'Fish Tank' Bubbles Up in January Film Lineup

Sunday, December 27, 2009

The start of the year is a low season for film releases but Jennifer Merin manages to find an array of new femme fare. There are features, documentaries, comedies and horror. Also, one spoof she wonders about even bringing up.

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In lighter fare, you'll find Amy Adams starring in a new romantic comedy, "Leap Year" (even though February 2010 has only the usual count of 28 days). It opens in theaters nationwide on Jan. 8. The plot of the film, co-written by Deborah Kaplan, is propelled by an Irish tradition that allows women to propose to men on Leap Day--Feb. 29. Adams' character, who lives in the United States, wants to propose to her boyfriend--who happens to be in Dublin--on Leap Day. Her journey to meet him turns into a series of mishaps that present unexpected romantic complications. Adams is delightful, as always, and Matthew Goode, as the guide who's trying to help her reach her beau, is a sweetheart of a romantic lead. The film is a warm-hearted, mid-winter escape.

Focus on Buff Bad Babes

On the other hand, it's hard to know what to make of "Bitch Slap," a film with publicity materials that describe it as a throwback to sexploitation films produced between the 1950s and 1970s with an amazing preponderance of "tits and guns." The plot revolves around three particularly buff bad babes--the flip side of Charlie's Angels, I suppose-- engaged in a criminal caper. "Bitch Slap" isn't on my must-see list, but the film's elaborate Web site may help you decide. It opens in limited release on Jan. 8.Katie Jarvis as Mia in Andrea Arnold's "Fish Tank."

Opening on Jan. 15, "Queen To Play" ("Joueuse") is writer-director Caroline Bottaro's first feature. It's about a French Riviera hotel maid (Sandrine Bonnaire) who becomes obsessed with the game of chess and, tutored by an American ex-patriot (Kevin Kline), gets good enough to compete for a championship. Her success at the game of kings is not, however, appreciated by her husband. The drama revolves around how she struggles to resolve her ambitions with her relationships.

"Hoodwinked 2: Hood vs. Evil" is an animated feature for the kids, in which Red Riding Hood (voiced by Hayden Panettiere) is called upon to be the hero by helping to find the missing Hansel and Gretel. Opening Jan. 15, it presents a positive animated female role model.

"Creation," opening Jan. 22, promises an engaging performance by Jennifer Connelly as Charles Darwin's wife, whose marriage suffered severely because her own strong religious convictions opposed her husband's history-defining "Origin of the Species." Darwin is played by Paul Bettany, who is Connelly's husband in real life.

'Extraordinary Measures' Searches for Cure

"Extraordinary Measures," also opening Jan. 22, is based on writer Geeta Anand's book, "The Cure: How a Father Raised $100 Million--And Bucked the Medical Establishment--in a Quest to Save His Children." Directed by Tom Vaughn, with a screenplay by Robert Nelson Jacobs, the truth-based feature film stars Brendan Fraser and Kerri Russell as the married couple who raise money to find a cure for their two kids' rare genetic disorder.

"Preacher's Kid," opening Jan. 29, is an updated and femme-centric version of "The Prodigal Son." In it, R and B singer LeToya Luckett (of Destiny's Child) makes her film debut as a preacher's daughter who, at age 20-something, joins a traveling gospel show. Along the way, she discovers the difficulties of life on the road and struggles to find the resolve and courage to return home and seek reconciliation with her father. It will be interesting to see how LeToya's acting chops compare to those of fellow Destiny's Child singer Beyonce Knowles.

In addition to covering film for Women's eNews, Jennifer Merin writes about documentaries for ( and is president of the Alliance of Women Film Journalists, a nonprofit organization of the leading women film journalists in the U.S. and Canada.

For more information:

Alliance of Women Film Journalists

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