Reel Women: November UK Releases

Welcome back to Reel Women, the monthly feature that highlights the films being released in the UK that are written and/or directed by women. The clocks have gone back, it’s dark and cold outside, so what better way to spend the dark evenings than in the cinema?! This month there’s dramas, rom-coms and the start of the Christmas-themed releases. Oh, and there’s a little film about wizards and another small animated film featuring well-known Disney characters.

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2 November

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms

Directed by Lasse Hallström and Joe Johnston
Written by Ashleigh Powell and Tom McCarthy

When Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is transported to a magical world of her mother’s making, she’ll do anything to protect it.

The Nutcracker and the Four Realms is Ashleigh Powell’s first produced screenplay. She’s attached to adapt the books The Paper Magician and The Hazel Wood into screenplays.

 

Juliet, Naked

Directed by Jesse Peretz
Written by Evgenia Peretz, Jim Taylor and Tamara Jenkins

After Annie (Rose Byne) breaks up with Duncan (Chris O’Dowd), she embarks on an unlikely romance with a famous singer-songwriter who happened to be Duncan’s favourite musician.

Tamara Jenkins is a writer-director who was Oscar nominated for her original screenplay The Savages (2007). Her latest film, Private Life, is a new Netflix Original. Evgenia Peretz is a writer and producer, Juliet, Naked is her second produced screenplay.

 

King of Crime

Directed by Matt Gambell
Written by Linda Dunscombe

The biggest player in British cyber-crime goes head to head against some Islamic extremists by playing the biggest scam of his life.

As well as writing King of Crime, Linda Dunscombe was also a producer on the film, and the films casting director.

 

 

6 November

Widows

Directed by Steve McQueen
Written by Gillian Flynn and Steve McQueen

Four women whose dead husbands’ criminal actives leave them in trouble, conspire to come together to survive the forces that are out to get them.

Gillian Flynn is an author and screenwriter who adapted her own novel, Gone Girl (2014) to critical acclaim earning her a Golden Globe nomination.

 

 

9 November

Wildlife

Directed by Paul Dano
Written by Paul Dano and Zoe Kazan

A boy witnesses his parents’ (Carey Mulligan and Jake Gyllenhaal) marriage fall apart.

Zoe Kazan is an actress and screenwriter whose acting credits include What If (2013), Meek’s Cutoff (2010) and The Big Sick (2017). Her previous screenplay was Ruby Sparks (2012) in which she played the titular role.

Our review

 

Outlaw King

Directed by David Mackenzie
Written by Mark Bomback, Bathsheba Doran, David Harrower, James MacInnes and David Mackenzie

The story of how Scottish Robert The Bruce (Chris Pine) fought to defeat and repel the much larger occupying English army.

Outlaw King is Bathsheba Doran’s first feature film, but she’s written episodes of multiple TV shows including Broadwalk Empire and Masters of Sex.

Our review

 

The Other Side of Everything

Directed by Mila Turajlic

A documentary about Serbian filmmaker Mila Turajlic, who learns more about her family history and her country’s tumultuous political inheritance after opening a locked door in her mother’s apartment in Belgrade.

Mila Turajlic is a producer and director who was also the cinematographer for The Other Side of Everything.

 

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16 November

Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald

Directed by David Yates
Written by J.K. Rowling

Albus Dumbledore (Jude Law) tasks Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne) to take down Gellert Grindelwald (Johnny Depp) who believes wizards are better than muggles.

J.K. Rowling needs no introduction. After writing the Harry Potter book series that turned into a global phenomenon, Rowling is now the writing the screenplays for the Fantastic Beasts series.

 

The Princess Switch

Directed by Mike Rohl
Written by Robin Bernheim and Megan Metzger

Netflix’s first Christmas themed film of the year, The Princess Switch is about how one week before Christmas, Margaret, the gorgeous Duchess of Montenaro, switches places with Stacy, a “commoner” from Chicago, who looks exactly like her.

Robin Bernheim is a writer and producer of films and TV shows including Quantum Leap and Star Trek: Voyager. The Princess Switch is Megan Mertzger is first produced screenplay.

 

Hell Fest

Directed by Gregory Plotkin
Written by Seth M. Sherwood, Blair Butler and Akela Cooper

A masked serial killer turns a horror-themed amusement park into his own personal hunting ground.

Blair Butler is a writer, director and producer. Hell Fest is her first feature film. Hell Fest is Akela Cooper’s first feature film screenplay as well but she has written multiple episodes of the TV shows Grimm, Luke Cage and The 100.

 

 

23 November

Back to Berlin

Directed by Catherine Lurie-Alt

Documentary about eleven motor bikers have a mission to take the Maccabiah torch from Israel to the site of the infamous 1936 Berlin Olympics, for the first Jewish Olympic Games on German soil.

This is Catherine Lurie-Alt’s first film.

Nativity Rocks!

Written & Directed by Debbie Isitt

The fourth film about St Bernadette’s Primary School in Coventry and the staff and students there who audition for a coveted place in a spectacular Christmas rock musical competition.

Debbie Isitt has written and directed all four Nativity films – the first two films, starring Martin Freeman and David Tennant, are on Netflix if you fancy getting into the Christmas spirit early.

The Judge

Directed by Erika Cohn

Documentary about Judge Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman appointed to a Shari’a court in the Middle East.

Erika Cohn is a producer and writer and The Judge is her second feature-length documentary.

 

 

30 November

Ralph Breaks the Internet

Directed by Phil Johnston and Rich Moore
Written by Phil Johnston and Pamela Ribon

Ralph and Penelope discover the internet and go on a whole new adventure.

Pamela Ribon is an actress, producer and writer whose previous screenwriting credits include Smurfs: The Lost Village (2017).

 

Disobedience

Directed by Sebastián Lelio
Written by Sebastián Lelio and Rebecca Lenkiewicz

Ronit (Rachel Weisz) returns home to her Jewish community after being shunned by them years before for her attraction to a female friend. When Ronit and Esti (Rachel McAdams) meet again their passions reignite.

Disobedience is Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s second feature film. Her previous film was Oscar winner Ida (2013) and her next film is Colette starring Keira Knightley which is released in the UK early next year.

 

The Wild Pear Tree

Directed by Nuri Bilge Ceylan
Written by Akin Aksu, Ebru Ceylan and Nuri Bilge Ceylan

An aspiring writer returns to his native village, where his father’s debts catch up to him.

Ebru Ceylan is a writer and director whose debut short film Kiyida (1998) was nominated for the Palme d’Or for Best Short Film at Cannes Film Festival. The Wild Pear Tree is her third feature-length screenplay.


And that’s it for this month’s Reel Women. That’s 16 films from a wide range of genres that are released in the UK that are made by women in November. Do let us know what you think of any of these films if you get a chance to see them – some might be easier to find than others!

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REVIEW: The Monster

Year: 2018
Directed by: Bryan Bertino
Starring: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine

Written by Corey Hughes

Bryan Bertino’s third directorial outing finds the director in the familiar territory of the horror genre, following his previous two projects – The Strangers and Mockingbird – to bring us The Monster; an endearing, albeit flawed, family drama set within the framework of a claustrophobic creature-feature.

Bertino’s debut feature The Strangers was everything I wanted in a home-invasion horror flick; an unsettling, atmospheric thriller that expertly tapped into fears of claustrophobic vulnerability in a completely unique and spine-chilling way. The initial promise of the up-and-coming horror director slowly diminished with his second project, Mockingbird, an underwhelming take on the found-footage genre that was left largely unseen by general audiences.

The Monster, which is finally reaching UK audiences with its release on DVD and digital this month after premiering in the U.S. back in 2016 (talk about delayed overseas distribution, jeez), is a step in the right direction for Bertino; a project that is anchored by the provocative duality between its two stars.

Bertino’s latest piece tells the unsettling story of a single mother, Kathy (Zoe Kazan; The Big Sick), and her adolescent daughter Lizzy (Ella Ballentine), whose road trip turns into a living nightmare when their car breaks down on a deserted road. Unbeknownst to them, a terrifying force lurks within the forest that consumes them.

The palpable tension that binds the mother and daughter relationship together is epitomised by the film’s opening scene – Lizzy clearing liquor bottles and ashtrays from the dimly lit living room, her mother lying motionless in bed, awoken from her slumber with a hint of irritation in her tone. Zoe Kazan, known mostly for her comedic roles in Ruby Sparks and last year’s The Big Sick, provides a more dramatic performance as Kathy; a struggling alcoholic and persistent smoker whose role as a mother is, shall we say, questionable. Whilst Kazan is impressive in the leading role, it’s young Ella Ballentine who steals the show by bringing to the fore a terrific, matured performance of an innocent adolescent struggling to live an ordinary childhood at the benefit of her mother’s chaotic lifestyle. The origins of the fractious relationship they share is gradually fed to us through a collection of seamless flashbacks that refer back to catastrophic, and often violent, outbursts between the pair. These flashbacks are packed with explosive emotion that only strengthen our distaste towards Kazan’s character, a sense of provocation that metaphorically alludes to Kathy as the titular monster. As the stakes get higher, their relationship gradually strengthens; a fight for survival disguised as a bonding session that is as endearing as it is expected.

As much as Kathy is a monster in a metaphorical sense, the literal presence of the hulking, demonic creature is just as engaging. Bertino takes half of the runtime to eventually unleash the monster, and when it arrives, the film finally mutates into a horror – albeit not a very convincing one. The bloodshed caused by the creature is entertaining to endure as it tears apart side characters who are only present to be chomped at; but it’s not at all scary. It’s surprising to see Bertino’s film, when considering how frightfully fantastic The Strangers was, lack any sense of atmosphere or dread, epitomised by its melodramatic denouement that fails to land the emotionally-packed punches it aims to throw.

The Monster works best as a compelling insight into the dysfunctional relationship shared between a struggling mother and her neglected daughter, but falls short as a convincing creature-feature. This is undeniably a step in the right direction for Bertino on the back of his previous outing, but there’s still a lot more to come from the up-and-coming horror director.

COREY’S RATING:

3

Zoe Kazan Stars In Bryan Bertino’s Claustrophobic Horror ‘The Monster’

“Calling time on life with her volatile, alcoholic mother, neglected youngster Lizzie is en route to start a new life with her estranged father when a car accident leaves mother and daughter stranded on a deserted country road on a stormy night. Desperately awaiting help, the pair soon realise they are not alone – a terrifying evil is lurking in the surrounding woods, and apparently, it’s hungry…”

Directed by: Bryan Bertino

Cast: Zoe Kazan, Ella Ballentine, Aaron Douglas

Release Date: October 8th, 2018 (DVD & VOD)

The Headliners & Hidden Gems At The 62nd BFI London Film Festival

Yesterday saw the announcement of the full line-up of films for the 62nd BFI London Film Festival (LFF), and boy is there a ton to get your teeth stuck into! But this year we have even more reason to be excited as JUMPCUT will attending and covering the festival for the first time ever!

We’ll be covering a whole range of films screening at the festival, including some of the headliners and hidden gems! JUMPCUT’s LFF Queen Sarah has kindly picked out just some of the films she thinks you are going to want to keep your eye on!

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The Headliners

Widows
Directed by: Steve McQueen
Starring: Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabeth Debicki, Cynthia Erivo, Colin Farrell, Daniel Kaluuya

Why it is worth a watch: I mean that cast list alone is worth the admission price, but this female-fronted action thriller is also helmed by the man who brought us 12 Years a Slave, a film which previously enjoyed awards success. But the talent doesn’t end there, Widows is penned by Gone Girl writer Gillian Flynn and Hans Zimmer provides the score. This is an action movie of the highest calibre and one that will be well worth your time and money.

Screening at LFF: 10th, 11th, 12th October
UK Wider Release Date: 6th November 2018

Stan & Ollie
Directed by: Jon S Baird
Starring: Steve Coogan, John C Reilly, Nina Arianda, Shirley Henderson, Danny Huston

Why it is worth a watch: An ode to cinema, entertainment, and with two leading actors known for their brilliance as physical comedians, Stan & Ollie seems like the perfect film to close out London Film Festival. Coogan and Reilly bring beloved comedians Stan Laurel and Ollie Hardy to life on the big screen, focusing on the twilight years of their career. This is set to be a real crowd-pleaser and the most fitting curtain call for the festival.

Screening at LFF: 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 11th January 2019

The Favourite
Directed by: Yorgos Lanthimos
Starring: Olivia Colman, Emma Stone, Rachel Weisz

Why it is worth a watch: A divisive filmmaker, but certainly one that gets people talking, Yorgos Lanthimos brings his third English-language film in four years to the London Film Festival. With stand-out performances from Olivia Colman, Rachel Weisz and Emma Stone, The Favourite promises to be bizarre, bonkers, and brilliant!

Screening at LFF: 18th, 19th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st January 2019

The Ballad of Buster Scruggs
Directed by: Joel and Ethan Coen
Starring: Tim Blake Nelson, Liam Neeson, Tom Waits, Zoe Kazan, Bill Heck

Why it is worth a watch: It’s the Coen Brothers! In all seriousness, the latest from the incomparable Coens promises to be wild (west) entertainment, hilarious, offbeat, and surprisingly melancholic. Dark humour and the trademark Coen brothers flair will be here in abundance

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Screening at LFF: 12th, 13th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

Beautiful Boy
Directed by: Felix Van Groeningen
Starring: Steve Carell, Timothee Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan

Why it is worth a watch: Just try and get through the trailer to this one without crying. Sometimes you just need to let it all out, and this will be the film that gets audiences at LFF reaching for the tissues. Starring man-of-the-moment Timothee Chalamet, hot off the heels of last year’s Call Me By Your Name, and Steve Carell in what is set to be another great dramatic role for him, Beautiful Boy will be the one to watch for those early Best Actor hints…

Screening at LFF: 13th, 14th, 16th October
UK Wider Release Date: 18th January 2019

Suspiria
Directed by: Luca Guadagnino
Starring: Dakota Johnson, Tilda Swinton, Mia Goth, Jessica Harper, Chloe Grace Moretz

Why it is worth a watch: Full disclaimer, I am a massive horror wuss and will therefore not be seeing this on the big screen, but it would be very remiss of me not to mention it here. There is no denying the trailer is stunning, and the hype levels amongst the JumpCut team have reached fever-pitch for this one. It won’t be for everyone but it’ll certainly be a talking point. And also it has Tilda Swinton in it; you can’t go wrong!

Screening at LFF: 16th, 17th, 19th October
UK Wider Release Date: 16th November 2019

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The Hidden Gems

Wild Rose
Directed by: Tom Harper
Starring: Jessie Buckley, Sophie Okonedo, Julie Walters

Why it is worth a watch: After impressing in Beast, Jessie Buckley stars in what is set to another impressive film. A Glaswegian single mum dreams of being a country singer, how hard could it be?! This is the sort of film that will make your heart soar, and with Julie Walters also appearing, it is hard not to draw comparisons with the underdog story of Billy Elliot. This film is already set to be one of the truly underrated gems of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 15th, 16th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 8th February 2019

The Hate U Give
Directed by: George Tillman Jr
Starring: Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Russell Hornsby, KJ Apa, Common

Why it is worth a watch: Adapted from Angie Thomas’ ‘Black Lives Matter’-inspired Young Adult novel, this film certainly feels like an important one, and one which is sadly still so relevant. Focusing on the young lives affected by the tragic shootings of their peers, the BFI are also offering £5 tickets to see this one for 16 to 25 year olds. Even outside of this age range, this film has a lot to offer, promising to be a powerful and timely watch.

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 26th October 2018

Assassination Nation
Directed by: Sam Levinson
Starring: Odessa Young, Suki Waterhouse, Hari Nef, Abra, Bella Thorne

Why it is worth a watch: Don’t let the early trigger warnings put you off, this is a film that bears everything upfront and then unleashes all hell. Assassination Nation is the Salem witch trials meets the digital generation in this thoroughly modern cautionary tale, and one which is poised to join other teen cult classics such as Heathers and Spring Breakers. Subversive and utterly unique, this could be one of the surprise hits of the festival.

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: 23rd November 2018

Burning
Directed by: Lee Chang-dong
Starring: Yoo Ah-in, Jeon Jong-seo, Steven Yeun

Why it is worth a watch: This film wowed audiences at Cannes, which is often the mark of a successful festival film! This lean slow-burning thriller promises to have you gripped right from the start, as well as exploring complex themes such as obsession, class-conflict and suppressed male rage. It will be unlikely to have a wide cinema release, so catch this one at the festival whilst you can!

Screening at LFF: 19th, 20th October
UK Wider Release Date: 1st February 2019

Mandy
Directed by: Panos Cosmatos
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Andrea Riseborough, Linus Roache

Why it is worth a watch: Yes, Nicolas Cage. Stop reading now! Just kidding, this synopsis alone is enough to make you want to see it so we’re not even going to add to it: “In a mountain-cabin idyll, lumberjack Red Miller (Nicolas Cage) lives in perfect harmony with his great love Mandy (Andrea Riseborough). But the couple’s blissful utopia is cruelly shattered when a ragtag band of Satanic cultists invade their humble abode and claim Mandy for their own. Traumatised and distraught, Red is left with no option but to exact a bloody revenge.” (Michael Blyth, BFI)

Screening at LFF: 11, 12, 17th
UK Wider Release Date: 12th October 2018

Blaze
Directed by: Ethan Hawke
Starring: Ben Dickey, Alia Shawkat, Sam Rockwell

Why it is worth a watch: Ethan Hawke is having quite the year, and fresh from his acclaimed performance in First Reformed, his latest directorial offering his heading to LFF. This biopic about a little known musician is shot with affection and true passion that is hard to replicate, and quite frankly anything Ethan Hawke is passionate about, we love already!

Screening at LFF: 20th, 21st October
UK Wider Release Date: TBA

The Big Sick

Year: 2017
Director: Michael Showalter
Starring: Kumail Nanjiani, Zoe Kazan, Holly Hunter, Ray Romano, Anupam Kher, Bo Burnham

Written by Fiona Underhill

Fans of ‘Silicon Valley’ will recognise Kumail Nanjiani, but apart from that and the stand-up comedy circuit, he’s gone fairly under-the-radar, until now. Nanjiani has teamed up with his wife, Emily V. Gordon to write the true story of their courtship. Zoe Kazan (who I loved in ‘What If’) plays Emily and Nanjiani plays himself, which must feel bizarre, especially when shooting romantic scenes with an actress playing your wife, who is on-set watching proceedings. The film is directed by Michael Showalter, who also directed the delightful ‘Hello, My Name is Doris’ (currently on Amazon Prime).

Nanjiani is a Pakistani immigrant, trying to make it on the stand-up circuit in Chicago. He does the same open-mic night with fellow comedians played by Aidy Bryant (terrific in ‘Girls’), Bo Burnham and Kurt Braunohler – all hoping to be noticed by someone who can help them make the leap to ‘SNL’, or similar stardom. His parents parade a slew of Pakistani girls in front of him, in the hope he will find a suitable match for an arranged marriage. However, after heckling him at the comedy club, Emily catches Kumail’s eye and they end up going home together. Their relationship seems to be going swimmingly, even surviving the skeletons in Emily’s closet (she’s been married before), but when she discovers that Kumail seems to be judging ‘Pakistan’s Next Top Model’ – they have a huge fight and break up. He then gets a late-night phone call, letting him know Emily is in the hospital and this is where we get to ‘The Big Sick’ of the title. Emily has a mysterious infection and has been placed in a medically-induced coma.

It is here that perhaps the strongest supporting characters enter the scene – Ray Romano and Holly Hunter – as Emily’s parents. As someone who detests ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’ – it almost pains me to say that Romano provides some of the biggest laughs of the whole film. Hunter gives a typically tender performance as a heartbroken mother, desperately doing everything she can to solve this problem for her daughter. Incidentally, she is also one of the strongest aspects, in a similar role in a totally different type of film from this year, ‘Song to Song’. I was also pleased to see, among the supporting cast, Adeel Akhtar, who plays Wilson Wilson in ‘Utopia’ – the best television programme of the last ten years (including all of the American golden age fare).

‘The Big Sick’ is a very good example of a rom-com – funny, charming, tender – probably precisely because it is true. Nanjiani makes a natural and compelling central figure – all of the action revolves around him. It may sound easy to just be playing yourself, but it takes a lot of guts to be that vulnerable. To also be publicly exposing what must have been a difficult time – not just dealing with a gravely sick girlfriend, but also facing a choice between romantic and familial love – is brave and refreshingly honest. In some ways it feels old-fashioned – almost a Romeo & Juliet style tale – but it is also modern – dealing with the immigrant Uber driver, the post 9/11 climate and Islamophobia. The film has taken on a more political stance than it perhaps intended, now that Trump is in power. There is a scene in which a heckler becomes racially abusive but now, it could be argued that he represents roughly half of American voters.

It is important to Nanjiani to represent Muslims as something more than terrorists in the mainstream media and he provides a well-rounded character to do just that. The fact that the character IS him definitely makes the film seem more real and while there are moments that are perhaps more dramatic or with more perfect comedic timing in the movie, it is character-driven at its core. ‘The Big Sick’ is currently ‘expanding’ throughout the US, relying heavily on word of mouth. It deserves to succeed in the US and internationally, as it is rare to see such a well-written, non-clichéd rom-com. Go see it!

 Fiona’s rating: 8 out of 10