100 More Films Made By Women – Part Two

It’s no surprise to see many of the films directed by women featured here and elsewhere focus on the female story perspective – you could solidly argue those as well are in too short supply in the film industry. The following eclectic bunch of films offer an abundance of female-driven stories, regardless of a potential male lead (and there are not many here). As always with the ones you are yet to see, get them bumped up your watch-list as soon as possible.

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He Loves Me… He Loves Me Not (Laetitia Colombani)

Refreshingly and unconventionally beautiful, Audrey Tautou’s striking features and expressive energy are utilized here to play a young woman, Angélique, who is on the one hand love-scorned, and on the other suspiciously manic. The delightfully alluring French film is directed by Laetitia Colombani, who, as well as projecting some well-adored European cinematic charm, manages to build a psychological romance that flips like a coin, giving us two perspectives of Angélique’s affection towards a local doctor. The pieces of this eloquent puzzle are perfectly poised (as is Tautou), the narrative strives, and succeeds, to bring the story strands together in unison, making this originally compelling rather than dis-satisfyingly predictable. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Coco Before Chanel (Anne Fontaine)

Audrey Tautou again. Those who assume the French actress is the quirky, sweet Amelie wherever she goes are so wrong, here she offers little amiability and warmth through her character (not a bad thing), but rather portrays Chanel as ruthless and ambitious – an extremely effective acting display indeed. Director Anne Fontaine is neither heavy-handed nor manipulating in bringing forth a version of the life story of one of the most influential and highly regarded fashion icons of any era. That said this is not just any old biopic, its accessible discourse also feeds us a well executed dramatic narrative, as well as giving us insight into “Coco’s” life – the film opens with Gabrielle as a child in an orphanage. Appropriately too the movie look lavish throughout. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Fifty Shades of Grey (Sam Taylor-Johnson)

It may seem bizarre to include 50 Shades of Grey in a list of films made by women given its evisceration by film critics and feminist viewers alike. To be sure, there are elements of saccharine melodrama and overplayed broodiness, though these owe more to the film’s source text than its execution. Having read the novel and viewed the film multiple times, I can say that whatever its failings as straight narrative drama, as a work of adaptation it is quite stunning. Director Sam Taylor-Johnson brings an understated indie sensibility to the script, improving upon the original material by keeping the performances of lead actors Dakota Johnson and Jamie Dornan remarkably toned down even during the most ludicrous of scenes. Husband and wife production design duo David and Sandy Wasco (known best for their extensive work with Tarantino) and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey make the film an objectively beautiful thing to look at. All things considered, as a text that influenced American culture in a major way and as a novel intervention in the tradition of the woman’s film, 50 Shades is a film everyone should see before discounting it. – – – Desirae Embree @ZeeSayre

2 Days in New York (Julie Delpy)

At times ludicrous and off the boil, Julie Delpy still manages to inflict some familiar European charm into the comedic proceedings. Portraying the rather haphazard, farcical two days of the title in New York, this brings together a family of diverse cultures and backgrounds to cause minor mayhem. What Delpy’s swift hand succeeds for the most part is to mimic the lives of those that we hold dear, even when they are ultimately disruptive and rude. While not exactly laugh-out-loud hilarious, the comedy does garner much social wit and banter, some of the dialogue is so snappy and well-executed by the acting ensemble it makes for several chuckle-some moments. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

How to Make an American Quilt (Jocelyn Moorhouse)

I’m not ashamed to look back and admit my overwhelming crush on Winona Ryder. Many of those movies she made back in the 1990s may well seem slightly dated now, some even forgotten, but they were to me, and others, cinematic blessings and guilty pleasures. Crafting a poignant, multi-generational story, Jocelyn Moorhouse weaves just the right amount of heart and soul into the light, but affecting, drama How to Make an American Quilt. The enchanting Ryder is surrounded by star turns from heavyweight actresses too, I wasn’t sure at one moment if the screen could handle the presence of both Ellen Burstyn and Anne Bancroft. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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Bridget Jones’s Diary (Sharon Maguire)

Bridget Jones’s Diary is a sweet and charming film from 2001, where Renée Zellweger plays a woman who gets caught up in a relationship triangle with a wrong guy (Hugh Grant), and a guy who “likes her just the way she is” (Colin Firth). There is comedy that ensues, including a scene in which she dresses up like a Playboy bunny for a costume party that turns out not to be a costume party. The magic of Bridget Jones’s Diary is that director Sharon Maguire adapted a wonderful film from Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name. But if nothing else, it’s worthy of watching just to see Bridget’s giant granny panties. – – – Al Robinson @Al_Rob_1982

Rambling Rose (Martha Coolidge)

Laura Dern and Diane Ladd were both nominated for Academy Awards for their memorable performances here, a uniquely gratifying feat given they are daughter and mother in real life. Dern is the central Rambling Rose of the film’s title, unashamedly exploring her own promiscuity during the Great Depression. Her magnetism to men is in it’s purest form when portrayed through 13 year-old Buddy’s fascination of Rose. In one unforgettable scene she succumbs to his explorative touches, a deeply provocative move by director Martha Coolidge in a film that has its fair share of bawdy behavior as well as the sentimentality. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Girlfriends (Claudia Weill)

An under-seen and under-celebrated gem of a film from the late 70’s, a confident and hugely spirited film by Claudia Weill. Her first feature film, made independently, on her own terms. She has made lots of documentaries, TV episodes. Her early work includes things for Seasame Street, freelancing as camerawoman. She is a theater director and has taught all of the above in universities. Girlfriends was brought to my attention when I read an interview by Stanley Kubrick and later by how much Lena Dunham and Greta Gerwig loved it and has influenced them. This is story of two best friends and roommates, Susan Weinblatt and Anne Munroe. Susan dreams of success in photography while doing small pay jobs, Anne gets married soon, leaving Susan alone to chase after her dreams and life, where ever and however she may find them. A beautifully created and written film, it breathes without feeling bogged down by clichés. Much about female friendship, female struggles as it is about aimless drifting, struggling to create something for yourself. Its feminism and storytelling feels as fresh and radical as it did then without defining itself by politics but humanity and willfully fleshing out its multi-colored characters. – – – Asif Khan @KHAN2705

Love Serenade (Shirley Barrett)

Sporadically reminiscent of the indie Australian film scene from a couple of decades back (you know, Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding), Love Serenade has that down under neurosis and free-speaking nature in its main characters. Shirley Barret’s kind-of comedy-romance focuses on two sisters, one cluelessly brash, the other charmingly introvert, as they go about their little lives. Their heads and hearts get all in a muddle when a famous, charismatic, radio DJ comes to town. His slow, philosophical vocals carry some allure, but ultimately he is a great big douche – it just takes a hell of a lot of bonkers disruption for the sisters to realize it. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

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The Voices (Marjane Satrapi)

Marjane Satrapi is an Oscar nominee for the animated, autobiographical Persepolis, and here, depending on how much you want to deeply analyse film, she has taken a different direction, vivid and memorable all the same. The Voices slipped under the net with audiences last year, but the quirky, oddball picture is a bit of a treat. Merging an underlying, yet heavy, theme of psychological health with the sympathetic, docile lead in Ryan Reynolds (with his good and bad nature voiced by Bosco the dog and Mr. Whickers the cat respectively), the film has some refreshing moments of comedy and horror. Stick around for the zany closing titles musical dance number too. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Look out for Part Three, and in the meantime go back and check out Part One.

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