Entries Tagged 'Quirky Independent' ↓

paris was a woman

Much has been made of Hemingway and Joyce’s shenanigans in Paris during the 1920s, but this film focuses specifically on the lesbian women who formed an artistic community in Paris attracted by cheap digs and a liberal atmosphere. Through archival snippets, we get a taste of the wacky literary salons hosted by Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas. [canada, 1995]

the slums of beverly hills

14-year old Vivian just wants a normal middle-class family. One that doesn’t “move” in the middle of the night without paying rent. One that doesn’t consider breakfast at Sizzler to be a big meal out. One where her father doesn’t support her and her brothers with handouts from a wealthy uncle. In this sharp, funny, and breast-obsessed story Vivian survives puberty with help from her well-meaning but bumbling father, marijuana-dealing neighbour, and certifiable cousin. [us, 1998]

bend it like beckham

“Who’d want a girl who plays football all day but can’t make chapattis?” This crowd pleasing cross-cultural girl sports movie breaks a new movie taboo: Girls can not only play sports – and well – but they can be Asian as well. Here Jess plays a soccer-obsessed teen of Indian heritage who’ll do anything to play her favorite game, and spends most of the movie evading her traditional parents’ watchful eyes. Pic features not just culture clash gags, but genuinely athletic footage and a cameo by the titular hero. (uk, 2002)

rambing rose

Laura Dern exudes sexuality as Rose, a young housekeeper/nanny taken in by a wealthy Southern family in 1935. The household is immediately disturbed by the presence of a young, exuberant woman, and both father and son reek with desire for her. As the straight-laced father, Robert Duval turns in an excellent performance, as does Dern’s real-life mother Diane Ladd A sultry indie. [us, 1991]

bagdad cafe

This haunting and beautifully shot, but quintessentially weird little film, tells the story of a German tourist abandoned at a truckstop in the Mohave desert. A cast of endearingly strange characters befriends her, and an unlikely community is formed. This woman has some secrets that are slowly revealed (unveiled?). [us, 1987]

women on the verge of a nervous breakdown

In this delicious screwball comedy, four women struggle with sex, unfaithful men, police, and terrorists. Pepa, a popular television star, is ending a relationship with a suave but philandering co-star–the catch is, she’s pregnant. Add to this problem the fact that her best friend has mistakenly been harbouring Shiite terrorists, and confusion ensues. True to form in this Almodovar film, women who may start out as rivals (for example Pepa and her lover’s insane wife) end up helping each other to a relatively happy ending. It’s the ridiculous details–like the fully equipped cabbie–that make this film a treat. [spain, 1988]


Take the stunning Juliette Binoche and surround her with the finest Belgian chocolate, and you get this sweet confection of a film. In a familiar story, Binoche plays Vianne who breezes into a conservative and pious French town with her daughter Anouk. Vianne shocks the self-righteous mayor by opening a chocolatiere during Lent and by flaunting Anouk’s lack of a father, but soon her chocolaty treats are raising the passions of the townspeople. A beautifully shot fairytale. Delicious! [usa, 2000]

holy smoke

In this Jane Campion film, a nouveau-hippie (Kate Winslet) is brought back from an Indian ashram by her family and sent to the outback with a cult deprogrammer (Harvey Keitel). Tables are turned as Winslet’s character seduces Keitel, and leaves him stranded in the desert, a quivering mess in a red dress. The film is disturbing, and the romance/seduction is not entirely believable, but it raises some interesting ideas about sanity. [australia, 1999]

calendar girls

In this Full Monty meets Saving Grace, a group of aging Yorkshire roses pose in the nude to raise money for cancer. Led by the scandalous Chris who routinely shakes up her staid women’s group with antics such as entering store bought cakes into country fairs and winning, the group shifts its yearly calendar theme from photos of local churches to nude 50-somethings. The artful calendar features the ladies tastefully hiding their naughty bits behind flower pots, buns and the like, and becomes a media sensation. Helen Mirren is downright sexy as Chris proving that attractiveness has more to do with joie de vivre than age. [uk 2003]


When this film was released in 2002 it caused a controversy among feminists who were divided on whether it was exploitative or empowering. The fabulous Maggie Gyllenhaal stars as a disturbed young woman with a penchant for cutting who finds stability and solace as a submissive secretary. We’ll leave it for you to decide whether she’s a victim of her domineering boss or if she’s finally making her own choices. We found it uplifting in a dark and subversive sort of way. (And it was really the suburbs rather than the bondage that was subversive.) [us, 2002]