Summer popcorn flicks and thoughtful lesbian-themed cinema don't typically collide, 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 next to the testosterone-laden superhero scenario on endless redux and the paean to the poor shlubby guy who always gets the hot girl comedies that apparently never get old in Hollywood.
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? We’ve compiled a list of summer movies that feature strong female characters, respected actresses, and documentaries and features about or directed by women. Be sure to look for separate coverage of LGBT film festivals, and be sure to check back for part two of our summer movie guide come July.
Get your Swedish Fish and tub o' corn and settle in!
The Great Gatsby
Is there anyone who's not excited about Baz Luhrmann's post-modern, big-screen version of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic of the American Dream gone awry? Leonardo DiCaprio stars as Jay Gatsby while the ethereal Carey Mulligan takes on his love interest Daisy Buchanan. Relative newcomer Elizabeth Debicki dons Jordan Baker's golf pro togs while Isla Fisher plays dim-witted social climber Myrtle Wilson.
Venus and Serena
Venus and Serena Williams were literal game changers in women's tennis at home and abroad. Directors Maiken Baird and Michelle Major dig the lives of the Williams sisters during a year when illness and injury threatened to derail their game in this fascinating documentary.
From Germany comes this biopic about political theorist and philospher Hannah Arendt, who covered the trial of Nazi Adolph Eichmann for The New Yorker. Directed by Margarethe von Trotte, the film stars Barbara Sukowa -- a regular in Rainer Werner Fassbinder's films -- in the titular role.
Now You See Me
Why did this testosterone-heavy / Morgan Freeman, Woody Harrelson, Jesse Eisenberg heist movie about illusionists land on a lesbian-approved movie guide? Four words - Isla Fisher and Mélanie Laurent.
Ellen Page, Brit Marling, Patricia Clarkson and Julia Ormond costar in this thriller about an Anonymous-esque group that takes down heinous corporate entities. Marling plays an undercover operative charged with infiltrating the group.
Rachel McAdams and Noomi Rapace star as a high-powered exec and protégé (respectively) in Brian DePalma's remake of the psycho-sexual French thriller Love Crime. McAdams and the original Girl with the Dragon Tattoo engage in plenty of heavy head games and flirtation. And that's pretty much enough to get our butts in theater chairs on a hot June day!
Tiger Eyes is BASED on a JUDY BLUME NOVEL! While we'd be even more excited if it were the big-screen version of Are You There God? It's Me Margaret or Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself we'd be even slightly more excited, Tiger Eyes is a good start in getting the Blume ouvre to the big screen.
Violet & Daisy
Hanna's Saiorse Ronan and Alexis Bledel star as badass teen assassins. Enough said! The trailer is not yet available for the film, so this pic of teen assassins in nun outfits will have to suffice.
The Bling Ring
Emma Watson continues to shed her Hermione Granger persona, this time in Sofia Coppola's kinetic take on the true story of privileged valley kids who robbed homes in the Hollywood Hills (including Lindsay Lohan's). Leslie Mann, Taissa Farmiga and Erin Daniels (that's right - Dana from The L Word) costar.
It's been far too long since Sandra Bullock has teamed with anyone for a female buddy comedy. Well, now the perfect costar has come along in Melissa McCarthy. The comic titans do battle as an FBI agent (Bullock) and a foul-mouthed cop (McCarthy) who team up to take down a drug lord.