5 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

February 04, 2021


Screen Shot 2021-02-04 at 1.07.47 AMEquality. Recognition. Artistic and personal truth. I’ve watched all of Agnès Varda films while discovering Criterion’s lush celebration of the French New Wave’s progenitor. If you could only have one filmmaker’s oeuvre on your private desert island, Agnès Varda’s films are the right choice to last you the rest of your life.

In Varda-approved random fashion I begin my slight review of Varda’s supremely personal, transgressive, and satisfying films with Daguerréotypes, a documentary film that fully expresses Agnès Varda’s confidence and openness to the world around her. In this case that meant the 90 meter distance of cable that her camera could reach from her floor-level apartment to the shops and locations in the Rue Daguerre district of Paris. Varda was raising her two-year-old son at the time, so she needed to stay close to home. Varda's catlike curiosity pours through every second of this truly delightful movie.


The magician who appears at the film’s opening credits returns during a public performance in front of an audience of (Parisian) neighborhood regulars. Everything from the magician’s formal approach to his audience and their delightful reactions to his Grand Guignol-inspired tricks, Varda captures a dynamic personal immediacy to time and place. Think Les Blank. There's boldness in Varda's subtle simplicity. Agnès Varda retained this transparency throughout her spectacular career as a filmmaker of the first water.     


The film's title comes from Rue Daguerre, the street that Varda lived on. The street was named after Louis Daguerre, "inventor of the Daguerreotypes of photographic printing."


Naturally this movie is a time capsule of French life, by virtue of Agnès Varda's generous and willing ability to reach out to her neighbors in a cinematic way. There is much to enjoy, relish, and learn from the elderly subjects in this treasured movie. Taken with the joy that Varda captures and inspires, "Daguerréotypes" is a social study for all time. What love. What magic. What a celebration of life.


Five Stars

February 06, 2012


WindfallWhat you don’t know can hurt you. Laura Israel’s probing examination of America’s emergent windmill industry comes through a microsomal case study in the small upstate New York town of Meredith.

Initial interest in providing funds for the economically depressed town through green energy turns to anger and fear. The local populace becomes increasingly divided as ill effects of the sky-scraping windmills come to light. The windmills’ low frequency sounds can cause illness. Shadow flickers across roads present dangerous conditions, and impinge on the peacefulness of homes.

Windfall (Israel, 2010) | Kenneth R. Morefield

Sometimes the 400-foot tall windmills are struck by lightening and can fall over. They also cause bats’ lungs to explode. And the list goes on. Most disturbing is the way the LLC-titled windmill companies operate like old-fashioned carpetbaggers who take the money and run. The issue inflames Meredith’s town hall politics while faceless investors who stand to gain enormous profit don’t dare show their faces.

Film on wind farms replays familiar conflicts | Block Island Times

“Windfall” turned this viewer off to the idea of windmills as a feasible long-term option for renewable energy. Although it’s not directly compared, solar energy comes out looking like a much better option than windmill farms for lessening the burden placed on the nuclear, coal, and oil-driven energy grid.

Not Rated. 82 mins.

3 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

January 22, 2012


Declaration of warA new twist on the docudrama genre, “Declaration of War” is an affecting autobiographical story about a young French couple faced with caring for their 18-month son Adam after he’s diagnosed with a brain tumor.

Director/co-writer/actress Valerie Donzelli plays out her real-life personage as her pseudonymous character Juliette, a young Parisian hipster. Juliette meets her mate-to-be, with the likely name of Romeo, at a house party. Like Donzelli, co-writer Jeremie Elkaim plays his real-life role as Adam’s father and committed partner to Donzelli’s character.

Declaration of War: The music behind the movie | Sonic Smörgåsbord

An opening scene divulges Adam’s survival from the potentially life threatening disease so as not to hold the audience hostage with unnecessary suspense. This benevolent narrative movement allows the story to breathe with the kind of naturalism the filmmakers intend. Although the movie periodically stumbles during a few off-putting moments of commentary from indistinct narrators, the heartfelt chronicle percolates with a heightened sense of authenticity.

Declaration of War: Valérie Donzelli interview | Movie News | SBS Movies

Donzelli liberates the film’s potentially cloistering hospital atmosphere in which non-actors fulfill their roles. She does so with stylized elegiac sequences that communicate the couple’s romantic connection and practical methods for working through the terrible pressures that transform their daily lives. The filmmaker’s fluid camera work and brilliant use of music, adds a level of excitement to the drama without overpowering the film as you might experience in a typical Hollywood disease movie.

Declaration of War | Independent Ethos

There are no cheap flashes of sentimentality on display. The couple’s “declaration of war” against their son’s cancer comes with heavy personal costs that are transcended during the film’s joyful closing scene.

French Film Festival UK 2012 - HOME

Not Rated. 100 mins.

4 Stars

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

This website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Cole Smithey on Patreon

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