You’ve always been crazy; this is just the first chance you’ve had to express yourself.
Louise, Thelma & Louise
Sometimes the best way to get a little inspiration is to relax and take in a good story unfolding in front of your eyes on the screen. The inspiration may come from the great story, the great acting or maybe just a message that resonates specifically to you. Here are the movies I go to when I need some inspiration.
Alice Doesn’t Live Here Anymore 1974
Director: Martin Scorsese
Screenwriter: Robert Getchell
Starring: Ellen Burstyn, Kris Kristofferson
After Alice’s husband dies, she decides to move herself and her son back “home” to California to pursue her dream of being a singer. They get sidetracked along the way due to problems with finances, men and the law. The movie deals with themes of independence, love, motherhood, confidence and following your dreams. I must have watched it every day for the month it was on HBO when we first got it! You may remember the TV show, Alice, that was loosely based on this movie. This was Scorsese’s first Hollywood production and I was surprised to learn that Burstyn was cast first and picked Scorsese as the director, because she wanted the movie to be more gritty. It has a great soundtrack and a young Jodie Foster.
An Unmarried Woman 1978
Director and Screenwriter: Paul Mazursky
Starring: Jill Clayburg, Alan Bates
Erica’s life falls apart when her rich husband leaves her for a younger woman, but the experience opens her up to learning more about herself, who her real friends are and finds love with an unlikely person. Great acting and directing and humor in the face of tragedy. “It’s okay to feel lonely.” Mazursky said that one of the ideas for this film came about when a recently divorced female friend told him that when she bought a house, the lease had “Unmarried Woman” next to her name.
Private Benjamin 1980
Director: Howard Zieff
Screenwriters: Nancy Myers, Charles Shyer, Harvey Miller
Starring: Goldie Hawn, Eileen Brennan, Armand Assante
When her new husband dies on their wedding night (during sex); sheltered, rich socialite Judy Benjamin doesn’t know what to do with her life and is tricked into enlisting in the army, when the recruiter tells her it will be like a spa vacation. She’s astonished that she cannot get out; used to always getting her way, through money, family influence or “feminine persuasion”; but comes to see that she is an able person and can get by on her own skills and determination.
9 to 5 1980
Director: Colin Higgins
Screenwriter: Colin Higgins, Patricia Resnick
Starring: Lily Tomlin, Jane Fonda, Dolly Parton
The three unlikely main characters come together to battle their misogynistic and abusive boss. The movie is full of laughs while dealing with serious issues of life after divorce, sexual assault and equality in the workplace.
The Color Purple 1982
Director: Steven Speilberg
Screenplay: Menno Meyjes based on the book by Alice Walker
Starring: Whoppie Goldberg, Danny Glover
In the rural south of the early 20th century; Celie endures the brutality of racism, misogyny, poverty and the many other hardships faced in the day to day living of an African American woman of the times. Her determination and the bonds she builds with other women, especially her sister, carry her through it all.
Thelma & Louise 1991
Director: Ridley Scott
Screenwriter: Callie Khouri
Starring: Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon
Thelma & Louise’s legendary road trip starts as a weekend escape from their dysfunctional relationships with men, especially Thelma’s deference to her controlling husband, and ends with the discovery of life changing strength and support from each other. The movie also deals with consent and sexual assault, which is so deeply tied with a woman’s own sense of self and independence.
Director: Jean-Marc Vallée
Screenwriter: Nick Hornby based on the book by Cheryl Strayed
Starring: Reese Witherspoon
Based on the book and true story of Cheryl Strayed. After her divorce, death of her mother and struggles with drug addiction and sexual promiscuity; Strayed takes on the challenge of brutal 1,100 hike to redeem herself and find meaning in her life.
This is really just a beginning of a list of great movies. Unfortunately I didn’t come up with any directed by women! I’m sure I’ll be doing a part two in the future.
Click on an image or title above to order from Amazon.com via my affiliate link.