Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Who will make movies about women now? part two

Responding to the suggestions in the comments section:

Claire Denis - I've only seen a movie called I Can't Sleep which strikes me as being more about gay men than about women. I would say the same about Wong Kar-Wai. I don't mean that he doesn't have anything at all to show us about women. When he wants to talk about women, he does well, particularly in the second segment of Chungking and obviously the last two films. Yet, when you say to me: Wong Kar-Wai, I think of Tony Leung. Still, I like Wong as an option. Interesting that gay men seem the likely candidates to provide the answer to my question. I thought of Almodovar. It certainly seems that Todd Haynes thinks he's making a movie about a women with Far From Heaven though it ends up being a miserable movie about movies.

As to Eric Rohmer, I don't think so, and I think explaining why will clear some things up. (My original post was perhaps to abrupt.) Rohmer's movies are about people talking. They are about people hiding their emotions under verbosity and posturing. Antonioni and Bergman are all revelation. That's what they allow there lead women to do: reveal. Rohmer makes them mysterious deliberately. He makes them do strange things that confound the male leads. And the men are always the central concern anyway. All the celebrated works that are ostensibly about women: Claire, Chloe, Maude, Collectionneuse - all of them are really about a male protagonist struggling to understand the strange woman with whom he is obsessed. In short, Rohmer makes women strange by keeping them at a distance, Antonioni and Bergman let their actors show what they really are, and if it looks strange, so be it.

I would put quite a few filmmakers in Rohmer's camp: Chabrol, Truffaut, Godard; hell maybe it's a French inclination. Rivette seems more like Bergman and Antonioni, but I'm basing that conclusion on having seen one film, so it's probable that I don't know what I'm talking about.

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