Jean-Luc Godard’s "Breathless" made her the star of the French New Wave; this star, however, was an image that its actress, Jean Seberg (Kristen Stewart) wanted to escape from. ‘Seberg’ is a tale of how she attempted to do precisely that. In her efforts to distance herself from the frivolity of the movie industry, she was punished. She was tormented and harassed by the hands of a paranoid government and their propagandist media counterparts; sound familiar? Stewart is an interesting choice: She isn’t particularly known for the sweetness and perkiness that Seberg is, however, like Seberg, has made a name for herself in French cinema (with some help from Oliver Assayas, she has been given the chance to act alongside and demonstrate her talents with Juliette Binoche).
It’s been ten years since we saw “Twilight” (2008) cast-mates Kristen Stewart and Dakota Fanning graze the screen in the music biopic “The Runaways.” While the Floria Sigismondi written/directed film has its fair share of follies, by the end it’s worthy of a collective fist to the air, celebrating - at the very least- the spotlight on these talented women and the impact they had on the rock and roll world. At a time when bands entirely made up of women weren’t a prevalent nor seemingly lucrative notion, The Runaways was formed, primarily because of the persistent ambition of Joan Jett (Stewart) and her collaboration with Kim Fowley (played with an on-spot eccentricity here by Michael Shannon). Soon they bring in Cherie Currie (Fanning) to be the lead singer, along with Sandy West (Stella Maeve), Lita Ford (Scout Taylor-Compton) and Robin (Alia Shawkat). Then we’ve got the pop-punk legendary group: The Runaways.
Lucille Fay LeSueur started as a dancer for a variety of travelling shows, elevating her way to chorus girl, and would go by LeSueur until her time with MGM, where Joan Crawford would emerge as a prominent force on the Hollywood scene. One of the ‘symbols’ of the studio gals, with the likes of Judy Garland or Claudette Colbert, Crawford would make her first ‘debut’ in ‘Lady of The Night’ (1925) as a body double, her breakout alongside Horror legend Lon Chaney in the 1927 horror film ‘The Unknown’ and her film final appearance in a British sci-fi film entitled ‘Trog’ (1970), a bizarre climax to a turbulent career.
We all know parts of filmmaking such as the acting, directing, or writing. But a piece of filmmaking that culminates the entire vision is the editing. I was able to ask editor Katie Bryer a million questions and she unveiled just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to film editing. Bryer edited the documentary film, “Maiden” (2019), about Tracy Edwards and her all-female crew who entered the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1989. “Maiden” made my top 5 films of 2019 and it is in an elite, rare group of films that made me cry. Bryer edited a truly harrowing story about female empowerment and perseverance, and helped craft a remarkable film. In the interview, Bryer talks about “Maiden,” the process of film editing, what we can be doing to get more women in the editing room, as well as answer some Women’s History Month questions.
Moving drama "Lost Transmissions" (2020) is Katharine O'Brien's debut feature about one man's struggle with schizophrenia in a healthcare system ill-equipped to help. Theo (Simon Pegg) is a music producer who stops taking his medication and begins a rapid downward spiral, losing grip on reality and getting into increasingly dangerous situations. His friend Hannah (Juno Temple) chases him through LA and psychiatric institutions to try to get him the support he needs but is thwarted by an inadequate healthcare system. Based on writer-director Katharine O'Brien's experiences of trying to support her own friend who went off his medication, the film is deeply affecting. It highlights the difficulties that people suffering from mental health conditions, and their loved ones face. I spoke with Katharine at the Glasgow Film Festival 2020.
With her third feature film, "I’ll Meet You There", writer/director Iram Parveem Bilal crafts an intriguing and enlightening Pakistani story centered on a universal cultural struggle that’s boasted by strong performances. The film follows Majeed (Faran Tahir), a Muslim Chicago police officer, and his daughter Dua (Nikita Tewani), an aspiring dancer, as they are greeted with the unexpected arrival of Majeed’s more traditional father Baba (Qavi Khan). While Majeed and Dua have become more enveloped into American culture, Baba’s presence makes them experience a culture that in Dua’s case she doesn’t know and Majeed’s case that he tries to forget.
“I give really bad blowjobs” laments Mandy (writer/director/star Billie Piper) on a first date as “Rare Beasts” opens. Mandy, a clearly agitated yet quirky woman prone to over-analyzing herself sits across her work colleague, Pete (Leo Bill). He postulates that he is religious that “modern women have more testosterone coursing through their veins than blood”. Mandy’s response? She ends the date by sprinting across the street and regurgitating the dinner they had just had onto the sidewalk. This is the best indicticator of the tone to follow: a blend of cringe-inducing, self-deprecating, visual humor confidently presented through a woman’s unfiltered vision. This is a wonderfully stylish and brave film that offers a new and unique perspective on the role of the modern woman in today’s society.
Olive Thomas died at twenty-five years of age, thanks to the accidental ingestion of mercury bichloride. She had acted in approximately twenty films over four years, but sadly, her career ended as quickly as it had begun. While Thomas’ death essentially created the first Hollywood scandal ever, I feel that she should be remembered for her expressiveness and liveliness that she brought to her acting. Olive Thomas won the “Most Beautiful Girl in New York City” contest in 1914, launching her modelling career. She joined the Ziegfeld Follies shortly thereafter and remained with the Follies until 1916. That year, she signed with the International Film Company, and her acting debut was in an episode of “Beatrice Fairfax,” called “Playball.”
This historical drama directed by Marjane Satrapi follows Marie Curie from her discovery of radium and polonium to her death in 1934. It merges a range of historical time periods in a blended visual style which leans on its graphic novel roots. It may not work for some but is certainly bold. We meet Marie as Maria Skłodowska (Rosamund Pike), a Polish immigrant living in Paris and "taking up too much space" in a shared laboratory. She is informed by a roomful of men that she is being kicked out and she must find another if she wants to continue her scientific endeavours.