Category: Movies

Just a few reminders before you buy those “50 Shades” Valentines

[Trigger warning for sexual violence and emotional abuse]

Valentine’s Day is coming up! That day of romance, of togetherness, of coupledom, of… domestic abuse… Valentine’s Day is the release date of 50 Shades of Grey, that sensationalistic movie based on the “How to Spot an Abuser” pamphlet in your college guidance counselor’s office. Women and men who have read the book and know perfectly well what the story is about will flock to theatres, either a) dreaming of the day that they’ll be stalked and violated by someone as dreamy as Christian, or b) hoping to score on Valentine’s night with the person they took to the movie. And while people are free to get their rocks off to whatever they want (within certain limits), it’s important to acknowledge that what may (for some reason) come across as sultry and sexy on the page would, in real life, be a Razorbacks halftime show’s worth of red flags.

Robin Williams open thread

[Content note: Suicide and mental illness]

Yesterday, after a long battle with depression, Robin Williams took his own life. He left behind a family that loved him dearly and a legion of fans who loved having someone to make them laugh and cry and think, even as he himself was so frequently in a dark place. He made kids’ movies with jokes that only adults would get, he made movies for adults that made you forget he was the genie from Aladdin, he made a few zany comedies that possibly made you stupider just by watching them but were so entertaining that who cares, and he made people feel better. He gave joy.

“Strength” of Character: How the Silver Screen Perpetuates Gender Stereotypes

What do we mean when we define a female character as “strong”? When an actress is the protagonist, her conflict is decidedly different than the average male protagonist’s: In literary terms, we often see the female protagonist engaged in a “man vs. self” struggle, while male protagonists wrestle with outside forces. The point is not at all that any one iteration of female “strength” is more admirable – more worthy of depiction on-screen – than another, but rather than our female characters consistently demonstrate one kind of strength while our male characters demonstrate another. Furthermore, when our female characters demonstrate stereotypically “male” strength, they do not win the awards.

These complications of storytelling are all exacerbated by Hollywood demographics :

The Heat: A Feminist Triumph or Business as Usual?

So far, the blogosphere has been busy extolling the big box office blockbuster The Heat, a film starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy that netted $40 million its opening weekend. Hailed as both a comic vehicle for its two superstars and a trailblazing movie that “breaks the mold” of the male “buddy-cop-action-comedy” genre, The Heat has garnered great reviews from critics appreciative of its girl power message (e.g., Laura Shamas’ July 1 review in The Huffington Post). No doubt, the film succeeds as a comedy, trading in running gags and clever parody sustained by the talents of Bullock and McCarthy. But is The Heat truly a feminist triumph? If so, what kind and at whose expense? Looking beyond the laughter, how does the film depict women’s ability to succeed in a male dominated profession? And does using this genre really “break the mold?”

Mako Mori is a badass.

Note the first: Expect this review to include SPOILERS. Not that there’s a whole lot to it that isn’t fed to you by the trailer, but still. Stop reading now if you want to remain somewhat surprised.

Note the second: This movie is not high cinema. Don’t let Guillermo del Toro’s name on the onesheet fool you — you’re not going to leave the theatre saying, “I think the way the ferocious glowing aliens came through a rift in the ocean floor represents our own inner ambiguity about our place in a changing world.” You’re going to leave saying, “MONSTER ROBOT GRR KABOOM!” Because that’s what the movie is about.

Open Oscars Thread

Have at it.

**UPDATE: Way to drill down way lower than people’s worst expectations of you, Seth McFarlane. Bleagh.**

**UPDATE: WTF? appalling Onion tweet re Quvenzhané Wallis.**