Directed &/or written by women, March 2016

A couple of little changes: I’ve decided not to include Cinematheque screenings anymore and for one-off/festival screenings I’ll only be adding films to the directed/co-directed category but not the written/co-written. So, here are the releases for February (Australian release dates) that are directed &/or written by women. (Including co-directed and co-written).

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Films directed/co-directed by a woman opening in March 2016:

Miracles From Heaven directed by Patricia Riggen, release date 17th of March 2016

Kung Fu Panda 3 co-directed by Jennifer Yuh (and Alessandro Carloni), release date 24th of March 2016

Sherpa written and directed by Jennifer Peedom, release date 31st of March 2016*

Dark Horse directed by Louise Osmond will be showing at The Sunday Sessions on the 20th of March

*This was included in last month’s post, but then it disappeared from the Palace Nova site. I suppose its release was postponed.

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Films written/co-written by a woman opening in March 2016:

London Has Fallen co-written by Katrin Benedikt (directed by Babak Najafi), release date 17th of March 2016

Kapoor and Sons co-written by Ayesha DeVitre (directed by Shakun Batra), release date 18th of March 2016*

My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 written by Nia Vardalos (directed by Kirk Jones), release date 24th of March 2016

Labyrinth of Lies co-written by Elisabeth Bartel (directed by Giulio Ricciarelli), release date 31st of March 2016

*Couldn’t tell if this was a limited release.

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At the French Film Festival in March/April*:

Bang Gang (Un histoire d’amour moderne) directed by Eva Husson

La Belle Saison directed by Catherine Corsini

Lolo directed by Julie Delpy

Love at First Child (Ange et Gabrielle) directed by Anne Giafferi

Mon Roi directed by Maïwenn

 

*As the festival is moving around the country during March and April, I have added all the women-directed features in the March post. I’ve also linked the movies to their pages on the festival site, instead of IMDB. (If I missed any because I mistook names for a different gender, feel free to point this out).

Check below for where the films are screening:

Palace Nova; Hoyts; Wallis; Greater Union; Capri Theatre; Odeon Star; The Regal Theatre/Trak Cinemas.

Also, I’m just one (forgetful and easily overwhelmed) person and can sometimes miss things so, as always, please let me know if I have!

Note: information correct at time of publishing.

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52 Films by Women Update

I think I was too ambitious to attempt to write about each of the films I watch for 52 Films by Women on this blog. I’ve fallen so far behind and I feel really overwhelmed. So, instead, my aim is to write feature posts on a select number that I feel particularly strongly about and then the updates for the rest will be in my monthly roundups. But I’ll still do a little update, for now, because I already started this post.

The Secret Garden, dir. Agnieszka Holland, 1993

As I mentioned in my January Roundup, I’ve decided to include rewatches in the pledge, but I’m still determined to make it to 52 new-to-me women directed films. So far, my rewatches have been of favourite films (like Wayne’s World and The Secret Garden), but I might revisit a few I don’t remember well, or didn’t enjoy much the first time around. Sometimes, my opinion doesn’t change when I revisit a film, but there have been occasions where a film I hated or didn’t like turns into a film that I love.

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Wayne’s World, dir. Penelope Spheeris, 1992

If I were to pick a top three of the new-to-me films for this pledge, so far, I would go with: Miss Julie, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night and Om Shanti Om. They’re all so different from each other, which makes me happy – it’s cool to see women making so many different kinds of movies, telling different stories, etc.

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Miss Julie, dir. Liv Ullmann, 2014

I’ve also realised that seeing every woman directed film out at the cinemas this year is just not feasible for me because of health and finances. I did finally manage to go see Looking For Grace, which I thoroughly enjoyed. If I can see more films directed by women at the cinema than I did last year, then I’ll be happy. (Considering I only saw two last year, both at festivals, I don’t think that will be too difficult). I’m fairly certain I’m overthinking this whole thing, but that’s kind of my schtick. (This whole post is very thinking ‘out loud’).

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Looking for Grace, dir. Sue Brooks, 2016

Finally, I wanted to write a little about what I’ve observed so far, but I haven’t thought about it much, to be honest. I have noticed that, naturally, women are as capable of making films I don’t like as men are, but that’s really a bit ‘state the obvious’. The women characters, even when they’re not main characters, are almost always that little bit more interesting, which isn’t surprising. I’m fairly certain I prefer romances directed by women, but I haven’t put that to the test, yet. It’ll be interesting to see if I have any better observations by the end of the year.

Most importantly, I’m really looking forward to diving into the rest of the films on my watchlist (I’m keeping it at 100 for now) and seeing where this pledge takes me!

Real Women Have Curves, 2002 (52 Films by Women #17)

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How dare anybody try to tell me what I should look like, or what I should be, when there’s so much more to me than just my weight!

Real Women Have Curves, directed by Patricia Cardoso, was number 17 for my 52 Films by Women pledge. The title had put me off when I saw a copy, many years ago, at my local video store. But then I found a copy at Savers and figured I may as well pick it up, for $2, seeing as it was right there. And I’m glad that I looked past the title and did so, because this is a lovely little film.

America Ferrera is fantastic in the lead role as the frustrated Ana, torn between loyalty to her family and wanting to forge her own way in the world. Coming of age tales may not be anything new, but as they’re generally told by/from a white perspective it makes films like this not only important, but refreshing.

Ana is an easy character to relate to – she and I have many similarities (including our bodies) but we’re from quite different cultures. I enjoyed the scenes with her family, especially with her grandpa, but there are some very cute scenes with her boyfriend that I liked, too.

A screencap showing four Latina women standing side by side in their underwear in a clothing factory. There are sewing stations near them. The subtitles read: 'PANCHA: Ladies, look, how beautiful we are!'

But the scene that really got me is when she confronts her mother in the factory about her body image double standards. When Ana strips down to her undies and says how she doesn’t really want to change, that there’s more to her than her body and her outward appearance, that she likes herself the way that she is, I practically cheered. The other women (except her mother) strip off too and it’s honestly one of the sweetest moments in the film, especially when Pancha says how beautiful they all are. It’s a very powerful scene, with a message that is still relevant, but it’s infused with humour that makes it heartwarming.

This is an engaging, funny and poignant film that’s well worth a watch.

The Phantom, 1996

PLL 00042Recently I found a copy of The Phantom (1996) when I was op-shopping, and, realising that I was remiss in never having seen it, I promptly added it to my pile of DVDs to buy. I watched it the same night I took it home, and completely fell in love.

PLL 00043Essentially, my enjoyment boils down to having a lot of fun while watching this movie. It’s not surprising, considering it has a very similar feel to one of my all-time favourites, The Shadow, another pulp/comic adaptation set in the 1930s. Sure, it’s cheesy and ridiculous but that’s why I loved it. It’s nearly all I could ever ask for from a film like this.

Billy Zane is quite stiff in his dual role as both The Phantom and Kit Walker but he’s not entirely without charm and he’s so pretty… so pretty. Even in the costume. Treat Williams as Xander Drax is fantastic – there’s definitely some scenery chewing going on in his performance.

PLL 00045PLL 00050I had no idea that both Kristy Swanson and Catherine Zeta-Jones were in this (rocking some awesome lady-adventurer/aviatrix style outfits) so I was super excited when they showed up. I think Swanson is really charming and adorable, largely because of my love of the 1992 Buffy film. She looked great with the short curled bob and Amelia Earheart-esque getup in this and I really liked her character.

PLL 00051phantom1I kind of got hung up thinking about Diana (Swanson) and Sala (Zeta-Jones) when writing this, which is probably evident from the screencaps.  I love that it basically ends with them flying off together. Sure, the narration tells us Diana is determined to come back for Kit/The Phantom, but I can just pretend that she soon realised she’d rather be with Sala, right? I’ve started to imagine a spinoff sequel of their adventures together. How cool would that have been? Maybe one day there’ll be more films like this with women as the central characters.

I loved the moment in the car when Diana turns to Sala and asks her why she’s so mean, if she cares about anyone but herself. There is a look of realisation on Sala’s face when she starts to think that she’s not on the right path after all. I love that Diana is the catalyst for her turnaround, rather than Kit or another man. (I also love that all of Sala’s pilots were women). I’m not saying that makes it a feminist film, or that the characters themselves are feminist, I just thought it was cool, a bit refreshing, and was something I could connect with.

zvQlfbVeZMMZecVfQypaJOX722cThere’s not necessarily a lot of substance – the plot is simple enough, which I like, and the characters aren’t necessarily that well rounded (which isn’t unusual), but it’s fun. I feel like I should write some more (I’ve barely touched on the plot, the baddies…anything really) but I’ve dithered over this long enough.

A friend of mine said he always tries to watch it with The Rocketeer and The Shadow, and I think I’m going to try to do that next time, too.

January 2016 Roundup

Black and white image of a woman with dark hair styled into a bob applying thick dark eyeliner. She is wearing a horizontally striped top. Behind her is patterned wallpaper and a poster of Margaret Atwood dressed as Madonna.This was initially going to be an update on my resolutions but then I realised I wanted to do a roundup post for each month, too, and got freaked out at the thought of so many posts to write up. A few days later I thought ‘why not do both together?’, i.e. make the resolution update part of my roundup, so that’s what I did!

As it’s the first of this type of post, I’m still figuring out exactly how I want to format it and even what to call each section. I’m also the kind of person who feels the need to include every tiny little thing so figuring out what was relevant was tricky. OK, on to the post!

Bits and bobs or things that made me happy:

I’m going to start off with a selection of several different things that got me excited or made me happy in the movie world, this month.

-I told myself I wouldn’t watch any more trailers this year because I’ve been disappointed by amazing trailers for lacklustre films lately but the temptation is too great! Especially with two of my favourites from January: Suicide Squad and the second for Hail, Caesar!

A lot of people are disappointed by the way Harley has been presented in promos, etc., for the upcoming Suicide Squad film and, while I understand why, I still think the movie looks like it could be a whole lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it, with cautious optimism. Only time will tell, after all!

This second trailer for Hail, Caesar! left me in stitches. ‘Would that it twere so simple’.

-There’s not a lot to go on in the first look at the Wonder Woman film, set to be released in 2017, but I was really heartened by what Patty Jenkins (who is directing) had to say:

“The greatest thing about Wonder Woman is how good and kind and loving she is, yet none of that negates any of her power.”

It shows she really gets what Wonder Woman is about.

-I found this great review of Point Break (1991) that says basically everything I would want to about the movie.

-Apparently 2015 was the best year at the box office for Australian film in 14 years! Huzzah!

Favourite January watches:

An image from Before Sunrise of Julie Delpy, a white, blonde woman with Ethan Hawke a white man with brown hair, standing next to each other. I watched a lot of great movies in January (I watched a lot of movies, in general) so picking out a select few as favourites was tricky. The first new-to-me movie of the year was Before Sunrise (pictured above), which I’d been putting off thinking it would bore me. I couldn’t have been more wrong because it was incredibly charming and romantic. One of the best I watched in January. Speaking of romantic, I finally saw Brooklyn (pictured below) which was just lovely. It was both heartbreaking and joyful and I’m glad I finally got to see it. Saoirse Ronan is shaping up to be one of my favourite actresses.

An image from Brooklyn of three women looking in a mirror. The woman on the right is fixing the hair of the woman in the middle.Aside from some films that fit into the categories below (so I’ll talk about them there), my other two favourites were Mommy and The Two Faces of January. Mommy was the better of the two – Xavier Dolan is easily one of my favourite directors working now – but I can see myself re-watching The Two Faces of January a lot. I’m a sucker for period thrillers.

I only managed to see two films at the cinema (Brooklyn and The Hateful Eight), which is really disappointing. I have to ration my energy, these days, and that often means missing out on seeing movies.

Resolutions updates:

Watch more movies made by women.

An image of Jessica Chastain in Miss Julie. A redhead woman in a blue dress is standing by a grey door. She is visible from her shoulders up.Thanks to the pledge to watch 52 films directed by women in a year, I’ve been doing OK with this one. You can see the list of what I’ve watched so far here. I decided to include rewatches for the pledge but I still want to get to at least 52 new-to-me women-directed movies this year. I also decided writing about each of them on this blog was too much. (I talk about this a little more toward the end of this post).

A black and white image from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night of a young woman in a chador holding a cat.My two favourites were Miss Julie (top image), which I wrote about here, and A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night (bottom image). I’m hoping to write a post about the latter, too, but I may need to watch it again, first. My overwhelming impression of it, though, is that it’s incredibly cool; I’m very much in the target audience. I was surprised by how much I liked The Nativity Story, considering biblical movies really aren’t my thing and I Could Never Be Your Woman was more enjoyable than most reviews lead me to believe it would be.

Watch more Australian films.

An image from BMX Bandits of three teenagers sitting in a cafe. The boy on the left wears a blue and white striped shirt, the girl in the middle is drinking flavoured milk and wears a light blue shirt and has very curly hair. The boy on the right is drinking milk from a carton and wearing a red shirt.Not doing quite as well with this one but I am making a more conscious effort. I managed to watch a couple that were on my list for years (and are also on my 30 by 30 list), so I’m happy with that. While I would say that, objectively, Ten Canoes and Balibo were the best, my favourite was BMX Bandits (pictured above). It was a whole lot of fun and silliness – two of my favourite things. Balibo was very difficult to watch and I just sobbed most of the way through, but it felt worth it.

I also watched Samson and Delilah, The Heartbreak Kid and Not Quite Hollywood (which is what inspired me to finally watch BMX Bandits).

Write (and read) more!

I feel like I’ve been reading more articles (but not blogs, books, etc.) but as I’ve never tried to track that before, it’s hard to tell.

I have been writing more but I don’t know that I’m writing any better. Any writing I can manage to do at all right now is a huge accomplishment, to be honest. So while I am writing more, and I’m proud to be writing anything, I’m not particularly happy with the finished results.

I’ve decided that I won’t write about each of the 52 Films by Women here, after all, as dashing off so many posts has meant that I don’t have the time to work on thoughtful, well crafted ones like I want to. I know some people are capable of creating beautiful writing in a short space of time but with health issues I find it difficult.

I’ll keep writing my short off the cuff reviews on letterboxd but keep the blog for writing about the films I feel more strongly toward (for now). I think some shorter posts in between will be a good idea, but it’s a work in progress. (Speaking of works in progress, I’m aiming to make my blog more accessible by writing image descriptions, changing font colours, etc., but it’s taking up huge amounts of my energy so, again, baby steps).

January reading recommendations:

To finish off, here’s some recommended reading, including news you may have missed as well as articles, reviews, etc. A lot of them are to do with (the lack of) diversity at the Oscars. I actually don’t care about the Oscars, but because it’s such a huge cultural event that is important to many, I still believe it’s important that it represents all people.

A Year With Women: What I Learned Only Watching Films Directed by Women in 2015 at Cinema Fanatic

50 Films by Women You Can Watch Online Right Now at Flavorwire

Film HERstory: 60+ Classic Films Directed by Women (and Where You Can Watch Them) at Nitrate Diva

Radha Mitchell: Back in Oz for female-led Looking for Grace at The Screen Blog

Meet Alice Guy-Blaché: The First Female Director at Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls

‘Carol’ and Ineffable Queerness of Being at Bitch Flicks

How Xavier Dolan’s soundtracks made it cool to be uncool at Dazed

Yes, You Should Be Mad About the Oscars at Birth. Movies. Death.

The Academy Proves that Oscars are Only for White People, Again at The Huffington Post

Oscar Diversity: It’s been 54 years since a Latina took home an Academy Award at Los Angeles Times

Gina Rodriguez Shines a Spotlight on Latinx Talent with #MovementMondays at The Mary Sue

Academy Takes Historic Action to Increase Diversity at Oscars.org

‘Birth of a Nation’: The Slave-Revolt Movie That Will Have Sundance Talking at The Hollywood Reporter

Sundance: ‘Birth of a Nation’ Lands at Fox Searchlight in Record $17.5 Million Deal at Variety

 

(Header image from A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, edited by me).