June 26, 2015

Catch ‘A Little Chaos;’ Opening June 26

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Kate Winslet stars in the period drama "A Little Chaos."

Credit: Courtesy of Focus Features

(WOMENSENEWS)--"A Little Chaos" is a sumptuous and very appealing period drama that celebrates a fictitious 17th-century woman's achievements as a landscape gardener at Versailles. Kate Winslet flowers as the independent and strong-willed Sabine de Barra. Décor and costumes are also in full bloom. The script, co-written by Jeremy Brock and Alison Deegan, effectively blends history with fiction by including Andre le Notre (Matthias Schoenaerts) as a love interest for de Barra. Le Notre was the actual-fact landscape architect of Versailles. Alan Rickman directs and co-stars as Louis XIV. This entertaining summertime film is sure to inspire creativity; whether it be in the garden or in pursuit of other opportunities that might appear on the horizon.

Also Opening June 26

"Batkid Begins" is filmmaker Dana Nachman's stirring documentary about Mike Scott, a 5-year-old boy whose leukemia limits his horizons; but not his dreams. He loves superheroes -- especially Batman -- and dreams of joining forces with them. The way they overcome evil is tied to his own fight for survival. After Mike's chemotherapy ends, Make a Wish Foundation sets up a day-long program for Mike to play Batkid, accompanying a grownup Batman on heroic missions around San Francisco, Mike's hometown. As for the rest, go see it and bring tissues.

"The Midnight Swim" is the first – and best – of this week's femme-centric horror films. The inventive psychological thriller is full of surprises. Writer/director Sarah Adina Smith's scenario revolves around the mysterious and unusually deep Spirit Lake, which has apparently claimed the life of Dr. Amelia Brooks (Beth Grant), who never surfaced from a deep-water dive. Brooks has three daughters (Jennifer Lafleur, Aleksa Palladino and Lindsay Brudge) and they make a believable trio of sisters with clearly distinctive yet related neuroses. After their mother's disappearance they arrive at their lakeside home to try to figure out what happened. No spoilers. This film will fascinate you from beginning to end.

"Felt," another femme-centric horror flick, stars figurative artist Amy Everson, who also co-wrote the semi-autobiographical script about a woman who creates alter egos -- replete with elaborate costumes -- to cope with unbearably traumatic events in her past, all of which are directly related to her womanhood. The film's theme is compelling, but it's conceptually challenging and sometimes convoluted. But, if you favor darkly inventive, experimental cinema, "Felt" fills the bill.

"The Little Death" is comic relief. It's a sex romp from Down Under. Guided by a marriage counselor/sex therapist, several couples reveal their frustrations, fantasies and fetishes and set about breaking through their own taboos. There's nothing offensive or overly explicit, just some good giggles and a few stray tips about how to spice it up.

"Ted 2," the next incarnation of the talking teddy bear franchise, also uses sex as a point of departure for yucks. Its satire is refreshingly irreverent, but unfortunately many of the gags are so crass, they're off putting. Ted (Seth MacFarlane, who also wrote and directed), still the rambunctious, fun-loving, cuddly bestie of John (Mark Wahlberg), wants to save his troubled marriage by having a baby. It's an impossible project. Not because he's a stuffed toy who doesn't have a penis, but because his wife spoiled her reproductive organs through drug abuse. It's all her fault, and she's mortified. All in all, "Ted 2" seems like a big waste of talent, but it's still bound to be a box office hit, perhaps setting the stage for "Ted 3." Oh no!

On a final note, if you find yourself wondering why so many young men – and not so young men – wear pants that hang so low their butt cracks are exposed, you might want to see "Fresh Dressed," a documentary on the development of hip hop fashion. The film is almost exclusively about men and men's fashion, but we're stuck looking at it so it's interesting to know why.

Stay tuned to see what's coming in July.

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