Cross Post from Mubi

Before Jim McKay jumped exclusively into directing episodes for television series (mainly The Wire and now Treme) he made a couple of my favorite women’s centric pictures in Girls Town and Our Song. Both are very naturalistic films that opt for emotionally and thematic honesty, rather than melodrama, when it comes to young women’s maturation and the issues they face. Bonus points for them actually being ethnically diverse and depicting characters that are not middle class. Even though McKay is stuck in TV Land he’s still helping producing films centered on female characters like Mosquita y Mari.

We have the lovely Ava DuVernay who posts on Mubi. She just won the best director’s feature at Sundance with her film The Middle of Nowhere which is being released in the coming months at select theaters. In 2010 she released I Will Follow which was about a woman coming to terms with the death of her aunt. There was also Dee Rees’ film Pariah that came out last year. It’s often lazily read as “just another coming out story”, but that’s almost always by (white) men who do not understand just in fact how radical it is for a Black person, ESPECIALLY A BLACK LESBIAN WOMAN, to openly explore the dynamics of sexuality. I mean it’s 2012 an they’re still asking Ain’t I a Woman?

I’ll let the other posters discuss films from around the globe (even though I do have a couple of my own examples in my pocket). Two I would like to mention are Satoshi Kon and Hayao Miyazaki. Two animation directs that consistently (Noooooooooooooooo Satoshi Kon :‘( RIP) put forth beautifully drawn (literally and figuratively) female characters of all ages. It’s interesting with all the talk of women’s pictures being unable to sell that Miyazaki constantly makes smash hits in Japan with almost exclusively featuring stories starring female characters of all ages that are beloved by males of all ages.

We can discuss more examples throughout the thread. As to answer the question that was prompted before stupidity ensued, a large reason there are far less films that directed about women is because they’re regulated to being ONLY for women (that’s not even before factoring things like race/sexuality that further other women). They are seen as specialty/niche films that do not deserve serious consideration. It doesn’t help that even when a great many men attempt to direct/write women suck at writing women because they only exist as hackneyed stereotypes rather than people. Even if they start out as people, as soon as they do something deemed uncomfortable by a male they are thrown into that stereotype. Doesn’t laugh at a joke she deems sexist? She is now a frigid humorless b****. I think Junot Diaz pretty much summed up my position in The Atlantic.

The Atlantic: It sounds like you’re saying that literary “talent” doesn’t inoculate a write—especially a male writer—from making gross, false misjudgments about gender. You’d think being a great writer would give you empathy and the ability to understand people who are unlike you—whether we’re talking about gender or another category. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

Junot Diaz: I think that unless you are actively, consciously working against the gravitational pull of the culture, you will predictably, thematically, create these sort of fucked-up representations. Without fail. The only way not to do them is to admit to yourself [that] you’re fucked up, admit to yourself that you’re not good at this shit, and to be conscious in the way that you create these characters. It’s so funny what people call inspiration. I have so many young writers who’re like, “Well I was inspired. This was my story.” And I’m like, “OK. Sir, your inspiration for your stories is like every other male’s inspiration for their stories: that the female is only in there to provide sexual service.” There comes a time when this mythical inspiration is exposed for doing exactly what it’s truthfully doing: to underscore and reinforce cultural structures, or I’d say, cultural asymmetry.

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Great movies you can watch for free with zero commercial breaks!

Okay, I’m still having trouble getting back here everyday with topics. I’m going to stop promising stuff and  just get into the habit of writing instead of waiting for inspiration to strike me. Today is just going to be recommendations however because why the hell not? Note some of these movies are separated into multiple parts! Tomorrow I will do short films. It’s already queued up.

Cheick Oumar Sissoko – Genesis

(entire film available with English subtitles. Separated in 10 parts)

Genesis is a visually stunning film of the Biblical story of the house of Abraham, told from an African perspective. Based on chapters 33-37 of the book of Genesis, the film portrays the bitter rivalry between the brothers Jacob and Esau, which threatens to engulf both clans in a never-ending cycle of violence.

Jacob the Hebrew herder has tricked his older brother Esau (famed African musician Salif Keita) out of his birthright, so Esau and his tribe of nomadic hunters plot revenge on Jacob and his people. Their Cannanite cousins, led by Hamor, are drawn into the conflict. When Jacob’s daughter Dina is abducted by Hamor’s son Sichem, he allows them to marry. But Jacob’s sons are still angry, leading to further violence.

Unlike Hollywood’s sanitized versions of the Bible, Genesis shows men driven as much by greed and anger as by devotion to God. Using the striking African landscape, director Sissoko creates a powerful story of hatred and revenge that resonates in many parts of the world today.

Fernando E. Solanas – Social Genocide

No English subtitles for this one unfortunately.

After the fall of the military dictatorship in 1983, successive democratic governments launched a series of reforms purporting to turn Argentina into the world’s most liberal and prosperous economy. Less than twenty years later, the Argentinians have lost literally everything: major national companies have been sold well below value to foreign corporations; the proceeds of privatizations have been diverted into the pockets of corrupt officials; revised labour laws have taken away all rights from employees; in a country that is traditionally an important exporter of foodstuffs, malnutrition is widespread; millions of people are unemployed and sinking into poverty; and their savings have disappeared in a final banking collapse. The film highlights numerous political, financial, social and judicial aspects that mark out Argentina’s road to ruin. –Trigon Film

Sidney Meyers – The Quiet One

The story of a lonely young boy growing up in Harlem. Using a semi-documentary technique, the film-makers realistically capture the hostile environment which leads the boy to delinquency. The youth is sent to Wiltwyck School for rehabilitation, where a psychiatrist and counselor try to break through the wall of silence which the boy uses to hide his fear and bitterness. —IMDb

Bert Stern – Jazz on a Summer’s Day

In 1958, Bert Stern took a film crew to Newport, Rhode Island for the Newport Jazz Festival. No film has ever presented a greater array of talent in a more complementary fashion. Thelonious Monk builds a lovely version of “Blue Monk” and Anita O’Day sings “Sweet Georgia Brown” and “Tea for Two,” with Jack Teagarden and Louis Armstrong performing “Rockin’ Chair.” Eric Dolphy plays with the Chico Hamilton Quartet, and Mahalia Jackson, Dinah Washington, Chuck Berry and the George Shearing Quintet also perform. What a movie! –Telluride Film Festival

Charles Burnett – Nightjohn

Sarny, a 12-year-old slave girl in the ante-bellum South, faces a relatively hopeless life. Then Nightjohn arrives. A former runaway slave who bears telltale scars on his back, he takes Sarny under his wing and, in exchange for a pinch of tobacco, secretly begins to teach her to read and write, a crime punishable by death. “Words,” he says, “are freedom. Slavery is made of words: laws, deeds and passes.” –IMDb

Haile Gerima – Harvest: 3000 years

I’m always moved by films made out of necessity, by people who simply had to pick up a camera and shoot, to tell a story that no one else was telling. Particularly when those films are made under challenging circumstances. It’s easy for us, in the United States and in Europe, to take our systems and traditions for granted. Making a movie is always hard, but making a movie in an undeveloped nation, during a state of unrest, for and about a population that will have little chance of ever seeing it, is next to impossible.

The great Ethiopian filmmaker Haile Gerima came to UCLA to study filmmaking in the early 70s, and it was during that time that he conceived and made the film that you’re about to see, in a beautiful new restoration from the Cineteca di Bologna. Harvest 3000 Years was shot on black and white 16mm, over two weeks during Gerima’s summer vacation, with non-actors speaking Amharic, during the civil wars. It was made on the run, right after the overthrow of Haile Selassie and right before the installation of a military dictatorship. On top of everything else, Gerima was prepared to adapt the theme of his film to the most recent political developments. Difficult conditions, you might say. I’d call them all but impossible.

That sense of impossibility pervades every frame of Harvest 3000 Years. It has a particular kind of urgency which few pictures possess. This is the story of an entire people, and its collective longing for justice and good faith. An epic, not in scale but in emotional and political scope. —Martin Scorsese, World Cinema Foundation

Harvest 3000 years (Mirt Sost Shi Amit) provides an epic and harsh picture of peasant life in contemporary rural Ethiopia, which despite a few indications of modernity still seems to be immersed in a different time. It is the description of the fight and resistance of a people against the abuse of large landowners, conveyed with the power of militant and avant-garde cinema. It evokes the history of Italian colonialism, which has left its indelible traces on the black and white of the frames.
Harvest 3000 years, filmed by Haile Gerima in 1976, is a timeless masterpiece, a visual poem that possesses the power, expressiveness and physicality of silent film. It represents a cry for help, a condemnation that shows itself through a clear and solid form of cinema in every frame.

Gerima narrates the days of the peasants, from when they awake at dawn to sunset, from their work in the fields to housework, with documentary precision and visionary intensity, from a viewpoint in which crude realism is contaminated by depths inhabited by nightmares, dreamlike and sometimes grotesque signs, and by a gallery of unforgettable faces carved in (cinematic) time.

With Harvest 3000 years, and his other works, Haile Gerima, Ethiopia’s most important filmmaker and an invaluable exponent of the African diaspora, has created an original and necessary genre, examining the history and memories of the Ethiopian people, of deported African slaves and the African-American community. —Giuseppe Gariazzo

Born in Flames – dir. Lizzie Borden

Set ten years after the most peaceful revolution in United States history, a revolution in which a socialist government gains power, this films presents a dystopia in which the issues of many progressive groups – minorities, liberals, gay rights organizations, feminists – are ostensibly dealt with by the government, and yet there are still problems with jobs, with gender issues, with governmental preference and violence. In New York City, in this future time, a group of women decide to organize and mobilize, to take the revolution farther than any man – and many women – ever imagined in their lifetimes.

Hour of the Furnaces: Notes and Testimony on Neocolonialism, Violence and Liberation.

Part 1 Neocolonialism and Violence.

“This legendary underground film criticized neo-colonialism and called for the overthrow of the Argentine government. Intended to be a film which “the System finds indigestible,” La Hora was made and distributed outside of the commercial film industry. Because watching the film was illegal, the film transcended bourgeois entertainment: “We also discovered that every comrade who attended such showings did so with full awareness that he was infringing the System’s laws and exposing his personal security to eventual repression. This person was no longer a spectator; on the contrary, from the moment he decided to attend the showing, from the moment he lined himself up on this side by taking risks and contributing his living experience to the meeting, he became an actor, a more important protagonist than those who appeared in the films.”

Note: The other two parts are also available on Youtube with closed captions in English, German, and French.

María Luisa Bemberg – I, the Worst of All

Set in 17th-century Mexico during the Inquisition, this tragedy chronicles the true story of a rebellious, highly educated nun—writer/poet Sister Juana Ines de la Cruz (1651-1695)—who is persecuted for her radical ideas, after her mentors, the Spanish Viceroy and his wife, return to Europe

Full movie with English subtitles.

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I am back.

It’s been a really long time. I’ve missed out on so many updates that have happened to WordPress over the months. There will be film talk today, but I won’t discuss any film in particular. For those that may not know BFI’s Sight & Sound just released it’s 100 Greatest Films of All Time list a little while back. I’ll discuss my problems with that list over the next few days. Today, the individual lists have been released. Yay. Applause and all that jazz. In addition to going through my problems, I’ll always be giving praise to certain people as well as just pointing out random things about the list that I have looked over. Today is going to be one of those “look over” days. If I’m mentioning it, it is because I think these are great films and directors. It’s all positive and touchy feely today. I’m mostly going to concentrate on Latin America today. Over the next couple of days I’ll do some for the continent of Africa as well as for Japan because Japanese cinema was my introduction to serious films. If the director or film is mentioned below, please take it as a recommendation (after you personally read the synopsis of the film of course because of lot of these will be acquired tastes). Here’s the link!

  • Black God, White Devil is the most popular Brazilian film with it appearing on 6 lists.
  • Glauber Rocha is the most popular Brazilian director with 4 of his films having been voted on at least once.
  • Nelson Pereira dos Santos is the only other Brazilian director to appear more than once on the list (How Tasty Was My Little Frenchmen and Barren Lives)
  • Tomás Gutiérrez Alea is the most popular Cuban director with appearing on the most lists with Memories of Underdevelopment (12 lists) and The Last Supper (1 list).
  • Patricia Guzman’s Battle of Chile was featured on 3 lists and would have most likely been on more had they decided not to count it as 2 separate films
  • Pan’s Labyrinth was one of the most recent films (2006) to appear on any of the lists (only on 2).
  • Ignoring Luis Bunuel, the most popular film directed by a Mexican was Carlos Reygadas’ Silent Light which appeared on 5 lists.
  • The only film from Peru that received any representation was Werner Herzog’s Fitzcarraldo which is about a European conqueror.
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African Film Library (like Netflix/Hulu except with all African films)

I know a lot of people complain, including myself to various degrees, about the lack of knowledge people have about Africa. Considering that I love films, I’m always fixated on learning about Africa through their film productions. There have been various DVD companies that have put out a handful of African films and even American distribution to theaters has gotten better, there hasn’t been a major database/collection for African films online easily and readily available for the majority of people though. Thankfully, I stumbled about African Film Library which has over a hundred films across the continent easily downloaded or streamed. Personally, I’d recommend starting with Ousmane Sembene and Djibril Diop Mambety.

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Beens gone so long didn’t even know they changed wordpress

So, I’ve been really slacking here guys. Extremely. Which is even more of a shame because I’ve actually been watching a shit load of movies since end of January. I can’t promise that I’ll write about all of these, but here are a handful that I’ve seen fairly recently.

  • Orphee
  • Synecdoche, New York
  • Che
  • Brazil
  • The Red Angel
  • Primer
  • Vagabond
  • Naked Lunch
  • Le Bonheur
  • The Faith of the Century
  • Le Jetee
  • Sans Soleil
  • Oliver’s Shakespeare (Henry V)
  • Nine Nation Animation
  • Giant
  • Rebel Without a Cause
  • Woman is the Future of Man
  • The Battle of Algiers
  • Chico & Rita
  • Beats, Rhymes & Life: The Travels of A Tribe Called Quest
  • Only When I Dance
  • The Blood of the Poet
  • Cleo from 5 to 7
  • Punishment Park
  • East of Eden 
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Anime Beyond Miyazaki III

Woo, another Anime Beyond Miyazaki post. This one is slightly different though in that it has theme. The theme is going to be anime for people who don’t normally like anime. That means no super kawaii or dozens of girls falling in love with one guy, no mechs, and I’ll try to stick to anime that doesn’t traditionally look like how anime is ‘supposed’ to look. I’m also going to abstain from mentioning Mamoru Oshii and Satashi Kon films because I want to them their own entries. A handful of the anime series mentioned are actually available for free on Hulu. Just posting content at the moment so I won’t do any individual reviews for each series. Trying to get back in the habit of posting.

Barefoot Gen, Zipang, Mushishi, BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, First Squad, Monster, House of Five Leaves, Golden Boy, and Rainbow: Nisha Rokubō no Shichinin.

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Cinema…brought to you by the Wu-Tang Clan

Jesus, I haven’t posted anything in months. I have nothing at length at the moment, but I will start writing lengthy posts again soon. For really! As for now, here is a quick list instead showing a short sample of the sample of Kung-Fu films used on Wu-Tang Clan and solo albums. I restricted it to tunes produced by the RZA. The list is written this way because I copied it from my Mubi profile.

Shaolin & Wu Tang
The Master (3 Evil Masters)
4 Assassins
Wu-Tang vs Ninja
Two on the Road (Fearless Dragons)
The Killer
Shaolin vs. Lama
Shogun Assassin
Mystery of Chess Boxing
Avenging Warriors of Shaolin

The 36th Chamber of Shaolin
Liu Chia-Liang
Five Deadly Venoms
Ten Tigers of Kwangtung
Executioners from Shaolin
Liu Chia-Liang
Holy Robe of Shaolin Temple
Siu Ming Tsui
Shaolin Temple
Chang Cheh
Duel to the Death
Ching Siu-Tung
Invincible Armor
See-Yuen Ng
The Unbeaten 28
Joseph Kuo
Iron Monkey
Yuen Woo-ping
The Avenging Eagle
Sun Chung
Flag of Iron
Chang Cheh
Shogun Assassin
Robert Houston
Dragon on Fire
Godfrey Ho
Invincible Shaolin
Chang Cheh
Shaolin Martial Arts
Chang Cheh
Kid with the Golden Arm
Chang Cheh
Shaolin Temple Strikes Back
Joseph Kuo
The Masked Avengers
Chang Cheh
The Buddha Assassinator
Dragon on Fire
Godfrey Ho
Brian De Palma
The Education of Sonny Carson
Michael Campus
The Mack
Michael Campus
Carlito’s Way
Brian De Palma
Boaz Yakin
J.D.’s Revenge
Arthur Marks
The Usual Suspects
Bryan Singer
Crying Freeman
Christophe Gans

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