Female Directors: The Very Worthy

JULIE TAYMOR

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Across the Universe (2007). Why? Because I’m a Beatles fan? Because of cameos ranging from Bono to Joe Cocker to Salyma Hyeck?  Because it represents the turbulent 60s perfectly? Because the music and choreography and cinematography are far-out? YES.

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What’s there NOT to like about Julie Taymor films? They are classy, magical, colorful, musical, sexy, and very cool.

Another OUTSTANDING Julie Taymor film is Frida (2002).

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This film is a biopic featuring the surrealist Mexican painter Frida Kahlo. It stars Salyma Hyeck, Alfred Molina (Diego Rivera), Antonio Banderas, Edward Norton, Ashley Judd, and Geoffrey Rush.  Watch the film for the colors, the acting, and the history. Frida Kahlo lived from 1907 – 1954 and struggled with her identity and demanded equality and respect in a Machismo society. She was ahead of her time, fearless, and proud of her country. Julie Taymor brings to life a fabulous artist and a voice to Latin American art.

A theme of Frida Kahlo’s life was pain. In her teens a bus accident impaired her. Here’s a cool scene exemplifying the Mexican symbol, the calaca, as a way to describe Frida’s injuries.

Great cinematography!

JANE CAMPION

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Another visionary director is Jane Campion. The Piano(1993)  is visual art. Set at the wild, New Zealand coastline and interior, the cinematography is top-rate. It’s difficult to personify an object and pull it off. The piano transforms into a character, a sister to the protagonist Ada. The piano is an interpreter. The piano is tattooed, stroked, mutilated, loved, cherished, used, and murdered–it is the central symbol of the story.

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Holly Hunter and young Anna Paquin won best actress and supporting actress. Harvey Keitel looks awesome in New Zealand tattoos. Sam Neill is the colonial male from England in the 1860s who can’t tame the aborigines and cannot fathom his newly arrived bride from Scotland.

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Her obsession with her piano is peculiar, and when she plays, it’s like “a mood that goes through you.”

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Portrait of a Lady (1996). Henry James loved to write novels and stories about the super-wealthy during the Gilded Age and their cruel games of toying others for sake of amusement. Nicole Kidman is Isabel Archer, an American heiress and free-thinker who travels to Europe. She succumbs to two corrupted souls, Madame Merle, (Barbara Hershey) and  Gilbert Osmond (John Malkovich).  Jane Campion’s use of camera angles, period clothing, and her vision of this James classic was interesting.

KATHARINE BIGELOW

She makes man movies as well as any man could.

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NANCY MEYERS  directed blockbuster  chick-flicks…

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SOPHIA COPPOLA

She seems the one “most likely to succeed” but it’s too soon for me to accept her yet. Yes, Lost in Translation was nicely done. Are you looking forward to The Bling Ring?

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Have you seen any of these well made films?

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Who’s your favorite female director?

17 thoughts on “Female Directors: The Very Worthy

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  1. Thanks for this very interesting post. I do not want to sound sexist, but these women directors are so good that their gender seems not to matter any more.

  2. I didn’t know Across the Universe was directed by a woman. This is a great list Cindy! I’d also add Nora Ephron as I love Sleepless in Seattle and even You’ve Got Mail.

  3. Ruth beat me to the punch with Norah Ephron but I would like to give an honourable mention to Ida Lupino, the wonderful actress who played many memorable femme fatales in the film noirs of the 1930s; and then started directing in the late forties.
    She became the only woman to be admitted to the Director’s Guild during her professional career. She never made any films that were blockbusters, but she still made history. I haven’t seen any of her directed features for a reason: in a time when studio financing was the norm, she decided to go completely independent. This resulted in her films being hard to come by in later years. So until someone smarts up and releases a box set of her films, I’ll have to be content to have only seen the films she has acted in.

    1. Awesome, Paul! Can your recommend a good biography about Norah? She directed a lot of TV series, many I watched as a kid/teen growing up. I love trailblazers, and she sure is one!

  4. Hi, Cindy:

    I’m giving props to Paul S. for Ida Lupino. And would also add Joan Micklin Silver for three small, though noteworthy films from 1970s and 80s. ‘Between the Lines’, ‘Finnegan Begin Again’ and ‘Crossing Delancey’.

    I’ve been a fan of Kathryn Bigelow since ‘Near Dark’. Who directs a lot like Howard Hawks and won very politicized Oscars for ‘The Hurt Locker’. Which is a decent war film, though far from Best Director and Picture contention.

    Not at all surprised Ms. Bigelow was snubbed for ‘Zero Dark Thirty’. Which is better than ‘The Hurt Locker’, but ran afoul of the tenets and dictates of liberal mantra.

    1. Hi Jack,
      I agree with you on all accounts, thanks! I can’t say I’m a big Bigelow fan; I knew I had to put her on the list since she’s very marketable these days. It’s like disliking Tom Cruise because it’s the popular thing to do. That’s a different topic. I saw ‘Crossing Delancey’ and loved it but was not aware Joan Silver directed it. As someone else commented to me earlier in the week, it seems sexist to rate directors based on their gender. There are great directors out there and I don’t think about what sex they are or their personal agendas. Anyway, I appreciate your comments and hope you stop back by soon!

  5. Great post CIndy! To be honest, the only female directors I’m really that familiar with are Sophia Coppola and Kathryn Bigelow, which is a bit shocking really. I really need to increase my knowledge in this area. I am very much looking forward to Coppola’s The Bling Ring, sounds really interesting.

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