Monday, March 8, 2010

The Entertainment World Turns a Page

Coats in 1909 Delineator.

Well, The Hurt Locker won most of the important awards last night, with Kathryn Bigelow winning for best director, a first win in the category for a woman.

A few years ago BBC Radio 4 ran a piece on Women in Silent Film and said there were more women directors in the silent era than there are now. And it has taken 100 years for a women to win a best director Oscar.

I wonder if this is only because the 'real films', from now on, will be these techno-extravaganzas that bring in billions and the 'little films' bringing in pittances will be left to women to make. Sounds cynical...But you know, in the 1900's, there were some women aeroplane pilots too, but after WWI, when planes became important, men took them over. (Amelia Earhart's story resonates because she was an exception, not the rule.)

It's getting more and more the case: movies I want to see only play in the art houses (in my case AMC at Atwater in Montreal) whereas the money making movies (and the movies that draw the over-priced popcorn and soda garburating kids) play in the 'burbs.

So, yesterday I went to see Up in the Air again, at AMC, because a friend hadn't seen it - and she complained she couldn't get her seniors' discount. (An Education and A Single Man and Crazyheart were playing in the theatre as well, and no where else in Montreal.)I told my friend,who had a bottle of water tucked away in her purse because she would never dole out 7 dollars for a water in a cinema, "That's because the only people coming to these cinemas are seniors, or film students! They'd lose what little money they make if they gave discounts."

I personally thought the Hurt Locker was similar to a good episode of Generation Kill without the crude sexist humour.

I liked An Education much better. I liked Up in the Air better. And I even liked A Single Man better - as a work of art. I have mixed feelings about the story-line. (And not only because that movie starred Colin Firth, who did not win last night despite the fact he's simply the best movie actor out there, period, in any year.)

But that doesn't matter, because I am an 'old' person and cinema, in this new video-game 3-D format, with by the book fairy tale plotlines, belongs to the young, just as it did in the silent era.

Anyway, motion picture shows figure largely in Flo in the City, my work in progress about a girl coming of age in the pivotal 1910 era based on the letters of http://www.tighsolas.ca/.

This was the era of D.W. Griffith's silent short films. In one of the upcoming installments, possibly the next, Marion and her friends the Clevelands go to see Man in the Box at the Nickel starring Mack Sennett, who is from Richmond. They do not recognize him. I have not decided whether I will have them go to the Ouimetoscope, a lavish 1,200 seat theatre or a plain Nickel. (I should go to McGill and look through a newspaper, but I'm too lazy.)

I have a copy of the 1910 Dramatic Mirror -a theatre publication which has a motion picture section. Many many movies are 'reviewed' but few mention the name of the Director, so I can't tell whether any were women.


Here's a link to that BBC Four piece on Women in Silent Film

Here's a link to a page on film censorship in 1910 from my Tighsolas website where I snuck in a picture of my favourite actor Colin Firth (just to bug my husband).
Film Censorship then and Now.