The Portrait of a Lady: Everyone Loves Isabel

The Portrait of a Lady:  Everyone Loves Isabel

We have heard much questioning about if and in what ways women directors add something new to filmmaking. The Portrait of a Lady seems to me to be exhibit A for contending that some do. However, in revising Henry James’s novel as no man would or could, Campion demonstrates more than the changes that have taken place since 1881; she demonstrates the changes that have not taken place. In thoroughly missing the organic relationship of Isabel’s fantasy life to the plot, earlier critics just assumed Campion was flamboyantly showing off her directorial chops, or sensationalizing James. We failed to see that she was giving the audience a piercing, feminist insight into what happens, at least in some cases, on the road to gender equality. But hang in there, Isabel. Many of us are not running anymore.

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BLONDIE JOHNSON: A Fresh Dame

BLONDIE JOHNSON: A Fresh Dame

Blondie Johnson (Dir. Ray Enright, 1933) is the only American gangster film ever made in which a woman, the eponymous Blondie (Joan Blondell), travels the road of Paul Muni, James Cagney, and Edward G. Robinson, from destitute nobody to affluent somebody by becoming a mob boss.

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RUSSIAN DOLL: The Epic of A Sweet Birthday Baby

RUSSIAN DOLL: The Epic of A Sweet Birthday Baby

Stories about journeys made by men in which women play supporting roles as inspirations, antagonists, and helpers have been the foundation of Western Civilization. The old Bards stuck to narratives in which the old heroes explained the patriarchal cosmos through their exploits as they conquered death in one way or another. Options are now more various. The new, gloriously audacious Netflix series, Russian Doll), gives the ancient male quest a modern, feminist twist as Nadia Vulvokov (Natasha Lyonne), whose name emphasizes her femininity, finds herself on a woman’s voyage for more modern purposes in a female inflected universe.

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Movie Review: ROMA, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

Movie Review: ROMA, Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking

The very ephemeral nature of moments in which life and death come to a head unweaves the old neo-realist assurances of the powerful weightiness of the least of us. Rather, Cuaron distances us from any pretensions to human importance as he opens the door to his vision of how fleeting, brief, and weightless human life is. This is a realism that is harsh medicine to the individualist American and to all cultures that are Americanized.

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Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Movie Review — BEING JULIA: Madame Has a Beer

Being Julia ( 2004) is a dazzling, fourteen year old romantic comedy whose time has come for a closer look. Based on a Somerset Maugham novella, Theatre, and set in 1938 London, at first glance it seems to be the essence of what has become offensive to progressive people. Successful British actress, Julia Lambert lives in a bubble of class privilege and audience adulation, to the exclusion of all else in society. But, don’t turn away. Being Julia offers an opportunity for feminists to mine unexpected gold and to examine our own prejudices and myopia.

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New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

New York Film Festival Review: THE FAVOURITE

Have you ever wondered what sexual politics would be like in a matriarchy? In their rompin’ stompin’ film, The Favourite, shown as the opening night feature for this year’s New York Film Festival, director Yorgos Lanthimos and writers Deborah Davis and Tony McNamara, give you space to imaginatively explore that possibility.

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Movie Review — JACKIE: The Power of Cheap Music

Movie Review — JACKIE:  The Power of Cheap Music

Working within several time frames, Pablo Larrain’s new film, Jackie, starring Nathalie Portman in the title role, recounts the way Jacqueline Kennedy dealt with the terrible days right after the assassination of President Kennedy, and also how in retrospect she came to think about her role and that historical moment. The film adopts a low key, talking-head rhetoric about the woman, her trials and tribulations, and the ordeal the United States went through. But it ends with the (inordinately) triumphant strains of the final song from the Broadway musical Camelot, as Richard Burton sings, “Don’t let it be forgot/That once there was a spot/For one brief shining moment/ That was known as Camelot.” What are we to make of this ecstatic explosion of kitsch as the culmination of an essentially quiet film about one of the most wrenching episodes in modern American history?

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EQUITY is an Economic Fable for Our Times – Movie Review

EQUITY is an Economic Fable for Our Times – Movie Review

Equity, directed by Meera Menon and written by Amy Fox, starring Anna Gunn, is an economic fable for our times, with the punch and cultural insight of The Big Short, without the faux celebrity razzle dazzle of The Wolf of Wall Street, and with much greater freshness than either. It’s a movie by and about women in the upper echelons of investment banking and the drinking, sex, and wheels and deals this entails that propels independent production with a female perspective to new heights of achievement.

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BROOKLYN: Or “The Girl” as Universal Solvent (New York Film Festival Review)

BROOKLYN:  Or “The Girl” as Universal Solvent   (New York Film Festival Review)

What’s not to like about Brooklyn? It’s a small, but polished, intentionally artful looking indie; moderate budget but not low enough to preclude multi-national locations—County Wexford Ireland; New York; and Montreal–and quiet, well-turned performances by Saoirse Ronan, Julie Walters, and Jim Broadbent. And it gives you an opportunity to learn about Irish culture and what America was like after World War II, which is when it is set. Well OK, maybe you don’t learn that much because if there was any reference to the war I don’t remember it, and there certainly was no attention paid to the equivocal shot in the arm that the destruction of European economies gave to the American GNP.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Eight

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Eight

THE REMOVED OBSERVER GETS THE LAST WORD is the final chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Seven

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Seven

IT ENDS BADLY is the seventh chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Six

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Six

THE SILENT WATCHER is the sixth chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Five

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Five

A SILENT WATCHER is the fifth chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Four

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Four

WHAT PENNY VOZNIAK SAW is the fourth chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Three

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Three

HOW PENNY VOZNIAK GOT INTO IT is the third chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hiss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Two

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter Two

WHAT JENNIFER LYNCH SAW is the second chapter in an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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Movie Review: TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

Movie Review: TWO DAYS, ONE NIGHT

Speaking of Two Days, One Night, the new film by the brothers Jean-Pierre and Luc Dardennes that was part of the Main Slate offerings at this year’s New York Film Festival, “purity” is the word that comes to mind. The legendary brothers have produced a film in the tradition of Post World War II Italian neo-realism, the French New Wave of the 1950’s and 1960’s, and the Danish Dogme 95 movement—started, of course, in 1995–the more recent inheritors of the burning desire to push narrative film as far as possible away from the glamorization, fetishism and manipulations of Hollywood.

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THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter One

THE JENNIFER-PENNY CHRONICLES: MAKING HISSS – Chapter One

HOW MANY OBSERVERS DOES IT TAKE TO SEE AN EVENT? is the first installment of an eight part exploration of the failure of the American-East Indian co-production of >Hisss (2010), filmmaker Jennifer Lynch’s greatly anticipated third feature film. Despite Lynch’s previous cinematic successes, Hisss, a tale about the Indian snake goddess Nagin, turned into an artistic and box office disaster that derailed its talented director. The making of Hisss and the aftermath for Lynch are the subject of Despite the Gods, an intimate documentary by Penny Vozniak, whose feminist perspective offers rare insight about the troubled production and its outcome.

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