52 Films By Women – April

Signed up in January for Women In Film’s pledge to watch at least one film helmed by a female director per week. You can do so here if you want to take part. 52 Films By Women

I am going to try and see a new film by a female director every week, but I will occasionally revisit films I haven’t seen in a while, or personal favourites. U.S. Go Home and Miss Julie are first time watches. Blue Steel I saw on VHS not long after it came out but haven’t seen it since. Somewhere is a personal favourite and for me one of the best films of the last decade.

13. Blue Steel (1989, Kathryn Bigelow)

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I remember this Jamie Lee Curtis action movie as being a fairly straightforward genre piece but I was wrong. Blue Steel feels like a sister movie to The Hitcher (1986, Robert Harmon), a weird intimate dance of death between a young innocent and an older madman who is at once antagonist and mentor. No surprise to find both films were scripted by Eric Red, who also wrote Bigelow’s vampire movie Near Dark (1987).

14. U.S. Go Home (1994, Claire Denis)

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Remarkable coming of age tale set in the 60s’ from one of the finest directors in world cinema. 15 year old Martine (Alice Houri) and her best friend Marlene (Jessica Theraud) attend a party held by older teenagers but are hampered by her mother’s insistence they take her over-protective big brother Alain (Gregoire Colin). Leaving the party Martine persuades a reluctant US serviceman (Vincent Gallo) to give her a lift home. This could be a scene played for tension, yet he seems lonely and more afraid than her. Originally made for television series called Tous Les Garcons et le Filles de leur Age, it has a languorous feel, nothing much happens and but these small moments have a profound on these youngsters and you get a sense when they meet again in the morning their relationships with each other have changed irrevocably.

15. Somewhere (2010, Sofia Coppola)

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Always a pleasure visiting Sofia Coppola’s lovely mood piece about a feckless movie star (Steven Dorff) reconnecting with his young daughter (Elle Fanning). There’s no plot, just them hanging out at the Chateau Marmont, with a brief trip to Italy for press tour. Written with an insider’s knowledge of growing up in the industry it’s a quietly affecting drama, beautifully directed by Coppola and even better than her most famous film Lost in Translation (2003).

16. Miss Julie (2014, Liv Ullmann) 

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Former actress Liv Ullmann adapts August Strindberg’s play successfully relocating the setting to Northern Ireland. On a Midsummer’s Eve bored aristocrat Julie (Jessica Chastain) makes a pass at John (Colin Farrell), who is at once horrified and filled with desire. The two flirt and bicker through the night, both aware of the class restrictions placed upon them, their hostility and sexual attraction growing as the night goes on until inevitably things end in tragedy. Beautifully shot by Mikhail Krichman it’s far preferable to the Mike Figgis version filmed in 1999 and both Farrell and Chastain are outstanding.

 

 

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