Posts Tagged ‘movies’
So my really exciting New Year’s Eve involved watching Easy A with a friend. The movie was definitely entertaining and witty. And surprisingly, I thought it did have some feminist undertones mixed in. Warning: some spoilers.
The basic storyline of Easy A follows Olive, an invisible high school student, through her imaginary sexual exploits. It all started when she lied to her friend about having sex with a guy that she had made up. This rumor spread throughout the school and everyone was calling her a slut. So in this, her closeted gay friend Brandon came up with the idea that they could fake have sex so that the other guys at school would stop picking on him. That plan worked, but then all of the outcast guys wanted Olive’s help to make them cool by fake having sex with them. All of the guys became cool but Olive became an outcast and labeled as a whore. She started dressing, as she described, like a slut, because everyone already thought she was one. But ultimately she realizes that what she has been doing is wrong and works to correct it. In the end, we find out that the guy that she has a crush on really does like her and they end up happily ever after. Don’t worry, some other stuff happens in there too
While there were some definite sexist and stereotypical things that happened in the movie (it is a high school, pop movie after all), I did appreciate that there were some feminist ideas that were spread throughout the movie. The most prominent one was questioning why Olive became labeled as a “slut” and “whore” after one sexual encounter (and the subsequent ones) and all of the guys were seen as cool. For example, Brandon and Olive fake have sex at a party so that everyone can witness it. When they come out of the room, everyone is congratulating Brandon but they end up making fun of Olive. I appreciated that the movie really highlighted this double standard.
The movie overall had a lot of great one-liners. One of my favorites was (when Olive was in a bookstore): “Where is the Bible?” “Oh, that’s in bestsellers, next to Twilight.” I also really liked Olive’s parents. They were quirky and funny while being really supportive of their daughter.
I would recommend this movie if you like this genre of movie. It definitely is one of those high school, light comedies. But it does have some funny/witty parts as well as some undertones of feminism. I wouldn’t call the movie overall feminist, but there were some of the undertones throughout.
Having watched the Oscars this past Sunday and coming to the realization that I had only seen one of the movies nominated for Best Picture (District 9), I decided that I should watch some more of the “best movies” of last year. While there are some that I will probably not see, at least not for a long time (Avatar and The Blind Side come to mind), a lot of them are out on dvd now, so it is pretty easy for me to get my hands on them to watch. So in the next couple of weeks and/or months, I will be putting up my reviews of some of the Oscar-nominated films from last year. I know, I’m a little late to the game, but better late than never I guess!
After watching The Hurt Locker, it became very clear why it won six Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Best Director. I have to admit that while I was watching the Oscars, I was rooting for Kathryn Bigelow because she was a woman and The Hurt Locker because it wasn’t Avatar. I had heard amazing things about the movie, but having not seen it myself, I was more rooting for it because of Kathryn Bigelow.
But now that I have seen it, I wish I could watch the Oscars again so that I could actually root for it for the right reason: because it deserved to win. I know, I haven’t seen the other Best Picture nominees, but it was pretty clear from this movie that it deserved Best Picture.
For those who don’t know, The Hurt Locker follows around a three-person Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) team in the Iraq War. Jeremy Renner plays Sergeant Will James, the leader of the EOD team who was brought in after the previous team leader was killed during a mission. James’ behavior is often considered to be reckless, especially by Sergeant Sanborn, another team member, who really likes to do things by the book, but he gets results. Specialist Owen Eldridge is the third and youngest member of the team who struggles with the belief that he is responsible for the death of the previous team leader.
While I have never been in a war, so I can’t speak to it, what struck me about this movie was the reality of it. It felt like these were real situations that EOD teams could be in and real struggles that soldiers face on a regular basis. I don’t mind violence in movies because the type of movies that I watch that have violence in them tend to be sci-fi, which isn’t really realistic violence. War movies have never really been my thing because the violence always seemed gratuitous. Yes, I know war movies are going to have violence, but most of them seem to have unnecessary levels of violence. One thing that I liked about The Hurt Locker is that the violence didn’t seem gratuitous. Yes, there was a good amount of it, but it all seem realistic and not in the movie for the sake of having violence. And for a war movie, there wasn’t actually a lot of violence in it (in comparison). It was all about the tension of disarming bombs rather than shoot outs (which there were). It was all about survival.
War has always been about men (I know generalization, but I am also more speaking to war movies in this case). And yes, this movie was about men. Men blowing things up and stopping them from blowing up, men with their big guns, male bonding, action! In fact, we only ever saw one woman in the movie (who happened to be Evangaline Lily — Kate from Lost) — the ex-wife of James and the mother of his son. But what was also so great about this movie about men was that it was directed by a woman. Kathryn Bigelow showed that women can make art about war, that women are capable of understanding the struggles of war and showing those struggles in a beautiful way.
In the end, The Hurt Locker isn’t just about war, it’s about human struggle. People struggling with the realities of their lives and realities of war. People bonding with each other yet keeping each other at arm’s length. People struggling to survive yet risk their lives from their drug of choice: war. People realizing what they really want out of their lives.
“The rush of battle is a potent and often lethal addiction, for war is a drug.”
This quote from Chris Hedges, War is a Force That Gives Us Meaning, was displayed at the beginning of the movie and that’s really what the movie showed: war as a drug. And The Hurt Locker shows us how humans deal with their addiction to that drug. James is shown as the most “addicted” because of his reckless, adrenaline-seeking behavior and his decision to return to Iraq at the of the movie. Sanborn is very straight-laced when it comes to the rules, which is how he manages his addiction. And Eldridge’s addiction (and inexperience) ultimately get the best of him because he is unable to deal with his previous team leader’s death and the horrors that they see on a daily basis.
I would highly recommend this movie to anyone. Even if you don’t like war movies or movies with violence. Like I said, I’m not the biggest fan of war movies. But this movie is so much more than a war movie. It’s definitely hard to watch at times, but it’s definitely worth it!
Also check out the review of The Hurt Locker that is up at Bitch Flicks.
I lieu of link love today and in honor of the Academy Awards tonight, I am just going to direct you to the blog Bitch Flicks that has reviews up of all the movies that are nominated for Best Picture.
As I have only seen one of the movies nominated for Best Picture, I cannot really say which I think is going to win based on personal preference, but I do have a feeling it is going to be Avatar. So read through these reviews and make your predictions in preparation for tonight.
I have been anxiously awaiting the release of Alice in Wonderland. Not only did I think that it was going to be an interesting retelling of the classic story, but it was also a Tim Burton film starring Johnny Depp. And it did not disappoint.
Warning: major spoilers. If you have not yet seen the movie and plan to, please come back later unless you don’t mind spoilers.
I am only going to be looking at a few aspects of this movie, but there are plenty that could be examined. One of many, for example, that I am not going to address in this post is the representation of mental illness, especially through the Mad Hatter.
In this Alice in Wonderland, Alice is now almost 20 years old. She believes that her previous trip to Wonderland is a recurring dream and throughout the entire movie, she has to keep reminding herself that it is only a dream. Alice is feeling pressured to accept the marriage proposal of the son of the man that bought her father’s company. So when he proposes, she runs away and follows the rabbit down his hole and finds herself in Wonderland again.
Wonderland is different from her previous visit. Since then, the Red Queen has taken over Underland (as it is properly named, Alice just called in Wonderland as a child). The White Queen needs a champion in her name to stand up against the Red Queen’s champion. It has long been foretold that Alice is said champion that will defeat the Jabberwocky, the Red Queen’s champion. Alice is very hesitant to accept this destiny. She eventually does accept it and defeats the Jabberwocky in an epic battle that restores the crown to the White Queen.
Before I start getting into my analysis, I want to say that I am probably a little biased because I did really want to like the movie, which probably made me like the movie and miss some of the problematic elements.
I was very impressed with the movie overall and with the message that the movie sent, especially to girls and young women. Alice did not want the life that was being laid out for her; she didn’t like corsets and stockings, she didn’t want to marry the man that she had essentially been promised to, and she didn’t feel like she fit in because of her active imagination that she was not afraid to share with others. But then she finds herself in Wonderland, where her life is also being laid out for her, but in a different way. She is expected to be this hero, this savior that she doesn’t think she is capable of being.
Alice will not accept either of these lives that are being laid out for her; she wants to make her own path in life and isn’t afraid to do so. While at first she does not accept that she is capable of being the White Queen’s champion, she later accepts this responsibility and finds the courage that she needs to defeat the Jabberwocky.
The movie also speaks heavily to believing in the impossible. In the “real world,” Alice is often criticizing for believing in the impossible, yet she is hesitant to believe in the “impossible” world of Wonderland, trying to convince herself that it is only a dream. In the end, it is believing in the impossible that gives Alice the courage that she needs to defeat the Jabberwocky. Her father often told people that he thought of six impossible things before breakfast time. So Alice listed off six impossible things that were proven possible in Wonderland, ending in her defeating the Jabberwocky.
In the end, Alice finds herself back in the “real world” where she refuses the marriage proposal of Hamish, tells people what she really thinks about them, and gains an apprenticeship at her father’s previous company after impressing the new owner (Hamish’s father) with her unconventional and imaginative ideas for expanding the company.
I am really glad that this movie was rated PG because I think it gave girls and young women a good role model in Alice. Alice shows girls that you don’t have to accept what is being laid out in front of you if it is not what you want and that you have the power to choose what you do with your own life. The movie also shows us that good things come from believing in the impossible and believing in yourself.
On top of the great themes and messages that Alice in Wonderland, there was some great acting and directing. I’m a really big fan of Tim Burton’s work, ever since The Nightmare Before Christmas. And this movie didn’t disappoint. Johnny Depp was great as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter did not disappoint as the Red Queen in all her quirky, complicated goodness. And Anne Hathaway perfectly portrayed the good-hearted, idealist White Queen. And relative newcomer Mia Wasikowska was brilliant as the naive day-dreamer, Alice. And anything that includes the voice on Alan Rickman (the caterpillar) is good in my book.
And I’d just like to say that I really want the wardrobe for Alice. I would totally wear all those costumes if I could pull them off.
I keep seeing trailers for the new movie She’s Out of My League (which can be viewed here). Movies like this really irritate me. Women can date someone who is less attractive than them and it’s because he’s a “nice guy.” But guys never date (in movies/tv) a woman who is less attractive than them. And if they do, they try to make them over so that they are more attractive (I am thinking She’s All That type movies). Even in movies where a man is deemed to be “slumming it” and dating someone “below his standing” (as in movies where a rich man dates a poor woman), the woman is still very attractive.
This trend is evident in looking at popular actors and actresses as well. Male actors who are less attractive can get by with being funny or a good dramatic actor. But there are few examples (yes, there are some, but not many) of female actors who is not physically attractive but is still popular because she is an amazing actress.
This doesn’t really leave a lot of hope for real life. In real life, it’s not questioned as much when an attractive woman dates someone less attractive, because that guy must be a “nice guy” and “treat her right.” But a man who dates someone who is less attractive than him is almost always questioned by friends, coworkers, even family. How can an attractive man date someone who looks like that? She must be good in bed…
*Note: in this post I am mainly talking about heterosexual relationships. I know that that is not necessarily fair of me. But the trend that I see in movies and tv usually tends to deal with heterosexual relationships. And this probably has to do with the limited number of homosexual relationships that are accurately portrayed in pop culture. And I am talking about heterosexual relationships because those are the kinds of relationships that I am most familiar with personally, both in my experience and experiences of friends.
So I saw Leap Year a week or so ago. I really like Amy Adams and even though the movie looked to be pretty predictable and cheesy (which it was), I thought I would give it a try.
But the whole premise of the movie was all about gender norms. Anna has been dating this jerk cardiac surgeon for four years (I think) and she was expecting him to propose before he went to Dublin on a business trip. But he didn’t. So she decides that she is going to go to Dublin to propose to him. Sounds fine, right? She wants to marry this guy and if he’s not going to ask her, then she’ll ask him. But the only reason that she is doing this is because of an old Irish tradition where a woman can propose to a man on leap day…once every four years.
It’s still pretty standard, even today, for the man to propose to the woman. But it’s not unheard of for a woman to propose to a man. But this movie is telling us that women are not allowed to propose to men except for one day every four years. A man is the only one that can propose marriage because it is the man essentially “buying” the woman with a diamond ring.
And this guy that she wants to propose to really is a jerk. He doesn’t really care about Anna (Amy Adams). He ends up proposing to her when they finally meet up in Dublin, but it turns out that it’s only to get an apartment (the tenant committee only wants married couples living there, apparently).
So it’s really no surprise that Anna falls in love with the guy, Declan, that she hires to drive her to Dublin once she gets to Ireland. A bunch of horrible things happen to them that, of course, bind them together and they end up falling in love and getting engaged at the end of the movie.
As with most “chick flicks,” Leap Year also promoted the idea that a woman cannot live, cannot have a complete life without a man. As Anna is flying to Dublin and they hit some turbulence, she starts freaking out about not wanting to die before she gets engaged. She doesn’t feel her life is complete without that ring on her finger and a husband to call her very own. Even in the end when she realizes that she doesn’t want to marry Jeremy, the jerk cardiac surgeon, she still ends up engaged to Declan because a woman’s life is not complete without a husband.
It is a good thing that she made the decision for herself that she didn’t want to marry Jeremy and didn’t enter into a marriage that she knew she wouldn’t be happy in just because she thought it would be the “right” thing to do. That’s a good thing. But the movie as a whole wasn’t really promoting the idea that women should make their own decisions. Not at all really. Leap Year told us women that men should make all the decisions about the relationship and how fast or slow things should be taken, especially when it comes to marriage.
It was a cute movie, though. And there were definitely some entertaining moments, especially in all the the “trouble” that Anna and Declan got themselves into on their journey to Dublin. And staring at Matthew Goode (Declan) for an hour and a half definitely wasn’t a bad things. I would say that if you enjoy chick flicks and Amy Adams doesn’t annoy you (like I know she does for some people), I would suggest renting it when it comes out on DVD, but I don’t really think it’s completely worth the money to see it in the theaters. Just my suggestion.
I saw It’s Complicated, Nancy Meyers’ new film, a while ago (ok, maybe like a week and a half ago, but it feels like a long time). I meant to write a post about it then, but other things got in the way. Anyways, I’m getting to it now. But because the film isn’t 100% fresh in my memory, I might forget or mis-remember some things that I otherwise wouldn’t if I had written this sooner…just so you know.
I have a mixed relationship with Nancy Meyers films. I love The Holiday, What Women Want, and The Father of the Bride movies. However, I’m not really a big fan on her movies like Something’s Gotta Give. I know that a criticism of Nancy Meyers is that her movies often portray upper middle class white women, which people can’t always identify with. While this is certainly the case, it’s sometimes easier for me to identify with her characters than in other instances. I am a middle class white woman, but I am also young, which isn’t usually the demographic that Nancy Meyers’ films go after. While I can somewhat easily identify (or at least see a tiny part of myself in) her characters from movies like The Holiday and Father of the Bride, I can barely see anything in Something’s Gotta Give. And yes, I do think this has something to do with the age demographic.
(But I’m not going to talk too much about how Nancy Meyers’ films are all about upper middle class white women, it’s very obvious when you look at them, I’m just going to focus on my reaction to It’s Complicated.)
It’s Complicated fell somewhere in-between this spectrum for me. It was funny, I was laughing throughout most of it. But I found it really hard to identify with any other main characters. They are all in a very very very different stage of life that I am in. But I didn’t find it hard to see myself in the children of the main characters. Most of them are around my age and some are going through some of the same things that I am in my life — graduating college, looking for a job, etc.
Even though I didn’t identify with the main characters, I did appreciate that it was a movie that focused on middle aged people and portrayed them in a positive light. And it focused on the romantic relationships of middle aged people which is even more rare in our youth-obsessed culture. So I did appreciate that aspect of the movie from a feminist perspective.
But from my age and place in life, I really like the portrayal of the children. I know that that’s not the main point of the movie or even the most interesting, but that’s what I caught onto throughout the movie. I liked their relationships with each other and with their parents. And I especially liked John Krasinski and his character. He played the fiance of the oldest child. But that’s more of a personal preference for John Krasinski than anything else.
Overall, I enjoyed the movie. It had some very funny parts. And even if I didn’t identify with the main characters, I still found some characters to identify with. The plot was interesting as well, even if it wasn’t anything that I could identify with (man, I’m using that word/phrase a lot in this post). I would recommend it to people who enjoy Nancy Meyers movies, but most likely as a rental. But if you already know that you don’t like Nancy Meyers’ movies, then don’t see it. It’s pretty much textbook Nancy Meyers.