Tag Archives: Come Away

New Shows + Movies by Women — October 29, 2021

This is a spectacular week for review brigading. The remake of “4400” is seeing its online scores tanked by fans of the original who are offended that the new one is centered on – gasp! – actors of color. Clutch those pearls, yo.

It’s also worth mentioning “Colin in Black & White”, based on the early life of Colin Kaepernick. While not included in this article (it’s executive produced by Ava DuVernay, but showrun by Michael Starrbury), it’s seen its scored on sites like IMDB tanked by racists. When I checked on October 28, it held a score of 2.5 out of 10. It’s worth noting that no episode premieres until today, October 29. No one had seen the show yet.

Multiple industry sites have reported that Marvel’s “Eternals”, directed by Chloe Zhao, has been bombarded with 1.0 reviews on IMDB. The site had to remove the film’s reviews for the time being. Of course, that movie doesn’t even come out for a week, on Nov. 5. What spurred the review brigading? There’s a gay character in the film, which also features a gay kiss.

Aggregated reviews and averaged review scores have gone past the point of being useful. They’re too easily manipulated or brigaded. I’ve written before that this even happens with critical aggregates. The poster child for this is “Black Christmas” (which just returned to HBO Max).

Among Metacritic’s aggregation of published critics, Sophia Takal’s feminist 2019 horror remake saw seven out of eight women score it positively, and nine out of 16 men score it negatively. Women scored the film an average of 63, men an average of 44. Yet the critical industry still employs far more men than women, which means there’s more of a weighting for that downward shift.

The point is that it’s still much more productive to find a reviewer you like to read, and who prioritizes what you find important. Find a few of them. They can be a critic, a viewer, whoever it might be. Hopefully I’m one of them, but even if not, please take to heart the idea that aggregates and averages contain a multitude of problems.

Women and people of color are still under-represented in criticism, which means men and white critics will shift scores toward their perspectives, and favor films that reinforce certain biases or fail to challenge others. Much of the time, that’s due to implicit or systematized biases rather than explicit intention, but that doesn’t change the result as much as people like to think.

On sites like IMDB that feature user scores, there isn’t so much of that implicit/explicit divide at hand. It’s a lot more explicit. Most popular feminist films and movies cast in an inclusive manner will have to make up for a deluge of low scores right out of the gate. That hauls average ratings down in a way that can’t be recovered.

Glance at these scores and you might think these films aren’t any good – that’s the purpose of review brigading. It’s also the result of the critical industry still trailing behind on inclusion. Averaged ratings can tell you something about the movie – but only insofar as they tell you who’s forming those ratings. Knowing the nature of those ratings – who’s making them and why – will tell you far more about whether you’ll like a film than whatever number is spit out at the end.

NEW SERIES

4400 (The CW)
showrunners Anne Fricke, Ariana Jackson

The reboot of the 2004 series puts an additional spin on its premise. Like the original, 4,400 people who disappeared over several decades suddenly reappear. They haven’t aged and they have no memory of where they went. The spin is that everyone who vanished is a marginalized person, often not even noticed in any public way. Obviously, this offers opportunities to contrast with the original.

Once again, ignore user scores – this one’s being brigaded by racist trolls.

Co-showrunner Anna Fricke wrote and produced on “Wayward Pines” and “Being Human”. Co-showrunner Ariana Jackson wrote and produced on “UnREAL” (one of my picks for best shows of the last decade) and “Riverdale”. Together, they showrun the new “4400.”

You can watch “4400” on The CW, with new episodes premiering on Mondays.

An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts (Netflix)
showrunner Bindu De Stoppani

In this Italian series, Alice is fresh off a breakup. She looks to a new friend for romantic guidance: her astrology guru. Naturally in a 12-episode season, she considers a different sign every episode. The series is based on the novel by Silvia Zucca.

Showrunner Bindu De Stoppani has written and directed two features prior to this. “An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts” is her first series.

You can watch “An Astrological Guide for Broken Hearts” in its entirety on Netflix.

The Mopes (HBO Max)
showrunner Ipek Zubert

Mat is a singer who is coping with mental illness. His depression is embodied as Monika, who only he can see and hear. Of course, she has a job to do depressing Mat, and her bosses make sure of it. “The Mopes” is a German comedy.

Writer and showrunner Ipek Zubert has directed on a few other German series before this.

You can watch “The Mopes” in its entirety on HBO Max.

NEW MOVIES

Women is Losers (HBO Max)
directed by Lissette Feliciano

Sharing its title with a Janis Joplin song, “Women is Losers” follows a pregnant, single Latina in 1970s San Francisco. She tries to make a living and build her life up in a society that’s squarely stacked against her.

This is the first feature from writer-director Lissette Feliciano.

You can watch “Women is Losers” on HBO Max.

Come Away (Hulu, Paramount+)
directed by Brenda Chapman

Nearly a year after its mid-COVID theatrical premiere, “Come Away” finally makes its way to streaming services. The film combines “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan” in a unique way. A sister and brother live out these fantasy worlds as a way of helping their parents cope with the death of their older brother and a debt they owe.

Brenda Chapman was the initial director of “Brave” (before being replaced in a horrendous decision by Pixar), and part of the directing team on “The Prince of Egypt”.

You can watch “Come Away” on Hulu or Paramount+, or see where to rent it.

Hypnotic (Netflix)
co-directed by Suzanne Coote

A woman begins seeing a hypnotherapist. She’d like to improve her life, but the sessions lead her into increasingly dangerous situations. It becomes clear her therapist is using hypnotism to control her.

Suzanne Coote directs with Matt Angel.

You can watch “Hypnotic” 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.

New Shows + Movies by Women — November 13, 2020

This week involves a number of series and films on tough subjects, so please heed the content warnings for what you do and don’t want to watch and read.

There’s one thing I couldn’t cover here because I’m not sure where it is. The streaming service Quibi is in its last weeks of operation. Quibi announced it’s shutting down on Dec. 1. I’m not entirely sure what’s happening with their shows that are still set to debut. Docu-series “Slugfest” was supposed to be out this week. Is it? When I go on Quibi, it can’t find the page I’m looking for. Who knows? They may be shopping it to another service.

I’m somewhat relieved because I thought it was going to be some awesome documentary about people who get together to celebrate their love of slugs. We wouldn’t want to miss that. But it’s just about the Marvel vs. D.C. Comics rivalry. I’m not even sure people are still interested in that, are they? Hey, Iron Man can fully withdraw into a hard outer shell. Is he technically a snail? “Slugfest” is co-directed by Sheena M. Joyce, wherever it is or might end up.

I’ll be splitting new documentaries by women off into their own article next week again because there’s a good amount of material in total this week. This article will cover new narrative series and movies:

NEW SERIES

A Teacher (Hulu)
showrunner Hannah Fidell

CW: grooming, statutory rape

“A Teacher” centers on a high school teacher who grooms one of her students. Reflecting a number of real-world examples, Claire (Kate Mara) begins a relationship with Eric (Nick Robinson) that leads to repeated statutory rape. When this happens to boys, it’s often brushed under the rug or boys are congratulated for sleeping with an older woman. This ignores their having been sexually assaulted. A second lasting wound that follows the first, this reaction is an aspect of toxic masculinity that often prevents victims from coming forward and finding the support they need.

It looks like “A Teacher” will tackle the longer-lasting impact and the damage done to Eric. I hope that this is one of its priorities. (Past projects on this subject matter have occasionally exploited the salacious aspects as fantasy.)

Showrunner Hannah Fidell directed a movie on the subject in 2013, also called “A Teacher”. She’s since directed the films “6 Years” and “The Long Dumb Road”. She also wrote on each. Six of the show’s 10 episodes are also directed by Fidell, and two more by Gillian Robespierre (director of “Obvious Child”.)

The first three episodes are out now, and a new episode will premiere every week.

You can watch “A Teacher” on Hulu with a subscription.

Industry (HBO)
mostly directed by women

“Industry” follows young investment bankers and analysts competing for positions at a London firm just after the 2008 financial collapse.

The series showrunners are men, but five of the first season’s eight episodes are directed by women. (Either being showrun or having half the episodes directed by women are the metrics I use for featuring a series here.)

The first episode is directed by Lena Dunham, creator of “Girls”. Another is directed by Mary Nighy, a director on UKTV’s “Traces”. Three are directed by Tinge Krishnan, a director on British web series “The Feed”.

The first episode is out now, and a new episode will premiere every week.

You can watch “Industry” on HBO with a subscription.

NEW MOVIES

Come Away (VOD)
directed by Brenda Chapman

“Come Away” combines “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Peter Pan” in a unique way. A sister and brother live out these fantasy worlds as a way of helping their parents cope with the death of their older brother and a debt they owe.

One thing that makes “Come Away” intriguing is the director. The travails of Brenda Chapman’s work on Pixar’s “Brave” are well documented. The co-director of “The Prince of Egypt”, she created and wrote “Brave”. She was announced as Pixar’s first woman director when she was also set to helm “Brave”. Then she was replaced by Mark Andrews due to disagreements with Pixar executive producer John Lasseter.

As for Lasseter, he would later leave Pixar and Disney Animation after admitting sexual misconduct with employees that included groping, kissing, and sexual harassment. Just the guy you want overriding a woman’s decisions on a film about a girl discovering her independence, right?

Lasseter landed on his feet just fine as the new Head of Animation for Skydance. He was out of work for one week, and removed from any executive position for a total of only six months. Chapman was well regarded enough to keep working as a story consultant, but she didn’t get another film to direct for eight damn years.

Combine that with the fact that right-wing trolls are bombarding “Come Away” with objections to casting Black actors as Alice and Peter Pan, and this ticks nearly every box under “Let’s go watch it”. All we’d need is an angry J.K. Rowling tweet and I’d have bigot bingo.

As a new release, “Come Away” is at a theater-equivalent $20 rental point. See where to watch “Come Away” on streaming right here.

What We Wanted (Netflix)
directed by Ulrike Kofler

CW: miscarriage

Alice and Niklas desperately want to have a child, but they’ve had four failed attempts. They go on holiday only to meet a couple who has everything they want – the happy marriage and a child of their own.

The film is based on a short story, and it was submitted as Austria’s entry for Best International Feature at next year’s Oscars.

This is Ulrike Kofler’s feature debut as both writer and director. She comes from an editing background in Austrian and German film, and she’s worked on both documentaries and narrative projects.

You can watch “What We Wanted” on Netflix with a subscription.

Honey Bee (VOD)
directed by Rama Rau

CW: grooming, statutory rape, child trafficking, reference to suicide

“Honey Bee” follows Natalie. She’s an underage prostitute who’s used as part of a human trafficking ring. After the ring is arrested, she’s removed to foster care in a remote section of Ontario. This doesn’t remove her from danger or her loyalty to the former ‘boyfriend’ who controlled her, however.

Rama Rau is a name to watch. She’s been chiefly a documentary filmmaker. “The Market” followed human organ trafficking. “No Place to Hide” described the suicide of Rehtaeh Parsons after she was gang raped, bullied about it, and police failed to do anything resembling their jobs in investigating it. “League of Exotic Dancers” explores the racism and exploitation that pervaded classic burlesque, and yet is often ignored in our idealized re-tellings of it today. “The Daughter Tree” examines the preference for boys in India, and what happens to both girls and boys as a result of it.

See where to rent “Honey Bee” on streaming right here.

De Lo Mio (HBO)
directed by Diana Peralta

Two sisters from New York City go to the Dominican Republic to help clean their late father’s home. Their estranged brother helps them, but the family reuniting in this way brings out difficulties in the experiences they’ve missed together. In many ways, the sisters are severing connections to a culture they’ve never fully known, while also reuniting with a brother who’s never left that culture.

“De Lo Mio” is written and directed by Diana Peralta. The film is her feature debut.

You can watch “De Lo Mio” on HBO Max or HBO Latino with a subscription. (It’s not online at the publication of this feature, but should be by tomorrow.)

Lingering (Shudder)
directed by Yoon Een-Kyoung

CW: suicide

Yoo-mi’s mother committed suicide at a hotel five years ago. She now finds herself having to leave her younger brother there with a friend. Needless to say, creepy things start happening and they originate from her mother’s old room.

“Lingering” is written and directed by Yoon Een-Kyoung, and it appears to be her feature debut.

You can watch “Lingering” on Shudder with a subscription.

All Joking Aside (VOD)
directed by Shannon Kohli

Charlene is trying to make it as a stand-up comic, but can’t seem to develop a reliable act. She crosses paths with a heckling audience member, who turns out to be a washed-up comic himself. She pursues him for help in refining her comedy.

Shannon Kohli comes from a background of cinematography, and shifted into directing on series like “Van Helsing”, “Riverdale”, and “The Magicians” – including one of the latter’s famous musical episodes.

See where to rent “All Joking Aside” on streaming right here.

My Summer as a Goth (VOD)
directed by Tara Johnson-Medinger

“My Summer as a Goth” is about a girl who discovers a new identity in being goth. It’s centered around a new romance and she’ll have to determine how much of her newfound love of goth is wrapped up in him vs. her own wants.

Reviews agree that it’s a sweet, low-budget comedy, though they seem split on whether the portrayal of goth culture is meant to be taken tongue-in-cheek or if its broadness is off-the-mark.

This is writer-director Tara Johnson-Medinger’s first film. Her background as a producer of music history documentaries makes for an intriguing resume.

See where to rent “My Summer as a Goth” on streaming right here.

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.