December 23, 2009

Manohla Dargis on Women in Hollywood

Excellent article/interview with the NY Times senior film critic Manohla Dargis. For the entire interview, click here.

A few excerpts that I find cracking good:

On why women in Hollywood aren't faring any better: This business is really about clubby relationships. If you buy Variety or go online and look at the deals, you see one guy after another smiling in a baseball cap. It's all guys making deals with other guys. I had a female studio chief a couple of years ago tell me point blank that she wasn't hiring a woman to do an action movie because women are good at certain things and not others. If you have women buying that bullshit how can we expect men to be better?

On whether there's an essential difference between male-made and female-made movies: Flaubert wrote Madame Bovary. That's all we need to say about that. But I do think as 51 percent of the population we should be given a chance… It's very boring to watch the same people coming from a certain kind of background make the same kinds of movies.

On why so many romantic comedies are so terrible: One, the people making them have no fucking taste, two, they're morons, three they're insulting panderers who think they're making movies for the great unwashed and that's what they want. I love romantic movies. I absolutely do. But I literally don't know what's happening. I think it's depressing that Judd Apatow makes the best romantic comedies and they're about men. All power to Apatow, but he's taken and repurposed one of the few genres historically made for women. ….We had so few [genres] that were made specifically for the female audience and now the best of them are being made by Judd Apatow. But what are his movies supposed to be about? Nominally about the relationship between a man and a woman, but they're really buddy flicks. Funny People was supposed to have an important role for a woman, but she was uninteresting and an afterthought.

On male and female directors being held to different standards, as Dargis suggested in comparing Bigelow and Michael Mann in her piece: Do you think that a woman would have been able to get forty million dollars to make a puppet movie the way that Wes Anderson has been able to make, bringing to bear all the publicity and advertising budget of Fox? After two movies that didn't make a lot of money? I think this is true for a lot of black filmmakers too – they're held to a higher standard. And an unfair standard. You can be a male filmmaker and if you're perceived as a genius – a boy genius or a fully-formed adult genius – that you are allowed to fail in a way that a woman is not allowed to fail.

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