(WOMENSENEWS)–“Blind,” opening Sept. 4, is a very good reason to see a movie this weekend. Norwegian writer-director Eskil Vogt’s first feature focuses on Ingrid, a woman who has recently and suddenly lost her sight due to a hereditary condition and has retreated to the safety of the high-rise apartment she shares with her architect husband. Ingrid–played by Ellen Dorrit Petersen in an exceptional breakthrough performance–lives on two levels. In one she is making huge efforts to cope with such everyday demands as cooking, deciding what to wear and knowing who’s in the room with her. Then there is her fantasy life, as it evolves in a work of fiction she’s writing, which explores the relationship between Elin (Vera Vitali), her alter ego, and Einar (Marius Kolbenstvedt), and eventually includes her real-life husband (Henrik Rafaelsen) as a character. The interplay between the real and imaginary realms helps probe personal isolation and the strength of fantasy in creating personal reality; all from a woman’s perspective. Even before you see it once, know that “Blind” is worth a second look. In Norwegian with English subtitles.
“Dirty Weekend” pairs a very strong Natalie (Alice Eve) with a rather uptight Les (Matthew Broderick) as co-workers whose business trip has an unscheduled layover in Albuquerque, N.M., due to adverse weather. She’s a lesbian and he’s got a wife and religion, so they don’t fall into bed with each other. Rather, circumstances heighten their asexual friendship into one that provokes them into realms of self-realization about their sexual kinks and issues. They head into town and wind up at Zorro, a gay bar where Les, on a previous business trip, had a drunken adventure that he remembers only slightly and wants to learn more about. (Did he have gay sex, and did he enjoy it?) Writer-director Neil LaBute’s work is famously misanthropic, but less so here. “Dirty Weekend” is mellow, not melodramatic. There’s humor in it but not much dirt.
“Before We Go,” also starring Alice Eve, is a damsel-in-distress romantic dramedy in which fate matches up a pretty art consultant (Eve) and a busking jazz trumpeter (Chris Evans, who also directed) for a night on the town in never-sleep New York City. The narrative, co-scripted by Jen Smolka and Ronald Bass, is quite contrived but the film is not without its charms. The two meet late night at Grand Central Station. She’s missed the last train home, her Prada purse with her ID, cash and credit cards has been stolen and she’s stranded. He proposes to rescue her. Their adventures lead them to believe they were meant for each other, but for their other entanglements. There’s appeal in the genuine sweetness of the performances, making “Before We Go” a viable vehicle for a cinematic escape.
“The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution,” which opened Sept. 2, is Stanley Nelson’s compelling and revelatory documentary about the prominent and controversial black civil rights activists who militantly fought racism – particularly unmitigated police brutality against people of color – during the 1960s and until 1982, when the group disbanded. While focused on the Panthers’ male leaders, the documentary also gives due credit to the women who made up the rank and file of the movement, standing for equal empowerment and insisting that traditional social responsibilities – child care, cooking, housework and work outside the home – be shared equally with men. This documentary is a must-see for everyone who is concerned about political evolution. It is a powerful and absolutely necessary reminder that the struggle for equal rights is ongoing; witness current cases of police profiling, use of excessive force and outright brutality. A relevant aside: if you’re interested in an insightful female perspective on the film’s historical moment and the militant civil rights movement, see Shola Lynch’s documentary “Free Angela and All Political Prisoners” (2012). That’s Angela Davis, of course, and the film, now available on DVD and online, makes for an excellent double bill with “The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution.“
Stay tuned for more September openers next week.
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