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.
With such a pool of talented female actresses currently working it’s difficult to say one that stands out above the others. I could go through a long list of women who have made an impressionable place in movie history, and I still wouldn’t be scraping the surface. A delicate beauty and an inspirational talent, Rooney Mara, for me, is an actress who is special in her own and very unique way. She has an impressive filmography, but even if she had only done a handful of the movies she’s been in, ones I’m going to highlight now, she’d be legendary to me. There’s a fragility to her that is easy to feel connected to, and yet, so many of her characters are strong woman. They really go through things, and Mara captures each heartbreaking intricacy of the process.
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.
Year: 2017 Runtime: 89 Minutes Director: Agnès Varda , JR Writer: Agnès Varda , JR Stars: Agnès Varda , JR By Caz Armstrong Euphoniously titled “Visages Villages” in the original French, this film won Varda a Best Documentary Oscar nomination, meaning she is the oldest person ever to have been nominated for an Oscar. “Faces... Continue Reading →
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.
Year: 2016 Runtime: 107 Minutes Director: Kelly Reichardt Writer: Kelly Reichardt Stars: Michelle Williams, Kristen Stewart, Laura Dern, Lily Gladstone Certain Women: A Woman's Lonely and Honest Landscape By Ariana Martinez Films that progress slowly and with gentle telling are not something most audiences are accustomed to but must allow themselves to experience. "Certain Women"... Continue Reading →
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.
"Cloud Atlas" (2012) is not an easy film to understand. In this sense, it owes a debt to another film about time, space and mankind’s cyclical movement through both, Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey” (1968). Whereas Kubrick asked where mankind was going, directors Tom Tykwer, Lana Wachowski, and Lilly Wachowski seem to answer that wherever we’re going, we’ve been there before. “Cloud Atlas” defies a simple plot summary. It is essentially a series of interconnecting stories of people who live and die in different eras of time but who might be the same people reincarnated to face similar challenges repeatedly in an attempt to change the course of mankind’s fate. The truth at the heart of the film is that all of humankind are metaphorically like the multitude of drops that make up an ocean.