The following eclectic bunch of films offer an abundance of female-driven stories, regardless of a potential male lead (and there are not many here). As always with the ones you are yet to see, get them bumped up your watch-list as soon as possible. Blue soup anyone?
Bridget Jones’s Diary (2001) – Sharon Maguire
Bridget Jones’s Diary is a sweet and charming film from 2001, where Renée Zellweger plays a woman who gets caught up in a relationship triangle with a wrong guy (Hugh Grant), and a guy who “likes her just the way she is” (Colin Firth). There is comedy that ensues, including a scene in which she dresses up like a Playboy bunny for a costume party that turns out not to be a costume party. The magic of Bridget Jones’s Diary is that director Sharon Maguire adapted a wonderful film from Helen Fielding’s novel of the same name. But if nothing else, it’s worthy of watching just to see Bridget’s giant granny panties. – – – Al Robinson @AlRob_MN
Rambling Rose (1991) – Martha Coolidge
Laura Dern and Diane Ladd were both nominated for Academy Awards for their memorable performances here, a uniquely gratifying feat given they are daughter and mother in real life. Dern is the central Rambling Rose of the film’s title, unashamedly exploring her own promiscuity during the Great Depression. Her magnetism to men is in it’s purest form when portrayed through 13 year-old Buddy’s fascination of Rose. In one unforgettable scene she succumbs to his explorative touches, a deeply provocative move by director Martha Coolidge in a film that has its fair share of bawdy behavior as well as the sentimentality. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Girlfriends (1978) – Claudia Weill
An under-seen and under-celebrated gem of a film from the late 70’s, a confident and hugely spirited film by Claudia Weill. Her first feature film, made independently, on her own terms. She has made lots of documentaries, TV episodes. Her early work includes things for Seasame Street, freelancing as camerawoman. She is a theater director and has taught all of the above in universities. Girlfriends was brought to my attention when I read an interview by Stanley Kubrick and later by how much Lena Dunham and Greta Gerwig loved it and has influenced them. This is story of two best friends and roommates, Susan Weinblatt and Anne Munroe. Susan dreams of success in photography while doing small pay jobs, Anne gets married soon, leaving Susan alone to chase after her dreams and life, where ever and however she may find them. A beautifully created and written film, it breathes without feeling bogged down by clichés. Much about female friendship, female struggles as it is about aimless drifting, struggling to create something for yourself. Its feminism and storytelling feels as fresh and radical as it did then without defining itself by politics but humanity and willfully fleshing out its multi-colored characters. – – – Asif Khan @KHAN2705
Love Serenade (1996) – Shirley Barrett
Sporadically reminiscent of the indie Australian film scene from a couple of decades back (you know, Strictly Ballroom, Muriel’s Wedding), Love Serenade has that down under neurosis and free-speaking nature in its main characters. Shirley Barret’s kind-of comedy-romance focuses on two sisters, one cluelessly brash, the other charmingly introvert, as they go about their little lives. Their heads and hearts get all in a muddle when a famous, charismatic, radio DJ comes to town. His slow, philosophical vocals carry some allure, but ultimately he is a great big douche – it just takes a hell of a lot of bonkers disruption for the sisters to realize it. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
The Voices (2014) – Marjane Satrapi
Marjane Satrapi is an Oscar nominee for the animated, autobiographical Persepolis, and here, depending on how much you want to deeply analyse film, she has taken a different direction, vivid and memorable all the same. The Voices slipped under the net with audiences last year, but the quirky, oddball picture is a bit of a treat. Merging an underlying, yet heavy, theme of psychological health with the sympathetic, docile lead in Ryan Reynolds (with his good and bad nature voiced by Bosco the dog and Mr. Whickers the cat respectively), the film has some refreshing moments of comedy and horror. Stick around for the zany closing titles musical dance number too. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA
Originally published in June 2016.