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Archive for the ‘Chapter 5’ Category

Here is a follow-up to the Women Pioneers of the Cinema: Patty Jenkins and the Wonder Women post from a few days ago (see below).  For Mekado Murphy’s New York Times “Anatomy of a Scene” series, Patty Jenkins narrates a key scene from Wonder Woman, along with a nice tip of the hat to a strong inspiration for her — Richard Donner’s Superman from 1978.

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Director Patty Jenkins

As earlier periods of motion picture history could be described as the heyday of the Western or the Musical, we are clearly living in the age of the Superhero.  It seems like each summer brings the need for new articles on the evolution of the form — from Heroes for America! (And now the world.) or A Stink Bucket of Disappointment” or just some criminally wacky fun? (which was certainly far more the former than the latter) — and the current moment certainly calls for a nod in the direction of the upcoming release of the feature length film Wonder Woman. 

Patty Jenkins and Gal Gadot shooting Wonder Woman

Now, finally, a contemporary major studio release that features a female superhero — and not only that, but the most popular super-heroine in comic book history, a character created by William Moulton Marston as a testament to the power, independence, and strength of character of the women in its creator’s life.  For a story at least as interesting  and jaw-dropping as anything that screenwriters can whip up, Jill Lepore’s The Secret History of Wonder Woman delves into the incredible stories of Olive Byrne and her mother Ethel Byrne (and aunt Margaret Sanger), of Marston and his wife Elizabeth Holloway and their unconventional family, and of the genesis and early years of Wonder Woman. 

For this movie, another milestone is being reached: it is directed by a woman, Patty Jenkins.  The only previous feature film directed by Jenkins is the feature Monster, (which she also wrote), starring Charlize Theron in an Academy Award-winning performance as Aileen Wuornos, the infamous serial killer who died by lethal injection in 2002.  Since then, Jenkins has been directing television shows, particular for the pilot of The Killing (another production featuring a strong female protagonist), Entourage, and Betrayal.  Now, Jenkins has directed the highly anticipated feature Wonder Woman, starring Gal Gadot and Chris Pine, written by Allan Heinberg.  Here is a video interview with Jenkins about the movie, and here is an interview from FilmInk.

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Today marked the passing of a director whose career was undoubtedly one of the most interesting and unique of the past several decades: Jonathan Demme.  This fine obituary by Bruce Weber for the New York Times provides a strong overview of Demme’s career; for Demme’s impact on collaborators and friends, this article from Variety provides many moving testimonials, in addition to these words from director and actress Jodie Foster.  From among his works, my favorite will remain Something Wild, undoubtedly one of the most original works of its decade (with a killer soundtrack and as-always-stellar work from sound designer Skip Lievsay) and a movie that would certainly stand alongside Melvin and Howard in demonstrating Demme’s strengths as a chronicler of American society, a great director of actors, and a man with a musical soul.  It should also be noted that while he is justifiably celebrated for directing the Talking Heads concert movie Stop Making Sense, his beautiful video for New Order’s The Perfect Kiss is also an absolute treasure.

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In our series of posts about Women Pioneers of the Cinema, a few years ago we highlighted the work of one of the most important filmmakers in movie history: Alice Guy Blaché.  For some further information about this groundbreaking creator and studio head, you can check out this brief piece with video links from Open Culture.  Or, you can go straight to this short but informative video.  It is titled “The First Woman Filmmaker Nobody’s Heard Of” — well, that might be the case unless you learned about filmmaking and media literacy from Moving Images and mediateacher.net.  

And do you want an exciting piece of news?  There is a documentary in the works about this inspiring pioneer: Be Natural: The Untold Story of Alice Guy-Blaché, directed by Pamela B. Green.

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A moviemaker who blazed many trails, some of which that led to false paths and others that seemed to meander through Indiana Jones-styled jungle thickets or lost treasure labyrinths, Orson Welles continues to provide many lessons to directors, editors, sound designers, and everyone else involved in moving image creation.  Here is a highly recommended article on a lesser-known ahead-of-its-time innovation in his work: the video essay, as seen in F for Fake.  And the tale of rediscovering and rebuilding one of his “lost temples” of filmmaking (which was reported on in this blog a couple of years ago)— The Other Side of the Wind — goes on.   In a perfect 21st century twist worthy of the director of Citizen Kane, Netflix is the studio that has stepped in to finance this elusive, decades-old project through to fruition.

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screen-shot-2017-02-28-at-6-50-48-pmThis article by Google (about their own initiative) highlights interesting work in technology applications used to study and evaluate gender roles onscreen in film and to use data to analyze screen time by gender in a variety of movies.  This resource can be of value in media literacy work that explores gender bias and social implications of media messages.  For further research, there are many resources available through the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

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the-white-stripes-city-lights-video-640x470Michel Gondry, one of the most inventive and utterly unique motion picture wizards of our time, has delivered again.  In an original gesture, he went and made a video on his own for the White Stripes song “City Lights” as a gift to Third Man Records (having made a number of legendary music videos together, including the Lego classic “Fell in Love with a Girl” and the Meg White-inspired masterstroke “The Hardest Button to Button“).  Lessons to learn from his music videos in general: a hefty dose of vision; planning, then planning and practice and planning; and execution.  And throw in a few dashes of visual and sonic magic.

mondo_microbe_and_gasoline_1600x1200_86d7a1ee-2ea0-4e41-a3b3-8990a90e4185_1024x1024Gondry’s book The Be Kind Rewind Protocol is great food for thought for filmmakers and educators alike, and of course there are his movies, notably that one featuring Mos Def, Jack Black, and Danny Glover; Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, his exceptional collaboration with screenwriter Charlie Kaufman (and which I feel gets even better with age); The Thorn in the Heart, a documentary that grew out of a family story; an episode of Flight of the Conchords; and the mix of music videos, shorts, commercials, and odds and ends that have made up his twisting and turning career.

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