REEL WOMEN: 13 Films in 24 Hours for the JumpCut Charity Initiative!
A couple of weeks ago, I did my bit to support JumpCut’s Charity Initiative – a 24-hour Reel Women movie marathon. All the films I watched were directed by women and ones I hadn’t seen before, I also made a conscious effort that all films watched would have a different director, hopefully highlighting that there are way more female directors out there than you might think.
I’d learnt from previous 24-hour movie marathons that the best way to survive was to sleep for a few hours and then start in the early hours of the morning – that way when it’s done, you can just fall asleep and your sleep pattern shouldn’t be too screwed up.
Here’s what I watched in those 24 hours and what I thought of them.
Directed by: Natalie Erika James
Written by: Natalie Erika James and Christian White
I started my Reel Women movie marathon just after 3am with Relic. It was one my boss recommended and she thought it would be a good idea to start with a horror film to wake me up. She was certainly right about that! I’m a total wuss but I thought Relic was really good and effective, both as a horror film and a family drama about the effects of dementia on a whole family. How the theme of dementia manifests and is explored is incredibly unsettling, tense and inventive but the whole thing put me on edge.
Directed by: Tanya Wexler
Written by: Brian Sacca
Thought it’d be a good idea to go for something more light-hearted after Relic so put on comedy-drama Buffaloed. This is one of those films that was on my radar purely because an actor I like was in it – in this case, Zoey Deutch who players Peg, a hustler who becomes a debt collector to try and escape her own money problems. My main takeaway from Buffaloed is America’s debt system is screwed up! Just the things people get in debt for and how quick the interest builds up and how the debt collectors scare the life out of vulnerable people is just awful. The film as a whole was a bit uneven and dragged a little at times but overall, it was good fun. Zoey Deutch is an energetic lead and no offence to Jai Courtney but I think he found his calling, playing a sleazy jerk debt collector.
Meek’s Cutoff (2010)
Directed by: Kelly Reichardt
Written by: Jonathan Raymond
As the sun began to rise after 6am I was starting Meek’s Cutoff. This is a film I went into with more hesitancy than Relic because I’ve watched three other Kelly Reichardt films (including the much-loved First Cow) and I really struggle to keep interested in and engage with her films. Unfortunately, Meek’s Cutoff was much of the same for me. It looks good and the sounds a score were very relaxing for an early morning film, but I just couldn’t connect with these characters who were just a group of people walking, making some bad decisions/bad things happen because of those choices, and then they walk some more and repeat.
Marie Antoinette (2006)
Written and directed by: Sofia Coppola
Over breakfast came the first film of the charity marathon that I really loved. I’d previously seen four other films directed by Sofia Coppola but Marie Antoinette instantly became my favourite of hers. I just loved the whole vibe of this film. The settings and costumes were all luxurious, and the music was great too – especially when modern songs were used. It’s a film full of over-the-top extravagance but that never outshines Kirsten Dunst’s performance. While Kirsten Dunst was in her early-twenties when filming Marie Antoinette, I thought she did a great job of acting younger than her age as Marie was only 14 when she married the heir to the French throne. The nervousness and innocence shine through at the beginning but it’s equally impressive seeing how her performance evolves as Marie gets more comfortable and confident with her new status.
The Namesake (2006)
Directed by: Mira Nair
Written by: Sooni Taraporevala
The Namesake was the sixth Mira Nair film I’d watched and I just really love how she shows different relationships on film. The Namesake is a lovely and emotional multigenerational immigrant story, focusing on Gogol, the son of Indian immigrants who was born in New York and how his American-ways sometimes clash with his parents’ traditional ways. Irrfan Khan and Tabu play the parents and they are so good together and say so much with just a look or a shrug. The Namesake spans decades and you can feel that in their relationship and mannerisms, how much these two characters grew to love and understand one another.
The Judge (2017)
Directed by: Erika Cohn
Had to have a documentary in my Reel Women marathon and The Judge is about Judge Kholoud Al-Faqih, the first woman appointed to a Shari’a court in the Middle East, whose career provides rare insights into both Islamic law and gendered justice. The Judge was really interesting and I learnt a lot about the legal system in Palestine and how women are treated in both society as a whole and under Shari’a law was equally frustrating and inspiring. Because there are protections there for women, but the problem is whether (male) legal professionals will fight for women as hard as they do for men.
John Tucker Must Die (2006)
Directed by: Betty Thomas
Written by: Jeff Lowell
Over my lunch of takeaway pizza I watched John Tucker Must Die – a film that it’d heard of but completely missed when I was a teen – and to be honest, I think this was the biggest surprise of the movie marathon. I really enjoyed John Tucker Must Die! It had a great soundtrack, it’s mostly funny though some of the humour is very silly – putting estrogen in a guys protein shake would totally make him instantly more emotional and have a sensitive chest – but what really made me enjoy John Tucker Must Die was the relationship between the four girls. What starts out as three girls wanting revenge on a cheating guy and using a nobody to do it, ends up with the four of them being good friends who look out for one another. Plus, buried in the teen comedy tropes of John Tucker Must Die is a message about treating girls with respect which is always nice to see.
Sleepless in Seattle (1993)
Directed by: Nora Ephron
Written by: Nora Ephron, David S. Ward and Jeff Arch
Sleepless in Seattle (and Nora Ephron) is a classic of the romcom genre but I somehow had never seen it. Wait, that’s a lie – I was pretty sure I’d seen the ending, like the last two minutes on TV before but didn’t have a clue what came before it. After finally watching it in full I can see why Sleepless in Seattle is considered a classic. There’s just so much drama and angst and humour. Both Meg Ryan and Tom Hanks made me laugh out loud multiple times, but they both were nearly upstaged by Ross Malinger who plays Jonah, Hanks’ eight-year-old son. Sleepless in Seattle is the kind of romcom that makes you believe in soulmates, and while Ryan’s character was engaged so there is almost emotional cheating going on, her would-be fiancé (played by a loveably awkward Bill Pullman) was so understanding about the whole thing and so nice that I almost didn’t want her to break up with him.
Directed by: Marjane Satrapi
Written by: Jack Thorne
There ended up being a lot of romance/drama/comedies in my Reel Women movie marathon so thought it was a good idea to throw in a historical biopic. Radioactive is the story of Marie Sklodowska-Curie (Rosamund Pike), her husband Pierre (Sam Riley) and how her discovery of radium changed the world. Radioactive is a pretty standard biopic and not particularly memorable though Pike does give a good performance but the main thing that stood out was how the long-lasting effects of Marie Curie’s discovery was shown. Having scenes showing the bombing of Hiroshima and the Chernobyl disaster juxtaposed with the drama of her life and work was really effective. Her research led to many advancements in science but the horrifying and deadly cost is repeatedly shown – with the exception being radiotherapy being used on a young boy in the 1950s and even then the way its shot makes it seem scary.
Beyond the Lights (2014)
Written and directed by: Gina Prince-Bythewood
Beyond the Lights was one of those films I’d been meaning to watch for a long time, partly because I’d heard how good it was and partly because I think Gugu Mbatha-Raw is brilliant and she certainly was in this film. She gives a riveting performance as a young woman on the edge of fame and failure and makes the struggles seem so real. The soundtracks great too and I’ve listened to ‘Grateful’ nearly every day since I saw Beyond the Lights.
The Half of It (2020)
Written and directed by: Alice Wu
The Half of It is one of Netflix’s many teen/romcoms and I think it is one of the best. Maybe it was because I was finishing it just after midnight but I teared up multiple times watching The Half of It and it gave me all the feels. Kinda like Sleepless in Seattle, it’s the kind of film that makes you believe in love and in people because The Half of It is all about the different types of love and relationships and how it can be all-consuming and confusing but also wonderful. I loved how it shows that platonic love can be so strong that a himbo can confuse it for romantic love. All the relationships in The Half of It are great, the friendships, the romances, the familial relationships. It’s truly a lovely film about falling in love, discovering who you are, and what you’re passionate about.
Late Night (2019)
Directed by: Nisha Ganatra
Written by: Mindy Kaling
This one is another film I mainly watched because there was someone I liked in it (Emma Thompson) and because I thought it wouldn’t require much brainpower as I was at about hour 21 of my 24-hour movie marathon. Late Night was more of a smile-funny comedy rather than a proper laugh out loud funny comedy, so as a comedy it didn’t really hit the highs it should’ve. I did like the whole writer’s room setup though and how those characters bounced off one another, it just wasn’t quite funny or compelling enough to be super memorable.
Written and directed by: Ruth Ann Baldwin
My thirteenth and final film of my Reel Women movie marathon was ‘49-’17. It probably wasn’t the brightest of ideas to start this silent film shortly after 2am and be the film I end on as all that piano playing was definitely sending me to sleep! From what I didn’t miss, ‘49-’17 seemed like an interesting take on the Western (one of the earliest takes no doubt). I do plan to go back to it and watch it properly when I’m more awake and if you’re interested in watching some silent films, on Netflix there’s a “TV series” called Pioneers: First Women Filmmakers which is really a collection of over a dozen silent films that are all directed by women.
Elena isn’t the only member of the JumpCut team who did a 24-hour Movie Marathon in the last month, all for a good cause! It’s not too late to donate to two very worthy charities – MIND UK and Covid relief in India – Check out our Donation Page!