Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Films By Women Directors



Personal faves, ten times two:

Your favorite films by women directors? Please deposit in comments vault. And if your memory needs a little nudging, I can recommend a peek into another vault.

25 Comments:

Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

Kathryn Bigelow: Near Dark, Strange Days
Kasi Lemons: Eve's Bayou
Gillian Armstrong: Little Women, Last Days of Chez Nous, Star Struck, High Tide, Oscar and Lucinda
Mabel Cheung: The Soong Sisters
Clara Law: Temptations of a Monk
Mira Nair: Monsoon Wedding
Penelope Spheeris: The Decline of Western Civilization I and II.
Asia Argento: Scarlet Diva
Ida Lupino: Outrage, The Hitchhiker

July 13, 2005 9:02 AM  
Blogger girish said...

Oops, I forgot Mira, and Salaam Bombay.

Peoples--Feel free to mention/talk about/recommend individual films, and not make lists. I'm just an obsessive list-maker for whom this happens to be therapy!

July 13, 2005 10:19 AM  
Anonymous Filmbrain said...

Couldn't agree more about the two Denis films. I would also add US Go Home and Trouble Every Day.

The list at SoS is pretty thorough -- I thought I'd add a few I didn't see there:

Park Chan-ok, who worked with Hong Sang-soo on some of his early films, directed the very Hong-esque Jealousy is my Middle Name, and is probably my favorite Korean film directed by a woman. Try and seek this out if you can. Well worth it.

Naomi Kawase of Japan is a director who keeps getting better and better. Her 1997 Camera d'Or winning Moe no suzaku is a fantastic portrait of a village family falling apart due to financial problems. Her 2003 film Shara landed on several top-ten lists (I still haven't seen it.)

Kinuyo Tanaka was Japan's first female director (she's also acted in about 100 films) and her 1961 film Girls of the Night is an excellent look at the world of prostitution, and a very different approach from that of Mizoguchi's Street of Shame.

Oh yeah -- Karyn Kusama's Girlfight was a million times better than Million Dollar Baby.

July 13, 2005 11:22 AM  
Anonymous Chuck said...

This is already a great list. I'd add "Cleo from 5 to 7" and "Vagabond" for Varda but also really like "Gleaners."

I'd also mention Barbara Kopple's "Harlan County USA," Jehane Noujaim's "Startup.com" and "Control Room," and Su Friedrich's "Sink or Swim." Oh, and Rea Tajiri's "History and Memory" and Maya Deren's "Mehes of an Afternoon."

I also really like the Canadian film, "I've Heard teh Mermaids Singing," but I'm forgetting the director's name.

July 13, 2005 12:13 PM  
Anonymous Darren said...

You know, this thread has made me realize that I prefer any one of Claire Denis's films over every other female-directed film I've seen.

July 13, 2005 12:38 PM  
Blogger Flickhead said...

And to think there was a time when Lina Wertmuller made magazine covers in America...Now she couldn't even get arrested here.

Most of her films haven't worn well with time -- and much of it was popular back when, not so much for quality than buzz.

Still, I'm a sucker for "Swept Away by an Unusual Destiny in the Blue Sea of August", which once played in neighborhood suburban theatres (dubbed, 'natch). I saw it at least six times in the mid-'70s, and was blown away on the fourth or fifth of those occasions, seeing it subtitled in a first-run Manhattan theatre. (Single screens! Single screens!!)

Politically and sexually it's a mixed bag of defects and transparent metaphors, but the nostalgic draw is too overwhelming for me to dismiss.

And the Piero Piccioni soundtrack (recently released on a Japanese import, with bonus tracks) is an album that I've played countless times. This August I may put the cd up in mp3s on the Flickhead blog.

July 13, 2005 12:51 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Hey, in my defense, I think Michelle gave me just a few hours to come up with that Senses list, I hadn't planned on participating. :) If I had to make a list now, I'd probably add not only Claire Denis but Aparna Sen, Kira Muratova, and Forough Farrokhzad in there as well.

July 13, 2005 2:31 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Okay, I'm back after a few hours spent in the waiting room of auto-repair hell.

Filmbrain, thanks for the cool Korean/Japanese film tips. They all sound like must-sees.

Chuck, I've used Kopple's films in my classes. And I like Rozema a lot too.

Flickhead, I've seen nothing but Seven Beauties by Wertmuller, and it was a bit exaggeratedly grotesque for my taste (sorta like late-Fellini, of which I'm not a fan). But I've always meant to see Swept Away, esp. after I saw it on Acquarello's list!

Acquarello, don't apologize for your list, which I think is excellent. Only, I'd add Denis. :-)
Great call on Aparna.

Like Darren, I'm a Denis-freak. I'd have to say that with a few exceptions by Akerman or Varda, I'd have to agree with him that Denis' films tower over everything else. And yet, I'm not sure if it's entirely fair on my part to make such a comparison.

A counter-example to illustrate: Passion of Joan, Diary of a Country Priest, A Man Escaped, Day of Wrath, Pickpocket, Gertrud, Au Hasard Balthazar, Mouchette, and L'Argent are as good as or better than ANY films I've EVER seen. But that says more to me about how amazing Bresson and Dreyer were than about how unremarkable the rest of world cinema might be (which, as we all know, it isn't).

To confess, I have a real soft spot for women-made cinema because (1) movies are such a male-dominated art form, and (2) good women-made films bring something unique and irreplaceable, a female consciousness which I find completely missing in 99% of cinema.

July 13, 2005 3:43 PM  
Blogger girish said...

are the comments acting weird?

July 13, 2005 4:12 PM  
Blogger Brian said...

Quote: "(1) movies are such a male-dominated art form, and (2) good women-made films bring something unique and irreplaceable, a female consciousness which I find completely missing in 99% of cinema"

I certainly agree with that. When I find out a work has a woman director, the film immediately has an added interest with me. The only one I would add to the list would be Nicole Kassell, who's sole work would be The Woodsman.

July 13, 2005 4:23 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

Speaking about female consciousness, I don't know about you, but Yvonne Rainer's films always make me feel enlightened and culpable at the same time. She definitely knows how to implicate the audience, particularly in her more narrative films like The Man Who Envied Women and Privilege. And after three viewings in five years, I'm still scratching my head over Film About a Woman Who....

July 13, 2005 6:17 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Here's something odd. I picked up an interesting book on Yvonne Rainer (by Shelly Green--Acquarello, I wonder if you know this one?) a couple of years ago and read most of it without having been able to see a single one of her films. A strange experience to "imagine" her images based on written descriptions and her ideas. I wonder how radically they will differ from the actual images when I see them.

July 13, 2005 6:30 PM  
Anonymous Peter Nellhaus said...

I want to add two guilty pleasures: Back to the Beach directed by Lyndall Hobbs, and The Joy of Sex directed by Martha Coolidge. And an honorary mention of Gillian Anderson who wrote and directed one of the best episodes of X-Files, all things. I'll try and check Park, Kawase and Tanaka. I've been renting films from Nicheflix and seeing films unavailable in Region 1 format. My favorite Rozema is When Night is Falling.

July 13, 2005 7:58 PM  
Anonymous acquarello said...

How is Green's Radical Juxtaposition? I was under the impression that it was a heavy feminist theory reading of Rainer's films, and that's actually one of the aspects of her films that I don't need that much help in. What fascinates me more about Rainer's work is the performance art and the jarring editing. There's seems to be a kind of Action Theatre alienation vibe going on in her films, but they're so fractured and overlapping that you always feel as though you're only catching about 20% of everything that's going on at anytime.

Speaking of women filmmakers, I also see a lot of her style in Nina Fonoroff's films although Fonoroff has a definite gothic feel to her films. Her structure is also more "mosaic" than "overlapping" I think, so it's more linear.

July 13, 2005 9:00 PM  
Blogger Mike Slagor said...

Girish - I know I told you I rented Fat Girl, and I recently rented Sex is Comedy as well - I'll keep you posted after I have time to watch them this weekend!

July 13, 2005 10:43 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Acquarello, the Yvonne Rainer book is definitely rooted in core feminist readings but it also spends time on her disjunctive style. A bit hard for me to judge overall since I've never seen any of her films.
And I don't know Fonoroff at all.

July 14, 2005 6:16 AM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

Here's another for An Angel at My Table -- I think it's absolutely brilliant.

I'm also quite fond of both Harlan County, USA and American Dream.

July 16, 2005 8:07 AM  
Blogger Campaspe said...

May I nominate Dorothy Arzner, for "Dance Girl Dance"?

July 19, 2005 6:52 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Terrific choice!

July 19, 2005 7:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ida Lupino is the only one named who floats my boat. The Hitch-Hiker of course is terrific, but I'll add her 1953 The Bigamist, an odd and interesting film, which recently turned up as a dollar DVD at the local "99 Cents Only" store. ~KD

July 21, 2005 12:58 AM  
Blogger Jordan said...

Holofcener's my fave but don't forget Lisa Cholodenko! Laurel Canyon was genuinely hott, even with ubernudge Christian Bale as the male lead. Natascha McElhone...

July 22, 2005 1:49 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Believe it or not, the whole idea of this post started with Lisa Cholodenko, and then she got unceremoniously crowded out. I liked "High Art" a lot (both Radha Mitchell and Ally Sheedy were just transfixing) but "Laurel Canyon" didn't quite do it for me. Frances McDormand was great, though.

July 22, 2005 2:03 PM  
Blogger Tuwa said...

You know, I just went through the entire IMDb top 250 with a sort by directors (part of a research proposal for class). Out of 166 directors and co-directors of 250 films there are exactly two women (and each on only one film).

July 31, 2005 3:14 PM  
Blogger girish said...

Tuwa, that is outrageous!

July 31, 2005 4:03 PM  
Anonymous dreamer676 said...

I'm sorry to be a pain and interupt your casual chat about these female directors/female directors in general but may I ask how many of these have directed musicals and/or if anyone has any further women that have directed musicals.

Sorry media student XD

November 04, 2008 6:14 AM  

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