Fighting with the Sky

Posts Tagged ‘Amy Adams

leap-year-movie-posterSo 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.


SunshineCleaningPosterSunshine Cleaning is the story of two sisters, Rose and Nora, who are entirely different yet work together in the most brilliant of ways. Rose (played by Amy Adams) is a single mom struggling to make something of herself and make a better life for her son. Nora (played by Emily Blunt) is a slacker who still lives with their father (Alan Arkin) and avoids work like it’s the plague. After her son gets kicked out of yet another school, Rose needs to earn more money so she can afford to send him to private school. She gets Nora to join her in the creation of the company Sunshine Cleaning, a company that provides “bio-hazard removal and postmortem cleaning” – basically they go clean up after someone dies. It’s a disgusting job, but the sisters learn the specialized field and are determined to succeed (well, more so Rose than Nora). The movie provides moments of laughter and tears (or at least sadness, I didn’t really cry, but some would).

I was expecting something different out of this movie.  I wanted to see the movie in the theaters but wasn’t able to.  From the trailer, I thought it might potentially be more light-hearted than it was.  Even though is wasn’t exactly what I expected, Sunshine Cleaning pleasantly surprised me.  It was a movie about a serious topic, dealing with death, that was funny at times.  Rose and Nora had to deal with death on a daily basis not only physically through their work, but they also had to emotionally deal with their mother’s suicide when they were children.  It’s definitely not a formulaic movie, which I always appreciate.

So, where does feminism come into this movie?  It’s definitely not blatant, but it’s there.  Both Rose and Nora are trying to find themselves.  They haven’t really known who they are since their mother died.  They are trying to deal with that grief while also living their lives.  Rose does whatever it takes to support her son, as well as sometimes her sister and her father.  At some points she struggles (as we all do).  She takes something that’s necessary for money and turns it into something she loves to do, even if it is gross.  Even though she doesn’t believe it herself at points, she is a strong woman who does what needs to be done and makes the best of it.  Nora, on the other hand, does whatever she wants and doesn’t always care what the effect is.  But working with Rose gives her some sense of responsibility, even if it is not that great.  Nora’s story can tell us to follow our dreams.  I don’t know if Nora’s actions are necessarily following “dreams,” but they are about following desires.

I would recommend Sunshine Cleaning.  It is an interesting story and has great acting.  I love Amy Adams, Emily Blunt, and Alan Arkin.  Alan Arkin’s character of the father is fairly similar to his character in Little Miss Sunshine, if that gives you any idea.  But the roles for Amy Adams and Emily Blunt were fairly different than what I have seen them in.  It was nice to see Amy Adams in a more serious role that still brought out some of her perkiness.  And I’m used to seeing Emily Blunt as an over-achiever (Devil Wears Prada, Jane Austen Book Club) which she is completely not in this movie.

Further Reading:

Sunshine Cleaning: DVD Review [Entertainment Realm]

Movie Monday is a weekly feature that highlight a movie every Monday. I watch a lot of movies, so this is my way to share my “expertise” with you. In the inaugural Movie Monday post I will be reviewing the new movie Julie & Julia, starring Meryl Streep and Amy Adams.

Two amazing women, mouth-watering food, and a great story are what make up Nora Ephron’s new movie, Julie & Julia. What started out as a story about cooking and eating delicious food turns into a story about self-discovery and empowerment.

Meryl Streep steals the show with her portrayal of Julia Child. Amy Adams plays Julie Powell, a 30-year-old woman trying to reinvent and find herself after she realizes that she hasn’t really reached any of her goals.

Julia Child herself was a pretty amazing woman. She loved to eat good food so took it upon herself to go to cooking school to learn how to make delicious food. She faced her all male class at Le Cordon Bleu and thrived. She stood up to the school’s administrator. She wrote a cookbook and didn’t give up on getting it published.

Julie Power, on the other hand, was pretty unremarkable until she set on this road of self-discovery. She started a project, with a correlating blog, dedicated to cooking her way through Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking in a year. 365 days, 524 recipes. Of course she didn’t know it was about self-discovery when she started, she just wanted to do something with her life. Powell found herself in the life and recipes of Julia Child.

And the other main character — the food. I love cooking so I melted like the pounds of butter they went through during all of the cooking scenes. And I’m pretty sure I started to drool in the theater because the food looked so good!

I was told that the review of Julie & Julia on NPR’s Fresh Air said that there was no character development. I don’t know what they were thinking about. Julie Powell went from a shy, self-depricating woman to someone who is confident and loves life, all through her connection with food and Julia Child. Julia Child went from a secretary and someone’s wife to developing a passion for cooking and making a name for herself. There’s plenty of character development.

And now on to some of my favorite parts of the movie:

  • Any scene with Meryl Streep: she’s one of my favorite actresses. As Julia Child, she was charismatic and funny. I was laughing throughout all her scenes.
  • Changing the song “Psycho Killer” by the Talking Heads (one of my favorite Talking Heads songs) to “Lobster Killer”
  • Mary Lynn Rajskub: I love her in whatever she does and her relationships with Julie Powell reminded me at points of my relationships with one of my friends
  • The promotion of blogging as a form of self-expression

I think is movie is definitely feminist. It’s made by and starring some awesome women. It’s all about finding your passions, doing what you love, and finding yourself along the way. Part of my values in feminism are all about the right to self-expression as well as allowing and encouraging women to follow their dreams and do what they love.

I highly recommend this movie. It’s well made and has a good message. When I saw it, the theater was packed, primarily with middle aged women. But this is definitely a movie for all ages (well, maybe not all — there are sexual references and cursing) and sexes. Finding yourself and doing what you love should be a message that everyone should get behind!

Further Reading:
Julia & Julia By the Numbers [Women & Hollywood]
Julie & Julia Need More Julia, Only a Dash of Julie [Jezebel]
Julie & Julia [Women & Hollywood]
Julie & Julia: A Film Review [Entertainment Realm]

It’s no secret: I love movies. Way too much money is spent on me getting to see the movies I love oh-so much. I even enjoy watching bad rom-coms and teen movies. There are certain movies I get really excited for, like Harry Potter. But there is a day coming up that I am very excited for: August 7, 2009. I am not excited for some big-budget movie, but for 3 amazing-looking movies.

1. 500 Days of Summer

With movies coming out this summer like The Hangover and The Ugly Truth and all those formulaic rom-coms, I am anxiously awaiting 500 Days of Summer. While this movie has been released, it doesn’t open in Grand Rapids until August 7. I will watch the trailer every so often to get my fix of its amazing-ness until the movie comes out.

Part of why I’m so excited for the movie is because I love Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. And the music in it is so great (I’ve already purchased the soundtrack!). But this movie also looks so different from all those other romantic comedies. It says from the beginning: “this is not a love story.” So while I can already guess how the movie is going to end (no I don’t mean them breaking up, I mean how the movie ends), it is not going to be like other romantic comedies.

The man (Gordon-Levitt) thinks that his life is incomplete until he finds “the one” and the woman (Deschanel) is the one that doesn’t want to be tied down while she’s young and doesn’t believe in love. It is refreshing to see the stereotypcial roles reversed. It’s still very stereotypical to believe that the men are the ones that don’t want to be in a relationship and the woman is the one who is romantic. While we all know this is not true, it’s still refreshing to see that reflected in a movie.

I am reluctant to call the movie feminist or say that is has a feminist message until I see it and see how the story line actually plays out. There is only so much you can tell from a trailer. But it looks great and probably more feminist that most of the other movies coming out this summer.

2. Julie & Julia

Julie & Julia is definitely more big-budget than 500 Days of Summer. This movie stars two amazing women, Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. Julia Child was an awesome woman in and of herself. The movie shows part of her life in Paris, from starting cooking school with an all male class to her cookbook and TV show. Julie Powell on the other hand, is a woman who doesn’t really seem to know what to do with her life and finds her answer in cooking.

I love to cook myself, so I’m excited for that part of it. But I think this movie also has the potential to be empowering. There’s the Julia Child side of it: taking on the men of the cooking world and disproving all the nay-sayers. I’ve also heard that the book (I meant to read it before the movie came out, but I haven’t gotten around to it) has a message of developing a healthy relationship with food and your body image. I hope that they keep this part in the movie. It would be great to see a movie with that kind of message.

3. Paper Heart

This movie looks really sweet and awkward. Paper Heart is about the making of a documentary starring a teenage (?) girl who does not believe in love and goes around interviewing people on the subject. Then she meets this boy (Michael Cera) and starts to fall for him, but of course all of their relationship has to be taped for the documentary. This movie just looks adorably awkward, not necessarily feminist. And it kind of looks along the lines of the overall story line of 500 Days of Summer with a documentary and awkward teens (but I would probably rather see 500 Days of Summer). But Paper Heart is only coming to “select theaters” on August 7, so that means that it probably won’t be coming to Grand Rapids. But I’m excited to read about what other people think of it.