Saturday, April 25, 2009

A Thinking Gal's Chick Flick List - A Sampling

So my plan was to set out to create a top ten list of the "quintessential" smart-girl chick flicks. What I mean is films that have a woman (or women) as their main character and are critically acclaimed. So I made this list and sorted and re-sorted, trying to determine the perfect numbering based on staying power, personal appeal, and overall popularity.

Couldn't do it.

Ultimately I knew that as soon as I uploaded the thing there'd be a glaring omission and I'd have to back pedal and honestly, I really could be using the time to find a proper job...

So I've decided, instead, to just start out with some films I like, and let you know why I feel they deserves some attention.

My Personal Favorites
Coal Miner's Daughter - While I own this DVD, I only tend to see it when I'm in a hotel, flipping through the channels right before I go to sleep. There is something so timeless about the film's elements - the dialogue, the acting, the sets, the shots - it could have been made today. I also love that despite the rags-to-riches story, it never wallows in cliche. Sissy Spacek and Tommy Lee Jones together are a marvel. There is no part of this movie I can't watch again and again.

Postcards from the Edge - Another bio-pic (although this one is "loosely" based on Carrie Fisher's experiences as a washed-up actress coming out of rehab), this one was largely ignored when it came out in 1991. But come on, it's Meryl Streep and Shirley Maclaine. Together in the same movie. I had bought the book when I was a Junior in college and found it hysterical. When it came out on video I tried to loan it out to everyone I knew because I figured it didn't do well because of lack of marketing. But the lackluster, fake-polite response I got when people returned it made me realize it was probably never going to be a classic cult hit. There a million funny lines, but for a touching rendition of Ray Charles' "You Don't Know Me", look it up on You Tube.

Sense and Sensibility - In general, I'm not a huge fan of costume dramas. I have a hard time shifting gears into another time period and honestly I just end up getting distracted by all the decadence of the sets and costumes. But on this one, I was in right away. It's little more than women waiting around all day for people to visit, but there is the universal smart-girl/pretty-girl paradigm going on that makes it completely relatable. What gives it extra points is the dry humor and razor-sharp wit of Emma Thompson's DVD commentary. She talks about being humiliated during a screening of ninth graders in London; when it becomes obvious that she and Hugh Grant are love interests, someone shouted out, "Ew, she's old enough to be his mother." She is, in fact, only one year older than Hugh Grant. But don't get me started on age difference in Hollywood films...

Charlie's Angels (and Charlie's Angels Full Throttle) - Thinking, Lia. Really? Well, all I've got to say is I usually have to work myself up to see such and obvious, over-the-top action summer blockbuster. I have to go in saying, "It's summer, it's just for fun, get over it." But on both of these, the switch flipped and I was right there. Just the right blend of genuine girlishness and ass-kicking ridiculousness. I highly recommend it on a hot summer night after an uncalled for stressful week at work.

Thelma and Louise - Now, some people confuse this movie with an ass-kicking shoot-em up movie. Not so. Sure, one of them shoots a guy (but he was a real creep and there is a whole backstory dedicated to why), and the other's husband is a one-dimensional boffoun (but nothing happens to him), and they blow up that guy's truck (perhaps a bit harsh punishment for highway harassment...) but it's the overall filmaking that makes this one stand out. The script is nuanced and well-paced, the characters deep and developed, and, well, Ridley Scott directs. The New Mexico sky is a marvel and the slide guitar-infused score will just break your heart every time. And it's not true that all the guys are made out to be creeps. Michael Madsen is totally sympathetic as Louise's musician boyfriend and I believe it is Harvey Keitel's only "nice guy" role he's ever played.

Next Up
Terms of Endearment
The Piano
Remains of the Day
The Sweetest Thing
Never Been Kissed...

1 comment: