Friday, 13 January 2017

Films Made by Women: Juno, written by Diablo Cody

Juno, written by Diablo Cody, sees a teenage girl fall pregnant and decide to give the baby up for adoption rather than have an abortion. With the support of her friends and family, she navigates the challenges of pregnancy and the impending knowledge that she will be giving up her child.

The film quickly became a cult classic and it's easy to see why. With a witty script, brilliant music and a plot that remained light and adorable whilst not overlooking the repercussions of teenage pregnancy, Juno was a fun and sweet delight with a quirky mix of comedy and sincerity.

The fantastic cast includes Ellen Page, Allison Janney, Michael Cera and J. K. Simmons.


See also: the brilliant 'Tallulah' (which can be found on Netflix). Tallulah reunites actresses Ellen Page and Allison Janney and is written and directed by Sian Heder.

Monday, 9 January 2017

Films Made by Women: Point Break, directed by Kathryn Bigelow

A favourite for many film-fans of my generation, Point Break was one of those films I adored as a teenager (because, hello Patrick Swayze and Keanu Reeves!) and then grew to love even more as I got older and appreciated it for the genius it really is.

That this very testosterone-fuelled film is directed by a woman only makes it all the more brilliant, because it's bold and unapologetic and doesn't fit into any kind of pre-conceived notion of what a film directed by a woman is supposed to look like.

A story of bank robbery and surfing, Point Break is fun, intense, silly and dark. It's beautifully shot: there is some stunning hand-held camera work for an intimate, on-foot chase scene alongside but also equally impressive skydives and surfing sequences. (Swayze does one of the jumps on camera himself!)

Reeves and Swayze are a phenomenal pairing on screen, their performances enhanced by the support of Gary Busey, Lori Petty and the rest of the ex-presidents, and the pace never lulls, blending humour with drama and tension.

Unlike so many action films of recent years, this film blends the action flawlessly with great characterisation, a plot filled with twists and turns (and some quality one-liners!) and the captivating vision of this very talented director.

And there's just enough time left over to throw in a hint of cheese.



See also: The Hurt Locker, Zero Dark Thirty (also directed by Bigelow)

Films Made by Women: In a World... by Lake Bell

What better way to kick off the Films Made by Women challenge than with a film written and directed by one who also stars in it!

Lake Bell has the mind behind this delightful look into the world of voiceover work and that iconic trailer intro we all know and love: 'In a world...'

In In A World (2013), Bell plays Carol, the daughter of one of the most celebrated voiceover artists in the business who is trying to break into the industry herself. But far from encouraging her to follow in his footsteps, her father is determined that this is a man's world, a man's industry and he won't have some silly woman coming in and ruining it, least of all his own daughter.

There are silly antics along the way, with great one-liners and comedic timing, yet this film is about so much more than silliness. Carol is hard-working, always studying the accents of the people around her and working on improving her own skills, yet she is immediately dismissed by so many people simply for her gender. And when she finally does start to get some success, well . . . you'll just have to watch it and see for yourself. 

A funny, self-deprecating film about both living in the shadow of someone who doesn't want to give up the limelight and owning your own voice, In A World is a real treat!


See also: Man Up (written by Tess Morris and starring Lake Bell and Simon Pegg)

Films Made by Women: A Challenge for 2017 (and beyond...)

This is hardly a new thing (see #52FilmsByWomen) but I have set myself a goal to make a conscious effort to see more films either directed or written by women in 2017.

While I have thoroughly enjoyed numerous films by male writers and directors, the balance is still off. Of the films I saw at London Film Festival last year, some real standouts were made by women: Amma Asante's A United Kingdom, Mira Nair's Queen of Katwe and Lone Scherfig's Their Finest (written by Gaby Chiappe). Yet, their wider releases (if they were fortunate enough to get one!) came and went without much discussion.
So my plan is to watch and discuss them, plain and simple . . . and if I can't find any at the cinema then I have some DVDs to go through (see the photo!) and some options on Netflix.
My current Netflix list (UK) includes:
  • 13th
  • The Reluctant Fundamentalist
  • Take This Waltz
  • Coin Heist
If you feel like joining in or have any suggestions then feel free to tweet me at @filmvsbook.