The Twelve Days of Female Vengeance: Week One

BAMcinématek’s “Vengeance Is Hers” film series starts tonight in Brooklyn, and if after reading the useful synopses on their site you’d like some more-superficial guidance for picking which to watch — here you go.

Kuroneko (“Black Cat”), Kaneto Shindô (1968, 99 mins.) Oh, my god. Cat fans, here is one for you! And for everyone else, too. I guess the lesson here is that you should think hard about it now, because you never know when you might get offered the opportunity to turn into a vengeful blood-drinking cat ghost. (And those are apparently stylized cat eyebrows.) So good.

Keywords: Cats, eyebrows, sex, ghosts, love, trees, hair. Smoky, spooky.

Also, a favorite moment (sorry for terrible quality):


Medea, Pier Paolo Pasolini (1969, 110 mins.) It’s Maria Callas in her only film role, and: her eyes! Her [speaking] voice! Her hair! It’s not the fastest-paced movie, and I generally had no idea what was going on (here’s a clip), but there’s some fascinatingly odd kissing (related?: The Evolution of Kissing), and Jason doesn’t usually wear pants — he has a leather tunic-type item on top, but an almost-bare butt and legs below, most of the time.

Keywords: Eyeliner, smolder, robes, droning, slow, confusing, jewelry, disembowelment, fake blood.

Ms. 45, Abel Ferrara (1981, 80 mins.) At one point in this movie, someone kills another and disposes of their body in a way that makes you think you’d probably do the same thing, if you were in that situation?? This movie is also very short! And more than any of the others (so far, above and below) it made me wonder if this is what a (male) director thought a woman in this situation would do, or would want.

Keywords: Red lipstick, leather leggings, nun costume, bathtub. Seamstress, ’80s NYC, lawlessness, clown mask.

Blue Steel, Kathryn Bigelow (1989, 102 mins.) Jamie Lee Curtis and her adorable upper lip are great, and co-star Clancy Brown might be one of the hottest men I have ever seen in a movie. At one point he says something particularly hot, although it’s probably not PC, and it’s maybe a spoiler anyway, so I won’t mention it. But keep an eye/ear/pang of desire out. There’s more horrible kissing in this one, too. Lesson: When guns come across your path unexpectedly, don’t take them!!!

Keywords: Jamie Lee Curtis’s upper lip (!), hot, cops, hot cops, ’80s NYC, weird kissing, guns.

Jeanne Dielman, 23 Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles, Chantal Akerman (1976, 201 mins.) Immediately likable but also three hours and twenty minutes long. And this is especially superficial, but there’s an excellent and inspiring hair-brushing scene.

Keywords: Motherhood, sons, prostitution. Apartments. Routine. Unattractive shoes.

Hyenas, Djibril Diop Mambéty (1992, 110 mins.) I wasn’t feeling this at the beginning, but then it picked up around the 20-minute mark, with the arrival of the amazing female lead:

She also has an amazing group of beautiful and mostly silent assistants. The movie’s based on Friedrich Dürrenmatt’s play The Visit, as I learned from IMDb when I went there to try to figure out what exactly happened at the end, although I think I know. Probably.

Keywords: Gold, hair, cigarettes, sadness. Handcuffs.

The Match Factory Girl, Aki Kaurismäki (1990, 68 mins.), opens with a short montage in the match factory that also doubles as a short documentary on match-making. Will matches be like guns in this movie, where if you see one at the beginning, it’s inevitably used later? This movie is also very short, just over an hour. Also, the main actress has probably the sexiest voice I’ve ever heard on a woman. There’s not a lot of talking, either. I love this movie.

Keywords: Sex, sweaters, silence. Cigarettes, beer. Another Match Factory picture, why not:

Brief tally of the weapons vengeful women have used so far (in no particular order): guns, knives, fire, scissors, poison, teeth.

The Heiress, William Wyler (1949, 115 mins.) Petticoats and braids!!! Eyebrows, too. The biggest problem with The Heiress, though, is that we’re expected to believe Olivia de Havilland is repulsive and charmless, even though she looks like this. Anyway, she’s crazy rich but no one wants to marry her, until one day, etc. Her dad is sort of a villain here, except that he’s also handsome and funny. People have incredible waists in this, the maid especially. Increasingly clear, from this series: Vengeance fucks us all.

Keywords: Petticoats, braids, eyebrows, fancy, New York, beauty, money, softness, fans, Montgomery Clift:

Okay, moving on…

The Lady Eve, Preston Sturges (1941, 94 mins.) The most perfect-length movie ever. Oh, this movie is so charming. Its ending also has a slightly different vibe than the others, which is maybe why BAM is screening it on Valentine’s Day (with a dinner-and-a-movie option, for $69). That dress is backless!

Keywords: Hair, apples, cartoon snakes, real snakes, cruises, gowns. LOVE!

Next: Week Two — Carrie, High School Reunion, She-Devil, Black Sunday, Possibly in Michigan, Nine to Five, Intimate Confessions of a Chinese Courtesan, Coffy, and Terminal Island.