Posts Tagged ‘Martin Scorsese’

Female Directors

September 15, 2011

Do you know who Jennifer Yuh Nelson is? Well, if you love animated films you should because she is the director of Kung Fu Panda 2. She recently hit a milestone where she became the highest grossing female director when Kung Fu Panda 2 grossed $645 Million. She beat Phyllida Lloyd, the director of Mamma Mia, whose film grossed $609 Million.

I’m very happy when anyone, male or female, is successful. Still, the milestone Yuh Nelson hit is extra special because Kung Fu Panda 2 is an animated film and not only are there not many female directors, there aren’t many females in animation period. So, kudos to her and may this encourage others to try their hand at either animation or film directing.

Of course, that got me thinking. (Here we go again.) Yuh Nelson and Lloyd aren’t the only female directors out there. There have been others who have made their mark behind the camera. Who are they? Well, gentle reader, read on to learn about some notable female directors.

Kathryn Bigelow
While winning the Oscar for The Hurt Locker put Bigelow on the movie making map, she directed other films such as Point Break and K-19: The Widowmaker. What they all have in common is they are very much guy flicks. The Hurt Locker deals with defusing bombs in the Iraq War. Point Break is an action film about an FBI agent infiltrating bank robbing gang. K-19: The Widowmaker is about a Soviet nuclear submarine that malfunctions and how the crew must work against the clock to save themselves from disaster. So, the stereotype of women directors making rom-coms or period pieces doesn’t fit Bigelow.

Sofia Coppola
Yes, she’s the daughter of Francis Ford Coppola. Still, her work stands on its own. With films such as The Virgin Suicides, Lost in Translation, Marie Antoinette and Somewhere, I’ll go out on a limb and say she’s on her way to becoming the type of director that university film professors will lecture about and show films to their students 20 years from now, if they aren’t already doing it now. Trust me, that’s a good thing, since Martin Scorsese and Steven Spielberg spent their university days watching films of the French New Wave.

Amy Heckerling
What films did she direct? How about Fast Times at Ridgemont High, with Sean Penn (which was his breakout role), Johnny Dangerously with Michael Keaton (before he went through his dark stage with Batman) and National Lampoon’s European Vacation, with Chevy Chase. Those are some real sensitive films, aren’t they?

Madonna
Madonna!? You must be saying now. Yes, her. Believe it or not Madge directed two films. Filth and Wisdom and her latest opus W.E. which deals with the relationship between Wallis Simspon, American divorcee and Edward Windsor, aka King Edward VIII who left the throne for her. My guess is that being married to director Guy Ritchie must have rubbed off on her and she decided to try making a movie. Movie critics felt she should stick to singing. Still, I wouldn’t count Madonna out yet. After all, sometimes it takes a few tries to get something right.

Penny Marshall
Here’s another female director that doesn’t do period pieces. She directed Big with Tom Hanks, Awakenings with Robin Williams and A League of Their Own with Madonna. In case you are wondering, yes, she was Laverne in the ABC sitcom Laverne & Shirley, which ran from 1976 to 1984.

Barbra Streisand
Yes, not only does she sing and act, but she also directs films, as well. Her first take at directing was with the film Yentl, in which she also starred in. wrote the screenplay and produced. She also did The Prince of Tides and The Mirror Has Two Faces. Okay, those two are chick flicks. Still, somebody has to please that demographic. Yet, Babs isn’t finished yet because, reports are that she will produce, direct and star in an adaptation of the Broadway play Gypsy. She is expected to play Momma Rose and she has experience with that since her own mother was something of a Backstage Mom.

Of course, there are more female directors, but I decided to focus on some notable ones who have been working since the 1980’s to the current time. So, I will end with Streisand and to all a good night or day, depending on what time of the day you are reading this.

Sources:
http://blogs.indiewire.com/womenandhollywood/archives/2011/09/07/jennifer_yuh_nelson_becomes_the_top_grossing_female_director/

http://www.womansday.com/Articles/Life/Entertainment/10-Surprising-Movies-Directed-by-Women.html

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0267626/

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0102685/

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001508/#Director

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001068/#Director

http://answers.encyclopedia.com/question/did-barbra-streisand-direct-any-films-108003.html

http://www.bleedingcool.com/2011/01/05/barbra-streisand-to-produce-direct-and-star-in-movie-version-of-gypsy/

http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100111185918AAOUDtp

http://www.dose.ca/celebrity/5346132/story.html

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The 1970’s, The Greatest Decade in Film?

June 3, 2010

Over the years, I have read quite a few articles that state the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. Yes, many directors made their mark in the 1970’s, such as Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, just to name a few. Also, there are a good number of films that were both commercial and critical successes, such as, The Godfather, The Godfather Part II, Taxi Driver, Network, again just to name a few.

Still, a lot can happen after a decade passes and films can fall into and out of favor. So, can any one decade be considered the greatest decade in film? Many say that 1939 is the greatest year in film, since that was the year films such as The Wizard of Oz, Gone With The Wind, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington and Wuthering Heights were released. Of course, just because many people say such a thing, doesn’t make it true. Also, as the years went on, some of those films seem dated and hokey to modern audiences.

For me, the jury is still out as to whether or not the 1970’s were the greatest decade in film. So, I’ll just take this opportunity to highlight what I think sets filmmaking in the  1970’s apart from other decades.

Directors were products of universities, not studios
Martin Scorsese graduated from New York University and he was a film major. Francis Ford Coppola majored in drama at Hofstra University and did graduate work in film at UCLA. George Lucas went to University of Southern California film school.  Steven Spielberg went to California State University Long Beach. This list of directors and where they went to school shows that unlike directors of the past they weren’t “apprenticed” under one director or just fell into directing.  The people mentioned above were exposed to not only the liberal arts tradition, they were also exposed to and examined French films, Italian films, German films, Japanese films, Hollywood films, art films and they were getting their hands dirty by making their own films. This exposure to many different movie making modes and being allowed to try out their ideas, lead to Hollywood movies that had a richness and depth that wasn’t there before.

Hollywood recovered from development of television
My theory is that it took Hollywood 10 years to recover from the shock that television inflicted. Yes, developments like Cinemascope and color film becoming standard helped to bring people back to the movies. Still, once the powers that be were convinced that people still wanted to go the movies on a regular basis, they were more willing to give directors like Scorsese, Coppola, Lucas and others a chance.

Willingness to explore social issues
Somewhat related to the above, by the 1970’s, the old school of studio heads had died out and those that came after were willing to okay movies that weren’t just about “Boy Meets Girl”.  The movies of the decade dealt with the aftermath of the Vietnam war (The Deer Hunter, Coming Home), political corruption (All The Presidents’ Men), the effect of television in our lives (Network), racism and the drug trade (Superfly) and the list goes on. These films took on issues and the directors and other involved with the film weren’t afraid to face some controversy.

The Blockbuster Film
I also feel the need to mention that the blockbuster film, as we know it, came about in the 1970’s. Films like Jaws, Star Wars, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Superman weren’t just successful films. They broke box office records, had catch phrases and led to merchandising deals and sequels. Since then, it is rare that a blockbuster film doesn’t have some merchandise related to it, does very, very well at the box office and have a sequel or two in the works.

So, while the 1970’s may not be the definitive best decade in film, it does stand out from the decades that came before and from those that came afterwards.

Sources:

http://www.theauteurs.com/topics/2849?page=3

http://movieprojector.blogspot.com/2009/08/best-movies-of-1970s.html

http://www.filmsite.org/1939.html

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000217/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000338/bio

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000184/bio