November 21, 2007

November 21, 2007

Taking a couple of days off for Thanksgiving but want to leave you with some tidbits for your holiday weekend. See you next week.

Films for the Holiday Weekend
August Rush
In a depressing fall dominated by Iraq war movies that have underperformed at the box office, August Rush is a much lighter family drama/tearjerker that feels like a breath of fresh air. Story centers around a young orphan (Freddie Highmore- this kid is really good) who will not give up hope that his parents are coming for him. Turns out he is a musical genius (as are both his parents played by Keri Russell and Jonathan Rhys Meyers) and he believes if he could just make the music loud enough his parents will know it is him and come find him. Since this is a Hollywood film, you can probably guess the ending.

On his travels he meets a dedicated social worker (Terence Howard) who takes a liking to him, and is taken in by Wizard a Fagin like figure played by Robin Williams. He is den dad to a group of homeless kids and keeps them safe but makes them work for him. He borderlines on creepy but the film thankfully never goes there

How August Rush (the name given to him by Wizard) ends up as an orphan is tragic. Russell (a brilliant cellist) gets pregnant after a night with Meyers (singer in a rock band) and her overprotective father makes sure they never see each other again. When Russell is in an accident close to her due date her father tells her the baby died and sends him off to an orphanage.

Russell's Lyla is devastated by the loss and gives up her music as does Rhys Meyers' Louis. Lyla and Louis both rediscover their music on the way to discovering their child. As you can probably tell music is a crucial element in the film and the climax concert in Central Park is very well done and quite moving. Tears were flowing all through the audience.

Film is skillfully directed by Kirsten Sheridan daughter of Jim Sheridan who was nominated for a writing Oscar for In America. Film opens wide in over 2300 theatres today.

Other films this weekend
The weekend juggernaut will be Disney's Enchanted (which I have not yet seen). It's going to be big. Opens in over 3700 theatres. Very excited to see Amy Adams and Dr. McDreamy back on the big screen in a romantic role. And those of you in LA take yourself to see Nina's Heavenly Delights. We interviewed director Pratibha Parmar earlier this week.
The writers and the studios are supposedly going back to negotiations next week. I read that the studios are starting to get pissed off that regular folks like us are calling their offices demanding that they settle the strike so that the TV season can be salvaged. Link below lists all the relevant phone numbers for you to make a harassing call to your most hated studio exec.
Bring Back TV!

TV this weekend
Out of Africa- Robert Redford and Meryl Streep in Africa. What more do you need? (7:15am, MAX)

Battlestar Galactica: Razor- for those of you who are not experienced in the updated Battlestar, this show is all about women in leadership roles. It's what I call a post-gender sci-fi show. This self contained film stars Michelle Forbes as the commander of the Pegasus on the eve on the Cylon attack against the colonies. (Sci-Fi, 9pm)

November 20, 2007

November 20, 2007

Watched Sunday Night's episode of Cold Case and if you don't have this show on your weekly watch list, you should. (Just keep in mind if you TIVO it, the show sometimes starts late because of football so I add an extra hour just to be sure.)

The episode entitled Boy Crazy was written by Joanna Lovinger and directed by Holly Dale. From what I can tell from the credits, Cold Case (detectives try to solve cold cases) is a really woman friendly show created by Meredith Stiehm. The lead is Detective Lily Rush (played by Kathryn Morris) and is the most woman centric show in the Jerry Bruckheimer TV slate, and on CBS which seems to be the station dedicated to showing as many dismembered women it can get away with each week.

The show was about trying to solve the murder of a young woman from 1963 who "dressed like a boy." There were many issues raised like gender identity disorder and roles assigned to women, and how it sucks not to fit in the world around you. Don't want to give it away, but I thought it was handled very well. Check you listings because sometimes the show reruns the next Saturday. Kudos the the whole team.

The Academy released the list of the 15 films shortlisted for the documentary Oscar. As usual, women are prominent in this category. Female nominees include:
Ellen Spiro (co-director Phil Donahaue): Body of War
Bonni Cohen (co-director Richard Berge): The Rape of Europa
Andrea Nix Fine (co-director Sean Fine): War/Dance
Tricia Regan: Autism: The Musical

Final five nominees will be announced on Jan 22 with all the rest of the Oscar nominations.

Filmmaker Alert
"The Tribeca Film Institute and fashion designer Gucci announced the joint launch of the Gucci Tribeca Documentary Fund. The fund will offer finishing funds and post production guidance to independent filmmakers in need of finances to complete documentaries that promote social change and illuminate issues in need of comprehensive coverage currently missing from mainstream media. " (Indiewire)

Julie Christie has a good shot at getting a nomination for Away from Her.
Julie Christie is Good at Being Picky (LA Times)

Amy Adams on Enchanted (which will do some serious money this weekend) (EW)

Q&A with Charlotte Gainsbourg on the new Bob Dylan movie
Charlotte Gainsbourg Was Totally There for Dylan Film

Tube Tonight
Mia Farrow is featured in the Frontline documentary on Darfur (9pm, PBS)

November 19, 2007

November 19, 2007

Nina's Heavenly Delights, an uplifting film about following your heart, opens this Wednesday, November 21 in LA, and November 30th in NY. Director, Pratibha Parmar spoke with Women & Hollywood about the film and the struggles women directors go through to get their projects made.

W&H: Why was it important for you to tell this story?

Pratibha Parmar: Many reasons. One of the received wisdoms in the film industry is that you should always make your first film about something personal. So I chose to write a story that was based on my own experience of falling in love in a way and with a person that was a complete surprise! I wanted to tell a story that has at its heart a non traditional ‘forbidden love’ but using a traditional genre like romantic comedy.

W&H: It took seven years from writing the story until production. How did you persevere in your vision throughout that time?

PP: Now I know why they say make your first film about something you feel passionate about, because in that long seven year journey to get this film onto the screen, it really was sheer blind passion and determination that helped me to keep going. You hear so many more ‘No’s’ then you ever hear ‘maybe’ or ‘yes.’ It was also pride and sometimes anger that kept me going. I could see male directors with half the experience that I have making their debut features without the kind of intense struggle that I was going through, without having to ‘prove’ that they were ready to make a feature.

By the time I had come to make Nina’s Heavenly Delights, I had already made award winning documentaries and also directed a number of short dramas. So it was frustrating to say the least when I kept being asked by potential financiers if ‘I was confident enough to direct drama’ and ‘work with a big crew.’ I don’t think the majority of men in the film industry internationally have an innate sense of confidence in women directors in the way they do with male directors.

W&H: Did you write the film knowing that you would direct it? Do you think that more women directors are writing their own scripts because so few scripts are available to them to direct?

PP: Oh yes, when I wrote the story it was very much with a view to directing it. I am a director first and foremost and want to tell stories that I don’t often see on the cinema screens. I think first we have to be SEEN as directors to be even sent scripts for consideration. I am always having to generate my own work and that can often mean that you have to wait so many more years until you make your next feature. So it would be lovely to be sent scripts that have already gone through ‘development hell’ and are ready to go into production.

W&H: Music is a very important element in the film and brings life to many of the scenes especially in Bobbi's scenes. Talk a little about the importance of music in telling this story.

PP: Music has always been a key story telling device for me. I had chosen some of the songs in the film very early on. I wanted the texture of the music to reflect the world of the film which is a cross-cultural and cross everything else kind of world. The few Bollywood songs in the film have lyrics which help to advance the narrative. And then there are also contemporary pop songs like The Monkees’ ‘ Day Dream Believer’ and tracks from some great female singer/songwriters like Alex Parkes, Shelley Poole and Holly Vallance, whom many people will recognize. Music can trigger so many different emotional responses and you don’t always need dialogue when a lyric or a musical refrain can evoke the mood or story so much more effectively.

W&H: What do you want people to get out of this film?

PP: I want people to leave the cinema feeling happy, hungry and horny. No seriously – I want people to see the characters beyond their sexuality or culture. The film showed on British Airways long haul flights last Christmas and a friend was traveling from London to Delhi when it was screening. He got his whole cabin to watch the movie and at first a few of the Indian mothers were saying, ’oh dear, we didn’t know this happened in our communities,’ i.e., a woman falling in love with another woman, but then half way through the film, he said everyone forgot that Nina is gay and were rooting for her to win the cooking competition. It was great to hear that.

W&H: There are so few films released in the states that feature female leads and you not only have a woman lead in you piece, she is Asian and realizing she is gay. How is the film being marketed so that the widest audience possible will be exposed to the story? Do you think that the audience will be gay people, Asian people, Scottish people, women or all of the above?

PP: I hope that the audience will be people of every color, sexuality, musical tastes and everyone who enjoys a feel good movie! So far the film has screened at over 50 international film festivals – many of them mainstream festivals and some for niche markets. But across the board, the audiences have loved it. From Hong Kong to India to Paris to Turin, people have responded very positively.

The US distributors, Regent Releasing/hereFilms have been fantastic so far! They totally get that the movie has great potential to break out into the mainstream and so they are trying (with their limited resources) to get the word out there. Ultimately with films that are not ‘star’ led or have some kind of celebrity marketing push, it’s the WORD OF MOUTH that is crucial. So I really hope people who have seen it and like it blog about it, get onto Rotten Tomatoes and other sites and write or vote for it and help spread a buzz.

W&H: What does it mean to be a woman director in a world where so few women are directors? Do you feel an added responsibility?

PP: The main responsibility I feel is to myself as a story teller and to make films with truthfulness, honesty and integrity. In doing so, if the work inspires other women to want to become directors, then that’s terrific but I am not into carrying that ‘burden of responsibility’ for all women or all minorities for that matter. Having said that, I am an Associate of the Birds Eye Women’s Film Festival in the UK and have been their supporter since they first formed. As an active member of Women in Film & Television in the UK, I helped to initiate the Women Directing Change program where less experienced women directors get the opportunity to shadow more experienced film directors, both men and women. The abysmally low number of women directors is appalling- so I am supportive of anything that helps to change that.

Keep watch as to when the film will open in your city. More info: Nina's Heavenly Delights

Box Office- Margot at the Wedding playing in only two venues brought in over $82,000. Film expands to 35 venues in the top 12 markets, Wednesday.

Jennifer Jason Leigh stars with Nicole Kidman in husband Noah Baumbach's Margot at the Wedding
Jennifer Jason Leigh Brings Home to Work With Her (LA Times)

Emmanuelle Seigner on Movies and Rocking Out (LA Times)

Linda Cardellini talks about ER's 300th episode
Nurse Role Gives Linda Cardelini a Nice Health Run on ER (NY Daily News

German director Doris Dorrie talks about her new film, How to Cook Your Life

Anne Thompson talks up Laura Linney's performance in Tamara Jenkins' The Savages.
Oscarwatch: The Savages Jenkins and Linney (Variety)

Not all young actresses get lured into the tabloid world. Why don't we hear more about them?
Young Actresses Focused on Careers (Variety)

A story about the International Women's Film Festival in Israel
Israel's female filmmakers get big boost with 'Women in the Picture' (Israel21c)

Tube Tonight
Friends with Money- Nicole Holofcener's look at how money gets in the way of friendships. (12:45pm and 8pm, ENCORE)

Grey Gardens- the cult documentary that spawned a Broadway show and now a movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore (7:15pm, SUNDANCE)

Weeds- season finale (10pm, SHOWTIME)