Welcome to Girls on Film -- not as skin-laden as the Duran Duran song, but a new Cinematical column full of female-centric musing, rants, love, and aggravation.
There are two ways you can go with an introductory post -- you can either jump in randomly, or try for something all-encompassing. I was set on the latter, but the challenge is not just stating the obvious. We know that women struggle behind the camera, and we know what they get offered in front of it. But as much as gripes and arguments about women in film are necessary to improve the Hollywood landscape, they're only as good as the moments of praise and adoration. If we can't appreciate the good that's present today, and for that matter, was present yesterday, this cycle will never end because eyes set completely on the future never see the perks of the present.
It's a bad habit that pops up in any part of life -- so much energy is expended on the fight, and it's so easy to fall into an aggravation-filled rant, that we often forget the good. In the world of cinema, it's everywhere. We rant, rightly so, about remakes and sequels, but also forget when they transcend their mundane brethren to become a worthy feature. (The first Fly is wonderful, but can you imagine Hollywood without the remake?) When it comes to women, so much energy is thrown down the toilet ranting about talented women selecting crap -- Sandra Bullock's next dumb comedy, or another romcom about girls fighting over boys (I'm looking at you, Bride Wars) -- that we rarely chatter on about the good. And, if you follow that whole Law of Attraction thing, focusing on the absence is bad, but focusing on the good that's there brings more of it. It may be a flawed rationale, but it can also be a breath of fresh air. There's a reason why Poppy was so damned lovable in Happy-Go-Lucky. She's not only a paragon of positivity, but a woman who defies expectation. And on film, we need to relish every woman who does because there are more excellent women than we ever remember. Not as many as there should be, but lots nonetheless.
Long ago, it was Myrna Loy and her portrayal of Nora Charles in The Thin Man. Even as a woman who loves frivolity, doesn't work, and is most definitely placed within the classic female role, her portrayal is nothing but, making Nora an icon that rivals female characters today -- fun, intelligent, rational, spunky. And, without a doubt, there is Katharine Hepburn. Funny that the "greatest female star" is also one of Hollywood's most dynamic and outwardly intelligent women. (And some say sexy, smart women don't exist!)
In later years, smarts, and well-rounded women took another turn when Linda Hamilton didn't don bracelets or rely on special effects to become a heroine, but rather morphed her body into a human machine. Where Sigourney Weaver was, simply, Ripley, Hamilton was the frilly girly girl from Beauty and the Beast. She commanded respect, and it wasn't just from the impressive muscles she built.
But these women are only the beginning. I'd be remiss to not at least mention the women whose smarts and ambition trump all -- the doctors, lawyers, scientists, leaders, and more -- that graced the world of film. Or, the goddesses of geekdom, or women of art and critical thought.
I often scour my DVD collection looking for a good, female-centric film that will pump me up, inspire me, and motivate me with treatments of successful and dynamic women. They are hard to come by, but more often than not, I always forget about one or two until I happen to pop a DVD in again, and remember another excellent character, or talent. They're not as prevalent as they should be, but they're out there.
In celebration of girls on film and praise of the women who have kicked ass along the way, I wonder who you love? Which females on and behind the camera do you remember? Are there some that you tend to forget, but are amazing nonetheless? Who invokes that awe in you, and makes you think: She. Is. Amazing.?