THE WORLD is ROUND, people. CATE BLANCHETT points that out to a room full of glamorous Oscar blinded industry big whigs. And to those of us watching.

March 4, 2014 § 1 Comment

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fr. athenacinema.com

(There are those) who are still foolishly clinging to the idea that female films with women at the center are niche experiences.  They are not.   Audiences want to see them, and in fact, they earn money….The world is round people.’

DID THE INDUSTRY HEAR HER?

WHERE ARE THE WOMEN WRITERS?

March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

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Here’s a question for screenplay writers Julie Delpy and Melisa Wallack-

Is there something different about the way men write scripts? 

Have a look at this list, from the Oscars official website, www.oscars.org.  Nominees for the 86th Oscars:

Writing (Adapted Screenplay)

  • “Before Midnight” Written by Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy, Ethan Hawke
  • “Captain Phillips” Screenplay by Billy Ray
  • “Philomena” Screenplay by Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
  • “12 Years a Slave” Screenplay by John Ridley
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” Screenplay by Terence Winter

Writing (Original Screenplay)

  • “American Hustle” Written by Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
  • “Blue Jasmine” Written by Woody Allen
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” Written by Craig Borten & Melisa Wallack
  • “Her” Written by Spike Jonze
  • “Nebraska” Written by Bob Nelson

 Of the fifteen writers involved in these scripts, two are women.  Neither of the two is a script’s only writer.

Hey, I like writing. Thank goodness folks write stuff.  Like books. I read not for gender of author but for subject matter, style, quality.    

I watch movies.  Thank goodness folks write movies.  I watch movies for subject matter, style, quality, and, hmmm.  Sensitivity to issues which are close to my heart, or to issues which teach me something.

More so than with books, and probably because

two quick hours- movie time- is a harder hit on the brain housing group than a leisurely read through pages, the timing of which I control.  There’s all that sound and CGI and visuals, and heart racing not from what I’m reading and running through my brain but from what’s literally happening on screen in front of me.

For that reason, I may be more careful of the movies I watch than the books I put on my bedside table and say I’ll get to soon.

My world is small.  I’ve been around long enough to know that small is okay, and that when something’s enjoyable I’ve lucked out.  Enjoyable yesterday was going with a friend to get her allergy shots because I was already out in traffic with her when the predicted sleet started to fall and the city was literally shutting down and it felt like a holiday suddenly.  And allergy shots, well, what an adventure!

The clinic was full of women panicked to get their allergy shots before the whole town slipped into the ocean on an arctic ice floe.  In tidewater Virginia, mind you.

We had a blast.  That’s my small world.

So, the Oscars is big for me.  It’s glam.  It’s glitzy.  It’s people who mess with my brain housing group on the big screen, when I allow them access.

Like any larger than life thing, it represents “the best.”  Right?

I AM NOT stupid.  I KNOW it doesn’t.  But it does represent what the industry leaders think is best.

One would hope that they haven’t gotten where they are as leaders in their field without some sense.

And I’m not debating whether or not they have sense.

But I WOULD like to know why, in the year 2014, only two out of fifteen screenwriters involved with Oscar contender scripts were women.

I do not think it’s for lack of talented women screenwriters.

I suspect that

TO ACTUALLY GET A STORY from an idea all the way to the SCREEN, with the hype, the popularity driving, the artistry and politics, is SUCH AN ENERGY and ANGST RIDDLED EVENT that THE WAY WOMEN WORK is less than compatible with eventual success.

In the context of current day industry realities.

My question to Julie Delpy and Melissa Wallack is still, is there something different about the way men write scripts?

A larger question could be is the industry and the audience just not yet ready for whatever women bring to the work of writing motion pictures?

The simple answer, chauvanism?  No.  That just won’t do.  Will it?

 

 

 

Scant Progress for Women. Again?

January 16, 2014 § 1 Comment

meryl-and-julia1-600x450

fr. http://www.celebuzz.com- Julia and Meryl

The GOOD news is that “women of a certain age”- wow, doesn’t that sound like “they have zits but don’t mention it,” ARE being honored, and in record numbers, for their on-screen presence.   This from a 12 January article in the LA Times, by Lynn McPherson:

IT looks like a vintage year for film stars as the Golden Globes kick-off the awards season tonight.

The youngest of the five ­nominees for Best Actress in a Motion Picture Drama is Brit mum-of-three Kate Winslet, 38, followed by Cate Blanchett, 44, Sandra Bullock, 49, Emma Thompson, 54, and 79-year-old Judi Dench.

The women – nominated for Labor Day, Blue Jasmine, ­Gravity, Saving Mr Banks and Philomena respectively – are all previous ­winners of Globes and Oscars and have an average age of 52.

But read this from today’s LA Times:

Celluloid Ceiling Report: Scant progress for women behind film scenes – latimes.com.

Hm.  I’m sure it’s not a secret government plot to keep women in their places.  But what IS it?

Interestingly, this article mentions the growing percentages of women in charge on TV work.

And, depending on who you listen to, uh, well, ah… there’s some thought that TV’s becoming the audience “go-to” for decent stuff to watch.  Actors, writers, the works.  Flocking to it.  Yep.

Who knew?

Report From London: Women Directors and Screenwriters in Decline According to New BFI Statistics | Women and Hollywood

July 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

A smart article worth reading.  Puts out the fires one might immediately start, if one, as I do, cared about women working in the industry.  Food for thought.  And a great quote from one woman about why she became a director at all:

 

Report From London: Women Directors and Screenwriters in Decline According to New BFI Statistics | Women and Hollywood.

And Then There’s BOND ca. 1977.  OMG.

June 12, 2013 § Leave a comment

Forget the ‘50’s (see earlier blog post.)  Things were barely better in 1979.  A Bond marathon was on TV last night.  We thought, at first, that’d be great fun.  Truth?  “Moonraker” merited maybe 14 minutes attention.  I walked in and out of the room a lot.  And I gotta mention the lady love interest’s name:  “Goodhead.”  Yeah, okay, we know, we know.  It’s a Bond.

After Bond raked space with a lot of bad acting, up cues Moonraker’s forerunner, “The Spy Who Loved Me,” 1977.

That’s the one with the Carly Simon theme song, “Nobody does it better….”  I admit to humming that one all the way through high-school.  What a great song.

But the movie?  Holy —-.  We switched to HGTV.  We watched people nail up prefab kitchen counters.  In Minnesota, I think.  The movie was that  bad.  What were they thinking?

Answer:  “feed ‘em another Bond.  It can’t fail.”

There is NO WAY real human folks watching that pap honestly wanted to watch THAT.  But this, remember, the 1970’s, was still the day of watchin’ ‘em once.  At the theatre.  And taking home only what your mind retained.  The boobage, more’n likely.

I wonder if movies today are more true to societal desires and psyches than they used to be simply because they’re instantly available and can be watched a hundred thousand times.

Hm.

Let me leave you with this darling image.  Remember, Bond’s serious action adventure, not comedy.  Yeah, hit me with that whip there, big guy!  You go, baby.  I’m hearing Austin Powers somewhere under those skirts!

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fr. imdb.com

It Surprised Me That He Hit Her

June 11, 2013 § Leave a comment

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from loveisspeed.blogspot.com

“To Catch A Thief” (1955), directed by Alfred Hitchcock, screenplay by John Michael Hayes, from a novel by David Dodge.

I’ve seen Hitchcock’s “To Catch a Thief” several times.  Years ago.  Maybe never watching closely.

This time, really watching, I jolted when Cary Grant hit Brigitte Auber.

Remember her?

Bet not.  She didn’t wear couture or feature in any seductive, glamorous close up shots.  Those were reserved for Grace Kelly, Grant’s love interest AND undeniably the most gorgeous thing on set.

Brigitte played Danielle, the young woman who is the true cat burglar in the story.

Brigitte Auber:Catch a Thief

fr. blu-ray.com

She lights into Grant at her father’s funeral.  Basically, her father was fallout from Grant’s struggles to prove he’s innocent of recent burglaries.  Danielle got her father killed- one way of looking at it.  And she’s understandably overwrought.

She, in her ranting, gives voice to a band of former French Resistance cronies, accusing Grant of putting them all into jeopardy.  And there’s probably a fair amount of scorned lover going on, too.  Danielle is the ugly duckling who needs to accept her place, leave Grant alone, and we movie watchers know it.  Grant and Kelly are the couple.  We want that.  It’s clear.

And Danielle needs to be “put in her place” at the funeral, too; calmed, quieted.

The story line requires she be quelled.  We must (and do) see that Grant is now a hero in spite of his old stealing habit.  He’s reformed, he’s penitent.  He’s even considered, by none other than the victim of the most recent burglary, Grace Kelly’s character’s mother, to be a rung up from her rascal and self-made millionaire husband.  Suitable for her daughter both in spirit and humility.  Not perfect.  Reformed.

So, here’s why I jolted.

Would we, today, want that character, Grant’s, the spirited, humbled former bad guy, whom we are meant to adore in the end, to flat out slap a young girl in the face and, except for the few seconds of awkwardly choreographed fumbling when some funeral guests jump him, get away with it?  Nothing more “said” on screen?  Tacit agreement?

Is there movie history about this slap?  Was it commonly accepted that leading men slapped problematic women in movies in the 1950’s?

Angelina Jolie, for instance, gets slapped around pretty badly in “Salt.” And she gives as good as she gets.  It’s scripted.  Many movies script slaps these days.  The slapped women do, however, tend to be leading ladies and also tend to get vengeance.

Back to “To Catch a Thief.”  There’s something off about a director, producer, and more chillingly, an audience, or all three, letting that weird and unsettling slap happen.

More noble for Grant to have raised his hand, then decided against it, and walked away.

Again, I ask, and in truth, I hope:  “Was that just the ‘50’s?”

Hey, maybe I’m too sensitive.   But I sure haven’t ever slapped any girls in the face.

WOMEN don’t waste their TIME watching MOVIES

May 18, 2013 § Leave a comment

fr. movies.gearlive.com

fr. movies.gearlive.com- Jolie making “Salt”

Here is food for thought-  Appendix B from a new study on gender equality in film, from the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism .

The study’s findings are, basically, more of the same, if not worse for the most recent year.  (thus Appendix B for your perusal, consideration, reality checking…)  On the site, USC Annenberg News, a post from May 13, 2013 notes:

“Across five years (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2012), 500 top-grossing films at the U.S. box office, and over 21,000 speaking characters, a new study by USC Annenberg found that females represented less than one-third (28.4%) of all speaking characters in 2012 films.  When they are on screen, 31% of women in 2012 were shown with at least some exposed skin, and 31.6% were depicted wearing sexually revealing clothing.” 

fr. scifi.about.com

fr. scifi.about.com- one of the “Twilights”

Okay, so I’m not adverse to skin showing.  Lust and sex are part of life.  And women like to preen sometimes.  Flaunt what God gave ya.  The study, however, notes that the skin shown tends to be on teenage girl body parts,

adding salt to the wounds of aging female actresses lucky enough to factor within the 28.4% of speaking roles available and calling into question just what “we” intend to do through film.  Sell Peter Pan?

And to the lower than 28.4% female representation.  Maybe that truly reflects who watches movies and pays for them.

Maybe WOMEN don’t WASTE THEIR TIME WATCHING (teenage skin in) MOVIES?

There’s a “do loop” here?  Build Costner’s baseball diamond and the players will show up.

Maybe the better question, in light of all these not so surprising Annenberg study findings, is WHERE ARE THE MOVIES WOMEN WANT TO WATCH?

fr. thephoenix.com: "The Jane Austen Book Club" 2007

fr. thephoenix.com “The Jane Austen Book Club” 2007

Hey, I like action and adventure- say, the BOURNE flicks- as much as the rest of us, but, speaking of BOURNE, the female leads in them are among my favorite actresses because I admired them in the BOURNE.  They could stand on their own, given a well written role.  Like SALT, for instance, where Angelina Jolie plays a bang up, save-the-world, angry female fabulous lead.  SALT has cruelly few other female speaking parts.

Did part of SALT’s success depend upon men watching Jolie?  Will men stop wanting to watch Jolie now that she’s altered her body?  What an interesting thing to check.  Was it just Angelina’s real boobs that the guys were watching all the time?  Will there be a new superstar beauty goddess now, one men consider real?  The men who, apparently, are the audience for whom the 78% male speaking roles are writ?  And the directors and writers and producers and decision makers.

The full study is available at:

annenberg.usc.edu/News%20and%20Events/News/~/media/PDFs/Smith_GenderInequality500Films.ash

Appendix B
List of 2012 Films in the Sample

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Marvel’s The Avengers The Dark Knight Rises The Hunger Games Skyfall

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part 2

The Amazing Spider-Man Brave
Ted
Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most

Wanted
Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax
Wreck-It Ralph
Lincoln
MIB 3
Django Unchained
Ice Age: Continental Drift
Snow White and the Huntsman Les Miserables (2012)
Hotel Transylvania
Taken 2
21 Jump Street
Argo
Silver Linings Playbook Prometheus
Safe House
The Vow
Life of Pi
Magic Mike
The Bourne Legacy
Journey 2: The Mysterious Island Rise of the Guardians
Zero Dark Thirty
Flight

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Think Like a Man The Campaign
The Expendables 2 Wrath of the Titans Jack Reacher

Dark Shadows Parental Guidance John Carter
Act of Valor

This Is 40
Contraband
Looper
Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Witness

Protection Battleship

Pitch Perfect
Mirror Mirror Chronicle (2012)
Hope Springs Underworld Awakening The Lucky One

The Dictator
Total Recall (2012)
Titanic (3D)
American Reunion
ParaNorman
This Means War
Project X
The Woman in Black Paranormal Activity 4
The Devil Inside
The Odd Life of Timothy Green Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance The Grey
Red Tails
The Possession

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Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days

Sinister
Beauty and the Beast (3D) Savages (2012)
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel Moonrise Kingdom
Here Comes the Boom
Red Dawn (2012)
The Three Stooges
Star Wars: Episode I – The

Phantom Menace (3D) Resident Evil: Retribution The Cabin in the Woods What to Expect When You’re

Expecting
Finding Nemo (3D)
End of Watch
Rock of Ages
Abraham Lincoln: Vampire

Hunter Lawless

The Guilt Trip
That’s My Boy
Trouble with the Curve
The Watch
Frankenweenie
Step Up Revolution
Tyler Perry’s Good Deeds Monsters, Inc. (3D)
House at the End of The Street The Pirates! Band of Misfits Joyful Noise
The Five-Year Engagement Cloud Atlas
One For the Money

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*Study funded by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism © 2013 Dr. Stacy L. Smith

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