All of these streaming services have been extremely good for anybody who wants to binge, but recently I’ve been on the hunt for good movies & TV—things you can digest and enjoy slowly—instead of the fast-food calorific content on Netflix et. al. that has become the norm. Here are a few good ones I’ve found, and somehow accidentally, all of them ended up being about women:
ആണും പെണ്ണും (Aanum Pennum)
Three stories about how women, in their own way, have always been stronger & more courageous than men in Kerala. This is a good slice of life movie, and while none of the shorts are truly excellent, together they are a glimpse at how Malayalam cinema is once again tackling real issues such as female sexuality, what it means to be truly free, and how in changing times and contexts, empowerment truly means different things (family, career, love, sex & politics) for different women.
Available on Prime Video.
The Great Indian Kitchen
This is probably the best one of the lot. It has long stretches without any dialogue, but those stretches are filled with the most mundane, repetitive, and sometimes downright disgusting kitchen & household jobs. The silences speak for themselves, and the slow transition of the happy housewife first to an irritated, slightly pissed off young woman, and then eventually to outright rebellion is amazing cinema. I’ll be honest: I found this hard to watch: but I feel it’s necessary watching for every entitled man brought up in Kerala. Her final explosion at her brother who asks for a glass of water: “Can’t you just get it yourself?” seems very pointedly directed at every male in the audience.
I watched this together with Ammu who said it echoed some of her previous experiences, and frankly the fact that things like this still happen in kitchens around Kerala is downright disturbing. I loved this movie, but it’s a hard, difficult watch.
Available on Prime Video.
Sara’s is the one movie amongst these that I found the most unrealistic and hardest to swallow. It’s not like I don’t like the premise: the fact that a woman would sacrifice motherhood to a career will definitely ruffle a few feathers here, and it’s a topic worth exploring. But it’s the execution of the plot that suffers: while Anna Ben is as excellent as usual, Sunny Wayne is just frustrating and there are no other supporting actors to lend credence to the plot. Siddique as the enlightened gynaecologist is frankly the hardest to swallow, with both his final counselling dialogue, and the couple’s reactions feeling very, very staged.
Having said that, I feel this movie deserves a watch: I like the fact that such movies are getting made, and I hope to see a more nuanced stance sometime in the future.
Again, available on Prime Video.