And so it is. The second 100 Films Made by Women. There’s many you have seen, and many you have likely not even heard of course. We kick off the essential list with the only entry throughout the series to be given a contribution by the film-makers themselves.
The Sisters Plotz (2015) – Lisa Hammer
The Sisters Plotz is a retro-wacko musical comedy about the deliriously frothy world of three eccentric heiresses: Dada poetess Celestia, manic, recreational scientist Ladybug, and dreamy painter Whimsellica.The sisters live in New York City with their adorable butler, Reginald (Levi Wilson). Hilarity ensues when they must outwit a snooping gossip columnist, a councilwoman set on turning the Plotz home into a carousel, and two scheming maids who plan to steal the ladies’ riches and bet everything at the track. Spirits, moocher cousins and hippies invade their Upper East Side townhouse and before they know it, they have a full flophouse of freaks. In the end they settle their disputes the old fashioned way, learning that family isn’t who you are related to by some accident, family is: the people who you love and trust; the people who have got your back. The film is a loving nod to old Hollywood as seen through a camp indie lens, with all the class struggle of Downton Abbey. Imagine Grey Gardens directed by John Waters and choreographed by Busby Berkeley. Written by Lisa Ferber and directed by cult filmmaker Lisa Hammer, Starring Eve Plumb (The Brady Bunch, Blue Ruin). – – – Lisa Hammer and Lisa Ferber @LadyLisaTerror
Circumstance (2012) – Maryam Keshavarz
As well as showing a certain loyalty to aspects of repression in the modern Iranian culture, writer-director Maryam Keshavarz fluently brings to the big screen the nerve-tingling electricity of real romance and attraction. Beautiful in different ways and both full-to-the-brim with tension the leading ladies Nikohl Boosheri and Sarah Kazemy convince us to the very touch of their sexual allure for each other, clear close-ups of their goosebumps is a seductive impression. Within the central family’s supposed close-knit relationships are free-spirited and indulgent moments of drug euphoria and late-night parties. It’s a lingering, enticing, painful depiction of love and lust, courage and companionship, brought to our wandering eyes by Keshavarz with subtle and unflinching emotive impact. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Oscar & Lucinda (1997) – Gillian Armstrong
There is a certain finesse about Gillian Armstrong’s tone at times, and in that sense Oscar and Lucinda could almost be a companion piece to her perhaps most famous work My Brilliant Career. The screenplay is adapted by Laura Jones, based on the award-winning novel by Peter Carey. This is a mix of gambling, love, a glass church, this has the room for quirky and eccentric moments, it looks terrific, and is rich in its story-telling. Ralph Fiennes and then newcomer Cate Blanchett are perfectly poised within the narrative, they look great, and share a seamless chemistry on screen. Thomas Newman, too, provides a memorable and yet another under-rated score. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Clip (2012) – Maja Milos
It comes down to where you seek solace. Jasna could seek it in her family, but what teenager would? Her family represents the origins of her troubles, her father terminally ill, her mother’s tether at its end. She could seek it in school, but what good is working hard for a hard future in working-class Belgrade? She seeks solace in the hedonism of adolescence, wearing out every stream of self-indulgence. Alcohol may make her vomit over the bedsheets, but at least it makes her drunk. Coke may make her addicted, but at least it makes her high. Her boyfriend controls her, barely even likes her, but at least he makes her come. She may grow up to learn the extent of the consequences wreaked upon herself, indeed, she is confronted with them now, but why bother to care until there’s no alternative? Writer-director Maja Milos creates spaces in which the camera doesn’t seem to exist, just an extension of the perspectives of the characters. Her touch is delicate and deft, bringing an air of candour to the hard-hitting events depicted. If Milos has a point to make, it’s not a judgement on Jasna. It’s a judgement on those who wish to see otherwise. – – – Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen
Desert Hearts (1986) – Donna Deitch
I confess that the steamy love-making between Helen Shaver and Patricia Charbonneau in Donna Deitch’s smoldering romance slash drama was certainly one of first truly erotic experiences of this kind I had watching movies. Give that thirty years ago the depiction of lesbian love stories were hard to come by on film or television. Deitch gives real heat to the tale of two very different women attempting to ease away from their current lives with men, and soon drawn to one another. This is a movie that does not have an agenda of sexual preference in its story-telling, but rather upholds how the human heart must discover for itself what entices it. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published June 2016.