Sunday, July 11, 2010

Female Directors


Lisa Cholodenko (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT); Debra Granik (WINTER'S BONE)Nicole Holofcener (PLEASE GIVE) Maren Ade (EVERYONE ELSE (a German film).

Four recent and fine movies by female directors. Are women finally getting their foot in the door? Again. Or will they fade away the way Penny Marshall, Allison Anders and Amy Heckerling did 20 years ago?



Now all these films are domestic dramas, but Kathryn Bigelow showed us last fall that women can direct war and action films, too. Does seeing that a film was directed by a female have any impact on you? Have you ever seen the films Ida Lupino directed in the fifties? Are they worth putting on my netflix list?

20 comments:

Bill Crider said...

Let's not forget that Ida Lupino directed some noir dillies. And for TV she directed just about every kind of show there was.

Charles Gramlich said...

We were talking about this the other night, Lana and I, and I couldn't name a single female director. I could only name a few males but certainly many more than I could name women. Maybe some good new movies will come out of this new crop of directors.

Olivia V. Ambrogio said...

There's Sophia Coppola, too, if we're naming names.
I certainly hope the popularity of some current movies by women directors will mean that women will get more of a chance. I don't know that just seeing a movie directed by a woman is always uplifting, or that it always makes me feel like a breakthrough's been made--since THE HURT LOCKER, in spite of its being skillfully made, did, as most movies do, involve only men. I think I'd rather see a John Sayles film that includes more than a single female actor than a ton of movies directed by women that don't do anything new--but ideally there are movies that are directed by women *and* don't maintain a status quo.

Margot Kinberg said...

Patti - Interesting question! I would say that whether I see a movie doesn't depend on the sex of the director. However, I am happy to see that gender may not be the hindrance to "big time" success as a director that perhaps it used to be. And thanks, Olivia, for mentioning Sophia Coppola; I was thinking of her, too. I hope the time comes when talented female directors will be common enough in the industry that it just won't make a difference any more.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Although I could not find much to like in Marie Antoinette, I liked the first two a lot more.
THE HURT LOCKER was probably the best war movie made recently. It would have been nice to find a way to include the story of female soldiers but she has her own road to hoe (KB) I guess. Women don't seem to interest her much.

R. T. said...

I cannot imagine why the gender, race, religion, sexual preference, nationality, or other irrelevant factor would factor into anyone's preference or aversion to a particular film. On the other hand, the director's ideology can interfere with the aesthetics of a film, and that source of interference has nothing to do with the foregoing factors. Here is the bottom line test, which I learned in film theory and criticism as an undergraduate: A film is either good or bad, in terms of aesthetics, and questions about the director--to my mind--merely distract from that basic test. And that is my curmudgeonly contribution to the discussion.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Well, the question is with so few female directors behind the camera have films been given a chance to reflect a female POV. If more female directors were on the scene, perhaps more of Flannery O'Connor's work might be filmed. Or a thousand other women writers. How often do films deal with strong female characters or female characters over forty, or female characters that are not just there as sex objects?

Anonymous said...

I'd say there are a lot more women directing now than 20 years ago so no, I don't think it will fade to nothingness again. A positive sign is that it is no longer newsworthy when a woman directs a movie (or so it seems to me), and a woman can make a lousy movie without calling into question "all women directors."

As Bill said, Ida Lupino did direct some movies that are worth your time.

Jeff M.

Steve Oerkfitz said...

Just saw Winter's Bone and was very impressed. Probably will pass on Please Give since I can't stand Nicole Holofceners previous films-Friends with Money and Lovely and Amazing.
Don't forget Lina Wertmuller who made a number of good films in the 70's.

David Terrenoire said...

Amen, RT. I"m sitting here in the choir, listening to you testify.

I married an actress. A stunningly gifted actress. I fathered another. To question if they're limited in what they choose to do flies in the face of my philospophy.

Or, as Duke Ellington put it so beautifully, there are two kinds of music. Good music and bad music.

Ron Scheer said...

I'll put in a vote for Ida Lapino, too.

Just to name one female director who I think brings the perspective of her gender to bear on her movies: Nicole Holofcener. I watched "Walking and Talking" recently and felt a male director would not have found all the nuances in the relationship between the two women friends (Catherine Keener and Anne Heche).

For an example from foreign language films, I'd mention Shirin Neshat, whose recent "Women Without Men" deals with women's issues in her home country of Iran.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Yes, FRIEND WITH MONEY was a letdown. But this one is on the mark-it looks at people as complicated, quirky, unpredictable. Wertmuller-I'd forgotten her. They do drift away, don't they.
Women Without Men-I'll look for it.

Deb said...

I can't remember the name of the movie, but Ida Lupino directed herself, Edmund O'Brien, and Rosalind Russell in a movie where O'Brien is a bigamist (wife Russell is in San Francisco, wife Lupino is in L.A.). I'd never heard of it, but I sat up one night watching it on TCM and was surprised at how sympathetic the movie was to all three characters; also some interesting use of outdoor L.A. locations of the late 1940s.

Dorothy Arznar was a director in the 1930s. She worked with Joan Crawford, among others.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I think it's called THE BIGAMIST.

Mike Dennis said...

You're right, it's called THE BIGAMIST, Patti. Pretty good film, but it's far surpassed by Lupino's OUTRAGE, a 1950 film that addresses rape, and by THE HITCH-HIKER. Both are excellent film noir entries done by a very auteurish director.

She also displayed remarkable versatility in directing over a hundred TV shows in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, including episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Have Gun, Will Travel.

pattinase (abbott) said...

I checked her out on IMDB and couldn't believe the number of TV eps she directed! I think I've seen OUTRAGE but not THE BIGAMIST.

Todd Mason said...

Well, Wertmuller certainly proved that misogyny wasn't the exclusive province of men. Likewise that producer, Goldie Hawn. And Madoona Ciccone.

I'm much fonder of Katja von Garnier's work than I am of Sofia Coppola's, though I think LOST IN TRANSLATION's ending almost saves it. Anne Wheeler has done good work, for cinema and television. Jamie Babbit likewise, though she's mostly worked in television so far (detinitely a pathway for women directors now as in Lupino's day). Barbara Kopple, famously a documentary director, has an underrated dramatic film in HAVOC. And the IF THESE WALLS COULD TALK anthologies let Cher Sarkisian (ex-Bono/Allman) and Anne Heche do decend yeo(wo)man work, while the more likely Martha Coolidge and others did as well...but it is a travesty that these are all so exceptional, in the most neutral (if shaming to the industry) sense.

Maya D...Leni R...

John McFetridge said...

I see very few movies these days, but I watch TV and there are some very good women directors working in TV.

Two of the best episodes of The Bridge were directed by Helen Shaver (unfortunately they won't be among the ones shows on CBS) and she also directed one of the best Law and Order:SVU episodes in recent years.

If you've seen a show called Durham County it was directed by Holly Dale, another terrific director working in TV.

pattinase (abbott) said...

Is that the same Helen Shaver who used to act?

Todd Mason said...

Yup. Still does.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001726/