Do you like British TV? If you do, this week is basically the holiday of your choice in July. Three subscription services are debuting new British series in the States. Each of them has actually aired in the U.K. a few months previously, but there’s a deep rabbit hole of politics when it comes to U.S.-based services locking out many British shows from airing concurrently in the U.S.
Of course, the most important highlight of the week for many is Canadian. This would be the long, long-awaited return of supernatural punch-and-banter-em-up “Wynonna Earp” for its fourth season. I’d like to remind everyone that this is an incredibly important event in all our lives, and “Wynonna Earp” makes for a perfect momentary escape in between calling Congresspeople and creating new swear words at them. “Wynonna Earp” is showrun by Canadian producer Emily Andras.
Let’s get to the brand new shows:
NEW SHOWS BY WOMEN
In My Skin (Hulu series)
showrunner Kayleigh Llewellyn
directed by Lucy Forbes
“In My Skin” follows a teenager named Bethan who’s simply trying to hide her disastrous home life from her friends at school. It sounds like a simple idea, but what I’ve seen of it looks touching, funny, and the filmmaking has a terrific emotional command of its moments.
The show was originally ordered as a short film in 2018, written by Kayleigh Llewellyn and directed by Lucy Forbes. BBC Wales picked it up as a series, which debuted this year – again with Llewellyn writing and Forbes directing.
It’s Llewellyn’s first series as the lead writer. Forbes has been a British mainstay in recent years, directing all of “Bad Cramps” and a number of episodes for “The End of the F***ing World”.
The trailer’s brief, but you can try this scene for a better idea of the show’s feel.
You can watch “In My Skin” with a Hulu subscription.
Frayed (HBO Max series)
showrunners Nicole O’Donohue, Sarah Kendall
In the late 80s, a very rich London woman loses both her husband and their wealth. Her only solution is to head back to Australia to live with family. There are a few big problems: she hasn’t been there in 20 years, she’s lied to her children about her past, and she’s lied to her family about her present.
O’Donohue is a film producer who shifted into doing more TV in 2017. Jennifer Leacey directs the final 2 of the series’ 6 episodes. Most deeply involved is creator, writer, and star Sarah Kendall. Kendall is a Welsh comedian who’s appeared in Britain routinely in stand-up, sketch comedy, and satirical performances.
You can watch “Frayed” with an HBO Max subscription.
Get Even (Netflix series)
showrunner Holly Phillips
Four girls at a British private school form a group to expose bullies. When one bully they’ve exposed winds up murdered, is it a coincidence or are they being framed? The show is based on a series of books called “Don’t Get Mad” by Gretchen McNeil.
Showrunner Holly Phillips is known for a number of British teen drama series including “Nearly Famous”, “Dead Gorgeous”, and “The Athena”.
I included the much, much better British trailer that doesn’t try to make the show look exactly like every other teen series on Netflix (I get that they have a formula, but sometimes they mangle things in a bit too hard to appear to fit it).
You can watch “Get Even” with a Netflix subscription.
NEW MOVIES BY WOMEN
Black is King (Disney+)
co-directed by Beyonce, Jenn Nkiru
“Black is King” is a visual album in the form of a full-length movie. It’s based on the music in Beyonce’s “The Lion King: The Gift”, the soundtrack album for “The Lion King” remake. That album includes performances by 070 Shake, Childish Gambino, Kendrick Lamar, Jay-Z, Pharrell Williams, and Tierra Whack, among many others – I assume many of those performances will make it into “Black is King”.
Beyonce is arguably the best known musical artist in the world. The nature of the project means eight directors are on board. She’s obviously the over-arching voice making decisions here as the producer, writer, director, star, composer, and the only person in the room at any given time who is Beyonce.
Jenn Nkiru is one of the other directors. She’s a Nigerian-British music video director who’s helmed vids for Kamasi Washington and Neneh Cherry.
You can watch “Black is King” with a Disney+ subscription.
Shakuntala Devi (Amazon)
directed by Anu Menon
Shakuntala Devi was someone who could calculate just about anything in her head. She became known as a human computer, and demonstrated her ability for crowds. She later became a writer in India. This included what’s considered the first study of homosexuality in India, one that argued for its decriminalization. She passed away in 2013. The film is an energetic biographical take on her life.
Writer-director Anu Menon has come to prominence more recently in the Indian film industry.
You can watch “Shakuntala Devi” with an Amazon Prime subscription.
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. She’s previously directed documentaries – “March Point” featured troubled Swinomish youth who were learning about filmmaking, and appeared on Independent Lens in 2008. “Rush” followed soldiers using high-adrenaline activities to readjust to life as civilians.
I featured “Bull” once before when it became available for rental, but I wanted to make sure and feature it again now that it’s on a subscription service.
directed by Jessica Swale
Gemma Arterton’s made a name for herself in a few franchises, but it’s always been the under-the-radar work where she’s shown an incredibly complex range. “Summerland” tackles the story of a novelist during World War 2. She unexpectedly has to take in an evacuee from London. His father’s at war, and London became untenable for children during the London Blitz bombing campaign. Many families were asked to take children in and care for them during this time. Arterton’s Alice hides a secret, that she couldn’t be with her romantic partner – another woman.
This is writer-director Jessica Swale’s feature debut.
You can rent “Summerland” for $4 from Amazon, or $7 from Vudu. For whatever reason, some services that are supposed to have it (like Google Play) are dragging their heels on it going live, so if you have a preferred one, search it there first.
NEW DOCUMENTARIES BY WOMEN
The Speed Cubers (Netflix documentary)
directed by Sue Kim
There’s a worldwide following for competitive Rubik’s Cube solving. The main focus is on breaking speed records. Two of the leading competitors are Max Park and Feliks Zemdegs. “The Speed Cubers” follows their journey to competition, as well as the friendships younger competitors like them have found with each other.
This documentary short (about 40 mins.) is directed by Sue Kim. It’s her first listed major project.
You can watch “The Speed Cubers” with a Netflix subscription.
Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind (virtual theatrical)
directed by Martha Kehoe, Joan Tosoni
Gordon Lightfoot is a Canadian folk singer who was a leading musical artist in the 1960s and 70s. You’d probably recognize a number of his songs within a few bars. “If You Could Read My Mind” tracks his career and asks Lightfoot to look back on his life.
Director Martha Kehoe started as a producer of Canada’s Juno awards (think their version of our Grammy Awards) and has since produced and directed a range of documentaries on figures in music and comedy. Joan Tosoni has primarily directed on awards shows and reality TV competitions (such as “Canadian Idol” and “Canada’s Got Talent”.)
“Gordon Lightfoot: If You Could Read My Mind” is seeing a virtual theatrical release. This means that you can watch it online just like you would on a streaming service, but you do so by selecting a real theater that receives your ticket purchase. This splits the cost of the ticket between theater and distributor just like if you’d purchased a physical ticket. It’s a way of supporting independent theaters during the COVID-19 pandemic, while still being able to physically isolate in the comfort of home. You can select a theater and watch the film right here.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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