Monday, September 6, 2010

Rachel Ambramowitz bad and sexist book

In April of 2009, at Third, an e-mail came in about a book and C.I. addressed the book in "Movie roundtable." The book was Rachel Abramowitz' Is That A Gun In Your Pocket about women in Hollywood. Listening to C.I. dissect the book, I knew two things: (a) C.I. was trying to be kind (but pissed) and (b) I needed to read the book.

C.I. was kind. I got the book from my library and Rachel Abramowitz is just a little bitch. Elaine May directed three critically acclaimed films: A New Leaf, The Heartbreak Kid and Mike & Nicky. Instead of being thrilled that the first woman to direct a studio film since Ida Lupino (Trouble With Angels) had directed three classics, Abramowitz rips May apart.

She accuses May of every crime in the book and that includes abandoning her daughter. Page 64, "Although May had abandoned her daughter in a sense to seek her own creative satisfaction . . . " Reality -- by the pages of the book -- 18-year-old, divorced mother May (a high school drop out) left her daughter with her mother to go to college. What the hell is Abramowitz problem?

She's got a lot of them.

Elaine's 'awful' because she films the scene over and over. "Again," she instructs. Excuse me, but I read Peter Biskand's book on Warren Beatty last year and why is it that Beatty doing the exact same thing (and exhausting actors -- including Diane Keaton and Jack Nicholson -- to the point that they snap) and May doing it with no apparent snapping from actors?

In one moment -- one of many a guttersnipe male tells -- that is supposed to paint Elaine May as crazy and crazed, she has Peter Falk improvising and he walks down the street. The camera operator yells "Cut" and she is made because (a) the director yells "cut" (she's right) and (b) what if Falk turned around and came back?

Her pursuit of art is never applauded. I grew up hearing that Orson Welles was some sort of hero who was beat down by studios but fought back.

Elaine May doing the same is a sign of 'evil' and 'bad' in Abramowitz' bad book.

Elaine May is a genuinely talented director. I could not get into Ishtar, sorry. But I love her other three films and think they are classics. I find it telling that Abramowitz attacks her for being anti-woman based on the way Lila (played by her daughter Jeanne Berlin) comes off in parts of The Heartbreak Kid. First off, not only does the audience sympathize with Berlin, these moments that apparently offended Rachel also offended Charles Grodin and I find Grodin to be a prick in that film and think that's what we're supposed to think. In other words, Rachel's an elitist -- or wants to be -- like Grodin. She's missed the whole damn point of the movie.

That little gutter snipe male I mentioned before? He gets to have the last word on Elaine. He gets to say that she set back other women directors.


A New Leaf made money so why didn't the studios hire women? Not only did the follow up make money (Heartbreak Kid) but it also was the ideal experience for the studio (no big headaches). So where were the women?

That's the whole point. They didn't hire any other women. Not because of Elaine May on her third film. They didn't hire women because they don't like women.

Rachel's got a girl-crush on Jodie Foster and that's her idea of a 'success.' To me, Jodie's an increasingly vapid actress. By contrast, Elaine May remains a legendary director. In other words, kiss my ass Rachel Abramowitz.

At The Common Ills, C.I., Isaiah and Kat have been hard at work:

And be sure to check out the latest from Third:

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