Tag Archives: Tom Hiddleston

New Shows + Movies by Women — May 13, 2022

Please continue to call your Congresspeople, as well as elected officials at the state level, to support enshrining abortion rights into law. The more states have protections for it, and protections for both abortion providers and their patients, the more difficult it will be for Republicans to push further. Republicans will erode the right to an abortion in states that currently maintain it if given the chance, and it’s much harder to retake rights while you’re still losing them.

If you’re a dude who’s never called your elected officials or who used to but doesn’t anymore, start doing it. A call a weekday means you get five a week for…what, two or three minutes a day? Double that for five minutes a day. That’s it? That’s literally the absolute least we could be doing to support the right to an abortion. Treat it as a first step, but at least take it. Elected officials need to start hearing men in support of the right to an abortion, too.

NEW SERIES

The Essex Serpent (Apple TV+)
showrunner Anna Symon
directed by Clio Barnard

Claire Danes stars as Cora, a widow who moves to Essex. She’s there to investigate reports of a mythical serpent. She bonds with a local pastor played by Tom Hiddleston, but the locals soon believe that she’s the reason for the creature’s presence. This is an adaptation of the novel by Sarah Perry.

Anna Symon’s become an in-demand writer, having scribed recent series “Mrs. Wilson” and “Deep Water”. Director Clio Barnard has been nominated for three BAFTAs, including for “Ali & Ava” as this year’s Outstanding British Film of the Year.

You can watch “The Essex Serpent” on Apple TV+. The first two episodes are available now, with another premiering every Friday for a total of 6.

Candy (Hulu)
Showrunner Robin Veith

Jessica Biel stars as Candy, a housewife in 1980 Texas who’s had enough. The result is a double murder. Melanie Lynskey co-stars. The show is based on real events.

Showrunner Robin Veith has produced on “The Expanse” and “True Blood”. She started out as a writers’ assistant on “Mad Men” before working her way up to executive story editor and staff writer on that show.

You can watch “Candy” on Hulu. It debuted an episode a day this week, making all 5 available now.

42 Days of Darkness (Netflix)
co-showrunner Claudia Huaiquimilla

In this Chilean series, Cecilia searches for her missing sister Veronica. The case balloons as media-hungry detectives and a greedy lawyer complicate an investigation she’ll just have to do herself.

Writer-director Claudia Huaiquimilla showruns with director Gaspar Antillo. This is her first series after writing and directing two feature films.

You can watch “42 Days of Darkness” on Netflix. All 6 episodes are available immediately.

CW: suicide

New Heights (Netflix)
showrunner Marianne Wendt
half directed by Sabine Boss

When Michi’s father commits suicide, he’s forced to choose between a successful career and a shot at keeping their family’s farm running. No English trailer for this one, but the series has subtitles.

The Swiss drama is created and showrun by Marianne Wendt, a writer who usually works in German television. Director Sabine Boss helms half the episodes. She won for Best Film and Best Screenplay at the 2014 Swiss Film Prizes for “I Am the Keeper”, and was nominated in 2003 for Best Film for “Ernstfall in Havanna”.

You can watch “New Heights” on Netflix. All 8 episodes are available immediately.

The Kids in the Hall (Amazon)
half directed by Aleysa Young

The 90s Canadian sketch comedy show returns with the original cast.

Aleysa Young directs the first five episodes. She directed “Baroness Von Sketch Show” and on “Kim’s Convenience”.

You can watch “The Kids in the Hall” on Amazon.

NEW MOVIES

The Stylist (Shudder, AMC+)
directed by Jill Gevargizian

A hair stylist obsesses over her clients’ lives. In an attempt to make her own relevant to theirs, she begins murdering them.

Writer-director Jill Gevargizian has mostly directed short films and in horror anthologies. This comes from starting a monthly showcase for indie and amateur filmmakers in her town. “The Stylist” is an expansion on a short film she directed in 2016, and comes from the experience of working as a hair stylist for more than a decade.

You can watch “The Stylist” on Shudder, or AMC+.

Sneakerella (Disney+)
directed by Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum

A sneaker designer dreams of getting his designs seen by the most famous brand. He hopes to make it to SneakerCon and impress, but can he escape the endless list of chores and expectations at home?

Director Elizabeth Allen Rosenbaum has helmed on shows like “Dead to Me” and “Empire”.

You can watch “Sneakerella” on Disney+.

Faye (Hoopla)
directed by Kd Amond

Faye is an author of self-help books. She goes to a cabin to finish her next book and try to find some peace after the death of her husband. Needless to say, creepy things ensue.

This is writer-director Kd Amond’s third film. She’s produced and edited a large number of short films in the last several years.

You can watch “Faye” on Hoopla, or see where you can rent it.

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.

Ghosts, Bloodshed, and Jessica Chastain — “Crimson Peak”

Crimson Peak ghost

Guillermo Del Toro’s latest film is a very old-fashioned ghost story, albeit with a modern sense of bloodletting. “Crimson Peak” is a fairly perfect fit for Halloween, equal parts tense chiller and delectably intentional melodrama. It’s also one of the most beautiful looking films you’ll see this year.

We follow young Edith Cushing (Mia Wasikowska), an idealistic writer who is swept up in a whirlwind romance by Baronet Thomas Sharpe (Tom Hiddleston). Being the end of the Victorian era, he whisks her away to his lonely mansion on a windswept hill. They are joined by his sister Lucille (Jessica Chastain) and a bevy of ghosts with dire warnings.

Del Toro’s critically lauded for his quieter, profoundly haunting Spanish-language films such as “Pan’s Labyrinth” and “The Devil’s Backbone.” He’s loved by audiences for zanier, louder English-language endeavors like “Pacific Rim” and “Hellboy.”

Few directors can successfully make films across such a broad spectrum. To which does the English-language “Crimson Peak” belong? It’s altogether something different, neither quiet and meditative like his smaller films nor brash and cheeky in the same way his big-budget fare is. Instead, Del Toro has crafted a riff on Gothic romances like “Jane Eyre” and “Rebecca.”

“Crimson Peak” treads increasingly into that genre’s deliberately melodramatic mood, while dressing everything as if Edgar Allan Poe had imagined the sets into existence. “Crimson Peak” is scary, yes, but it’s not interested in the overwhelming terror of which Del Toro is capable. Instead, mystery and atmosphere are front and center. While all of Del Toro’s films have enjoyed fantastic designs and incredible atmosphere, “Crimson Peak” reaches even greater heights of macabre beauty.

Crimson Peak hall

All that said, this is a very particular kind of movie. It has the same fun with its material as “Pacific Rim,” but instead of riffing on the giant robot movies we know all too well by this point, he’s riffing on Gothic romance fiction. It’s not territory that will seem as fresh in many viewers’ minds, but if you’re willing to go along with Del Toro, this is his best job yet of treating genre as his playground.

To understand the movie is to understand Chastain’s role as Lucille. You may recognize Chastain as the lead from “Zero Dark Thirty,” the grown-up Murphy in “Interstellar,” or Matt Damon’s best chance at rescue in “The Martian.” From whichever role you know her, she’s something altogether different here. Her very first scene, Lucille is introduced playing the piano. Her fingers dance across the ivories with both a practiced skill and a flexed rigidity. The camera travels up the back of her dress, not evocatively, but to show that the design on its back resembles a satin vertebrae.

This is the level on which “Crimson Peak” works. Every scene holds a new detail if you’re paying close enough attention. Every piece of design and every edit hints at something crucial. Even the lighting in a painting quickly glanced can tell you whom to trust. The design is stellar in how it’s all put together to subtly direct the viewer. The way it’s filmed understands every nuance of that design. You could pick apart certain shots like you would paintings.

“Crimson Peak” will suffer with viewers somewhat because it’s been advertised as straight-up horror and there isn’t necessarily a large audience with a well of knowledge regarding Gothic romance. That’s really how you might best enjoy the film, recognizing how it exists both inside of and as a commentary on Gothic and Victorian literature. Without that background, the film may seem beautiful but outlandish. Fans of such literature, lovers of costume and set design, those who appreciate old-fashioned ghost stories, mystery fans, and even (perhaps especially) fans of giallo filmmaking will love “Crimson Peak.” Those expecting a more modern horror, or something particularly oppressive or jumpy in its scares, may be disappointed. “Crimson Peak” is a creepy film with beautiful tone, not really a scary one designed to make you leap from your seat.

Crimson Peak Hiddleston Chastain

In an odd way, “Crimson Peak” feels close kin to Tim Burton’s 1999 take on “Sleepy Hollow.” Both movies are gorgeous to take in, featuring some of the best set and costume design ever put to film. Both are filled with performances that are more clever in their melodrama than seeking to be real, although Chastain’s master-class performance in “Peak” somehow manages to encompass both extremes. “Sleepy Hollow” is more action- and comedy-oriented where “Crimson Peak” is literary-minded. They are both utter joys to watch, but more for the sake of their stunning craftsmanship and the fun the actors are having than as complete crowd-pleasers. Suffice to say, I plan to make them into a Halloween double-feature one day. Perhaps “Clue” can be the chaser for that cocktail.

On one last note, I very occasionally have synesthetic reactions to films. It’s not often – I can count the number of times it’s happened on one hand. I don’t imagine it’s a reaction most viewers will have, but to describe just how complete and different “Crimson Peak” is as an exercise in design, it brought me to that place in a powerful and overwhelming way. The woodwork felt tangible. The colors haunted me. You could feel the suits and dresses, taste the cold in the air, huddle at the dark of its night. It didn’t give me goosebumps through its scares, but rather because I could feel the temperature drop and the drifts of its blizzards on the back of my neck. If you are at all interested in seeing the film, don’t wait for a second. See it in the theater, see it on the big screen.

Does it Pass the Bechdel-Wallace Test?

This section uses the Bechdel-Wallace Test as a foundation to discuss the representation of women in film.

1. Does “Crimson Peak” have more than one woman in it?

Yes. Mia Wasikowska plays Edith Cushing. Jessica Chastain plays Lucille Sharpe. Leslie Hope plays Mrs. McMichael, Emily Coutts plays Eunice, and Sofia Wells plays Young Edith. Briefer speaking parts include Joanna Douglas as Maid Annie, and Karen Glave and Khadijah Roberts-Abdullah as a pair of unnamed maids.

There are also women ghosts with speaking parts, but these are played by men, including Doug Jones, who is Del Toro’s go-to creature actor.

2. Do they talk to each other?

Yes.

3. About something other than a man?

Yes.

“Crimson Peak” is a film with feminism in mind. Edith is a writer who isn’t taken seriously because she’s a woman. She even types a manuscript up because she believes her handwriting betrays feminine qualities. Her father has faith in her ability to do as she will, but the rest of the world doesn’t understand why she rejects the game of suitors and marriage prospects. Wasikowska plays her as a smart mix of idealistic yet practical, and she’s most often in the hands of saving herself.

Lucille is a challenging role that could’ve gone rather badly in lesser hands, but Chastain absolutely obliterates the part. She’s not just threatening, she is the very idea of threat itself. You’re not waiting for the other shoe to drop here, you’re waiting for Chastain to close jaws on your jugular. It is a testament to Chastain that inside of three weeks, she’s delivered my favorite hero of the year (via a supporting role in “The Martian”) and my favorite villain in “Crimson Peak.”

Crimson Peak Jessica Chastain

Yes, Tom Hiddleston matters and gets more screen time than Chastain, but he’s really in the middle of things here. (Wasikowska easily gets the most screen time.) This film is really about its two women leads, the agency they exert over each other and their surroundings, and the game of cat-and-mouse they play.

This includes the dialogue they hold, the nature of it, and the topics covered. Equally importantly, it covers the way they’re portrayed, especially as the film inhabits something of a commentary on the nature of Gothic romance, the studio system of filmmaking, and the expectations of women within each.

Where did we get our fantastic images? The feature image with the yellow dress is from Slip Through Movies trailer article. The house and ghost images are from The Busybody’s Review in Pictures. The last two images, both with Jessica Chastain, are from a Bloody-Disgusting image feature.

Trailers of the Week — Guillermo, Rinko, and Wiig Goes Full Crispin Glover

Kumiko the Treasure Hunter Rinko Kikuchi

by Amanda Smith & Gabriel Valdez

This feature’s been away for a while, so we’ll cover more than just this past week. A number of interesting projects have trailered recently. We’ll start with the biggest and most obvious of the bunch:

CRIMSON PEAK

Few directors have the ability to create such singular story universes as Guillermo Del Toro. He’s never really done a straight horror before, not in the American or British style. All his ghost stories have maintained elements of magical realism and strange logics which often make his ghosts and monsters more misunderstood than evil.

He’s described Crimson Peak as his first straight-up horror film. Tom Hiddleston’s the name here because of his portrayal of Loki in the Thor movies, but it’s all about Mia Wasikowska, who’s quickly used her career boost from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland to create as accomplished a resume in horror as one can have by 25; and Jessica Chastain, who’s participated in 18 films in the past four years and hasn’t missed as an actor once.

…and, of course, Doug Jones, as accomplished an actor in makeup and monster effects as Andy Serkis is in motion capture.

KUMIKO, THE TREASURE HUNTER

A Japanese woman, rejected by society, discovers a copy of Fargo on tape. She convinces herself it’s a treasure map to the location of the case of money lost in the film, and so she travels to North Dakota in hopes of finding it. The chance to see Kikuchi let loose as an introvert with a loose grasp of reality is the draw here. There aren’t many actors who can reel you in on their name and a sentence-long plot description, but a great performance is still the best reason to see any movie, especially one that looks this darkly comedic and tense.

BILAL

This is an animated movie developed in the United Arab Emirates. It concerns the tale of Bilal ibn Rabah, a warlord who was companion to Muhammad. It does look absolutely beautiful, and it offers the kinds of characters who we don’t often get to see in a movie unless they’re having their heads blown off by a sniper. I won’t pretend that a few more positive portrayals of Muslims on film would quell the voices on both sides calling for bloodshed, but they might convince a few less to respond to those voices.

That alone makes the film unique, although we expect Fox News to whine about brainwashing and evil demons being infused into the seats in the theater or something once it comes out.

FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD

Period romances are one of my least favorite genres. The genre isn’t worse than any other, it’s just not my cup of tea. All that said, Far From the Madding Crowd looks incredible. The Thomas Hardy novel on which it’s based was critical of the cultural expectations of women in 1870s England and Danish director Thomas Vinterberg is experienced at creating challenging social commentary within the frameworks of a variety of genres. His last film, The Hunt, concerned a community creating accusations of predation from thin air in order to persecute a divorced teacher.

WELCOME TO ME

Kristen Wiig is becoming more interesting the closer to Crispen Glover she becomes, because unlike Glover – who purposefully puts off his audience – her biggest concern is still translating her commentary to her audience. She’s challenging, but not confrontational about it. Wiig has Glover’s deconstructionist abilities and mindset, but she’s also concerned with rebuilding something out of what she tears down.

CUT BANK

Welcome to Liam, the Hemsworth who can act. Centering an unwinding, Coen-like “country noir” around Hemsworth, John Malkovich, and Billy Bob Thornton. The director’s an interesting one – half of Matt Shakman’s experience lies in directing It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia episodes. That makes me think the comedy and multi-tiered plot should be spot on. All that’s left is the tension. It’s in the trailer. Can it make it into the movie?

JAUJA

By now, anything with Viggo Mortensen and a horse in it demands your attention. A Spanish-language feature about a Captain abroad in Argentina, whose daughter runs away, the whole thing looks filmed according to the film rules of 1950s Westerns. That alone makes this enticing – how do you communicate to a modern audience with 1950s film grammar? How does that limit you? What artistic opportunities can you find in that grammar that we’ve since lost?

THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E.

This looks exciting almost purely by benefit of Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes movies. If he can bring the same combinations of energy and quirk, the same respect for source material and irreverence for expectations, this adaptation of the 1960s TV show should be a fun ride. The biggest question lies in Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer. Can they can match the levels of charm and self-deprecation that Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law bring to Ritchie’s Sherlock films?

BIG GAME

President Samuel L. Jackson + Finnish boy with a bow and arrow = Explosions. This trailer speaks for itself.

INFINITELY POLAR BEAR

This doesn’t actually look all that good, and the title is – who knows where to start on that – but anything combining Mark Ruffalo and Zoe Saldana is worth a look. They both have their big-budget Marvel cred now, but that overshadows how long each of them has been demolishing roles in smaller films for years. Ruffalo’s recognized for it. Saldana ought to be.

POLTERGEIST

Promising. Director Sam Raimi hasn’t had a great film since 2004’s Spider-Man 2 and he hasn’t had a great horror film since 2000’s underrated The Gift. What Raimi does bring is an unbridled sense of fun, and that’s long been missing in American horror. Will he stick to his guns or will he try to accommodate the changing taste in scares that modern audiences have? This is very up in the air.

ALOHA

They should have left the title of this as “Untitled Cameron Crowe Defense Industry Romance.” So much better than “Aloha.” But Emma Stone, Bradley Cooper, Rachel McAdams, Bill Murray, and Alec Baldwin are an irresistible cast in the hands of someone like Crowe, who’s fallen of the radar quite a bit but has yet to make anything I’d call a bad movie.

WORST TRAILER OF THE WEEK
HITMAN: AGENT 47

Look, everybody, The Matrix had a reason for magic slo-mo back in 1999, but by now it’s all a bit played out, isn’t it? Oh, he’s genetically altered to be able to move faster than a bullet – well, it’s all OK then. Films like this can still be fun – they’re essentially stylistic CGI cutscene orgies – but they can also wear out the viewer very quickly if done wrong. When your two minute trailer opens with all the trademarks of a parody, it’s done wrong. If anything survived from The Matrix, it should have been the goth style instead of bullet time.