This week was brutal at work – and landed me a cold to make matters worse. Thus, my writing took a bit of a dive. I’m trying to the site running a bit more full-tilt, so thanks for bearing with me.
#52FilmsByWomen continued this month with Julie Taymor’s TITUS and Laura Poitras’ MY COUNTRY, MY COUTRY..
Taymor is a visualist I have long adored, ever since I first saw her production of The Lion King. Her films are an interesting animal because they are so visually splendid, but often feel equally messy. They carry so much muchness to steal a phrase. Whether it’s skeletons operating on Frida Kahlo or seven nurses singing The Beatles…she has a knack for the loopy. Thing is, I like that about her work.
TITUS is probably her most ambitious film of all, both in size and scope. It’s clearly influenced by Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO + JULIET, but that’s not a bad thing. It’s employed the same way here that artists in a movement crib off one-another; less stealing than agreeing. The great thing is that by getting kooky with Titus Andronicus, Taymor has the greatest chance to succeed because it’s generally Shakespeare’s least-liked play.
Basically, she decided to re-arrange Elvis, and did-so with “In The Ghetto”.
The look of the movie takes centre stage, more than any performance or any scene…and when it comes to adapting the work of geniuses (which is what Taymor always does) maybe that’s the best approach.
The week after, I moved on to Laura Poitras, the first documentarian on my list. Nonfiction is an interesting animal where women in film is concerned, because along with animation it’s the area of film where female storytellers are making the deepest inroads.
Poitras has created a trio of films she considers her “9/11 Trilogy”. CITIZENFOUR, THE OATH, and this week’s watch – MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY. I’ve now seen all three, this being the only one of the three I didn’t see in a theatre. Poitras has a deft approach to the subject matter, which can’t be easy since the temptation from the left has always been to say “Look at how badly we’re screwing this all up!!!“.
Like most documentarians, Poitras’ politics are palpable in her approach, but they’re quite deft. She wants us to learn about her subjects more than she wants us to rethink our world view. In this case, it’s the Iraqi doctor running for a parliamentary seat during the nation’s first free election. We are asked to consider the cost of the decisions our leaders are making on our behalf…and how they affect even the most insignificant of us. Especially the most insignificant of us.
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY was like stepping into a time capsule, considering that it’s now a ten-year-old film. It has a precognitive slant to it knowing what we know now, and while there’s no way Poitras could have anticipated it working out that way, it’s impressive its presence.
There will be more documentaries by women in the year ahead, but it felt apropos to begin with a master like Poitras.
Here’s the week at hand…
SON OF SAUL – Damn, that was intense. Can somebody hold me?
MUSTANG – If I had an Oscar vote, I might well cast it for this rebellion against patriarchy.
45 YEARS – I’ll have more to say about this in the days to come, but for now I’ll just say that it was very affecting.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
TITUS – I feel like Taymor could have turned this into an incredible stage production.
THE QUIET MAN – So everyone wants to watch E.T. after they watch this, right?
SOPHIE’S CHOICE – Expect Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN and JULES ET JIM to show up in this feed soon.
MY COUNTRY, MY COUNTRY – Sometimes it’s hard to look back on the recent past and remember.
THE SECRET GARDEN – Holy hell! All of a sudden this thing switches to colour! Didn’t see that coming!!
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
BEING JOHN MALKOVICH – Malkovich!!!
BRAZIL – You guys – love does conquer all! Wait, where’s everybody going?
ANATOMY OF A MURDER – It’s never not weird to hear Jimmy Stewart to say “climax”
BAND OF OUTSIDERS – After LE WEEK-END, this was academic. I think I finally need to go to Paris this year
INTERSTELLAR – I started making soup from scratch as this movie began, by the time it wrapped, I had a full belly. That’s great planning.
BUTCH CASSIDY AND THE SUNDANCE KID – That Bacharach score always throws me off.
Boxscore for The Year
17 First-Timers, 18 Re-Watched
32 Movies in Total
How’s about you – seen anything good?