In this episode, Tyler and David are joined by Marya E. Gates to discuss her project to only watch female-directed films.
As well as Sleeping Beauty, Catherine Breillart also did a great adaptation of Bluebeard. I watched both on Mubi a little while back.
I’ve heard good things! I’ll check it out!
First of all, I’ll stand up and be the one cinephile who isn’t into noir. Neo-noir yes, but not so much original recipe. I don’t know, maybe I just haven’t seen enough, but I figure most people start with The Maltese Falcon and Double Indemnity and move on from there. I simply wasn’t compelled to move much further. Really liked Scarlet Street, though. Perhaps it worked better for me because the protagonist’s motivation was far more weighted toward unrequited love than money (and movies where money is the primary motivator have never been particularly compelling for me). Anyway.
As to the actual topic of the episode, it does have me thinking. Like most other movie people, I mostly watch films directed by men. And while I greatly admire Marya’s quest to raise awareness about this topic, I’m not sure I could ever take this sort of “affirmative action” approach (and I do not mean that in a pejorative sense, I only use the term because we can all understand it) to film viewing. Simply put, I’m going to see the movies that look interesting to me, regardless of who makes them or stars in them. My tastes tend to run slightly more towards genre films, which is where it seems women have made the least progress over the decades. So you can go on all day about Jane Campion or Nicole Holofcener, but truth is that their movies simply don’t seem like the kind of thing I’m into. On the flipside, I’m quite excited to see what’s next for Jennifer Kent and Debra Granik after The Babadook and Winter’s Bone, respectively. And I’ll also say that when I hear about a movie that sounds cool to me, I’m actually more intrigued when I find it was directed by a woman. I’m rambling now, but it’s kind of hard to unpack all of this in the comments section of a website.
One last thing. David, you really need brush the chip off your shoulder when it comes to Ava DuVernay directing a Marvel movie. I can’t see how it would be anything less than a win for her. Sure, it may mean you have to wait a while longer for her next “real” movie, but here are a few things to consider: 1) If it’s a hit (as it is likely to be), her profile will go way up and she’ll probably get to do whatever she wants next, provided she maintains her integrity, 2) There’s no reason to assume she won’t bring something of herself to the project, considering that noted auteurs Joss Whedon, James Gunn and Kenneth Branagh all managed to do just that, even with the Marvel machine firing on all cylinders, and 3) Maybe, just maybe, she really wants to do a Marvel movie, and if so that would be reason enough to be happy for her. I’m not saying that you have to like the movie or even go see it, I’m just saying it maybe doesn’t warrant the disdain you seem to have for the idea.
I think that’s everything. It’s at least most of the things.
Yeah, I might be playing up my disappointment a bit for the microphone. I’ll still be interested in seeing it but not as interested as I would be if it weren’t a franchise movie.
I don’t think I can take seriously any longer the notion that directing a big franchise movie does ANYTHING for a director’s career except get them more jobs directing big franchise movies. At BEST they can spend the better part of a decade doing a trilogy, only to get a single passion project through the pipeline. Gore Verbinski got RANGO, Sam Raimi got DRAG ME TO HELL, Michael Bay got PAIN & GAIN; all soon returned to the franchise world. How have Jon Favreau, Kenneth Branaugh, Joe Johnston, Bryan Singer, James Gunn, Sam Mendes, Catherine Hardwicke, or Gary Ross benefitted in any way from directing some of the highest-grossing franchise films of the past ten years? Where is this overflowing financial support? This notion that participating in this system somehow gives filmmakers these grand opportunities to do anything they please is a myth. It almost never happens, and certainly not as the result of a single film.
I see your point, but I think it kind of depends on the director. Christopher Nolan made Batman Begins which let him make The Prestige. Then he made The Dark Knight which let him make Inception. Then The Dark Knight Rises let him make Interstellar (though admittedly that project had already been in development under Spielberg). Alfonso Cuaron followed up Harry Potter with Children of Men, Peter Jackson got to make a three-hour King Kong movie after Lord of the Rings. Guillermo del Toro parlayed any goodwill from Hellboy into Pan’s Labyrinth. It’s doable.
As for some of your examples, I think Bryan Singer, Joe Johnston and Gore Verbinski are and have always been studio guys. They’re doing exactly what they want to do. Sam Mendes is doing Bond, but honestly he may be doing his best work there. Gary Ross has hardly ever directed movies himself anyway and is more of a producer than anything else, so he already gets to write his own ticket. James Gunn may be the one name that really proves your point, but I think it’s too early to tell with him.
So yes, fair point. But I think the truth may lie somewhere in the middle.
With Nolan, I’d say INCEPTION was his big “get” from the whole experience. THE PRESTIGE nearly went into production before BATMAN BEGINS became a huge priority at WB, and, as you mentioned, INTERSTELLAR was already a big to-do (though I’m sure Paramount would have been hesitant to go forward without someone of his or Spielberg’s stature; at any rate, it’s certainly not something he willed into existence).
The Jackson point bolsters my own, that it takes a whole trilogy to make anything happen.
Del Toro’s an interesting case…I’d look to BLADE II as his big studio play that got everything else rolling (and really, comparing the rewards of doing a Spanish/Mexican film after a Hollywood success is not really on par with a straight Hollywood-to-Hollywood train), but it was actually, if I’m recalling old interviews with him correctly, the acclaim surrounding PAN’S LABYRINTH that got HELLBOY II rolling, in a sort of reverse of the usual pattern.
We’ll have to disagree on Mendes; SKYFALL may be his worst film. Johnston couldn’t even get his last film (NOT SAFE FOR WORK) into theaters; I doubt that’s what he wants. Singer had relatively good success with VALKYRIE, but somewhere between there and the predetermined failure of JACK THE GIANT SLAYER ran back to the X-MEN franchise faster than Quicksilver. It’s totally possible that he’s doing what he wants to be doing, and it may be my own prejudices that make me so certain that nobody would make four freaking X-Men movies without feeling a little desperate.
Gary Ross does direct like a producer, I’ll give you that, and he actually has a movie on the horizon, but that still makes four years between that and launching one of the biggest properties of the decade.
And regardless of whether these directors are “studio guys,” they’ll still get scripts or treatments sent their way independent of studios offering them projects, some of which they’ll feel more passionately about than others. They could presumably use this accrued clout to get one of them through the system under their direction.
We should really put an asterisk next to Peter Jackson’s name here, since yes, he did make a trilogy, but he didn’t labor over it for the better part of a decade. Lord of the Rings is a single work regardless of its release model.
And let’s be clear; I didn’t mean helming a summer blockbuster automatically means an eternal blank check. Just that big success creates big opportunities.
How come every time I comment here I just end up fighting with Scott?
Surprised you didn’t somehow bring up A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, given Tyler’s mention of Taft earlier in the podcast.
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