectual boyfriend Tobey (Graham Phillips). As the story progresses, it’s pretty much Beckett against the world, and she proves herself a more-than-capable heroine. And though its teen audience is the film’s priority, older viewers will appreciate the way in which the inevitable psychosexual undercurrents of the blood-sucking genre are knowingly played within the film’s deliciously overwrought tone. (Alice Thorpe)

Wetlands 

Eighteen year-old Helen Memel (Carla Juri) likes to skateboard, masturbate with vegetables, and thinks that body hygiene is greatly overrated. Struggling with her parents’ divorce, she spends her time experimenting and breaking one social taboo after another with her best friend Corinna (Marlen Kruse). When a shaving accident lands her in the hospital, she sees it as a way to reconcile her parents, but ends up forming an unlikely bond with her male nurse, Robin (Christoph Letkowski), in the process. (Press materials)

Films About Women Currently Playing

The Congress
Last Weekend
Jessabelle
If I Stay
May in the Summer – Written and Directed by Cherin Dabis
Abuse of Weakness – Written and Directed by Catharine Breillat
Lucy
Happy Christmas
A Five Star Life – Directed by Maria Sole Tognazzi; Co-Written by Francesca Marciano and Maria Sole Tognazzi
Tammy – Co-Written by Melissa McCarthy
Obvious Child – Written and Directed by Gillian Robespierre
The Fault in Our Stars 
Maleficent – Written by Linda Woolverton
We Are the Best!
Ida

Films Directed by Women Opening

The Last Days of Vietnam (doc) – Directed by Rory Kennedy 

April, 1975. During the chaotic final days of the Vietnam War, as the North Vietnamese Army closed in on Saigon, South Vietnamese resistance crumbled. City after city and village after village fell to the North while the few U.S. diplomats and military operatives still in the country contemplated withdrawal. With the lives of thousands of South Vietnamese hanging in the balance, those in control faced an impossible decision — who would go and who would be left behind to face brutality, imprisonment, even death. (Press materials)

Gringo Trails (doc) – Directed by Pegi Vali (Opened September 4)

Is tourism destroying the world, or saving it? From the Bolivian jungle to the party beaches of Thailand, and from the deserts of Timbuktu, Mali to the breathtaking beauty of Bhutan, Gringo Trails shows the unanticipated impact of tourism on cultures, economies, and the environment, tracing some stories over 30 years. (Press materials)

Naked Opera (doc) – Directed by Angela Christlieb 

Naked Opera is a portrait of Marc, a talented, intelligent, charismatic, and wealthy middle-aged Luxembourger who has suffered from an incurable illness since childhood. If that sounds like the recipe for a sentimental tear-jerker of a kind we’ve all seen a thousand times before, think again: while Marc’s debilitating illness may win him a substantial measure of sympathy, the cynicism, misanthropy, and thirst for power that his physical weakness seems to have engendered make things much more complicated. (Press materials)

Films Directed by Women Currently Playing

The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – Co-Directed by Hélène Cattet
To Be Takei (doc) – Directed by Jennifer M. Kroot 
Fort McCoy – Written and Directed by Kate Connor
Land Ho! – Co-Directed by Martha Stephens
Fifi Howls from Happiness – Directed by Mitra Farahani
Step Up All In – Directed by Trish Sie
The Dog (doc) – Co-Directed by Allison Berg
Fed Up (doc) – Co-Written and Directed by Stephanie Soechtig

Films Written by Women Currently Playing

Jealousy – Co-Written by Caroline Deruas-Garrel and Arlette Langmann
Guardians of the Galaxy – Co-Written by Nicole Perlman
Sex Tape – Co-Written by Kate Angelo
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes – Co-Written by Amanda Silver 

DVD/VOD

American Promise (doc) – Co-Written by Michele Stephenson
Fed Up (doc) – Directed by Stephanie Soechtig 
Mom’s Night Out – Co-Written by Andrea Gysterson Nasfell 
Night Moves – Directed and Co-Written by Kelly Reichardt
The Galapagos Affair (doc) – Co-Directed by Dayna Goldfine; Co-Written by Dayna Goldfine

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