Picks of the Week is Women and Hollywood‘s newest resource. W&H writers are often asked for recommendations, so each week they’ll spotlight the women-driven and women-made projects—movies, series, VOD releases and more—that they’re most excited about. (Sign up for the Women and Hollywood newsletter at womenandhollywood.com to get each week’s picks delivered to your inbox!)
Feature of the Week: Late Night
Directed by Nisha Ganatra; Written by Mindy Kaling
Late Night is the movie I have been waiting for.
Emma Thompson, in a role unlike any she has had before, plays veteran late-night talk show host Katherine Newbury. She’s the only woman in late night, and the network wants to push her out. She has to face a lot of things about herself—including the fact she has never been able to keep a female writer on her staff, and that all the men are basically the same privileged white guys.
In walks Mindy Kaling’s Molly Patel, who happens to be in the right place at the right time and winds up on Katherine’s writing staff. Molly upends, in a good way, the host and her writing team.
Late Night is political without being polemical. It’s hysterically funny and also quite moving. If you are an Emma Thompson fan, you will wonder why the fuck someone hasn’t written a role like this for her before. She’s just that good. (Melissa Silverstein)
Late Night hits select theaters June 7 and will open wide June 14. Find screening info here.
Series of the Week: “Tales of the City“
Developed by Lauren Morelli
Netflix’s revival of “Tales of the City” sometimes feels as if its writers are playing a game of Woke Bingo because there are many earnest references to gender as construct, ageism, safe sex and the like. But although Lauren Morelli’s update of the groundbreaking PBS miniseries tries a little too hard at times, it’s still worth your while.
The Barbary Lane boarding house is now inhabited by a pair of wannabe Insta-famous twins and other millennials, including an MVP Ellen Page and a couple navigating one partner’s gender transition—but it’s still defined by community, acceptance and hero worship of Olympia Dukakis’ landlady, Anna Madrigal. The two central arcs of the revival are Mary Ann Singleton’s (Laura Linney) attempts to reconnect with Page’s Shawna, the daughter she abandoned, and Anna coming to terms with her own past.
Those storylines will pique your interest, but the real draw of “Tales of the City” is, as it always was, the haven of Barbary Lane. In a time when LGBTQ+ rights are under attack, it’s uplifting to see a series anchored by genuine love of people on all points of the gender and sexuality spectrum. (Rachel Montpelier)
“Tales of the City” begins streaming on Netflix June 7.
Animated Film of the Week: Funan
Written by Magali Pouzol and Denis Do
Set in Cambodia during the Khmer Rouge’s four-year regime, Funan is primarily about a woman’s struggle to hold on to her own humanity.
Chou, voiced by Bérénice Bejo, is living with her husband, three-year-old son and extended family when the Khmer Rouge’s communist party, Angkar, invades their city and forces them to evacuate to labor camps. Chou is separated from her son in transit, and doesn’t know if she’ll ever see him again.
Inspired by the experiences of co-writer and -director Denis Do’s mother, “Funan” follows Chou and her family as they are put to work, tortured, berated and starved by the Angkar. One by one, Chou loses her loved ones—whether they die from exhaustion, are transferred to other camps or, in the case of her younger sister, who is raped by a commander, kill themselves. With every tragedy, Chou’s hope of reuniting with her son dims just a little.
This beautifully animated film is a hard watch, but a great one. It eloquently argues that violence and persecution aren’t just physically and emotionally damaging—they also have the power to destroy a person’s own sense of self. (RM)
Funan opens in New York June 7 and in Los Angeles June 14. Find screening info here.