Vera Drake &
Amy Taubin may
have stolen a little of my thunder by pairing
Vera Drake and Moolaadé in FILM
COMMENT’s 2004 Year-end coverage, but I don’t
think her praise of them goes quite far enough.
I’m not about to go and start accusing the critical
community (REVERSE SHOT writers included) of sexism—maybe
our priorities just aren’t in the right place.
I love Before Sunset, but a part of me
looks at it there, sitting smugly atop our Top
Ten (with my vote for that ranking) and wonders
if maybe it’s not a mistake, wonders if maybe
our primarily male staff fell for some idealized
vision when we should have been lauding the two
of the most aesthetically accomplished, politically
engaged films of the year. (I won’t get into all
the votes that came in for Kill Bill Vol. 2)
Somehow Sunset’s themes of love, loss,
and aging seem almost trite in comparison to back-alley
abortions and female circumcision. Though, as
I write this, the third episode of “The Bachelorette”
is playing out over the rim of my laptop screen,
so I’m obviously not mending my evil ways.
The latest films by Ousmane Sembene and Mike Leigh may not have nearly the relevance when considered outside of this politically charged ’04, but then that may by the judgment call of a myopic, embittered liberal. More likely, they’ll gain in stature, and we’ll remember that in dark days, two of the world’s greatest, most unsung filmmakers produced their masterworks. Vera and Moolaadé serve as models for infusing movies with political query without sacrificing the pleasures of narrative cinema, and that they did this while focusing on fully realized female characters who weren’t played by lithe American starlets only makes them that much more rare. Let’s hope they serve as a clarion call for filmmakers male and female across the globe. Before Sunsetwas perhaps the most overwhelmingly emotional film of last year, but right now, sadly, that’s just not what’s needed.
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