You still seem to have made the most of living in the Golden Age!
Adriana: I hope my own post on Wertmuller was not seen by you (or anyone) as a put down re your own comments that said: “Do you think of Wertmuller as shooting her films through a man’s viewpoint? Or having a man’s cinematic eye? (Perhaps this comes from her apprentice days with Fellini?)” This was a fair and valid question – which I realized was not you stating a dogmatic position. I hope I anwered in a way to answer your question, and not to be seen as accusing you of having this viewpoint yourself. I also fully agree with you when you say: “As for her portrayal of women, it strikes me that the many male directors who have portrayed men as ‘undignified’ would never have had film critics take issue with it, which is terribly unjust to Wertmuller and any other female director who has the unfair gauntlet of a feminism perspective expected of her.”. This was the gist of my own argument – we seem to have a double standard – even in this very thread – when it comes to judging how women film a subject that would not enter into the discussion were they a man. This is why Wertmuller is such an interesting case in point.
David E. When you say that Wertmuller is a reactionary, or a Fascist (won’t use the other word on this particular thread), I don’t know where this criticism comes from. I don’t know that much about her own political stance, except what came out at about the time of the release and reaction to the two films I discussed. Not disputing you, just don’t know the specifics. In any case, I think it is irrelevant to these two films – which seemed to have more of a Marxist dialectic than a Fascist one.
As for all the bantering back and forth – well, this is the auteurs, and just the auteurs – so let’s all get over it when this thread whines down. I wasn’t going into any of the semantics of the posts, but I was basically endorsing the over-all argument that women must be given the recognition they deserve, and not denigrated just because male-dominated criticism hasn’t caught up with them yet.
In general, I still think we need to give women more time in all fields of the arts, to allow those women of genius to come forth – as they clearly already have in literature or some of the others arts – EmilyCarr, for example – because the opportunities for them have only recently opened up. I have heard the old cliched argument applied to other fields as well: why are there no great female composers, etc. Until women are given equal opportunity in all fields of endeavor, we can’t expect them to compete yet against the whole field of artistic endeavor that has been completely dominated for many centuries by men. Because film is still a young art, women have recently been able to leave their creative mark. Surely, it won’t be long before a woman of genius or two will turn the tables on this whole academic discussion and prove herself the equal to any man. Still, it will mean beating the men at their own game, which is what women are still expected to do. As I have said before, genius is a rare phenomenon. It is not confined to one gender or the other, or any race or nationality. It is an inherently rare permutation. Genius needs to be nourished – like a rare flower – to blossom and grow. If we nourish the few women in film today, and don’t stereotype or denigrate those already in this area, this discussion will all seem very silly several years hence when we have some clear examples of women of genius in film – the equal of any man. Then we won’t be asking ourselves the question: where are the great ones?
Justin- Im sorry to hear that you also had the misfortune of sitting through the 2002 version… After seeing the original Swept Away, I was overcome with curiosity and watched the Guy Ritchie version. I couldn’t believe just how wrong they got it- what’s the point in remaking something if you don’t understand the complexity and richness of the original? What Wertmuller did is took a desert island fable and made it politically and socially relevant. Ritchie took that fable, removed all context from it, and made it into a shitty romance movie with lots of extraneous sequences (ie the tango scene? argh) to try and liven it up.
Also, possibly the two worst performances I have seen on screen. Just talking about it makes me angry… especially since when one mentions Swept Away to most people, that’s the movie they think of. Damn it all.
Bob- thanks for clarifying. I was actually clearing up a slight miscommunication with Justin re: female directors and a “man’s viewpoint”- I know you understood it as posing a question (I also understand how it could have been misinterpreted). I appreciated your response; it’s great to be able to talk Wertmuller, she really isn’t visited enough these days- thanks.
what if we talk about women directors? :-)
Doris Dorrie (Germany) is a great director who should be mentioned in this thread. Nobody loves me (Keiner liebt mich) is a great movie, the next one, much-publicized Am I beautiful (¿Bin ich schön?) is not as good, but afterwards at Enlightment guaranteed (Erleuchtung garantiert) achieved a very good movie again.
Agnes Jaoui (France) also deserves to be mentioned, Like an image (Comme une image) is a great, subtle film.
Mira Nair (India) on the other hand was kind of a dissapointment to me.
@Ricardo Bravo: Is “Nobody Loves Me” the film that starts with two policemen in a helicopter laughing at the city below?
What "Marxist dialectic? She makes glib reference to the left through Giannini’s character who is a smug caricature of a working class amn. The entire film is about how , if given the chance, he’d treat a rich woman the same shitty way she treats him — and she loves it.
YOU CALL THAT A MARXIST DIALECTIC????!!!!!!!!!!
>What if a masculine orientation is inherently better suited to certain activities and art forms, and what if cinema is one of those?
…shades of Lawrence Summers in 2005…
No – the idea is asinine. The notion appeals, always, to that part of some people who chafe at the constraints of “political correctness”; but it’s sexual/gender essentialism, and it’s nonsense, a few centuries out-of-date. The film industry isn’t organized in the form of a meritocracy, and that is why it releases so much shit; and the dominance of men in this mostly-shitty industry – just one industry among all the others, nothing special – is not a referendum on essential gender differences. There isn’t a representative amount of female and minority employees at the professional level where I work, for instance. Wouldn’t it be crazy or naive for me to extrapolate from that, to look past all gross social phenomena involved, to imagine a physical substrate to explain this?
I’m also leery of Mulvey’s “male gaze” stuff—it’s only more essentialism, a Theory mess of pottage seasoned with bits of soft-science.
I didn’t like Swept Away at all, and i think its role reversal is reactionary gender-wise. Maybe interesting in comparison with Oshima’s later Ai no Corrida? Not to Oshima’s disadvantage. Or The Servant, ditto Losey. She may have been interested in portraying the working classes but that doesn’t make a genuine Marxist. She was apaprently rebellious in her youth, coming from a rich family, but was her commitment genuine or self-seeking? Her titles seem to be about attention-seeking rather than any clear enlightened motive: “Un fatto di sangue nel comune di Siculiana fra due uomini per causa di una vedova. Si sospettano moventi politici. Amore-Morte-Shimmy. Lugano belle. Tarantelle. Tarallucci e vino”. What’s her reasoning? I’d need to check out more of her films and opinions, but i have low expectations, and- shock, horror!- the Fellini connection doesn’t excite me either.
You are all overcomplicating Swept Away. It’s about the macho premise that the only thing a male prole has which makes him the equal of a rich person is his big hard working class cock. Wertmuller has never met a political issue she can’t happily reduce to a sex scene. The fact that the woman comes to “like it” is partly a function of stripping bourgeois society back to caveman days, and partly an existential statement that we have overcivilized ourselves beyond the simple joys of fucking.
An INFINITELY better, warmer, more two-sided and human film about this same subject is Overboard (1987) with Goldie Hawn, Kurt Russell, and Roddy McDowall.
Well, the stripping away of overcivilised Bourgeois society seems straightforward enough but the gender power relationship is likely to be read (or misread) as more reactionary, even if it’s intended to make another point
ha! I like Overboard, and Goldie Hawn much more than usual. except the final section was a bit of a let down. Seems quite a few films in the 80s (Working Girl another) that like to be seen siding against snobbery and with the working class down-to-earth types, end up promoting the whole idea that the dream ticket is still having lots more money; hardly very radical.
That’s true Kenji, but I think the missing ingredient is true love. True love + beaucoup bucks = happiness. In the 80s we believed anything.
Yeah, it’s just that i thought Russell and Hawn were already happy enough and it was warm and amusing without the yacht and trappings. Well, i wouldn’t turn my nose up at the true love + beaucoup bucks i must admit.
Good female directors and their movies… (would any be a top 100 director of all-time?…Akerman, Varda, Campion?)
Arzner, Dorothy (1897-1979) American—Craig’s Wife
Reiniger, Lotte (1899-1981) German—Adventures of Prince Achmed
Riefenstahl, Leni (1902-2003) German—Olympia, Triumph of the Will
Lupino, Ida (1914-1995) English—Hitch-Hiker
Duras, Marguerite (1914-1996) French—India Song
Deren, Maya (1917-1961) Russian—Meshes of the Afternoon
Wertmuller, Lina (1926- ) Italian— Seven Beauties
Varda, Agnes (1928- ) Belgian—Cleo from 5 to 7, Vagabond, Gleaners and I
Chytilova, Vera (1929- ) Czech—Daisies
Meszaros, Marta (1931- ) Hungarian—Adoption
Amaral, Suzana (1932- ) German—Hour of the Star
Cavani, Liliana (1933- ) Italian—Night Porter
Huillet, Daniele (w/ Jean-Marie Straub) (1936-2006) French—The Chronicle of Anna Magdalena Bach
Shepitko, Larisa (1938-1979) Russian—Ascent, Wings
von Trotta, Margarethe (1942- ) German—The Lost Honor of Katharina Blum, Marianne and Juliane
Kopple, Barbara (1946- ) American—Harlan County USA
Breillat, Catherine (1948- ) French—A ma soeur! (01)
Gorris, Marleen (1948- ) Dutch—Antonia’s Line
Denis, Claire (1948- ) French—Beau Travail, Intruder
Holland, Agnieszka (1948- ) Polish—Oliver, Oliver (91)
Potter, Sally (1949- ) English—Orlando
Armstrong, Gillian (1950- ) Australian—My Brilliant Career, Oscar and Lucinda
Akerman, Chantal (1950- ) Belgian—Jeanne Dielman 23 Quai du Commcerce…, News From Home
Trinh, T. Minhy-ha (1953- ) American—Reassemblage
Campion, Jane (1954- ) New Zealand—Piano, An Angel at My Table
Palcy, Euzhan (1958- ) French—Sugar Cane Alley
Coixet, Isabel (1960- ) Spanish—-My Life Without Me
Link, Caroline (1964- ) German—Nowhere in Africa
Pierce, Kimberly (1967- ) American—Boy’s Don’t Cry
Ramsay, Lynne (1969- ) English— Ratcatcher
Coppola, Sophia (1971- ) American—Lost in Translation
Makhmalbaf, Samira (1977- ) Iranian—The Apple, Blackboards
Polley, Sarah (1979- ) American —Away From Her
One that I love’d is Liliana Cavani, she made great, beauty and controverse films like The Night Porter, maybe the most famous, but she had another and most good films like the master pice Il Cannibali or Beyond Good And Evil, about Nietzsche
I don’t know how I feel about Caviani. Provocative, yes, but oddly with a lack of sensuality. The Night Porter stumbles over the fact that beautiful Charlotte Rampling would be slavishly obsessed with effete Dirk Bogarde.
Just had to add this…
Dirk Bogarde is one of the most beautiful and seductive actors that has ever appeared on screen imo. I couldn’t care less of he’s gay or appears “effete” to some people.
I understand Charlotte’s obsession perfectly and think Caviani’s use of him was brilliant in the film.
Well, my opinion of Varda has improved from seeing 2 of her films today: the short film l’Opéra Mouffe (1958), a typically light look at Parisian street life, sexy romance, people, contours, textures and again as in Pointe Courte i can see something of Resnais’ Hiroshima mon amour, and Le Bonheur (1965) in which a happily married young man with loving wife and 2 small children falls for another pretty blonde. This is shot in pastel colours, full of pretty flowers and meadows and summery sensuality, it’s hard not to see Rohmer’s light summery touch and use of colours, and interest in moral temptations influenced by it too. Was Varda more central to the New Wave, and at different stages, than generally thought? In any event they bounced off each other quite a bit.
These 2 films have reinforced my feeling that women directors may be more comfortable with sex in their films than are men, but i could be making too much of this
There’s a lot of natural everyday work routine and family life in Le Bonheur and as Varda was from Brussels i wonder if it also influenced Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman
Kira Muratova is wonderful…the Penny Marshall of Russia
I also enjoy the music videos of Sophie Mueller. They reek of decadence. I’m sure she’ll move on to features at some point.
Don’t know if they’ve been mentioned yet, so I’ll list a few more:
Paula Delsol – La dérive (1964)
Angela Schanelec – Marseille (2004)
Elfi Mikesch – Verrückt bleiben – verliebt bleiben (1997)
Giovanna Gagliardo – Maternale (1978)
Teresa Villaverde – A Idade Maior (1991)
Hmm, this talk about Women directors not being as great as the best male ones is completely subjective. So I’ll start on a more personal note. From the films I’ve seen, I prefer Marta Meszaros to Orson Welles, Angela Schanelec to Ingmar Bergman, and Agnes Varda to Francois Truffaut. Honestly. And I’d take Vera Chytilova or Catherine Breillat any day over Fellini or Scorsese. Not that I don’t think thosemen have put out some brilliant films, but overall from what I’ve seen of their work, I prefer these 5 female directors to the 5 male direcors I listed (who are also frequently listed in many Top 10s for best director ever – that’s partly why I chose them).
Obviously, we are only beginning to plumb the depths of the many creative female filmmakers on this thread. For example, looking at the above list by Keith B., I find several significant names we haven’t really gone into on this thread. For example, Agniezska Holland did an excellent film called Europa, Europa about a Jewish boy who tries to concela his identity from his Nazi classmates. A neglected, but powerful film in the line of Malle’s Au Revoir, les Enfants. Margarethe von Trotta is another with a couple of significant films like Rosa Luxemburg and Marianne & Juliane – both of which I have yet to see except in short excerpts, but intend to see. Talking about these filmmakers shows there is a wealth of female talent out there – many who are just beginning to come to light. Thanks Sano for making clear where your own loyallties lie.
David E. Sorry to respond so late, but just re-visitng this thread after it cropped up again. You may well be completely right about Swept Away. I was very uncomfortable about a lot of the film, too, and it has been many years since I have seen it. So, point taken. I did think when I saw it that Seven Beauties was a powerful, although extremely bleak, work. I am not a huge fan of Wertmuller personally, but I do think she is an example of a female director who is significant in world cinema. But there are many other examples, too.
What?!?! No great female directors? Have you ever heard of Chantal Akerman? Agnes Varda? And those are only the well-known ones…
Early reviews are saying Kathryn Bigelow’s new film The Hurt Locker might be an Oscar contender. This, from the woman who directed K19: The Widowmaker.
Take that, James Cameron!
“I prefer these 5 female directors to the 5 male direcors I listed (who are also frequently listed in many Top 10s for best director ever – that’s partly why I chose them).”
I thought the lack of female directors top 100 lists was the reason why people began this discussion. I’ve never seen an all-time director list with a female in the top 20, let alone the top 10. Hell, I’ve only seen Akerman, Varda, Riefenstahl, and Campion in top 100 lists.
I think Argentina’s Lucretia Martel is making a pretty showing. Critics seem to love all three of the films she’s made thus far.
Bump. This was a fun one.
“LETS TALK FRANKLY ABOUT FEMALE DIRECTORS”
a pity the OP decided to cancel/remove her account but (sorry,it’s the truth) the question itself doesn’t make sense…
alright,let’s talk frankly about female directors as-if-they’re-different-from-male-directors-because-of-their-sex-difference-which-in-other-words-we-have-two-kinds-of-cinema and the whole question is pointless from the beginning……..
Reviving this thread as it does contain some good general discussion on the merits of several female directors. The OP wonders why there are not women as auteurs in film to ‘match’ in terms of recognition some of the high profile men. The thread seems to ask: where are the female Kubricks, Bergmans, Tarkovskys, etc.
As many posters point out, this is perhaps an entirely baseless comparison, as each truly great director is unique. The same applies to many very talented female directors, too. I have lately been watching more films by female directors including Claire Denis, Akerman, Varda, and Lucile Hadzihalilovic’s Innocence.
These certainly are women with a unique cinematic style and creative voice.
If anyone cares to read and contemplate the topic from the thread’s OP, is it now clear that although female auteurs are a rather beleagured minority (just as are truly gifted male auteurs), is there any point to any distinction between the quality of the best female directors and the best male directors? Surely such comparisons are false ones. Although female directors are much smaller in number than their male counterparts – which is a whole separate issue somewhat addressed in the thread – it doesn’t mean that the gifted female directors out there are not equally worthy of our respect than their erstwhile male counterparts – however big the name.
I bring this up as we are still getting threads about female directors, where lists of them are made, but we get little discussion of their films or overall careers relative to the hundreds of threads on their male counterparts from Hitchcock to Tarantino. Do we need more love on the auteurs for the female auteurs, too? What do you think?
Yeah, you can see where the OP went wrong – she should have titled this thread:
LETS TALK FRANCINELY ABOUT FEMALE DIRECTORS