Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

An ongoing survey of the Criterion Forum membership to create lists of the best films of each decade and genre.
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domino harvey
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#226 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:46 pm

As I recall from the All Time List, zedz, you haven't seen Modern Romance either, so you should think about doing a double feature sometime in the future with the Heartbreak Kid, which is a very different kind of comedy compared to A New Leaf (having seen all of May's films, I'd argue she has no consistent voice as a director), and I think you'd quite like both films' dark and uncomfortable comic sensibilities!

I don't care for Wanda at all, but it definitely seems like one you'd enjoy too based on other films I know you like-- is that an insult or an insightful recommendation? You decide!

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zedz
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#227 Post by zedz » Sun Jun 10, 2018 5:43 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:46 pm
As I recall from the All Time List, zedz, you haven't seen Modern Romance either, so you should think about doing a double feature sometime in the future with the Heartbreak Kid, which is a very different kind of comedy compared to A New Leaf (having seen all of May's films, I'd argue she has no consistent voice as a director), and I think you'd quite like both films' dark and uncomfortable comic sensibilities!

I don't care for Wanda at all, but it definitely seems like one you'd enjoy too based on other films I know you like-- is that an insult or an insightful recommendation? You decide!
I think we know each other's tastes pretty well by now, even if we don't share them, so I'll take that as a recommendation!

Still haven't seen Modern Romance, and I found Lost in America okay but, same with those other Mays, nothing that was going to drive me to see the director's other work unless it fell into my lap.

In terms of recommendations for you from my list, I expect you'd hate Muratova (and most of the rest) but suspect you'd get something out of Summer 1993.

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domino harvey
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#228 Post by domino harvey » Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:15 pm

I’ve been going through the Cesar Award results lately and it’s interesting that in the hubbub recently about Hollywood not supporting or recognizing women directors no one brought up France, because it seems like every year’s results include at least one woman nominated for Best Director. Perhaps this is a sign of France being more progressive (plausible) or of there just being more French female directors out of the total pool versus that number in the US (also plausible). Apart from the specific topic of this thread, though, I’ve really become quite fascinated with looking through these Cesar results, as it’s at times a mirror into an alternate universe— I know a great number of films never make it over here in subtitled distribution, and even less now that the heyday of DVDs and Netflix on-disc service has died, but there is truly a large amount of films from a country whose cinema I thought I knew pretty well that are unknown to me. I suspect, like my foolhardy lifelong commitment to the Best Picture Oscars, that digging deeper won’t necessarily uncover copious amounts of treasure, but it’s always fun and a little bit scary to be reminded of how much one doesn’t know! (And I would, in a heartbeat, participate in a Cesar Best Film Mini-List. But would anyone else?) That said, my first specific dip into this well wasn’t all that fruitful, but:

Le Goût des autres (Agnès Jaoui 2000)
Ensemble piece exploring a gaggle of characters surrounding Jean-Pierre Bacri’s crude factory owner. Bacri falls for an aging actress and poorly tries to inundate himself into her BoHo lifestyle. Though the film has a light comic touch throughout, this isn’t played for laughs— but I kept thinking it should be. The message here is pretty lame (people with bad taste aren’t necessarily bad people— ie “no shit” to everyone who isn’t Rob Gordon), so why not amp up the comic possibilities? The film is too fond of Bacri to really make him uncomfortably boorish, and the kid gloves approach undercuts the message this movie wants to sell. Had the film been more in the vein of the Collector-as-romantic comedy, this might really have been something! I was mildly horrified that the film eventually asked us to buy into the actress falling for the lout, because all I saw in the film was this being the result of her pitying him. Not a good foundation for a relationship! Speaking of relationships, we also get some La ronde antics with Bacri’s bodyguard and driver and a drug-dealing barmaid played by the director. These b-story strands are infinitely less interesting than the more directly Bacri-related material, though I did enjoy the weird running gag about Alain Chabat learning how to play the flute. This won the top Cesar Award and was nominated for the Best Foreign Film Oscar (albeit aided by Miramax's acquisition), so I guess the tastes of others truly are unknowable.

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DarkImbecile
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#229 Post by DarkImbecile » Sun Jun 10, 2018 9:13 pm

domino harvey wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 8:15 pm
(And I would, in a heartbeat, participate in a Cesar Best Film Mini-List. But would anyone else?)
Checking to see what films would qualify for such a list made me realize I've never actually seen a Cesar statuette before:
Image
Looks like they took all the other awards and put them together in a trash compactor... and it came out pretty well!

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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#230 Post by Werewolf by Night » Sun Jun 10, 2018 10:04 pm

domino harvey wrote:I’ve been going through the Cesar Award results lately and it’s interesting that in the hubbub recently about Hollywood not supporting or recognizing women directors no one brought up France, because it seems like every year’s results include at least one woman nominated for Best Director. Perhaps this is a sign of France being more progressive (plausible) or of there just being more French female directors out of the total pool versus that number in the US (also plausible).
Other factors include strong state support for filmmaking in France and a fundamental commitment to giving money and opportunities to female filmmakers.

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Mr Sausage
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#231 Post by Mr Sausage » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:02 pm

The winner, Beau Travail, is our current discussion topic in the Film Club. Come on over and tell us why you all loved this film so greatly.

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domino harvey
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#232 Post by domino harvey » Tue Jul 03, 2018 9:37 am

Image

Victoria (Justine Triet 2016)
Virginie Elfra from Mouret’s wonderful Caprice is the titular Victoria, a divorced French lawyer who gets suckered into representing her friend in a criminal case after his girlfriend accuses him of stabbing her at a wedding. Elfra has her own problems apart from the case, though, as her ex has started a “metafictional” blog about her, accusing her of sleeping with judges to win cases among other insults. In the midst of all this, she goes on lots of awkward one night stands and invites a former client, an ex-drug dealer, to live with her as an au pair for her young girls. I loved the friendship between the protagonist and the former dealer in the first half of the movie and I guess I should have known it would blossom into love considering this is a romantic comedy, albeit a strange one, but I liked their interactions so much more when it didn’t hit those conventional beats. The movie’s biggest asset is Elfra, who is staggeringly beautiful but believable here as a fuck-up in a tailspin whose flaws make her more interesting and increase audience investment. I could have done without the finale in which she has to get shit on by her paramour before they can reconcile, but, honestly, his complaints aren’t wrong. If a film as unexpected, dark, and often quite negative as this is what passes for popular romantic comedy entertainment in France, no wonder they’re so much more fucking cultured than us! Recommended.

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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#233 Post by Drucker » Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:32 pm

My viewing history doesn't get close to seeing enough films from this list to have contributed one, but I did just get back from a screening of Girlfriends by Claudia Weill and noticed it didn't seem to get on any list or any discussion. It looks like it's out on Warner Archive so I'm sort of shocked. It gets favorably called out as a precursor to Girls, but it's a much more mature work, and somehow even more insecure, lending it an even greater air of reality. The obvious standout is the role of Susan, and Melanie Mayron is phenomenal. There are a few moments of the film which are not critical scenes, but which she carries. Her ability to improvise in the opening photography scene or the moment she leaves an office and starts trailing off to herself (while the mic DOESN'T follow her, allowing her voice to get further away) is so key to her character.

The film also is great because there is never this idea that there is a "destination" of adulthood either protagonist is really going for. Claudia Weill said as much in the Q&A after the screening that she purposefully wasn't trying to call out which woman was taking the "right" path and it shows. But more than that, it doesn't seem either girl is being judged by her relationship to any path at all. Instead they are judged on their own terms. Susan focuses more on her career, and near the end we can celebrate her ability to return career advice to a woman who had earlier given her some. At the end of the day, both women are likely to stay "who they are", and there is no big revelation to illustrate they've turned some major page or anything of the sort. They are treated as real people, and you have to accept them warts and all. The more I think about the film, the more I love it. Especially Eli Wallach as a wonderful rabbi.

Not to compare films, but I love the films relationship to the Jewish experience, especially in comparison to say...something like A Serious Man. Maybe that experience rang true for other Jews, but certainly not me, and obviously the Coens take pleasure in exaggeration. The laid back rabbi here, who once wanted to be an actor and went into being a rabbi because his parents wanted him to is far closer to the reform experience I grew up in. Susan's Jewishness is key to her character, but the film is not trying to throw "the Jewish experience" in your face.

One other note: I saw The Heartbreak Kid for the first time a few months ago (first Elaine May) and I liked but did not love it. One thing I think that held it back is that it often felt more like comedy sketches than a cohesive whole. I feel like people who are underwhelmed by that film could get a lot more out of this one. A more restrained comedy that is less over the top. By the way: in both films, there sure seems to be some quick running to get married, especially quickly after one person has serious doubts about a relationship. Were people really getting hitched that quickly and that un-assuredly in the 1970s? Like...five minutes after pondering whether or not they should really be with the person they end up marrying?

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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#234 Post by Saturnome » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:13 pm

Girlfriends was very, very close to making my list, so much that I was surprised at first to read it wasn't in it !

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domino harvey
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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#235 Post by domino harvey » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:19 pm

Drucker wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:32 pm
I did just get back from a screening of Girlfriends by Claudia Weill and noticed it didn't seem to get on any list or any discussion.
Drucker wrote:
Wed Jul 11, 2018 10:32 pm
It gets favorably called out as a precursor to Girls
I mean

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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#236 Post by knives » Wed Jul 11, 2018 11:34 pm

I like it a lot, but I think I saw it after this list, literally can't remember. As to the Serious Man comparison I think you hit on it by mentioning reform. Weill definitely presents that, but I think the Coens is more a Conservative presentation with Larry clearly having married into a community more religious/ European than himself. The emphasis on Yiddish and the presentation of the rabbis make that clear to me. I've definitely met a lot of rabbis like the junior one in the film.

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Re: Women Directors List Discussion + Suggestions

#237 Post by bottled spider » Sun Jul 15, 2018 10:09 pm

L'annulaire ('The Ring Finger') (Diane Bertrand, 2005). The main thread is that a young woman finds a job as a receptionist at a laboratory of sorts that preserves and archives any item a customer wants; the preservation of these specimens somehow helps people forget traumatic events. Beyond that, it's a bit hard to describe what the movie's about.

I'd have said the movie had a distinct Japanese quality even if I didn't know it was adapted from a Japanese novel that I haven't read -- my admittedly limited frame of reference for "a distinct Japanese quality" being one Murakami novel, one by Ogai, and a few by Kawabata. Invoking Borges and Calvino would also give some notion of the film's atmosphere. There are echoes, too, of Bluebeard, Cinderella, and the Red Shoes.

One of my most enjoyable (but alas infrequent) recurring dreams is that of exploring a building with a labyrinth of rooms. That's quite commonplace, isn't it? Part of the appeal of this movie -- deeply appealing to me, anyway -- is the exploration of the laboratory itself, which is housed in a former girls' boarding school.

What the hell, I don't know what else to say about it. The cinematography is beautiful, Kurylenko is beautiful and occasionally naked, and the score is excellent. So watch it already.

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