A Year With Women: September 2015 In Films
So September was a bit of a tumultuous month for me. At the beginning of the month I had a wisdom tooth extracted and towards the end of the month I got into a car accident (relatively minor), so between those two things I did not watch a film a day. It was also the end of the Dorothy Arzner retrospective at UCLA, and not only did I get to see two of her films I’d never seen before, I also got to see two of my favorite films in 35mm (Merrily We Go To Hell and The Bride Wore Red). Regardless of the month’s ups and downs, I did watch several films I really loved (and one I really hated). As always, find the complete list after the cut, as well as a few of my favorites.
- Dear Frankie
- But I’m a Cheerleader
- Chutney Popcorn
- The 24 Hour Woman
- Honor Among Lovers
- Bella Martha (Mostly Martha)
- When the Day Breaks
- Que Horas Ela Volta? (The Second Mother)
- I Like It Like That
- Dance, Girl, Dance
- Muffin Top: A Love Story
- In the Cut
- The Namesake
- Half Wet
- The Intern
- Talk to Me
- Rue cases nègres (Sugar Cane Alley)
- Milh Hadha al-Bahr (Salt of This Sea)
In case you’re dying to know what film I hate, it was Muffin Top: A Love Story. Just don’t watch that film. Save yourself. I watched it so you don’t have to! While I did enjoy the two Arzners I watched this month, they didn’t quite make it into my faves for September. I hope someday she gets a boxed set treatment. Unfortunately, due to film elements and the fact that her films are with a couple of different studios, that probably won’t happen any time soon.
Dear Frankie, 2004 (dir. Shona Auerbach)
I normally really hate Gerard Butler, but he was quite charming in this film. It’s about a woman who left her abusive husband and is hiding out in a Scottish sea town with her son and her mother. The problem is she told her son her father was a sailor and the boat she said he was on is about to dock. Enter Butler as a mysterious stranger a friend secured for her to pretend to be his father for a day. Obviously, things get complicated. What really works about this film is its warm and honest tone. The filmmakers love these characters and have a deep respect for the story their telling, and it shines through every frame.
Suffragette, 2015 (dir. Sarah Gavron)
I was fortunate enough to see the second screening of this film (it premiered at Telluride and I saw it at a private event a few days later). It’s a really great, dare I say, really important film. And it’s impeccably made. It opens in a few weeks in the UK and at the end of the month in the US, and you should definitely go see it. Carey Mulligan gives another stunning performance, on par with her Oscar-nominated turn in An Education. This is also one of the most women-friendly productions you’re going to find in 2015: the director, writer and two producers are women, as are most of the cast and other crew members. It’s a great film on its own merits, but it also deserves your support if you’re serious about turning the tides on women in front of and behind the camera in cinema.
Bella Martha (Mostly Martha), 2001 (dir. Sandra Nettelbeck)
I saw the remake of this film, No Reservations, a few years ago and remember really enjoying it, so I was delighted when the original got added to Netflix. While the American version is a slick rom-com, this German rom-com also has a much more serious side. Martha is a chef at a fancy restaurant who has control issues, and finds her life turned upside down when she inherits her niece after her sister dies and her boss hires a new Italian sous-chef. It’s filled with great performances, touching moments and delicious shots of food. Tres bien!
In The Cut, 2003 (dir. Jane Campion)
Campion at her most flawed is better than most directors at the top of their game. So it goes with this neo-noir (that I should have save for Noirvember!) about a teacher who may or may not have seen a murderer right before he killed someone and who begins dating the detective who may or may not be that same murderer. It has a lot to say about sex, attraction, longing, isolation, communication and aging. It’s not a perfect film and sometimes it’s a little cold, but it’s always fascinating.
The Namesake, 2006 (dir. Mira Nair)
This movie made me feel a whole lot of emotions. Spanning several decades, it traces a family, from when the couple meet in India, immigrate to the United States, raise their children, to when their eldest son grapples with his own identity as both Indian and American. It’s just such a lovingly made film, with moving performances from Tabu, Kal Penn and especially Irrfan Khan. I definitely cried several times.
So that was September. I have high hopes for my viewing in October. If you have TCM, be sure to watch their Trailblazing Women programming blocks every Tuesday and Thursday this month. So many great films by women to discover! Also, if you live in LA, you should come to the Heavy Midnites Ladies of the 80s horror fest at the Cinefamily! It’s gonna be a great month.