Kathryn Bigelow

I caught myself mid eye-roll reading the Guardian‘s top 100 women list for International Women’s Day, because director Kathryn Bigelow was on the list and I like Kathryn Bigelow because she makes great films.

I’ve still not actually seen The Hurt Locker, but that’s the one that won her the Best Picture Oscar:

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Her first full-length film was biker movie The Loveless, which I’ve also not seen:

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From the trailer, it looks as though it has the same twitchy energy as revered vampires-as-outlaws thriller Near Dark – which was, incidentally, her next film:

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I really like Near Dark as an innovative take on the vampire mythos, and the film has a great cast including Aliens/Terminator stars Bill Paxton, Lance Henrickson and Jenette Goldstein. After that she made Blue Steel, the cop movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis. I think I’ve seen it and it was pretty cheesy – though not nearly as fromage as her next feature, Point Break:

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OK, Point Break is probably the silliest film ever made, but it is extremely entertaining – as tasteless and moreish as popcorn itself. She followed that in 1995 with millennial sci-fi thriller Strange Days. I won’t pretend it’s a classic, but again it does the job of entertaining very well. Even though the film garnered some very favourable reviews, it grossed just $8 million against its $42m budget. I’ve seen it about three times and would happily see it again.

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In 2000, Bigelow directed The Weight of Water, a psychological murder mystery based on the bestselling novel by Anita Shreve. It was a move away from action, so she followed it up with the absurdly-titled Harrison Ford starrer K-19: The Widowmaker – a box office tank with mediocre reviews.

Kathryn Bigelow has directed just eight films in 30 years – some of them good, some of them bad, and some of them classic. Point Break, at least, was culturally significant even if it wasn’t exactly highbrow: the good-natured spoofing in Hot Fuzz demonstrates that much. Even the failures were interesting failures, and few directors can lay claim to the calibre of her more successful ventures.
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2 comments on “Kathryn Bigelow

  1. Wow–I really loved Near Dark, Strange Days features one of my favorite actors ever (Michael Wincott) and I did enjoy watching it, and Point Break, while not one of the best films ever, has one unforgettable feature–Keanu Reeves in one of the two roles that I feel he actually pulls off quite well (the other would be in the infamous Bill & Ted films). I do expect to be hated for that Keanu comment–at least by someone–but only the most cowardly of people go through life without ruffling any feathers. 🙂

    TY for highlighting this great director.

    • I thought Keanu was surprisingly good in Constantine, actually – but yeah – Bill & Ted is his signature role.

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