This week sees some exceptional looking films. Let’s tackle a few ongoing series before we get to them. Showrunner Liz Feldman’s “Dead to Me” sees its second season released today. The first season was nominated for a Golden Globe, Emmy, and SAG award for Christina Applegate’s performance. It’s a Netflix original series, so that’s the only place to find it.
Showrunner Tanya Saracho’s “Vida” sees its third season. The winner of GLAAD’s Oustanding Comedy Series follows two Mexican-American sisters who discover their late mother was married to a woman. This splits inheritance of their mother’s bar three ways, and the result is a push-and-pull of conflicting cultural fears that range from the modern colonialism of gentrification to Latinx attitudes toward LGBTQ people. New episodes are on Starz, and you can use the add-on through Amazon, Hulu, Sling, or YouTube.
Hulu also premiers an episode of “Into the Dark” today. There’s a new episode every month in the horror anthology – each episode is a standalone. This month’s episode, “Delivered”, caught my eye because it’s helmed by “The Wind” director Emma Tammi. She’s someone to watch, an up-and-coming director with an incisive eye and patient storytelling sense.
directed by Annie Silverstein
This looks exceptionally good. It takes place outside of Houston, where a frustrated teen breaks into an aging rodeo performer’s home. They’re both struggling; they both live in an area forgotten in poverty. He takes her on for help, and she begins to learn about his job.
This is director Annie Silverstein’s first narrative feature, but she’s previously directed documentaries – “March Point” about troubled Swinomish youth discovering filmmaking appeared on Independent Lens in 2008. “Rush” followed soldiers using high-adrenaline activities to readjust to being civilians.
You can rent “Bull” for $4 from Amazon, Google Play, or YouTube.
The Lodge (Hulu)
co-directed by Veronika Franz
Hmm, a parent is stuck at home with two children and they can’t go anywhere. Is this escapism or current events? As we’re all finding out these days, spend enough time alone with folks and you’ll eventually find one of you was in a cult at some point. Here, it’s the stepmom. I appreciate that the trailer’s not giving much away. Are the kids creepy? The stepmom? The dad who had to leave? Has a former cult returned? Is it something supernatural? The trailer leaves the door open on all of them, which is refreshing.
Veronika Franz is part of a director team with Severin Fiala. They previously directed “Goodnight Mommy” together.
You can see “The Lodge” on Hulu, rent it for $3 from Redbox on Demand, $4 from Google Play or YouTube, or $5 from Amazon.
Ordinary Love (rental)
co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa
It’s just cheating to put a Magnetic Fields song in your trailer. Much as I’m tempted to cancel Liam Neeson, this looks good and it’s one of the few forays he’s made into these kinds of films recently.
One can’t help but think of Neeson’s own history, in losing his wife Natasha Richardson suddenly after a ski accident in 2009. It’s difficult to know how much of that experience is brought into a performance where a character finds out his wife is dying. It’s difficult to know if that really matters, if it should be discussed or shouldn’t in considering the performance.
Lisa Barros D’Sa is part of a director team with Glenn Leyburn. They directed “Cherrybomb” and “Good Vibrations” together previous to this.
You can rent “Ordinary Love” for $4 from Amazon, or $6 from Google Play or YouTube.
How to Build a Girl (rental)
directed by Coky Giedroyc
A nerdy teen re-invents herself as an eccentric rock critic named Dolly Wilde. With roles in “Booksmart”, “Lady Bird”, “What We Do in the Shadows”, starring as Monica Lewinsky in “American Crime Story”, and now this, Beanie Fieldstein is putting together an absolutely stunning resume as a young comic actor.
Director Cody Giedroyc has an eclectic history that includes episodes of “The Virgin Queen”, “Oliver Twist”, “Penny Dreadful”, and “Harlots”.
You can rent “How to Build a Girl” for $6 from Amazon.
showrunner Maria Lopez Castano
“Valeria” follows a struggling novelist in a marriage that’s increasingly distanced. Her friends help her navigate these difficulties and we see something of their love lives as well – the structure is reminiscent of “Sex and the City”.
The show’s adapted by Castano from novels by Elisabet Benavent. The two directors are women: Inma Torrente and Nely Reguera. It’s very cool to see an original Spanish series driven by women. The Spanish directors and creators who are usually given the platform to bridge the Atlantic are men.
The Assistant (rental)
directed by Kitty Green
I featured this before when it was out in theaters, in the time before pandemic. I’ve been trying to keep an eye out for when it’s available for rental, but it’s probably been the most difficult movie I’ve had to track; it’s not an any VOD release calendar I can find. Regardless, it’s appears available for digital rental.
“The Assistant” is director Kitty Green’s debut. It follows an assistant as she grows ever more aware of her boss’s sexual abuses. It was only released in a few hundred theaters, so hopefully it can find more footing on home release.
You can rent “The Assistant” for $5 from Redbox on Demand, or for $6 from Amazon, Google Play, or YouTube.
Valley Girl (Amazon)
directed by Rachel Lee Goldenberg
Musicals can be a good way to escape the quarantine doldrums. This is a remake of a 1983 movie that wasn’t a musical – that’s a remake formula I can get behind. The plot of the original is that a ‘cool girl’ from ‘the Valley’ falls for a hot ‘Hollywood punk’ who’s not. Her friends disapprove of him because he’s ‘grody’. I’m lifting these words from the synopsis. Wait, it gets better. The grody hunk was played by Nicolas Cage.
The original is regarded as a bit of a classic, and it was directed by Martha Coolidge, one of the few women directors of the 80s who found a way into the mainstream with films like “Real Genius”.
Remake director Rachel Lee Goldenberg has a strong resume herself, with directing credits on everything from “The Mindy Project” to “Angie Tribeca” and “Looking for Alaska”.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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