Today's AlterNet points us to a Truthdig interview with Nicole Holofcener, writer and director of the new film "Friends With Money." The interview, with writer Sheerly Avni, actually made me want to see the movie. This is notable because -- even though the words "Catherine Keener," "Joan Cusack" and "Frances McDormand" ("Aeon Flux" notwithstanding) are normally enough to get me to plunk down my $10.50 -- I tend not to like movies where people sit around and talk about each other. (Instead, in certain cases, I prefer movies where animals sit around and talk about each other.)
First, I liked Avni's opening paragraphs. She describes the movie game she and her friends play: "Whenever we leave a theater particularly disgusted by the bimbos, princesses or, worse, 'empowering' models thrust onscreen for our popcorn-tossing pleasure, we comb through every movie we can remember, looking for one --just one -- recent film sporting a female character who bore any relation, in her preoccupations, demeanor and full-bloodedness, to anyone we knew." Needless to say, they always come up short. Now, I don't necessarily look to the big screen to see people I find familiar -- I didn't love "Apollo 13," for example, because I could "relate" to the astronauts -- but Avni's point is absolutely taken.
And I liked Holofcener herself. Admittedly, I'm a little behind the eight ball here; though this is shocking to many people ("But you're a ... woman!") I haven't seen her first two films, both of which pass Avni's people-I-know test with flying colors. But she shows up at the interview with (of course) no makeup and nonobnoxious jeans (Wrangler) and proceeds to talk (and eat) like a real person. She doesn't see her movies as deliberately "feminist" or "political." ("Gosh, to me it just seems like I'm really self-involved. I write about what I go through, what my friends go through, what I find interesting, what movies I go see -- isn't that sort of narcissistic? Can you really be narcissistic and political at the same time?") Her only remotely "political" impulse is to try to break, or at least question, the taboo against talking about how much you make. ("If it's too little, you're being degraded, and people say 'hey you should be making more.' If it's too much, you're 'inflated' and it's obscene what you're making, and you feel ashamed.") And, as I know she's proved with her previous films, Holofcener understands female friendship more deeply than calendars and coffee-table books celebrating "Girlfriends." ("When I did 'Walking and Talking,' people kept insisting that the two women in the story were gay. And I kept saying that this has nothing to do with being gay. This is female friendship, and female friendship is loaded.")
What's next for Holofcener? Good question. "I just don't have any ideas yet," she says. "Seriously, they come slowly! I can't blame it on being a woman or saying that I can't get a movie made -- I just haven't liked anything I've written enough to want to make it. And I do other things in between, writing jobs, directing TV shows. And I raise my kids. [She shrugs, smiles.] You know how time goes by."