FILM FATALES

INDEPENDENT WOMEN DIRECTORS

Believing ``the history of women in cinema has yet to truly be written,'' filmmaker Redding and Brownworth (Too Queer: Essays from a Radical Life, 1996) begin the task with 33 profiles of female filmmakers and moguls. They range from pioneers like Ida Lupino to popular feature directors like Jane Campion to art-house players like Su Friedrich; many of them discuss difficulties of the male- dominated industry. The reports of some are amusing, as when Alison Anders asks the studio to include her son's child-care providers in the credits for Grace of My Heart: ``I know you've never done this before, but you probably haven't had many single moms directing films for you, either.'' Others eschew the industry completely, such as experimental director Trinh T. Minh- ha. Most, like Donna Deitch, note the lack of ``equal access'' in the industry for women. Also discussed are feminism, the experiences of lesbians in film, and minority filmmaking. The profiles are earnest, often enlightening, sometimes whiny. But readers—especially film students and would-be filmmakers—should stick with it and think about the questions raised here about the nature of women's films. For example, a recurring theme of many films discussed is female identity, often rendered in terms of female sexuality. These films deal with self-definition (Donna Deitch's lesbian romance Desert Hearts), re-examination (Lizzie Borden's prostitute drama Working Girls), and cultural oppression (Pratibha Parmar's documentary Warrior Marks, about female genital mutilation). As opposed to male-directed films that define characters mainly through action, women are more concerned with exploring states of being. How do these aims affect the popularity of women's films? That the book provokes such thoughts is its best quality.

Pub Date: Dec. 10, 1997

ISBN: 1-878067-97-4

Page Count: 252

Publisher: Seal Press

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 1997

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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