Amoeblog

Celluloid Heroines - Fearless Filmmaking Females

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 20, 2010 01:28pm | Post a Comment
Kathryn Bigelow Lina Wertmüller Jane Campion Sofia Coppola
Every female director who's been nominated for an Oscar

On January 31st, The Guardian published an article titled “Why are there so few female filmmakers?” Less than a month later, Kathryn Bigelow became the first woman to win the director’s prize at the 62nd Directors' Guild of America Awards. Then, in March, she repeated that feat at the 82nd Oscars, where only three women (Lina Wertmüller, Jane Campion and Sofia Coppola) have previously even been nominated. Although membership of the Academy remains secret, it’s probably fair to assume that it’s disproportionatly male. What is known is that, when it was founded in 1927, there were 33 male members and three females (Mary Pickford, Jeanie MacPherson and Bess Meredyth) – or 8%.

Vicky Jenson Nancy Meyers Catherine Hardwicke Anne Fletcher Phyllida LloydThe money-makers

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From the women's picture to the chick flick

Posted by Eric Brightwell, March 31, 2009 05:52pm | Post a Comment
30 Helens

I wrongly assumed that it would be easy to fire off a blog briefly summarizing the history of women’s pictures. When I began, I quickly realized that it is a genre that’s simplistically treated as synonymous with both weepies/tearjerkers and their near opposite, the rom-com; it quickly proved to be more than I bargained for, which is why it’s showing up on this, the last day of Women’s History Month. The history of the genre occupies an interesting position, little discussed and yet obviously affecting and responding to the Hollywood narrative, the larger global film market, and broader history. Anyway, it proved to be a bit too much so, here's the fast & furious driveby account of a genre that deserves more.


First of all, tear-inducing films are by no means all women's pictures, which is why someone coined the annoying term “guy cry” for young male-targeted stories/films about dying dogs (e.g. My Dog Skip, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, &c). For adult males, sentimental melodramas (usually tempered by the macho backdrop of war, the wild west or sports (e.g. Bang the Drum Slowly, Brian’s Song, Knute Rockne) allow men the opportunity to cry with less shame. But, whereas men generally try to resist crying, telling themselves in the heat of a battle scene as the hero lies dying in his buddy's arms, "It's only a movie. It's only a movie. You will not cry!"; women, it is assumed, seek out movies with the hope that they will have "good cry." I have no doubt that this is part of why women’s pictures have rarely been afforded serious critical examination and were only lauded, for the most part, near the beginning of film history.

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سكر بنات Sukkar banat Caramel dir. Nadine Labaki.

Posted by Eric Brightwell, June 15, 2008 06:23pm | Post a Comment

In a Beirut beauty salon, the lives of five women from different backgrounds interweave as they share, support, confide in and bicker with each other. The “caramel” of the title refers to the candy, which they use as a depilatory. My guess is that it's supposed to be some kind of metaphor for tearing away secrets or something.

Labaki's video for Nancy Ajram's "Akhasmak, Ah"

First, Rima (the spittin’ image of Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy) is a secret Sapphist, which is primarily conveyed through her enjoyment of washing a woman’s long tresses. Nisrine, a bride-to-be, isn’t a virgin but is marrying a traditional Muslim who expects her to be, so she goes to the doctor to get surgery. Jamale is an aging former television actress whose attempts to seem young (from taping her eyes up to staining maxi pads with red nail polish) come across as so shrilly hysterical that she earns unintentional laughs instead of sympathy as she competes, in vain, against younger, prettier women. Layale (played by the writer/director) is bitchy and snobbish and she stubbornly pursues an affair with a married man, going to amazing lengths to please him, even though he continually blows her off except for their brief romps in her car. Rose is a seamstress who gains the attractions of an dapper, older American whose suits she tailors. He asks her out but she chooses to devote all of her energy and time to her senile sister -- who was a voice to which nails-on-chalkboard is preferable. The message seems to be that women have to turn to each other, not men, no matter how stupidly they behave.  And, girl, men have no idea what they go through.

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