March was a pretty crazy month for me. As you may have seen on Twitter, I announced that I left my job at TCM to take a job at Netflix. This meant closing down my apartment in Atlanta and getting set up in LA. It also meant I had a lot of time in my apartment – which led to an increased amount of viewing in March over February’s pitiful number. There were some new releases I had hoped to catch before the month ended that I did not make it to, but there’s always April! As always, after the cut you can see all the films I watched in March, as well as a handful of favorites.
When this movie came out in 2016 it was the final film directed by a woman who was going to receive a wide release. It opened opposite Fantastic Beasts, and as you can imagine it did not do all that well. It didn’t do poorly – grossing $18mil on a $9mil budget is nothing to sneeze at, but it’s also not great for a movie that opened in over 2000 theaters. It was originally scheduled for a September release, but was moved to November (possibly to help its awards chances), which I think hurt its chance to become a sleeper hit (we have so few of those these days). I had a twitter chain about the film go viral, which led to me guesting on the Filmspotting podcast, where I talked about the film, as well as my ever-growing list of films about teenager girls directed by women. (There’s a larger conversation to be had about how the conversation around Ladybird was all on how few films about teenage girls are about women when a) this film had literally been released a year earlier and b) my list is over 200 films as of writing this). I was a big fan of Hailee Steinfeld from her turn in True Grit, so I was really excited that she was finally going to get a big launch film (if only it had pushed her into the stratosphere like Easy A did for Emma Stone!)
Female Filmmaker Friday: Få meg på, for faen! (Turn Me On, Dammit!), 2011 (dir. Jannicke Systad Jacobsen)
I remember when this film was first released in the U.S. It was when I worked at a few art house theaters in San Francisco while I was in grad school. I thought the trailer was charming, but somehow missed the film while it was in theaters. Last year I finally caught up with it thanks to the help of Videodrome here in Atlanta. It did not disappoint.
Last December on TCM Underground we showed two films by “The Queen of Underground Film,” Sarah Jacobson: her 27 minute b&w short film I Was a Teenage Serial Killer and her only feature film, 1998’s Mary Jane’s Not a Virgin Anymore. Both films totally blew my mind. The American Genre Film Archive, aka AGFA, recently put out a new 2K restoration of the films. Right now they are only available as DCP/Blu-ray for theatrical display, but I have been informed a home video release is coming in August.
Laura Terruso’s Fits and Starts was one of my favorite films out of the 2017 SXSW film festival. Unfortunately I don’t believe the film ever got a proper theatrical release, but thankfully if you have Amazon Prime you can stream it with your subscription. It’s a delightful romantic comedy that looks at both the struggles of creativity, balances in relationships, and how sometimes success is all about how your present yourself to others.
Valentine’s Day is coming up and thus many of us are in the mood for something romantic. I combed through Netflix and Amazon Prime to come up with a list of 14 romantic films directed by women that you can enjoy this holiday.
This is another film I first discovered during A Year With Women. It was recommended by several people and at the time was available on Netflix (it’s not streaming there anymore, but it is for rent on Amazon, Google Play, and more online video rental services). Later that year TCM aired it during its inaugural Trailblazing Women In Film celebration. It was scheduled to be added to Spotlight: Women Directors on FilmStruck with an introduction by Alicia Malone, however the service was closed before it got added. Last year, which was the 25th anniversary of its theatrical release (it premiered at the Toronto Film Festival in 1992), the film made the rounds of repertory theaters in the United States and the U.K. I’m hoping it’ll get a nice Blu-ray release sometime in the near future.
When I first heard about this film I was a bit hesitant to watch it, but it was released during A Year With Women and I felt it would be wrong to skip it. The reason for my hesitation was that it is a story about a man with bipolar disorder, and although it is based on the real-life childhood of writer/director Maya Forbes, I was afraid of how the character would be depicted. The last major film to feature a character with bipolar disorder was David O. Russell’s Silver Linings Playbook, and while I thought that Bradley Cooper did an excellent job portraying the disorder I felt like the tone of the film betrayed him. The worst theatrical experience I have ever had was watching that movie and seeing him do such a great job and being surrounded by people laughing at him. I didn’t feel like they were laughing with him. They were laughing at him. Which made me feel as if they were laughing at me as well. Seeing what Cooper did in that film was like watching myself. I have had bipolar disorder half of my life. I felt that Russell’s direction of the film betrayed the great work Cooper did and I was afraid that it would happen again. Thankfully, this was not the case. Not only did Mark Ruffalo do a great job in his portrayal of the disorder, but I felt like Forbes brought much more empathy to the character and in the tone of her film, while imbuing it with equal amounts of humor and pathos.
It’s a new year which means catching up on new releases held over from last year, new new-to-me films, and a whole new year of cinema! As it stands, I watched six holdovers from last year, three new 2019 films, and a handful of films that were new-to-me. I also binge-watched a new favorite television show. As always, you can see everything I watched after the cut, as well as some favorites.