Writer & Director: Sandi Tan
In 1992, at age 19, novelist Sandi Tan wrote and starred in Shirkers, a feature-length road movie shot on the streets of Singapore. The title was inspired by Tan’s idea that in life, there were people who were neither movers nor shakers, but shirkers—those who evade responsibility and duty, escaping the confines of society. It starred Tan as S., a murderer and kidnapper on a mysterious mission to save children. One of Tan’s points of inspiration was J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye. The plot didn’t matter as much as the mood, which Tan cultivated through carefully chosen locations, props, costumes, and music. Tan hired a friend to compose a soundtrack on his electric guitar, and hand-made many of her props, including a colorful board game that S. uses to plot her kidnappings. S.’s costume was a pink sailor shirt and blue knee-length shorts; she carried an old-fashioned camera on a strap, as well as a leather suitcase. “When I was eighteen,” Tan explains, “I thought you found freedom by building worlds inside your head.”
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The title of this movie drew me in: Was it a declaration? A denial? A defense? At the end of the screening I attended, the director and writer, Rungano Nyoni, said she was first embarrassed by her title, because it struck her as an overheated, reminiscent of a Lifetime movie. But over time, she said, she grew to love it, and it became a feminist mantra: “I am not a witch!” The idea of a woman being accused of witchcraft is, on the one hand ridiculous, but the idea of women as irrational and in need of control is very much alive in cultures across the world.
In Nyoni’s remarkable debut, an orphaned girl is singled out as witch for no discernible reason. Continue reading “Review: I AM NOT A WITCH”
This is a movie that I don’t want to discuss without spoiling its plot, though I don’t think it’s a movie that can be spoiled, because I went in knowing its secrets, and I still enjoyed it. But, fair warning, if you click for the full review, I’ll reveal the central twist . . .
Continue reading “Review: The Wife”
In fairy tales, the forest is a dark, dangerous place, populated by wolves and other menacing creatures, but for Thomasin and her father, Will, a veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the forest is a respite, a place of quiet and calm. More than that, it’s their home. For several years, they’ve been camping in Forest Park, an enormous urban park on the outskirts of Portland, Oregon. Although they have gone undetected all this time, they still do practice drills in case they should be discovered. In an early scene, Will critiques his daughter’s hiding place, telling her that her socks give her away. Actually, it’s Thom’s eyes that betray her: you can see her loneliness and her restlessness. As a younger kid, 24-7 camping may have appealed to her, but when we meet Thom, she is a young teen, full of curiosity about the outside world and eager to meet new people. The only thing that keeps her in the woods is her deep love and sympathy for her father.
Thom and Will are inevitably discovered, and Leave No Trace tells the story of what happens after: how they adjust to life in the world outside their forest. . .
(Read the rest at The Common)
So, we’re almost halfway through the year and, looking back on the past six months, I haven’t seen quite as many female-directed as I’d hoped, but I’ve seen many more than I saw last year. I’m looking forward to catching up with a lot of movies this summer, especially those available on streaming services since I’m not big on summer blockbuster fare. If, like me, you’re looking for something to watch, please check out my list of 2018 Films Directed or Written by Women because I’ve been doing my best to keep it up to date.
There were a handful of female-directed/written movies that I saw this spring that I didn’t have a chance to review, so I’m going to do a little round-up here of four films: On Body And Soul, Becks, The Party, and The Post. Continue reading “Catching Up”
Outside In opens with the camera looking down on an ex-con, Chris, heading home for the first time in twenty years. Chris (Jay Duplass) sits in the back of a rain-spattered car window, eating a french fry with a dreamy look in his eyes. It’s probably the best thing he’s eaten in a long time. He will soon be delivered to a room filled with people awaiting his return. But there’s only one person he really wants to see: Carol, his old high school teacher, the person who fought hardest for his early release.
Carol is played by Edie Falco, and from the moment we first see her, she radiates goodness, intelligence, longing, and confusion. She’s in as much of a transitional period as Chris. She’s devoted years of her life to disputing Chris’s conviction, and in doing so, has discovered new reserves of intellectual and spiritual energy. She’s also become very close to her former student. She might be in love with him; he’s definitely in love with her. But she’s married, with a teenage daughter. And she’s still teaching at the high school where she first met Chris as an 18-year-old boy. So things are complicated. Continue reading “Review: Outside In”
This movie has a terrible too-long title, but having seen it, I’m hard-pressed to come up with a better one. The only titles I could think of were longer: The Unconventional Life of Professor Marston and His Wonder Women. Or: The True Story of Wonder Woman as Told by its Under-Appreciated Creator, Professor Marston. Or: The Two Women Who Inspired Wonder Woman. Maybe it would have been better to go with something vague like Marston. I can’t be the only one who was confused when it was in the theater. I knew that it wasn’t Wonder Woman with Gal Gadot, but the “Professor” threw me off. Was it a campus movie? A biopic? A romance? Continue reading “Review: PROFESSOR MARSTON AND HIS WONDER WOMEN”