Depths of motherhood, psychological romance, lustful vampires, and there’s a clay animation thrown in for good measure. Here are 5 more lady-helmed motion pictures for your viewing pleasure.
Tallulah (2016) – Sian Heder
Following a couple of short films and writing credits for Orange Is the New Black (Uzo Aduba has a cunning cameo here), Sian Heder writes and directs her first feature – essentially a three-fold drama depiction of the darker side of motherhood. Heder herself was heavily pregnant when the production began with her second child, so who knows how much of her hormones shone through in her directorial execution. Tallulah is surprisingly low-key on emotive push, rather this just tells it straight, giving little exploration into the way characters roll off each other in somewhat knock-on fashion. Heder is more interested in the motherly dynamic than wanting to make your heart strings tremor, with three very different women brought together, and it is the audience, us, that are given free reign to make judgments on them and their often detrimental choices. A film with ample themes of human interest, it is the actresses that stand out. Ellen Page is fine, and Allison Janney tends to be first-rate in her sleep, while it is Tammy Blanchard who gulps up the majority of the film’s emotional gravity. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
The Lights and Then the Noise (2012) – Fran Broadhurst
Distinguished immediately by the crisp, clear black and white, The Lights and Then the Noise kicks into the sensations in both visual and audio aspects – both lights and noise are soaked in the senses, almost re-awakening them. The humming and crackling and faint music of the mundane everyday is anything but dull here. Actress Emily Taaffe expresses the awe of such taken-for-granted wonders in this very short film that aligns us with the lights and noises that bring us euphoria through seeing a band play live (No Age in this instance). Fran Broadhurst collaborates with her partner Mathy Tremewan to direct and write this 4 minute film, wanting to encapsulate some elements of the feelings from that first gig, while taking it to a place beyond the mere concrete, and tuning in to the fascinating abstract. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Vanishing Waves (2012) – Kristina Buozyte
Easy as it is to categorize Vanishing Waves, it’d be detrimental to your appreciation of the film. The point is not the elaborate visual effects, stylish art direction and scientific psychobabble. The point is the throbbing, tempestuous relationship at this film’s heart. It is, above all else, a romance, and how smart to encase this romance in the trappings of sci-fi. A romance that takes place inside the mind and only there, as is that not where all romances take place? A startlingly sensual romance too, as is the mind not also where all sensory apprehension takes place? What gloriously sensual imagery Kristina Buozyte devises, what stirring ambiance she creates for these dreamscapes, expressing the purity and intensity of sense and emotion within the brain, and the full breadth and depth of every aspect of every feeling that is awoken in the core of such absolute love. If it sounds like it’ll touch every sore spot in your psyche, don’t bother. Don’t bother with a film that features a sequence of modern dance, in the nude, in a building on a beach, inside the mind of a comatose woman. But in a dark room, late at night, on my own, I was as exhilarated by Buozyte’s vision as Lukas is, emerging from his first experience of entering someone else’s mind. – – – Paddy Mulholland @screenonscreen
$9.99 (2008) – Tatia Rosenthal
It is not every day you come across an Israel-Australia collaborated animation feature. $9.99 is an effectively rough around the edges clay animation that makes for some gritty realism, the rendering of such stop-motion animation is so good here it often surpasses the contentment of the engagement in its story and characters. There’s nothing wrong with the narrative or character development, mind, an inner-apartment ensemble, almost a non-live-action kind of soap opera. Director Tatia Rosenthal injects some compelling adult conformism (which includes some full nudity) as well as a good share of wit and melancholy. You might often get a whiff of the much later Anomalisa. There’s an array of recognizable voices working here too, including Geoffrey Rush, Anthony LaPaglia, Joel Edgerton, and Ben Mendelsohn. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Kiss of the Damned (2012) – Xan Cassavetes
Kiss of the Damned is in some ways your typical vampire flick, and we don’t mind that because the infectious ethos of the vampire is a captivating concept from the outset for many. Written and directed by John Cassavetes’ daughter Alexandra “Xan” Cassavetes, this particularly retro blood-thirsty tale throws Paolo at the loving mercy of Djuna (rather easily it seems), to share her vampire status as well as her affection. Chaos ensues when the recalcitrant Mimi turns up, taking blood whenever she feels like it – perhaps making this an alternative version of Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive. Cassevetes shamelessly pays as a kind of personal homage to the vampire film culture with this, a film so stylized and slick, yet has the feel of a horror film from the 1970s. The likes of Bellucci, Argento, Roeg, Carpenter, are all on Cassevetes’ fan-list. Cassevetes demonstrates a yearning to encapsulate loneliness over horror too, and although the surreal Kiss of the Damned has its flaws, it still captures a melancholic bite, dangerous sexual appetite, and a hunger you can almost taste. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published in August 2016.