Reel Women: June UK Releases

Written by Elena Morgan

Welcome back to Reel Women, a monthly feature where we highlight the films that are being released in the UK this month that are written and/or directed by women. As ever this is a mixture of wide and smaller releases, so depending where in the country you are, some might be easier to see than others, and there’s a couple of Netflix Original films here too. All the release date information comes from Launching Films and all dates are correct at the time this post was written – we all know film releases can change at the last minute, especially for smaller films.

This month there’s romantic comedies, documentaries, dramas, and one I’m personally very excited for – the Ocean’s spin-off.

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1 June

Book Club
Directed by Bill Holderman
Written by Bill Holderman and Erin Simms

When four long-time friends (Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Candice Bergen and Mary Steenburgen) decide to read 50 Shades of Grey for the book club, they all get a whole new lease for life.

Erin Simms is an actress and producer who worked as a part of the crew for such films as ‘A Walk in the Woods’ and ‘Pete’s Dragon’. ‘Book Club’ is her first produced screenplay.

Ismael’s Ghosts

Directed by Arnaud Desplechin
Written by Arnaud Desplechin, Julie Peyr and Léa Mysius

Ismael (Mathieu Amalric) is a filmmaker whose life is turned on its head when his wife (Marion Cotillard), who he hasn’t seen for over twenty years comes back into his life, disrupting his relationship.

This is Julie Peyr’s second collaboration with Arnaud Desplechin and her tenth screenwriting credit. Léa Mysius is a writer and director of a number of short films. Her debut feature film, ‘Ava’, screened at the London Film Festival last year.

Lost in Vagueness
Directed by Sofia Olins

A music documentary about Roy Gurvitz who created Lost Vagueness at Glastonbury and reinvigorated the festival.

‘Lost in Vagueness’ is Sofia Olins’ first feature-length documentary. She’s previously worked as a second unit director or assistant director on a variety of British television series including ‘Primeval’, ‘The IT Crowd’ and ‘Peep Show’.

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8 June

The Boy Downstairs
Written and Directed by Sophie Brooks

Diana (Zosia Mamet) is forced to reflect on her past relationship with Ben (Matthew Shear) when she unintentionally moves into the apartment above his.

‘The Boy Downstairs’ is Sophie Brooks first feature film.

15 June

Set It Up
Directed by Claire Scanlon
Written by Katie Silberman

Harper (Zoey Deutch) and Charlie (Glen Powell) are two stressed out assistants who each have a high maintenance boss, Kristen (Lucy Liu) and Rick (Taye Diggs). When they decide to play matchmaker, maybe they can spread some romance and get their freedom.

Think of any big American comedy show of the past ten years and Claire Scanlon has probably directed at least one episode of it. Her directing credits include ‘The Office’, ‘Brooklyn Nine-Nine’, ‘Modern Family’ and ‘Fresh Off the Boat’. ‘Set It Up’ is her first feature film. Katie Silberman has previously produced comedy films ‘Hot Pursuit’ and ‘How to Be Single’. ‘Set It Up’ is her first feature-length screenplay to make it to the screen.

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22 June

Ocean’s 8
Directed by Gary Ross
Written by Gary Ross and Olivia Milch

Debbie Ocean (Sandra Bullock) gathers a crew to attempt to rob the Met Gala.

Olivia Milch is a writer-director whose debut film, ‘Dude’, is a Netflix Original Film. As well as co-writing Ocean’s 8 she is also a co-producer on the film.

Boom for Real: The Late Teenage Years of Jean-Michel Basquiat
Directed by Sara Driver

A documentary exploring the pre-fame years of American artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, and how New York City its people and the shifting arts culture of the 1970s and ‘80s shaped his work.

‘Boom for Real’ is Sara Driver’s first documentary feature film and her first film in 15 years.

Freak Show
Directed by Trudie Styler
Written by Patrick J. Clifton and Beth Rigazio

Despite attending an ultra-conservative high school, teenager Billy Bloom (Alex Lawther) decides to run for Homecoming Queen.

Trudie Styler is an actress and producer and ‘Freak Show’ is her directorial feature debut. Beth Rigazio has previously written TV movies including the Disney Channel original movie, ‘Go Figure’.

24 June

To Each, Her Own (aka Les Gouts et Les Couleurs)
Directed by Myriam Aziza
Written by Myriam Aziza, Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé

Simone’s (Sarah Stern) been in a relationship with Claire (Julia Piaton) for years but has never come out to her family. Her brothers keep trying to set her up with men, her father’s a traditionalist and her mother is just a little bit eccentric – soon everything comes to ahead and Simone is forced to make some hard choices.

‘To Each, Her Own’ is a Netflix Original and is Myriam Aziza’s sixth film. She wrote, directed, edited and was cinematographer on her documentary film ‘L’an prochain à Jérusalem’. Denyse Rodriguez-Tomé previous screenwriting credits include ‘I Hate Love‘ which won the Award of the Youth in the French Film category at the 1997 Cannes Film Festival.

27 June

Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms
Written and Directed by Mari Okada

Maquia (Manaka Iwami) is an immortal girl and when she ventures out into the world she meets Erial (Miyu Irino) a mortal boy, their friendship becomes an unbreakable bond that lasts throughout the years.

‘Maquia: When the Promised Flower Blooms’ is Mari Okada’s directorial debut but she’s written episodes for dozens of different anime. In 2011 Okada won the Animation Kobe Award, an award and event that aims to promote anime and other visual media.

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29 June

Leave No Trace
Directed by Debra Granik
Written by Debra Granik and Anne Rosellini

A father (Ben Foster) and his teenage daughter (Thomasin McKenzie) have an idyllic life living in a vast urban park in Oregon, until they are forced to re-join society.

Debra Granik is the director of ‘Winter’s Bone’, a film she co-wrote with Anne Rosellini and which earned them both an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay. ‘Leave No Trace’ is their first feature film since ‘Winter’s Bone’ was released in 2010.

Patrick
Directed by Mandie Fletcher
Written by Vanessa Davies, Mandie Fletcher and Paul de Vos

Sarah’s (Beattie Edmondson) life is a bit of a mess and she really could do without the pug named Patrick her grandmother bequeathed her. As Sarah struggles to look after Patrick, find romance with his vet (Ed Skrein) and cope with a new job, Sarah realises that Patrick might just be helping her turn her life around.

Mandie Fletcher has directed episodes of popular British comedies like ‘Black Adder the Third’, ‘Only Fools and Horses’, and ‘Miranda’ and her previous film was ‘Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie’. ‘Patrick’ is both Mandie Fletcher’s and Vanessa Davies’s first produced screenplay.

The Bookshop
Written and Directed by Isabel Coixet

Set in a small English town in 1959, Florence (Emily Mortimer) decides to open a bookshop but is met with polite yet ruthless opposition.

Isabel Coixet is a Spanish filmmaker with over 30 directing credits and 20 writing credits to her name.

 


 

That’s thirteen films made by women being released in the UK in June. There’s something for everyone with animation, dramas, documentaries and a fair few romantic comedies. Personally, I’m looking forward to ‘Ocean’s 8′ and ‘Set It Up’, two films that have been on my radar for a while, but one I hadn’t heard of before researching this feature but definitely want to see is ‘Freak Show’ – the trailer makes it look like so much fun!

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Home Again

Year: 2017
Directed by: Hallie Meyers-Shyer
Starring: Reece Witherspoon, Michael Sheen, Candice Bergen, Pico Alexander, Jon Rudnitsky.  

Written by Andrew Garrison

I wasn’t compelled to see this film, but it seemed wholesome enough to give a chance to. This is one of those films that you see coming and know exactly what you are getting –  a mature romantic comedy with some feel-good moments, a silly plot with three guys and a girl living together. Predictable, but enjoyable. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with that, but there are plenty of movies of the same style and context. What separates this from other films? I engage it to find out.

‘Home Again’ is about a single middle-aged woman (Reece Witherspoon) who feels trapped in her life with an estranged father and two young girls to care for. She winds up having a presumed one-night stand with an attractive young man, but complications arise. Now the three young men are living with her as they have nowhere else to go, and sure enough, things escalate into a full-blown romantic comedy.

The fact is, there isn’t anything terrible about this film,  although one could use the term
cookie-cutter comedy to define it. The acting is serviceable enough, but nobody in this film should be nominated for an Oscar because of their work here. Things fall into place much too easily, one would expect more apprehension and conflict especially early on, but it all gets swept under the rug, which is unrealistic. I believe there are nice young men in the world who would be respectful, mature, and docile enough to make this work. However, the chances of finding three of them and having them stay at your home without serious issues. Too much fantasy in that. While all the characters are likable to a point, you have a lot of familiar roles. The out-of- touch and insensitive dad, the sensitive more wholesome guy, and the attractive more self-centred personality, and let’s not forget the wishy-washy middle-age woman who gets frazzled easily. You have seen this all before and will surely see it again as soon as next year.

I’m ripping on the film for its overused elements, but there are some aspects to appreciate. It remembers to be a light-hearted comedy with a few laughs sprinkled in throughout. There could have been more, but the humour and the characters were likable enough to keep me engaged in the film from start to finish.

Without spoiling much, there are some mature themes to the film. From dealing with a divided family to the messy romantic nature of a film with three young men staying with a woman in need of some comfort, support, and reliability. It hits all those emotional strings you would expect from a rom-com, but with limited eye-rolling which I was thankful for. The ending wraps everything into a nice package, but doesn’t end as predictable as it could have. It was a more modern and frankly refreshing conclusion in that sense.

Also, as an older millennial, it is refreshing to see my generation be portrayed as conflicted, ambitious, but good-natured human beings. People who are capable of being decent all the while pursuing their dreams. A welcome change compared to the bulk of raunchy over-the-top comedies filled with atrocious human beings which is trending in Hollywood now. Also, let me give a quick shout out to both young female actresses for their work in this one. I found the youngest daughter, Rosie, played by Eden Grace Redfield to be delightful with nearly every line she speaks.

In the end, the film gives you exactly what you expected. A comedic romp mixed in with
some classic silly romantic entanglements. All of it wrapped up in a nice package in roughly 90 minutes of time. It isn’t an Oscar worthy comedy, but it is inoffensive, feel-good, Hollywood cheese one can sit back and relax with. If it has an upside, it is the willingness to approach an unusual situation in a modern and mature light, and showcasing millennials as decent human beings. A middle ground comedy with some upside and that’s just fine.

ANDREW’S RATING: 6.4/10

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