Drew the Director

May 20, 2010 12:47:46 Posted at May 20, 2010 12:47:46
Lainey Posted by Lainey

Written by Sarah

I think I like Drew the Producer more than Drew the Actress. As an actress, it isn’t that Drew Barrymore lacks talent, it’s that more often than not, her personality overshadows everything else and I feel like I’m watching Drew playing herself in various scenarios. Exception: HBO’s Grey Gardens, in which she displayed just how talented she really is. I’ve admired Drew the Producer for several years. It’s not so much that her films are stellar (although she did produce Donnie Darko and gets a lifetime Get Out of Jail Free card for that), it’s more the business savvy she has shown behind the camera. Drew Barrymore is not dumb. She knows how to get her business done and she does it without a lot of fuss. An unscientific poll of the two people standing around me right now shows that neither of them knew Drew has produced films. And now Drew the Actress and Drew the Producer is taking the next step and becoming Drew the Director.

Her first effort was last year’s Whip It starring Ellen Page. It wasn’t great but it was a long way from horrible. It did, however, highlight the issue I am having with Drew the Director. On one level, I loved Whip It. It was all about, as much as I hate the phrase, girl power. It was about finding yourself outside what society tells you is acceptable for girls to be interested in. About learning to love yourself because you’re different. About female bonding and having a life beyond the role of daughter, girlfriend, future mother. It’s a common theme in Drew’s movies, whether she’s acting, producing, or directing. Drew is all about the sisterhood. Drew the Free and Fun-loving Feminist. But on the level of filmmaking, I’m ambivalent to Whip It. Drew the Director has some serious chops with drawing strong performances out of her actors. The chemistry and brightness of the dialogue covered a lot of flaws. Drew pulled a good cast—Page was joined by Marcia Gay Harden, Kristen Wiig, Juliette Lewis, Alia Shawkat and even Drew the Actress—through a fairly pedestrian sports movie by sheer dint of likeability. Everyone looked like they were having fun, and that made up for some of the problems like slow pacing and what felt like a million and one plot clichés. Under a director with less of a human touch, Whip It would have been outright awful.

Now Drew the Director is taking on Oz. She will be directing a Wizard of Oz sequel of sorts called Surrender Dorothy. I’m encouraged that she has a script written by Zach Helm, who penned Stranger Than Fiction. (If you haven’t seen that movie, it’s a little artsy-fartsy, but good writing is good writing.) I hope she can resist casting herself in a role—actor-directors often make the mistake of trying to work both sides of the camera. It’s really hard to balance those two roles, especially for directors still cutting their teeth. And while Drew has shown some promise, she is definitely still more actor than director. I hope she just focuses on making a good movie. I want her to make a good movie. I want Surrender Dorothy to be as cool as it sounds: Dorothy’s great-great-granddaughter figures out how to use the ruby slippers and goes to Oz where she must fight the Wicked Witch. Tell me that couldn’t be really cool. Drew Barrymore is a good match for this project (she was originally going to star in it before opting to go behind the camera). The sense of fun and performance-centric direction she showed in Whip It bodes well. If she can work out some pacing issues and maybe work without quite as many clichés, Surrender Dorothy could maybe be something special.

And I really want Drew the Director to succeed. Hollywood needs more women prominently behind the camera. I went to a university with a big-deal film school. One of my friends was in the film production program. She was one of only four girls in nearly fifty students accepted for our year. Of the four girls who graduated that year, only my friend is still working in film. Depressing. Of course, when talking to faculty, it’s not that they don’t want to accept girls, it’s that girls don’t even apply. I know there are kids out there, young girls who love movies, who dream of winning an Oscar like Kathryn Bigelow. We have got to do a better job highlighting the positive female role models in Hollywood beyond just actresses. And one way to do that is to draw attention to Drew Barrymore’s efforts as a filmmaker. If you find your daughter watching Charlie’s Angels, point out that Drew the Producer made that movie. Rent Whip It for family movie night, or if your kids are old enough, The Hurt Locker. There are some really good movies made by women out there, and not just romantic comedies. Drew the Feminist would like for us to have a girls’ night in and watch Fast Times at Ridgemont High (Amy Heckerling), Frida (Julie Taymor), Waitress (Adrienne Shelly), or Monsoon Wedding or Vanity Fair (Mira Nair).

I want to see more girls encouraged to pursue their dreams of being a filmmaker, and Drew Barrymore turning her considerable star power behind the camera goes a long way to making that not only acceptable, but desired. Directing is no longer a boys’ club. The door is open, and we’re coming through.

Attached are photos of Drew at the Screen Actor's Guild Awards in January.

Written by Sarah
Photos from Wenn.com

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