Film & Television

Summer Preview: Movies By, For, and About Women

July Releases


Screenwriter Melissa Mathison, who passed away last November, first worked with Steven Spielberg back in 1982 when they created the heartwarming/heartbreaking E.T. In this, her final film, she adapted one of Roald Dahl’s most beloved children’s books. The movie stars multi-award winner Mark Rylance as the “BFG” (“big friendly giant”) along with young Ruby Barnhill as the little girl he befriends. The story’s underlying message – that we are all more similar than different – seems particularly resonant for today’s fractured world.

Our Kind of Traitor

Naomie Harris and Ewan McGregor star in this stylish international thriller as a couple unwittingly caught between an underworld rock and a hard place: the Russian mafia and British intelligence. Directed by Susanna White, the film is adapted from a John le Carré bestseller. One hopes that with a woman at the helm, Harris’s part will be a little more substantial than most female roles in similar movies. Although the movie poster is typical, with three men and only one woman, Harris is pictured as prominently as McGregor. That’s progress, at least.

The Innocents

Based on true (if unthinkable) events, The Innocents tells the story of a young French Red Cross worker, Mathilde, in post-WWII Poland, who discovers a convent of pregnant nuns. The women, raped by soldiers, must reconcile their faith and their shame, as they rely on atheist Mathilde. The film was written by Sabrina B. Karine and Alice Vial. Director Anne Fontaine (Adore and Coco Before Chanel) hopes that audiences will leave understanding “In spite of all the terrible things that happen in our world, hope can — and must — prevail.”

Norman Lear: Just Another Version of You

This documentary, co-directed by Heidi Ewing and Rachel Grady, examines the life and work of the legendary television producer of so many groundbreaking 1970s and 80s TV shows. A de facto activist, Lear’s hits, like “All in the Family,” “The Jeffersons,” and “Maude” cast a bright, comedic light on the day’s most topical issues, such as racism and the women’s rights movement. Now, aged 93, Lear and numerous television stars look back on just how powerful laughter was to spread the word — and change the world.

Absolutely Fabulous

The wildly popular BBC series’ much-anticipated feature-length follow-up promises to be as outrageous (and arguably “absolutely fabulous”) as the show itself. Edina and Patsy (Jennifer Saunders and Joanna Lumley) escape to the Riviera after they inadvertently (maybe, probably, kinda, sorta) kill supermodel Kate Moss. (OMG, Darling!) Director Mandie Fletcher serves up glamorous locales, high fashion, vast quantities of booze, and a cast which boasts series regulars plus more than 5 dozen celebrity cameos. (I repeat. OMG, Darling!)


Earlier, I mentioned the usual in-equity of women to men on movie posters. The poster for upcoming Equity bucks that trend beautifully. Stars Anna Gunn, Sarah Megan Thomas and Alysia Reiner outnumber James Purefoy quite nicely. Director Meera Menon’s film (co-written by Amy Fox and Sarah Megan Thomas) is the first major Wall Street drama with a female protagonist at its center. Naomi Bishop (Gunn) is torn between a big IPO and her own ambitions in a high-stakes world with a glass ceiling still very much intact.

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  • Susanna Gaertner June 28, 2016 at 5:51 pm

    Sure do appreciate this comprehensive line-up….

  • b. elliott June 28, 2016 at 12:54 pm

    Thanks for your guidance! Great round-up!!!

  • Patricia Yarberry Allen, M.D. June 28, 2016 at 8:25 am

    Now I know everything I should see this summer when nature proves to be too hot and dry.

    Thanks, Alex, for this comprehensive review.

    Dr. Pat