"I couldn't get an interview" to direct The Fighter "even though my last movie made $400 million," Twilight director Catherine Hardwicke said. "I was told it had to be directed by a man — am I crazy?" Is she?
I will cop to not having seen the Twilight movies, but the critics did not exactly fall over themselves to praise them, as they did for the breakout picture, Three Kings, by the guy who did direct The Fighter. Then again, Russell's last film, I Heart Huckabees, was a dud in just about every respect, and he still got the job.
(By the way, I did finally see The Fighter this weekend and thought that it transcended its genre in part by actually being about family and cycles of poverty — and having some pretty well-fleshed-out parts for the women, notably Melissa Leo and Amy Adams.)
And Hardwicke has a point when she says, "It's about action, it's about boxing, so a man has to direct it ... But they'll let a man direct "Sex in the City" or any girly movie you've ever heard of."
The occasion is this year's depressing set of numbers from an academic study of women directors, showing that things have not gotten better at all despite the fact that Kathryn Bigelow won an Oscar:
According to the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Films report, the percentage of women directing major movies declined from 9 percent in 1998 to 7 percent in 2009 and 2010. Women comprised 2 percent of all cinematographers, 10 percent of all writers, 15 percent of all executive producers, 18 percent of all editors and 24 percent of all producers in 2010.
This year's crop of films isn't terrible for women directors, including Debra Granik with Winter's Bone and The Kids Are All Right's Lisa Cholodenko. Incidentally, neither are nominated in the Oscars' directing category. We'll cede to Mark Ruffalo at the Golden Globes, who demanded in a rather ironic turn of phrase, "Why don't you grow a pair and vote for Lisa Cholodenko as well?" Unless, of course, you thought the movie sucked. (I didn't.)