The Weekend Watchlist
In honor of the record-breaking debut of Wonder Woman (in theaters now), from acclaimed director Patty Jenkins, this week's version of the watchlist will include female directors exclusively. Be sure to check out our review of Wonder Woman here.
1) The Beaver (2011) - Directed by Jodie Foster and starring her longtime collaborator and friend, Mel Gibson, The Beaver tells the story of a depressed husband and father who attempts to kill himself, but is mysteriously saved...by a beaver hand-puppet. Stick with me here. The beaver helps Walter (Gibson) turn his life around at work, with his family, and with his estranged wife...but of course, the powerful personality of "the beaver," as he is simply known, overrides Walter's own desires in dangerous ways. Although the film occasionally delves into a level of schmaltz that some may find off-putting, the performances of Gibson, Foster (as his beleaguered wife, Merideth), and Anton Yelchin (as their son, Porter, who is terrified of becoming like his father) make the film a worthwhile viewing experience.
Available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, and Vudu.
2) Fish Tank (2009) - Prior to Fish Tank, British actress and director Andrea Arnold only had one feature length directorial credit to her name; that makes this film an even more impressive accomplishment. The film follows the teenager Mia (Katie Jarvis) who lives with her mother and younger sister in a government housing estate in Essex. Having been kicked out of school for fighting, Mia spends her days practicing her dancing, which she hopes will be her ticket out of a difficult life. Everything is turned upside-down when her mother brings home her new boyfriend, Conor (Michael Fassbender). The performances in the film are brilliantly subtle, and Jarvis – who had never acted prior to this film – is enigmatic and powerful, even next to Fassbender as a charming, yet subtly threatening, presence.
Available to stream on Hulu; available to rent on Youtube and Amazon.
3) Titus (1999) - An adaptation of what is (arguably) Shakespeare's most brutal drama, Titus Andronicus, this film from talented director Julie Taymor is a beautiful, and sometimes bizarre, take on the classic play. Taymor's keen eye for visuals – as evidenced in her Broadway career and her other films (including Frida and Across the Universe) - manages to both elevate and complicate the source material. Anthony Hopkins, in the titular role, chews the scenery, part Hannibal Lecter and part crazed monarch; Jessica Lange and Alan Cumming nicely fill out the other main roles as Tamora and Saturninus, respectively. If bloodshed, revenge, and weird sexual energy are your thing, be assured that this film delivers all three.
Available to buy on DVD at Amazon.com. Unfortunately this one isn't streaming anywhere, but it is absolutely worth the $10-ish to purchase.
1) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (2014) – This debut feature film by writer/director Ana Lily Amirpour is not your standard vampire story. Set in Iran, and filmed in gorgeous black and white, it’s been described as "The first Iranian vampire Western" which barely scratches the surface. At its heart, this movie is at times a simple love story as told by the love child of David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino. Despite a lack of scares, it’s a compelling film that has me even more excited for Amirpour’s follow-up, The Bad Batch, hitting theaters on June 23rd.
Available to rent on iTunes, Amazon, and Vudu.
2) Monster (2003) – Despite giving it a B grade, I really enjoyed director Patty Jenkins’s Wonder Woman, to the extent that I’m interested in checking out her debut film, which she wrote and directed. I’m not especially drawn to stories about real-life serial killers (aside from a brief obsession with Jack the Ripper), but Charlize Theron’s acclaimed performance – for which she won several awards, including the Best Actress Oscar – is an additional selling point.
Free to stream on Hulu, or to rent on Amazon, iTunes, YouTube, and Google
3) Punisher War Zone (2008) – Circling back to comic book films, I’ve never seen the sequel (reboot?) of the 2004 Punisher (in large part, because I did not like the original). This is, I believe, the only other superhero film by a female director (Lexi Alexander – who won an Oscar in 2003 for Best Short Film), in this case telling the story of the hyper-violent, hyper-masculine Frank Castle (played here by Ray Stevenson). I’m curious to see the results.
Free to stream on Crackle, or available to purchase on iTunes, Amazon, and Youtube.