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.
I can’t believe it’s been nearly a decade of writing on this blog! Earlier this year I hit my ten year anniversaries on Tumblr and Twitter, both of which I started using before longform blogging in ernest. Although this blog is mostly updated monthly now (though I have plans to change that in 2019), I update my YouTube channel with reviews almost daily (that may change in 2019 as well). I thought for this blog anniversary I would do a breakdown of some of my film-going shenanigans from 2018.
As many of you are aware, at the end of October it was announced that FilmStruck was shuttering on November 29th. Thankfully, I still am at TCM (though there were some layoffs). The end of October saw the beginning of my scramble to watch as many films from my queue as possible. This also led to me discovering things that weren’t on my queue but that I desperately had to watch before it was too late. All and all, in the last few days of October and into November I watched 228 shorts and features on the service before it shuttered (plus a handful of films in theaters in November). After the cut you can see everything I watched last month (most of which was on FilmStruck – including almost all of my Noirvember selections). It was a thrilling few weeks and I discovered a lot of things that I had taken for granted. Criterion will be launching The Criterion Channel (which had previous found its home within the FilmStruck service) next year, which I am very grateful for, but I will forever miss my time working on FilmStruck. I’m honored to have been a part of its legacy.