52 Films By Women – October 2016


#52FilmsByWomen

Oh my. It’s only the 6th of the month as I write this. I have to in order to keep up with my film watching. I’ve already seen six films by women in the past six days, so to prevent having a massive backlog at the end of the month I think I need to start writing already. I reached 52 films last month and set out to get 52 individual directors this month. Well that didn’t take very long did it. So now what? So far I’ve covered 18 countries and 35 release years (including the six mentioned here so far) I doubt I can get either of those stats to 52.

Watched Recently

Ending the month with 13 new films I’m glad I got half of them out of the way early on. Most of the new ones were US films, so not much progress was made in the country department. I only managed to add one new year to the list (1998, I think). There is still so much to watch though, so lets see where we’re at in a month’s time. I’m kind of hoping it won’t be at another 13-film post, because it takes forever to write and review 3418 words and find images for all of this stuff, heh.

Prior posts

Watched

I’ve consolidated every film I have readily available into a little (private) list. The next two months I will probably try to work my way through that list. If there’s anything I should really try to watch, let me know.

 

Me and You and Everyone We Know CoverOriginal title: Me and You and Everyone We Know
Rating: 7.2/10
Year: 2005
Directors: Miranda July
Duration: 91 min.
Genre: Comedy, Drama

I’m not sure if I’ve ever enjoyed a film I did not really understand as much as this one. I have no clue what the point of this was, but I found it strangely compelling. Everyone in this film is weird. Really really weird. They act weird, do weird things.. It made no sense, yet it was fun and interesting trying to figure out what the director wanted to tell. I never found out, but that doesn’t make it a bad film. I guess I’ll have to rewatch this to figure out what I was missing this time around. In the meanwhile I’m not sure what to say about it other than that it’s worth your time. Although I do hope you’ll have more luck than me in deciphering this strange little film.

 

The Babadook CoverOriginal title: The Babadook
Rating: 7.4/10
Year: 2014
Directors: Jennifer Kent
Duration: 93 min.
Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy

It’s October, and to a lot of people that means Horror month. We don’t really do Halloween over here, but I’ve been saving up a few horror films directed by women anyway. This is the first one I watched. In The Babadook a single mom and her annoying son end up reading a bedtime story about The Babadook, some creepy figure with a black hat. “You can’t get rid of the Babadook.”. The mother hasn’t been able to deal with the loss of her husband, and her son believes there are monsters in his closet. I thought this low budget film – it was partially Kickstarter funded – was terrific. The low budget showed only slightly in the sometimes strange sound effects, but overall this was such a wonderful film. The atmosphere was genuinely creepy without overusing jump scares. I really liked Essie Davis as the mother. A bad book about the Babadook is awesome and would be a film prop I’d love to have if I could. Go watch this!

BABA DOOK-DOOK-DOOK!

 

 

Grbavica CoverOriginal title: Grbavica
Rating: 6.9/10
Year: 2006
Directors: Jasmila Zbanic
Duration: 95 min.
Genres: Drama

From a Babadook haunted family of two to the Balkan where another single mother (Esma) is trying to raise her daughter (Sara) in the post-war city of Sarajevo. Father died in the war, but he is sorely missed. Sara is in the teenage rebellion phase and Esma is working crazy hours to support them both. Similarly to the previous film there is a lot of unprocessed grief over the loss of the husband. I would recommend not watching trailers or looking up too much about this film. The (or a) English title is a little revealing and it’s probably much more rewarding to figure out things as you watch this film. Another wonderful film and a +1 for a film from Bosnia. I don’t watch too many of those. Heh, it might be the only one I’ve ever seen, but I’ll recommend it to people who enjoy a solid family drama.

 

Jupiter Ascending CoverOriginal title: Jupiter Ascending
Rating: 2.4/10
Year: 2015
Directors: Lilly & Lana Wachowski
Duration: 127 min.
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi

This film and The Invitation (later, 6th) are both films I really disliked. I’ve been trying to rationalise why I give this one a 2.4 and the other one a 4.3, while I’d probably rather watch Jupiter Ascending again if I had to rewatch one of them. Why rate it so much lower? I think it’s because of why I didn’t like each film. JA is incredibly dumb and I actually felt intellectually insulted watching this steaming pile of poop. I had a more difficult time struggling through The Invitation, but I feel like I myself was the reason for not liking it. It just isn’t my cup of tea.

At least JA has a certain popcorn film quality to it. It looks pretty, but there is no substance and the characters are much too weird. It’s like they wanted to copy The Fifth Element and ended up with an entire cast of Ruby Rhod’s. The title character is just plain stupid. She’s so naive it almost hurts to watch. The whole film is like a loop wherein she first does something really stupid and then mr. muscle comes to the rescue by killing some bad guy most of the times. After they run out of villains the film is over. Sure, in the meanwhile you will have seen some neat action scenes (and some dumb ones) but it really couldn’t possibly be worth over two hours of your time.

 

 

A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night CoverOriginal title: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night
Rating: 7.7/10
Year: 2014
Directors: Ana Lily Amirpour
Duration: 101 min.
Genre: Horror, Drama, Fantasy

After the disaster of the previous film I needed something to wash the bad taste away. A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night proved to be the perfect film for that. It ends up being among the highest ranked films I’ve seen for this challenge yet. I generally do not really like most horror sub-genres, but pre-60’s horror and atmospheric horror are an exception. “A Girl” is about – duh – a girl who roams the streets of Bad Town at night. I’m not sure which creative genius came up with that one but I’ll let it slip. I can’t really say too much about this film without spoiling it, so I’ll just say that I thought the direction here is top notch. It’s a black and white film and I really liked how well the director played with the shadows. The music choices are a bit odd, but for some reason they work quite well in this slightly quirky arthouse horror film. It’s not a very scary one to be honest, but it’s another one to check out for sure! Oh my, I sure am in a recommending mood this month.

 

The Invitation CoverOriginal title: The Invitation
Rating: 4.3/10
Year: 2015
Directors: Karyn Kusama
Duration: 100 min.
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller, Horror

So I didn’t like this film much. It’s about a couple who suddenly reappear after having been sort of MIA for two years. They invite all their old friends to a reunion party of sorts, but it’s a super awkward one. One of the hosts and one of the guests seem to have a painful history and this party is bringing back unresolved conflict and pain. Plus the two hosts seem to be acting a little strange, perhaps. My main issue with this kind of film is its subject matter, so it’s a personal thing. Objectively speaking the film is all right. The last part might be a little crazy and random considering how the rest of the film went, but it’s horror so I have a slightly higher tolerance for weird and wtf when watching films from its genre.

One thing I’m starting to notice because of watching so many horror/thriller films in such a short time span is that all of them seem to have excessive amounts of a weird sound effect. It’s like water flowing through a big metal pipe or something. It’s constantly used to invoke a claustrophobic isolated feeling or a more general feeling of unease, as all normal sound is blurred into the background. I noticed it in all three horror films I watched, but in this one it seemed to be used the most, perhaps overused a little.

 

 

Sunshine Cleaning CoverOriginal title: Sunshine Cleaning
Rating: 7.7/10
Year: 2008
Directors: Christine Jeffs
Duration: 91 min.
Genre: Drama, Comedy

In a completely unrelated article on the site of the Guardian for my favourite film of the year so far, Our Little Sister, they described the film as a vitamin boost for the soul. I really like that description for that film and I think it also applies to this one, albeit to a lesser extent. At least for me. Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are simply wonderful as sisters who become crime scene cleaners. The silliness of the work they do puts their life troubles in perspective, but despite the crazy and frankly unrealistic situation the comedy in this film is never slapstick or cheap. It’d be so easy to make fun of disgusting stuff at crime scenes but director Christine Jeffs wisely never goes there. Sunshine Cleaning is sold as a comedy but the difficult relationship between the two sisters is what makes the film. I really like the sort of film that are kind of slices of life in which one or more people deal with their issues.

 

Kung Fu Panda 2 CoverOriginal title: Kung Fu Panda 2
Rating: 7.3/10
Year: 2011
Directors: Jennifer Yuh
Duration: 90 min.
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy

When Kung Fu Panda 3 became available I decided it was the time to do a bit of a marathon. I had never seen any of them and in the span of maybe a week I managed to watch all three. The first one has a male director so it is not available for inclusion in this post, but I will refer to it later. Kung Fu Panda 2 and 3 are both directed (although 3 is co-directed) by Jennifer Yuh. I have to say that 2 is the best film of all three. I’d rank them 2-1-3 in order of how much I liked them. KFP1 had to establish the characters and was a very predictable origin story. I felt it was told before a gazillion times, but the awesomeness of some of the characters made up for a lot. KFP2 has the best story in my opinion, and I like good stories over many other things such as slick graphics and one-liners. You can’t really escape the latter in any of these films, but I kind of like the crazyness of Po, the panda and sorta-hero of all these films and his master Shifu.

KFP2 is about a feathered foe trying to do a lot of nasty evil things. He practiced similar evilness in Po’s visions of his past. In KFP1 Po’s father turns out to be a bird, but Po is rather oblivious to the way nature works. In part two he may learn more of his past while he has to do all sorts of cool kung fu things. I quite liked the story arc here and it felt well balanced with a pretty cool finale. The animation is great in all three films, but in part two a lot of different styles are used. For me this was a plus, but it might be distracting to others. The only thing I’m not too fond of is the sort of 3D kind of animation. It looks weird and out of place. One of the downsides of the series is that it really focusses on Po, and it kind of leaves his fellow kung fu heroes, a.k.a. The Furious Five, as very being one-dimensional characters. It was also really strange to see this film end with a super big cliffhanger, or maybe more of a “Next time on Kung Fu Panda” kind of thing.

 

Kung Fu Panda 3 CoverOriginal title: Kung Fu Panda 3
Rating: 5.6/10
Year: 2016
Directors: Jennifer Yuh
Duration: 95 min.
Genre: Animation, Action, Adventure, Comedy

In this third film Po battles with a super epic dead-but-no-longer-dead foe. Sadly I felt that this film was focussing way too much on special effects and over the top silly jokes, rather than trying to tell an engaging story. It took the awesomeness of the first two films a bit too far in that it almost becomes a parody of itself. The plot was weak and super cliche and so all the little flaws took the upper hand. That doesn’t change the fact that I would still watch a fourth part should they ever decide to make it though. I kind of like all the characters, but I fear that [spoiler alert – skip to the next film if you don’t want to know] they are finally going to play the love interest card for Po. I really really appreciated them not doing this at all in any of the three films besides a hint here and there. Still, it was an enjoyable trilogy of sorts, and I think for me it was the first time I ever watched any trilogy in such a short time span.

 

Deliver Us from Evil CoverOriginal title: Deliver Us from Evil
Rating: 7.9/10
Year: 2006
Directors: Amy Berg
Duration: 101 min.
Genre: Documentary, Crime

After seeing and appreciating Spotlight this was the logical next step. Or maybe logic would’ve been to watch this first and then spotlight, but whatever. Deliver Us From Evil is about the same subject, large scale child abuse at the hands of clergymen, but it’s a documentary and it focusses entirely on one man, Oliver O’Grady. Knowing what we know now, watching this is all the more sickening. Systematic abuse, keeping it silent, letting it happen again and again, everywhere. Truly disgusting. It is difficult to imagine that at the core of this problem lies anything but a completely rotten system. My mind can’t grasp how this can happen on such a scale when it’s just incidents or a few rotten apples as the church seems to want us to believe. Even today these people roam freely. It makes me so angry. Child abuse in my book is about the worst possible thing imaginable, so if you knew about it or even suspected as much and did nothing, you’re just as guilty in my book. These people pretending to speak for some sort of a higher power should know better and practice what they preach.

I feel so sorry for all the regular church goers who spent their lives giving their time, money and trust to these people only to have this happen to them, their friends and/or family. The emotional outburst of the father of one of the victims in this documentary hurts me too. What happened wrecked his family and made him question his faith. It looks like that didn’t happen to his daughter as she breaks into tears only when her father says he no longer believes. Here is where atheist me gets confused. That moment captures my confusion with this whole situation. How this could happen in the first place is bad enough, but that the people in charge are playing hush hush and are given the trust by us ‘regular people’ to solve it is truly beyond me. But it is happening, and I guess all I can do is write an angry paragraph or two while I finish my dinner and hope that things will get better.

 

 

The Prince of Egypt CoverOriginal title: The Prince of Egypt
Rating: 1.0/10
Year: 1998
Directors: Brenda Chapman
Duration: 99 min.
Genre: Animation, Fantasy, Musical

Leave it up to me to pick the most inappropriate follow up to such a fine documentary.. After almost two hours of atrocities at the hands of monsters I picked a movie about how Moses killed a load of children and was a hero for it. This film is indoctrination at its finest, which in itself would only be so bad, but it is worse than that in my eyes. The Prince of Egypt spreads around hypocrisy in a guise of gorgeous animation, beautiful music and fine voice acting. Promoting “an eye for an eye” is something I have too many issues with to consider all the good things this film has to offer in ranking it. I can look past the ‘miracles’ I do not believe happened and the propaganda, but not the statements that violence is evil unless it serves your goals. Nor the hypocrisy in that murdering Christian children is bad at the start of the film, but when the same thing happens to equally innocent children who didn’t happen to share the same religion it is a miracle of a talking purple cloud.

This film is a fine example of confirmation bias. It will not change anyone’s mind on the subject, except indoctrinate children with this poppycock. Again, I (mostly) refer to these dubious moral values. I feel like I must take this fierce stance because in an opening statement it is said that while artistic and historical license has been taken, the makers still believe that the film is true to the essence, values and integrity of the story that is a cornerstone for so many people worldwide. Well, if this is what we want our children to grow up with, count me out. Add to that that 99% of what happens in this film did not in fact happen at all or in the way they show it. Despite the wonderful Hans Zimmer score and all the other good aspects of this film, I can not and will not recommend it to anyone. There are plenty other animated films that look nice that have more sensible subjects to teach us and our children.

 

Les Innocentes CoverOriginal title: Les Innocentes
Rating: 8.1/10
Year: 2016
Directors: Anne Fontaine
Duration: 115 min.
Genres: Drama

Aaand why not do three of them? This The Innocents is not to be confused with the 1961 horror film with the same name, even though its subject matter is quite horrific. In this case it is a film about atrocities committed against defenseless people of faith and the aftermath of these events. This Polish-French co-production tells a story inspired by real events as a message in the opening seconds reads. The film tells the story of a convent in 1945 post-liberation Poland. A French red cross nurse finds that a large group of the nuns is ready to give birth. It doesn’t take a genius to know what happened, and sadly it isn’t even very difficult to imagine things like this did happen – and probably still do – in (post) war zones.

The Innocents is beautifully shot. It’s extremely sober and cold, which isn’t strange considering it takes place during the winter and for a large part inside a convent. But it also continuously reminds you that there is a lot of hidden pain beneath the surface. In the end, prayers and faith in itself do not heal. It takes the courage to diverge from your old ways without completely giving them up, and the help of other people, to start finding a new way to live. The moral struggle this causes within the convent is what drives most of the film. It tells things the way they really could have happened, without any additional drama or character glorification or condemnation. Out of the three religion-based films this is the one I’d recommend most. It’s well balanced, doesn’t force anything on you and is just really well made.

 

 

Toni Erdmann CoverOriginal title: Toni Erdmann
Rating: 8.2/10
Year: 2016
Directors: Maren Ade
Duration: 162 min.
Genre: Comedy, Drama

Yikes, last minute addition! And the longest film I’ve seen so far. I think only Jeanne Dielman will be able to beat 2h42m, if I ever get to it. The strange thing here is that time flies. In the theater they did not include a break, but the film was over before I knew it. And what a crazy experience it was. The strength of Toni Erdmann lies mostly in two areas. Firstly in the amazing performances of the two leads, Peter Simonischek and Sandra Hüller, and in a strong supporting cast. And secondly in an amazing and sometimes absurd script. I think “the scene” (you’ll know/hear it when you see it) is one of the most hilarious ones I have ever seen in any film ever. I’m literally still laughing when I think about it.

Toni Erdmann perfectly balances strong drama with often absurd and hilarious comedy. I wholeheartedly recommend this film to just about anyone. Do not feel held back by the 2h42m runtime. It will be worth it. Unless you are a prude. Then please do not do this to yourself and go watch something else. After some loud music and other stuff, I noticed an old man leaving the theater. His loss, but I guess I can understand it if you were expecting an arthouse drama with some comedy. This is definitely not your standard film.

 

 

The list!

All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my list.

short: At Land:7.7 Stars (7.7 / 10)
short: Du côté de la côte:6.2 Stars (6.2 / 10)
short: Le lion volatil:6.2 Stars (6.2 / 10)
short: Laloux Sauvage:6.3 Stars (6.3 / 10)
shorts: Lotte Reiniger Fairy Tales 1-5:5.9 Stars (5.9 / 10)
shorts: Lotte Reiniger Fairy Tales 6-10:6.1 Stars (6.1 / 10)
doc: Deliver Us from Evil:7.9 Stars (7.9 / 10)
doc: Evaporating Borders:7.1 Stars (7.1 / 10)
doc: Indie Game: The Movie:7.2 Stars (7.2 / 10)
doc: Olympia I - Festival of the Nations:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
doc: Olympia II - Festival of Beauty:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
doc: The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness:7.5 Stars (7.5 / 10)
doc: Triumph of the Will:5.6 Stars (5.6 / 10)
A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night:7.7 Stars (7.7 / 10)
American Psycho:7.7 Stars (7.7 / 10)
August Rush:8.3 Stars (8.3 / 10)
Born in Flames:7.0 Stars (7.0 / 10)
Death is a Caress:6.7 Stars (6.7 / 10)
Despite the Falling Snow:6.0 Stars (6.0 / 10)
Documenteur:6.8 Stars (6.8 / 10)
Embers:6.1 Stars (6.1 / 10)
Grbavica:6.9 Stars (6.9 / 10)
Into the Forest:7.3 Stars (7.3 / 10)
Jupiter Ascending:2.4 Stars (2.4 / 10)
Kung Fu Panda 2:7.3 Stars (7.3 / 10)
Kung Fu Panda 3:5.6 Stars (5.6 / 10)
Longing for the Rain:6.0 Stars (6.0 / 10)
Mädchen in Uniform:8.3 Stars (8.3 / 10)
Maggie's Plan:6.3 Stars (6.3 / 10)
Manuela Jankovic's War:6.0 Stars (6.0 / 10)
Me and You and Everyone We Know:7.2 Stars (7.2 / 10)
Merrily We Go to Hell:5.8 Stars (5.8 / 10)
Me Before You:7.8 Stars (7.8 / 10)
Mikey and Nicky:4.2 Stars (4.2 / 10)
Money Monster:3.6 Stars (3.6 / 10)
Outrage:6.9 Stars (6.9 / 10)
Paramount on Parade:5.4 Stars (5.4 / 10)
Ratchet & Clank:4.4 Stars (4.4 / 10)
Red Road:6.0 Stars (6.0 / 10)
Summertime:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
Sunshine Cleaning:7.7 Stars (7.7 / 10)
Tallulah:6.8 Stars (6.8 / 10)
Terminal Island:6.6 Stars (6.6 / 10)
Testament:7.3 Stars (7.3 / 10)
The Babadook:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
The Bigamist:6.4 Stars (6.4 / 10)
The Devil from Seventh Grade:5.7 Stars (5.7 / 10)
The Diary of a Teenage Girl:5.2 Stars (5.2 / 10)
The Disobedient:6.7 Stars (6.7 / 10)
The Dressmaker:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
The Dry Valley (Sukhodol):7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
The Fairy:5.5 Stars (5.5 / 10)
The Hurt Locker:7.8 Stars (7.8 / 10)
The Innocents (Les Innocentes):8.1 Stars (8.1 / 10)
The Intervention:5.4 Stars (5.4 / 10)
The Invitation:4.3 Stars (4.3 / 10)
The Lesson (Urok):6.5 Stars (6.5 / 10)
The Prince of Egypt:1.0 Stars (1.0 / 10)
The Virgin Suicides:7.4 Stars (7.4 / 10)
The Woman Condemned:5.1 Stars (5.1 / 10)
Three Cases of Murder (1st segment):7.2 Stars (7.2 / 10)
Thursday Till Sunday:5.9 Stars (5.9 / 10)
Toni Erdmann:8.2 Stars (8.2 / 10)
Wings:8.2 Stars (8.2 / 10)
Winter's Bone:6.8 Stars (6.8 / 10)

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