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.
Joyce Chopra’s Smooth Talk first came on my radar when I was doing A Year With Women, but I couldn’t find it for rent anywhere online so I didn’t watch it that year. Last year I found it at Videodrome here in Atlanta and I finally got to give it a go. I’m not sure what I expected, but this film was not like anything I’d seen before. It’s a masterful adult fairytale about the confusion of teengirldom and the darkness that can lurk in men. On the surface the film’s plot could sound like it is anti-sex, but that’s distinctly not the case. The film is based on Joyce Carol Oates’s 1966 short story “Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?”, which itself was inspired by a real life serial killer Charles Schmid, known as The Pied Piper of Tucson because he targeted teenage girls. There will be some spoilers after the cut.
I decided for the month of January I’m going to stay in the 1980s for Female Filmmaker Friday, and since this film will be airing on TCM next Monday (1/21/19), I thought now would be the perfect time to look at Kathleen Collins’s groundbreaking independent feature Losing Ground. You can buy this film on DVD or Blu-ray (and I recommend purchasing directly from Milestone Film’s site so you can support their amazing work), which includes a bunch of special features, including her first film The Cruz Brothers and Miss Malloy (which I still need to see!). I first saw Losing Ground in 2015 during A Year With Women when it was aired as part of TCM’s inaugural Trailblazing Women spotlight. It has since become one of my favorite films.
For this week’s Female Filmmaker Friday I’ve chosen a film I first saw on TCM during A Year With Women, and that I have subsequently re-watched many, many times: Joan Micklin Silver’s Crossing Delancey. The film is based on a play by Susan Sandler, who also wrote the screenplay. Much like Susan Seidelman’s Desperately Seeking Susan, this film captures an era and place in New York City that no longer exists. Featuring a score by the Roches, much of the film takes place in the Lower East Side. This article does a great job of breaking down the changes that have happened in the last thirty years to that neighborhood. There be spoilers after the cut.
In 2014, I launched a series called Female Filmmaker Friday, where I wrote about a film directed by a woman almost every Friday for almost the entire year. This in part inspired my A Year With Women project where I only watched films directed or co-directed by women for the entirety of 2015. In 2016, Female Filmmaker Friday made a brief comeback as a podcast, though that was also short-lived. Finally, I am excited to announce that I will be bringing Female Filmmaker Friday back as a regular feature on this blog. For its auspicious return I have chosen one of my all-time favorites, one that has become far more readily available in the last few years: Donna Deitch’s Desert Hearts.
To help people with their 52 Films By Women challenge this year I thought I’d put together a list of some of my favorite films directed by women that are easily accessible on Netflix and Amazon Prime. Keep in mind that this is in no way all of the films directed by women available on these services, but rather a selection of films I have seen and enjoy. There are also many more films available to rent on Amazon Video as well. Think of this as a jumping off point! Also if you have not taken the 52 Films By Women pledge yet you can do so here.
2018 was quite a year for me. I travelled a lot for work. I watched a lot of films in festivals. I had some of my lowest film watching months and some of my highest. I got into a bunch of television shows. I met one of my favorite directors of all time (Gillian Armstrong!). I broke down a lot of my 2018 cinematic shenanigans on my 9th blog anniversary post here, you can see my monthly breakdowns here, my Favorite Fifteen Films of 2018 here, and I even broke down my favorite new discoveries here over on Rupert Pupkin Speaks. What does that leave??? After the cut I have all of the films I saw in 2018, plus a breakdown of the films directed by women that I saw for the first time this year.
In 2017 I saw 72 new releases, which I believe was a record number for me. This year I saw 117! I attribute this to several of this year’s new releases being Netflix films (so convenient, if not ideal) and MoviePass. Yes, MoviePass. I saw a few things I may have skipped in previous years because of MoviePass. For awhile I could watch one film a day via MoviePass and then see a second one that I paid for. This led to a lot more double features at the Midtown Art Cinema than in pervious years. Also last year I saw 32 new releases that were directed by women. This year I saw 59 new release films directed by women (170 in total, but I’ll write more about that in tomorrow’s end of the year post), which is half of the new release films I saw this year. I plan to at least keep up that ratio next year, if not do better. You can see all the new release (and festival) films I watched in 2018 and how I ranked them here. After the cut you’ll find my Favorite Fifteen Films, and as always I remind you that this is subjective and in no way should be considered a “best” list.
After last month’s intense Farewell FilmStruck binge, I got a little burned out and so I did not watch as many films this month as I usually do. I did, however, use the month to catch up on a bunch of 2018 releases, both in theaters and rentals. As always, after the cut you can see the films I watched this month plus a few highlighted favorites.