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February 2016 Film Preview

February 2016 Film Preview

February’s slate of female-centric and/or women-directed films begins with “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” — a  fun spin on the Jane Austen classic that takes the Elizabeth Bennett’s (Lily James) feminism to butt-kicking heights. In the film, Lizzie and her sisters are skilled zombie slayers, hunting the undead while attending dances and finding adequate suitors. 

If you plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend, you might want to take your favorite person to “How To Be Single”, starring Dakota Johnson, Rebel Wilson, Alison Brie and Leslie Mann. The film promises to be a freewheeling romp through the singles scene in New York City… though there may be romance on the horizon for at least one of the women in the film.

Rounding out the month are two highly anticipated releases: “The Witch” and Netflix’s “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny.” “The Witch” received scores of rapturous reviews after its showing at Sundance last year. The film takes place in 17th century Puritan New England, where a young woman named Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) is suspected of witchcraft. As Variety’s chief film critic Justin Chang points out, “[Thomasin is a] grievously misunderstood young woman who may or may not be the witch of the title,” and part of the film’s allure is trying to figure out that mystery. On February 26, the awaited sequel to Ang Lee’s hit 2000 film “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon” will play in select IMAX theaters and stream on Netflix. The film stars Michelle Yeoh reprising her role as Yu Shu Lien — a reluctant but more-than-capable heroine.

Here is a comprehensive list of female-helmed and/or women-centric films releasing in February. All descriptions are from press releases, unless stated otherwise.

February 5

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

A zombie outbreak has fallen upon the land in this reimagining of Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th-century England. Feisty heroine Elizabeth Bennet (Lily James) is a master of martial arts and weaponry and the handsome Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley) is a fierce zombie killer, yet the epitome of upper-class prejudice. As the zombie outbreak intensifies, they must swallow their pride and join forces on the blood-soaked battlefield in order to conquer the undead once and for all.

All Roads Lead to Rome – Written and Directed by Ella Lemhagen

“All Roads Lead to Rome” revolves around an uptight woman named Maggie (Sarah Jessica Parker) and her former Italian lover, Luca (Raoul Bova), who go on a road trip across scenic Italy pursuing Maggie’s rebellious teenage daughter (Rosie Day), who tries desperately to return to New York while Luca’s mother (Claudia Cardinale) is on a secret mission of love.

Tumbledown – Written by Desiree Van Til

Pop culture scholar Andrew (Jason Sudeikis) comes to Maine to interview Hannah (Rebecca Hall), the protective widow of an acclaimed singer. When the unlikely pair strike a deal to co-write a biography, Andrew finds himself clashing with a cast of locals, including Hannah’s hunky suitor (Joe Manganiello) and her loving but defensive parents (Blythe Danner and Richard Masur). When Hannah and Andrew’s stormy partnership blossoms into an unexpected connection, they face the possibility that the next chapter in their lives may involve each other. Dianna Agron and Griffin Dunne co-star in this startlingly funny and sweetly romantic tale of moving on and finding love in the unlikeliest of places.

February 12

How To Be Single – Co-Written by Dana Fox and Abby Kohn

Single ladies Alice (Dakota Johnson) and Robin (Rebel Wilson) try to find the right way to be single in this buddy comedy and keep up a ton of shenanigans along the way. While Robin tries to teach her somewhat out-of-touch friend Alice how to navigate the single life in New York City, they bump heads on everything, from how to flirt to how to text. Alison Brie and Leslie Mann round out the cast. 

Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong – Written and Directed by Emily Ting

In this sparkling romance, Ruby (Jamie Chung), a Chinese American toy designer from L.A., visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. Finding herself stranded, she meets Josh (Bryan Greenberg), an American expat who shows her the city. Meandering through nighttime streets pulsing with energy and possibility, they fall into a winding and carefree conversation, buoyed by an undeniable attraction. Just as things start to look promising romantically for the pair, the night is stopped short by a surprising revelation. A year later, Josh and Ruby run into each other on the ferry from Hong Kong to Kowloon. But when the opportunity presents itself at the end of the night, will either of them dare to make the next move and betray the person they’re with? As effervescent as a perfect first date, this charming walk-and-talk romance takes full advantage of the chemistry of its leads, the playfulness of their exchanges and the magical landscape that is Hong Kong at night.

Providence – Written and Directed by Sharon Wilharm

Rachel Cartwrught (played by Juli Tapken and Stacey Bradshaw) and Mitchell Little (Chase Anderson and Rich Swingle) both grow up in the small town of Providence, Tennessee. Their paths keep crossing, and at one point, it looks like they’ll finally get together. But the opportunity slips away, and they go their separate ways. It takes a tragedy many years later before they’re reunited. Providence” is a silent cinema film with the story told via dramatic action and a dynamic soundtrack of eclectic indie music. 

February 19

The Great Gilly Hopkins

Wisecracking, gum-chewing 12-year-old Gilly (Sophie Nélisse) is well known in the foster system. Totally unmanageable, she has stayed with more families than she can remember and has outwitted them all. After all, how can she settle down when her real mother, the beautiful and glamorous Courtney (Julia Stiles), might be out there waiting for her? When Gilly is sent to live with the Trotters, the weirdest family yet, she isn’t planning to stick around. But cheerful, affectionate Maime Trotter (Kathy Bates) isn’t giving up on Gilly just yet — she is sure there’s a hurt little girl in there somewhere. Gilly knows she has to escape, and if she can’t run, then she’ll lie her way out. But her grand plan doesn’t go as intended, and she starts to think maybe she was wrong about Trotter. Maybe wrong about everything. Adapted from a multi-award-winning novel published in more than 20 territories by Katherine Paterson, “The Great Gilly Hopkins” is the hilarious and big-hearted story about a headstrong girl who wants to find a place to call home.

The Witch

In this exquisitely made and terrifying new horror film, the age-old concepts of witchcraft, black magic and possession are innovatively brought together to tell the intimate and riveting story of one family’s frightful unraveling in the New England wilderness circa 1630. Upon threat of banishment by the church, an English farmer (Ralph Ineson) leaves his colonial plantation, relocating his wife and five children to a remote plot of land on the edge of an ominous forest — within which lurks an unknown evil. Strange and unsettling things begin to happen almost immediately — animals turn malevolent, crops fail and one child disappears as another becomes seemingly possessed by an evil spirit. With suspicion and paranoia mounting, family members accuse teenage daughter Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy) of witchcraft, charges she adamantly denies. As circumstances grow more treacherous, each family member’s faith, loyalty and love become tested in shocking and unforgettable ways.

February 26

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon: Sword of Destiny (Select IMAX theatres and streaming on Netflix)

In this sequel to “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon,” four Martial World heroes (Michelle Yeoh, Donnie Yen, Natasha Liu Bordizzo and Harry Shum, Jr.) must keep the legendary Green Destiny sword from the villainous Hades Dai (Jason Scott Lee).

Jack of the Red Hearts – Directed by Janet Grillo; Written by Jennifer Deaton

A streetwise teen and casualty of the flawed foster care system (Anna Sophia Robb) cons her way into a job by posing as an experienced caregiver for a family with an autistic child. At first in over her head, she ends up connecting with her new life in a way she never expected. Just as she’s found redemption, her deceitful past catches up with her, and she’s forced to come to terms with who she really is.

King Georges (Documentary) – Directed by Erika Frankel

Fiery French chef Georges Perrier is on a crusade to keep his 40-year-old, internationally renowned restaurant, Le Bec-Fin in Philadelphia, relevant in a culinary world of new stars and shifting tastes. More than just a documentary about food, “King Georges” is a touching story about passion, aging and art. Co-starring Nicholas Elmi (winner of “Top Chef” in 2014) and featuring interviews with chefs Daniel Boulud, Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert and former Mayor of Philadelphia Ed Rendell.

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