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52 Films by Women: October

Along with some tennis, feminism, robot dogs, and an epic flash mob, October’s 52 Films challenge brought with it some gorgeous – albeit somewhat unconventional – love stories. With more London Film Festival additions, along with some weekend TV viewing, here are your #52FilmsByWomen films for October (this time, all first-timers!), which were either written or directed (or both) by women.


Kingsman: The Golden Circle (Cinema), co-written by Jane Goldman

It doesn’t really compare to the brilliant first outing, but the second film does provide some cheeky fun and awesome larger-than-life action sequences. Hilarious cameos and silliness are the main ingredient here but there are also some really nasty moments, too, which the more squeamish viewer might struggle with.

See also: the original Kingman is a riot of over-the-top fun and graphic novel-style violence. If you’re bored with Kingsman, though, check out the magical Stardust, which Goldman also co-wrote.


Battle of the Sexes (Cinema, London Film Festival), co-directed by Valerie Faris


This bold, feminist film tells the story of tennis player Billie Jean King, who was a huge champion back in the 70s for equal pay for female tennis players. She demanded equality and when it wasn’t given she started an alternative tournament.

The film stars a marvellous Emma Stone and Andrea Riseborough. It’s fierce and fun and full of joyously marvellous female characters.

It’ll put fire in your belly, too.

See also: Faris and her directing partner Jonathan Dayton also made the cult classic, Little Miss Sunshine – which is always worthy of a rewatch.


Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (Cinema, London Film Festival), written and directed by Angela Robinson

This is the unconventional true story of one psychology professor (who also happened to create the Wonder Woman comics), his smart and feisty wife, and the woman they both came to love.

Less a story of how Wonder Woman began, and more a tale of living life and loving on your own terms, Professor Marston and the Wonder Women is sensual and smart, a stunning film with incredible and totally badass women both in front of and behind the camera.

For the full review, click here.

NB: the film is slated for general release in the UK on 10th November.

See also: High-Rise, written by Amy Jump, also stars Luke Evans, though this time he does not play a nice, loving character.


The Shape of Water (Cinema, London Film Festival), co-written by Vanessa Taylor

Guillermo del Toro has returned with another deliciously visual modern fable, The Shape of Water. This time, the setting is an underground government facility where a cleaning woman befriends an amphibian creature who’s imprisoned there. The creature is similar in size to a man and cannot speak – which is no challenge to the cleaning woman, who also happens to be mute.

The Shape of Water is a triumph. It’s a magical film full of love, beauty and cringe-worthy violence. Del Toro has proven once again that his imagination, creativity and empathy knows no bounds when it comes to creating really great stories.

For the full review, click here.

See also: Sally Hawkins is magnificent in Maudie, the story of an artist with arthritis. The film is directed by Aisling Walsh and written by Sherry White.


You Were Never Really Here (Cinema, London Film Festival), written and directed by Lynne Ramsay

Violent and haunting, Ramsay’s latest film stars Joaquin Phoenix as a violent vigilante who goes around taking jobs the police can’t do, rescuing young girls who’ve been taken and punishing those who did the taking. Ramsay directs with a cool precision that keeps the viewer hooked from start to finish and Phoenix’s award-worthy performance is full of stoic power, trauma and emotion.

Daring and dark but certainly not one for everybody.

You can read Francesco’s review here.

See also: Ramsay’s adaptation of We Need to Talk About Kevin is chilling and haunting and absolutely incredible.


Step Up 4: Miami Heat (TV), written by Amanda Brody

The fourth instalment in the Step Up films follows much the same formula as previous outings. This time, the film is in Miami and the dance group does flash mobs in the hope of winning a contest that involves YouTube hits. When the local property rich guy threatens to buy the strip of land where they all live and work, the flash mobs take a new turn and start to be about protesting the takeover.

But the leader of the crew is falling for the daughter of the rich guy. And we all know that’ll cause some problems…

Perfect lazy weekend viewing, this is a fun film with incredible dance routines. The plot is a little basic but who cares. It is what it is – and what it is is really fun.

See also: The first Step Up film (which stars Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan Tatum) is directed by Anne Fletcher and co-written by Melissa Rosenberg. It’s really fun, too.


Grace Jones: Bloodlight and Bami (Cinema), directed by Sophie Fiennes

With a combination of musical stage performances and some behind-closed-doors insights into both Jones the performer and Jones the diva (in the best possible way), this film takes a look at Grace Jones, her relationship with her family, her career and the way she deals with situations she doesn’t agree with.

Unfortunately, the film assumes you have a thorough understanding of Grace Jones’s backstory and family tree – neither of which I had. The end result is somewhat disjointed and frequently hard to follow. People are on screen with no introduction as to their relationship with Jones and by the time you’ve figured out who they are, they’ve moved on.

That said, the musical performances are a real treat to watch.

See also: What happened, Miss Simone? from Liz Garbus, is the absolutely stunning documentary about Nina Simone (see June for more).

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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