Category Archives: contemporary

Do the Right Thing (1989) Movie Review

Do the Right Thing is the film that made Spike Lee. The movie is intelligent, poignant, and powerful, and deals with a topic that is painfully relevant in modern day America.

It’s easy to make a generic movie about race relations. Throw in a few slackjawed racists, and some do-gooders, and in the end, everyone gets along and sings Kumbayah. This is not the case with Do The Right Thing.

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Ugly Americans “Wet Hot Demonic Summer” S2 E1 Review + Recap

I have to admit, I was a little worried for this season of Ugly Americans. The preview Comedy Central broadcasted was slow to the point of boredom, and the jokes just didn’t flow. Thankfully, the episode itself relieved all of my worries.

The first season of Ugly Americans was characterized by an endlessly inventive attention to detail. Notice the distinct and separately designed creatures that populace this alt-universe New York City. The characters are relateable, with more faults than strengths. The protagonist, Mark Lilly (Matt Oberg), is fairly bland, but every good comedy needs a straight man.

The premiere episode kicked things off with a bang. With a strong start like this, I’m excited to see where the show will go this season (and hopefully for a few more). Continue reading

The Tree of Life (2011)

If you want your art to hold a mirror to life, you better get a pretty damn big mirror.

In The Tree of Life, auteur director Terrence Malick attempts to frame all of existence into one two-hours-and-change film. When it works, the film’s sweeping scope speaks volumes on the nature of life and man’s endless quest for meaning. When it doesn’t work, the film drags, especially in the second half of the movie.

The Tree of Life is a movie tailor made for the arthouse audience and sure to confuse your average popcorn filmgoer. Malick tells the story of one man’s childhood, in the context of his family, in the context of the world and the universe as a whole. Again and again, characters question God, especially with the quandary that shapes the film: “What do we look like to You?” Continue reading

X-Men (2011)

As an avid Mad Men fan, I had always wondered if January Jones was a terrible actress or if she was just really, really good at playing a flat, shallow character with no emotions or believable personality.

Wonder no more, everyone. In the role of Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class, Jones has proven her lack of acting skills, save her existence as a pretty, pretty princess with a fantastic figure.

In fact, January Jones‘s role in the film was reminiscent of the film itself: easy on the eyes and enjoyable to watch, but lacking depth or artistic vigor. Continue reading

South Park “City Sushi” S15 E6 Review + Recap

Most South Park reviewers will fall into two camps regarding this episode. Either you love Butters, and love episodes focusing on Butters, or you don’t. This episode is a Butters episode.

That’s not to say Butters’s journey through an incorrect multiple personality diagnosis by a mentally deranged psychiatrist is the only storyline in “City Sushi.” As the title suggests, the episode also follows the travails of local City Wok owner and South Park’s only Asian, Lu Kim. A new Japanese restaurant, the aforementioned City Sushi, opens next door to Kim’s City Wok, causing Kim to scheme ways to destroy his new competition.

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The Hangover (2009) Movie Review

The Hangover 2 is now out in theaters, and the movie has already attracted vitriol from critics around the world.  Let’s backtrack to an earlier time, a time when The Hangover was a sleeper success, jet-propelling the careers of stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, and Zach Galifianakis.

Directed by Todd Phillips (Old School, Due Date), The Hangover tells the story of a crazy night in Vegas. Not exactly original, but the film flows easily and the jokes often come from nowhere to stick tenuous landings.

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10 Questions on Gender in Bridesmaids (2011)

In my (favorable) review of Bridesmaids, I included this statement:

“In future generations, when film students write papers analyzing the importance of the ‘colonial woman’ on the plane to Vegas, reams of paper will be dedicated to understanding the influence of Bridesmaids on changing the gendered culture of millennial movie-making.”

In classic English major behavior, I immediately began brainstorming a list of possible discussion and essay topics dealing with the movie and ideas of gender. I would love to hear your thoughts on these topics!

  1. Why was the symbol of Annie and the cop’s relationship the very phallic carrot?
  2. On the plane to Vegas, Annie hallucinates the visage of a “colonial woman” dressed in colonial clothes. What importance does this vision have in relation to the rest of the story?
  3. In Bridesmaids, two female characters vent their frustrations over men before succumbing to a kiss. How does this moment reflect the nature of gender expression, sexual orientation, and the stereotypes of married life?
  4. Relate the relative absence of Annie’s mother to the usual lost father thread in male-oriented movies. Also, what does the total absence of Annie’s father mean?
  5. Is this film anti-children? Most dialogue and exposition  involving children is negative. What does this mean for the traditional role of women as mothers and nurturers?
  6. Discuss the character of Megan. While the character had rough, masculine traits, she also wore pearls and was presumably heterosexual. What does the inclusion of this character in the feminine ensemble say about the performative nature of gender?
  7. Contrast the characters of Ted and Officer Rhodes. In what ways do they represent aspects of masculine personality? Alternatively, how do the characters uphold or circumvent male stereotypes?
  8. What is the film’s perspective on sex? Annie engages in intercourse with two very different men, under vastly different circumstances. Other characters discuss or complain about sex. In general, what does the film say about sexual intercourse and women?
  9. Bridesmaids is notable for including a lengthy gross-out scene involving vomit, diarrhea, and other bodily functions. Why was this scene important in the presentation of a primarily female comedy? What impact did the scene have in humanizing the characters or, conversely, in distancing the audience from the characters?
  10. What makes Bridesmaids different from other contemporary female-oriented comedies? What impact do these differences have on the nature of women in comedies, and of gender expression in film?

Those are just ten questions. There is, of course, much more to be discussed regarding gender and women in Bridesmaids. The movie’s a box office smash, but I can’t shake the feeling that it will also be a critical landmark in future studies of gender and film.

Leave a comment if you have any input on women, gender, sexuality and Bridesmaids. Would love to hear what you have to say!