I’d like to highlight a favorite of mine that just came available. It’s not new, but it is becoming much more accessible this week. “Evil” is a series created and showrun by Michelle King and husband Robert King. The pair also created and showran “The Good Wife” and “The Good Fight”. “Evil” goes a decidedly more supernatural route, featuring a forensic psychologist who helps a Catholic priest-in-training investigate potential possessions and hauntings.
The cast is incredibly charming, featuring Katja Herbers, Mike Colter (of “Luke Cage” fame), and Aasif Mandvi. The set-up of science and religion working together on the supernatural might smack of passive-aggressive relationships, but the show’s smart to quickly build them into a supportive team that is willing to put themselves in each others’ shoes. Neither is the show pandering or riding on the fence. The Kings rarely shy away from progressive views, and episodes deal with real-world topics such as immigration reform in a pro-active way. You can now watch “Evil” on Netflix.
I also want to mention a new short film available on HBO Max. “Harina (aka Flour)” is a 15-minute movie that follows a man taking care of his mother in the middle of Venezuela’s humanitarian disaster and food shortage. It’s directed by Joanna Cristina Nelson.
showrunner Mary Laws
“Monsterland” is an anthology of cosmic and cryptid horror based on a short story collection entitled “North American Lake Monsters: Stories” by Nathan Ballingrud. It will run eight episodes, with a number of stars rotating through. This includes Mike Colter (Luke Cage again), “Sleepy Hollow” star Nichole Beharie, “Orange is the New Black” star Taylor Schilling, and “Star Wars: The Last Jedi” star Kelly Marie Tran, among others.
Creator and showrunner Mary Laws also co-wrote “The Neon Demon” and wrote and produced on “Preacher”.
You can watch “Monsterland” on Hulu with a subscription.
The Glorias (Amazon)
directed by Julie Taymor
“The Glorias” is a biopic of women’s liberation leader Gloria Steinem, with Julianne Moore, Alicia Vikander, Lulu Wilson, and Ryan Kiera Armstrong all playing Steinem at different points in her life. Joining her are Janelle Monae as Dorothy Pitman Hughes, Bette Midler as Rep. Bella Abzug, and Kimberly Guerrero as Cherokee activist Chief Wilma Mankiller.
Director Julie Taymor is…well she’s Julie Taymor. With films like “Titus”, “Frida”, and “Across the Universe”, she’s recognized as one of the boldest filmmakers of the last two decades. She’s never afraid of extended visual metaphors, kaleidoscopic montages, or biting monologues. No one else directs like her.
You can watch “The Glorias” on Amazon Prime with a subscription.
Lina from Lima (HBO)
directed by Maria Paz Gonzalez
“Lina from Lima” centers on a woman who left her home country of Peru to work in Chile as a housekeeper for a wealthy family. It’s been a decade, and while the job’s enabled her to provide for her son in Peru, she’s also missed out on seeing him grow up.
Magaly Solier plays Lina. The Peruvian actress is one of the best performers working, yet essentially unheard of in the U.S. She led “The Milk of Sorrow”, which was my pick for best film of the last decade.
Director Maria Paz Gonzalez has generally worked in the documentary field. This is her first narrative feature.
You can watch “Lina from Lima” on HBO Max with a subscription.
Never Rarely Sometimes Always (HBO)
directed by Eliza Hittman
“Never Rarely Sometimes Always” follows Autumn, a 17 year-old girl who discovers she has an unwanted pregnancy. Her own crisis pregnancy center is anti-choice, and she learns the nearest place to get an abortion without parental permission is in New York. Her cousin Skylar steals cash to help them get there, and the two set off. Unlike the similarly premised road comedy “Unpregnant”, which came out on HBO three weeks back, “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” is a realistic dramatic presentation of this situation.
I shared this film in April when it hit digital rental, but this is the first time “Never Rarely Sometimes Always” has come to a subscription streaming service. A director of episodes on “13 Reasons Why” and “High Maintenance”, this is Eliza Hittman’s second feature. Art pop musician Julia Holter composes the score.
Judy & Punch (Hulu)
directed by Mirrah Foulkes
“Judy & Punch” is the kind of off-kilter, macabre (vengeance?) film that’s right up my alley, particularly with an actor of Mia Wasikowska’s caliber leading it. Obviously, it’s tackling themes of domestic violence, but it’s hard to tell where it will take them. The world of the film seems to mix fairy tale, period, and anachronistic design together.
It also marks a leap in the career of Mirrah Foulkes from actor to director. She’s well known for roles in Australian television and BBC productions, particularly in the original “Animal Kingdom” and “Top of the Lake”. This is her first feature as director. I shared “Judy & Punch” back in June when it came to digital rental, but this is the first time the movie’s available on a subscription streaming service.
Inez & Doug & Kira (VOD)
directed by Julia Kots
When a woman takes her own life, her sister and sister’s fiance try to find out why. The answer lies through a path of addiction and sabotage. What’s real is thrown into question by grief, insomnia, and stories that don’t always agree.
Director Julia Kots has worked as an editor while directing short films. This is her first feature.
You can see the digital rental options for “Inez & Doug & Kira” right here.
Whose Vote Counts, Explained (Netflix docu-series)
showrunner Claire Gordon
This limited docu-series produced by Vox Media examines how the right to vote is being eroded. Voter suppression is realized in many forms, from ballot denial to polling place closure, and from gerrymandering to lost and wiped voting machines. “Whose Vote Counts, Explained” looks at how our current moment ties into history and what can be done to fix this before it’s totally broken.
Showrunner Claire Gordon started out as an investigative journalist covering campus sexual assault. She later worked as a segment producer on “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver”. There, she produced segments covering church taxation, LGBT anti-discrimination law, and how primaries and caucuses work. She has since produced a number of documentary mini-series for Vox under their “Explained” moniker.
You can watch “Whose Vote Counts, Explained” on Netflix with a subscription.
Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire (Netflix)
co-directed by Elsa Flores Almaraz
Carlos Almaraz was a Mexican-American painter at the heart of the Chicano civil rights movement. As a member of artist collective Los Four, his art galvanized the Chicano movement while humanizing Latin-American people to the rest of the U.S. His dreamlike works drew from a range of painting styles. He helped spur the mural movement that reminds Americans just how much our rights and the health of our institutions rely on the success of immigrants. Almaraz passed away in 1989.
Elsa Flores Almaraz was his wife, and she directs “Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire”. She’s an activist and photographer who often collaborated with him on his murals.
You can watch “Carlos Almaraz: Playing with Fire” on Netflix with a subscription.
Dick Johnson is Dead (Netflix)
directed by Kirsten Johnson
“Dick Johnson is Dead” is a documentary about the making of this documentary itself. I think. Director Kirsten Johnson stages a variety of fictional ways her father might die while also examining how his grasp on reality is beginning to fade. It examines how movies and moviemaking allow us to keep people alive in our hearts forever.
This is the fifth feature-length documentary that Kirsten Johnson has directed. She’s filmed more than 50 as a cinematographer. Being the cinematographer for a documentary requires a number of rare skills in unpredictable situations, and Johnson is one of the most sought after in the industry.
You can watch “Dick Johnson is Dead” on Netflix with a subscription.
Take a look at new shows + movies by women from past weeks.
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