Oscars Season?

Not Quite the New Normal

Hello new subscribers! And howdy to old friends! Welcome to the fourth edition of Thelma and Alice at the Movies, a recommendation newsletter for people who want to find and watch films written and directed by women. You can find more recommendations and reviews over at my blog, Thelma and Alice, though I haven’t updated it much in the last few weeks because I’ve been finishing up revisions on a novel. I’m trying to get it ready to send out to publishers, which is always nerve-wracking. Perhaps relatedly, I’ve been watching a lot of movies about gambling—but none of them are written or directed by a woman. Where are the female poker movies? I’ll keep searching but in the meantime, here are this month’s recommendations . . .

The Documentary That Will Help You With Your Oscars Ballot (If We’re Doing That This Year?)

Making Waves: The Art of Cinematic Sound (2019)
Streaming on Amazon Prime

Everything you ever wanted to know about sound design is contained in this 94-minute documentary, including the answer to your perennial Oscar ballot question about the difference between sound editing and sound mixing. Making Waves also makes an argument for the way that improved technologies in sound recording were what gave movies greater emotional impact, from the revolution of “talking pictures,” to the way that portable audio recorders allowed directors to leave the sound stage. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

A Bold Debut You May Have Missed

I Am Not a Witch (2018)
Streaming on Kanopy

This is one of those movies that is a lot funnier than it appears to be. It’s a social satire, set in Zambia, about a little girl who is identified as a witch and sent to witch camp. At witch camp, she is attached to a giant spool of thread, and told that if cuts the thread, she will be turned into a goat. If she behaves herself, she may end up marrying well; some men don’t mind witches. This is a very original, daring, visually stunning movie with a great child performance at the center. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

Netflix Hidden Treasure

On Body and Soul (2018)
Streaming on Netflix

Whenever I see a good love story on film, I wonder why people bother to make any other kind of movie. This Hungarian romance was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film in 2019, but in the way of foreign films, was overlooked by American audiences. Set in a slaughterhouse, it’s an office romance about two people who discover, in a delightfully awkward way, that they are dreaming the same dream at night. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

The Classic That’s Even Better Than You Remembered

A League of Their Own (1992)
Streaming on HBO MAX

My sister and I saw this in the theater a couple of years ago for a special one-night showing. A group of women sitting near us were dressed for the occasion in old-time baseball uniforms. We chatted a bit before the movie and found out they had all seen it dozens of times. One woman said she watches it every few months. My sister and I admitted that we had actually not seen it since the summer of 1992, when it was in theaters, and all the women were like, well you are in for A TREAT. And they were absolutely right. This movie is so much better than I remembered. I thought of it as “a Tom Hanks movie” but he doesn’t even show up until the second act. Really, it’s about the women, and their group portrait is much more detailed and poignant than I gave it credit for, the first time I saw it. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

Low-key Weeknight Watch

All the Light in the Sky (2013)
Streaming on Kanopy

I watched this mellow movie last month and it has stayed with me. It stars Jane Adams, a character actress who you have definitely seen in an indie film at some point in your life. She’s often the liveliest person in the scene. This movie, which was co-written by Adams and director Joe Swanberg seems at least semi-autobiographical. It focuses on the life of a middle-aged actress who is in the midst of a career dry spell and trying to keep the faith. Her young niece comes to visit and she has a chance to revisit her youth. It’s very low-budget, very indie, very improvised, and very human. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

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With summer on the horizon, maybe you’re in the mood for a Polish horror musical about mermaids?