Benedict Cumberbatch and Jesse Plemons on horseback in Jane Campion's "The Power of the Dog".

New Shows + Movies by Women — December 3, 2021

This feature had the week off last week for the long weekend, so we’ll be collecting new series and movies by women that have premiered over the last two weeks. I want to use the intro to talk about something else first. The future of Roe v. Wade, the right to choose, and women’s medical freedom and privacy stands before the Supreme Court right now. The conservative-packed court heard arguments in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization on Tuesday.

It looks like one of two outcomes will happen. Either would gut women’s right to choose in the U.S. The first would be a narrow interpretation of the case. This would follow the conservative strategy of the last several decades, which is to gradually erode the right to choose. It would essentially keep decisions like Roe and Casey, but strip them of any real meaning. It would reduce the window for someone to get an abortion to just 15 weeks – less than four months – when many don’t know they’re pregnant for the first few weeks or months. Furthermore, many states with Republican state legislatures have planned for this possibility, and have laws that would trigger to institute bans all the way down to six weeks.

The broader interpretation of the case would involve the striking down of Roe and Casey altogether. There are six conservatives and three liberals on the Supreme Court. Every liberal has expressly supported Roe v. Wade, but that leaves them still needing two other justices to maintain Roe v. Wade. Even with Chief Justice John Roberts seeming to favor the (already harmful) narrow interpretation, that leaves the swing vote against the complete dissolution of Roe v. Wade in the hands of Brett Kavanaugh or Amy Coney Barrett, who were put on the court by Donald Trump with the primary purpose of striking down Roe v. Wade.

Realize that even the narrow interpretation that Roberts favors would not be any kind of success – it would simply be following the ongoing Republican strategy of eliminating the right to choose step by step rather than in one fell swoop. The debate happening among Republican justices isn’t whether Roe v. Wade stands as a practical matter, it’s about whether they hollow it out and leave the name standing as a shell, or simply erase its presence altogether.

I’ll list a few resources, but let me say this first: if you’re a man, this is the time to fucking show up. It can’t be women voicing their support for Roe v. Wade alone, while men just go about our business as if nothing is of concern. We need to show up, period. We need to be raising our voices in support of women, normalizing the right to both choice and privacy, and we need to ensure we do this in the spaces we share with other men. We need to be calling our state legislature members, our governors, our attorney generals, to ensure that choice is enshrined and fortified as much as possible in our states.

The Center for Reproductive Rights has an up-to-date, easily searchable map that clarifies which states would maintain different levels of access to abortion if Roe were dissolved. Familiarize yourself with it. NARAL has a great deal of information if you’re looking to learn more.

If you’d like help exploring the options you have in a state that restricts abortion, Planned Parenthood has a hotline you can call (1-800-230-PLAN) to schedule a telehealth or in-person appointment where you can ask questions and learn more. They have a map of clinics that can help you learn about your options and provide abortion services. They have a textline (774636 or PPINFO) where you can ask any question you want about women’s reproductive health, including learning about birth control, contraception, STDs, and abortion.

If you want to help someone in a state that restricts or is about to restrict abortion, there are funds set up through Planned Parenthood that can help those who need assistance travel and access abortion safely and legally. If you can help, these are good, proven funds that go directly to helping maintain access to reproductive choice.

This scratches the surface, but if you’re reading this and you’re in any position to even just make a phone call to express your support for legislation that protects the right to choose, do it. Do something.

To other men: we have been historically shit at showing up for these things. We are so culturally trained to treat anything women are mad about as an overreaction that as a group, our numbers are overwhelmingly willing to stand by and do nothing as half the population have their basic human rights dissolved. That is the weakest, most pathetically cowardly shit I can think of. If you’re a man, show up. Listen to women leaders, and then speak up to other men who want to act as if this isn’t their priority. Get other men to do work with you, to call, to march, to donate, whatever it might be, just start doing it. Teach yourself that what women are angry about is legitimate and deserves allyship, and that allyship involves actual work in service of those you’re allied to. Don’t just say you support the right to choose; do something about it. Get other men to learn about and to do something about supporting the right to choose. Act like their fight is our fight, for goddamn once.

I have no segue to start talking about the rest of this. It’s obviously important to support the art of women, and a big part of listening to and learning from women is watching and talking about their art. So let’s shift in as best we can:

NEW SERIES

True Story (Netflix)
mostly directed by Hanelle M. Culpepper

Kevin Hart stars as the comic Kid, who stops in Philadelphia mid-tour. A reunion with his brother, Wesley Snipes’s Carlton, leads to a situation that quickly spirals out of control. The series offers a rare dramatic turn for Hart.

While Charles Murray showruns, Hannelle M. Culpepper directs the last four of the series’ seven episodes. She’s also directed on Star Treks “Discovery” and “Picard”, as well as “Grimm” and “Criminal Minds”.

You can watch “True Story” on Netflix.

Hawkeye (Disney+)
half-directed by Bert & Bertie

Jeremy Renner returns as Marvel’s Hawkeye, opposite an aspiring superhero in Hailee Steinfeld’s Bishop. The series takes place during the holiday season.

Bert & Bertie are Amber Templemore-Finlayson and Katie Ellwood, a British directing duo. They’ve directed “Troop Zero”, as well as episodes of “The Great” and Jim Carrey’s “Kidding”.

You can watch “Hawkeye” on Disney+. The first three of six episodes have released, with a new one every Wednesday.

Harlem (Amazon)
showrunners Tracy Oliver, Britt Matt

Four women who’ve just graduated college try to follow their dreams in Harlem.

The show was created by Tracy Oliver and I’m mostly sure (sometimes these things are hard to decipher) that it’s showrun by Oliver or writer Britt Matt. Oliver wrote “The Sun is Also a Star” and directed on “First Wives Club”. Britt Matt has been a writer on “Marlon”, “A.P. Bio”, and “First Wives Club”.

You can watch “Harlem” on Amazon Prime.

Santa Inc (HBO Max)
showrunner Alexandra Rushfield

Sarah Silverman lends her voice talents as an elf who dreams of becoming the next in a long line of Santa Clauses. This is a decidedly NSFW stop-motion animated comedy.

Alexandra Rushfield has produced on “Parks and Recreation” and “Love”.

You can watch “Santa Inc” on HBO Max.

NEW MOVIES

The Power of the Dog (Netflix)
directed by Jane Campion

Benedict Cumberbatch plays a rancher who others fear. He’s abusive to everyone around him, and this is perceived as charisma. His brother, his brother’s wife, and a new ranch hand are all abused by him. What drives this, and is there anything that can change it? Kirsten Dunst, Jesse Plemons, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also star.

Jane Campion is best known as the Oscar-winning writer and Oscar-nominated director for “The Piano”. She’s also written and directed “Bright Star” and series “Top of the Lake”.

You can watch “The Power of the Dog” on Netflix.

Silent Night (AMC+)
directed by Camille Griffin

Keira Knightley, Annabelle Wallis, Matthew Goode, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste star in a doomsday comedy about one last Christmas party as the world ends.

This is writer-director Camille Griffin’s first feature film. She started out as a camera trainee and worked her way through camera and cinematography jobs.

You can watch “Silent Night” on AMC+.

Bruised (Netflix)
directed by Halle Berry

Halle Berry stars as an MMA fighter trying to make a return to the sport, while taking care of her son.

This is Berry’s directorial debut. Of course, she’s best known as an actress, and won an Oscar for her role in “Monster’s Ball”.

You can watch “Bruised” on Netflix.

CW: mention of suicide

My Fiona (Hoopla, VOD)
directed by Kelly Walker

Jane’s best friend Fiona commits suicide, so Jane helps Fiona’s widow Gemma care for their son. They’re drawn to each other, even as guilt and the right course for healing might disagree with the affair.

This is the first film from Australian writer-director Kelly Walker. She’s acted in Australian film and television for the last two decades.

You can watch “My Fiona” on Hoopla, or rent it.

The Trouble with Being Born (MUBI)
directed by Sandra Wollner

In this German film, an android is programmed to have memories meaningful to her owner. Yet they mean nothing to her. How is she to make sense of a life she doesn’t identify with in this take on the ghost in the machine?

Sandra Wollner directs and co-writes. This is the Austrian director’s second film.

You can watch “The Trouble with Being Born” on MUBI.

Mixtape (Netflix)
directed by Valerie Weiss

In ye olden times of 1999, a girl mistakenly destroys a mixtape that belonged to her late mother. She decides to track down each of the obscure tracks that was on it, embracing the life they led and finding her own road into the riot grrrl movement.

Director Valerie Weiss has helmed episodes for “Outer Banks” and “Suits”.

You can watch “Mixtape” on Netflix.

White as Snow (Amazon)
directed by Anne Fontaine

In this retelling of “Snow White”, Claire works at her late father’s hotel and sparks the jealousy of her stepmother Maud. Even as she escapes to a farm, Maud attempts to remove her from the picture. The film pairs a rising star with a legend of French cinema in Lou de Laage’s Claire and Isabelle Huppert’s Maud.

Co-writer and director Anne Fontaine has written and helmed a number of French and English critical hits, including “Coco Before Chanel”, “The Innocents”, and “Gemma Bovery”.

You can watch “White as Snow” on Amazon.

The Second (VOD)
directed by Mairi Cameron

An author reveals the secret story of betrayal that laid the foundation for her first novel.

This is the first feature film for director Mairi Cameron.

See where to rent “The Second”.

A Castle for Christmas (Netflix)
directed by Mary Lambert

Brooke Shields stars as a bestselling author who leaves the U.S. to escape a scandal. In Scotland, she discovers a castle she loves, but quickly sours on the duke who owns it. The duke is played by Cary Elwes.

The Netflix Christmas movie is directed by Mary Lambert. One of the pre-eminent music video directors of the 80s, she helmed some of the most recognizable work by Madonna, Janet Jackson, and the Eurythmics.

You can watch “A Castle for Christmas” on Netflix.

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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