One of the raffle prizes at our launch party with be Cinema Femme founder Rebecca Martin’s personal collection of Criterion Collection films.
Here, Rebecca writes about what each film means to her.
1. “The Virgin Suicides” (1999), directed by Sofia Coppola
“As expressed in my personal essay in the inaugural Issue, I am enchanted with the cinematic details and atmosphere Sofia Coppola creates as a director in all of her films. After seeing ‘Lost in Translation’ and later ‘The Virgin Suicides,’ I fell in love with film and looked at films differently and more deeply.”
2. “Clouds of Sils Maria” (2014), directed by Olivier Assayas
“The film is layered and stems from Juliette Binoche’s character, Maria Enders. Maria goes through a midlife crisis/breakdown when transitioning to playing a new role as an older woman in a play, where many years before she played the young girl, who now will be played by Chloë Grace Moretz’s character Jo-Ann Ellis. Maria leans on Kristen Stewart’s character, Valentine, who plays her assistant, mostly for emotional support. Their relationship is very one-sided, and she uses Valentine as a soundboard during this process of uncovering her character.
The lines of the play and the spoken and unspoken dialogue between all three women start to mold into one as we get closer to the end of the movie. It’s brilliant to see this all unfold on-screen with the beautiful European backdrops.”
3. “Cameraperson” (2016), directed by Kirsten Johnson
“Kirsten Johnson brings beauty to all pieces of the world: a high school cheerleading team, a boxing match, her relationship with her mother during the last days of her life. Johnson tells her story through tying together her journey as a documentarian. This film is a labor of love, and you see it through every shot and snippet of edit.”
4. “Certain Women” (2016), directed by Kelly Reichardt
“Lily Gladstone says so much through her eyes and her love for Kristen Stewart’s character Elizabeth Travis. Lily Gladstone’s character has no name in the film and is credited as ‘the rancher,’ but her role is the heartbeat of the film, with a certain innocence of what it’s like to be a woman in love, and not in a conventional way.”
5. “Black Narcissus” (1947), directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
“‘Black Narcissus’ portrays the madness behind the virtue. How being perfect, or trying to be perfect, and suppressing feelings of passion can come out in exotic and alarming ways in a foreign environment. I related with the female characters in this film as one who tried to live a ‘virtuous’ path, but realized that passion should not be neglected or suppressed.”
6. “Ratcatcher” (1999), directed by Lynne Ramsay
“Lynne Ramsay’s films are not easy to watch—for example, her latest film that came out this year, ‘You Were Never Really Here,’ starring Joaquin Phoenix. But what I like about Ramsay’s films is that they are poetically beautiful even through the darkest of subjects.”
7. “The Rose” (1979), directed by Mark Rydell
“Bette Midler was not an actress before she starred in ‘The Rose,’ not really—she was a singer, a musician. What you see through her performance as Mary Rose Foster is raw talent, accompanied by cinematographer Vilmos Zsigmond, who creates the colorful lens to the character’s many moods. ‘The Rose’ raised the bar high for the musician biopic genre through the rawness of talent and cinematic story.”
8. “Carnival of Souls” (1962), directed by Herk Harvey
“‘Carnival of Souls’ is a beauty to watch. The acting is not what drew me to the film. What drew me in was Candace Hilligoss’s character Mary Henry—her character reminded me of what it feels like to be invisible and unheard, no matter how loud you yell Maybe that was one reason why I started Cinema Femme magazine—to give a voice to women whose voices have not been heard.”
9. “Autumn Sonata” (1978), directed by Ingmar Bergman
“For me, this film revolves all around one scene: the scene where the mother and daughter, played by Ingrid Bergman (mother) and Liv Ullmann (daughter), are sitting together playing piano, a Chopin piece. Bergman’s character Charlotte was a concert pianist who led a life focused on her career, leaving her daughter Eva (Ullman) for most of her formative years. We see Eva’s vulnerability as she plays for her mother as an adult—her notes are full of beauty, a bit messy, but your heart breaks as you listen to the notes.
Charlotte’s notes are cold and calculated. While she plays, Eva stares at her mother like she is miles away, when she is actually sitting right next to her. The ice-cold barrier and proverbial distance between Eva and Charlotte sets the tone of the dysfunction that carries on for the rest of the film.”
10. “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” (1971), directed by Robert Altman
“I’m always drawn to strong female characters. Mrs. Miller, played by Julie Christie, plays a businesswoman, well, a madam, always thinking about how she can build her prostitute business. She’s an entrepreneur in her own right. In a western town, she locks ties with McCabe (Warren Beatty), who becomes the connector to the customers (mining men in the town) and the property (a Presbyterian church). She is a hustler and finds a great partner with McCabe. I love the dynamic between Christie and Beatty.”