In the weeks ahead, the Museum Films blog will dedicate itself to facilitating a curated experience of the best in global art cinema, and to exploring a variety of topics involving the visual art form we all love. This week, in honor of Women’s History Month, we will be highlighting a series of recent, acclaimed films by female directors that are available to stream for free online via the Metropolitan Library System’s Kanopy streaming service.
While OKCMOA’s Noble Theater is closed, Kanopy is a fantastic resource for home-bound cinephiles searching for acclaimed American independent films and art cinema from around the world. And best of all, it’s available for free to Oklahoma City residents with a valid library card. (Visit the Metropolitan Library website for more info about how to sign up.)
Once you’re set up and ready to stream, check out Museum Films’ curated recommendations below to create your own virtual festival of films directed exclusively by women. Included is a roundup of some of the best films of the past dozen years, from the United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Germany. Some names will be familiar to Museum Films audiences (like Agnès Varda and Kelly Reichardt), while others (such as Clio Barnard and Valérie Massadian) who may be new discoveries. As always Museum Films wishes you very happy (home) viewing!
-Lisa K. Broad, PhD, Film Programmer
35 Shots of Rum (2008)
Directed by one of France’s greatest living directors, Claire Denis (High Life), 35 Shots of Rum is propelled by its poetic mobile framings from commuter trains—those that travel to Paris’s outer-suburb, African immigrant communities. With strong echoes of Japanese master Yasujiro Ozu’s Late Spring (1949), 35 Shots of Rum re-purposes the rice-cookers, static compositions, and concluding wedding ceremony of the Japanese source material inside France’s multi-cultural twenty-first century present.
-Michael J. Anderson
One of three collaborations between acclaimed British writer-director Joanna Hogg (Exhibition, The Souvenir), and Golden Globe-winning actor Tom Hiddleston, this loosely autobiographical drama follows a bickering upper-class family on a vacation to the picturesque Isles of Scilly in Southwestern England. Hogg’s deftly composed drama juxtaposes the bucolic rhythms of the Cornish coast against the rising tide of accusations, secrets and betrayals that come to a head in a series of disastrous, and wryly hilarious family dinners and excursions.
-Lisa K. Broad
The Bling Ring (2011)
In some senses, this is the ultimate Sofia Coppola film: the Virgin Suicides and Marie Antoinette director relates the true story of a celebrity-obsessed coterie of LA teenagers who use the internet to rob Hollywood celebrities. An auteur of both female desire and conspicuous wealth, Coppola seamlessly blends the two in this film that is the richer for the director’s insider’s perspective on the world she satirizes.
Dark River (2017)
From British independent filmmaker Clio Barnard, this atmospheric, masterfully edited psychological thriller stars Ruth Wilson as Alice Bell, an itinerant sheep-sheerer who travels to her family’s dilapidated Yorkshire farm in the wake of her father’s death to take possession of the land that she views as rightfully hers. Upon her return, Alice is thrust back into a contentious rivalry with her troubled brother Joe, and finds herself deluged with repressed traumatic memories that threaten to overwhelm her.
Everyone Else (2009)
Before her international breakthrough with the remarkable, Oscar-nominated comedy Toni Erdmann, German wunderkind Maren Ade ignited the international festival circuit with her uncomfortably perceptive portrait of twenty-something couple Chris and Gitti, whose relationship strains under the weight of personal resentment and professional jealousy when they meet up with Chris’s more successful colleague while vacationing in Italy. Brilliantly treading the line between cringe comedy and psychologically nuanced drama, Ade’s sophomore feature is an Antonioni-esque portrait of romantic alienation set against the gorgeous Sardinian landscape.
Faces Places (2017)
This collaboration between the now deceased legendary French director Agnès Varda (Cléo from 5 to 7) and visual artist JR provided its iconic filmmaker with a new means for reaping the interpersonal rewards of her artistic practice. As the duo crosses the deep French countryside, fusing figure with landscape, the non-fiction Faces Places transforms into a psychodrama featuring the then last two living New Wave auteurs, Varda and Jean-Luc Godard (for whom JR is also a doppelgänger).
Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig (star of the excellent Frances Ha) managed one of the better recent American debut films in this semi-biographical story of the charismatic high school senior Lady Bird, mostly set on Gerwig’s home turf of Sacramento, California. Situated in the early 2000’s period of the director’s own Catholic school experience, Lady Bird is dominated by Saoirse Ronan’s star turn as the director’s more rebellious alter-ego, and elevated by her complicated relationship with her mother (2018 Best Supporting Actress Oscar nominee, Laurie Metcalf.)
Meek’s Cutoff (2010)
Loosely based on a real historical incident, OKCMOA Film Society special guest Kelly Reichard’s (Wendy and Lucy, Certain Women) lyrical, feminist western follows a group of settlers traversing the Oregon Trail in 1845, who find themselves stranded the wilderness. Featuring a fearless lead performance from Michelle Williams, Reichardt’s fourth feature combines an intimate focus on the texture of lived experience with an epic scope that highlights the stark beauty of the western landscape.
One of the great depictions of late adolescence, Milla perfectly renders a liminal moment—filled with childhood play—that remains close to childhood experience. Time, however, presses on in director Valérie Massadian’s exquisitely natural portrait of young, working-poor motherhood, carried by its non-professional performances, and distinguished by the female director’s inscriptions of her heroine’s body.
We Need to Talk About Kevin (2011)
Based on the best-selling novel by Lionel Shriver, and directed by Scottish provocateur Lynne Ramsay (You Were Never Really Here), We Need to Talk About Kevin is an unnerving, richly textured meditation on motherhood, nature versus nurture, and the origins of evil. Tilda Swinton gives a multi-faceted performance as Eve, a former successful writer and stay-at-home mother who watches with increasing horror as her son Kevin displays anti-social tendencies that culminate in a shocking act of violence.