100 More Films Made By Women – Part Four

Here we have 10 more far from “girly” films at your disposal. So let’s hear it for the girls. Girls that can cut into a marriage bond, that can gyrate inappropriately at a children’s party, girls that can escape their confined lifestyles to watch a soccer game, can become terrorists, can sit naked on a radio show. What is also demonstrated in the following selections is that girls can sure direct films with aplomb. Films that are visual wonders, oddball companion films, films about the beauty and restrictions of youth, horrors about doomed newlyweds. You get the picture. Or at least, you ought to. Read on.

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Mustang (Deniz Gamze Ergüven)

If you have seen Mustang then you can fully appreciate the term that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. And this films drives that enticing aesthetic from the moment it begins right until the final seconds. An often dark, bleak depiction of a group of Turkish girls, Deniz Gamze Ergüven (who co-wrote with Alice Winocour) offers an abundance of warm optimism, female empowerment, visual splendor, and a tender, alluring pacing. The film is also uncompromising without being heavy-handed in it’s more stern, shocking moments. Impossible to resist it turns out, Mustang lingered with me long after I saw it, and is still resonating with me as I write this. If you don’t fall in love with this gem in some way or another then I advise you to check your pulse immediately. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Attenberg (Athina Rachel Tsangari)

Utter bonkers does not even do this unique little Greek film any kind of justice. There is actually some method believe it or not to the madness written and directed by Athina Rachel Tsangari. When not spending sporadically expressive time with best friend, be it silly rhythmic walks or the enticement of their breasts, Marina (Ariane Labed) isolates herself with her ill father watching nature documentaries. Struggling to confront the laws of physical attraction, Marina tries to rationalize her actions (or lack of) through her own intelligent discourse. A real strong whiff in surrealism of Yorgos Lanthimos here (Tsangari was involved in his Dogtooth), the director plays the role here of Marina’s experimental romantic interest. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Cloud Atlas (Lana Wachowski)

David Mitchell’s 2004 novel became an instant literary classic and was deemed “unfilmable” due to its complex structure and compendium of ideas that could not possibly be boiled down into a two-hour plus movie. Enter Lana Wachowski and her co-directors, brother Andy, and Tom Tykwer. The three of them disassembled the original structure – in Mitchell’s own words – reshaping the “Russian doll” structure into a presentation more like that of “spinning plates” where we are asked to leap from story to story and back again, eventually connecting them instinctively and emotionally, logic-be-damned. The result is exhilarating. The Wachowskis took on primary responsibility for the stories set in 1849, 2321 (of course), and what is probably the most politically and ethically challenging of the six, Neo Seoul, set in 2144. This is definitely Wachowski territory. The depth of imagination required to illustrate Mitchell’s vision is met – and exceeded – likely enhanced by the personal experience of Lana Wachowski, which adds a facet to the prism through which we see the action unfold. The most expensive independent production ever filmed divided audiences and critics. While the film received a 10-minute standing ovation when it premiered at TIFF, it suffered at the hands of viewers accustomed to easy answers or whose political correctness could not get past the need for actors to play multiple characters of different races. Wachowski, herself, said in an interview, “As soon as they encounter a piece of art they don’t fully understand the first time going through it, they think it’s the fault of the movie or the work of art. They think, [dramatic voice] “It’s a mess. This doesn’t make any sense.” And they reject it, just out of an almost knee-jerk response to some ambiguity or some gulf between what they expect they should be able to understand, and what they understand.” All I can say is, patience. Cloud Atlas will stand the test of time and Lana Wachowski’s influence, not mention, fearlessness, is one reasons that the film succeeds on so many levels. In one of his last reviews, Roger Ebert exclaimed, “but, oh, what a film this is! And what a demonstration of the magical, dreamlike qualities of the cinema. And what an opportunity for the actors. And what a leap by the directors, who free themselves from the chains of narrative continuity.” – – – Steve Schweighofer @banjoonthecrag

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Day Night Day Night (Julia Loktev)

So it is not often we get to experience a narrative fiction film that acts as an almost day-in-the-life of a suicide bomber. Inspired by real events, director Julia Loktev takes us on a journey through two days where the un-named main character, She, has to go through the standard procedure in preparation for, well, blowing herself up. The bright hustle and colorful bustle of Times Square provides a familiar, but chilling venue for such havoc. There’s a sustainable suspense built throughout, as time ticks away, with very little dialogue, the gritty digital video shooting, and the fact the inhabitants of Times Square appear unknowing of the event this girl could catapult gives it a raw tension. It matters not whether we ever get to know why or what her specific intentions or motivations were, or what happens to her, Day Night Day Night is fueled on human behavior and personal conflict – portrayed irresistibly front and center by Luisa Williams. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Baise-moi (Virginie Despentes, Coralie Trinh Thi)

Seemingly derived from the seedy world of pornography, with both writer-directors Virginie Despentes and Coralie Trinh Thi, and both actresses Karen Lancaume and Raffaëla Anderson, from that explicit background. It kind of shows in the revenge film’s dark, unhindered subject matter and execution (quite literally at times) – but this is not masturbation material. Baise-moi translates as Fuck Me (allegedly tagged Rape Me but the film-makers rejected this notion), and whether you’re enduring the graphic content or kicking and screaming, there’s a have-to-look intrigue here, as you are dragged into the neon extremity of the film’s ultra-violent showcase. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Private Parts (Betty Thomas)

Superbly directed by Betty Thomas, Howard Stern’s autobiographical film Private Parts is a masterclass in biopic storytelling. The film uses Annie Hall-type flashbacks to follow Stern’s journey from small town nobody to aspiring D.J. to eventual superstardom as the self-proclaimed “King of All Media”. Upon release in 1997 few people in the general public knew much about Stern’s personal life, especially the fact that he had a softer more human side, which the film explores wonderfully. It also shows how Stern put together his motley crew of sidekicks, who all played themselves in the film. Perhaps the best parts of the film though are the scenes where Stern spars with WNBC’s producer Kenny (Paul Giamatti), whom Stern affectionately calls “Pig Vomit”. Their ongoing battles are some of the supreme back-and-forths in all of comedic cinema history. – – – Tim J. Krieg @FiveStarFlicks

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Honeymoon (Leigh Janiak)

It’s a common ideology that couples marry and can somehow alter in themselves or the relationships they have lovingly embarked on. For Bea (Rose Leslie, Ygritte in Game of Thrones) and Paul (Harry Treadaway) in the eerie picture Honeymoon the newly-wed changes are of a very different nature altogether. First-time director Leigh Janiak appears to have no debut nerves here, crafting a familiar cabin-in-the-woods format horror, with human deterioration, psychological wonder, and body invasion aplenty. Knocking at the door of utter madness at times, the film deserves some credit for messing with your own nervous system as an audience member, and ultimately leaving you uncomfortable by the film’s ambiguous ending. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Pitch Perfect 2 (Elizabeth Banks)

The Barden Bellas are back! After winning the college a capella championship in the first film, they have gone on tour, but end up embarrassing themselves. This causes them to lose their right to perform competitively. To get their rights to compete back, they decide to enter an international a capella competition. Though this one isn’t as good as the first Pitch Perfect, it’s still a funny and satisfying film. What makes it great is the great performances by Anna Kendrick, Rebel Wilson, and newcomer to the Bellas, Hailee Steinfeld. It’s extra satisfying that Elizabeth Banks did double time by having a small role in the film, and directing it herself. What Banks did in the end was help the Bellas to find their voice again, and to remember that they’re the best. – – – Al Robinson @Al_Rob_1982

Sleeping with Other People (Leslye Headland)

Premiering at the Sundance Film Festival, perky romantic comedy Sleeping With Other People punches above the weight of the standard rom-com being churned out these days. This is largely due to Leslye Headland, not only writing a screenplay with some accomplished, genuine relationship and sexual humor, and frank observations, but also for directing an adult comedy that never loses its edge or where it’s going. Jason Sudeikis, as Jake, and Alison Brie, as Lainey have an excellent screen presence, both timely in their wit and delivery, but also demonstrate a compelling, believable on-screen chemistry. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Nobody Walks (Ry Russo-Young)

Also at Sundance, director Ry Russo-Young scooped a special Jury Prize in 2012 for Nobody Walks. The film is a rather beguiling but grounded indie drama, focusing on family life at roots level, and inviting a potentially damaging element to disrupt the unity. John Krasinski and Rosemarie DeWitt are seemingly trouble-free in their marriage with two kids, that is until Martine (Olivia Thirlby, Juno‘s best friend), an art student in her early twenties comes to stay in their pool house to complete her project. Whether her agenda or not, as the father helps her with her art film and impresses on her some mellow flirtations, Martine eventually lures him into a brief sexual liaison that will have consequences extremely hard to come back from for all concerned. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

If you have missed the first three parts you have some catching up to do, starting here.

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