WEEK 2 – FEMALE DIRECTORS
Sun, May 8, 2016 at 8:33 PM
Hope Baltimore went well. Did you catch any Orioles? They’re the only non-Toronto team I root for, and it looks like they’re at the top of the East division ATM. You probably had a lot of film things happening though, probably didn’t have much time for baseball.
I enjoyed the continuation of our focus on female filmmakers. Looking back on last week’s e-mail, I think it’s a little silly to try and define what it means to be a female filmmaker. A woman writer/director could be approaching any topic from any angle, no different from a male or non-binary director. I guess you could maybe argue that they might have more insights into the female experience and maybe would be more likely to feature strong female protagonists, or at least female protagonists. I certainly recognize the value of having more stories about women, and giving women parts where their characters are actually fleshed out and three dimensional.
So far all of the films I’ve watched from the reading list have followed women, all of different ages. The camera favours their perspective, offering the viewer a degree of intimacy with each woman that promotes a greater understanding of what it means to be a girl/teenage girl/woman. I liked that each film captured women of different ages, reminding me of moments and feelings in my own life that are totally a product of a particular age: Lucia’s shared moments of boredom with her brother on a car trip, but also her innocent observations of her parents’ relationship, Lila’s quiet observations of her friend Chiara’s relationships, the ups and downs of Sarah’s casual flirtation with the banjo player. Each moment so realistically portrayed on screen and so accurately mirroring real life.
I was paying particularly close attention to sound in each film. I am a big proponent of music in films, but in both ‘It Felt Like Love’ and ‘Jueves a Domingo’, I began to truly appreciate the beauty of on-location sounds, the cars passing by on the highway, the meadow sounds, the desert sounds, the water sounds. ‘Butter on the Latch’ captured forest sounds, but there was a great deal of Balkan music, which added to the disorienting horror aspect of the film, but disqualifies the film from belonging to this music-less category of film I am suddenly finding so intriguing. What does music add to a film, when should it be used, and when should the natural sounds of the environment take over? Big, big questions.
‘Jueves a Domingo’ reminded me so much of ‘La Gloire de Mon Pere’ and ‘Le Chateau de Ma Mere’ – maybe it had something to do with the constant presence of the sun, and a family wandering through nature. I haven’t seen either of those two films in a while, but imagine the tone would have been very different.
It took me a while to feel comfortable in ‘Butter on the Latch’ – for the first half hour, I didn’t know what it was I was watching. I appreciated the relationship between Sarah and Isolde and at moments found the work to be similar to a Joe Swanberg story, but then suddenly the edits become choppy, and more experimental, and the music adds this totally haunting quality to the piece. Very curious and unexpected.
As a complement to this week’s theme I began reading Sophia Coppola’s screenplay for ‘Lost in Translation’. I haven’t finished it yet but will hope to by the time we meet on Tuesday. She is very precise in her action descriptions, at times poetic, and often novel-like in her writing. For example:
Bob comes back to his room. The maids have left everything
perfect, his beige bed is turned down, and the TV has been
left on to a channel playing a montage of flower close-ups
in nature while sad violin music plays. It’s supposed to be
relaxing, but it’s just sad.
It must be very practical to write that degree of detail into a screenplay. I am always pretty loose in my action descriptions, so that I have degrees of flexibility to work with during production.
Thanks for your notes about ‘Acres’ last week. I’ve been thinking a lot about that final scene, about the vulnerability of Yannick and Harriet when they both see each other again, and how to flesh that moment out without extending the script by too many pages. I look forward to continuing work on this script, although I do have a new idea for a short brewing at the back of my mind.
Lots to talk about on Tuesday, see you then!