October Films Aglow With 'Oranges and Sunshine'

Monday, October 10, 2011

English social worker Margaret Humphreys heroically confronted a scandalous injustice. Her story in "Oranges and Sunshine" is part of a rich array of October movies, on subjects from kidnappings and plastic surgery to basketball.

(WOMENSENEWS)--October brims over with femme-centricity in cinema.

A prime example is "Oranges and Sunshine," opening Oct. 21. This truth-based drama is about Margaret Humphreys, a Nottingham social worker who discovered a scandalous injustice kept secret for decades: the British government had transported 130,000 children -- most of whom were orphaned, but many who'd just been placed in temporary care by impoverished parents -- from the United Kingdom to Commonwealth countries. There they were institutionalized, given new identities and forced into virtual enslavement. Some were only 4 years old when they were shipped away.

There's nothing gimmicky about this dramatization, which shows Humphreys withstanding threats to her safety and assaults to her character, and taking a heroic stand in making the truth known far and wide, reuniting thousands of families and punishing those responsible.

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Playing Humphreys, Emily Watson is superb throughout. The scene in which she quietly but relentlessly confronts monastics guilty of beating and raping their charges is particularly stunning.

Kidnapping is also the subject of "Martha Marcy May Marlene," writer-director Sean Durkin's gripping first feature that opens Oct. 28. It's about a young woman (played by Elizabeth Olsen, the younger sister of Ashley and Mary-Kate) who has been held captive and is brainwashed by an abusive cult. She manages to escape and return to her family, but she struggles -- dangerously so -- to discern her real memories from those induced by the cult. The film is psychically alarming and brilliant.

On a lighter, bouncier note, "Mighty Macs," is director Tim Chambers' feel-good, girl- centric sports drama that opens Oct. 21. Based on a true story, the plot follows the career of Cathy Rush (played by Carla Gugino) who became head basketball coach of an all- girls Catholic College and pushed her team towards their first national championship.

It was the early 1970s and athletics were considered unladylike, especially by the

college's conservative administrator, Mother St. John (Ellyn Burstyn). But she is inspired by Rush and circumstances to have a miraculous conversion into the team's chief booster. Rah rah!

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