When "Foxfire" came out in 1996, I was only one-year-old. While watching it only a few months ago, it became clear that Annette Haywood-Carter's drama exists in the dimension of exceptional productions. Those productions have a crucial influence on young women's lives. Meet Legs Sadovsky (Angelina Jolie). Nobody knows where she came from. Tomboy-ish looking, young woman is a mystery, especially to Maddy Wirtz (Hedy Burress). Maddy, a high school teenager, doesn't even know that Legs will change her life forever. After hearing about the teacher's sexual harassment, the mystery girl teaches Maddy, Rita (Jenny Lewis), Goldie (Jenny Shimizu), and Violet (Sarah Rosenberg) to stand up against abuse and fight for their rights as women.
Year: 2017 Runtime: 108 minutes Director: Angela Robinson Writer: Angela Robinson Stars: Rebecca Hall, Luke Evans, Bella Heathcote By Jenni Holtz All too often, biopics are dismissed, especially by younger audiences, for being boring or Oscar-bait-y. They tend to be successful with older moviegoers and award shows, but the response from younger viewers appears... Continue Reading →
François Ozon’s “8 Women” (2002) is a locked-house murder mystery whodunit with over the top caricatures who fling around accusations and burst into song. It’s ultra-theatrical and it’s brilliant. Based on Robert Thomas’s 1958 play “Huit Femmes”, the film is set in the 1950s in a snow-bound French manor far from help. As the family gathers for Christmas the patriarch Marcel (Dominique Lamure) is found murdered. Of course nobody can contact the police or get out through the snow. The murderer is amongst them and they need to figure out which one of them it is.
Here it is, 2019, and we’re just getting our very first feature film biopic of civil rights legend Harriet Tubman. It’s just a shame that it isn’t a more inspired one. Cynthia Erivo is more than competent in the lead role, bringing a vibrancy and determination to Tubman’s heroism, but the rest of the film is a drab, paint-by-numbers biopic. Harriet was born a slave, under the name of Araminta Ross. When the film begins, she and her free husband John (Zackary Momoh) are unsuccessfully arguing the legality of her enslavement with her master. Their failure to negotiate Harriet’s freedom makes them so desperate that they discuss running away together, but circumstances transpire that force her to take the long, arduous journey north alone.
“I really don’t know what’s real anymore,” Bess says in “Love is Blind” (2019). Much of this film revolves around the audience figuring out what is real rather than in Bess's head. Andy Delaney and Monty Whitebloom direct this quirky romantic dramedy about loneliness, grief, and healing. It has a solid cast and is an imaginative film, making it always engaging despite its wacky and sometimes hard-to-follow plot. “Love is Blind,” written by Jennifer Schuur, is about a girl named Bess (Shannon Tarbet) who cannot see her mother (Chloe Sevigny) and believes that she passed away a decade ago. Through the course of the film, the audience realizes that her mother is very much alive but that her ‘selective blindness’ is Bess’s way of coping with a traumatic event in the past.
Before this review can proceed, a few significant stigmas need to be pointed out. The first one is how short films are seen to be inferior to feature-length films just due to the fact that they are short. While the second one is how female filmmakers are thought to be averse to genre filmmaking; particularly the horror genre. Nothing could be further from the truth, as these statements are fatuous, demeaning and stupid. Anthologies and short films have been calling cards for many renowned filmmakers regardless of genre eg. Andrea Arnold's Oscar-winning short film Wasp (2003); while female filmmakers have been making many stellar examples of genre filmmaking -- eg. Jennifer Kent's The Babadook (2014), Mary Harron's "American Psycho" (2000), Julia Ducournau's "Raw" (2017) and many, many more.
At the 2018 New York Film Festival, actress Carey Mulligan was asked how she could get into character for someone as unlikable as Jeannette in “Wildlife” (2018). Mulligan explained to the shortsighted audience member that likability is more than niceness. It is finding a connection in someone. Mulligan transformed herself into Jeannette, a young mother who, while her husband is away, has an affair as she tries to find herself again. It is a beautiful performance about the way definitions can be thrust upon and shackle women. So, what made her unlikable? Was it the infidelity? The selfishness? The uncomfortable self-exploration? It seems that male characters can do and be those things. We call them “complex” or “complicated.” We label them the “anti-hero.” But what makes that journey different for women?
Re-watching and reappraising "Obvious Child" in 2019 for the In Their Own League top 50 films directed by women since 2010 list, it’s hard to imagine the film finding distribution in the US in an era where stricter abortion laws are being imposed, and the government-backed film Unplanned was a box office hit. Not that the film wasn’t without its share of anti-abortion outrage on its initial 2014 release. This is a personal film, with a shot of the political. Gillian’s Robespierre’s debut feature isn’t as steeped in the abortion debate as something like Alexander Payne’s "Citizen Ruth", but it balances a heavy subject with a lightness of touch that shines through Jenny Slate’s leading performance as Donna.
Have you ever seen a film and found something just a bit distasteful about the way female actor came across but you couldn’t quite point to exactly why it didn’t sit right? And, maybe others have pointed out that the main female character have been treated very well because they ended up saving the day, so what are you complaining about? There’s more to a film than the simply action that takes place and who is on screen. It’s a visual art form and we’re all trained in the visual language of cinema from the moment we start watching films. By ‘visual language’ we mean the way people are photographed in order to convey meaning beyond what they say or do. Someone shown in the frame as towering above another person is often the one with the power for example.