Tag Archives: I Used to Go Here

New Shows + Movies by Women — January 1, 2021

A strange thing happens around the holidays. There’s a deluge of films around Christmas, each meant to capture attention for Oscar runs. The effect is muted this year because the rules have changed and theatrical runs aren’t as necessary to qualify for various awards.

Muted or not, this effect has tended to favor male directors. Some of this may be variations on the old boys network. Some of it is because studios want to push directors who’ve had previous Oscar success, and the Oscars have favored men in the past. That means Paul Greengrass’s “News of the World”, George Clooney’s “Midnight Sky”, and Pixar’s “Soul” (directed by Pete Docter and Kemp Powers) get those dates. Greengrass and Clooney have each been nominated for an Oscar as a director in the past, and Pixar films regularly win Best Animated Feature.

Of course, the big name these past two weeks has been Patty Jenkins’s “Wonder Woman 1984”. As divisively as it’s been received, it’s almost certainly been a success in terms of viewership. It was streamed more in its first week than any other movie in 2020.

There is another film in a qualifying theatrical run. This is Emerald Fennell’s “Promising Young Woman”, but I’ve been choosing not to feature theatrical runs during the pandemic. I’ll feature it as I have every other film throughout COVID – when it’s available for rental or streaming. This is because going to a theater isn’t safe right now in terms of health risk, whereas watching at home is. A film isn’t yet accessible to the public if its only accessible in an unsafe manner.

One other note: there’s a new short animated film (6 minutes) directed by Madeline Sharafian. “Burrow” is on Disney+, and follows a rabbit trying to build her dream burrow. Unfortunately, she keeps digging into the homes of her neighbors by accident.

NEW SERIES

Bridgerton (Netflix)
half directed by women

“Bridgerton” is half Regency romance series, half political intrigue. The show’s gotten a lot of discussion for casting actors of various races and ethnicity. This is something a vocal minority of the internet is fine with when white actors take roles of color, but suddenly becomes offensively inaccurate to them when the reverse takes place.

It’s worth noting that almost everything in Regency romance movies is complete fantasy – the plots, the people, the sets, the music, the costumes, the events – but for some reason the line must be drawn at casting? Sure thing there.

The big name attached to Bridgerton is one of the three executive producers, Shonda Rhimes. Chris Van Dusen is the showrunner, however. Instead, this makes the list because four of the eight episodes are directed by women: Sheree Folkson and Julie Ann Robinson direct two apiece.

Folkson can point to series like “Call the Midwife” and “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels”. Robinson has directed on “Suburgatory” and “Scandal”.

You can watch “Bridgerton” on Netflix with a subscription.

Equinox (Netflix)
showrunner Tea Lindeburg

An entire class goes missing in this Danish noir series. Did they run away, were they kidnapped, or did something else happen? Astrid lost her older sister that day. 20 years later, the only survivor from those disappearances dies. Astrid sets out to solve the conspiracy around this mystery.

Tea Lindeburg has directed a few Danish TV series. She’s also the creator of “Equinox”.

You can watch “Equinox” on Netflix with a subscription.

NEW MOVIES

Wonder Woman 1984 (HBO Max)
directed by Patty Jenkins

A month ago, I don’t think anyone had this pegged as one of the most divisive films of the year. I enjoyed it, but I can absolutely see why some don’t. The film has an incredibly strong central concept combined with a script that’s heavy on shortcuts and pointless scenes. It’s a superhero movie with a great and timely supervillain, yet that gives its superhero almost nothing to do.

If you’re interested in the concept, the villain’s path, and what’s being critiqued in our society, you’ll likely stay interested in the film. If you want a superhero movie that features Wonder Woman centrally in the way the first film did, you may be utterly flabbergasted by the choices made in “Wonder Woman 1984”.

I don’t think either takeaway is right or wrong. The film has a lot to say. More importantly, it addresses its themes in a way that the superhero genre is built to handle, yet too often avoids. At the same time, it’s weird that one of the few superhero movies about women that we get would choose to nearly sideline her.

Look at the review if you’re still on the fence.

You can watch “Wonder Woman 1984” on HBO Max with a subscription.

Days of the Whale (HBO Max)
directed by Catalina Arroyave Restrepo

Cristina and Simon are graffiti artists living in Medellin, Colombia. They decide to paint over a threat made by a gang. There are consequences to a decision like this.

This is writer-director Catalina Arroyave Restrepo’s first film.

You can watch “Days of the Whale” on HBO Max with a subscription.

I Used to Go Here (HBO Max)
directed by Kris Rey

A novelist is invited to speak at her alma mater. Her writing career is stumbling, and the trip finds her involved in the lives of current students and her former professor. Caught in between, she has to figure out what direction she wants to take next.

Director Kris Rey has an intriguing life story. She was once a Chicago public school teacher, and then later a successful independent ice cream maker who lost a battle for her business with the state of Illinois. This opens up a whole other conversation about the political power of Big Ice Cream in Illinois – and no, I’m not even kidding. I grew up there; the ice cream industry is a viable path to political power in the state.

After being forced out of that industry, Rey formed a filmmaking duo with Joe Swanberg in the mid-2000s. The pair helped elevate the mumblecore movement and were responsible for casting Greta Gerwig in one of her first roles, “Young American Bodies”.

I previously included this film when it came to rental, but this is the first time it’s on a subscription service.

You can watch “I Used to Go Here” on HBO Max with a subscription, or see where to rent it.

DNA (Netflix)
directed by Maiwenn

After her grandfather dies, a woman is spurred to learn more about her Algerian roots.

There’s no English-translated trailer at the moment, though Netflix itself should have the option available on the movie.

Maiwenn is best known as an actress, and this is her fifth feature film as director. She directs, co-writes, and stars here. The film reflects her own background as she’s of mixed Vietnamese, French, and Algerian descent.

You can watch “DNA” on Netflix with a subscription.

Terlalu Tampan (Netflix)
directed by Sabrina Rochelle Kalangie

A boy rarely leaves his home. When he does, he wears a helmet. Why? Because he’s too handsome. His parents worry, so they finally make a deal where he’ll attend school in person. His handsomeness exposed, his life turns to chaos when the rest of the world discovers. The film is adapted from a popular online comic in Indonesia.

Once again, there’s no English-translated trailer at the moment, though Netflix itself should have the option available on the movie.

The comedy’s gotten good reviews. It’s the first feature from Kalangie, who also co-writes the screenplay.

You can watch “Terlalu Tampan” on Netflix with a subscription.

Before the Fire (Showtime)
directed by Charlie Buhler

An actress moves back to her rural home during a global pandemic. Someone she knows from her past uses the opportunity to stalk and terrorize her.

This is the first feature from director Charlie Buhler. It’s the first feature written by Jenna Lyng Adams, who also stars in the lead role.

You can watch “Before the Fire” on Showtime 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, consider subscribing to Gabriel Valdez’s Patreon. It helps with the time and resources to continue writing articles like this one.

New Shows + Movies by Women — August 7, 2020

There’s a good selection of new movies this week, but no new fiction series. Check the last section for a new docu-series “Immigration Nation”, however. In fact, I’d say the documentaries this week are some of the most important that I’ve had the opportunity to feature.

If you’ve missed them, there are a number of good narrative series that’ve come available recently. I featured Gen Z character study “In My Skin” last week and reviewed it this week. The five-episode Welsh series has quickly become a favorite and it’s easily in discussion for best series I’ve seen this year. It’s showrun and written by Kayleigh Llewellyn, directed by Lucy Forbes, and is available on Hulu (or the BBC app if you’re not in the U.S.)

I’d also recommend “Never Have I Ever”. Created by Mindy Kaling and showrun by Lang Fisher, the 10-episode coming-of-age series is funny, superbly emotional, and features a diverse cast. It’s available on Netflix.

While I haven’t seen them, I’ve heard good things about Australian/British comedy “Frayed” (HBO in the U.S., BBC app elsewhere) and the Netflix reboot of “The Baby-Sitters Club”.

There’s also FX/Hulu’s joint miniseries “Mrs. America”, which tells the story of the women who drove and opposed the women’s liberation movement in the 1970s. “Love, Victor” is a very charming queer coming-of-age series on Hulu. If you’ve got Apple TV, check out semi-musical “Little Voice”.

Those are some of the top new fiction series by women that come to mind if you’re looking for one to start. Let’s get to the movies this week:

NEW MOVIES BY WOMEN

The Mustang (HBO)
directed by Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre

A prisoner is offered the opportunity to participate in a rehabilitation program where he’ll work with horses. He tries to take pride in this while actively resisting efforts to shorten his sentence. He distrusts his temper that left his partner disabled, and believes he’s safest to others in jail.

Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre is a French actress who’s shifted more toward writing and directing in recent years. You may have seen some of her directing in series like this year’s “Mrs. America” and 2019’s “The Act”.

You can watch “The Mustang” with an HBO subscription, or see streaming services where you can rent it right here.

Ordinary Love (Hulu)
co-directed by Lisa Barros D’Sa

I’ve featured “Ordinary Love” before, but this is the first time it’s come to a subscription service. Much as I’m tempted to cancel Liam Neeson these days, this looks good and it’s one of the few forays he’s made into more serious films recently.

One can’t help but think of Neeson’s own history, in losing his wife Natasha Richardson suddenly after a ski accident in 2009. It’s difficult to know how much of that experience is brought into a performance where a character finds out his wife is dying. It’s also difficult to know how much it matters in discussing the performance.

Lisa Barros D’Sa is part of a director team with Glenn Leyburn. They directed “Cherrybomb” and “Good Vibrations” together previous to this.

You can watch “Ordinary Love” with a Hulu subscription, or see streaming services where you can rent it right here.

I Used to Go Here (VOD)
directed by Kris Rey

A novelist is invited back to speak at her alma mater. Her writing career is stumbling, and the trip finds her alternately involved in the lives of her former professor and current students. Caught in between, she has to figure out what direction she wants to take next.

This was originally scheduled for a SXSW premier in March, and might’ve been able to use that as a launchpad. Unfortunately, COVID-19 cut that possibility short. “I Used to Go Here” has gotten good reviews, so perhaps it will find life in home rental.

Director Kris Rey has an intriguing life story. She was once a Chicago public school teacher, and then later a successful independent ice cream maker who lost a battle for her business with the state of Illinois (this opens up a whole other conversation about the political power of the ice cream industry – yes, really, I’m not even kidding – in Illinois).

She formed a filmmaking duo with Joe Swanberg in the mid-2000s that helped drive the mumblecore movement forward. The pair were responsible for casting Greta Gerwig in one of her first roles, “Young American Bodies”.

You can rent “I Used to Go Here” for $7 from Amazon or Google Play.

Work It (Netflix)
directed by Laura Terruso

We’ve all been there. We want to get into a good college, but whether we can depends on winning a dance competition. I mean, dance scholarships are extremely competitive, but getting in on one when you’ve never danced before…OK, I’m also the guy who defends “Step Up: Revolution” concluding with a community-wide dance sequence that melted the capitalist villain’s icy heart, so maybe I’m not one to talk. End of the day: if there’s good choreography in it, I’ll watch.

Director Laura Terruso has helmed a couple under-the-radar comedies: “Fits and Starts” and “Good Girls Get High”.

You can watch “Work It” with a Netflix subscription.

Spinster (VOD)
directed by Andrea Dorfman

Chelsea Peretti stars as a woman trying to date as a freshly-single 39 year-old who then decides, oh wait, that’s a silly thing to focus her entire life around. Chelsea Peretti then stars as a woman who gets shit done and actually lives life according to her own priorities.

Director Andrea Dorfman has helmed a number of Canadian indie films that haven’t necessarily made much noise in the states. She’s also directed a few documentaries.

You can rent “Spinster” for $7 from Fandango or Redbox.

Crshd (VOD)
directed by Emily Cohn

It’s Izzy’s last day of her freshman year at college. She hasn’t had sex yet, so she decides it’s going to happen before the end of the night. Doing this means getting into an exclusive party. Hijinks ensue.

This is writer-director Emily Cohn’s first feature.

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

NEW DOCUMENTARIES BY WOMEN

Immigration Nation (Netflix docu-series)
co-showrunner Christina Clusiau

I’m so exhausted of this. What do I do? Do I argue for these people’s humanity for the thousandth time? Do we list how ICE has violated countless laws and operational procedures in its short 17 years of existence, how vastly it’s committed human rights violations, how the Senate has allowed them to break the law without consequence time and again?

ICE has abducted citizens. It’s broken international laws for treatment of refugees that the United States agreed to and is legally bound to uphold. It’s sprayed chemicals to choke detainees. It’s denied medical care to children.

“Immigration Nation” brings a host of new allegations against ICE. At some point, you’ve got to hope they make enough of a difference.

You can watch “Immigration Nation” with a Netflix subscription.

The Fight (Amazon)
co-directed by Elyse Steinberg

The United States is running concentration camps. The United States is stripping women’s rights. The United States is destroying trans rights that are human rights. The United States is destroying our ability to be accurately represented in government in order to fight these things.

“The Fight” looks at lawyers engaged in cases that weigh on each of these issues.

You can watch “The Fight” with an Amazon Prime 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.