Kara Hayward in "To the Stars" directed by Martha Stephens

New Movies + Shows by Women — July 3, 2020

It’s a feel-good week in releases and I’m completely at peace with that. It seems like we need some. Most of this week’s entries still seek to change or prove something important, so they aren’t forgetting about the world around us either.

I’m going to try something that I did a few weeks ago when there was a lot to cover, and split documentaries off into their own article for Monday. There are a few ways that can help focus more on each article and make sure this one is out earlier on Fridays.

Right. Feel-good shows and movies:

The Baby-Sitters Club (Netflix series)
showrunner Rachel Shukert
directed by Lucia Aniello

I don’t know a whole lot about “The Baby-Sitters Club” beyond its premise, but as one character says in the trailer, “It’s iconic”. I know when I was growing up, it provided YA that was empowering to young women and that told them they could be successful by being themselves in a number of different ways, not just by conforming but by finding what they were good at or enjoyed. This is no less a crucial message for kids today than it was in past decades.

Showrunner Rachel Shukert basically worked her way up the ranks on “GLOW”, from executive story editor in 2017 to co-producer in 2018 and finally supervising producer in 2019. That’s impressive, and it means Netflix has a lot of experience working with and trusting her work.

Director Lucia Aniello looks to be directing at least 8 of the 10 episodes (information is incomplete). Aniello might not be the most immediate director you’d think of on a YA show. She’s directed and produced shows like “Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens” and “Broad City”. She directed 16 of the 50 episodes on “Broad City”, 10 more than any other director.

What I do understand is that “The Baby-Sitters Club” has always been more subversive and challenging than a story about babysitters forming a club would sound. In that way, Shukert coming from “GLOW” and Aniello coming from “Broad City” and “Awkwafina…” seem like exceptionally smart choices.

I’ll add the majority of the show’s writers are women (7 of the 9 credited on teleplays), and that’s still very rare for a series.

You can watch “The Baby-Sitters Club” with a Netflix subscription.

To the Stars (Hulu, VOD)
directed by Martha Stephens

A new girl moves to town and makes friends with the recluse outcast of the school. It’s not exactly a new approach for an LGBTQ coming-of-age story, and the trailer absolutely plays it safe, but there’s something in “To the Stars” that feels evocative and intriguing. I can’t quite put my finger on it.

It helps that director Martha Stephens has a talent for telling stories about people who feel out of place or time, who seek landscapes and relationships of escape just to breathe a little easier and regain some kind of hope. Maybe that’s the kind of thing that appeals right now because of the circumstances we fight. Stephens’s previous films all share an unassuming, patient, and deeply human perspective: “Passenger Pigeons”, “Pilgrim Song”, and “Land Ho!”

The script is the first by Shannon Bradley-Colleary.

You can watch “To the Stars” with a Hulu subscription, rent it for $4 from Vudu, or for $5 from Amazon, Fandango, or iTunes.

Ride Like a Girl (Netflix, VOD)
directed by Rachel Griffiths

“Ride Like a Girl” is based on the life of Michelle Payne, who (SPOILERS INCOMING) was the first woman jockey to win the Melbourne Cup. She’d come back from a serious injury a decade earlier, one in which she’d fractured her skull and bruised her brain.

This is the first feature for Australian director Rachel Griffiths. She’s well known in Australia for her acting career, and is probably most recognizable to American audiences for playing Brenda Chenowith on “Six Feet Under”.

You can watch “Ride Like a Girl” with a Netflix subscription, or rent it for $3 from Fandango, Google Play, Microsoft, or Vudu, or for $4 from Amazon or iTunes.

Desperados (Netflix)
directed by LP

The thought of taking a YouTube comment and using it to describe my reaction to a trailer is unthinkable. It is an unthinkable thought, so I’ve decided to do it without thinking: “This is the dumbest plot I’ve ever seen. Can’t wait to watch.” Thank you Lilly Rose. Yes.

Look, if Adam Sandler and David Spade can get blank check after blank check for sleepwalking their way through roles that desperately try to remind me of when they were kinda funny 25 years ago, then Nasim Pedrad ought to get the same chance to prove she’s incredibly funny now. I’m fine with that.

LP has directed a range of TV series and web shorts, including a lot of work for Funny or Die.

“Desperados” is written by Ellen Rapoport, who wrote for “The Jamie Kennedy Experiment” and co-created “The Starlet” in the 2000s before apparently leaving the industry for more than a decade. “Desperados” is her first feature, and HBO has ordered a new series from her called “Minx”, about the first erotic magazine for women.

You can watch “Desperados” with a Netflix subscription.

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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