January 4, 2008

January 4, 2008

Movies This Weekend
Movies from December dominate this weekend with Juno still expanding to continue to build on its critical wins and great buzz.

Options for the weekend include:
PS I Love You
The Golden Compass
The Orphanage
August Rush
The Savages
Margot at the Wedding

Opening next week
The Business of Being Born in NY on January 9.

Fox has also pushed back the release of 27 Dresses to January 18 to take advantage of the holiday weekend and to give Juno some more breathing room. Smart. Problem is that Mad Money starring Katie Holmes, Queen Latifah and Diane Keaton opens that weekend. Will there be a big enough audience for two films targeted at women?
New Studio Bumps Into Hollywood Ploy (LA Times)

TV This Weekend
Sunday night has some premieres
The Wire- hand down the best dhow on TV. Each season the series takes on a failing institution. This final season is about the media. Here's a review
The Wire (Fresh Air- audio), 9pm HBO
L Word, 9pm SHO
Cashmere Mafia, 10pm ABC

Helen Hunt's directorial debut Then She Found Me Opens the Palm Spring International Film Festival
(The Desert Sun)

January 3, 2008

January 3, 2008

Cashmere Mafia Premieres on Sunday on ABC
With the writer's strike now in its 9th week with my DVR bereft of shows to be recorded over the next couple of weeks, I, as a self-described TV addict, (I came to terms with this problem many years ago) am especially happy to greet any new shows.

We all know that TV not movies is the place to be if you are a strong, independent women. And ever since it went off the air, we (the general we) all have been waiting for a show to take up the mantle as the next Sex and the City.

While I believe that the current dramas like Grey's Anatomy and the Women's Murder Club owe their existences to Sex and the City, no show has yet been as deliberate as Cashmere Mafia. Probably because Cashmere Mafia, like Sex, is created and executive produced by Darren Star attempting to build on the same formula that launched a hit a decade ago.

Having seen a very early version of the pilot (which has undergone changes to make the women more likable- yikes!) I was excited to see four interesting and different actresses, some like Miranda Otto and Frances O'Connor with serious film pedigrees, and Lucy Liu with her Ally McBeal and Charlie's Angels cred.

According to the press material the show is about "four ambitious, sexy women who have been best friends since business school, Mia, Zoe, Juliet and Caitlin try to have it all."

That's the rub to me -- no one man or woman can have it all - that is a load of bull fed to us to make us feel that we suck at everything we do. These women are competing at everything all the time, and even though I enjoyed the show, it was exhausting to watch. The focus on business and competition (including women fighting with women at work) makes me long for reruns of Sex and the City which above all was about the relationships between the women. A big plus is that the show features the only lesbian character on broadcast TV (unbelievable!) played by Bonnie Sommerville.

The show is on ABC which has had much success reaching the female audience. I think its got a good shot at being a success, especially if people find it during the writer's strike. Competition will arrive in the form of Lipstick Jungle in February which is created by Candace Bushnell the writer of the columns that Sex and the City was based on.

Quotes from a USA Today piece:

Why can't there always be shows about women? No one asks a man if it's difficult to have another show about men."

Certainly, there's a surge in women-centric programming on television, with an increase in strong roles for women, even as powerful, memorable leading parts decline for actresses in films.

There's Glenn Close on FX drama Damages, Holly Hunter in TNT's Saving Grace, Sally Field at the center of ABC family drama Brothers & Sisters and Mary-Louise Parker on Showtime's Weeds, all nominated for Golden Globes; the standout female doctors on ABC's Grey's Anatomy and the suffering spouses on Desperate Housewives, TV's No. 2 and 3 scripted series; and for die-hard fans, the sanitized singles on TBS' cleaned-up reruns of Sex.

Networks "realize, wow, women can sell television. It's not new," says Cashmere's Somerville. "But women sell movie tickets. Women sell ideas. Women are an integral part of the business world. I've always worked on shows with women.
Sorry Bonnie, according to Hollywood women don't sell movie tickets.

The Women of Cashmere Mafia Suit Themselves (USA Today)

L Word Premiere Sunday Night
The L Word kicks off its fifth season on Sunday night on Showtime. (I'm working on getting creator Ilene Chaiken to answer some questions about the season.) One of the main focuses this season is a "don't ask don't tell" storyline with Tasha (played by Rose Rollins) at the center.
L Word's Rose Rollins in on the Front Lines (NY Daily News)

Ellen Goodman takes on Juno
There are very few better commentators on women's issues than Ellen Goodman that it's worthy to take a look at some of her comments.
But we are in the midst of an entire wave of movies about unexpectedly pregnant women -- from Knocked Up to Waitress to Bella -- all deciding to have their babies and all wrapped up in nice, neat bows.
Here is a cinematic world without complication. Or contraception. By some screenwriter consensus, abortion has become the right-to-choose that's never chosen. In Knocked Up it was referred to as "shmashmortion." In Juno the abortion clinic looks like a punk-rock tattoo parlor.
I don't want to return to those wonderful yesteryears when Dan Quayle took on Murphy Brown. But we're navigating some pretty tricky cultural waters here.
On the one hand, liberals who want teens to have access to contraception and abortion don't want to criticize single mothers. On the other hand, conservatives who want teens to be abstinent until marriage applaud girls who don't have abortions.
I agree with everything here. To me the issue that Hollywood needs to remember is that movies do matter, they do effect people and they pick up lessons --good and bad-- from them. Abortion and teen pregnancy are still very controversial and important issues. Clinics are still being bombed. Young women are still getting pregnant with regularity in fact I read a story today that said that said that 20 schoolgirls get pregnant in England each day. I am still floored that Knocked Up got away with calling an abortion a "smashmortion." It's the flippancy that makes me so angry with Judd Apatow. At least his halo has been tarnished by the flop of Walk Hard.

Still the best movie that dealt with teenage pregnancy that I saw all year long was Stephanie Daley. Rent it!

In the Movies, She Keeps the Baby (Washington Post Group via Alternet)

L'Oreal and Women in Film to Honor Women Directors with Vision award at Sundance (Variety)

Vanessa Redgrave brings a wisdom and gravity to Atonement.
A Touch of Class
(LA Times)

January 2, 2008

January 2, 2008

Happy New Year. Here's to a better year for women in film and to a quick settling of the writer's strike. (I know that won't happen, but wishing doesn't hurt anything.)

Opportunities for Women Directors in Indie Films
The Christian Science Monitor looks at the opportunities for women directors in the indie film world. There is no doubt that women do contribute strong films in the indie world, women still can't get in the door at the studios. While this lack of opportunities and blatant sexism sucks, if I was a female director I wouldn't want to direct the crap the studios release anyway.

Some quotes:

"This question of how far women have come is one I've been asked for the last 20 years," says Jeanine Basinger, film historian at Wesleyan University in Middleton, Conn. "We creep slowly forward," she says, adding that women have made the most progress outside the studios. "Indies offer more opportunities for women."
They're more comfortable handing the reins of a multimillion-dollar, multiple-year investment to other men, agrees Michelle Byrd, executive director of the Independent Feature Project (IFP), in a phone call from New York. "That's the biggest reason change is so slow in coming," she adds.
[Robin Swicord director of the under-appreciated Jane Austen Book Club] "I tell them, don't even try to get into the big studios anymore," she says. "Just get a friend and a crew together, make your film, and get it up on the Internet. That's the future."
New distribution avenues have also made it easier for small or unusual films to find an audience. Women audiences tend to shy away from heavy action and more toward "stories from the heart," says Irish filmmaker Kirsten Sheridan, whose independent film, "August Rush," made a splash this past month. But, adds the daughter of filmmaker Jim Sheridan ("In America"), her experience and increased confidence has made her eager to branch out into areas more typically associated with men, such as politics and social issues.
New distribution avenues are not the solution for women unless people are referring to other distribution locations other than theatres. There is too much product and not enough venues.

Kristen- what are you talking about? Politics and social issues are the types of film most commonly associated with women. if you want to play with the boys and be a director and not a woman director (which seems to be a common obsession with women directors in Hollywood) do an action flick. I really wish that women directors would get over being labeled as "women" and focus on the films -- it's not like you're being called a feminist (ha ha)
In Hollywood, the Glass Ceiling Cracks- A Little (Christian Science Monitor)

Laura Linney on Women's Roles in Hollywood

Coming from the theatre, how does she feel about the general quality of female roles in movies? Linney's 'fake wife' opposite Jim Carrey in The Truman Show was, ironically, more textured and 'real' than a lot of the wives/girlfriend roles Hollywood throws up. Linney is silent for a long beat. 'It is a little empty,' she says eventually. 'Not to mention a waste of a great resource.'

Linney feels that Hollywood has always been hard on women. 'And it will continue to be hard on women. How much they choose to participate is a whole other issue.' Linney's talking about appearance, image? 'All of it. There is an enormous amount of pressure.' ...

'The subtext seems to be: "You're 40. Be afraid!"' Many high-profile actresses complain that they get to a certain age and there are no roles. 'There's some truth to that,' she says. 'But I don't think the answer is to be afraid, give up, surrender to it. I mean, go do a play, do a radio play. You're not going to be an ingenue forever.'

Linney pauses, checks herself: 'It's hard for me to say because I'm in such a privileged position. There are so many women out there who don't get to work, who put in just as much effort and have such a rough time. It's really about being realistic. No one is going to be an A-list movie star and make millions of dollars forever; you're just not. But,' she adds, 'it's also about the fact that I think we're lucky we got to be 40. There are so many people out there who die way too young, so all of this, "Boo hoo, we're getting older!"' Linney shakes her head, wonderingly. 'I'm like, "Well, there is an alternative."'

What Lies Beneath (The Guardian)

Like most people who follow Hollywood, I am obssessed with Nikki Finke's website, Deadline Hollywood. The NY Observer named her its Media Mench of the Year. Go Nikki!

Tamara Jenkins on the Treatment with Elvis Mitchell

Gloria Reuben Makes a Return to ER tomorrow night. (LA Times)