Tag Archives: movies

The Artist (2011) Movie Review

Disclosure #1: I watched The Artist for the first time in the middle of a 14-hour trans-Pacific flight. I didn’t even have an aisle seat. Not the best conditions for enjoying quality film, but do not be mistaken–The Artist is certainly a quality film.

Of course, the Oscars have come and gone, and The Artist won basically everything. Naturally, the usual backlash against the film occurred before the ceremonies were even over.

Disclosure #2: I wasn’t rooting for The Artist. My personal favorites were Midnight in Paris and Tree of Life, but the French tribute to silent film was a shoo-in. Now having seen the film (finally!), it’s clear to me why it won. Not that I have anything against horses or baseball.

Much has been said about the sound–or lack thereof–in The Artist. As a silent film about silent film, the choice of background music and sound effects shines through each chiaroscuro scene.

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La Grande Bouffe (1973) Movie Review

Do not watch this movie. Watch The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie instead.

Both films critique bourgeoisie excess and the decline of French (and to some extent, Western) civilization. The Discreet Charm of the Bourgeoisie manages to do all of the above while keeping the tone light and stimulating, while La Grande Bouffe (The Great Feast) takes forever and a day to set up the story, makes an obvious argument, and then beats a dead horse for another hour and a half of repetitive orgiastic nonsense. Continue reading

Beautiful Lies (De Vrais Mensoges) Mini Review

Ah, love. There’s nothing else the French are more known for, especially in cinema. De Vrais Mensoges (Beautiful Lies for North America) is a cute romantic comedy, starring Audrey Tautou and Sami Bouajila.

The movie itself isn’t particularly clever or insightful, but romantic comedies don’t need to be. Tatou plays Émilie, a streetwise salon owner, who receives a note from a secret admirer. Unbeknownst to Émilie, that admirer is none other than the salon’s janitor, Jean (Bouajila), who also has a few surprises up his sleeve. Continue reading

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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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

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!