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FILM: The Fempire Is Not Enough

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For the past few years they have been thought to symbolise a new super-elite. The four women writer/directors Diablo Cody, Dana Fox, Lorene Scafaria and Liz Meriwether, with their self-appointed title of the ‘Fempire’ appeared to represent somewhat of a sea change from Hollywood old-guard. But despite their very prominent and vocal existence, a recent report suggests that these women are something of an anomaly in the film making process.

This year’s ‘Celluloid Ceiling’ study – an annual survey of women in film makes for sobering reading. With just 18% of women occupying top jobs in the top 250 grossing films of 2011, the report is a bleak reflection on the industry. And the stats get worse.

Since 1998 the number of female directors has halved, with 2011 seeing just 5% of women leading the helm of the year’s most commercially successful films. The most successful of those was Jennifer Yuh, the director of King Fu Panda 2 – a film which is as gender neutral as they come.

The study also revealed that women accounted for only a disappointing 14% of writers, 18% of executive producers, 25% of producers and 4% of cinematographers.

For an industry which has always seemed to hold up the libertarianism ideals of freedom and equality, the results are wholly disappointing.

When Kathryn Bigelow’s won the much revered Best Director Oscar in 2009, it seemed to imply that women could, and finally had made a sizable impression in the film making process. But just under three years later, the figures seem to suggest that this simply has not happened. Bigelow’s win seemed like a grand victory when she became the first female to win the award and only the fourth woman nominated in the category in its then 82-year history, but now it seems that a distant memory, a blip, a glitch on the charts that has been largely forgotten.

But these damming statistics regarding women behind the camera are not the most alarming we have seen of late; last year researchers at the University of Southern California’s Annenberg School for Communication & Journalism found that in the top 100 films of 2009 32.8% of 4,342 speaking characters were female and 67.2% were male. This number was identical to 2008’s output. So not only are women poorly represented in the integral roles of the Hollywood machine, they are poorly represented on-screen to cinema going audiences, of which are equally represented 50/50 by men and women.

So what is wrong with the Hollywood system and why are women so poorly represented in all areas? Is it a matter of Hollywood still being predominantly an ‘old boys club’? The fact that the women of the ‘Fempire’ have formed and been so vocal about their alliance perhaps goes some way to reflect that there is a very real divide.

In February 9, the Athena Film Festival in New York will award the ‘Fempire’ a plaudit for their work as women in film. Is it well deserved? Yes. Is it enough? Certainly no.

Written by because140charactersisnotenough

February 3, 2012 at 11:00 am

A Good Week…in music and film

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Last week (January 9-15) turned out to be pretty bloody amazing if you like post hardcore reunions, the eccentric films of Wes Anderson and rumours of your favourite band playing your favourite indoor, Butlins-based festival.

Here are a yet more reasons why 2012 is going to be so special.

‘Shut Up and Play The Hits’

With the trailer looking heartbreakingly wonderful, this documentary from the directors of Blur’s ‘No Distance Left To Run’ follows James Murphy in the 48 hours before and after the band’s last gig. Sure to be emotional, it’s bound to be a highlight of the forthcoming Sundance Film Festival.

 

Wes Anderson’s ‘Moonrise Kingdom’

The ‘King of Quirk’ has returned! Seemingly heavily laden with Rushmore-style, if the trailer is anything to go by, this could be pretty special.

 

At The Drive-In

What? Why is everyone on Twitter retweeting a message from At The Drive-In? What? They have reformed? Cue much squealing from me all of Monday night and contemplating whether I should re-stitch my ATD-I patch back on some jeans.

 

Refused

On Tuesday morning: why is everyone talking about Refused? Oh, wait a minute! The squealing then continues…

 

The National at ATP?

With the rumour mill on overdrive over who will have the honour of the curator of the ‘Nightmare Before Christmas’ bestowed upon them this year, it appears that it could be my favourite band of the last five years, The National. Although maybe not traditional ‘Nightmare’ material, the band wowed crowds when they appeared at the Explosions In The Sky curated event back in 2008 and will undoubtedly do so again.

 

 

Written by because140charactersisnotenough

January 16, 2012 at 11:58 am

Posted in Film, Music, Upcoming

Films of 2011

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Drive

The pink-neon title sequence; the brooding, skull-kicking lead wearing a white satin jacket; the heavily 80s influenced music – so much of Drive shouldn’t work, but it’s  hands-down the film of the year. With the moody night-time glow of the LA cityscape and slow-burning shots of a contemplative Driver all punctured by jump-out-your-seat moments of ultra-violence, it’s a thrilling watch.

 

Julia’s Eyes

After her stunning turn as a grieving mother in The Orphanage, Belen Rueda puts in another solid performance in this Spanish thriller. As she battles failing vision and her world slowly disintegrating around her, she must uncover the truth behind her sister’s apparent suicide. Nicely paced, with a couple of clever twists (although the main one is quite obvious), it shows that yet again the Spanish are masters at the horror/thriller genre.

 

The Girl Who Kicked The Hornets Nest

Although the pace of Hornet’s Nest may be slower than the other two films, it is no less bold and brilliant. As charges against Salander are dropped after a taut court case, her exacting of revenge on her half-brother in a frantic cat-and-mouse game provides a very satisfying conclusion to the Millennium trilogy.

 

Bridesmaids

Despite being touted as the ‘The Female Hangover’, Bridesmaids proved to be more than just one hilarious diarrhoea joke.


Another Earth

Was it a dream? Was there ever ‘Another Earth’? When did ‘Earth II’ become a mirror of Earth? What does the final scene mean? The gloriously haunting Another Earth throws up a multitude of questions (each frustrating) but it is this type of investment that you give to the film, trying to decipher meaning long after the credits have rolled, which proves it to be a very worthy watch.

 

127 Hours

When you consider that a large part of the film involved James Franco essentially immobile in a cave, Danny Boyle pulled off nothing short of a bloody miracle making 127 Hours such a thrilling, if not sometimes a little uncomfortable, watch. The use of Sigur Ros’ ‘Festival’ as Ralston makes his escape is cinematic magic.

 

Animal Kingdom

Jacki Weaver puts in a tour de force as Janine Cody, the seemingly benign (if you forget about her mouth kissing her adult sons) but later chilling matriarch behind an Australian crime family.

 

Blue Valentine

Raw, unflinching and brilliantly played by leads Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling, Blue Valentine is the rarity in cinema. Cleverly stitching lines between those first pangs of infatuation to the drudgery of a decaying and one-sided relationship later down the line, the film is a difficult but original watch.

 

Black Swan

Inception handed their ‘2010 What The Fuck Is Happening Award’ to Black Swan this year. Portman’s frail ballerina, stunted by her over-bearing mother and crippled by paranoia and Kunis’ overtly sexual, mega-minx are both deliciously brilliant in Aronofsky’s acclaimed psychological thriller.

 

Submarine

With Richard Ayoade’s directorial style sitting somewhere between Hal Ashby and Wes Anderson, Submarine is both quirky and expertly presented. More importantly, it goes some way to show that the UK film industry could be more than just ball-achingly terrible Richard Curtis films or maudlin domestic dramas.

 

True Grit

Of course Jeff Bridges’ Rooster Cogburn is largely unintelligible with his heavy cowboy drawl, but the Cohen’s homage to the original is a thoughtfully paced and beautifully shot. And Hailee Steinfeld’s voiceover fits the film perfectly.

 

Still to see which could make the 2011 shortlist –

Shame

The Artist

Tintin

Day In A Life

Senna

The Guard

Never Let Me Go

The Ides of March

Martha Marcy May Marlene

Written by because140charactersisnotenough

January 3, 2012 at 3:44 pm

Upcoming: Young Adult and The Innkeepers

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Young Adult

Directed by Jason Reitman (Thank You For Smoking, Juno, Up In The Air) and written by Diablo Cody (Juno, Jennifer’s Body) the characteristic Cody-penned patois drips from every inch of this trailer.

Not released February in the UK, the US gets to see Theron playing snarky sociopath Mavis Gray next month.

 

The Innkeepers

Directed by Ti West, whose previous credits include the heavily Argento-influenced ‘The House of The Devil’, by trailer alone this looks to be quite a good haunted house story. And, of course, EVERYONE loves a good ghost story.

Despite being heavily played on the film festival circuit this year, UK release dates are yet to be confirmed for this one.

Written by because140charactersisnotenough

November 2, 2011 at 9:36 pm