Tag Archives: Mary Harron

New Shows + Movies by Women — October 9, 2020

The biggest news of the week is that “GLOW” won’t be getting its fourth season. As explained by star Marc Maron, the new season was two-and-a-half episodes into filming when COVID-19 halted production. Netflix doesn’t want to pay for indefinitely renting the sets and offices needed to continue shooting. Maron is lobbying Netflix to film the remainder of the show as a movie, which could potentially reduce costs and utilize what’s already shot. There isn’t yet word from showrunners Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch on the strategy.

As for this week, anime tends to release on a seasonal schedule. The first few weeks of October see a lot of new series. These are the weeks to find something new if you’re a fan. There are three listed here. It represents a fraction of the new anime being released since most are still directed by men. That’s hardly unique – it’s an imbalance that’s common to just about every film and television industry operating.

One other note: there are a lot of entries this week. That’s always a good thing. I want to keep things manageable, so I’ll be splitting documentaries off into a separate article next week.

NEW SERIES

Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (Funimation)
directed by Mitsue Yamazaki

Princess Syalis of the kingdom of Goodereste is kidnapped by a demon lord. She’s fine with that so long as she’s still treated like a princess. Her main priority is getting a good night’s sleep, which it turns out is pretty difficult in a demon castle. Magical items, parts of the fluffy guards themselves, anything she can get her hands on will be repurposed to help her sleep. It’s soon apparent that she’s not locked in with the demons. The demons are locked in with her.

This is surprisingly relatable as we enter the Nth month of sheltering in place because conservatives don’t believe in the concepts of, you know, medicine and public health. Is…is the sleepy princess the hero of our times?

Director Mitsue Yamazaki started as a storyboard artist on “Kurenai” and now boasts a resume with impressive range. She’s directed projects that span from “Monthly Girls’ Nosaki-kun” (a romance about a girl who becomes an assistant in the manga industry) to the epic mythic fantasy “Hakkenden: Eight Dogs of the East”.

You can watch “Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle” on Funimation with a subscription.

CW: The next entry contains pregnancy horror.

The Expecting (Quibi)
showrunner-director Mary Harron

A woman wakes up in the woods without knowing how she got there. She soon discovers she’s pregnant. Before long, it becomes apparent that her pregnancy is supernatural in nature, and that those around her know more than they’re letting on. The show stars AnnaSophia Robb, Rory Culkin, and Mira Sorvino.

The big draw here is showrunner and director Mary Harron. Most famous for “American Psycho”, she’s also directed “The Notorious Bettie Page” and “Alias Grace”. To be blunt, she’s a director with a tremendous sense of the meta-film that takes place alongside what’s on the screen.

What does that mean? Harron has a way of outlining the pieces that are being withheld from the audience in a way that takes a particular shape. Very often, the story she tells on-screen also begins to tell a story the audience can shape off of it. Especially given her track record, she’s been overlooked and undervalued across her career.

You can watch “The Expecting” on Quibi with a subscription.

Flesh and Blood (PBS)
showrunner Sarah Williams
directed by Louise Hooper

This Masterpiece Theatre miniseries is about three siblings who become upset when their mother falls in love with someone new. Their father has only just passed. Since it’s a Masterpiece series on PBS, you either know there will be amazing teacups or a murder (sometimes both). Here, it’s a murder.

The miniseries features Imelda Staunton as a neighbor who takes an interest. Staunton is most famous for playing Dolores Umbridge in the “Harry Potter” movies.

Showrunner Sarah Williams created and wrote the show. She’s known for writing Jane Austen biopic “Becoming Jane” and miniseries “The Long Song”.

Director Louise Hooper started out making BBC historical documentaries and has more recently shifted into series directing on shows like “Lucky Man” and “Cheat”.

You can watch “Flesh and Blood” on your local PBS station.

I’m Standing on a Million Lives (Crunchyroll)
directed by Kumiko Habara

Yotsuya and some of his classmates are transported to a world of mythology and magic. A game master then gives them a challenging quest. If they fail to complete it in time, demons will descend on their world. The game master will help them by giving them powerful RPG roles, though. He makes one a powerful warrior, another a skilled magician. Yotsuya rolls…a peasant. So long as one of them finishes each stage of the quest alive, they’ll all live. It’s up to them to finish the quest in order to save their world.

This is the first series directed by Kumiko Habara. She’s previously been an episode director on shows like “Noragami” and “Sailor Moon Crystal”.

You can watch “I’m Standing on a Million Lives” on Crunchyroll with a subscription.

Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol (Netflix)
directed by Kim Min-Kyung

A concert pianist loses absolutely everything. She ends up in a small town, where she connects with a worker who juggles multiple jobs. Sparks fly, and romantic complications ensue. (The title is a reference to the notes in the first line of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star”.)

Director Kim Min-Kyung doesn’t have many credits to her name, and this is her first job directing an entire series. The first two episodes are out now, and new ones will be available weekly.

You can watch “Do Do Sol Sol La La Sol” on Netflix with a subscription.

Our Last Crusade or Rise of a New World (Funimation)
co-directed by Mirai Minato

This is “Romeo and Juliet”, but with a knight and a witch princess from rival houses. Come to think of it, Shakespeare, this really could’ve served to spice up the original text.

Mirai Minato directs with Shin Onuma. The pair directed gaming comedy “Bofuri: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, So I’ll Max Out My Defense” earlier this year.

You can watch “Our Last Crusade or Rise of a New World” on Funimation with a subscription.

NEW MOVIES

The Forty-Year-Old Version (Netflix)
directed by Radha Blank

A playwright turning 40 reinvents herself as a rapper. The film won Radha Blank the directing award at the Sundance Film Festival in January this year.

Blank herself has been an actress, writer, director, and producer across her career, most recently as a writer-producer on “She’s Gotta Have It”. She reprises all those roles here. As in the film, she also performs live hip hop comedy.

You can watch “The Forty-Year-Old-Version” on Netflix with a subscription.

The Lie (Amazon)
directed by Veena Sud

“The Lie” finds a father driving his daughter to dance camp. They spot the daughter’s best friend on the roadside, and stop to offer her a ride. What follows is a crime movie that finds the parents covering for their daughter’s deadly mistake.

Veena Sud is best known as the showrunner of “The Killing”, and more recently directed rideshare horror series “The Stranger”. “Killing” lead Mireille Enos re-joins her former showrunner here, opposite Peter Sarsgaard as the two parents.

You can watch “The Lie” on Amazon Prime with a subscription.

The Devil to Pay (VOD)
co-directed by Lane Skye

Danielle’s husband disappears in the Appalachians. Soon, her son is kidnapped. A powerful family wants a debt repaid. Danielle seeks to repay it…in vengeance.

Lane Skye directs with husband Ruckus Skye. She’s a writer and producer who specializes in horror and thrillers. This is her first directorial feature.

See where to rent “The Devil to Pay” 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.

To Get “The Girl Who Played With Fire,” Sony Must Dump David Fincher

Girl Who Played with Fire lead 2

by Gabriel Valdez

One of my favorite films in the last few years is The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo. It’s one of director David Fincher’s most impressive works, a tone poem of oppression, obsession, and rejection.

Daniel Craig’s Mikael Blomkvist is an idealist who suffers at the hands of social manipulators – white collar criminals and sadistic serial killers alike – while Rooney Mara’s  Lisbeth Salander plays his cynical knight in punk-goth armor, a hacker whose only care is to aggressively deconstruct – the identities of others, the clues to a mystery, the life of her abuser, the power foundation of an international bank. She’s one of my favorite heroes on film…well, ever.

Mara recently told E! that she was very doubtful the planned sequel – The Girl Who Played With Fire – would ever come to fruition. “I’m sad never to do it again,” she told Marc Malkin, “but it just doesn’t seem like it’s in the cards.”

Where the problem lies between Fincher and Sony is difficult to say. Much has been written about Fincher’s budget demands, but these may be red herrings or negotiation tactics. The impasse may rely as much on whether the last two films of the trilogy would be shot back to back, and on seemingly endless (and costly) rewrites of the screenplay. Obviously, Fincher’s the best choice to realize the sequel, but this doesn’t mean he’s the only choice.

Sony, who admittedly have created many of the problems they now face with Fincher, has got to deliver an ultimatum. If it isn’t met, they must move on. I want this movie. More importantly, I want it with this cast. I’d like to see Fincher at the helm – if you ask me, no director has changed the face of film more since the 1980s. Yet there are other choices. Here are five suggestions:

I’ve long said that if the pair can’t figure it out, Sony should give David Cronenberg a call. The franchise would exist both inside and outside of Cronenberg’s wheelhouse. He creates darkly horrific tales of mental, physical, and emotional frailty. That’s what this franchise is. Fire might creatively constrain him, though. Could he realize the thrill of discovery and risk that Fincher did? I don’t know.

Mary Harron deserves more work. She once knocked American Psycho out of the park and while she’s experienced at horror, she’s more experienced at exactingly taking the genre apart at its seams, which is the real strength Fincher brings to the table.

Could Steven Soderbergh be coaxed out of his not-really retirement? He’s a career chameleon with a rare ability to direct from the inside-out in any genre, although he can gloss a film over where Fincher is exactingly dispassionate. He’s directed Mara to stunning effect before in Side Effects.

What about Danny Boyle? It wouldn’t be the first time he took over for Fincher, as he’s doing now for the Aaron Sorkin-written Steve Jobs biopic. Boyle is a master of changing voice, pace, and style – 28 Days Later…, Sunshine, Slumdog Millionaire, 127 Hours. He’s not a precise match for the tone Fincher set, but who is?

If you want an out-of-left-field suggestion: Tomas Alfredson, director of Let the Right One In and Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy. Few are as good at setting mood. His films are paced glacially, but they always pay off. He’s also as good a director of actors as you can find, and he lends his movies that dispassionate, exacting quality I spoke of earlier while marrying them to a worldview more hauntingly sad.

These are the five who come off the top of my head right away. Obviously, Fincher is the best choice, but with the cast assembled – with core players like Mara and Craig who realized their roles so completely in the first movie…do you really want to lose those and be forced to start over? Do you think a reboot or, oh god no, a TV series (as Mara points out, Sony’s spent too much money on the rights to do nothing with them) would be better? Sony has to figure things out with Fincher. Or do the impossible, and be brave enough to dump and replace him. I don’t want to write this up one day in our Best Movies Never Made section.

Just make sure you keep Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross on the score, and bring Karen O in for another guest vocal. Because:

(Thanks to moviecritic92 for the heads up on Mara’s comments.)