Sarah Mirk’s post last month, Beat the Majority - Name a Female Scientist, reminded me of an ad I saw several years ago for a Women in Film festival here in Seattle. In it, a dominatrix flanked by muscle men is asking a man in an interrogation chair if he can name five female directors – five female directors who weren’t actresses first. Of course, he can’t, and the dominatrix proceeds to list all the directors included in that year’s festival line-up. While many accomplished actresses have also directed – Barbara Streisand, Jodie Foster, Ida Lupino, Sofia Coppola, Penny Marshall, and Diane Keaton – to name but a few; it could be argued that it was their acting that helped them break into directing. This should in no way belittle any of their accomplishments, but what about women who set out to direct in the first place, without the benefit of already being recognized?
Thank you all for a great conversation this week regarding the question “Is Quentin Tarantino a feminist?”
Responses were as varied as could be expected and ranged from expressions of the power and strength one may feel after watching Zoë, Abernathy, and Kim, and a desire to adapt Beatrix Kiddo’s better qualities; resilience, confidence and physical prowess.
After several years, a lot of script work and much trademark frenetic verbosity, writer/director Quentin Tarantino’s long-awaited Inglourious Basterds – his "bunch of guys on a mission" film set during the Second World War – finally premieres on the 21st of this month.
With a nearly all-male cast it’s arguably a return to the tough-guy roots of his earlier movies Reservoir Dogs (1992) and Pulp Fiction (1994), where manly-men bantered over such topics as the meaning of Madonna’s "Like a Virgin" and the global appeal of hamburgers – regardless of whether they’re measured in imperial or metric units.
Though they often repeat the contradictions inherent in representations of women in Exploitation films, and thus come from already problematic source material, the kick-ass heroines of Jackie Brown (1991), Kill Bill (2003 & 2004), and Death Proof (2007) still show visceral examples of female power that women can get excited about.
So this week we’ll take an in-depth look at these characters and Tarantino’s work, and hopefully have a discussion regarding the question: "Is Quentin Tarantino a feminist?"
Jean Seberg is one of those fascinating Hollywood stories that reads like the plot of a dark Hollywood movie. Her tragic story is lesser known than say, Marilyn Monroe’s – though she was just as great a beauty. And her politics caused more damage to her life than that of her acting contemporaries – ultimately leading to her death at the all too young age of 40.
A new documentary, Yoo-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg! shares the story of "Gertrude Berg. She was the creator, principal writer, and star of 'The Goldbergs,' a popular radio show for 17 years, which became television's very first character-driven domestic sitcom in 1949." It's not just a story of a woman making her way through Hollywood; you also get a sense of how entertainment was changing as it went from radio to television.
More attractive than tough, the sexually progressive and confident space adventurer, Barbarella was played by Jane Fonda in an eponymous 1968 film. Produced by Dino De Laurentiis and directed by her then-husband, Roger Vadim, the movie was based on the early 1960s erotic comic created by Jean-Claude Forest– who served as a set consultant on the film.