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52 Films By Women: August

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Whether for cooking, painting, a wounded soldier or the man who lives across the road, August has certainly brought the passion with this month’s films. And not a single rewatch!

Here are your #52FilmsByWomen films for August which were either written or directed (or both) by women.

FIRST-TIMERS

Toast (Netflix UK), directed by S.J. Clarkson

This is the story of Nigel, a boy passionate about food and cookery who grows up in a house where everything he eats comes from a tin. When his mother dies while he’s still young and his father remarries a woman who actually knows how to cook, you’d be forgiven for thinking things improve. But you’d be wrong.

It’s strange really, because the film isn’t bad. The cast are all great. The sets and direction are great. You really feel like you’re in that era and it’s quite magical in that first half an hour, marvelling at the old telephones and ovens and mixers that pop out of the worktop.

But sadly the film’s contents are just so grim. Everyone is so mean to each other. It’s just years of repression and unpleasantness and fighting for love and attention through food. And where’s the fun in that?

See also: Find the joy of food with Ramen Girl, written by Becca Topol, or Spanish-language passion-piece, Like Water for Chocolate (Como agua para chocolate), written – in novel and script form – by Laura Esquivel.

 

Take This Waltz (Netflix UK), written and directed by Sarah Polley

A happily married woman (Michelle Williams) has a chance meeting with a neighbour and the resulting attraction threatens to end her marriage.

Unlike most portrayals of affairs that we see in film, this one is oddly unique in that the attraction is not actually acted on – physically at least – for so long that you start to wonder whether it ever will. For these two, it’s all about being in the other’s company. They go for coffee, or a walk. They have brief discussions about nothing and everything.

But her husband is a kind and decent man and while she can’t seem to stop herself from seeing the neighbour, a huge part of her knows she cannot betray her husband, either. He deserves better.

Take This Waltz is hypnotic and beautiful and utterly heart-breaking in its longing, passion and constant search for happiness and contentment. It’s quiet, gorgeous and enchanting.

See also: Sarah Polley’s documentary Stories We Tell is utterly compelling and surprising at every turn. A must-see.

 

Maudie (Cinema), directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White

A moving tale of two lost souls, considered a burden or unwelcome by so many only to find a partner in each other. The tale of painter Maud Lewis is sure to be award-nomination-worthy, especially for Sally Hawkins who gives the performance of her career here.

See also: The Silent Storm, written and directed by Corinna McFarlane, is a quiet, beautiful and intoxicating film starring Damian Lewis, Andrea Riseborough and newcomer Ross Anderson. Sadly, its release came and went with little fuss made, but it was one of my highlights from the London Film Festival back in 2014 if you can get your hands on it.

 

The Beguiled (Cinema), written and directed by Sofia Coppola

Coppola’s latest sees a house of ‘proper’ southern ladies in Civil War America in disarray after the arrival of a wounded soldier. His arrival brings some laughs at first but soon takes a more sinister turn. Darkly comedic, very twisted and beautifully shot, this is a film with shocks and delights throughout.

See also: Coppola’s Lost in Translation is both funny and sweet. If you want something darker, though, check out Virgin Suicides (see March’s #52FilmsByWomen post[ADD LINK]).

 

What Happened to Monday (Netflix UK original), co-written by Kerry Williamson

In a dystopian world where resources are scarce only one sibling is allowed to live, one man figures out a way to keep all seven of his granddaughters: naming them after the days of the week and giving them one day out of the house a week under one joint identity. Thirty years later, though, and the pressure is starting to show as the sisters struggle to cope with their restricted life and the constant fear of discovery.

Noomi Rapace plays all seven of the sisters and the film is fast-paced and exciting, with plenty of surprises along the way to keep you guessing to the very end.

See also: TV show Orphan Black may have now come to an end but all five seasons are on Netflix and well worth a watch. The show has numerous episodes written and/directed by women.

 

Logan Lucky (Cinema), written by Rebecca Blunt

Perhaps a controversial film to include on the list as there is still speculation as to the real identity of Rebecca Blunt. But I’m sticking with it until somebody tells me she is in fact a he.

This delightful new film brings the humour and silliness as a bunch of hillbillies get together to pull off a daring heist. The cast are all marvellous, especially a bonkers performance from Daniel Craig, and it’s a real treat from start to finish. It’s a little slow and though it’s never boring, it lacks the pace of other great heist films and just sort of plods along.

See also: It’s not really your typical heist film but any excuse to recommend Kathryn Bigelow’s Point Break – in case you’d missed it the first time it was mentioned! Ocean’s Eight, written by Olivia Milch, is expected in 2018. So watch this space…

 

REWATCHES

Corrina, Corrina (DVD), written and directed by Jessie Nelson

This delightful and moving story, set in 1950s America, looks at what happens when a man and his daughter are brought back from the despair of their grief thanks to the arrival of housekeeper/nanny, Corrina (Whoopi Goldberg).

That Corrina is black and Manny (Ray Liotta) and his daughter Molly (Tina Majorino) are white is a problem for everyone apart from the three of them. The film challenges both the racism they encounter and the stereotypical gender roles newly-single father Manny faces as everyone around him tries to find him a new wife because they believe he couldn’t cope without one.

Packed full of humour and heart and with the underlying issues of racism, sexism and the clash of religious beliefs, Corrina, Corrina is a phenomenal film well worth a watch (and rewatch!).

See also: Jessie Nelson’s I Am Sam is another impressive and moving story about a man with learning difficulties trying to keep his daughter. There are bold performances from Sean Penn, Michelle Pfeiffer and a young Dakota Fanning.

 

What films written or directed by women have you been watching this month? Join the discussion and tweet me at @filmvsbook.

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