It was 1941 and American soldiers were away from home only weeks after Pearl Harbor. On Christmas Day they heard a song written by a Russian Jewish immigrant that spoke of all their longing for home and the comforts of the holiday sung by Bing Crosby on the radio. Seventy-eight years later, “White Christmas’ by Irving Berlin has lost none of its poignancy and the film that shares its title is just as cherished. “White Christmas” is a remarkable film, especially for the two fantastic leading ladies it is lucky to claim.
Watching “Little Women” (1994) is sort of like coming home. Regardless of the period (1868 I believe) or place, the film reinstates a level of comfort felt when I saw the movie as a child. How I perceived the movie changed as I grew older, but watching it was a yearly viewing for me. Another tether? I felt innately like Jo (Winona Ryder), trying to find my own truth, regardless of societal or gender constraints, and just wanting to write. Gillian Armstrong’s 1994 film that adapts Louisa May Alcott’s novel, portrays the March family, especially the four March girls, in a way that’s maintained credibility and resonance over the years. The adaptation is loyal in the sense that these characters are portrayed with the same warmth as they are read.
For Disney fans, it is hard to believe that “Frozen” (2013) was released just six years ago. The tale, inspired by Hans Christian Anderson’s “The Snow Queen,” has permeated pop culture in a way that even Walt Disney Pictures couldn’t have predicted when it was released. Directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, “Frozen”’s themes of family, love, isolation, and finding yourself have resonated with people across the globe. And of course, “Let It Go” became such a hit that it was almost impossible to avoid hearing it for many months. In addition to the film making it onto In Their Own League’s Top 50 Female Directed of the Decade list, now is an appropriate time to look back at the first “Frozen” film as its sequel has just been released.
To capture the essence of the LGBTQ+ community is becoming a more popular narrative in contemporary cinema. But to be able to evidence their struggles and hardships, whilst also attaining a light-hearted atmosphere, showing raw emotion, and enabling a true presentation of a situation that can be reflected into many of the audience’s daily lives, is what is lacking in many of these recent movies. Yet Desiree Akhavan presents all of this so effortlessly in her film "The Miseducation of Cameron Post". Being part of the LGBTQ+ community herself enabled significant support for Akhavan when she directed this beautiful narrative which follows friendships, betrayals and the exploration of sexualities.
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.
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.
The Grand Dame of French cinema, Agnès Varda's work has ranged from the New Wave in “Cléo from 5 to 7” (1962), to feminism and friendship in “One Sings, the Other Doesn’t” (1977), to rebellion in “Vagabond” (1985), to documenting the life of the poor in “The Gleaners and I” (2000). Her recent work has a more introspective feel; a reflection on what she films, and why. This is part of what would turn out to be her penultimate film, “Faces Places” (2017). A joyous and bittersweet look at the role of art in everyday life and work, as well as the role of the artist in society, “Faces Places” is an expansion of her work in self-reflection, a study in her constant quest to challenge herself as a filmmaker, and her love and attention to French rural and working life.
Anna Biller's 2016 film, "The Love Witch", is a magical, sensual exploration of female sexuality and empowerment. With stunning cinematography, set design and costume design, this film inspires praise for both it's undeniable style and thought-provoking messages. The film follows witch and burlesque dancer, Elaine on her quest to find true love. However, her outlook on men and their capability to love is concerning to her fellow witches, especially since many of Elaine's intense love potions do not result in a happy ending of any kind.
Year: 2010 Runtime: 106 Minutes Director: Lisa Cholodenoko Writer: Lisa Cholodenoko & Stuart Blumberg Stars: Annette Bening, Julianne Moore, Mia Wasikowska, Josh Hutcherson, Mark Ruffalo By Caz Armstrong “The Kids Are All Right” (2010), directed and co-written by Lisa Cholodenoko, is an expertly acted comedy-drama with complex emotions and a backdrop of a lesbian relationship.... Continue Reading →