Sils Maria

If I can help it, I’d like to make much of what’s left of 2016 about first-time viewings.

There should be plenty to choose from in theatres (thanks to a slimmer TIFF slate, and one free from the usual suspects), award consideration screeners have begun to arrive, and channels like TCM are giving me a lot of carefully curated goodies. Even as THE MASTER plays on the screen in front of me, I still find myself hopeful that I can leave the previously watched aside for forty more days or so.

We shall see…

The #52FilmsByWomen  project got back on track this week with a double-dose in the hopes of making up ground. Kathryn Bigelow’s BLUE STEEL and Kelly Reichardt’s WENDY AND LUCY were my selections this week.

When I think of the work of Kathryn Bigelow – one of my very favorite women in film – I think about a rather macho body of work.

Consider: THE HURT LOCKER, POINT BREAK, STRANGE DAYS, ZERO DARK THIRTY, and all of that doesn’t even consider the machoness of BLUE STEEL.

It calls to mind thoughts I had earlier in this project when I encountered LORDS OF DOGTOWN and PUNISHER: WAR ZONE for the first time. Thoughts that women can tap into something masculine far easier than most men can tap into something feminine. I feel as though when the dust settles on this project, that’s going to a be something I take away.

Arriving at BLUE STEEL now, I find myself curious how Bigelow might approach the subject matter if she were to remake the same story in a modern climate. In the age of increased police violence, might Megan Turner face higher scrutiny from her superiors and the public? In an age of increased gun violence, might that final shootout have seemed more gritty and less fetishistic?

Hard to say…but interesting to consider. All I know now is that Bigelow’s most recent two features are head-and-shoulders above the five that came before them, showing true growth and real maturity in her approach. Gotta say that it leaves me quite anxious to see what else she has to show us!

It was rather strange to pair up Bigelow with the work of Kelly Reichardt.

Reichardt’s films are far more low-key, though their stakes are equally high. In Bigelow’s movies, the tension coming from a car about to blow, or a person about to die. Reichardt takes a more tangible approach, and raises the stakes with an unexpected light being turned on down the road…or the water supply about to get destroyed.

WENDY AND LUCY is a fitting touchstone of her work; one everyday woman moving about a part of America that is just as much natural as it is developed. It’s a search for one thing (in this case, her dog), but truly it’s a search for oneself. Wendy is stripped of all the frivolities that we would normally have to distract us. She’s offline, off the gird, and off on her own. We don’t really know how she came to be in the quarter of America that she finds herself. Not all that wander are lost, but is she wandering, or is she spiritually lost?

These feelings of introspection have dotted much of the films of Reichardt I’ve watched so far, an I’m curious to see how they play out in her 2016 offering CERTAIN WOMEN.

The curious thing about Reichardt’s work is that while I fear her film’s aren’t for everybody, her stories are possible the most “everybody” of any woman I’ve encountered in this series. They look like people I know, take place in places I recognize, and tackle problems I’ve encountered. Yet, many would come away from them with a shrug.


Reichardt and Bigelow are two of my favorite examples to point to where talented women in film are concerned. So while their storytelling approach couldn’t be more opposite, I’m certainly happy that I caught-up with them both in the same week.


Here’s the week at hand…

THE HANDMAIDEN –Wanna feel like a dirty bird? Go see this movie alone in a cinema.

Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Never Seen
BLUE STEEL –Fancy that? A cop unloading on a perp and facing discipline. They call this historical fiction.
SOUTHPAW –We’ve been given a lot of boxing movies lately. This isn’t one of the better ones.
LATE SPRING –The next Blindspot, and one which I will have much to say about.
TALK RADIO –What I wouldn’t give for Oliver Stone to make movies like this again.

Streaming/Blu-Rays/DVD’s I’ve Seen Before
WINTER’S BONEWord has it director Debra Granik’s next film will arrive next year. Seven years seldom seemed so long!
DARK CITY –I’d really like to listen to the Ebert commentary someday.
STAR WARS: THE FORCE AWAKENSQuickly becoming the film I’ve watched most in 2016, though I’m still nowhere close to the Brownian threshold.


Boxscore for The Year
226 First-Timers, 120 Re-Watched
81 Screenings
346 Movies in Total

How’s about you – seen anything good?