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Pick of the Day: Kathryn Bigelow's 'Action!'

Things almost everybody knows about "Hurt Locker" director Kathryn Bigelow at this point: She's James Cameron's ex-wife and she beat her "Avatar"-making ex to win best director at last night's Academy Awards -- and, in doing so, she became the first-ever woman to win the award.

"Well, the time has come," Barbra Streisand said upon announcing Bigelow as the winner, shortly before Tom Hanks did same as the wildly acclaimed (if somewhat controversial) "Hurt Locker" won Best Picture in an upset.

New York Times film critic Manohla Dargis filled in some of the rest of the story in June, with a piece on Bigelow that portrayed the filmmaker as an independent operator who has "steered clear of the industry ghetto to which female directors are usually consigned, bypassing the dreaded chick flick for stories and archetypes traditionally if reductively seen as the province of men."

Dargis writes:

She still makes relationship movies, but the relationships evolve both through the chatter at which women are supposed to excel and the contact of bodies, often male, sometimes female, running, surfing, parachuting, living and dying out in the world. She learned from the masters — De Kooning, Peckinpah, Goya, Pasolini, Rembrandt and on and on — in order to become her own woman.

Bigelow's run in mainstream Hollywood began nearly 25 years ago, with 1987's "Near Dark," followed by 1991's "Point Break." ("Point Break"?!) Dargis notes in the piece, which is equal parts profile and essay, that "there’s something improbable about the longevity" of Bigelow's career -- "partly because, yes, she’s working in an sexist field where even female studio chiefs are loath to hire female directors, but also because of the stubborn persistence of her artistic vision and intellectualism. She’s still investigating signs and meaning, but now through genres she deconstructs and sometimes immolates."

Worth a read.

By J. Freedom du Lac  | March 8, 2010; 11:05 AM ET
Categories:  Story Picks  
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