Tag Archives: Babyteeth

New Shows + Movies by Women — September 18, 2020

After “Mulan” and “Cuties” it’s nice to have a week that’s relatively controversy-free. I know I’m particularly excited for some of the movies listed here. One thing I’ve noticed is that Netflix’s international focus has done a better job on acquiring and producing films by women from outside the U.S. than other streaming services. I say a “better job” rather than a “good job” because it’s hard to assess when all you have to compare it to are streaming services that barely do it.

Nearly every week, Netflix has entries from South Asia – this week one from India and one from Thailand. “Bulbbul”, “Cargo”, and “Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars” are all Indian Hindi-language films directed by women that have interested me recently.

Netflix also does a better job than other major streaming services of acquiring African films – particularly Nigerian and South African from what I’ve seen. They also have an extremely solid range of Korean and Japanese live-action TV and movies, though they won’t compare to services like Crunchyroll when it comes to animation. (European fare seems doled out more equally with Amazon and Hulu.)

As we watch our country mismanage the pandemic in the U.S., and shelter as in-place as we can for the sixth month in a row, it’s particularly tempting to fall back on watching what’s predictable. Yet if you feel your perspective is uncomfortably limited by this lifestyle, art is one of the primary ways in our lives that we throw our perspectives wide open again. It’s not a fix-all to a larger situation that is costing lives, but in terms of mental health it is something I’d argue we need to better cope and connect with a world that’s been more closed off to us than ever before.

Please don’t limit your viewing to English-language series and movies I feature here. When something else looks interesting to you and it’s accessible, go watch it.

NEW SERIES

The Third Day (HBO)
half-directed by Philippa Lowthorpe

If TV has taught me anything, it’s that I should never go to an island. Only strange and inexplicable things will happen there, and the local populace will probably murder me, or draft me into a cult, or make me commune with smoke monsters. In “The Third Day”, Jude Law and Naomie Harris don’t know any better. They go not just to an island, but to a mysterious one – Law’s Sam has just suffered a loss and Harris’s Helen arrives with her family while seeking information. Each character takes up half of the show – Law stars in the first three episodes, and Harris in the last three. Their arcs are separate but intersecting.

Philippa Lowthorpe directs the last half of the limited series, the three episodes with Harris. She’s won BAFTA’s directing award for television twice: first for “Call the Midwife” in 2013 and then for “Three Girls” in 2018. She’s also directed episodes on “The Crown”. You may also know her for helming “The Other Boleyn Girl”.

You can watch “The Third Day” on HBO Max with a subscription.

NEW MOVIES

Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars (Netflix)
directed by Alankrita Shrivastava

Dolly is a wife and mother who is trying to hide a secret. Her cousin Kajal has just moved to the city. Kajal ends up working at a phone sex parlor under the name Kitty. The two alternately grow close and clash in their off-hours, winding a tricky path of trust and wariness of the other’s place in their lives.

Writer-director Alankrita Shrivastava has hit the ground running in recent years. Her “Lipstick Under My Burkha” won award after award on a major festival circuit, and she wrote nine episodes and directed two for Amazon original series “Made in Heaven”.

I want to note one of the actors in here, for some choices he’s making. Vikrant Massey is becoming a major Indian star, and he’s doing it working almost entirely with women directors. Last week, I featured Hindi sci-fi film “Cargo”, where he played the lead. Seven of his last eight movies have been directed by women. He’s spoken before on the strength of women directors being able to tell stories from different perspectives than we’re used to seeing on film.

Obviously, women don’t need a man to legitimize their career choices, but an up-and-coming star in India choosing to work almost entirely on films with women directors because they’re telling stories from fresher angles is important. So is his interviewing in publications both major and regional in order to describe the strengths of women in leadership positions.

The women stars and director here may have made similar choices, or may be barred by studios from making such choices. I realize I’ve written more on him than them in a feature that’s meant to highlight the work of women. The point I want to make is that it can’t just be on women to legitimize women in leadership. Men need to choose it and talk about it just as normally as we would about men in leadership. Until we seek it and normalize it, we’re not really following through on our thoughts with meaningful actions as allies.

You can watch “Dolly Kitty and Those Twinkling Stars” on Netflix with a subscription.

Babyteeth (Hulu)
directed by Shannon Murphy

“Babyteeth” is an Australian film about a chronically ill teenager who befriends a drug dealer. Her family has to make adjustments in confronting and tolerating aspects of the friendship.

Director Shannon Murphy has helmed episodes for multiple series, including “Killing Eve” and “Rake”. “Babyteeth” is based on a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais, adapted from her own stage play. The film serves as the feature debut for both.

I previously featured this on June 19 when it came available for VOD rental, but this is the first time it’s come to a subscription service

You can watch “Babyteeth” on Hulu with a subscription, or see where to rent it via streaming right here.

The Grizzlies (VOD)
directed by Miranda de Pencier

A teacher moves to Nunavut, in the north of Canada. As with many indigenous communities that have been sidelined and under-resourced by a government that took their lands, their rural community is struggling. There’s a youth suicide problem. The teacher decides to start a lacrosse team to give the students there something new to work toward.

“The Grizzlies” is based on a true story, but of course takes dramatic liberties. There’s been controversy over the film as to whether it subscribes to or fights against a white savior narrative. Director Miranda de Pencier worked with indigenous producers to avoid such problems in the story and presentation, but it’s possible to avoid some pitfalls and still succumb to others. Criticism seems to both commend the film on some fronts while still pointing out issues on others.

You can see where to rent “The Grizzlies” via streaming right here.

The Etruscan Smile (Starz)
co-directed by Mihal Brezis

“The Etruscan Smile” follows Brian Cox’s Rory in one last trip before he dies. Rory travels to San Francisco for medical treatment and reconnecting with his family. The film also stars Rosanna Arquette and Thora Birch.

Mihal Brezis directs with Oded Binnun. “The Etruscan Smile” is her feature debut.

Technically, “The Etruscan Smile” had a limited release last November in all of four theaters. This is the first time it’s widely accessible through a subscription service.

You can watch “The Etruscan Smile” on Starz with a subscription. (You may already have such a subscription through Hulu or a cable provider.) You can also see where to rent it via streaming right here.

NEW DOCUMENTARIES

All In: The Fight for Democracy (Amazon)
directed by Lisa Cortes, Liz Garbus

“All In: The Fight for Democracy” examines forms of voter suppression and the various fights that are being waged to protect the right to vote.

Director Liz Garbus is a legend who’s specialized in documentaries about justice system abuses, racial inequity, and human rights violations. She is perhaps the most important documentary filmmaker of her generation. Both “The Farm: Angola, USA” and “What Happened, Miss Simone?” were nominated for directing Oscars, and she earned a third nomination for producing “Killing in the Name”.

She also directed “The Execution of Wanda Jean”, “The Nazi Officer’s Wife”, “Bobby Fischer Against the World”, and the list goes on and on. She produced yet more crucial documentaries of the past two decades: “Street Fight”, “Ghosts of Abu Ghraib”, “The Fence”. Garbus should be in the conversation when we talk about the greatest filmmakers.

Director Lisa Cortes has taken the reverse course of many filmmakers, starting out as a producer in narrative film and later shifting over to documentaries. She’s recently started directing as well as producing.

I dislike review aggregating sites, but nonetheless, it’s always worth noting when a film has a perfect 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes like “All In: The Fight for Democracy” does.

You can watch “All In: The Fight for Democracy” on Amazon with a subscription.

Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice (Netflix)
directed by Pailin Wedel

The daughter of a scientist in Thailand was suffering from an incurable brain cancer. His family made the decision to cryogenically freeze her upon her death. To them, their daughter is frozen between death and a potential future life. The technology doesn’t exist to revive and cure her today, but perhaps it will in the future.

Their choice is controversial in their own community, as is the judgment of whether it subscribes more to faith than science.

This is the first documentary from director Pailin Wedel.

You can watch “Hope Frozen: A Quest to Live Twice” on Netflix with a subscription.

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

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.

New Movies + Shows by Women — June 19, 2020

There’s so much this week that I’m going to split out documentaries and feature them on Monday. Before we get into it, I also want to mention “Scare Package” on Shudder. It’s a horror comedy anthology movie with segments directed by Emily Hagins and co-directed by Hillary Andujar.

On to the reason you’re here:

Love, Victor (Hulu series)
co-showrunner Elizabeth Berger

When I was growing up, the only Latinx role model I had in a coming-of-age series was Mario Lopez in “Saved by the Bell”. As A.C. Slater, he was second fiddle to Zack Morris, a character who read as white (though he was played by an actor who’s a quarter Indonesian). Slater would either give in to Zack’s plots, or would lose out in competition with him. In other words, the only Latinx role model I had on TV essentially played the Daffy Duck to Zack Morris’s Bugs Bunny – always a step behind, not as cool, only successful when his more privileged friend allowed him to be. It was good to have the representation, but there was a lot lacking in the way it was conveyed.

There’s so much more now than there once was – “One Day at a Time”, “Ugly Betty”, “Jane the Virgin”, “East Los High”, just to name a few. And now there’s “Love, Victor”. It takes place in the same world as the movie “Love, Simon”. Where that film poses a (relatively) smooth version of coming out, “Love, Victor” throws more obstacles in the path of its protagonist. Victor is in a new city, figuring out his sexual orientation while at the same time wondering how to discuss it with his family.

There’s something of a split in attitudes toward LGBTQ people between older and younger generations of Latinxs in the United States. There’s more acceptance in younger generations, and it’s much more of a norm. Older generations often have difficulty in large part because of how ingrained Catholicism is in Latin-American cultures.

Another factor is that immigrant communities try to assimilate to U.S. norms in order to fit in and decrease bigotry aimed at themselves. One of the easiest ways to assimilate into U.S. culture is to adopt the bigotries U.S. culture aims at other marginalized groups. This isn’t a bug; it’s a feature of U.S. culture that keeps marginalized groups tearing each other down in an attempt to keep themselves safe. Younger generations have the benefit of more modern norms, and clearer eyes on how systemic this is. Obviously, this can create a lot of clashes between older and younger generations, especially when it turns out one of their kids is also part of another group their own generation has been taught to marginalize.

Elizabeth Berger is showrunning with Isaac Aptaker. The pair are coming off a run as showrunners of “This is Us”, so they know how to put together a ranging, multi-generational story with a large cast.

You can watch “Love, Victor” with a Hulu subscription.

Miss Juneteenth (digital rental)
directed by Channing Godfrey Peoples

“Miss Juneteenth” is a pageant that offers a chance at a full scholarship to college. A former winner is determined to get her daughter to win it, and sees it as an opportunity to provide a better life than she’s had.

I want to highlight the lead here. Nicole Beharie is a superb actress, probably best known for dragging “Sleepy Hollow” along for its first three seasons as Fox dreadfully mismanaged and obsessively re-cast an initial success into complete non-function. Few actors could have anchored that mess through so much as well as she did.

This is the first feature by writer-director Channing Godfrey Peoples. She’s written episodes on Ava DuVernay’s “Queen Sugar” and has a few shorts to her name, but otherwise she’s a new voice.

You can rent “Miss Juneteenth” for $7 on Amazon, Fandango, iTunes, Redbox, or Vudu.

Mr. Jones (digital rental)
directed by Agnieszka Holland

“Mr. Jones” is a biographical film that follows Welsh journalist Gareth Jones. He’s the journalist who began to reveal the Holodomor in the 1930s, wherein the Soviet Union starved Ukraine by seizing its food and wealth for itself. Entire harvests were stolen away, leaving ethnic Ukrainians to starve.

Estimates of the true cost in human life vary anywhere from 3.3 to 12 million. The U.N. has estimated it between 7 and 10 million. Either range puts it on a scale approaching that of the Holocaust under Nazi Germany. Somehow, debate remains as to whether this was a genocide, though I don’t know what else you call the forcible starvation of an entire people.

The Soviet Union would respond to the mass loss of life by encouraging Soviet peasants to take over the farms and land of the starved. That contributes directly to the Ukraine-Russia situation today, where Russia has annexed Ukrainian land such as Crimea and established a military presence in eastern Ukraine – the areas with a higher portion of Russian populations.

Director Agnieszka Holland is one of the most legendary filmmakers working today. Her “Angry Harvest” (for West Germany) and “In Darkness” (for Poland) were both nominated for Academy Awards as Best Foreign Language Film, and she was nominated for another in 1992 for her adapted screenplay to “Europa Europa”.

My generation (Millennials) are likely most familiar with her 1993 adaptation of “The Secret Garden”. She’s also directed on series like “The Wire”, “Treme”, and “House of Cards”. She’s one of the best filmmakers that most U.S. moviegoers have never heard of. That should change, and a film about the importance of a free press in the face of authoritarianism is a good way to make that change.

Disclosure: Writer Andrea Chalupa is a friend. This is her first feature.

You can currently buy “Mr. Jones” for $13 on Amazon or Redbox, or $15 on Fandango, with rental becoming available on July 3.

Babyteeth (digital rental)
directed by Shannon Murphy

“Babyteeth” is an Australian film about a chronically ill teenager who befriends a drug dealer. Her family has to make adjustments in confronting and tolerating aspects of the friendship.

Director Shannon Murphy has helmed episodes for multiple series, including “Rake” and “Killing Eve”. “Babyteeth” is based on a screenplay by Rita Kalnejais, adapted from her own stage play. The film serves as the feature debut for both.

You can rent “Babyteeth” for $7 from Google Play or Microsoft.

The Short History of the Long Road (digital rental)
directed by Ani Simon-Kennedy

A young woman whose father raises her in a nomadic lifestyle has to fend for herself. She’s only ever known driving through the U.S. in an RV and doing odd jobs. She has to decide what it is she wants for herself. Lead Sabrina Carpenter has gotten a good amount of praise for this role.

Director Ani Simon-Kennedy is a fairly new voice. Her only previous feature is an Icelandic film called “Days of Gray”.

You can rent “The Short History of the Long Road” for $4 from Google Play or Vudu, $5 from Amazon, iTunes, or Microsoft, or $6 from DirectTV or Optimum. (And bravo to the film’s website for actually having a centralized resource to find this.)

Buffaloed (Hulu)
directed by Tanya Wexler

Ah, debt collectors. As Millennials go through the second or third (depending on age) major recession of our thus far still pretty damn brief adulthoods, the debt collection industry has boomed. Speaking of, Boomers had mob movies and family comedies, though come to think of it, both were actually about the value of tight-knit family units. Millennials have movies about the people our generation speaks to most outside of our own families – debt collectors and scammers!

Enter “Buffaloed”, where Peg Dahl just wants to escape Buffalo and will try to pull off any scam or con to do it. She ends up becoming successful as a debt collector and tries to start her own business in contention with the city’s more established debt collector.

Director Tanya Wexler has been pretty quiet since 2011’s “Hysteria”, a period romance about the invention of the vibrator. “Buffaloed” is her first feature since, though she has another (“Jolt”) due out soon.

You can watch “Buffaloed” with a Hulu subscription. You can also rent it for $4 from Google Play or Vudu or $5 from Fandango, iTunes, or Microsoft,

Vampire Dad (digital rental)
directed by Frankie Ingrassia

Look, I’m not going to lie. This had me at the title. “Vampire Dad” is a spoof on 1960s counter-culture films where the central issue at hand – brace yourself – is that a wholesome dad also turns out to be a vampire. You see, he’s a psychologist, and creatures of the night needed someone who could help them with therapy.

I’ve been watching a lot of “What We Do in the Shadows”, so this all seems pretty natural.

Director Frankie Ingrassia might be more recognizable as an actress on shows like “Goliath”. “Vampire Dad” is her feature directorial debut.

You can rent “Vampire Dad” for $4 from Google Play, $5 from iTunes, or $6 from Amazon.

Feel the Beat (Netflix)
directed by Elissa Down

“Mighty Ducks” but with dance sounds better than most other similarly inspired films. As a fan of even (especially) the cheesiest entries in the “Step Up” franchise, I’m for it.

Elissa Down is an Australian filmmaker who’s carving a career in young adult films.

You can watch “Feel the Beat” with a Netflix subscription.

The Dustwalker (Hulu)
directed by Sandra Sciberras

Speaking of Australia, “The Dustwalker” crosses alien invasion with fast zombie movies. I’ve read about Australia, so I almost put this in the documentary section for Monday, but nope – it’s fiction.

Writer-director Sandra Sciberras has directed on a range of films, and more often works as a producer.

You can watch “The Dustwalker” with a Hulu subscription, or rent it for $4 from Google Play or Vudu, or $5 from Amazon, Fandango, iTunes, or Microsoft.

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.