Seriously Good Films to Watch in June 2019

No blockbusters or animated features here! Noted film critic Bill Newcott, creator of AARP’s “Movies for Grownups,” offers his picks for June 2019.

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The Quiet One (June 21)

The Rolling Stones were the Bad Boys of the British Invasion, but while Mick Jagger, Brian Jones, and Keith Richards cranked up the sexual energy onstage and fueled their happy hedonism with drugs and booze, off to the side stood tall, serene Bill Wyman, plucking away at his bass guitar, staring off into the distance beyond the screaming fans, and then heading home to his country house, where he doted on his young son. That, at least, is the narrative posited by this music-packed documentary that draws upon Wyman’s exhaustive collection of home movies, interviews, and concert footage amassed during his 31 years as a Stone (he retired from the band in 1993). We find him in the present day, hunched over a computer screen and scanning old photos, surrounded by shelves of cameras, props, costumes, and gold records. Wyman comes off very much like a kindly grandfather regaling his grandkids with outrageous war stories. There’s rock ’n’ roll bombast aplenty in the film, but the best moment is one of the quietest, when Wyman talks about the night his hero, Ray Charles, invited him to play bass on his next record. “I turned him down,” Wyman says, fairly bursting into tears. “I told him, ‘I’m not good enough.’”

Maiden (June 28)

It’s been 30 years since young Tracy Edwards — a decidedly middle-class, previously aimless 24-year-old woman — elbowed her way into the rich boy’s club of international yachting to become skipper of the first all-female crew in a round-the-world race. Through old home movies, director Alex Holmes introduces us to Edwards as a surly, rebellious teenager who escaped a troubled home life by becoming a cook on private yachts. Then, inspired by a chance meeting with King Hussein of Jordan, Edwards became obsessed with the notion of showing the male-dominated world of yacht racing that women could do a lot more than rustle up grub for macho sailor men. The rampant sexism of the era is reflected in news clips (“How will they avoid cat fights?”) and in the dismissive comments of male counterparts. That condescending tone barely softens even after the crew survives a harrowing passage near Antarctica, but the women mostly refuse to take the bait. They plug along, eyes on the horizon, through seas both smooth and scary. Edwards and her cohorts, interviewed for the film and looking ready to set sail again on a moment’s notice, provide the film’s heartfelt narration.

This Changes Everything (June 28)

When Geena Davis made Thelma & Louise with Susan Sarandon in 1991, Hollywood crowed, “This changes everything! Finally we’re going to see more female buddy films!” And when Davis’s next movie, director Penny Marshall’s A League of Their Own, was a runaway smash, pundits raved, “This changes everything! Now we’re going to see lots of women’s sports movies and big-budget films directed by women!” Nearly three decades later, those hopes ring hollow — so hollow, in fact, that Davis signed on to be executive producer of this often infuriating documentary. Through interviews, news clips, and visually clever analysis of legal documents, filmmaker Tom Donahue crystallizes Hollywood’s dirty secret: It’s not that movies by and about women can’t be successful at the box office — it’s that the industry’s all-powerful boys’ club is determined to keep women out of the driver’s seat. Donahue gets some of Hollywood’s most famous women — like Meryl Streep, Jessica Chastain, Sandra Oh, and Reese Witherspoon — to step forward on behalf of those who struggle daily against the male-dominated entertainment industry. But the real hero is Davis, whose nonprofit foundation uncovered groundbreaking statistical proof that women aren’t just underrepresented when it comes to directing, producing, and writing films — they are downright invisible.

This article is featured in the July/August 2019 issue of The Saturday Evening Post. Subscribe to the magazine for more art, inspiring stories, fiction, humor, and features from our archives.

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