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October 16 2010

Greatest actor-director collaborations in sci-fi movies and TV. Joss Whedon and .....?

Before I even read this.... I'm going to guess Eliza for Dollhouse.
_____________

Oh! I was wrong! Nathan Fillion! Good for you Mr. Fillion.

Although I can't help but notice, there are no females on this list. This makes me sad.

[ edited by mariec on 2010-10-16 08:09 ]
Yup.

ETA: Yeah, didn't see your comment. Yup to the article. :)

[ edited by Saladbar12 on 2010-10-16 08:07 ]
Although I can't help but notice, there are no females on this list. This makes me sad.


I thought the same. This ended up making me sad. I love Nathan Fillion and there's no doubt he and Joss are great collaborators, but I think this list is indicative of a larger problem.

Honestly, James Cameron has done huge projects with Sigourney Weaver. I'd consider their relationship to be more a iconic and significant collaboration than Cameron's with Bill Paxton. Sigourney Weaver was in James Cameron's "Alien", "Aliens" and "Avatar". Seriously. It should be Cameron and Weaver as collaborators. If one used the same standard to measure Cameron and Paxton's collaborative efforts, then Joss might as well have been paired with Jonathan M. Woodward.

I think I just really have a problem with this list. It reads like a bromance collaborators list that excludes women.

I realize this list focuses on Sci-fi, but I was trying to think of director-actor collaborations that included women and I remembered Alfred Hitchcock-Grace Kelly ("To Catch a Thief", "Rear Window", "Dial M For Murder") and Nora Ephron-Meg Ryan ("When Harry Met Sally", "Sleepless in Seattle" and "You've Got Mail").

Can anyone else think of significant director-actor collaborations that includes women in the mix?

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-10-16 14:17 ]
Thurman and Tarantino rush to the fore front of my mind.
Right, "Kill Bill" Volumes 1, 2 and 3 (announced), plus "Pulp Fiction".
Just a nitpick, Emmie - Alien isn't Cameron's. That franchise is one of the few cases where the female star is the constant and (most of) the people behind the scenes change with every film.

But yeah, it's kind of hard to find examples, especially in sci-fi, for some reason. David Lynch might play on the outskirts of genre town with his long-standing use of actresses like Grace Zabriskie and Laura Dern.
Ah, whoops. I knew that. I'd talked about that recently in comparing how Aliens is more an action flick like Terminator while Alien is more horror.
I think the problem is, this list is exclusive to the sci-fi genre. If we're allowed here to go outside of that...
Robert Rodriguez & Salma Hayek
The Coen Brothers & Frances McDormand
Tim Minear & Katie Finneran
John Hughes & Molly Ringwald
John Carpenter & Jamie Lee Curtis (or, Nancy Loomis)
Tim Burton & Winona Ryder
... I'll edit to add more if and when they come to me.
I think it's a decent list, given it's parameters: 1. sci-fi oriented and 2. a sustained director-actor relationship across differentiated multiple projects. The least number of project collaborations was four.

The "problem" lies elsewhere. On the big scale, there still aren't many women directors in Hollywood and not many of them have made either big money making extravaganzas or big cult hits. On some other scale that doesn't feel quite so big to my mind for some reason, there just aren't that many women IN sci-fi, percentage wise, compared to men. (That pseudo statistic BTW was based entirely on my intuited "feelings.") The odds are not in a woman's favor to appear on that list.

Female characters and writers now appear all over the shelves of the SF section in book stores. I'm not sure why this hasn't translated to the big screen yet... The money men, I presume. Well that, plus all the new women in Hollywood producing stuff for themselves apparently aren't interested in sci-fi. What's up with that? Shame on them. :P

And I don't think the Harrison Ford/George Lucas thing really should be on this list. Yes, they have a great collaboration history, but I don't really think of the Indiana Jones films as SF. I think of them as adventure films with some supernatural elements thrown in for spice. Those elements are pretty MacGuffin-y. Which leaves the two of them with Star Wars. It's certainly big and iconic but it's still only three movies from the same franchise.

Question: Can anyone think of any women who direct sci-fi films let alone drive sci-fi projects?
Kathryn Bigelow, Karyn Kusama and Mimi Leder. But that would be about it.
Oh yes! Kathryn Bigelow! I completely forgot about her. Bad me. But she's only directed...*checks IMDB* maybe two and a bit? I'm thinking if this was a producer list Gale Anne Hurd would definitely be on it. But it's not. So Bigelow--yes-ish. Mimi Leder though? Maybe I'm missing something over at the IMDB. Which is entirely possible. (Really annoyed by the new IMDB interface BTW.) All I see is Deep Impact. What other sci-fi has she done? And Karyn Kusama? I'm not sure I'd want to own up to Aeon Flux if I was her. ; ) I guess... in my mind, to appear on this list, the directors need more than one sci-fi film. Any director can do one.

So women who direct sci-fi equals a grand total of ONE-ish... :(

I suppose, in order to have any other women appear on the list, they would have to be actors, and it's not their fault that the directors haven't bonded with them and wanted to use them repeatedly.

I would like to offer up Jenette Goldstein for a minor consideration. She was in Cameron's Aliens, T2, and Titanic. That's probably reaching though, huh? She didn't exactly drive the vehicles. She was memorable though.
Tim Burton and Helena Bonham Carter? =D
I don't see why Indiana Jones shouldn't be excluded when Burton's films like Sleepy Hollow and Alice in Wonderland are included. If I squint hard enough I can see how Corpse Bride is sci-fi with it's Frankestein-esque themes, though really I think it's more supernatural. This list is doing the sci-fi/fantasy mash-up.

Great point, Matt7325.

Tim Burton + Helena Bonham Carter: 1) Alice In Wonderland, 2) Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street, 3) Corpse Bride, 4) Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, 5) Big Fish and 6) Planet of the Apes.

Helena Bonham Carter has been in six of Tim Burton's films, almost as many as Johnny Depp. It's a shame she didn't get an honorable mention in the notes. I can understand choosing Depp as he's the the lead in the movies he stars in and he's a bigger star, but I'd have appreciate this list more if the women weren't invisible.

I suppose, in order to have any other women appear on the list, they would have to be actors, and it's not their fault that the directors haven't bonded with them and wanted to use them repeatedly.


Rather I think in order for a woman to be on this list, the people making the list would have to actually consider including the female actors. There's three candidates they could've included (even as honorable mentions): Sigourney Weaver (or even Jeannette Goldstein), Eliza Dushku and Helena Bonham Carter.

Another actress to pair with Joss: Summer Glau (AtS, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse). ETA: Wait a sec! Glau counts up at four projects just Fillion since Firefly and Serenity are listed as two separate projects for Nathan Fillion. So she's definitely in the running for collaborative actor who frequently works with Joss.

I also think it's incredibly significant that Joss created a show purely as a platform for Eliza Dushku just because they're such good friends. He devoted more than two years of his life to a project centered around her. Not only did he create the show for her, but they produced it together. That's one hell of a collaboration.

Honestly, the minimum of four different projects seems entirely arbitrary to me. What's one short project compared to a three-years-long project?

This list is depressing. :-/

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-10-16 14:12 ]
Yeah I don't really think you can explain the lack of women by saying 'oh it's sci-fi', cus it's er, not. None of Johnny Depp/Tim Burton's films are sci-fi neither are Sam Raimi/Bruce Campbell's.

[ edited by digupherbones on 2010-10-16 14:04 ]
Ahhh, I get it. It's not Sci-Fi, it's SyFy = science-y fantasy. ;-)
Part of the problem (IMO) is how few women there are in any non-actor capacities in Hollywood. I recently learned (and I wish I could remember where) that only around 9% of screenplay writers are female. As someone who hopes to be a writer, that's a little terrifying.
One of the many great things about Joss and his work is that women and men are pretty equally a part of it. He has amazing female writers, actors, and characters. In addition to the men he's worked with multiple times, there are many women: Summer Glau, Gina Torres, Eliza Dusku, Amy Acker, Felicia Day, etc.
That's part of the larger issue, true, where women on screen are often treated as invisible or objectified while women behind the scenes are in the minority. Geena Davis commissioned a study six or so months ago researching this issue. Check out the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media.

I can't help being disappointed that there's no women on this list of the 7 greatest actor-director collaborations. It feels like a backhanded way of saying women aren't involved in the great collaborative spirit of the sci-fi/fantasy genre. It's especially disappointing that Joss--whose work I love for how he prominently features women--is not paired with one of several prominent female collaborators like Summer Glau or Eliza Dushku. Especially in light of this recent interview in which Eliza says (regarding working with Joss in the future): "I know for sure that Joss is a lifelong friend and talent, and we'll be seeing each other again for sure."

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-10-16 14:56 ]
Another actress to pair with Joss: Summer Glau (AtS, Firefly, Serenity, Dollhouse). ETA: Wait a sec! Glau counts up at four projects just Fillion since Firefly and Serenity are listed as two separate projects for Nathan Fillion. So she's definitely in the running for collaborative actor who frequently works with Joss.

Technically, if you count each project separately, she's done five: Angel, Firefly, The R. Tam Sessions (aka the original Whedon foray into the great wide interwebz), Serenity, and Dollhouse. And that's not counting a sixth perpetually on the back-burner, The Serving Girl which, last I heard, has a completed score laying around waiting to be realized.

ETA: She's also the only member of the whedonverse to date who's had the privilege/managed to kill the man himself - and get away with it, no less (slightly off-topic, but when it comes to analyzing the inner psychology of these director types, a very interesting place to start is with how they choose to utilize - or not - the cameo.)

[ edited by brinderwalt on 2010-10-16 16:38 ]
Nicely played, brinderwalt. *thumbs up*
I, to my shame, did not notice the lack of women.

I did notice, however, that all the collaborations they mention were for movies... except Joss and Nathan. Looks like the authors added on "and TV" just for them.
since we're playing the missing game... isn't everybody white on that list? But maybe that's an indication of poor representation in Hollywood rather than compiling bias.

I was also thinking though that in Whedon's case, they may have chosen Nathan over Summer because he's probably more high profile right now, due to Castle.
As far as high profile popularity goes, I'd say it's Eliza, Summer then Nathan (just going by a Google search--which admittedly isn't all that accurate but...).
Kathryn Bigelow directed "Near Dark," which is such an influential vampire film it probably deserves to be counted as several movies :) aed "Strange Days," which IMHO is a very underrated science-fiction film. Anyone who wants to see a woman kicking ass, behold Angela Bassett in this movie. Bigelow did go on to use "Strange Days" star Ralph Fiennes in "The Hurt Locker" (albeit in a supporting role) and she and ex-husband James Cameron share the actor trio of Bill Paxton, Jenette Goldstein and Lance Henriksen over a few films.

I would go with the Joss Whedon/Nathan Fillion pairing, though, as opposed to some other possible Whedon/actor connections, because not only was it a defining pairing for the audience, it still clearly resonates with both men (unless they're lying their behinds off whenever they talk about "Firefly"/"Serenity").
And there's this

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UeMweY4Azno

If that doesn't sum up why the Joss & Nathan pairing got chosen (out of all the Joss & Whedonverse actors out there) then I don't know what would.
Just realized it's "actor-director collaborations" ie. leaves whether or not "actress-director collaborations" would fit the byline ambiguous.
I also mourn the lack of women on that list and different cultures. Joss could have a cottage industry with Nathan as his star, à la Burton/Depp, adapting existing works to his own style or remaking films, but I don't see that as in the cards, even though he's doing The Avengers film. And not just sci-fi/fantasy.

Just realized, Milla Jovovich did three Resident Evil films with Paul W.S. Anderson and The Fifth Element, The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc with Luc Besson. Nothing to sneeze at.
Four Resident Evil films I think? If you did a sleight of hand and included fantasy alongside scifi as we are so prone to do here in the UK, you could include Catherine Hardwicke as well. And if you widened the field to the horror genre, Agnieszka Wojtowicz-Vosloo too but it's still not a lot. Or pitifully small if you prefer to be blunt.
We need an actress-director list too, SMG <3.
I just want to second the Salma Hayek/Robert Rodriguez mention (they did Desperado, Dawn til Dusk, the Faculty, Once Upon a Time in Mexico, and Four Rooms together--and maybe more). And also Milla Jovovich and P.W.S. Anderson. According to imdb, they're working on the Three Musketeers right now. So, added to their Resident Evil movies, that makes at least 4 projects that they've done together with Jovovich as the lead.

As for non-sci fi stuff, I would mention Nancy Meyers and Diane Keaton (and Keaton and Woody Allen for that matter)--Myers and Keaton have done 3 or 4 movies together including Something's Gotta Give and that one from last year with Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin (I'm very good with specifics, aren't I?). AND. I'd include my beloved Sofia Coppola--it may be a stretch because her resume is relatively short, but she is establishing a pattern of working with Kirsten Dunst (2/3 of her movies have Dunst in them).
If we do indeed broaden to non-sci-fi, how about Josef Von Sternberg and Marlene Dietrich (seven movies)?
@BlackFrancine - Salma Hayek was also in Robert Rodriguez's cable movie, Roadracers. I almost wouldn't count Four Rooms, but it probably does count since though you don't see her face, the brief footage of her you do see was specifically shot for that scene. Milla Jovovich starred in Luc Besson's The Fifth Element, then they got married. Then they did The Messenger, and got divorced. Her collaborations with Anderson seems to be the one that stuck, since not only are they married, but they have a child together. :)
Not sure why the list has to be depressing. It's just the author's view of the greatest parings. It's not an AFI listing or anything.

For the most part, I actually understand the logic. Campbell and Raimi are iconic. Russell and Carpenter were iconic at one time. Depp and Burton are iconic. I *guess* Perlman could be considered iconic with Del Toro but I've never really thought of him that way. Joss and Fillion speak for themselves (and Fillion over Glau might speak more to the fact that Fillion was the lead in the movie more than anything else.) And Lucas and Ford, are you kidding? That might be the definition.


The pairing that I find a little odd are Paxton and Cameron, not because of any fault in Paxton, just I don't associate supporting cast having iconic value. Do we want to throw Ron and Clint Howard on this list too then?

Cameron to me is a trickier fellow because he has his favorites, but unlike some directors they don't show up in everything he does. I might lean towards Weaver, Hamilton, or Ahnald, but they were each in two of his films and they were iconic. Edge to Weaver because she was actually in two seperate "worlds."

[ edited by azzers on 2010-10-16 22:48 ]
Not a single Scot on this list. Fucking bigots.

;-)

The list is extremely thin to begin with so my biggest issue is with the missing sense. Exclude sequels and stuff that's blatantly not sci-fi by any definition - even the very broad one some here love to use - e.g. Indianna Jones, Evil Dead(s), pretty much the entire Depp/Burton list and you end up with no real multi-movie runs to speak of.

If they mean Sci-fi and Fantasy is it really that hard to just stick '& Fantasy' on the end ? Otherwise why not just call it "Great Collaborations" full stop ?

(Cameron/Paxton is a puzzler - even if you want to stay sexist and avoid the arguably more qualified Weaver, why not go with Michael Biehn, who's actually been in more of Cameron's sci-fi films than Paxton ?)

Non-sci-fi stuff...

Woody Allen/Mia Farrow is the obvious one.
The Coens/Francis McDormand.
Hitchcock also made a couple with Tippi Hedren.
... err ?

Lamentably slim pickings where women are concerned. Why ? Most directors are men and most men more often form long lasting working/personal relationships with other men maybe ? I doubt it's a coincidence for instance that many/most of the notable male director/female actor collaborations have been between directors and actors that're married (i.e. they already have a long standing personal relationship).

[ edited by Saje on 2010-10-16 22:53 ]
When I think about the Coens, I wish they'd done more than one film with Holly Hunter. Raising Arizona is a favorite and she was delightfully quirky back then. I'm trying to imagine the Coens even doing Sci-Fi, but they don't seem drawn to it.
Not sure why the list has to be depressing.


Because it's indicative of a larger problem in society and that's depressing.

(Cameron/Paxton is a puzzler - even if you want to stay sexist and avoid the arguably more qualified Weaver, why not go with Michael Biehn, who's actually been in more of Cameron's sci-fi films than Paxton ?)


Honestly, that's why I've been calling it a bromance list. It feels like part of being great collaborators is that they're friends. Cameron gets along so great with Paxton that he included him in his Titanic documentary. They are besties. Look how Joss and Nathan pull pranks on each other. They are besties.

[ edited by Emmie on 2010-10-17 12:34 ]
Yeah, that's true of Kurt Russell and John Carpenter too (their commentaries together are pretty entertaining as a result of their friendship. Well, that and whisky by the sounds of it ;).

So it's a backdoor bromance list basically.
Alfred Hitchcock and Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, James Stewart, Grace Kelly

come to my mind.

Also Francois Truffaut and Jean-Pierre Léaud,
Luis Bunuel and Fernando Rey,
Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann, Max von Sydow, Erland Josephson,
Frederico Fellini and Marcello Mastroianni,
Orson Welles and Orson Welles
and even Werner Herzog and Klaus Kinski.
Anthony Mann/James Stewart
John Ford/John Wayne
Don Siegal/Clint Eastwood

and so on.

Male/male partnerships are ten a penny, the challenge has been coming up with partnerships involving women (particularly in both positions) in general, let alone in sci-fi.
So it's a backdoor bromance list basically.


Word.
Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Audrey Tatou, maybe? They shared "A Very Long Engagement" and of course "Amelie".

Bonus points for a Joss connection, too. =p

Because it's indicative of a larger problem in society and that's depressing.


Is it? Or is it a list about a specific phenomena by one author? I think there's been enough debate on this board to see that even within this list, it could have been rewritten with two women on it without changing directors. I don't count Helena though which would make it three, as (although I'm not sure why) we're making an exemption for people who later married.

I get what you're saying, I'm just not sure why this list which is just some random author is worthy of that response. Especially when that author is inconsistent in the TYPE of actor vs. director he's including.

As for the Bromance angle, I think we are neatly sidestepping the nature of artistic collaboration to fit a larger narrative. Quite often they occur as somewhat friendly but many don't stay that way. Anyone who's been around a band or a theater company has seen the same thing. Nice friendly people in front of an audience, outside that bubble however there's bad blood and infighting and often the reason they stay together is the mutual benefit of the collaboration.

We use Fillion as an example with Joss, but we know (from twitter, other cast members, and other shows) that he behaves that way with many of his coworkers (as does Joss btw.) That he is humble, friendly, and a prankster isn't in contention. That somehow this translates to Joss and Fillion are BFF seems to be that we're taking a public image and making an inference into an objective fact.

Understand, I think Joss and Fillion ARE great friends. But the way a lot of this argument is reading to me, it seems awfully dismissive for something which is entirely hinged on similar inferences. And if someone made the "Ephron hires Ryan because they're best friends" arguement I'd say the same thing. We insult people by implying that the reason they work with someone is because they're best friends. We are essentially stating that they could do a better job hiring because "we know" the real reason these people are getting hired. It's not unfair to say it's a reason, but it is to say it's THE reason.

Addendum: Emmie and Saje, I may have made this sound like I think you are completely unjustified in my view or that you're not entitled to your own opinion. That's not what I was driving at. I'm not editing it further just because in case people have already read my post. I have simply been around so many collaborating artists that these types of statements tend to push my buttons. And a lot of times these "friendships" that supposedly drive the collaboration are actually 9 parts keeping two people from killing each other and 1 part getting them to do their jobs. And all that work is done for the benefit of an audience, who really doesn't want to know.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-10-17 19:32 ]
I can't speak for Emmie obviously but personally i'm not in any way saying that "the reason they work with someone is because they're best friends" (my emphasis), i'm saying that part of the reason (a big part IMO) that they're on this list is that they're also friends (i.e. rather than simply listing collaborations based on numbers of films or even the more subjective measure of significance, it seems to be partly on partnerships in the personal as well as professional sense). And since there're no women 'bromance' fits (if there were women on there not only would we not be having this conversation, it'd also be - slightly - more difficult to be dismissive of the list. See, it'd be a win win situation ;).

That said, it seems pretty reasonable to me to suggest that people tend to want to work with people they like so all other things being equal, i'd say it's a reason for collaborating (even if - as I suspect is often the case - the friendship develops after the collaboration begins).

As to whether it's symptomatic of a broader societal issue, well, as you say azzers, we could put two (maybe more) women on the list but even broadening it out, there seem to be many more male/male collaborations than male/female (let alone female/female or the even rarer, female/male). There're a lot of possible reasons for that but whatever they are, the gender disparity still seems to be a fact.
I think it's depressing to some of us because this is the state of the art. We who follow the film world know there has always been inequity between male and female directors and writers. A lot of lists get linked here and this one is just indicative of that inequity. Yet another blog about male artists. And while I love men, I keep waiting for things to change and while I get the sense it's better, I want what hasn't happened yet: actress/director partnerships like Scorsese/Deniro, Howard/Hanks, Hitchcock/Stewart. I don't care if it's a female director/actress or male director/actress.

I thought about Soderbergh and Julia Roberts (4 films) but the obvious partnership is with George Clooney, not Julia.

DePalma/Nancy Allen was a good horror team for awhile back in the day, but it seems when this happens it's a random, pleasant happenstance.

I went through some female director's bios: Martha Coolidge, Mira Nair, Catherine Hardwicke, Jane Campion, Kathryn Bigelow and could detect no pattern. Maybe it isn't that they don't want partnerships but just the process of getting work is hard enough to even think about that.

I don't know, none of this is criminal, but it is a damn shame.
Of course bromance is a factor - means that you think of your 'bud' for the next fitting part amongst the universe of actors who might deliver the goods. And, on the other side, means that you probably 'nix' some you don't particularly like from previous association. I don't think that Scorsese worked with DeNiro (and later DiCaprio) entirely due to bromance, but it played a role. Same with Joss. I suspect that some of the actors (or actresses) with whom he has worked, beyond Fillion and Glau, would work for other parts... just that the lurve isn't there. How is that different from any of us when we have some 'hiring' decisional authority?
Farah Khan/Shahrukh Khan; Mira Nair/Irrfan Khan or Naveen Andrews.

Okay, not SF (though maybe Om Shanti Om) but they are women directors I like.
Maybe it isn't that they don't want partnerships but just the process of getting work is hard enough to even think about that.

Yeah, I think the difference is related to being able to choose (or even initiate) projects - men more often have that sort of oomph in Hollywood. If Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe see eye to eye and get on well together (as they apparently do) then they can decide "Hey, we should do a few films" and between them they have the juice to get it done. Female directors/actors rarely have that sort of power (arguably not directly because they're women but more because that power is rare to begin with and so are female directors, requiring two long shots in a row makes it - at least - doubly rare).
Stretching into the past there are good examples in William Wyler/Bette Davis, George Cukor/Katharine Hepburn, Frank Capra/Jean Arthur, more recently and prolifically, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Hanna Schygulla and, most recently, Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz (he has also worked with several other actresses several times).
Stretching into the past there are good examples in William Wyler/Bette Davis, George Cukor/Katharine Hepburn, Frank Capra/Jean Arthur, more recently and prolifically, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Hanna Schygulla and, most recently, Pedro Almodóvar and Penélope Cruz (he has also worked with several other actresses several time.


I guess that's why as an issue, I tend to think more about other things rather than this. Although Saje is dead right on power in Hollywood. While arguably a director is the most powerful person who makes movies, very few have the clout to have unencumbered control. And that might be a fun list to guess at too.

You know what I really do see an unbelievable lack of though? Actress/Actress partnerships. It seems to me that even going back 20 years, I could do (although often comedy), Spade/Farley, Vaughn/Wilson/Farrell, Affleck/Damon, Pitt/Clooney, Rogan/Hill/Rudd, Guest/McKean/Shearer and I could keep naming but my point is there are a lot. Maybe I'm just missing it, but I just don't associate many women with other women in movies as leads.

[ edited by azzers on 2010-10-18 02:37 ]
Since an awful lot of films fail the Bechdel Test (a handy way of way of getting people thinking about roles for women) then it's not a surprise you can't think of an actress/actress partnership. The only one that springs to mind for me is from the 30s/40s and they were usually rivals: Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland.
Here's another good collaboration: actor Jon Lovitz and director Penny Marshall (Big, A League of Their Own and Jumpin' Jack Flash).
As cleveland has pointed out, Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullmann had done a extensive partnership (according witho the IMDB 22 projects). Also, Sophia Loren and Vittorio De Sica had worked 19 times toghether (Imdb, again).
I don't know if this is of interest to anyone, but I found this site-with-blog of someone who seems to follow the world of women in genre film making. Apparently, the world is much bigger than I knew. Go figure. ~_^ Anyways, there's this entry about how "Women directors totally underrepresented at 2010 genre film fests - WTF?" There's a small mention of Amber's "Drones."

So I guess:

1. Women are making SF films. I just never hear about them.
2. They aren't real money makers and they don't get a chance to be seen and effect a large number of people. Therefore they are disqualified from a list using the word "greatest."
3. I don't know how to even begin to figure out if any of these women directors collaborate repeatedly with any actor, female or otherwise. (Hey, it's sci-fi, pan-gender distinctions are totally possible. ~_^)

BTW, does anyone else find it funny that this list was generated by a SyFy child site?




After a little poking around... Other articles of related possible interest AKA "fodder for the mill":

"Film Director Awards and Gender Equality" A Mention of Kathryn Bigelow.

"A Tough Road for Hollywood's Female Film Directors" from PopMatters. A nice(?) bit in there about Julie Delpy and her drawer of sci-fi film scripts that she can't get made. She dreams of making "Blade Runner." Also stuff about the much higher numbers of women directing in Europe than Hollywood.

"Kenya’s First Sci-Fi Film To Hit Sundance: Pumzi" The writer/director's a woman.




Also... Mary Lambert directed "Pet Sematary" and Penny Marshall directed "Big." Both with SF elements.

ETF: crappy grammar

[ edited by BreathesStory on 2010-10-18 21:04 ]
Indie film seems like a more likely place to find women partnering up and indeed, there are a oouple of indie female director/actress partnerships I can think of. Nicole Holofcener and Catherine Keener have done three or four films together and Kelly Reichardt and Michelle Williams have done two. There's also Debra Granik, who hasn't partnered up with a particular actress yet, but got such stupendous performances out of Jennifer Lawrence in Winter's Bone and Vera Farmiga in Down to the Bone that if she ever does pick someone, it's gonna be memorable.
BreathesStory, thanks for all those links. That's fascinating.
Yeah, interesting links, 'Pumzi' in particular sounds worth seeing, always keen to see different perspectives on a genre (like the Aussie Western 'The Proposition' for instance). As shambleau says, indie films are where you're going to see more diversity of all kinds I reckon. I like spectacle sci-fi but I love ideas sci-fi and with the odd exception, indies are where you see ideas taking centre stage (less money = less risk = more people willing to take a punt).

Also... Mary Lambert directed "Pet Sematary" and Penny Marshall directed "Big." Both with SF elements.

Err, an ancient indian burial ground raises the dead and a mechanical carnival fortune teller grants life-lesson teaching wishes. A horror movie and a fantasy. The sci-fi elements... well, I guess it is a mechanical fortune teller ;). Much as i'd love to give both women their SF dues, that's very reachy.

(i'm not blind to the fact that I probably come across as being pedantic on this BTW but if sci-fi means anything, it surely means "NOT the supernatural" ?)
(i'm not blind to the fact that I probably come across as being pedantic on this BTW but if sci-fi means anything, it surely means "NOT the supernatural" ?)


Well, I was thinking more along the lines of SF (Speculative Fiction--which I think is the most accurate term for the majority of creations anyways. And very blanket-y. Maybe in soft pastels.) Given the original examples, I don't think those two were any more reach-y. The whole original list by SyFy is peppered with supernatural examples and very suspect to begin with:

1. John Carpenter? Really? They include: Elvis (1979), Escape From New York (1981), The Thing (1982), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Escape from L.A. (1996)

...So maybe "The Thing" qualifies under the sci-fi rules.

2. Sam Raimi? They include: The Evil Dead (1981), Crimewave (1985), Evil Dead 2 (1987), Army of Darkness (1992), the Spider-Man trilogy (2002-2007)

...I figure if Raimi can have flesh eating demons and a zombie army, Mary Lambert can have "Pet Cemetery"

3. Tim Burton? They include: Edward Scissorhands (1990), Ed Wood (1994), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005), Corpse Bride (2005), Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street (2007), Alice in Wonderland (2010)

...They're pretty much all fantasy, unless you except the classic Frankenstein motif. I don't think the popular way of thinking even recognizes hard-ish sci-fi as "owning" the term "sci-fi" anymore. ... Should we all learn to spell it syfy now? *shudders*

The whole premise of the original list basically sucked. It reminds me of the first time I had to write a paper in high school. We were learning how to put forth a thesis and then support it. I somehow didn't "get it" and got the grade to reflect that fact. It really was a thesis built of straw. The original list is just like my piss poor thesis. (I got better!) I know what they were trying to do, but I don't think there are enough "sci-fi" movie collaborations to support it.

Well, at least we've all gotten a really nice stretch out of it all.
Yeah, I agree about the original list BreathesStory (even mentioned it in my comment above i.e. if 'American Graffiti' is sci-fi then I don't want to live in this world any more ;).

But didn't your mum ever teach you that two wrongs don't make a right ? ;)

......So maybe "The Thing" qualifies under the sci-fi rules.

In fairness to Carpenter, apart from 'The Thing' (sci-fi IMO, just with a horror mix, like 'Alien'), "Escape from New York" is sci-fi through and through I reckon ("What if ... in the future Manhattan Island is turned into a giant prison and Airforce One crashes there ?"). So's "Escape from LA" but it doesn't qualify under my "blatant cash-in" sequel rule.

Speculative Fiction--which I think is the most accurate term for the majority of creations anyways. And very blanket-y. Maybe in soft pastels.

And so, so snuggly too. S'why I don't really think much of "Speculative Fiction" as a label, far too general, i'd contend that ALL fiction has a "What if ?" element of speculation at its core (certainly in the sense that "Pet Sematary" or "Big" qualify as spec-fic i.e. "What if ancient indian burial grounds brought people back from the dead and Fred Gwynne got his achilles tendon cut in one of - IMO - the nastier scenes from mainstream horror ?" or "What if Tom Hanks became a huge break-out star ?").

That and to be honest, I personally feel creating the new label was partly due to snobbishness on the part of some authors/literati that think the stuff they write/critique is too good to be sci-fi. Sci-fi is big enough to encompass spaceships/lasers/green space-babes and serious, naturalistic ideas driven works.
"...even mentioned it in my comment above..."

Er, so you did. Feels like such a long, long time ago, in a posting far, far away...

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Oooh. Etymology. Neat. :-)

Well, yes. All fiction is speculative. (So is "non-fiction" really, but that's another existential thread altogether.) I've only heard it used to describe that whole sci-fi/fantasy/supernatural thing myself. I figure it's sort of like using that *wrinkles nose* "genre" term. They can just go and stand together in their loathsomeness.

About: I personally feel creating the new label was partly due to snobbishness on the part of some authors/literati that think the stuff they write/critique is too good to be sci-fi.

Really? That's interesting. I guess everyone likes to feel a little exclusive. I'm really not up on the literary sci-fi community vibes, myself. I thought something kinda similar--but different. ; ) I always figured that the "new label" was an attempt by the insecure fantasy writers to co-opt the "coolness" of their "respected" sci-fi counterparts and expressed a desire to crash their club. I'm not sure where I came up with that idea though. Apparently, there are also other schools of thought.

I have this love/hate relationship with the loss of specificity in language. I know it's an inevitable outcome of the transmuting of culture, but I sometimes miss the bits that get left on the floor. The blurring of story forms and genres though, is something I can get behind 100%--as long as the creator does a good enough job selling their world.

Maybe we just need more labels for the various permutations. Maybe our words aren't keeping up with the fast changing story types... *googles* ...Nope. That ain't it. The "transrealist's" sound like your aforementioned literary snobs. "Science fantasy" sounds like it would cover most of the stuff being pumped out nowadays. But WTF are "paranormal romances" doing listed under sci-fi genres? Weird entry. I guess the Wikipedia is a modern battleground for language.
Well, yes. All fiction is speculative. (So is "non-fiction" really, but that's another existential thread altogether.)

Hmm, ish maybe. Think I know what you mean BreathesStory because we've touched on this before you and I but to me non-fiction isn't always speculative because it's not saying "What if ... reality was like this ?", it's saying "Reality is actually like this". It might well be completely wrong in its claims and at best is vanishingly unlikely to be completely right and even if it is, we can't know it BUT it's stating its position as a claim of fact, not as a speculation about a possible situation - except sometimes with e.g. non-fiction (usually science oriented) that speculates about what you might call "future facts", things we don't consider facts now but think we might in the future. And maybe "alternate history" non-fiction ("What if ... Germany won WWII ?" is a special case ? Or maybe that's just fiction dressed up ?

Really? That's interesting. I guess everyone likes to feel a little exclusive.

The Wikipedia entry on Speculative Fiction has this link (to a PDF) describing Margaret Atwood's attitude for instance (it's an opinion piece so maybe a bit intemperate but it gives you the gist) and i'm pretty sure Harlan Ellison feels similarly about a lot of his own stuff (I actually thought he'd coined the term in the 60s on the back of the "new-wave" but Wikipedia says it's usually attributed to Heinlein and actually predates him too. Unlike Heinlein though, Ellison definitely doesn't use it as a synonym for sci-fi). Some folk just seem to think if it's sci-fi it can't be literature and vice versa.

The "transrealism" entry was interesting, that label was a new one on me (though it turns out i've read quite a bit of transrealist fiction except when I read it it was sci-fi ;). Not sure how many of the authors they suggest would claim to be "transrealists" though, Iain Banks (in his publishing guise of Iain M Banks) for instance is very much a sci-fi author and identifies as such.

I have this love/hate relationship with the loss of specificity in language.

Me too. Partly because, as you say, we lose useful distinctions and nuances ("begging the question" is similar to but slightly different from "circular reasoning" for instance, only in common usage now it just means the same as "raising the question") and partly because it's a reminder that language, the thing we use to connect with each other and such a huge part of all our personal realities, is an arbitrary construct that allows previously valid definitions to become wrong just because the majority thinks they are. I.e. language feels too important to not be a matter of fact but it isn't, with language perception really is reality.

On the other hand though, I love that aspect of it, the fact that it's something we create together - languages are kind of the biggest ongoing public works in existence and that's pretty astonishing.
RE: "Speculative non-fiction": Ooops. I guess I should have put a winky smile there at the end of that tossed off phrase. (I didn't mean to be a tease.) Cuz, I've really had no new thoughts on the matter since the last go around. I haven't even read anything new along those lines. (All my non-fiction reading has been geared towards trying to think/feel like a displaced Meiji era samurai.)

I think I know what you're getting at, based on my previous experience with your views... but um, your paragraph has my brain in a bit of a snarly tangle going,"Awah?"

If I understand you correctly, (Sorry, if I didn't.) you are saying something like: non-fiction cannot be considered speculative because its writers define it as showing/telling "reality as they understand it to be" where as fiction writers never intend for their works to be mistaken/taken for reality in the first place. If that's so, I've got no beef with that concept. I'm sure I'm just being a little perverse. (Ignore me.) ;)

I just like to challenge my inner list of "accept-eds." I like discovering new things on my list. I like to remind myself that very little of what I experience and understand is set in stone. And even if it is set in stone, there is probably some really slow erosion going on somewhere that I don't know about. I find this makes the world easier to navigate and also doubles as a great brainstorming exercise. (Bonus!)

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Oh, man. That PDF! What marvelous buttons that first paragraph does push. I wonder how truly understanding the author was of the literary zeitgeist in 2003. If it's true, it is very,very sad. Losing in the semi-final round kind of sad. I had no idea that having a plot is the downfall of any aspirations to art. I don't think I'm ready to even touch the "Art thing." (If a book is awarded in the academy, but no one reads it, does it make a sound?)

I find the whole idea of "L iterature" an interesting one. The OED is very neutral in its definitions (heavily abridged by me) which are along the lines of "a work of letters." The Merriam-Webster has: "writings in prose or verse; especially : writings having excellence of form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest" which is, I think closer to the way it's being used here. I think one could hypothesize and then argue that sci-fi (the wide definition) is perhaps the genre best at "expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest." The "writings of excellence" is always the iffy part. But it's that way with all genres. I think that writing is one skill and storytelling is another skill, and I would rather read a poorly written, bang-up story than the most beautiful prose about "nothing." When they happen together, you get one of those moments that resonates so expansively, the story becomes part of your DNA.

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You might find this Guardian article written by the Attwood herself interesting: "Aliens have taken the Place of Angels." It's from two years after your PDF and in it she got a chance to explain her views a la 2005. If one can take the other press seriously, it sounds as though she mellowed. It certainly doesn't sound like she disavows the sci-fi label or thinks that it's second tier storytelling.

"...languages are kind of the biggest ongoing public works in existence and that's pretty astonishing."

I know! And so exciting! I feel so fortunate to have "English" as my native tongue. I love how easy it is to play with words, incorporate foreign words, and make up new ones. (Which is good because I uphold the American cliché of not speaking another language.)
Yeah, I could probably not starve in France (with my atrocious schoolboy French) and that's about it. English having its current status makes it very easy to be lazy which, y'know, appeals to my lazy side ;).

(and I also love its linguistic sluttiness/flexibility. Must make it hellish to learn as a second language though)

... you are saying something like: non-fiction cannot be considered speculative because its writers define it as showing/telling "reality as they understand it to be" where as fiction writers never intend for their works to be mistaken/taken for reality in the first place.

Yep, you've got it (though i'd say "its writers and readers define it ..."). The intent is different and so is the process. It's like the difference between giving someone factual information in good faith that turns out to be wrong (or at least incomplete) and deliberately lying to them.

Read that Atwood piece in the Guardian (cheers ;) and yep, she does indeed seem to have mellowed/changed her mind. Don't agree with all of it ("supernatural creatures with wings" - my emphasis - still have no place in sci-fi IMO, the supernatural is fantasy. Sci-fi doesn't necessarily need to adhere to what we know of science BUT it does need to adhere to the scientific worldview IMO i.e. the world is, to some extent, explainable, not arbitrary) and she may still be wanting to have her cake and eat it but her position now is a bit more sensible IMO.

I think one could hypothesize and then argue that sci-fi (the wide definition) is perhaps the genre best at "expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest."

Yep, agreed (and about 'excellence'). That's why distinctions like e.g. "speculative fiction" or even "transrealism" (which seems to emphasise character etc.) are unnecessary IMO. Literary sci-fi is, basically, sci-fi that's technically well executed and profound just as literary mainstream fiction is mainstream fiction that's technically well executed and profound. No-one says "We need a new definition that separates 'The DaVinci Code' from high literature", most people can just tell. Similarly, you can have spaceships/other sci-fi trappings and thematic depth/truthful characterisation (as Iain Banks does for instance - many of his books could easily be described as "literary space-operas" IMO).
Wow. That would be interesting. I wonder if it will make a difference? I'll cross my fingers that the script will be better. Or maybe it was Branagh's touch I found clunky. It's so hard to know where things go wrong with film. But hey, at least the sequel won't be origin burdened.

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