Sunday, September 10, 2006

New releases by lady-filmmakers

Here are some new release blurbs occasional contributor Cathy DLC recently wrote:

FRIENDS WITH MONEY is another interesting film by Nicole Holofcener. Holofcener's films often get disregarded as "chick flicks" because of their mostly all-women casts and storylines centered around women's lives; this is unfair because Holofcener's films are for everyone. Rarely do I see cinematic portraits of people done in a way that is both unflatteringly realistic and yet completely respectful to the complexities of people's lifestyles and emotions. FRIENDS WITH MONEY is a film I regret not seeing on the big screen when it first came out as I would have liked to have told my friends to go out and see it so we could discuss it afterwards. (Now on DVD.)

The first time I tried to see LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE, it was sold out. Luckily, I arrived early during my second attempt to see the heartwarming and surprisingly superb film. I expected the film was just going to be another quirky buzzworthy-but-forgetful indie film, but fortunately I was very wrong. LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE was a million times better than I expected. I actually laughed and cried repeatedly. It is rare that I see a new film in the theater that warrants such emotions from people, but the friend who I saw the film with was crying too and the amazing thing is they were tears of joy. I can't think of many films that get that kind of reaction these days. Definitely the surprise feel good film of the summer.

THE QUIET by Jamie Babbit might have started a new genre, the Riot Grrrl Film Noir. I expected the film to be an exploitational B-movie-esque romp through its very serious themes of incest, drug abuse, and physical disability with no odes to its predecessor, Babbit's wonderful BUT I'M A CHEERLEADER, but the movie was surprisingly adept at playing out its own schemes. Babbit did excellent casting with the Hal Hartley team of Martin Donovan and Edie Falco as the misguided parents to their daughters played by Elisha Cuthbert and Camilla Belle who's characters change their on-screen personalities at the drop of a hat, as if Babbit's directing is so effortless she is just flipping a switch. I would lump this film with cult classics TIMES SQUARE and DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN since both those films are about girls who normally wouldn't find refuge in one another but due to circumstances beyond their control, find escape through one another. Be forewarned, THE QUIET is a lot darker than the films I have just named, but maybe that is just a sign of the times.

And on that note: Heidi Ewing's and Rachel Grady's film The Boys of Baraka will be airing this Tuesday as part of the PBS series POV. The film-makers are interviewed here.


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