On Collaboration

2013 hasn’t been a great summer for movies. At least not so far.

I finally have some time to make it to the cinema, so I go with my hopes up, and invariably leave disappointed. For the most part, the plots are too convoluted, the characters are too undeveloped, and super powered or not, no one on screen behaves in any manner that resembles reality.

While a handful of films certainly had some enjoyable moments (stand up, Iron Man 3), the best that can be said for most is the occasional inspired performance or a nicely choreographed fight scene. I guess I shouldn’t expect so much during the summer movie season, but we did get The Avengers just last year, and it was good enough to keep me inspired through the dreck.

A recent article on NPR cited the dearth of female characters on screen. While the article predates the wide releases of both The Bling Ring and the breakout hit The Heat, it does highlight the vapid sameness of the films released up to that point. It also praises Frances Ha, which happens to be the one film I truly, deeply enjoyed this summer.  Frances Ha is the kind of inspiring film that makes you remember why you love cinema.  And it is also a true collaboration between female and male creators, namely Noah Baumbach and Greta Gerwig.  The Heat and the acclaimed Before Midnight (also mentioned in the article) are similar collaborations, as were the hits Mama, The Call and Zero Dark Thirty from earlier this year.

These films appeal to everyone, not just women and not just men.  The balance both in front of and behind the camera creates movies that can reflect human nature to all audiences, regardless of gender. While I’m not advocating creating homogenized movies that don’t have any specific audience in mind, limiting your audience to one gender can be a liability. The Heat director Paul Feig and The Avengers director Joss Whedon have publicly stated their agendas to include amazing female characters in their films and TV shows, and to collaborate with female creators. Hopefully the success of their massive hits, and the smaller successes of films like The Call, Frances Ha and Before Midnight, will give us much better films in the summer of 2014.

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