Girl power is strong in upcoming releases
Following the explosive success of “Wonder Woman,” Hollywood’s “suits” have gradually seized on elevating women from a damsel in distress or sidekick to featuring them in self-attained heroic roles and roles where they don’t rely on a man for solving a challenge.
Boy-meets-girl romantic comedies have underperformed needing a premise tweak to gain attention. So studio’s sneak in a few non-superfilms to capitalize on putting females in non-chick flick roles where the men serve simply as accessories.
Case-in-point, “The Favourite,” which has gained 10 major Academy Award nominations for sterling acting performances amid palace bawdy buffoonery directed by Yorgos Lanthimos.
Set in an early 18th Century Victorian, this opus of frail, not so pure, Queen Anne (Olivia Coleman, Emma Stone as Baroness Abigail Masham and Rachel Weisz (Sarah Churchill), as the queen’s salacious lover and governmental stand-in. The stellar cast embodies a punch-drunk infantile brand of feminism for royal power struggles.
Shot mostly in a gloomy castle, the Victorian society and war with France relegates males to just above servants in the castle.
Interestingly, from Lanthimos’ perspective, since females are virtually off limits sexually, palace perverts invent same-sex games. Additionally, men have curled long-haired wigs, stuffy white shirts, white leggings and heels while women wear full length gowns, gloves and keep their hair up. Male royalty appears more at ease exercising sexual energy on a random group of male surrogate actors; rather than risking play courtship power games for scoring with a female.
Setting up the three-way affair, Queen Anne’s inflamed legs keep her from traveling, leaving royal war duties to her favorite friend, Lady Sarah, which opens the door for lowly baroness Abigail to win a share of Anne’s fondness. Aside from gender reversals, Anne has a collection of pet ducks and bunnies which she races like dogs in a show and keeps in cages near her bed. Pineapple squashing diverts the queen’s court; they serve as an op for a little touchy feelie PDA, flowing alcohol, and flirting.
Far from a substantial existential reality quest, “The Favourite” accents aloofness of royals, especially their out of touch mannerisms and goals. Hyperbolically, the 18th Century governmental nonsense reflects present day decadent political incorrectness. As one critic wrote, Coleman’s Queen Anne “pushes the idea of capricious monarch … whether she’s child, adult, plaything or puppet master.”
STRONG FEMALES COMING
Prior to the March unveiling of another wonder woman – “Captain Marvel” (Brie Larson) – studios have a sprinkling of “strong women,” leading into the off-the-charts Marvel Studios’ introduction, which will see Captain Marvel in a pivotal position to resurrect the dead Avenger heroes for “End Game.”
In February, “Miss Bala” follows a beauty contest winner who is forced to work for a crime boss after she witnesses a murder. Gina Rodriguez (“Annihilation,” “Jane the Virgin”) plays Gloria Meyer, who finds herself a pawn in a dangerous game being played by the CIA, the DEA, and a charismatic young crime boss named Lino (Ismael Cruz Cordova). Gloria finds a power she never knew she had when she is drawn into the dangerous world of cross-border crime. It’s directed by Catherine Hardwicke of “Twilight” fame.
Jessica Rothe and Israel Broussard will reprise their roles from “Happy Death Day.” Suraj Sharma is also joining the sequel as Samar Ghosh, a science enthusiast and geek who enjoys coding in his spare time. Sarah Yarkin will play Dre Morgan, a science geek and tomboy with a sleepy feline gaze who is Samar’s partner-in-crime.
Of course, the stuck in a repeating time warp premise has been strongly influenced by “Groundhog Day” (2003), which starred Bill Murray.
“Happy Death Day 2U” picks up where the first film left off in a “Back to the Future”-like style.”
Based upon the Japanese manga series “Gunnm” by Yukito Kishiro, visionary filmmakers James Cameron (“Avatar”) and Robert Rodriguez (“Sin City”), introduce cyborg “Alita: Battle Angel.”
When Alita (Rosa Salazar) awakens with no memory of who she is in a future world she does not recognize, she is taken in by Ido (Christoph Waltz), a compassionate doctor who realizes that somewhere in this abandoned cyborg shell is the heart and soul of a young woman with an extraordinary past. As Alita learns to navigate her new life and the treacherous streets of Iron City, Ido tries to shield her from her mysterious history while her street smart new friend Hugo (Keean Johnson) offers instead to help trigger her memories. But it is only when the deadly and corrupt forces that run the city come after Alita that she discovers a clue to her past – she has unique fighting abilities that those in power will stop at nothing to control. If she can stay out of their grasp, she could be the key to saving her friends, her family and the world she’s grown to love.
“Captain Marvel” in late March focuses on the 1990s – a previously unseen period of the Marvel Universe where Carol Danvers gains tremendous superpowers when Earth is caught in the middle of a galactic war between two alien races.
Originally slated for Spring, the post Apocalyptic “Chase Walking” introduces Viola and Todd (Daisy Ridley and Tom Holland) who are subjected to a new world that has been compromised by a virus called The Noise, which injects immersive visions into thoughts. Potentially, the only female left on the planet joins a bewildered Todd in white knuckle adventures exploring their new home.
An odd April entry – “Under the Silver Lake” – casts Riley Keough as a mysterious woman frolicking in an East Los Angeles pool. Sam (Andrew Garfield) discovers the woman and searches for her after she vanishes amidst the murkiest depths of L.A.
Sculpting from late 20th Century noir (“Chinatown,” “Mulholland Drive”) writer-director David Robert Mitchell populates this sprawling, playful and unexpected mystery-comedy detective thriller with dog killers, aspiring actors, glitter-pop groups, nightlife personalities, “it” girls, memorabilia hoarders, masked seductresses, homeless gurus, reclusive songwriters, sex workers, wealthy socialites, topless neighbors, and shadowy billionaires.
Tony Rutherford is a film reviewer for HuntingtonNews.net and a member of the Huntington Regional Film Commission.