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:
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.
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!
June 11, 2013 § Leave a Comment
“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.
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.
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.
May 18, 2013 § Leave a Comment
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.”
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?
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:
List of 2012 Films in the Sample
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
Think Like a Man The Campaign
Dark Shadows Parental Guidance John Carter
This Is 40
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog Days
Phantom Menace (3D) Resident Evil: Retribution The Cabin in the Woods What to Expect When You’re
The Guilt Trip
*Study funded by the Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism © 2013 Dr. Stacy L. Smith
May 17, 2013 § 1 Comment
We were sitting on our back terrace. I am so very bored with the greenspace around us, the fields, the quiet. I was thinking about change, any change. And my husband, reading his cell phone news feed, was chuckling over reported shortages of toilet paper in Venezuela.
He asked if I’d blogged about the wonderful phone chats I had with my children on Mother’s Day. I said, in my bored-with-greenspace voice, “no.”
They are back in my good graces. I feel like Mick Jagger’s proud mother, by the way.
“Angelina Jolie had a double mastectomy,” my husband read out loud.
The fields around me flared up hot green. The gnats disappeared. I looked over at him.
Her Op- Ed piece appeared in the New York Times on 14 May: My Medical Choice by Angelina Jolie – NYTimes.com.
In making her choice, given an 87% chance she’d develop breast cancer, she put foremost in her thoughts the death of her mother from breast cancer and the pain a child suffers watching and losing someone that way. Mother and child were the reasons she chose radical surgery.
I took the news as a gut hit. I realized I considered her epic beauty MY possession, MY right, my joy. Meaning that, of all the breasts in the world, the idea that these very public and perfect ones had just been cut off filled MY world with sadness.
And then the sorrow- deep, ache filled- for the woman who’d had to make that choice, overcame me. I stared out at my Disney-esque verdant farm fields without comment.
My husband kept reading. He reached the part where “reconstruction” and “three months of surgeries” suggested Angelina’d been able to maintain her physique, not end up with flat, ripped and scarred, war torn skin over chest bone results typical for women years ago. Thank god, and surgeons.
And her ability to pay. That’s part of the point she makes in her Op-Ed piece. The test alone for a cancer-likely gene costs $3000.
We are not guaranteed perfect health as humans experiencing life. Neither are we guaranteed access to perfect health care. “Health” and “perfect” themselves take on varying meanings for each of us, worldwide, I’d bet.
But pain is guaranteed us all in some form or other. And all women know the pleasure, the pride, perhaps the affirmation of identity itself which their breasts offer them. To lose them; to lose your source of pleasure, your pride, your identity, to fear the onslaught of death; this, unfortunately, is part of human life. But so, too, is change.
Read Ms. Jolie’s Op-Ed piece.
Feel the power brewing, the potential for better and more options for women hissing like steam as an engine starts, the world of medicine and philanthropy suddenly listening, simply because such a superstar as ANGELINA JOLIE, actress, director, wife and mother, has suffered.
And decided to go public with her own story.
She is now in my prayers, as a friend.
All women suffering are.
May 12, 2013 § Leave a Comment
I worry that I’ve not raised my children to understand love. I, of course, want proof that they do – that they know how to give it, or at least remember its first source, the gooey pulsing womb waters- and wait for them to acknowledge that memory with a phone call on Mother’s Day.
Hello! Me, I’m the mother. And I’m proud of you, like it or not. But I swear I’ll tear your throats out if you haven’t learned love, or better, and perhaps less overwhelming, and here’s the mother giving you a break again, at least human kindness.
Seque to the most stirring documentary I’ve seen since Tiffany Shlain’s “Connected”:
Andrew Loog Oldman’s 1965 film by Peter Whitehead, “Charlie is my Darling- Ireland 1965.”
It’s about the Rolling Stones.
I always thought Mick Jagger was the guy I’d not take home to mother, and probably not the first pick I’d make for a friend to my sons. He’s the genius whose band’s music I’ve adored and, as a sweet dull Southern girl, felt paranoid to emulate. In any way. I mean, my god, drugs and sex and rock and roll? I was a toddling Republican in the sixties and a prig of a good student through the eighties. Then a wife.
And then a mother.
A mother and a woman suddenly, very seriously, respecting Mick Jagger, who chats for the camera in this first documentary film made not as that, exactly, but to acclimate the freshly famous band to being filmed and also to check which of its members the camera loved best.
Spoiler alert! It’s Charlie they claim the camera loved.
Notice almost humorous cameraman misses when he pans off Mick or Keith, not aware that fifty years down the road we’d kill to see nothing but Mick right then, vintage learning-his-act moments, or just Keith’s hands. For a LONG time… jeezus, pan out, give us Mick’s whole body, he’s patenting that stiff leg thing… it’s like filming your baby’s birth and cutting away to the nurse.
But who knew?
At any rate, here’s what the website, www.charlieismydarling.com has to say about the film:
The Rolling Stones Charlie is my Darling – Ireland 1965 was shot on a quick weekend tour of Ireland just weeks after “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” hit # 1 on the charts and became the international anthem for an entire generation. Charlie is my Darling is an intimate, behind-the-scenes diary of life on the road with the young Rolling Stones featuring the first professionally filmed concert performances of the band’s long and storied touring career, documenting the early frenzy of their fans and the riots their live performances incited
Yep. Stampede to the video store, cue up Netflix, whatever. Hurry. No Kidding. It’s that good.
But why promote “Charlie is my Darling” on a woman’s blog on Mother’s Day?
Watch the documentary. My heart went out to Mick. He is freakin’ genuine. And almost evasive of the limelight. Until, as he bluntly states, it’s time for him to become the egomaniacal actor for the audience. From such an at-that-point promising performer, such clarity and understanding. Such humanity.
I was stunned when my own heart raced as I watched the “boys” hang out and sing whatever Keith happened to start playing on his acoustic. In a crummy hotel room in Ireland.
The sheer ineffable talent. The beginning. Of what’s now as much a part of my own brain scape as the Doxology chanted in church and the silver pattern my grandmother left me.
A boy who became bigger than human but apparently, and again I say watch “Charlie is my Darling,” is a simple, compassionate guy. Or at least started out that way- proof’s on film. Mick Jagger. Go figure.
Okay, so if the “spectre” of sex and drugs and rock stars being evil deep down can pop like a zit in the mirror of documentary watching for the cynical likes of me, Grendel’s mother, I feel safe that even my kids, who might overlook Mother’s Day because they’re going about a happy day of their own, and for that I’m glad; I feel safe that they, too, whose lives likely won’t have the fabulous public trajectory and overwhelming pressure Mick’s does, probably learned love and human kindness, too.
But a phone call would be nice. I’ll report back. HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY, all, with love.
May 7, 2013 § Leave a Comment
She’s a “filmmaker, speaker, actress, and advocate for women, girls and their families,” according to her home page, found at Jennifer Siebel Newsom – Home.
I needed a positive image with which to end my blog post last night, having used a shot of the fabulous Annette Benning, in character, pruning the devil out of red roses. What a portrayal of woman-as-flower-gone-wrong; and wow, what a movie! Bravo, AMERICAN BEAUTY.
But, I couldn’t end last night’s post, meant to offer readers visions of goodness and light and the flood of women now coming into my life, with the image of her vicious little snippers and the warped world of a gruesomely doomed marriage.
So I googled “women directors” and found the heart stopping, sweet shot I used to end my post. A mother reaching out for the little girl bounding her way.
I’ve been there. I’ve felt that. I wish there were pictures of me, just like that.
They’d sum up exactly how I feel, even as my children grow up and leave. Like an ecstatic bug held still forever in warm, delicious amber, eternally anticipating, reaching out, for the pulsing, rushing, freely given love of my child.
I admit I didn’t do my research on Jennifer Siebel Newsom. If you’re reading this, Jennifer, please accept both my apologies and my thanks. What a great photo.
Today, I’m high from an inspiring event, just attended, about Women, for Women, a grassroots-community-and-college-based success story wherein some Tidewater, Virginia ladies twenty years ago realized that educating women, particularly those who otherwise had no higher education opportunities, would pay off exponentially through their children, their extended families and their willingness to give back ten fold themselves.
Those ladies twenty years ago established a Women’s Center on the community college level and today celebrated success stories far beyond their twenty years ago dream. Check out http://www.tcc.edu/students/specialized/womenscenter, just for inspiration.