When a Man Loves a Woman opens with one of the oddest (and, frankly, creepiest) meet-cutes I have ever seen in a movie: Alice (Meg Ryan), sitting at a bar in broad daylight (it looks like she's just finished lunch), already wincing at unwanted attention from the guy sitting to her left at the counter, is approached by Michael (Andy Garcia), who asks her to pick up his laundry for him, bring it to his hotel room later that night. "I'll pay you," he says. "Thirty bucks. That oughta cover it." At first, she's irritated, and then she's amused, flirting back.
Then – right after my boyfriend shouted, "Oh, come on, Meg!" and I scribbled something in my notebook about how women alone in bars are always assumed to be prostitutes – the scene takes a cutesy, unexpected turn.
There are movies you see once and you never want to see again. Other movies require multiple viewings in order to pick up on the subtext and subtitles. And then there are the enjoyable enough movies to leave on the TV over and over again just because they're fun. Wreck-It Ralph is one of those rare movies that's fun for a revisit yet is peppered with enough hidden references to make to make the rewatch worthwhile. After a second viewing this weekend, I still walked away impressed. Ralph keeps to the 8-bit world of old-school arcade games and moves flawlessly into the HD gaming experience that was starting to take root when I stopped going to my local arcade.
This tepid installation of the longest-running movie franchise in history still peddles woman's bodies as disposable, continues the tradition of white-valued imperialism, and features a mark of homophobia. Shocked? You shouldn't be.
Three Men and a Baby isn't the first pop cultural example of a male primary caregiver, but it is arguably the most iconic and definitely one of the most successful. Released in 1987, it was the first Walt Disney Studios production to gross over $100 million domestically, taking $168 million worldwide and making men with kids a hot proposition. I loved the movie as a kid, but I dreaded re-watching it.
I imagined it to be rife with gender stereotyping, goofy gags demonstrating that men can't cope with babies, and jokes about the how emasculating being a father can be. Turns out, I was way off. Three Men and a Baby is a lot of fun, and more progressive than you might expect.
This weekend will see the takeoff of Robert Zemeckis's new movie, Flight, which stars Denzel Washington, Don Cheadle, and John Goodman. Washington plays a pretty conflicted character: Whip, a star pilot who also happens to be an alcoholic with a cocaine problem. He parties hard with one of his flight attendants before going up in the air one morning, and of course, shit gets unfortunately real with a crash landing. He's a hero for a minute, but that all changes wtih the investigation into the emergency landing.
It's a great performance from Washington, but, as with nearly all Hollywood products, it toes the line on negative racial stereotypes: in this case, the black substance abuser and absent father. In the name of Sydney Poitier, these challenging roles have got to be out there for people of color. But how do we determine if a movie is actually doing justice to its representation of members of a marginalized group? I'm going to share a few rules I've developed to help explain whether or not a character is more than just a stereotype.
I'm skeptical of any awards given out so closely to the release of an honoree's film. It's an extra press release, another sound bite, and a little something for the likes of Entertainment Tonight, Extra!, and TMZ to shill. Yawn.
That said, it was worth following The Hollywood Reporter's extensive coverage of the Human Rights Campaign's Visibility Award, presented to Cloud Atlas codirector Lana Wachowski.
It is really hard to find a horror film that is unequivocally feminist. So hard, in fact, that when I went to a local video store that specializes in cult and hard-to-find films and asked the dude working there if he had any suggestions for feminist horror, he hemmed and hawed for a while, suggested some rape-and-revengefilms, and then pretty much gave up. Sometimes it feels like there are so few horror films out there that can be considered feminist that we've talked them all to death (heh). Not true! After scouring the internets and various video stores, I've managed to come up with a list of horror films with solid feminist themes. Take that, you unkillable misogynist slashers!
The tenderness of black women growing in self-love and self-possession is rare in modern cinema. If we are young, we are exploited (see: Precious) if we are grown and in love, black female characters are consumed with body-racking pain (see: For Colored Girls, Monster's Ball, Beloved). Caricatures of us usually dim our personal transformation from one moment to the next. On screen, the fullness of black womanhood has been flattened to a one-dimensional trope – she is rarely funny without bitterness, or lonely and sad without letting her emotions bleed into histrionics or melodrama.