100 More Films Made By Women – Part One

And so it begins. Well, I say begins, this has been brewing over for months and months. This is in fact the second 100 Films Made by Women following our first 100, the last part of which was published in August 2015. The 100 films directed by women coming your way (10 parts of 10) over the next couple of weeks all come recommended. Some for better reasons than others. There’s many you have likely not even heard of course. Although I’m covering most of the selections myself this time around, I have had some terrific contributions to which I now give a huge gift-wrapped gratitude. Speaking of those contributions, 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 (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

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Circumstance (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 (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

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Clip (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 (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

Love Like Poison (Katell Quillévéré)

Set days before teenage Anna’s confirmation, Love like Poison (taken from the Serge Gainsbourg song) explores the girl’s longing to find her place in the world, the film’s tender story focused on her relationships with her wiley grandpa, Pierre, a boy her age simply smitten by her, and the local priest who empathises with Anna’s doubt in her faith. Around her, these very adults, including her mother reeling from the abandoned father, have their own personal insecurities. Quillévéré, who helped write the script, handles the delicacy of the story with a simplistic and assured hand. This is breezy, flows with the mentality of a short fiction film (it’s only 110 minutes), like a lovely poem that comes and goes with the turn of a page. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

The Kid Stays in the Picture (Nanette Burstein)

The Kid Stays in the Picture is a rip-roaring account of legendary film producer and former studio production chief Robert Evans. Though it is a documentary it is unlike any documentary you’ve likely ever seen. Co-directed by Nanette Burstein and Brett Morgen, Kid used revolutionary computer graphics to make still photographs seemingly come to life, intermixed with stock footage and film clips from Evans related films. Narrated by Evan himself, the film bursts with life. It feels like it plays loose with the facts, skewed towards presenting information that Evans wants you to know while disregarding other details, but it is so entertaining you get swept up in it completely and go along for the ride. Besides, like Evans famously says in the film, “There are three sides to every story: Your side, my side, and the truth. And no one is lying”. – – – Tim J. Krieg @FiveStarFlicks

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Your Sister’s Sister (Lynn Shelton)

Writing and directing this genuine human dilemma story, Lynn Shelton’s wickedly honest, funny film is a juicy little slice of American cinema – equal parts drama and comedy. Effectively executed as a premise that has two sisters with a strong bond that have to lock emotional horns when the guy in the picture sleeps with one while pining for the other. These are family and friendship ties rife with emotion-led decisions and secrets, revealing the true confessions and yearnings of the threesome. Emily Blunt, Rosemarie DeWitt, and Mark Duplass are all both easy on the eye and engaging in their portrayals of these young adults somehow getting lost and messed up along the way to those relationship goals, whatever they may be. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Little Miss Sunshine (Valerie Faris)

Co-directed with Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris has helped compose a hyperactive, endearing chunk of family life on film. Little Miss Sunshine is the definition of a cinematic crowd-pleaser. To say this is a real treat of an ensemble is a super-under-statement, crammed with a colorful array of characters that feel somehow familiar, fully flexing the terrific words from Michael Ardt’s fearlessly funny script. Perhaps Alan Arkin took one for the team with his Best Supporting Actor Oscar, representing a prolific cast of performers, including Steve Carell’s sympathetic outcast, Paul Dano’s ticking time-bomb teen, and of course Abigail Breslin’s fruitful little firecracker. Not a spec of dust to found anywhere. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

The Last Supper (Stacy Title)

Running on the notion that murder may well be the best medicine for social extremists, Stacy Title exquisitely executes (pun intended) the story of five grad students who have had just about enough of such assholes who believe Hitler had the right idea or that AIDS is the cure for homosexuality. Title’s movie is blackly comic, and still relevant in it’s vulgar, outlandish characters and their oh-so- strong opinions. Inviting their guests for dinner in what was a light-hearted Sunday evening routine once upon a time, the students allow their victims to spout verbal diarrhea before silencing them for good. We on the other hand are invited to test our own ideas about the mortality of the evil-minded. – – – Robin Write @WriteoutofLA

Give it a couple more days and Part Two will be sue to surface.

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5 thoughts on “100 More Films Made By Women – Part One

  1. Thank you very much. Look out for the next 9 posts then. A really great list this one, given the quality of the female film-makers from the first 100 last year. It's a sheer pleasure writing this stuff, so thank you for reading.

  2. A good and interesting read. Some of these I had never heard of so glad that thus series exists. Looking forward to more.

    P.S. Robin you are a hero.

  3. Some real gems here that I haven't heard of as well, and I'm sure you and the rest of the crew had to go deep in the vault to find, Robin. Which I'm glad you did, the writing has been pretty good too – shouts!

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