Sunday, May 3, 2009

A Monster of a Problem

As I lay in bed last night about to go to bed I turned the TV on to catch a bit of late night Rage, what my television turned itself on to, however, was something far more distressing. Channel 7 was airing Patty Jenkins' revalatory 2003 film about Aileen Wuornos, Monster. A month or so ago I actually had a strong urge to rewatch this movie, which I had remembered as being incredibly powerful and well-made, but never got around to it. I decided to watch the last 40 minutes of so of the movie and, wouldn'tcha know it it was still as good as I remember.

The distressing part in it came about when the credits started to roll and I remembered that writer/director Jenkins has not made a single movie since. That's six years, folks, with only an episode of Arrested Developement and a couple of Entourage eps on her resume. How is it that the director of an Oscar-winning (Charlize Theron won Best Actress as I'm sure you remember) movie that grossed $34.5mil in America with a further $26mil internationally - and all on an $8mil budget - not get the chance to make another film? That $34.5m figure is larger than three of this year's Best Picture nominees (although The Reader is still in release and will probably outgross it by a very minor figure). Frost/Nixon's budget was $25m and only grossed $27m worldwide. That makes it quite a large money loser when you include the large Oscar campaign and marketing, yet Ron Howard lives to film another big budget franchise movie.



When I reviewed Courtney Hunt's excellent Frozen River I wrote:

It's a shame that Courtney Hunt's Frozen River is so good ... because now I will most likely be incredibly disappointed when this debut director falls between the cracks of the lead performance she helped create. Much like Kimberley Pierce, who took nine years to return after Boys Don't Cry, and Patty Jenkins, who has yet to direct another motion picture after Monster in 2003, Hunt's film is primarily getting attention for it's lead performance.

Peirce took an equally frustrating nine years between features (Stop-Loss was released last year to lukewarm applause) so does that mean we're going to have to wait at least three more years for Jenkins' Monster followup? Considering the amount of time it truly takes to develop a movie such as the kind she would surely want to make, three years is probably an over-zealous estimate. Can Charlize Theron send Patty a memo asking her to write something as strong as Monster? Theron owes her!

And taking an even different look at things, in the realm of queer cinema Monster ranks above titles such as Capote (Best Picture nominee), Alexander (Oliver Stone's massive-budget epic), Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil (Clint Eastwood) and Far From Heaven (instant classic). Yet Jenkins is just sitting there.

Can somebody give her a lifeline, please?


crossoverman said...

Unfortunately, Hollywood is a boys club - which immediately disadvantages women in general, but I think in particular female directors. Who, you know, probably want to make films about women, which - it is perceived - make less money than films about men. And that's probably right - but in turn, it's a vicious circle, because films about women just aren't made. And certainly not in the way money-makers are made. And thus all three directors you talk about are disadvantaged. And it fucking sucks.

And as much as I despise Ron Howard (okay despise is a strong word), he has a reputation where one small film that barely makes any money doesn't outweigh the big budget money makers he's delivered over his career.

FranklinBluth said...

Ron Howard is so unattractive. The best thing he has done is the narration of Arrested Development