Spring is Here

Persephone's picks

Hello! Welcome to the third edition of Thelma & Alice at the Movies. I don’t know if anyone noticed, but I’ve been sending this out on the new moon. That was not planned. Very little of this newsletter adheres to any strategy, and to be honest, I’m still getting the hang of the substack platform. For instance, when I was looking at my viewer stats, I noticed that people were clicking on the “about” page, and when I checked it to see what it was, I realized that I had never personalized it. Whoops. I updated that page, but I’m sure there are some other things I’m missing. This is all to say how much I appreciate you, my early subscribers, for giving this newsletter a try when it’s still finding its legs. 

This month’s recommendations are inspired by the arrival of spring. Many of them have environmental themes. As always, they are all written, directed or produced by women. Over on my blog, I reviewed two recent women-directed movies, The World To Come and The Dig. The OAFCC, a critics group I am a part of, also recently announced its 2020 Awards.

A Psychedelic Plant Journey

Embrace of the Serpent (2016)
Streaming on Amazon Prime

This trippy movie has been hanging out on Amazon Prime for years. It’s free, it’s amazing, and I’ve never met another person who has seen it. Set in Colombia, it’s produced by the same husband-wife team who made Birds of Passage, a crime-family drama that came out in 2018 to wide acclaim (and which is now streaming on HBO, if you’re interested). In a way this is a double recommendation, because both films are great, but I prefer Embrace of the Serpent. It’s very mystical as it tells the story of an Amazonian shaman and the scientist who visits him in search of a rare, healing plant. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

Learn About Soil Regeneration with Woody Harrelson

Kiss the Ground (2020)
Streaming on Netflix

You might not be thinking to yourself, ‘wow, I wish I knew more about regenerative farming,’ but you probably have anxiety about the climate crisis. Maybe you’re even wondering how it will affect food production. If so, this is the documentary for you. Although it’s a bit toothless when it comes to holding corporations and governments to account for degrading the natural environment, Woody Harrelson will calmly guide you through a lot of useful information about what we can do to protect and restore our soil, starting in our own backyards. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

An Alien Apocalypse Comedy to Put Things in Perspective

Save Yourselves! (2020)
Streaming on Hulu

This goofy comedy about an alien apocalypse is also a commentary on internet addiction. I loved its low-budget special effects, and the sweet, neurotic couple at the center of the story. This is what to watch when you’re looking for something on a Wednesday night to get you through the rest of the week.  IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

Icelandic Eco-Warrior

Woman at War (2018)
Streaming on Hulu

An unassuming choir director has a secret life as an environmental activist who makes direct attacks on the local aluminium plant. This movie has twists and turns galore, and takes a novel approach to the ethical question of how to address the climate crisis, or any kind of injustice: is it better to try to change society through specific actions, or to renounce society for a spiritual path? IMBD * REVIEW * TRAILER

The Best Movie of 2018

Leave No Trace (2018)
Streaming on Amazon Prime 

It’s disappointing that Debra Granik wasn’t nominated for Best Director for this beautiful movie, but maybe Leave No Trace paved the way for the success of Nomadland. It’s about a veteran suffering from PTSD who can’t cope in normal society, and instead chooses to live with his daughter in the woods of a large public park in Portland, Oregon. Social services intervene to help, but settled life doesn’t work for him, and he and his daughter escape to live in a variety of precarious circumstances. IMDB * REVIEW * TRAILER

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Skip the Wonder Woman franchise and instead meet the muses who inspired her.