Weekly Update for May 17: Women Centric, Directed, and Written Films Playing Near You

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FILMS ABOUT WOMEN OPENING

The Sun Is Also a Star – Directed by Ry Russo-Young; Written by Tracy Oliver

College-bound romantic Daniel Bae (Charles Melton) and Jamaica-born pragmatist Natasha Kingsley (Yara Shahidi) meet — and fall for each other — over one magical day amidst the fervor and flurry of New York City. Sparks immediately fly between these two strangers, who might never have met had fate not given them a little push. But will fate be enough to take these teens from star-crossed to lucky in love? With just hours left on the clock in what looks to be her last day in the U.S., Natasha is fighting against her family’s deportation as fiercely as she’s fighting her budding feelings for Daniel, who is working just as hard to convince her they are destined to be together. A modern-day story about finding love against all odds, “The Sun Is Also a Star” explores whether our lives are determined by fate or the random events of the universe.

Find screening info here.

The Souvenir – Written and Directed by Joanna Hogg

“The Souvenir”: A24

A shy film student (Honor Swinton-Byrne) begins finding her voice as an artist while navigating a turbulent courtship with a charismatic but untrustworthy man (Tom Burke). She defies her protective mother (Tilda Swinton) and concerned friends as she slips deeper and deeper into an intense, emotionally fraught relationship which comes dangerously close to destroying her dreams.

Find screening info here.

Ask for Jane – Written and Directed by Rachel Carey (Opens in NY)

“Ask for Jane”

One would have hoped that watching “Ask for Jane” would be a quaint look back at a time in the distant past, something that we learn from and could never imagine happening again. Yet, in this time of anti-choice bills, like the one recently signed into law in Georgia, “Ask for Jane” is a stark reminder of where we may be going — and going fast. Set before Roe v. Wade, the film tells the story of the women who created the underground network known as the Jane Collective, which assisted women who needed abortions. “Ask for Jane” lays out the simple truth: no matter what the laws are, women will always get abortions when they need them. The issue is how many will die from unsafe, illegal ones. The underground network that “Ask for Jane” illuminates could actually be the model for the future. What a sobering thought. (Melissa Silverstein)

Find screening info here.

We Have Always Lived in the Castle – Directed by Stacie Passon (Also Available on VOD)

“We Have Always Lived in the Castle”

Merricat (Taissa Farmiga) lives with her sister Constance (Alexandra Daddario) and her Uncle Julian (Crispin Glover). The trio are survivors of an arsenic poisoning that killed everyone else in the family five years prior. Merricat is bold and imaginative and protects the property with “spells.” Despite being hated by the townspeople, the sisters live an idyllic life, until cousin Charles (Sebastian Stan) arrives. Charles offers to help around the house and inquires about the family’s finances. Constance is charmed by Charles, and Merricat resents his intrusion. As Charles and Merricat battle for control, tragedy threatens to strike again.

Watch Women and Hollywood’s exclusive clip of “We Have Always Lived in the Castle.”

Aniara – Written and Directed by Pella Kågerman and Hugo Lilja (Also Available on VOD)

“Aniara” is the story of one of the many spaceships used for transporting Earth’s fleeing population to their new home: planet Mars. But just as the ship leaves the destroyed Earth, she collides with space junk and is thrown off her course. The passengers slowly realize that they’ll never be able to return. The protagonist, MR (Emelie Jonsson), runs a room where a sentient computer allows humans to experience near-spiritual memories of Earth. As the ship drifts further into the endless void, more and more passengers are in need of MR’s services. Pressure builds on MR, as she is the only one who can keep the growing insanity and lethal depression at bay. In Aniara’s inexorable journey towards destruction there is a warning that cannot be emphasized enough: There’s only one Earth. It’s time to take responsibility for our actions.

Read Women and Hollywood’s interview with Pella Kågerman.

Find screening info here.

Steel Magnolias (Theatrical Re-Release) (May 19, 21, and 22 Only)

“Steel Magnolias”: Tri-Star

Six women come together in this hilarious and heartwarming story of life, love, and loss in a small Louisiana parish. At the center of the group is Shelby Eatenton (Julia Roberts), newly married and joyfully pregnant, despite the fact that her diabetes could make childbirth life-threatening. Terrified and angry at the possibility of losing her only daughter, M’Lynn Eatenton (Sally Field) looks to her four closest friends for strength and laughter as she battles her deepest fear of death in order to join Shelby in celebrating the miracle of new life.

Find screening info here.

Zilla and Zoe – Written and Directed by Jessica Scalise (One Week Only in LA)

A 10-year-old girl’s plan of making a horror film for a movie contest is waylaid by her father, who insists that she instead focus on a less-gory project: filming her sister’s wedding week. So she adapts her plan and turns the wedding into a scare-fest.

Find screening info here.

Asako I & II – Written by Sachiko Tanaka and Ryûsuke Hamaguchi (Opens in NY)

“Asako I & II”

Asako (Erika Karata) lives in Osaka. She falls in love with Baku, a free-spirit. One day, Baku suddenly disappears. Two years later, Asako now lives in Tokyo and meets Ryohei. He looks just like Baku, but has a completely different personality.

Find screening info here.

Maria (Available on Netflix)

When a former BlackRose cartel assassin deliberately betrays them by refusing to complete her mission, the cartel orders her execution. Unbeknownst to them, she fakes her own death and is able to create a new life of her own. When the cartel discovers she is alive, the hunter becomes the hunted as she fights to get revenge on those who took her new life away from her.

FILMS MADE BY WOMEN OPENING

“The Wandering Soap Opera”

The Wandering Soap Opera – Directed by Valeria Sarmiento and Raúl Ruiz; Written by Pía Rey and Raúl Ruiz (Opens in NY)

Filmed by Raúl Ruiz in 1990 but left unfinished until it was completed by his wife and collaborator Valeria Sarmiento in 2017, “The Wandering Soap Opera” is a dreamily interconnected series of vignettes that spoof on telenovela conventions while reflecting Ruiz’s feelings upon returning to his native Chile after more than 15 years away. In one episode, a man seduces a woman by showing her his muscles, which are actually slabs of raw meat slapped into her hand. Later, the man has a gun pulled on him when he accuses a poet of plagiarism. Meanwhile, through the television screen, five women have lost their husbands after an earthquake and embrace a better future together. All along, back and forth across screens, people are watching. “The Wandering Soap Opera” is a glorious sendup of the telenovela, which, at the end of Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship, Ruiz called the very best lens through which to understand “Chilean reality.”

Find screening info here.

A Dog’s Journey – Directed by Gail Mancuso; Written by Maya Forbes, Cathryn Michon, W. Bruce Cameron, and Wallace Wolodarsky

Bailey (Josh Gad) is living the good life on the Michigan farm of his “boy,” Ethan (Dennis Quaid) and Ethan’s wife, Hannah (Marg Helgenberger). He even has a new playmate: Ethan and Hannah’s baby granddaughter, CJ. The problem is that CJ’s mom, Gloria (Betty Gilpin), decides to take her away. As Bailey’s soul prepares to leave this life for a new one, he makes a promise to Ethan to find CJ and protect her at any cost. Thus begins Bailey’s adventure through multiple lives filled with love, friendship, and devotion as he, CJ (Kathryn Prescott), and CJ’s best friend Trent (Henry Lau) experience joy and heartbreak, music and laughter, and few really good belly rubs.

Find screening info here.

See You Yesterday – Written by Fredrica Bailey and Stefon Bristol (Available on Netflix)

Best friends CJ (Eden Duncan-Smith) and Sebastian (Dante Crichlow) build a pair of time machines and use them in order to save the life of CJ’s brother.

De De Pyaar De – Written by Surabhi Bhatnagar, Tarun Jain, and Luv Ranjan

A 50-year-old single father faces disapproval from his family and his ex-wife when he falls in love with a 26-year-old woman.

TV PREMIERES

“Fleabag”

Fleabag – Created and Written by Phoebe Waller-Bridge (Season 2 Premieres May 17 on Amazon Prime)

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is ready to address “the screaming void inside [her] empty heart” — so long as it can be dealt with in one free therapy session. Set over a year after the events of Season 1, “Fleabag’s” sophomore outing sees its titular character in a very different place than we last left her. Fleabag (Waller-Bridge) has sworn off casual sex and is thriving professionally. Business at her guinea pig-themed café is bustling. But Fleabag is still burying the trauma of losing her best friend and her mother. It’s an unexpected connection with a priest — rather than her free therapy session — that leads Fleabag to confront her past and finally open up. Beautiful, bittersweet, and as darkly comic as ever, “Fleabag’s” second — and what creator Waller-Bridge has said will be its final — season is a triumph, and the show is going out on a real high note. (Laura Berger)

American Masters: Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices (Documentary) – Directed by Pamela Roberts and Peter Miller; Written by Pamela Roberts, Kiki Wilson, and Peter Miller (Premieres May 17 on PBS)

“Robert Shaw: Man of Many Voices” traces the journey of a small town California boy who planned to be a minister like his father, but instead became the greatest conductor of choral music the world has ever known. At the heart of the film is the mystery of Shaw’s genius. With no formal musical training, he achieved a stunning early success in popular music and later became legendary for his interpretations of classical music’s great choral masterpieces. An early champion of civil rights, Shaw had a mystical belief in the power of community and could communicate his passion for music with spellbinding intensity. As Music Director of the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra and Chorus in the latter half of the 20th century, Robert Shaw changed the course of musical history through the many voices he set on fire with an enduring love of music.

Wanda Sykes: Not Normal (Comedy Special) – Directed by Linda Mendoza (Premieres May 21 on Netflix)

“Wanda Sykes: Not Normal”

Emmy Award-nominated actress and 30-year comedy veteran Wanda Sykes delivers a sharp-witted and hilarious critique on the state of the world in her first Netflix comedy special, “Wanda Sykes: Not Normal.” The one-hour special addresses the comedian’s perspective on the current political and cultural climate, which she can only describe as, well — not normal.

One Spring Night – Written by Kim Eun (Premieres May 22 on Netflix)

“One Spring Night” is a story of two people whose uneventful lives become shaken by unexpected love, leading them to seek what their hearts truly desire instead of being fixated on faith. Lee Jeong-in (Han Ji-min) is a librarian who knows how to appreciate the small things in life. Jung Hae-in plays Yu Ji-ho, a well-mannered pharmacist who tends not to hesitate when it comes to love.

A Tale of Two Kitchens (Documentary Short) – Directed by Trisha Ziff (Premieres May 22 on Netflix)

Two countries, two restaurants, one vision. “A Tale of Two Kitchens” explores the ways in which a restaurant can serve as a place of both dignity and community.

VOD/STREAMING RELEASES

“Isn’t It Romantic”: Michael Parmelee/Warner Bros.

Gloria Bell (VOD, May 21)
Isn’t It Romantic – Written by Dana Fox, Erin Cardillo, and Katie Silberman (VOD, May 21)
Ladies in Black – Written by Sue Milliken and Bruce Beresford (VOD, May 21)

WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD IN THE NEWS

How Relevant Is Cannes In 2019? (British Vogue)

PICKS OF THE WEEK FROM WOMEN AND HOLLYWOOD

Morgan on the set of “GLOW”: Erica Parise/Netflix

“GLOW” Costume Designer Beth Morgan on Expressing Empowerment Through Clothing
Cannes: Nadine Labacki’s “Capernaum” Makes Box Office History
Quote of the Day: Julianne Moore Speaks in Favor of Quotas While Attending Cannes
AFI DOCS’ 2019 Slate Includes “Ruth – Justice Ginsburg In Her Own Words,” “American Factory,” & More
Apply Now: AFI Cinematography Intensive for Women
Cannes Releases Gender Stats for 2019 Festival, in Accordance With Parity Pledge
Cannes 2019: Gong Li to Receive Women In Motion Award
Report: Top Studios and Talent Agencies’ Leadership Lagging in Inclusion
Exclusive: Taissa Farmiga Keeps the Wickedness at Bay in “We Have Always Lived in the Castle” Clip
Set Designer Laura Jellinek on “Oklahoma!” and Her Tony Nomination

Note: All descriptions are from press materials, unless otherwise noted.


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