10 movies, 10 women we’d love to be on DStv in August


Have an awesome August with smart, strong, funny female movie characters

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Ride Like A Girl

In 2015, Michelle Payne became the first female jockey to win Australia’s Melbourne Cup horserace. Now Teresa Palmer takes on the role (backed up by footage from Michelle’s real-life races) in director Rachel Griffiths’ (our fave since her Muriel’s Wedding starring days) film about Michelle’s ride to the top, which was more of a steeplechase as she powered her way through, under and over obstacles like the ingrained sexism in the sport, and her personal struggles at home. You don’t have to be a horse girl to appreciate Michelle’s single-minded focus and determination. And she gives her neigh-sayers as much of her attention as they deserve, which is close to none (just wait ’til you hear her race-day speech). “This extraordinary film celebrates 15 years of a woman’s determination and resilience to realise her dream,” says Rachel.

Watch Ride Like A Girl on Saturday, 8 August on M-Net (DStv 101) at 15:15


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Red Joan

Why would we say, I wanna be her,” about an old woman like Joan Stanley (Judi Dench) who’s arrested on suspicion of having sold Britain's nuclear secrets to the Soviets over a period of 40 years in her younger days (when she’s played by Sophie Cookson)? Well, quite simply out of respect for her spycraft! 40 years undetected? Morality aside, kudos. Flying under the radar is not a cop-out, it takes extraordinary skill and ability to squeeze down your ego and desire for recognition. James Bond could never.

This film is adapted from Jennie Rooney’s novel of the same name, which was based on the real-life case of Melita Norwood. But Red Joan gives Joan a somewhat different character and possibly different motivations. She insists during her interrogation that she was deliberately keeping the arms race on an equal playing field to cause a stalemate (so that nobody would use their bombs). And footage of her reaction to the bombing of Hiroshima with anger and shame during the film both supports her claim and makes nonsense of the idea that she was a silly girl “seduced” into the work. Red Joan makes a case for how women have turned being underestimated into a weapon. “There’s this woman that goes completely under the radar and it works to her advantage and she makes the most of her sex,” says Sophie. Red Joan producer David Parfitt adds, “It’s about how an incredibly smart woman managed to operate in a very particular way in a man’s world.”

Watch Red Joan on Sunday, 9 August on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) at 20:15


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Queen of Katwe

10-year-old Phiona (Madina Nalwanga, who later tragically died of a brain tumour at the age of 15) lives in Uganda's capital Kampala, in the Katwe slum, helping to raise her siblings and working to sell maize to support the family. Even if she wasn’t a chess champion, we’d want to be her for how strong, smart and true to her family she is, and how she goes from being a shy mouse to being confident and bold. But Phiona finds a new and unusual way of helping the household when she becomes her neighbourhood's chess champion, then sets out to conquer the world.

The story holds close to real-life events as an adaptation of Tim Crothers' book The Queen of Katwe: A Story of Life, Chess, and One Extraordinary Girl's Dream of Becoming a Grandmaster. Made by Kampalan director Mira Nair, Queen of Katwe is incredible for so many reasons – it’s set in Africa, it celebrates a girl’s brilliance and resilience, and it shows an entire community coming together to uplift someone who shows talent because of the joy and hope that brings them. The end credits will have you sobbing and smiling as the cast meet with their real-life counterparts. If you’ve seen it before, see it again because it could not be more lovely.

Watch Queen of Katwe on Sunday, 9 August on BET (DStv 129) at 21:00


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The Princess Diaries

As much as we’d love to be Amelia Mignonette Grimaldi Thermopolis Renaldo (Anne Hathaway) for the crowns, gowns, kisses and makeovers, our hearts belong to another. Queen Clarisse Renaldi (Julie Andrews) is the queen that princesses aspire to be. She is charming, she is serene, she is kind, she is graceful, she is a savvy political strategist who’s ruled for years without a man at her side. She can still ride a mattress down the grand staircase, and yet when she demonstrates what you look like with your terrible posture, you’ll grow an appreciation for her straight (but never rigid) back and shoulders. And she understands that even a princess needs to be persistent to get what she wants. As she points out to her granddaughter Mia, “Amelia, you wouldn’t stop driving your Mustang just because a couple of insects hit the windshield?” Well no, of course not. Look out, insects.

Watch The Princess Diaries on Monday, 17 August on Comedy Central (DStv 122) at 21:00

Watch The Princess Diaries 2: The Royal Engagement on Monday, 24 August on Comedy Central (DStv 122) at 21:00


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Bombshell

The FOX News female reporters fit a very specific mold – it's like looking at a rich American guy’s ideal trophy wife recaplement line-up. And that has a tendency to obscure the intelligence, skill, education and diverse viewpoints of the newscasters themselves. Whatever their personal politics might be (their own racism and misogyny is well documented), when it comes to taking down their sexual harasser and predator boss, Roger Ailes (John Lithgow), we can get behind the movie’s three leads. While they benefited from the newsroom’s outrageous racism and sexism, they were also victims of it, and justice shouldn’t demand a perfect victim.

Bombshell does a fantastic job of setting the stage to expose many of the elements that make reporting sexual harassment in the workplace so dangerous and difficult for women to the point that in many companies, it is still career suicide. And it also reveals why it has been so difficult to dodge a predator in a way that doesn’t destroy a woman’s career prospects. So we’ll cheer her on when Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) has the bravery to become the first of the women to stand up against Roger and claim that he fired her for turning down his sexual advances, knowing that the world is about to rip her apart. As she says, “I don’t care that you like me, only that you believe me.” Words to live by.

Watch Bombshell on Saturday, 15 August on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) at 20:00


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At Star Is Born

Lady Gaga’s own career, talent and self-made stardom are a powerful echo within this film about her character Ally’s rise to fame from singing at a drag bar, to singing on the Hollywood stage. Talented, passionate Ally needs a mentor to boost her because the recording industry boys’ club don’t care what she sounds like as long as she doesn’t fit the mould of what they consider to be sexy.

Ally is not in music for the fame, she has music in her blood, and she’s using her artistry to connect. The beauty of that endeavour is summed up in the film’s Oscar-winning duet, Shallow, in a performance that depends 100% on a man and a woman truly listening to one another and letting each other have a voice. “To me, that conversation is what makes the song successful and beautiful and why people cry when they hear it. It’s because that man and woman connect, and they are listening to each other,” says Lady Gaga.

And when Ally’s mentor-turned-lover turned husband, Jackson (Bradley Cooper), stops listening and starts abusing, he can hit the bricks. After Jackson tries to tear Ally down by telling her that she’s ugly and untalented, she claps back, “You’re my boyfriend if you don’t treat me like your wife,” and kicks him out of their house.

Watch A Star Is Born on Sunday, 16 August on M-Net Movies Smile (DStv 105) at 19:00


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For Colored Girls

This 2010 Tyler Perry movie – based on Ntozake Shange's 1975 work of 20 poems set to music, titled "for colored girls who have considered suicide/when the rainbow is enuf" – gives us 10 women to embrace as they struggle and celebrate their lives as black women in the United States. As they suffer appalling abuses from men and twists fate, they’re comforted by their sisters and find a way to love the undefeated person that they are inside. In the case of this film, it’s not so much “I wanna be her” as “I wanna be them” – the kind of women who can reach across the divide and find the right words, actions and gestures to comfort another person who’s at the end of their rope. But if we had to pick just one, we might choose landlady Gilda (Phylicia Rashad), who calls social worker Kelly (Kerry Washington) when she believes that Crystal’s (Kimberly Elise) children are in danger. Gilda has compassion and understanding for everyone.

Watch For Colored Girls on Sunday, 30 August on BET (DStv 129) at 00:00


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Pitch Perfect

This musical comedy about competitive college acapella groups gives you an entire chorus of fabulous, funny, nasty, complicated, fat, shy, weird, talented, brash and brassy women to love – the Barden Bellas. Once they get their act together and realise what they can accomplish as a team, the Bellas are, well, not exactly unstoppable, but they are awesome. In this case, we’re going to award the “We wanna be her” Cup to their rival, though, the utterly intimidating yet oddly flirty Kommissar (Birgitte Hjort Sørensen), lead singer of German acapella group Das Sound Machine in Pitch Perfect 2. She’s physically flawless, even her sweat smells like cinnamon and the words of her second in command Pieter (Flula Borg), “She actually speaks 8 languages, but loser is not one of them.” Oh, to be tall, mean and musical!

Watch Pitch Perfect on Sunday, 2 August on M-Net Movies Smile (DStv 105) at 19:00

Watch Pitch Perfect 2 on Sunday, 9 August on M-Net Movies Smile (DStv 105) at 19:00


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Frozen II

Princess sisters Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) are back with a new earworm to dig its way into your brain – their movie’s hit single Into The Unknown. They’re also working together to try to fix the damage that the generations before theirs did to the area’s indigenous people, the Northuldra, and environment. With this one as much as we know Anna is a heroine with her compassion and solid values, Elsa’s touch of magic and her physical courage despite her shyness and anxiety makes us want to be more like her, regardless of the isolating effects of her powers. Even that loneliness holds a powerful attraction for little girls who’re working to establish an identity apart from that of family.

Watch Frozen II on Saturday, 1 August on M-Net Movies Premiere (DStv 104) at 20:00


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The Incredibles 2

This is Elastigirl’s big moment of stepping back from her mom role and standing in the spotlight as the superhero she was always meant to be. But… can we just swing the spotlight over a little bit? Good. Now down? And we sigh in admiration, because there stands Edna Mode. Fashion designer to the superhero pantheon, hater of capes, not a parent and unafraid to say, “I am not a baby person, I am an artist,” while still admitting that, “Done properly, parenting is a heroic act.”

The architecture of her house alone shows that she has taste for days – despite mostly designing outfits in stretchy fabrics and eye-watering colours. We love and covet Edna’s brilliance and focus on her work. She’s a genius with fabric, commanding and demanding. She handles the entire garment manufacture business herself, from pre-sketches, to cutting and stitching – all while designing around bodies that can transform in a mindboggling number of ways. And her endless curiosity and fascination with superpowers more than makes up for her vanity. Be right back, off to get a bowl cut.

Watch The Incredibles 2 on Saturday, 15 August on M-Net Movies Smile (DStv 105) at 19:00


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