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Weekly Update for June 27 and July 4: Women Centric, Directed and Written Films Playing Near You

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by Inkoo Kang
July 3, 2014 1:00 PM
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"Tammy"

Films About Women Opening

Opening June 27

Bound By Flesh (doc) - Directed by Leslie Zemeckis

At the height of their fame, conjoined twins Daisy and Violet Hilton were the toast of vaudeville. They were among the highest-paid entertainers on the circuit, and a young Bob Hope was part of their routine. With the coming of the movies, however, vaudeville went into decline and the fortunes of the Hilton sisters went with it. Ironically, they are now most commonly remembered for their work in the medium that effectively killed their career: principally for their appearance, as themselves, in Tod Browning’s notorious pre-code horror film Freaks. Leslie Zemeckis’s workmanlike documentary recounts their remarkable but profoundly difficult life, from the twins' birth in Britain to their death in a small town in North Carolina, where they were to be found working the checkouts at a grocery store during their final years. Though it revels in the more sensationalistic aspects of Daisy and Violet’s career—their publicity-stunt marriages and string of failed love affairs—the documentary also offers more sober insights into their lives, stressing in particular their remarkable rise from sideshow ''attractions'' to fully-fledged vaudeville performers, and rebellion against the adoptive family who sought to maintain an exploitative hold over their careers. Though Bound By Flesh is hindered somewhat by certain of its creative choices—the intermittent guitar-rock soundtrack is rather incongruous—its story is ultimately a fascinating, and moving, one. (Alice Thorpe)  

Read Women and Hollywood's interview with Leslie Zemeckis about Bound By Flesh.

Redemption Trail - Written and Directed by Britta Sjorgen

Whether we like it or not, some fictional genres are associated with men. What is more essential to American iconography than the brooding cowboy, standing alone on desert plains as he stares down the evils of his corrupt world? That's one of the many things making Redemption Trail remarkable: the reinvention of classic cinema imagery through a feminist lens. The film follows two radically different women brought together by personal tragedy: Tess (LisaGay Hamilton), the fiercely hermetic daughter of a murdered Black Panther member, and Anna (Lily Rabe), a successful doctor driven to failed suicide after the loss of her child. Both women are crippled by grief, anger, and a desperate need for titular redemption, shunning all emotional connections capable of bringing further pain. Yet their understanding of one another's trauma succeeds where other relationships fail, allowing the women to reclaim their identities as powerful survivors. Not only do they overcome haunting pasts - a deeply inward heroism - they discover within themselves the potential for outward heroism, evidenced in a stunning shoot-out against a vicious drug cartel. At its heart, Redemption Trail is a beautifully meditative film about the perilous, slow road to recovery, for even though trauma at times seems unendurable, it does not control. (Kelcie Mattson)

Read Women and Hollywood's interview with Britta Sjorgen about Redemption Trail.

Opening July 2

Tammy - Co-Written by Melissa McCarthy

Tammy (Melissa McCarthy) is having a bad day. She's totaled her clunker car, gotten fired from her thankless job at a greasy burger joint and, instead of finding comfort at home, finds her husband getting comfortable with the neighbor in her own house. It's time to take her boom box and book it. The bad news is she's broke and without wheels. The worse news is her grandma, Pearl (Susan Sarandon), is her only option-with a car, cash, and an itch to see Niagara Falls. Not exactly the escape Tammy had in mind. But on the road, with grandma riding shot gun, it may be just what Tammy needs. (Tammymovie.com)

Opening July 4

Gabrielle - Directed by Louise Archambault

Gabrielle is a 22-year-old woman with Williams syndrome, a genetic disorder that often slows cognitive skills while increasing sociability and musical talent. She sings in a Montreal choir with other disabled adults, where she meets and falls in love with the dashingly handsome Martin. The bliss of first love is interrupted, however, by Martin’s interfering mother, who worries that special needs individuals aren’t sufficiently fit for romantic relationships. What emerges in Louise Archambault’s sweet, unassuming and confidently directed film is a portrait of a young woman fighting, in her own way, for acceptance and independence, and for her right to experience life’s highs and lows– with joy, pain, confusion and eventual understanding. (EOne Films)

Heatstroke - Directed by Evelyn Purcell

On a family trip in the African desert, a research scientist unintentionally travels off course and is brutally murdered by an arms dealer. His girlfriend is put to the ultimate survival test as she attempts to evade the killers and protect his teenage daughter. (Phase 4 Films)

Films About Women Currently Playing

American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs - Directed by Grace Lee
The Amazing Catfish - Written and Directed by Claudia Saint-Luce
Belle - Directed by Amma Asante; Written by Misan Sagay
Obvious Child - Written and Directed by Gillian Robespierre
The Fault in Our Stars
Maleficent - Written by Linda Woolverton
We Are the Best!
Lucky Them - Directed by Megan Griffiths; Co-Written by Emily Wachtel
The Immigrant
Legends of Oz: Dorothy's Return - Co-Written by Randi Barnes
Mom's Night Out - Co-Written by Andrea Gyertson Nasfell
Ida
The Other Woman - Directed by Melissa Stack
Under the Skin
Finding Vivian Maier (doc)
Divergent - Co-Written by Vanessa Taylor

Films Directed by Women Opening

Opening June 27 

Nothing Bad Can Happen -- Written and Directed by Katrin Gebbe

Inspired by horrifying true events, Nothing Bad Can Happen follows Tore (Julius Feldmeier), a young lost soul involved with an underground Christian punk movement who falls in with a dysfunctional family who test his seemingly unwavering faith. After a chance encounter helping stranded driver Benno (Sascha Alexander Gersak), where Tore manages to start his car with an apparent miracle, he is invited back to Benno's home and becomes friendly with him, his wife and two children. Before long, Tore moves into a tent in the garden and gradually becomes part of the family. However, Benno can't resist playing a cruel game designed to challenge Tore's beliefs. As his trials become more and more extreme, Tore finds his capacity for love and resilience pushed to its limits and beyond. (RottenTomatoes.com)

Read Women and Hollywood's Interview with Katrin Gebbe about Nothing Bad Can Happen.

Opening July 4

Beyond the Edge - Written and Directed by Leanne Pooley

Beyond the Edge documents the epic true journey of the heroic and triumphant ascent to the top of Mt Everest by Edmund Hillary, a modest bee-keeper and keen mountaineer from Auckland New Zealand, and the very experienced Sherpa, Tenzing Norgay, of Nepal. (Beyondtheedgefilm.com) 

Films Directed by Women Currently Playing

Exhibition - Written and Directed by Joanaa Hogg
Hellion - Written and Directed by Kat Chandler
Citizen Koch (doc) - Co-Directed by Tia Lessin
The Only Real Game (doc) - Directed by Mirra Bank
Night Moves - Co-Written and Directed by Kelly Reichardt
Palo Alto - Written and Directed by Gia Coppola
Fed Up (doc) - Co-Written and Directed by Stephanie Soechtig 

Films by and About Women on DVD or on Demand

Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me – Directed by Chiemi Karasawa
Two Lives - Co-Written and Co-Directed by Judith Kaufman
Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq (doc) - Directed by Nancy Buirski

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