Near Dark (1987)

I haven't posted for a while. I apologize, for I know that you all rely on my movie reviews for spiritual sustenance. Sometimes life gets busy, though.

Here's an unfortunate fact: women are not well represented in the world of film. That's not to say that there aren't worthwhile lady filmmakers or interesting female characterizations nowadays, because there definitely are.  However, the reality is that in mainstream cinema, male filmmakers with manly perspectives dominate the conversation. Why, just the other day in one of my film classes, a boy interrupted me. WHEN WILL THERE BE JUSTICE IN THE WORLD?!

But for reals, it's a problem. In the 84 years that the Academy Awards have existed, only four women have been nominated for best director. Not that the Oscars matter, but still. Interestingly, the sole winner out of those four, Kathryn Bigelow, has made a career out of directing decidedly non-feminine films. She specializes in action flicks with male protagonists, copious amounts of gunfire, explosions, and surfing Keanu Reeveses.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with Bigelow's films. Action movies are a lot of fun and she does them well. I'm not even faulting her for making masculine, male centric stuff. After all, she didn't ask to be the cinematic spokesperson for her gender. She should be able to make whatever adrenaline fueled film she wants without worrying about what it means for female equality. However, I do take slight issue with the industry deciding that she be the one to to break the lady director glass ceiling. The film she won for,  The Hurt Locker, is extremely male-oriented. The themes explored have to do exclusively with men and there are no female characters of note. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. The Hurt Locker is a very effective film that deals with important issues and I appreciate its existence. However, by choosing The Hurt Locker to break their 80-year habit of disregarding female perspectives, the Academy sent a message. It's as if they were saying that women can only be successful and accepted in the industry if they subscribe to the male-dominated status quo.

Now you might be saying, "But Drew, you have it all wrong! She got that Oscar because her film was the best that 2008 had to offer! It was timely, well-made, and insightful! Her gender didn't even come into play! Isn't that the goal of all you feminist ladies? WON'T YOU EVER BE SATISFIED?!" Well sure, her film was worthy. Her gender might not have even been a huge deciding factor. If a man had directed it, it probably still would've won. BUT. What about all of the other equally deserving, female-oriented/directed films that came out that year? Or any other year? Why have barely any of those been nominated, let alone won? Because of their content. Academy voters were only comfortable with letting a female directed film win because the film itself was high profile enough and it didn't challenge their chauvinistic tendencies with it's subject matter. The industry got to pat itself on the back for promoting gender equality without having to validate any of those objectionable female issues or perspectives. And that, dear readers, is what I take issue with.

Anyway, Near Dark. Male protagonist, lots of violence, dirty people, etc. It's not very good. There are flashes of potential scattered throughout, but they're not enough to make the film likable. It's also relentlessly skeevy, so that's unpleasant. The ending is pretty stupid as well. But that poster features a guy full of bullet holes, so that's cool. Anyway. Watch it at 2 in the morning sometime.

Happy Women's History Month.


  1. Near Dark has a lot of defenders, but I am not one of them. Any filmmaker women (who are making American movies) that are doing what you are eager to see? Catherine Hardwicke? Nicole Holofcener? I don't know--never seen any of their movies. I have seen some Julie Taymor movies, but they are a mixed bunch. What do I know? I love Michael Mann and Clint Eastwood movies.

  2. I love your thoughts on this topic. It certainly is concerning that it has only been 4 out of 84. What's worse, is that women aren't just being overlooked for these nominations, there just aren't very many women directing at all. I think I read somewhere that the percentage was less than 10 %. Sad! Jane Campion and Gillian Armstrong are two female directors whose work I've followed closely and really appreciate.