Jezebel Interviews NYT's Dargis in a No-Fucks-Barred Q & A on Women in Hollywood

by Anne Thompson
December 14, 2009 10:48 AM
3 Comments
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Thompson on Hollywood
While she's as opinionated as the next critic, the NYT's Manohla Dargis is usually quite press-shy. She hates posing for photographs (this old one dates back to her LAT tenure), doesn't do panels, won't go on television. And yet she gave this refreshingly candid interview to the feminist website Jezebel on the subject of women in Hollywood, perhaps hoping to promote her recent NYT feature on her pet peeve, women directors.

I can't help wondering how thrilled are her employers at the Grey Lady about this sort of exposure. No question, swearing like a sailor gets you attention. Here's a sample:

On Bigelow's chances for Oscar or future commercial success:
The only thing Hollywood is interested in money, and after that prestige. That's why they'll be interested in something like The Hurt Locker. She's done so well critically that she can't be ignored. Let's acknowledge that the Oscars are bullshit and we hate them. But they are important commercially... I've learned to never underestimate the academy's bad taste. Crash as best picture? What the fuck.

UPDATE: Here's more blow-by-blow on fallout from the interview.

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More: Stuck In Love, Women in Film, Critics

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3 Comments

  • Brian | December 15, 2009 7:03 AMReply

    A couple of things:
    1) I'm happy to hear that Manohla is press-shy. That makes two of 'em at the New York Times: her and Michiko Kakutani. There are others there, who shall remain nameless, who regularly appear on a TV show in New York called TimesTalks where they interview celebs from their field of coverage. And it's clear that none of them are ready for prime time. They're print journalists, not TV personalities, and they're sometimes quite embarrassing.

    2) Any time I've heard complaints about women directors this past year, I've gotten really annoyed, esp. now that Bigelow is being hyped as an action director. Why? Because the best action/comic-book/urban crime thriller of the last 15 years was directed by a woman and was quickly trashed and forgotten when it came out last December. I'm talking about PUNISHER: WAR ZONE, directed by Lexi Alexander. Where are the champions of that film, aside from me? Far superior to anything I've seen by Bigelow. (I admit I haven't seen HURT LOCKER, but the past work of Bigelow's I've seen was pretty bad.)

    3) Also, I've been a fan of female-centric action films from Hong Kong and Japan for years and I've clamored for films like that from Hollywood. And I don't mean silly, comic star vehicles like CHARLIE'S ANGELS. Why not a Hollywood remake of the Hong Kong thriller, SO CLOSE, starring Megan Fox and Ellen Page as the two high-tech sisters, and Angelina Jolie as the no-nonsense policewoman? Throw in Jason Statham and start counting the money.

  • Joe Valdez | December 15, 2009 3:16 AMReply

    Entertaining read there, Anne, and I'm glad somebody had the balls to speak her mind. This is a complex issue that isn't going to be resolved by a couple of rabid sound bytes though.

    I think when media types like Manohla Dargis ask why there aren't more women directing movies, what they really want to know is why aren't there more women directing blockbusters.

    The truth could be that women aren't asked (sexism), that women aren't interested (Mira Nair turning down the 4th HARRY POTTER), that action movies price out directors who make intimate, low budget films (most of which are women), or that when a woman actually directs a big type movie, nobody goes to see it (AEON FLUX).

    The only given is that decisions are going to be made in Hollywood based on money first and foremost.

  • Dylan Marchetti | December 15, 2009 2:39 AMReply

    Good for her! Yet another reason Manohla is one of my favorite critics working (and I say this as someone who has had more than one release I've worked on nearly completed killed by a bad review she's written). And as usual, in this case she's bang on correct- Hollywood has essentially ignored women for years, and I don't count a Sex in the City sequel as proof that they're suddenly paying attention.

    Reading this interview, it seems less like she's promoting a feature story (do NYT writers do that?) and more like she's having an actual, honest, unscripted and off-the-cuff discussion about something she's both an expert in and passionate about. The only issue I have is that you'll never read anything like that in the NYT or Variety.

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