Monday, November 01, 2004

Of chicks and their flicks

A few months ago, O, the Oprah Magazine (don't you just love that title?) published this list of the 50 Greatest Chick Flicks of All Time. I enjoy getting in touch with my feminine side now and again — cinematically speaking, of course — but I'm a mite puzzled by this list. Morocco is Number One, but Casablanca doesn't even make the list? (Don't misunderstand — Morocco, which stars a smoldering Marlene Dietrich, is a classic film. But Casablanca defines romance for the silver screen.) And Aliens is a chick flick? Yes, the hero(ine) of the film is a woman, but I don't generally associate violent sci-fi/horror action with the term "chick flick." By this definition, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider and Resident Evil 2 are "chick flicks."

Of the roughly two-thirds of the listed films that I've seen, almost all of them are indeed excellent and worthy of viewing by cineastes of both genders. A trio of highlights:

Smooth Talk
(#30), directed by Joyce Chopra, is one of the more eerily compelling movies I've ever watched. A teenaged girl (Laura Dern) strikes up a creepy friendship with a much older man (played with understated menace by Treat Williams), who makes us wonder what he's up to from the moment he appears onscreen. What begins as a casual flirtation ultimately turns into something dark and frightening. But Chopra structures the latter part of the film so skillfully that the audience can only speculate about what finally occurs. It's a movie that will have you talking about it for days, and thinking about it for long after that. Added bonus: it was filmed entirely in Sonoma County, not far from where I live.

Douglas Sirk's Imitation of Life (#39) is a 1959 remake of John Stahl's 1934 original, which starred Claudette Colbert and Louise Beavers in the lead roles assayed by Lana Turner and Juanita Moore in the Sirk version. The later film is a sterling example of the kind of melodramatic potboiler for which Sirk was famous. It's also an interesting commentary on race and gender politics that was remarkably progressive for the late 1950s. It remains one of very few American films to deal with the issue of gradation of skin color within the black community (Spike Lee's School Daze is another). Sirk's narrative style is still being copied by filmmakers today.

Nicole Holofcener's Lovely & Amazing (#46) presents a brilliant look into the lives of a middle-aged woman and her three daughters, one of whom is an adopted African American girl. Each of these four women struggles with her own unique neuroses, as well as her relationships with the other three. It's a women's film that only a woman could have crafted with such subtlety and insight. I recommend it highly, as you can read for yourself in this review I wrote for DVD Verdict.

Speaking of Joyce Chopra, did you ever consider that if Oprah Winfrey married Deepak Chopra, she'd be Oprah Chopra?

I crack me up.

1 insisted on sticking two cents in:

Blogger Joel offered these pearls of wisdom...

Aliens? That is odd.

8:52 AM  

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