Some productions so small in scale, budget, and running time, can sit alongside films made by iconic women also know for their singing and acting. As we reach the half-way point of our second helping of 100 films made by women we include an Oscar-less lady and characters with boxes for heads..
Corrugated Hearts (2010) – Billimarie Robinson
You would have to ask writer, director, producer Billimarie Robinson what was going through her creative veins when she conceived the idea for a short amateur film where the characters have cardboard boxes or heads, marker pen facial expression change with each tiny plot development. The commercial reminiscent voices at the opening talk about heads shaped differently from ours, and different ideas. When the main male character rejects a 3.0 up grade there’s a real heavy layer of melancholy, which is blended with some rather haphazardly effective editing and music. Without any real dialogue or formulaic narrative Corrugated Hearts still provides a kind of love story, while also touching on the fickle TV culture, the disposableness of the human heart, as well as a strong whiff of the artificial intelligence element. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
The Dresser (2014) – Mary Neely
Mary Neely crams a lot into the short film The Dresser at less than twelve minutes, it has plenty of witty sharp edges and quirky moments. What Neely also has in abundance is her own input, not only does she write, produce, and direct the short comedy, she also edited it, and plays the central role of Sofia. Sofia bumps into David while filming a scene, but he is moving to New York City the very next morning, and Sofia’s urgency to hook up with him goes into neurotic overdrive. Sofia hatches a scheme to buy the dresser of the title (he has yet to sell all his furniture), hoping she can cancel the sale when she has him alone. But he has a group of friends over, and soon her plans are scuppered. Several back-and-forth phone calls between Sofia and her friend Deb also chime in with snappy humor – when Deb says she is making baklava, Sofia responds “I have no idea what you just said, but save me some.”. Funnily enough it seems Deb who is the most flat out exhausted from making the Greek delicacy than her friend’s one hundred miles an hour emotional drive. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
American Splendor (2003) – Shari Springer Berman
American Splendor is an incredibly difficult film to categorize. Co-directed by Shari Springer-Berman and Robert Pulcini, Splendor seamlessly blends elements of comedy, drama, biography, documentary and animation into one of the most original films of this century. The film focuses on comic book writer Harvey Pekar and his wife Joyce Brabner, using documentary footage of the couple along with filmed segments where the pair are played wonderfully by actors Paul Giamatti and Hope Davis, along with animated segments of the couple. Splendor is daring in both its visuals and its storytelling, and gives us an inside look into the mind and creative process of one of the most idiosyncratic artists of modern times. – – – Tim J. Krieg @FiveStarFlicks
The Prince of Tides (1991) – Barbra Streisand
There’s arguments for those not nominated with AMPAS, for instance how films like The Fisher King, Thelma & Louise, Barton Fink, and Boyz n the Hood did not make the Best Picture cut in 1992. But we are talking about female directors here, and famously how Barbara Streisand failed to make the Director line-up for The Prince of Tides, a film with seven nominations including Best Picture. Years earlier, she directed Yentl, which also failed to make an impact with the big Oscar categories – but she did win the Golden Globe for Best Director. The Prince of Tides was well-liked, based on the Pat Conroy novel, Streisand cast herself opposite Nick Nolte in an emotional family / romantic drama. Nolte’s teacher and coach Tom heads off to New York following his sister’s attempted suicide and strikes up a gradual bond with psychiatrist played by Streisand. The film tackles all manner of heavy subjects as Tom reluctantly digs up the secrets of abusive and betrayal within his family life both in the distant past and very recently. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Just Another Girl On the I.R.T. (1992) – Leslie Harris
The relentless burst of the American Independent Cinema in the late 80s and early 90s often tackled the very journey to your true identity in the world, your voice, your dreams. Films like Slacker (Richard Linklater), The Unbelievable Truth(Hal Hartley), Drugstore Cowboy (Gus Van Sant) Gas, Food Lodging (Allison Anders), Go Fish (Rose Troche), Metropolitan (Whit Stillman) all reflected in their narratives the growing corner of the film industry itself. Just Another Girl on the I.R.T. was no exception, written, produced, and directed by Leslie Harris (surprisingly her only film), the plucky little movie tells the story of teenage Chantel (Ariyan A. Johnson), thriving in high school and full to the brim with ambition, but lacking in a certain humility who cannot keep her mouth or ego in check. An important look at the struggling working class in Brooklyn, Harris’ film is an engaging depiction of an African-American girl wanting to break the shackles and find a better life for herself. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published in July 2016.