Jared Padalecki in Walker Texas Ranger

New Shows + Movies by Women — January 22, 2021

The first series I’m sharing today is an Israeli production. That invites a larger discussion about Israel and the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Make no mistake – Israel has operated concentration camps that target people from the West Bank and Gaza. According to Human Rights Watch, at one point Ktzi’ot Prison alone held one out of every 50 men older than 16 from these regions.

Does that mean I shouldn’t feature an Israeli show or movie? I honestly don’t know the answer to that. To be very specific, if I didn’t feature productions from countries that operated concentration camps, I wouldn’t be sharing anything from the U.S. either. Under Trump, the already misguided imprisonment of Latine and Black immigrants grew to include the systematic seizure and forced adoption of children, the systematic forced sterilization of women, and the repeated daily use of toxic chemicals sprayed on those imprisoned. Each alone would qualify the U.S. operation of these camps as a genocide under internationally agreed-upon U.N. rules.

That’s not meant as an equivocation or a re-direction. The simple fact is that artists from a country do not always agree with, support, or represent the views and actions of that country. Often, they’re part of the movement against a country’s actions, and their art can support the fight to change them.

Other times, they don’t interact with that element much at all. That’s not a defense, but I’m not going to go after “The Assistant” or “Birds of Prey” or “I’m Your Woman” for not incorporating discussion of U.S. concentration camps when the subject matter of each doesn’t take that into its purview and is very specifically focused on other kinds of abuses.

I can’t tell you where this week’s “Losing Alice” or other Israeli productions might fall on this spectrum. It could be a show that confronts this issue, enables the problem, or that doesn’t intersect it.

The whole idea of this feature is that it shares what’s come out in the last week. The largest number of titles come out on Fridays, the same day this article is regularly published. I haven’t watched everything here, and much of what’s here I won’t have had time to watch. It’s an informational feature, and where there are criticisms regarding an abuse or failure of intersectionalism on the part of an artist or their art, I try to include those in the conversation as well.

All this is to say that I’ve thought about whether I should share Israeli productions, and I’ve chosen to continue doing so because the actions of a country are not necessarily synonymous with or representative of its artists or their art. If I become aware an artist or production is benefiting from or supporting a concentration camp or system of concentration camps either directly or indirectly, that’s a different judgment. I’ve disincluded one or two titles since I’ve been writing this, with a specific and cited reason each time so that I can be transparent about that choice.

While I am a man and I want to keep this weekly feature informational so that it’s less influenced by my own bias, the boundary for that does end when it encounters other kinds of bias. Those other kinds of bias also warrant discussion. I’ll continue sharing to the best of my ability when a feature incorporates hate, misogyny, ableism, homophobia, or transphobia, erases abuses, whitewashes (as one series this week does), or pushes similar factors.

NEW SERIES

Losing Alice (Apple TV)
directed by Sigal Avin

Alice feels like she’s lost her way as a film director. She encounters a young woman on a train, and increasingly becomes obsessed with her. The tale that follows is a Faustian bargain where Alice trades her moral fiber for relevance and success once more.

Lead Ayelet Zurer is an overlooked actress, who’s probably most recognizable to American audiences as Kingpin’s scheming partner Vanessa in “Daredevil”.

Writer-director Sigal Avin has performed both roles on a number of Israeli TV series.

You can watch “Losing Alice” on Apple TV with a subscription.

Daughter from Another Mother (Netflix)
showrunner Carolina Rivera

Two women from very different backgrounds discover their babies were switched at birth. They both want relationships with the child they never knew, without severing the one they’ve already built with the baby they’re raising. They decide the solution is to change their lives and combine their very different families.

Showrunner Carolina Rivera has written on “Jane the Virgin”, “Devious Maids”, and the new “Roswell, New Mexico” series, as well as Mexican telenovelas such as “El Torito” and “Amor Cautivo”.

You can watch “Daughter from Another Mother” on Netflix with a subscription.

Walker (The CW)
showrunner Anna Fricke

The reboot of “Walker, Texas Ranger” is trying to strike while the iron’s hot. The CW relied heavily on “Supernatural” for a decade-and-a-half. It concluded last November after 327 episodes. There’s still an intense fandom that surrounds its former leads, however. It’s smart of The CW to grab one of them for something new, and“Walker” is Jared Padalecki’s first post-“Supernatural” project. Like the original, it follows a Texas ranger through his adventures and cases.

Padalecki talked about this version of Walker avoiding toxic masculine tropes and not abusing people of color. The original was often racist, especially toward Latines, and original actor Chuck Norris has since voiced homophobia and backed Trumpian hatred and abuse.

Showrunner Anna Fricke has written and produced on “Wayward Pines” and “Being Human”.

You can watch “Walker” on The CW, with new episodes arriving weekly. The pilot episode is freely available on their website.

Fate: The Winx Saga (Netflix)
mostly directed by women

This is based on a YA animated series called “Winx Club”. The series follows magical beings as they attend a boarding school and learn to control their elemental powers.

There has been some controversy over the show already. An East Asian character was cast with a white actress, and a Latina character was written out and replaced with a white character played by a white actress.

Four of the six episodes are directed by women. Lisa James Larsson directs two. She’s previously directed on “Brittania” and “Victoria”.

Hannah Quinn also directs two. She’s directed on “Vikings: Valhalla”. A long-time assistant and second unit director, she’s filled those roles on films like “Children of Men” and “The Martian”.

You can watch “Fate: The Winx Saga” on Netflix with a subscription.

NEW MOVIES

Radium Girls (Netflix)
directed by Lydia Dean Pilcher, Ginny Mohler

In the 1920s and 30s, the United States Radium Corporation employed young women to paint watch dials with radium. They were instructed to point the brushes on their lips – this created a tip for such fine painting work. It also resulted in women ingesting large amounts of radium. The corporation told them that the paint and the radium within it were harmless. There’s only one problem:

Radium is radioactive. Why use it? It made the watch dials glow. As their employee’s skeletons disintegrated from bone cancer, U.S. Radium denied and hid growing proof that radium was harmful. When women died, the corporation paid off coroners to declare that the cause of death was syphilis, thereby smearing the reputations of some of the women who stood against them.

The Radium Girls had a desperate time getting anyone to listen, prying research from out of U.S. Radium’s hands, and even finding a lawyer who was willing to take on the corporation. Eventually, they took U.S. Radium to court.

The Radium Girls stand as one of the most important moments in the history of U.S. labor rights. They established the right of individual workers to sue corporations. After the 1938 case, watch and clock makers stopped using radium…by the 1970s.

Co-director Lydia Dean Pilcher is a longtime producer whose projects include “The Darjeeling Limited” and “Queen of Katwe”. This is her second film as director, and first non-documentary film.

Co-director Ginny Mohler joins her as director. This is her first film as director, and she also wrote the screenplay with Brittany Shaw.

Film composing can be a boys club where women don’t often get hired, so it’s also of note that Lillie Rebecca McDonough composed the music for “Radium Girls”.

I previously featured this when it came to VOD streaming, and this is the first time it’s available on a subscription service.

You can watch “Radium Girls” on Netflix with a subscription, or see where to rent it.

So My Grandma’s a Lesbian! (Netflix)
directed by Angeles Reine

A lawyer is marrying into an extremely conservative family. The wedding is threatened when her grandmother decided to marry another woman. The Spanish-language film is a Portuguese-Spanish co-production.

This is Angeles Reine’s first feature film. She’s previously directed on Spanish series “Doctor Mateo”.

You can watch “So My Grandma’s a Lesbian!” on Netflix with a subscription.

Friendsgiving (Netflix)
directed by Nicol Paone

Molly and Abbey host a Thanksgiving dinner that quickly goes off the rails. The cast is impressive, even if reviews have been less so – it’s led by Kat Dennings and Malin Akerman.

Writer-director Nicol Paone has chiefly acted, and is probably best known as one of the primary comedians on “The Big Gay Sketch Show” (where she co-starred with Kate McKinnon before her “SNL” break). This is Paone’s second feature as a writer and first as a director.

You can watch “Friendsgiving” on Netflix with a subscription, or see where to rent it.

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

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

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