Hey all! Thanks to those of you who have already visited and subscribed! I’ve been on vacation for the past couple of weeks, and now I”m back and ready to crank out more film reviews!
Unfortunately, women are almost invisible in the film industry as professionals. While women have been the objects of films for decades, it is still rare for a woman to direct a film, much less a film that will go on to succeed in the box office.
A couple of summers ago, while reading Inga Muscio’s book Cunt: A Declatation of Independance, I was inspired to try a project that was discussed in the book. The idea was to go for a long period of time only watching movies by women, reading books by women, or listening to music by women. The argument was that by exposing oneself to women-created (and therefore, woman-centered) media, one could subvert the patriarchal domination of the media by men. Whether you realize it or not, the lens through which we experience much of popular culture is often male dominated. So, why not switch it up and view the whole shebang through a female lens? I chose to spend a whole summer watching great contemporary films made by woman directors.
By the end of the summer, there were some thought-provoking things that I’d learned. Firstly, that when a woman is behind the camera, there is something fundamentally different about the nature of the film. Woman-made films are often about women for starters. The typical Hollywood blockbuster, however, always makes the leading character a man, even if there’s nothing particularly important about the gender of the character (think Citizen Kane, Star Wars, The Godfather, The Lord of the Rings, all action movies, and every other movie you’ve ever seen.) However, when a woman is a main character of a film, it then gets classified as a “chick flick,” or in other words, a film that only women will want to see. So why then, are women expected to identify with male main characters, while men aren’t expected to identify with female main characters? The answer is that when men are main characters, the struggles and tribulations are classified as “human” ones. However, when a woman is the leading cheese, the film becomes about “women’s issues,” or things that somehow differentiate women from the rest of humankind. Think Fried Green Tomatoes— it’s not perceived as a story about human emotions, but “female problems.” Oy vey.
Ok, ’nuff said. Here is a list of fantastic films by women (with films that I think are especially great stared):
Holy Smoke–Jane Campion
The Piano-Jane Campion*
Mississippi Masala–Mira Nair
A Ma Soeur–Catherine Breillat
Across the Universe–Julie Taymor
Monsoon Wedding–Mira Nair*
Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love--Mira Nair*
Thirteen–Catherine Hardwick (who also directed Twilight…)
The Virgin Suicides–Sophia Coppola
Lost in Translation–Sophia Coppola*
Julie and Julia–Nora Ephron