Saturday, October 24, 2009

Someone Else's Favorite Women in Film

What pleasure!
Jen, at From Maine to Japan, has compiled her own lists of Awesome Women in Film. Her eight choices are especially interesting to me as she includes some of the same actresses, but in different movies, or she chooses the same movie, but a different actress in it.

The only one she chose that I was going to include was this one:Katherine Hepburn, with Humphery Bogart, in The African Queen (1951, directed by John Huston)
Often I am annoyed by KH's breathiness; but I watched this movie again when I was working on Uganda a few years ago--a smidge of it was filmed there--and she's nothing but great as Rose, the tight-laced missionary lady who relaxes into her hitherto undiscovered gifts for sex and sabotage.

Now I can take today off film. (Not that I don't enjoy compiling these lists, I do. Hugely. But they take ages.)

Oh, but just one more I've already written about but forgot to include yesterday's round up:
Summer Glau, as River Tam, in Serenity (2005 ).
Director Joss Whedon creates comic-book characters, so they're great fun but kind of flat.
I wonder if this is an inevitable problem when one person creates a whole world: they're good at a lot of it, but some areas necessarily are short-changed. Joss Whedon, Woody Allen, George Lucas--all would benefit from having less total control of their worlds, at least sometimes.

Still, River is a more interesting character in the movie than she is in Firefly, the TV show this movie comes out of, where she mostly stays trapped in her craziness. It's an undeniable pleasure to watch her emerge to kick cannibal butt at the end, even if it is not exactly a subtley shaded move.
And at the most elemental level, for those of us who grew up without it, it's a plain old pure pleasure to see a teenage girl get to be the crazy-ass hero.
So, that's 39 of my favorite interesting women in film, so far, plus one honorary mention. As I was browsing around the nets, I saw there was a "20 favorite actresses" meme going round. Some people commented it was hard to do, as men get most of the good roles. I agree it's much easier to come up with interesting roles for men; but I'm quite pleased to have fulfilled the meme almost twice over now, or entirely, if you shoehorn Jack Lemmon in.
It helps to change one's focus and look past the obvious Hollywood shine.


Jennifer said...

I'm amused to discover that I didn't comment on your original posts on the topic. I tend to get into conversations with your posts in my head and then only later discover I did not actually have them.

Some of my differences are just a lack of exposure--I have yet to see Dench playing M, for example, but I'm sure she's fantastic. I kept wanting to find a movie with Audrey Hepburn in it, who I love as an actress, but none of her roles really inspire me in the right way, it seems.

And yes, I lost all of Saturday to making my list, finding the pictures, and writing up the descriptions, brief as they were! It's great fun but very much a labor of love (and no one is paying me to do it!)

Frex said...

Hi, Jen!
Someone else just said that to me--that they had been talking to me in their head. I wish I were psychic. (Well, maybe not.)

Audrey Hepburn is a good example of an actor I like but wouldn't include because the roles she's played weren't "interesting and thought-provoking", which is what I was going for here. And too many were downright pukey, like "Gigi". My favorite is "Sabrina"_-she goes to Paris and learns to cook, just like Julia Child. But still, her goal is to trap her man, which is such a bore.

What do you mean? We're not being paid?!? That explains why the check never arrives in the mail.

Jennifer said...

It's funny, I was just thinking of "Sabrina" myself--mostly contrasting it with "African Queen" and how comfortable Bogart seems in the latter, and how exquisitely uncomfortable in the former. He just seemed deeply aware that he was seriously miscast and not a very good match for Audrey Hepburn there, lol.