18 posts categorized "Women Filmmakers"

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

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October 11, 2011


Sleeping_BeautyA bold feminist exploitation think-piece about the perceived and disguised societal demands placed on women, "Sleeping Beauty" is a hauntingly erotic film that languishes in the recesses of your subconscious. What more could you ask for?

With the producing endorsement of famed director Jane Campion ("The Piano"), Australian novelist-turned-filmmaker Julia Leigh explores what she terms "Wonder Cinema" by way of the Sleeping Beauty fairytale, upon which she embellishes and extrapolates. Yasunari Kawabata's "The House of Sleeping Beauties" and Gabriel Garcia Marquez's "Memories of My Melancholy Whores" are meaningful tomes of reference.

Devour Me. If You Think That You Can Stomach Me. | Sleeping beauty movie, Sleeping  beauty, Beauty

Waifish Emily Browning ("The Uninvited") is Lucy, an Australian college student working various jobs to make ends meet. She gives her esophagus and stomach up to paid medical testing, works in a restaurant, and collates copies for a tyrannical female boss. In her spare time the free-spirited lass likes to indulge in spontaneous meat-market pick-ups with random men and women. Casual drug use is also on her menu. Ideals of shame or restraint are not in Lucy's vocabulary. She's a poker-faced extreme urban explorer.

Sleeping Beauty (2011) - Photo Gallery - IMDb

Emily takes on a high-paid position as a nude banquet server for private dinner parties in the private mansion of an elegant Madame named Clara (Rachael Blake). After serving her first dinner party, Lucy burns a hundred dollar note from her ample pay. Capitalism, you see, isn't her motivation in life. The fearless femme de provocation is promoted to the position of a sleeper.

febbraio – 2013 – I PRIGIONIERI DELLO SCHERMO - Pagina 5 | Emily browning,  Emily browning sleeping beauty, Sleeping beauty movie

Mistress Clara administers a sleeping potion that ensures Lucy's unconscious state for a male client to do with as he pleases in bed--short of marking or penetrating Lucy's ridiculously nubile body.

Sleeping Beauty - Emily Browning

The idea of semi-impotent older men paying to lie next to an unconscious woman connects to the obvious choice one such man might make to end his life during the experience. The three episodes we witness reflect on damaged male psyches grappling desperately for a self-identifying, albeit clinical and economic, conquest. Each episode is prefigured by a host/client chat which allows for some character explanation on the part of the ostensibly misogynistic men.


In her private time Lucy likes to spend time with her best friend, an alcoholic bachelor edging closer to committing suicide. The two communicate in a shorthand of polite repartee that disguises their deeper emotional issues. The subplot is the most forced in the film, but contributes a layer of altruism to Lucy's transparent identity.


This deeply sensual character exists at the polar opposite of American cinema's Mumblecore movement of dumbed-down slackerdom. Lucy takes action with gusto even if it means giving herself wholly over to an experience with which she cannot consciously interact. "Sleeping Beauty" is an artistic exploitation film meant to rankle bourgeoisie attitudes of propriety. It’s a dirty job, and Julia Leigh has done it with panache.

FanForce | Sleeping Beauty

Not Rated. 104 mins.

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

Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

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

Cole Smithey on Patreon

September 15, 2011


Colesmithey.comNorwegian filmmaker Anne Sewitsky makes a thought-provoking and sexy debut with a romantic comedy/drama neatly offset by a cappella musical interludes. Schoolteacher Kaja (wonderfully played by Agnes Kittelsen) was abandoned by her mother as a child. Her desperate need to have a family has driven Kaja into the arms of her unhappy Eirik (Joachim Rafaelsen). Eirik is a closet homosexual who plays cruel games with the couple's son Theodor aimed at upsetting Kaja.

Happy, Happy,' Directed by Anne Sewitsky — Review - The New York Times

In rural Norway's gloom of constant snowy winter Kaja has developed a permanent sense of joy as her primary defense mechanism. Communal inspiration arrives when married couple Genial (Henrik Rafaelsen) and Elisabeth (Maibritt Saerens) move in to the house next door, which Kaja and Eirik rent out.

Happy, Happy Anne Sewitsky

Genial and Elisabeth have their own adopted child, an African boy named Noa who the couple habitually neglect. Communal dinner parties and parlor games reveal problems in both marriages. Katja can't resist throwing herself at Genial, who picks up on the opportunity to exact some personal revenge against his wife. Elisabeth's recent act of adultery was the inciting reason the couple moved away from the city and its temptations.

Sex-Starved Housewives & Gay Iranian Refugees: Sundance Movies

First-time screenwriter Ragnhild Tronvoll makes a few missteps here and there, but makes strong social commentary on the offhand ways seeds of racism, sexism, and anger are planted and fostered.

Rated R. 85 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

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