05-08 of #52FilmsByWomen: Girlfight, Across the Universe, Sunshine Cleaning, Whip It

Girlfight (2000, written and directed by Karyn Kusama)


[05 of #52FilmsByWomen]
This is one of the movies that launched Michelle Rodriguez’s movie career. Written and directed by Karyn Kusama, the plot is somewhat reminiscent of Creed that came out 15 years later. Though in my opinion, Girlfight is slightly better paced than Creed because Creed seems like it felt the need to introduce an arbitrary villain late in the movie (Ricky Conlan), a character which felt disconnected from the rest of the movie. On the other hand, every character in Girlfight feels real yet fascinating without the need to fall into any stereotypes or archetypes.


Across the Universe (2007, directed by Julie Taymor)


[06 of #52FilmsByWomen]
Usually I’m not a big fan of musicals, except perhaps for Into the Woods, and that one musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Nevertheless I am a fan of *music* and I love the punk rock renditions of Beatles songs. .

Across the Universe is a love story between Jude, a shipyard worker from Liverpool and Lucy, an American girl who becomes an activist against the Vietnam war. The psychedelic sixties sets and atmosphere rings strong and fun throughout the movie.

Look out for fun cameos by Eddie Izzard and U2’s Bono!


Sunshine Cleaning (2008, directed by Christine Jeffs)


[07 of #52FilmsByWomen]
Ever wondered what happens after the police is done with a crime scene? Suppose a dead body is found in a hotel room. The police comes in, investigates, removes the body, and eventually the hotel has to be cleaned up and goes back to business, right? Someone has to do the cleaning up at some point.

Amy Adams and Emily Blunt are two sisters that start a business of cleaning up crime scenes. The set-up of two bickering and bumbling siblings struggling to clean up brain matter from a crime scene is a good source of comedy. But at its heart is a poignant drama about how the two sisters deal with their difficult lives, which was dramatically influenced by the loss of their mother.

Whip It (2009, directed by Drew Barrymore)


[08 of #52FilmsByWomen]
This is a movie about Ellen Page rebelling against her mother (and perhaps, society’s) expectation to be an elegant and demure young girl participating in beauty pageants. She joins a roller derby team as they compete in a tournament.

For me, having knowing nothing about the sport, this movie was a fascinating introduction. Ellen Page, as usual, gives a great performance as a somewhat rebellious teenager. Though in this one, she does remind me of her other titular character in 2007’s Juno. Also like Juno, her best friend is played by a former cast member of Arrested Development – this time is Alia Shakwat.



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