There are many forgotten faces in Hollywood who once captivated audiences. Few were more groundbreaking than Mabel Normand who starred, directed and produced silent films when the medium was still experimenting with what it could do. So much of what she and her professional, sometime private, partner Mack Sennett accomplished has now become standard, even cliché in film comedy. That she did so much in so few years is as dizzying as the breakneck chase scenes they would become recognized for in one of their more successful film series.
The review of Autumn de Wilde’s “Emma” that I am about to place in your hands is the fourth time (that I can think of) that I have written about Jane Austen. I focused my undergraduate thesis on three of Jane Austen’s novels, Pride and Prejudice, Emma, and Persuasion. I covered female friendships in a piece featured in Aubrey Fink’s The Bridge, and I wrote “As If!: How Amy Heckerling’s Clueless Pays a Lovely Tribute to Jane Austen’s Emma” for this site a few months back. De Wilde’s “Emma” gives me another unique privilege in that I get to witness Jane Austen portrayed in a new light that I have not witnessed before. I have seen a majority of the previous Austen adaptations and have read almost all of her novels (almost). I also get to write about a Jane Austen marriage that strikes me as incredibly unique. De Wilde’s “Emma” remains historically accurate in matters such as wardrobe and story, with a few twists to this classic love affair.
Writer/director Kelly Reichardt has gained quite some notoriety over her career, so much so that Bong Joon-Ho even denotes her as one of his heroes, and her latest film, “First Cow”, gives audiences a unique Western adventure filled with friendship, character, and a cow. Set in Oregon during the 19th Century, the film follows two scavengers – a skilled but secluded cook named Cookie (John Magaro) and an opportunistic Chinese man named King Lu (Orion Lee). Although they meet on strange terms, the two grow a special friendship as they look to make a name for themselves. However, when an incredibly wealthy man named Chief Factor (Toby Jones) purchases and brings the first cow to the area, the two see an opportunity to gain a wealth of their own. So, as they sneakily steal milk from under Factor’s nose, Cookie and Lu make a name for themselves by cooking baked goods that eventually gets them unwanted attention.
Happy International Women's Day everyone! In order to celebrate the day why not grab one of these books and curl up on the sofa with a nice glass of wine, or a beverage of your choice. We hope you'll find these books to be a fascinating read and will lead you to discover work by female filmmakers from the present and the past.
In this debut feature by director Mounia Meddour, “Papicha” (2019) is about Algerian girls in the late 1990s trying to cling to freedom and self expression during a rise of an extremely conservative Islamic fundamentalism that literally threatens their lives. Nedjma (Lyna Khoudri) lives and studies at a women’s university where there is a culture of sisterhood and fun. The girls sneak out to go drinking and dancing at night, are boisterous and play practical jokes. They’re mostly carefree but cautious of having to lie to police and cover their heads if they are stopped. She loves fashion and is constantly sketching new ideas and making clothes for her peers, selling them out of a nightclub bathroom.
Slovak director Mira Fornay’s third feature is an unsettling absurdist drama about domestic violence from the perspective of the aggressor. “Cook F Kill” (2019) follows a Jaroslav (Jaroslav Plesl) trying to get his mother to hand her house over to his wife. In order for that to happen a convoluted and connected series of other events need to take place in the right order. If each person in the chain gets what they want he will get the house for his wife and be able to see the children again. But along the way, there are interruptions to the timeline and even the gender of some characters. We’re caught in an absurdist loop with violence at every turn.
Directed by Jeanette Nordahl, "Kød & Blod" ("Wildland") is a Danish film about a toxic family and the need to belong in a community. It’s a matriarchal mafia genre with the focus on violence within a family not outside. It’s a drama steeped in mistrust and danger. In a succinct series of shots we learn that Ida’s (Sandra Guldberg Kampp) mother was killed in a crash and she now has to live with her aunt Bodil (Sidse Babett Knudsen) and three older male cousins (Joachim Fjelstrup, Elliott Crosset Hove, Besir Zeciri). Ida is sullen, quiet and withdrawn, thrust into a home which appears to have something sinister going on under the surface.
What happens when a woman falls in love with an inanimate object? A rollercoaster, to be precise? This colourful, strange, sensitive feast for the eyeballs explores just that. Jeanne (Noémie Merlant, "Portrait of a Lady on Fire") is an outsider who is unlike the people around her. She’s tormented by cruel men and lives with her leopard print-wearing, day-drinking mother Margarette (Emmanuelle Bercot) who loudly displays her own sexuality to the point of embarrassment. Her favourite place in the world is the local theme park and she spends hours creating illuminated models of the rides in her bedroom.