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SheWired's Summer Movie Picks for the Girls 2011

SheWired's Summer Movie Picks for the Girls 2011

Big Hollywood summer popcorn flicks and lesbian-themed cinema don't typically collide, although there's an argument to be made that Angela Robinson's sexy spy story D.E.B.S and Jamie Babbit's teen angst / mini camp masterpiece But I'm a Cheerleader came pretty darned close. Check out trailers for movies starring Jennifer Aniston, Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Lawrence and January Jones, Helen Mirren, Rachel Weisz, Kristen Scott Thomas, Zooey Deschanel, Rashida Jones and Vera Farmiga.

TracyEGilchrist

Big Hollywood summer popcorn flicks and lesbian-themed cinema don't typically collide, although there's an argument to be made that Angela Robinson's sexy spy story D.E.B.S and Jamie Babbit's teen angst / mini camp masterpiece But I'm a Cheerleader came pretty darned close.

Still, when it comes to lesbians -- or women in general for that matter -- seeking representation on the big screen, the summer blockbuster season is fairly slim pickings for the ladies next to the testosterone laden superhero scenario on endless redux and the paean to the poor marginalized shlubby guy who gets the hot girl comedies that continue to proliferate.

So what's a girl to do on an impossibly humid 90-degree summer day when she's craving popcorn and arctic temps in a darkened theater?  With the help of the New York Times Summer Movies' section we've compiled a list of summer movies that feature stong female characters,  respected actresses, documentaries directed by and about women -- actually a cornucopia of films with women at the helm--and one blockbuster gross-out film in which the girls prove they can be as disgusing as the boys.

Look for a rundown of films making the LGBT film festival rounds in a separate piece.

Already Playing:

Bridesmaids

Proving that the ladies can do gross-out humor just as well as the boys, Bridesmaids is the breakout early summer comedy of the year starring Kristen Wiig as a woman at a crossroads in life when her best friend embarks on planning a wedding. Wiig, who co-wrote the film with Annie Mumolo, gets great support from cast mates Maya Rudolph, Rose Byrne, Ellie Kemper, Wendi McLendon-Covey and Melissa McCarthy. Even if Bridesmaids bears the unmistakable stamp of producer Judd Apatow, it’s still refreshing that a female-led cast dominated the box office.

Hey, Boo: Harper Lee And “To Kill a Mockingbird”

Documentarian Mary Murphy celebrates the 50th anniversary of Harper Lee’s beloved and timeless novel To Kill a Mockingbird, replete with testimonials from celebrities including Oprah Winfrey and Roseanne Cash.

The Topp Twins: Untouchable Girls

The Topp Twins are lesbian twins from New Zealand who yodel in their musical act. Director Leanne Pooley’s whimsical documentary chronicles their lives. Need we say more?

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June

Women Art Revolution

How’s this for light summer viewing? Documentarian Lynn Hershman Leeson chronicles the rise of feminism and its influence on the art world. Sleater-Kinney's Carrie Brownstein wrote the score!

X-Men First Class

Every summer offers several superhero based offerings and while The Green Lantern and Captain America are coming down the pike, X-Men does have its share of strong female characters. This time around Winter’s Bone’s Jennifer Lawrence, Bridesmaid's and Damages' Rose Byrne and Mad Men’s January Jones play the X-Women.

Bad Teacher

Sure, there’s really nothing lesbian or women empowering about Cameron Diaz playing a horrific teacher with a mouth like a trucker who eats men for breakfast. Or is there? But it's just so delicious to watch Diaz behave so badly.

July

Horrible Bosses

Speaking of behaving badly, Jennifer Aniston as an over-the-top, dentist with too many possible sexual harassment suits to mention is worth the price of admission alone in this male-dominated comedy.

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Snow Flower and the Secret Fan

Adapted from Lisa See’s novel, the film focuses on two girls in 19th century China who communicate in a secret language. A parallel story focuses on the girls’ descendants who try to remain friends despite changing times.

 

 

 

The Woman with 5 Elephants

It’s a big summer for female documentary subjects. This piece focuses on 85-year-old Svetlana Geier, who translated Dostoyevsky’s five major works into German following a horrific childhood in Nazi-occupied Germany.

 

 

Sarah’s Key

Kristen Scott Thomas stars as an American journalist in Paris who becomes obsessed with discovering the truth about the apartment she shares with her husband, which was obtained when the prior owners were taken away in the Vel d’Hiv round up of Jews in 1942. The film is based on Tatiana de Rosnay’s novel.

 

 

 

The Future

Performance artist Miranda July became a darling of the indie film world with her 2004 film Me and You and Everyone We Know. A filmmaker with a queer sensibility – she’s dated women although she’s married to a man now – July’s new film is narrated by a talking cat who tells the story of an LA-based couple mired in their daily routine.

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The Sleeping Beauty

French filmmaker and post-feminist button-pusher Catherine Breillat’s newest film re-imagines the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale. Look for plenty of twisted gender politics, even if the film is based on a classic children’s story. Breillat is no Disney.

August

The Hedgehog

Adapted from Muriel Barbery’s novel The Elegance of the Hedgehog, this French feature focuses on an 11-year-old girl living in Paris, who befriends and her building’s concierge played by Josiane Balasko, who starred in the lesbian-themed 1995 comedy French Twist. The film is also helmed by Mona Achache, so it’s girl-powered movie through and through.

Mozart’s Sister

Overshadowed by her brother Wolfgang Amadeus, Anna Mozart was also a gifted musician who’s gotten short shrift in the history books. Mozart’s Sister tells Anna’s story.

The Whistleblower

Academy Award winner Rachel Weisz plays a Nebraskan police officer serving in Bosnia as a peacekeeper who discovers a sex slavery ring. The film, directed by Larysa Kondracki – go female directors! -- costars Monica Belluci and the legendary Vanessa Redgrave.

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The Heir Apparent: Largo Winch

This time Kristin Scott Thomas stars in a French thriller about a woman searching for the adopted son of a murdered business mogul.

Higher Ground

Having turned in stunning performances in films including The Departed and Up in the Air, Vera Farmiga tries her hand at directing with this feature about a born-again Christian keeping her faith during the tumultuous social change of the 1960’s. The film stars Farmiga’s sister Taissa as a teenager and Farmiga as an adult.

Kelly Clarkson American Idol

Our Idiot Brother

While the film focuses on a lovable dumbass played by the often-lovable Paul Rudd, Emily Mortimer, Elizabeth Banks and Zooey Deschanel play his trio of sisters. Plus, Rashida Jones plays a lesbian lawyer who makes out with Deschanel, so that’s worth the price of admission, right?

The Debt

The always watch-able Helen Mirren stars with Tom Wilkinson and Ciarin Hinds as retired Mossad agents who revisit their kidnapping of a Nazi war criminal back in 1966.

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Tracy E. Gilchrist

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.

Tracy E. Gilchrist is the VP, Executive Producer of Entertainment for the Advocate Channel. A media veteran, she writes about the intersections of LGBTQ+ equality and pop culture. Previously, she was the editor-in-chief of The Advocate and the first feminism editor for the 55-year-old brand. In 2017, she launched the company's first podcast, The Advocates. She is an experienced broadcast interviewer, panel moderator, and public speaker who has delivered her talk, "Pandora's Box to Pose: Game-changing Visibility in Film and TV," at universities throughout the country.