Tag: hollywood

Birdman and Feminism

Birdman

I would normally post this kind of thoughts on my movie blog but I feel I can be a little bit more personal here so I’m going for it.  As you all know Birdman won the Best Picture Oscar on Sunday and most know I wanted Boyhood to win. Watching the story of a boy growing up to a man and his family and life was one of the most powerful experiences in movies I’ve ever had.

But that’s not actually what makes me sad about the Birdman win or at least it’s not all of it (it’s just a stupid award ceremony anyway).  What really bothers me is seemingly everyone, not just the Hollywood left, has a huge blindspot about the movie and its demeaning and clichéd depiction of women and I don’t understand how in 2015 such a thing can be tolerated and even awarded.

I went over in my review of Birdman why I felt the movie was misogynistic and demeaning but I will review the female characters briefly here:

1. Andrea Risenborough as Riggan’s girlfriend who pretends to be pregnant in order to manipulate him in their relationship

2. Naomi Watts plays Lesley a woman who has dreamed of making it on Broadway.  Instead of a great experience she is nearly raped on stage by the Edward Norton character and the movie forgets about this far too quickly.

3. Emma Stone plays Riggan’s daughter who is out of rehab and lectures him about he is worthless and doesn’t matter because he won’t embrace twitter.  You think she would be glad to see her Dad mount a play on Broadway, no small task but no.

4. Amy Ryan is Riggan’s ex and she has some strong moments but she is still clearly in love with him making her frustrating too.

5. The worst character of all is Tabitha a female theater critic for the New York Times who tells Riggans she has already decided her review and she is going to destroy him.  I find that very hard to believe anyone would really do that but if they did they sure wouldn’t tell the star of the show about it.  I thought her character was completely ridiculous.

6. There is also a lesbian kiss which is completely nonessential to the plot  The 2 aren’t in a relationship.  It doesn’t go anywhere and from all I could see it is there only to titillate and excite men.

How can I be the only person in the world who see’s this as a problem? I’ve dug and haven’t found a single critic who has brought this up?  Some say ‘but it’s a satire of Hollywood’, which I would say “I guess I don’t find rape, gender stereotypes and shrill obnoxious women funny”. I don’t buy the satire argument anyway.  What is satirical about the kiss? I saw no double meaning behind it or reason for it existing.

all about eve

A great satire on the entertainment industry like All About Eve had dialogue that sparkled and a variety of female and male characters, some manipulative, wounded, sweet, the whole spectrum.  It’s a heck of a lot more biting, funny, dramatic and lasting.  Actually All About Eve and Birdman are very similar.  Both are about aging stars who are confronting younger versions of themselves, trying to stay relevant and maintain a personal life but Eve is so much more interesting, funny and tragic.

Of course Hollywood is going to reward a film that tells them how hard it is to be a star.  We’ve seen that a million times, so I get why the establishment likes Birdman and it does look very nice as a movie.  But why the rest of America is embracing it I have no idea. It really has made me sad.

The scariest part is this type of misogyny keeps popping up from time to time.  Like last year’s ABC offering Mixology which also featured rape, abuse and murder jokes and an extended gag about how women who throw up at bars are needy and ready for the taking. Also evidently a man owning a box of Kleenex tissues is ultra feminine.  Who knew?  At least with Mixology we had the good sense to get it off the air.

But what’s wrong with our society when that kind of thing even exists?  I’m serious.  It really bothers me and to see it rewarded and universally unquestioned upsets me.  It’s interesting when everyone was all up in arms about 50 Shades of Grey it is Birdman that got under my skin.  At least 50 is honest about what it is and doesn’t drape itself in the robe of an arthouse film.

Anyway I just wanted to get it out there.  That’s how I feel.

Ok. I’ve said my peace and moving on to films that may actually be remembered.  Birdman like other forgettable best picture winners I’m positive will not.

I have a feeling this will invite trolls since it is so well liked so I am disabling comments on this.  If you want to discuss it with me try me on twitter or other social media.

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Favorite Movies of The Decade

night-at-the-movies

So I was watching At the Movies and they are doing a series of their “Top Ten Movies of the Decade”.  This week they put their 10th and 9th selections. Ironically of the 4 movies already selected I have only viewed one of them- Million Dollar Baby.  For various reasons I missed the other three.  Million Dollar Baby nearly made my list.  If it wasn’t for the ending.

Ever since I started my blog I’ve wanted to do an entry on my favorite movies.   One of my most popular postings was in May of last year called Music Galore.  It has had over double the hits of any other post.  My entries on comedy, theater and books have also been popular. Many times I began writing a similar entry on movies- but the topic proved too daunting each time.  There are just too many to choose from! Seeing the more narrow “Top Ten of the Decade” concept, I thought I would take another stab at a list of just my favorite recent movies.

First of all, let me explain what I love about the movies.  I would say 90% of the time I go to the movies to be entertained.  Some of my choices may not be the most educational or even uplifting films but they did entertain me.  This does not mean they are all comedies.  In fact, of my top 13 (ok I couldn’t narrow it down to 10!) 5 could be considered comedies, 2 are musicals, 2 are animated, 1 is a documentary and 2 dramas.   Each of the selected movies has also entertained me multiple times.  Not all movies do.  For example, the Prestige with Hugh Jackman and Christian Slater was enthralling the first time I saw it; however, the second time I didn’t really like it.   The Sixth Sense is another example; although that is not a movie from this decade.

I love the way movies can take me away from life and introduce me to a new world- whether that be a mystical Japanese spirit bath house or a modern-day fashion magazine.  I also appreciate movies that make me think a little bit while being entertained.  I am a particular sucker for movies about work and what we dedicate our lives to.  Having gone through the process of leaving a job I hated, I sympathize with characters that are sucked into workaholism and modern cubicle despair.    This can take the form of a comedy or a more somber drama.  You can see this theme in almost all of my choices-characters who struggle with what to dedicate their life too and who they are inside.  They struggle with how to live- what is the best life?  I enjoy that discovery.

So here goes- the top 13 in no particular order:

1. About a Boy- Touching and funny movie about a near-do-well who learns to be unselfish through befriending a young boy and his mom.

2. Spirited Away- Visually stunning animated film from Hiyao Miyazaki.  I dare you to guess what is coming next.  There is everything from a giant baby, to a paper dragon, to a witch that turns into a bird.  So creative!

3. Enron:  The Smartest Guys in the Room- Fascinating documentary about the rise and fall of Enron.  Amazing how one little rationalization, followed by another, really will lead a man carefully down to Hell.

4. Best in Show- Hilarious mockumentary about the Westminster dog show.  All of Guest’s movies are funny but this is my favorite.  I think because I am not an animal person I find those that are funny.

5. Pixar movies- Ok. I know this is lame but I couldn’t decide.  They are all so great.  Since 2000 Pixar has made Toy Story 2, Monsters Inc, Finding Nemo, the Incredibles, Cars, Ratatouille, Walle and Up.  I especially like how there is no hamming it up to the camera and adult humor like the Shrek movies.  I hate that.

6. Slumdog Millionaire- I’ve never been to India but my aunt and uncle said Slumdog is a reasonably accurate depiction of the slums.  It feels so real while watching.  It is brutal and beautiful at the same time.  My favorite part is how the two lead characters maintain their innocence and love despite the chaos surrounding them.  I’ve seen this movie 4 times and each time I leave feeling inspired and comforted, which is suprising given some of the tough scenes.

7. Hairspray- While I have loved the return of  musicals in the last few years most of them have been on the raunchy side.  Finally Hairspray was the musical I’d been waiting for.  Its  music is catchy and will make you smile.  I just love it.

8. Walk the Line- Even as a conventional bio-pic I enjoy Walk the Line.  I love the music and how it brings June and Johnny Cash together.  Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon are great.  I particularly like the scenes where Johnny goes on the “June Carter love walk” and she turns him down!  Great movie!

9. Devil Wears Prada- Funny and interesting movie about the modern work-world.  I like that Meryl Streep’s character is cruel but honest in her cruelty.  She knows that the fashion business is about making money and that is what is important to her.  Money and fashion are her life and in many ways that is sad. While I do think there can be a balance between career and family, it is tough.  DWP asks how much are we willing to give up for success? How much will we change to achieve it? Plus, there are some great lines like “One more stomach flu and I’ll be at my ideal dress size!”

10. Stranger than Fiction- Another great movie about work.  Will Farrell plays a man who starts hearing a narrator in his head.  This voice describes what he is doing and how he feels about it.  However, it becomes  disturbing when the voice predicts Farrell’s death.  Dustin Hoffman and Emma Thompson are great.  Wonderful movie that makes you think about your life choices and what a narrator would say about them. Also, would our lives make a good book? If no, is that necessarily a bad thing?

11. Breach- Great suspenseful movie of the undercover operation that brought down Robert Hanson an FBI agent who sold secrets to the Soviets for over 20 years before he was caught.  The acting is top notch- particularly Chris Cooper as the complicated Hanson.  On one hand, we hate him but on another we get a glimpse of why he did it.  He wanted to be smarter than everyone else in the FBI.  He was tired of being marginalized and ignored.  Who can’t relate to that? Very exciting and interesting movie.

12. Dan in Real Life-  A simple movie I love.  It is funny, the kids are great and the story is touching.  It is about a widower played by Steve Carrell who writes a nearly-syndicated  parenting column.  Meanwhile his 3 daughters are all struggling.  I felt I could relate to the family dynamics in the story and again it asks the question- “What are you doing with life? and Why does your life matter?” I also like they kept the family chaos to a realistic non-slapstick level (for the most part at least).

13. Juno- I know the dialogue can be a bit glib, but I don’t care.  Juno is about a high school know-it-all who gets pregnant and decides to give the baby up for adoption.  It is the most pro-adoption movie I have seen in a long time, and I don’t think it glamorizes teen pregnancy as some have claimed.  Juno learns that she isn’t quite as smart as she once thought and this new humility comes with some hard-taught lessons.

So there it is.  My top movies of the decade.  Maybe there will be something in the next few months as amazing and have to be added to the list.  Hopefully!  I will be curious for your favorites.