February came and went so fast I feel like I have whiplash and I fear the bulk of 2021 will follow suit. Thankfully, there’ll always be movies to distract from the abyss that is time. Along with watching far too many films in February, I also started a column at Moviefone called Female Filmmaker In Focus which you can read here and I wrote about the movie parallels in the videos for The Weeknd’s After Hours which you can read here. As always, you can see everything I watched plus a breakdown by decade after the cut.
2017 was quite the film (and TV!) watching year for me. I got really obsessed with a lot of things and I watched more films this year than I have in a few years. After the cut you can see all 628 new-to-me films I watched (and you can read my monthly breakdowns here). This year was filled with a lot highlights both in terms of what I watched, but also places I visited and people I met. Here’s hoping 2018 will be even better!
Julie: When I looked up suddenly… there were people walking in the street. I spilled all the sugar on the letters on the floor… and lay down again… and waited. I waited some more for it to pass or for something to happen – for me to believe in God or for you to send gloves for the cold.
Heinrich: Is something wrong?
Anna: We don’t love each other.
Heinrich: I feel like I’ve known you forever.
Anna: But that’s not true.
Ariane: I’m washing all over. I wouldn’t want my odors to bother you.
Simon: They don’t, on the contrary. On the contrary. On the contrary.
Ariane: On the contrary?
Simon: Yes. Especially those sweet changing odors between the legs.
Ariane: I’m afraid at times I smell too strong.
Simon: On the contrary. When you perspire ever so slightly, that moistness…
Ariane: You like that? I sometimes feel I smell so strong that it even bothers me and I want to clasp my legs together.
Simon: No, those are the best moments. Your vagina is so beautiful when moist. Yesterday, as you slept on my bed your peignoir came undone. . .and I looked at you. And I…parted your legs ever so slightly and looked at your beautiful vagina. Do you mind?
Ariane: Not at all. Do as you like.
Simon: And I breathed of it, so warm and tender.
Simon: Yes, my Ariane. If it weren’t for my allergy and all the pollen you bring in I almost wish you’d never wash.
Simon: Not so often.
Lately I’ve become more and more frustrated with the various “best ever” lists that have been released because they rarely feature films by women, or if they do it’s usually one or two films. I think this is more a reflection of those who are polled for these kinds of lists, as well as a compounding of history on itself. For so long films by men have made up the bulk of the film canon and I think people are afraid to add new films to these revered lists. I also think many people haven’t seen very many films by women, or if they have it’s always the same handful of films. In an attempt to create a better, more inclusive list of great films by women, I polled over 500 critics, filmmakers, bloggers, historians, professors and casual film viewers, asking them to tell me what films directed (or co-directed) by women are essential viewing. Some people only responded with as little as five votes, others submitted hundreds of films. In the end, I received over 7,000 votes for 1,100+ different films. After tallying up this data, with ties factored in, I then had a list of 103 essential films directed by women.
Although I was gone for almost a whole week for San Diego Comic-Con (my third year in a row for work!), I managed to watch more new-to-me films in July than I have any other month this year. Most of those films, however, were short films (I will always go to bat for short films). I watched the films in the Twilight Storytellers competition (several of them were better than the films in the actual Twilight Saga film series), as well as all the films in Miu Miu’s Women’s Tales series. Both are available to watch for free online and both are well worth your time! That said, I also watched several films that have had a very large impact on cinema’s history, so I think the month balanced out. As always, the full list of what I watched is after the cut, as well as a few favorites.
Movie Quote of the Day – Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, 1975 (dir. Chantal Akerman)
Jeanne: You’re always reading, just like your father.
Sylvain: I know. You already told me. How did you meet my father?
Jeanne: Why do you ask that now?
Sylvain: I just read the word, “miracle,” and Aunt Fernande always said it was a miracle she met Jack.
Jeanne: Yes, he came in ’44 to liberate us. They tossed chewing gum and chocolates at us, and we threw flowers to them. I met your father after the Americans had left. I was living with my aunts, because my parents were dead. I went to the Bois de la Cambre with a girlfriend one Saturday. I don’t remember the weather. She knew him. You know who I mean. I’ve shown you her picture. So we began seeing each other. I was working as a billing clerk for horrible pay. Life with my aunts was dull. I didn’t feel like getting married, but it seemed to be “the thing to do,” as they say. My aunts kept saying, “He’s nice. He’s got money. He’ll make you happy.” But I still couldn’t decide. But I really wanted a life of my own, and a child. Then his business suddenly hit the rocks, so I married him. Things like that happened after the war. My aunts had changed their minds. They said a pretty girl like me could do better and find a man who’d give me a good life. They said he was ugly and so on, but I didn’t listen.
Sylvain: If he was ugly, did you want to make love with him?
Jeanne: Ugly or not, it wasn’t all that important. Besides, “making love,” as you call it, is merely a detail. And I had you. And he wasn’t as ugly as all that.
Sylvain: Would you want to remarry?
Jeanne: No. Get used to someone else?
Sylvain: I mean someone you love.
Jeanne: Oh, you know. . .
Sylvain: Well, if I were a woman, I could never make love with someone I wasn’t deeply in love with.
Jeanne: How could you know? You’re not a woman.
Last summer I bought Chantal Akerman in the 1970s from Criterion and I’ve been slowly watching my way through it. La Chambre, Hôtel Monterey and News From Home (which I will also write about soon), are all very interesting films, that I believe lie somewhere between “documentary” and “experimental.” They were all made while Akerman was living in NYC “like a vagabond” – her words. She was 21 and interested in art and life and from these films we see just what aspects of life intrigued her at the time.
Forgive me for posting this a day late. Somehow I totally forgot it was February until I realized today is Groundhog Day and I still haven’t watched Groundhog Day. Needless to say, I will be watching Groundhog Day soon. This month’s round up will be pretty brief. I’ve been trying to watch more movies directed by ladies and I’ve done a pretty stellar job of it (though I could be watching more!) and I’ve started a new feature called Female Filmmaker Friday that I hope you all enjoy. As always, after the cut you can read what I’ve been watching, as well as a few featured films.