Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood’s newest resource. We are often asked for recommendations, so each week we’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that we’re most excited about. Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s pick delivered to your inbox.
Theatrical Release of the Week: Birds of Passage
Directed by Cristina Gallego and Ciro Guerra; Written by Maria Camila Arias and Jacques Toulemonde Vidal
Based on a true story, Colombia-set Birds of Passage tells the story of the Wayuu, an indigenous group ravaged by the drug war. Kicking off in 1968, the epic is told in five parts and spans a dozen years. We witness Zaida (Natalia Reyes), a young woman from the revered Pushaina clan, performing an elaborate coming-of-age dance that attracts the attention of Rapayet (José Acosta), a poor orphan raised by his uncle.
The matriarch of Zaida’s family is unimpressed with her potential suitor, and demands a dowry that should prove impossible for him to deliver. But Rapayet figures out a way to fulfill the requirement: he gets involved in the marijuana business, forever changing the fate of the Wayuu tribe. Despite a high body count, the crime saga is anything but conventional.
A slow-burn, haunting story of family, honor, greed and capitalism, Birds of Passage is visually stunning and offers a fascinating look into the traditions of the Wayuu. (Laura Berger)
Birds of Passage opens in NY February 13 and in LA February 15. Find screening info here.
Docuseries of the Week: “Lorena”
Lorena Bobbitt became a household name in 1993 when she cut off her then-husband’s penis with a kitchen knife while he slept. Her shocking attack—and the fact that her trial was televised—made her an overnight news sensation. A four-part docuseries, Amazon’s “Lorena” sees Bobbitt telling her side of the story, and exploring how so much of the racist and sexist news coverage surrounding the case—and tasteless jokes on late-night TV—often ignored or minimized the fact that she claimed her husband, John Wayne, physically and sexually abused her. Dismissed as a “hot-blooded Latina” and a “jealous wife,” Bobbitt had many witnesses corroborate her account of her husband’s monstrous behavior.
Cheesy and unnecessary reenactments aside, “Lorena” offers a powerful portrait of a woman pushed to the brink—and a nation wholly unprepared to deal with its epidemic of domestic abuse. The docuseries provides a helpful historical overview of what services and legal recourse were available to abused women at the time, or more accurately, the lack thereof. Hopefully the rise of the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements will encourage Bobbitt skeptics to view the case through a new lens, and encourage all of us to do more for the millions of women who continue to be affected by domestic abuse. (LB)
“Lorena” will stream on Amazon Prime beginning February 15.
TV Movie of the Week: “Kim Possible”
No matter your age, chances are you’ll find something to love in “Kim Possible,” a new Disney Channel movie that’s also a Gen Z update of the beloved early-aughts cartoon. Kim is no longer animated, but she’s still everyone’s favorite straight-A student/crime fighter.
If you watched the original series, you’ll get a kick out of Christy Carlson Romano’s (i.e. the voice of the animated Kim) cameo, and the film’s many Easter eggs. If you think young girls need more ass-kicking role models like Buffy Summers, you’ll probably be delighted to see Alyson Hannigan—yes, Willow!—playing Kim’s brain surgeon mother. If you enjoy multi-generational stories about women, à la “Gilmore Girls” or “Jane the Virgin,” you’ll be psyched when Kim (Sadie Stanley), her mom, and her nana (Connie Ray) team up to take down the bad guys. If your favorite characters tend to be villains, you’ll bask in Shego’s (Taylor Ortega) scenes—between her side-eye and acid tongue, she pretty much steals the entire movie.
Most importantly, if you’re someone who appreciates a nuanced coming-of-age tale—especially one about a young woman in the midst of a huge life transition—“Kim Possible” delivers. Give or take the gymnastics skills and spy gadgets, we’ve all been in Kim’s shoes: the beginning of high school is rough, and figuring out your identity as a teen can feel impossible. But Kim makes her way through one shitty sitch after another and comes out the other side more confident than ever. Plus, she saves the world. (Rachel Montpelier)
“Kim Possible” premieres February 15 at 8pm ET on Disney Channel and DisneyNOW.