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.
Two recent documentaries, two different coasts, one scary enemy, and hundreds of hours of footage. This is the history and legacy of the AIDS crisis in North America, as told by the cameras and concerned filmmakers who were there.
Polio just got a whole lot sexier! That's because later this month The Sessions, a new film starring the always incredible John Hawkes (and directed by Ben Lewin, who's disabled) will be making the rounds in theaters. I am extremely excited.
At long last, the movie that brings us Nicole Kidman taking a piss on Zac Efron is available for your viewing pleasure (in NY and LA, with select cities this Friday). But this is not just the movie of the tinkle heard across Cannes. This subplot-ridden movie straddles a fine line between exploitation and melodrama, with mixed results. It's filmed in a grainy style that's supposed to reference the '60s and '70s exploitation genre, but rather than stay with a simple, schlocky detective plot to make a human story out of the tumultuous times, we meander through enough sexual, racial, and gender issues to weigh the film down with a sense of gravitas. It isn't pretty, and the movie sinks under the numerous cumbersome subplots. Is there a way to make heads or tails of this icky cinematic mess?