An Unmarried Woman is the Pick of the Week

A groundbreaking 1978 classic about a woman's reawakening starts off a new week of several low-key releases.
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In a way, the 1970s was the decade of the woman. There were many films about women coming into their own, especially during the time of feminism. However, if there was one film that really captured the essence of the new, liberated woman, it was Paul Mazursky's 1978 game-changer, An Unmarried Woman, which also gave the late, great Jill Clayburgh not only her first Oscar nomination, but the most defining role of her career as a woman on the verge of a breakdown, but eventually picks herself up, dusts herself off, and begins life anew.

Clayburgh stars as Erica Benton, a wealthy New York City gallery worker, whose comfortable domestic life gets thrown into an emotional tailspin when her husband (Michael Murphy), a stockbroker, suddenly abandons their 16-year marriage for a much younger woman. Confused and broken, she slowly comes back to life and explores her newfound sexuality. She also finds herself testing the waters of a new relationship with an intense, charismatic artist (Alan Bates). 

Although this was written and directed by Mazursky, a man, he really understood the bare essentials of women coming to terms with life, love, and the pursuit of happiness, but on their own terms. He really gave Clayburgh the chance to reveal herself, not just as an actress, but as a woman. It was a sheer risk, but a very successful one. Along with Claybergh's nomination for Best Actress, the film deservedly received two more nominations for Best Picture and Best Screenplay. But more importantly, it gave single, ordinary women a much-needed voice and continues to be one of the seminal films about female empowerment.

The new Criterion release includes some good supplements: 2005 audio commentary with Mazursky and Clayburgh; new interviews with actors Murphy and Lisa Lucas; new interview with author Sam Wasson on Mazursky's work; audio recording of Mazursky speaking at the AFI Institute in 1980; and a trailer. There is also a new essay by critic Angelica Jade Bastien. If you're looking for an honest, frank, and funny portrait of the modern woman, look no further than this film, and definitely add it your collection. It's a must have!

Other releases:

Brian's Song: The classic 1971 Emmy-winning TV movie about the tragic, real-life friendship between football greats Brian Piccolo (James Caan) and Gale Sayers (Billy Dee Williams).

Anne Frank Remembered: The Oscar-winning documentary focused on Anne Frank through her diary, vintage newreels, photographs, a rare home movie, and heartbreaking interviews with her family, friends, and her protector/mentor Miep Gies.

Corpus Christi; A film about 20-year-old Daniel, who experiences a spirtual transformation in a Youth Detention Center. The crime he committed prevents him from applying to a seminary and afterwards, he is sent to a workshop. However, he doesn't let this destroy his dream, as he decides to become a priest of a small-town parish.

The Hunt: A gory satire about twelve strangers who wake up in a clearing, and find that they have been chosen - to be hunted by violent elitists, until one of the hunted, turns the tables on the pursuers.

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