Not to start this on a bitter note, but the fact that your directing career has been so unfairly truncated is one of the bullshittiest pieces of bullshit to have ever occurred in the American film industry. Despite having directed four genuine masterpieces, you haven't made a feature in 29 years -- since Ishtar -- and that is frankly unacceptable. In the year of our lord 2017, can't we finally rewrite history on the quality of Ishtar as a film? Have we now reached enough of a critical mass on acknowledging its position as, sure, a big old flop, but a genuinely terrific big old flop? It's basically the funniest and -- as you intended -- a more than worthy successor to all the Bing Crosby and Bob Hope "Road" movies from the 1940s. One could argue that the only reason it received negative reviews in the first place was due to some critics being unable to separate behind the scenes drama from the film itself. And yes, if a man had made Ishtar, etc. etc. etc. Okay, so, with that out of the way: the good. If I could come up with my ideal movie, it would probably be one in which you direct yourself as a rich botanist involved in a romance with Walter Matthau. Luckily for me that's a movie that actually exists: your first film, A New Leaf. Then there are Mikey and Nicky -- a buddy film that subverts the sexism of buddy films -- and The Heartbreak Kid -- a romantic comedy that subverts the sexism of romantic comedies (that also happens to be ranked as one of the greatest comedies of all time on basically any list that would rank such things). And I'm not in the habit of talking about women as they relate to the men in their lives, but I would be remiss if I didn't mention your relationship with Mike Nichols. Your comedy team Nichols and May produced sketches that, as far as I'm concerned, still haven't been topped in sketch comedy. Your screenplays for Nichols's movies The Birdcage and Primary Colors are some of your best writing. And if I can't watch a new feature by you, the American Masters you directed on Nichols after his death is a pretty amazing consolation prize. So this letter doesn't pass the Bechdel Test. Sorry.
I ♥ Female Directors
Every year there are studies and lists and think pieces about the lack of female directors working in television and film. And hey, we love studies and lists and think pieces as much as the next gal, but the numbers are soooo depressing and the problem is soooo entrenched and unchanging that reading about it starts to feel a lot like eating your vegetables if vegetables tasted like futility which they do.
We started iheartfemaledirectors.com because we think the biggest thing missing from the conversation about female directors is some good old-fashioned gushy fandom. We will not have achieved true equality until every film school student who ever jizzed himself talking about the exploration of violence and masculinity in Fight Club has also needed a change of pants after discussing the exploration of violence and masculinity in Beau Travail.
Yes, there are historically fewer female directors than male, but there have still been hundreds (thousands?) of great ones. And new female directors are being born and dismissed every minute! So while the major studios’ scientists toil away in their under-the-lot labs, manufacturing the single perfect, hireable female director*, we’ll be swooning over the ones who have already put amazing, love letter-worthy things into the world.
So here’s our plan: every week we’ll put up a new love letter to a female director we’re obsessed with. And look, maybe that won't solve all of sexism in Hollywood. But it might get you to watch an Agnes Varda movie, and isn't that a close second?
• Experienced (but also fresh!)
• Works Constantly (but is always available)
• Commanding (but not emasculating)
• Will represent the wokeness and feminism of the studio (but won’t complain about institutionalized sexism)
• Has a unique voice (but wants to direct mediocre tentpoles)
• A visionary (but takes all notes)