calendar girls

In this Full Monty meets Saving Grace, a group of aging Yorkshire roses pose in the nude to raise money for cancer. Led by the scandalous Chris who routinely shakes up her staid women’s group with antics such as entering store bought cakes into country fairs and winning, the group shifts its yearly calendar theme from photos of local churches to nude 50-somethings. The artful calendar features the ladies tastefully hiding their naughty bits behind flower pots, buns and the like, and becomes a media sensation. Helen Mirren is downright sexy as Chris proving that attractiveness has more to do with joie de vivre than age. [uk 2003]

cold comfort farm

At the centre of this deliciously eccentric comedy circa 1930, is the feisty Flora, a recently orphaned young lady with a penchant for Vogue and a wit to match. When she pays a visit to her rustic relatives on their ramshackle farm, their drab existence is forever changed. And so of course is hers. [uk, 1994]

truly, madly, deeply

Juliet Stevenson plays a grief-stricken woman paralyzed by her lover’s death. In that refreshing “warts and all” English tradition, looks are of little importance, and when she sobs, she’s a sniveling snot-nosed wreck. To ease her anguish, her lover’s ghost takes up residence in the house. When he starts inviting his pals over for ghoulish movie nights, however, she realizes it’s time to set foot back in the world of the living. Eons removed from the glossy Hollywood movie, “Ghost”, it’s authentic, uplifting and amusing – a thinking person’s tear-jerker. [uk, 1991]

chicken run

You can call her an action heroine–she’s a plucky chicken named Ginger who hatches doomed escape plans for her cooped up sisters. Trapped in a Nazi-like pen run by the tyrannical Miss Tweedy, the bug-eyed chickens think they’ve found their ticket to freedom when a flying rooster crash-lands into their mucky hell. While the brash and brawny cock livens things up by teaching the girls to shake a little tail feather, for the most part, he struts and preens, wheels and deals. Ultimately, it’s the girls who use their brains to blast their way to freedom. From the Claymation wizards behind Wallace and Grommit, this summer’s chick flick combines gags and inspirational lessons about leadership and teamwork for girls (and boys) with loads of dark wit and movie references for adults. [uk, 2000]

elizabeth

Never has history been so forceful, so heady, so thrilling. Amid a backdrop of flaming heretics, sumptuous brocades, and sliced necks, Cate Blanchett electrifies as the fiery Virgin Queen. The young Elizabeth exerts her iron will, but never forgets her people and gains political control over a country steeped in patriarchy and mired in religious conflict. She forsakes love her country and emerges a smart, strong, and sexy feminist heroine. Go Liz! [uk, 1998]

enchanted april

A beautifully filmed story of two bored, married women who act on impulse and rent an Italian villa for the month of April. The story revolves around their interactions with two fellow guests at the villa who could not be more different from the English housewives. A small, gentle story of manners and romance. [uk, 1992]

hideous kinky

Kate Winslet, in an obvious attempt to leave behind stuffy period dramas, stars as a 70′s hippy traipsing through Morocco, with two small daughters in tow. Her search for enlightenment and freedom takes on such rigid proportions that it’s as confining as the middle-class life she escaped in England. With one daughter pleading to go home, Winslet’s becomes even more determined in her quest to reach enlightenment. The inevitable crisis, although distressing, has a happy ending–a refreshing surprise for those of us accustomed to wayward women being punished in Hollywood films. [uk, 1998]

agnes browne

Angelica Huston stars and makes her directing debut in this hard-luck tale of a Dublin woman coping with 7 children after the death of her husband. Although some of the characters seem underdeveloped and some scenes seem contrived, this film is worth watching for the interaction between Agnes and her best friend while they take driving lessons and ponder the existence of “organisms.” [us, 1999]

saving grace

The twist in this giddy dope-fest is that its key perpetrator is not Cheech nor Chong but a prim Cornwall matron. When Grace’s no-good hubby drops dead leaving her a pile of debt, she turns her green-thumb from flowers to weed in order to save her sprawling home. Tending to her hothouse loaded with gooey bud not only frees her from her proper past, but sends the village kooks into a frenzy of toking, choking, and irresistible laughing fits. [uk, 2000]

bhaji on the beach

This ensemble piece features a group of Anglo-Indian women ranging from traditional grandmothers to rebellious 20-somethings. The women plan an off-season day trip from their home in Birmingham to Blackpool. The day unfolds with gossip, romance, family squabbles, hearty laughter, and secrets. A pleasant independent flick about the relationships between generations of women. [uk, 1994]