We begin the second series with Věra Chtytilová's Sedmikrásky (Daisies), which was released in the writer-director's native country, Czechoslovakia, in 1966 and received an American release the following year. The 74-minute feature tells the story of two young women named Marie (Ivana Karbanová and Jitka Cerhová). Out of boredom and annoyance toward their bourgeois existence, they decide to wreak havoc in a magnificently hedonistic fashion. They entertain a few gentlemen, leaving them in a lurch once they tire of them. They cut up in a dance hall. They harass waiters. They break into a banquet hall presumably outfitted as a dinner for communist leaders, gorge on the decadent spread, and throw a food fight before the film concludes with them trapped under a giant chandelier.
Since I saw Melancholia at Fantastic Fest 2011, I haven't been sure how to respond when people ask me if it's good. It feels inappropriate to summarize it in those terms: the single best word to describe it isn't "good" or "bad" but "uncomfortable." It's a full two hours but feels longer, full of headache-inducing hand-held shots and constantly shifting focus, but the most unsettling thing about it is how blatantly nihilistic it is.
Welcome to the twenty-first century. Are either of these films accurate or comprehensive portrayals of their time? Not even remotely. But they reflect cultural attitudes surrounding women, motherhood, and work, and the putrefied trope of Heigl's character didn't exist in 1987. Heigl and Keaton's characters are analogous as white-controlling-educated-women-who-have-careers-plus-family, and the evolution of this character is telling. Where Baby Boom gave hope, Life as We Know It brings despair.
Welcome back to Pop Pedestal, the blog series about pop culture personalities we admire. Today's tribute goes to Cleopatra "Cleo" Jones, the super sleek superwoman who defied the blaxploitation genre of the early '70s. Move over Foxy. Cleo's in town.
You know how the past decade or so has brought us countless films with a male protagonist who is juvenile and irredeemable, and it's kind of a problem? Wouldn't it be so equally problematic edgy and trendy and subversive if filmmakers started casting WOMEN in those roles instead of men?! Well, it didn't work in Bad Teacher, so Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody are giving it a try with Young Adult:
Unlike Miyazaki, Hosoda embraces our dependence on virtual worlds, but not naively. He's aware of its dangers and isn't above satirizing it; the resemblance of the OZ hub to Murakami's deranged pandas, combined with its toothy, walleyed grin, makes even the pre-Love Machine OZ appear fun, but slightly dangerous, and the entire Love Machine storyline is a cautionary tale against putting all of one's faith in online solutions. That combination of wariness and recognition of digital culture is something I don't think we would ever see from Miyazaki.
This post discusses abuse in asylums, including sexual assault. It discusses the history of lobotomies and describes (briefly) the procedure. It also contains spoilers for the movie Sucker Punch.
I went to see Sucker Punch expecting a light piece of fluff that involved conventionally attractive young women with swords fighting a dragon. It's a movie where one of the lines highlighted in the trailer is "If you don't stand for something, you'll fall for anything." I was prepared for a light popcorn-type film and showed up for a midnight screening with one of my friends, two martinis to the wind.
I was really not expecting a film that laid out how abusive asylums and long-term care centers can be—and often are. I was not expecting a film that laid out how asylums could be used to silence uppity women. And I was really not prepared for a film that showed bluntly and horrifyingly what lobotomies involved and how they completely destroyed people's personalities.