Saturday, December 20

Women in Film Blogathon Part II: The Director's Chair

John from Hitchcock’s World is hosting a part two of his women in film blogathon! His first blogathon focused on the strong female characters in film, and in continuation, this blogathon now focuses on women behind the scenes - women who directed these films. To be honest, his blogathon came in at the right time, just when I was composing a part 2 of a women-directed list I wrote last year. The director I’ve chosen has been releasing critically acclaimed work, but has yet to have her ‘breakout film’, though with her recent film, I’d say she’s almost there. For this, I’m talking about Nicole Holofcener.

Nicole Holofcener has been working in the industry for decades, and has released seven films under her name. Her first feature film was Walking and Talking, and her recent feature was the James Gandolfini and Julia Louis-Dreyfus starrer, Enough Said. She’s also not a stranger to television, having been tapped to direct episodes of Sex and the City, and as recent as Parks and Recreation

I do not consider Holofcener’s works to be some of my favorites, but I like her movies just the same. From the films of hers I’ve seen, she chose to work on movies that have to do with human emotions, particularly in her portrayal of women. She does not portray them as weepy and weak, but touches on emotions that do not make a person vulnerable, but rather human. She manages to bring the best of her characters out in film, whether it be the cynicism of Eva to her blooming relationship with Albert, the insecurities of Elizabeth Marks as an actress and a person, or even Olivia’s plight with her lack of financial security. She knows what to do with her characters, and her films do not appear to be one-sided. 

Partly what makes her works dive so deep into human emotion is because she writes her own movies. She puts her story in words, and has control in translating them onscreen, knowing exactly what she wants to convey. She tackles issues that are relative to human emotion; she does not make them bleak to have her characters succumb to despair, but writes them as everyday people with everyday experiences. Her casting choices (though possibly constraint by budget) may not be the big names, or box office draws but are talented to bring her story in life. 

The only criticism I have for her is that I wish she pushed her boundaries. While she is good in her writing and bringing these to life with the way she positions her characters, I think that she can expand her horizons when it comes to her film’s subjects. Most of the films I’ve seen of hers tackles relationships with men, and I think she can branch out her relationship spectrum into other human conditions. Do a film where her characters take on the concept of death, or of family. Besides focusing on older women, maybe she can tackle on relationships from a child or a teenager’s point of view. She doesn't have to stop portraying strong women, I think maybe she can branch into another angle instead.

Like I said, her films may not be some of my favorite movies, but when she releases a film, there’s something that compels me to watch it. I think it’s because no matter what the situation of the film is going to be, I know she’s going to bring out this wonderful being that is her characters, and portray people as what they should be: human.

FILMOGRAPHY*

Walking and Talking (1996)
Lovely and Amazing (2001)
Friends With Money (2006)
Please Give (2010)
Enough Said (2013)

*feature films only. The ones in bold are those I've seen

8 comments:

  1. Interesting how I seem to keep getting women directors I never heard of. I was pretty certain I was going to get a lot of the obvious ones. Kathryn Bigelow seemed an inevitable choice and one I'd do myself if I hadn't already written an article on her work. Maybe if there's something new I can find to say I'll do something with her, though I'll probably have to rewatch the films of hers I've already seen.

    Oddly enough, while I didn't recognize the name I feel like I've seen pictures of her before, and I have heard of Enough Said. That's about all I know of her, but I am someone who is easily attracted to movies with strong female leads so she does sound appealing in that regard.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I actually haven't seen any of Kathryn Bigelow's work; Sofia Coppola would be the obvious choice for me as she's very well-known. Enough Said is Holofcener's most known work to date, partly because it's one of James Gandolfini's last works. Her films aren't my favorites (I think it's because there's something in her movies that don't really speak to me), but she does know how to write women characters.

      Delete
  2. I like that you picked a director that maybe isn't as heard of. I really liked Enough Said.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! Enough Said is her most prolific work to date. I really like the story, but there was something in the movie that didn't just click with me.

      Delete
  3. I've also not heard if her, though Enough Said has been on my to watch list for a while now because of James Gandolfini. I had no idea who the director said. The rest of her work sounds interesting, too. Thanks for introducing her to me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're welcome! I started watching more of her work because of Enough Said. I like how she handled her characters, and have seen the same treatment with other characters in her films.

      Delete
  4. Never heard of her but have watched two of her movies, Friends with Money and Enough Said, both of which I rather like.

    Wandering through the Shelves

    ReplyDelete