Nonstandard female leads:

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Ava (2020)

Summary: I tend to like well-done spy and espionage movies, but can get bored with the heavy politics and gratingly slow pace. Ava doesn’t have those issues. Chastain completely RULES as the assassin looking for a way out. What will her purpose in life be once she steps away from the job? Can she rely upon her boss, her family, her former boyfriend for comfort and support?

Recommendation: I’m starting to think that Chastain can do no wrong. She can play funny, vulnerable, intelligent, kick-ass, and downright surly. The extra from this film was seeing Geena Davis (remember her from way back in Tootsie?) playing the manipulative mom who just can’t allow her daughter to feel accomplished. It was both painful and satisfying to watch. Both ladies gave excellent performances as strong and nonstandard female lead/matriarch.

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Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (2000)

Summary: There are a handful of ‘main characters’ so I’ll go slowly. There’s swordmaster Mu Bai, a warrior who owns the Green Destiny, a sword of incredible power. He trusts it to the care and keeping of Shu Lien (played by Michelle Yeoh), the head of a security company. She’s asked to take it to their benefactor in Beijing while Mu Bai continues looking for the Jade Fox, the assassin of his teacher from long ago. Who is the Jade Fox? What are the ultimate goals of young Jen and desert nomad Lo? What sense of loyalty or honor guides these individuals through life in China?

Recommendation: As familiar as I am with this movie, I keep learning more about it. For example, Wiki lists the following – “The film was originally written as five-part novel series by Wang Dulu starting in the late 1930s. The story presented in the film is adapted and condensed from the storyline of the fourth book in the series, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” And did you know there was a sequel? CT, HD: Sword of Destiny came out in 2016 and involved the same character Michelle Yeoh played, Yu Shu Lien. Once you see the movie, you’ll understand more about my decision to label it in the Nonstandard Female Leads group. There are three female roles that shine brightly, especially because they are not all good guys.

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Alien (1979), the whole Alien franchise really

Summary: Like working an oil derrick at sea or for a drilling company underground, this team of ruffian common people are surviving amid hostile environments with boredom and repetition as their regular companions. Sometimes, you just want something to happen. Cue the strange signal from a planetoid that might mean salvage, another way (besides mining) to strike it rich in space. And that’s where things START to go wrong – poor Kane. Suspicions mount as a series of wrong events and close calls brings us to the inexplicable logic of an android working for the company (and not necessarily for the good of the human crew).

Recommendation: All I want to say about Alien, the first movie, is ‘here comes number 2!’ Aliens (1986) is my absolutely all-time favorite action movie and it stems from the fear we were stricken with in Alien (1979). This one seems to move slowly – and that’s OK, enjoy the suspense. It’s more of a scary monster in the shadows kind of horror flick, but the introduction to the world and Ripley are the most important functions it has to starting off this incredible franchise.

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Smithton Public Library

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