With a day off to end the week, you’d think that I’d have cracked double-digits with this week’s watchlist. However, between getting through Netflix’s “Daredevil”, catching up with friends, and enjoying a few pages of the latest selection from the bookshelf, my Friday off found itself dedicated to many other things.
#52FilmsByWomen continued this week with Jane Campion’s BRIGHT STAR.
Campion is one of the first places my brain goes when one says “Women in Film” – perhaps because she’s part of The Gang of Four (translation: one of the four women to date to be nominated for an Oscar for directing). Or, perhaps because of the women I have watched so far, she’d one of the few that genuinely feels like an auteur.
That last point might have more to do with the directors I’ve chosen so far that it does with Campion’s actual body of work, but I digress.
For the Campion component of my series, I reached for BRIGHT STAR; a 2009 film that seemed to grab tight hold of early audiences, but has since faded back into the stacks somewhat. The film is about the relationship between poet John Keats and Fanny Brawne (played so damned charmingly by Ben Wishaw and Abbie Cornish)…and has lingered on my ‘To Watch List’ for an embarrassing amount of time. Really and truly, there’s no excuse for a film this beautifully shot, with such an emphasis on words to have evaded me for this long.
Name my penance, I will carry it out.
However, as I was soaking up Campion’s splendid film, my mind did a bit of wandering. I couldn’t help but notice that it was the fourth “period film” that I’d watched in the dozen films chosen for the project. What’s more, it called to mind two more of Campion’s most notable works; THE PIANO and PORTRAIT OF A LADY – both period films as well.
There’s nothing wrong with period films at all, and as a reader, I actually see them as something of a gateway drug to a lot of the books I should have read by now. However, when one starts to notice a trend, one can’t help but wonder about it. As my friend Jess Rogers asked me when I posed the point to her “Does it, perhaps, say something about the sorts of films the industry feels women should be directing?”
I had to disagree.
While it’s true that there have already been a lot of waistcoats and bustles on the films I’ve chosen for my series, that has more to do with my criteria than it does the films to choose from. Specifically, I set myself a rule that I couldn’t choose any films I’ve seen before. So where Campion is concerned, that ruled out the present-day (and underrated) IN THE CUT. Going back a bit, that also ruled out Andrea Arnold’s FISH TANK, Sally Potter’s GINGER AND ROSA, and Julie Taymor’s ACROSS THE UNIVERSE.
Likewise, going forward, there are very few left from the 19th century (and prior). I guess what I’m saying is, it’s not them – it’s me.
But back to Jane Campion, what I’ve always loved about her work is the emotional charge she puts into the quiet of a conversation (no jokes about Holly Hunter as a mute in THE PIANO please). As humans, there’s often so much that we leave unsaid, and Campion’s eye has a knack of catching those unsaid ideas and lacing them into the story. It’s pretty gosh-darned incredible, and makes me wonder just how much of it she wove into her Showcase series “Top of The Lake”.
Guess when I’m done with “Daredevil”, I know what I need to watch next!
So a titan has been given her due in the project, and a longtime “to-see” has been tended to. Really and truly, I never should have needed a reason for both, but at the end of the day, I’m glad I had one.
Here’s the week at hand…
THE LITTLE PRINCE – We have an early contender for the most underrated film of 2016.
BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE – Lots of thoughts on this coming over the next two days.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
ROCKY BALBOA – Sasha James and Lindsay went on a Rocky marathon this week. This was better than I thought it was going to be.
BRIGHT STAR – Anyone got a book of Keats I can read?
CHICKEN WITH PLUMS – Technically, this also could have been applied to the #52 project, but I’m committed to a pace of 1-per-week, and also have a different film in mind for Satrapi.
Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
CREED – I sorta want this to turn into a trilogy of its own somehow. Only a trilogy, mind you…let’s not get carried away.
MAN OF STEEL – Upon further review, I still like it.
THE DARK KNIGHT RISES – Upon further review, I still like it.
THE LAST TEMPTATION OF CHRIST – I mean, I could have gone to church yesterday. Or…
Boxscore for The Year
50 First-Timers, 43 Re-Watched
93 Movies in Total
How’s about you – seen anything good?