Wednesday, January 9, 2019

Ocular Optometrical: The Female Gaze In My 2018 Film Year

Last year, with conversations around movies turning towards representation in filmmaking, i did a quick check of my favorite movies of the year. Of my top 20, five were directed by women. This wasn't a very rigorous analysis, but it was interesting to consider.

This year I went an ounce deeper. I went through the 153 movies I saw that were released in 2018 and found that 25 gave directing credits (lone director or co-director) for women, and 35 gave writing credits for women (lone writer, co-writer, story by, or based on a book by).

Personally, I think those percentages are significant, and demonstrate that there is plain institutional gender-bias in filmmaking that we'd all benefit from challenging further. However, I don't think my personal criteria for picking out movies to consume makes any definitive point there. Even though I saw a sampling well above the average number of films, I chose not to watch movies for all sorts of subjective reasons. I favor some genres & subjects more than others. I like & dislike actors, directors & writers. Some shit just looks bad. I also don't want to suggest that there's any qualitative advantage for women vs men (or vice versa) as filmmakers. There's no ideal quota. I just think 16% and 23% are low enough to argue that we're missing out on unique visions & stories. Above all else, it's a miracle that art ever gets made and we should cherish it all on some level.

Accepting that my investigation is rudimentary and scientifically insignificant, I want to suggest that the investigation itself was valuable. I chose all of these movies to watch this year, and I thought about their plots, the characters, the camera work... I weighed the reputations of writers & directors and my histories with their catalogs into how I felt about the films I saw. It was still surprising to actually go through the list and verify which movies had a woman's perspective. It's interesting to weigh the differences between the violent crusades of Mandy or Upgrade written & directed by men, and Revenge or You Were Never Really Here made by women. It's informative to know that Eighth Grade, Flower, I Kill Giants, Thoroughbreds, and The Witch Files, movies about young women finding & growing into their identities, were written & directed by men, and consider how well they inhabited the experiences of their characters. The dark Lars Von Trier film The House That Jack Built that featured a serial killer who largely victimized women, had a story-by credit for Jenle Hallund. Does that recontextualize the motivations of the film? Among the blockbuster superhero writing committees, Venom was the one with a co-writing credit for Kelly Marcel. Where is that evident in that film or conspicuously absent in Ant-Man And The Wasp?

At the end of the day, the conclusions I reach might be dubious, might be more indicative of my own preconceptions or any bad faith I project onto the film industry than anything else. Honestly, I'm writing this pretty fresh from scrubbing through the credits for the films, without a lot of analysis. It's just additional data that could reshape my thoughts about these movies, and I thought it might be interesting to others.

25 With Directing Credits For Women:
All About Nina / Between Worlds / Bird Box / Blockers / Blue My Mind / Clara's Ghost / The Feels / Galveston / Generation Wealth / The Kindergarten Teacher / Leave No Trace / The Long Dumb Road / Mary Shelley / Never Going Back / On Body And Soul / The Party's Just Beginning / Pornocracy: The New Sex Multinationals / Revenge / Skate Kitchen / Social Animals / The Spy Who Dumped Me / The Strange Ones / Summer Of '84 / When Jeff Tried To Save The World / You Were Never Really Here

35 With Writing Credits For Women:
All About Nina / Back Roads / Bad Genius / Between Worlds / Blue My Mind / Burning / Clara's Ghost / Crazy Rich Asians / Duck Butter / The Favourite / The Feels / Generation Wealth / The Hate You Give / The House That Jack Built / Island Zero / The Kindergarten Teacher / Leave No Trace / The Little Stranger / The Long Dumb Road / Lost Fare / Mary Shelley / The Mermaid: The Lake Of The Dead / Molly's Game / Never Going Back / Ocean's Eight / On Body And Soul / The Party's Just Beginning / Revenge / Skate Kitchen / Social Animals / The Spy Who Dumped Me / The Strange Ones / The Tribes Of Palos Verdes / Tully / Venom / When Jeff Tried To Save The World / Wildlife / You Were Never Really Here

Saturday, January 5, 2019

Ocular Optometrical: Best Films Of 2018

I saw 153 movies released in 2018:
Action Figures 2 / Action Point / All Aboard / All About Nina / American Animals / Annihilation / Ant-Man And The Wasp / Apostle / The Avengers: Infinity War / Await Further Instructions / Back Roads / Bad Genius / Bad Samaritan / Bad Times At The El Royale / The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs / Batman: Gotham By Gaslight / Batman Ninja / Between Worlds / Bird Box / Black Cop / Blakkklansman / Black Panther / Blockers / Blue My Mind / Bomb City / Brothers Nest / Burning / California No / Clara's Ghost / The Cloverhitch Killer / Crazy Rich Asians / The Cured / The Dark / Deadpool 2 / Don't Open Your Eyes / Don't Worry, He Won't Get Far On Foot / Doses Of Horror / Duck Butter / Eighth Grade / The Endless / Entanglement / Errementari: The Blacksmith And The Devil / An Evening With Beverly Luff Linn / The Favourite / The Feels / First Reformed / Flavors Of Youth / Flower / Galveston / Game Night / Generation Wealth / Ghost Stories / Golden Exits / Halloween / Hammer Horror: The Warner Bros Years / The Hate You Give / Hereditary / Hold The Dark / Hotel Transylvania 3: Summer Vacation / The House Of Tomorrow / The House That Jack Built / I Kill Giants / Illang The Wolf Brigade / Incident In A Ghostland / Incredibles 2 / Island Zero / I Still See You / I Think We're Alone Now / Izzy Gets The Fuck Across Town / Josie / Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom / The Kindergarten Teacher / Koxa / Leave No Trace / The Legacy Of A Whitetail Deer Hunter / The Little Stranger / The Lodgers / The Long Dumb Road / Lost Fare / Loveless / Mandy / Mara / Marfa Girl 2 / Marrowbone / Mary Shelley / May The Devil Take You / Matangi/Maya/M.I.A. / The Meg / The Mermaid: The Lake Of The Dead / Mid90s / Mission Impossible: Fallout / Molly's Game / Mom and Dad / Mute / Never Going Back / The Night Eats The World / No Escape Room / November / Oceans 8 / The Old Man And The Gun / On Body And Soul / The Package / The Party's Just Beginning / Perfectos Desconocidos / Pornocracy: The New Sex Multinationals / The Predator / Proud Mary / Psychokinesis / Pyewacket / A Quiet Place / Red Sparrow / Revenge / The Ritual / Roma / Satan's Slaves [Pengabdi Setan] / Sicario 2: Day Of The Soldado / Sick For Toys / The Sisters Brothers / Skate Kitchen / Social Animals / Solo: A Star Wars Story / Sorry To Bother You / Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse / The Spy Who Dumped Me / The Square / Stephanie / The Strange Ones / Summer Of '84 / Supertroopers 2 / Swinging Safari / Tag / Thoroughbreds / Three Identical Strangers / The Tribes Of Palos Verdes / Tully / Under The Silver Lake / Unsane / Upgrade / Venom / We The Animals / Welcome The Stranger / What Keeps You Alive / When Jeff Tried To Save The World / When We First Met / White Boy Rick / White Orchid / Wildlife / The Witch Files / The Witch In The Window / Won't You Be My Neighbor / Yardie / You Were Never Really Here / Zoe

These are my favorite 20:
20.) Burning
19.) Illang The Wolf Brigade
18.) Eighth Grade
17.) White Boy Rick
16.) Tully
15.) Annihilation
14.) Bad Genius
13.) You Were Never Really Here
12.) Black Cop
11.) May The Devil Take You

10.) The Favourite
09.) Revenge
08.) Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse
07.) The Ballad Of Buster Scruggs
06.) We The Animals
05.) The Square
04.) Skate Kitchen
03.) Thoroughbreds
02.) November
01.) Hereditary

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Record Scores: Frozen Orange Juice Futures Edition

Kyle Hall - Equanimity 12" (Wild Oats)
Makaya McCraven - Universal Beings 2xLp (International Anthem Recording Company)
Stefan Ringer - Bossa Grv 12" (Argot)
Matt Kindt - Mind Mgmt 7" (Mind Mgmt)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Record Scores: Don't Talk So Much Edition

Trailer Limon + Max Kane / East Liberty Quarters - Ego Death / Mids 7" (Omega Supreme)
Flamingo Shadow - Earth Music Cs (Irrelevant)
V/A - Apartment & Sunday Times 12" (Apartment)
Ian Wallace - Superstition / Dancing Machine 7" (RBMB)
Dick Marx - The Original Musical Score For Mag 10" (N. Jay Norman Associates)
Steven Legget - Bathhouse 2xLp (Firecracker)
Susumu Yokota - Sakura 2xLp (Leaf)
Bali Hu / Platinum - We'll Do Whatever We Want / Preview Club Track 12" (Dig It International)
The Commissioner - Freedom School DJ Series Vol. 2 12" (Freedom School)

Monday, August 13, 2018

Record Scores - How's This For Self-Control Edition

Arthur Lyman - Bwana A Lp (Hi-Fi)
Kamasi Washington - Heaven And Earth 5xLp (Young Turks)
Masayoshi Fujita - Book Of Life (Erased Tapes)
Reggie Dokes / Gari Romalis - Feel Me Deep EP 12" (Psychostasia)
Jack Nitsche - Dance To The Hits Of The Beatles Lp (Reprise)

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Record Scores - Stick It Out, This Movie's Only Got 5 Minutes Left Edition

C.Scott - Distance Fog 12" (Pittsburgh Tracks)
Shawn Rudimen - Timespan 2x12" (Pittsburgh Tracks)
Craig Peyton - The Love Demos 12" (Peyton)
Shawn Rudimen - The Next Planet Over 12" (Pittsburgh Tracks)
Earl Flint - People Hold On 12" (Panda)
B. Cool-Aid - Brwn Cs (Akashik)
Dennis Dragon - A Sea For Yourself 2xLp (Modern Harmonic)
V/A - NDATL 10 Year Special Edition 2018 2x12" (NDATL)
Scott Grooves - E2-E4 12" (Natural Midi)
Reva Devito & Roane Namuh / Hot16 - C(h)ampagne / Falling (Roane Namuh Remix Feat. MC Melodee) 7" (Liquid Beat)
Libretto & BusCrates - Ain't That Funky / Sentences 7" (Liquid Beat)
My White Bread Mom - Hot Damn! 7" (Anyway)

Friday, April 6, 2018

Record Scores: We're Ghosts Haunting Our Future Selves Edition

Floating Points - Love Me Like This 12" (R2)
Scha Dara Parr - The Cycle Hits -Remix Best Collection- CD (Ki/oon / Sony)
Reggie Dokes - Black Lives Matter 12" (Rawax Motor City Edition)
Music Revelation Ensemble - No Wave Lp (Moers Music)
BusCrates - You Got Me (Feat. Laura Benack) / Dr. Mad - Maybe It's Time (Feat. Fawna & Illa J) 7" (Voyage Funktastique)