Daniel Diemer, Leah Lewis, and Alexxis Lemire in The Half of It

New Movies + Shows by Women — May 1, 2020

In support of striking workers at Amazon, I won’t be including that service this week. I strongly believe in not crossing a picket line, and that includes avoiding encouraging others to do so. The protest is a day-long May Day strike, so I’ll push anything new on Amazon to next week. Strikes and worker empowerment are important, especially when people are risking their lives during a pandemic to provide services.

No, I don’t expect anything at Amazon will be better next week, but that’s the rough element of being a critic. To support the artists, you sometimes also end up boosting media corporations that treat their workers (including the artists) like crap. You try to separate the two, or build awareness, but to support an artist often means watching a service you may not wish to support. So while it’s an imperfect solution, and perhaps more performative than effective, Amazon won’t be listed this week, and anything from them that would have been will be listed next week. I’d encourage people to skip over using any Amazon services today as well.

On a separate note and as an FYI, Rachel Talalay’s “Tank Girl” is on Hulu as of today if you’d like to relive one of the best fever dreams of the 90s. On to the new stuff:

The Half of It (Netflix)
directed by Alice Wu

This is writer-director Alice Wu’s second film. The first, “Saving Face”, was a hugely impactful movie about a woman coming out as lesbian to her Chinese American community. It was released in 2004-05, at a time when studios avoided films like these. Wu fielded meetings seeking to make the cast white and straight (it’s important to note this still happens despite some breakthrough of LGBTQ+ films).

Movies like “Saving Face” existed chiefly on the fringe. Despite this, it became incredibly influential, even winning a Golden Horse award, the equivalent of an Oscar in Taiwan.

Then Alice Wu didn’t make a film again for 15 years. “The Half of It” is the return of a filmmaker who changed lives, progressed acceptance, and changed the industry understanding of who could be making movies and telling these stories in the first place – all with a single film.

Never Have I Ever (Netflix)
showrunner Lang Fisher

This is Mindy Kaling’s latest production. Every episode centers on main character Devi pursuing something she’s never done. It’s a coming of age show centered on being torn between cultures and cultural norms in high school, a time when what’s normal is shifting on an almost-daily basis.

It’s had a wildly positive initial reception. Showrunner Lang Fisher has been a writer and producer on “The Mindy Project” and “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” before this. She started out by doing just about everything (casting, writing, directing) on the seldom remembered but exceptionally acidic “The Onion News Network”. That’s about as quality a resume as a first-time showrunner can have for a comedy series.

Normal People (Hulu)
half-directed by Hettie Macdonald

“Normal People” tells the story of two mismatched Irish lovers in their college years. The series is based on the novel of the same name by Sally Rooney, which The Guardian listed #25 on the 100 greatest books of the century so far. To quote The Guardian, “A love story between two clever and damaged young people coming of age in contemporary Ireland…her focus is on the dislocation and uncertainty of millennial life”.

Half-directed is a weird note, but the series will include 12 episodes. Hettie Macdonald will direct the second group of six. It’s adapted by Alice Birch and Rooney, so women make up a lot of the other talent behind it as well. (I often check cinematographers, since very few women have been rewarded for their work in this field – the series is shot by Suzie Lavelle and Kate McCullough).

Rich in Love (Netflix)
co-directed by Anita Barbosa

There’s not a whole lot of information out there about this. There’s not even a proper trailer from Netflix. It’s a Brazilian film where a rich young man pretends to be poor in order to win the affections of a woman. The low-definition, partial trailer above is the best I can find for the movie. It looks potentially charming, and it’s a shame there isn’t something more complete to tell us about the movie.

Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.

If you enjoy what you read on this site, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

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