When I was 11, I saw the trailer for Chasing Amy. I don't remember why it caught my attention—I didn't recognize the actors, and I don't think I consciously knew what it was about. It certainly wasn't targeted toward 11-year-olds, so I'm not even sure where I saw the ad. But something in my gut told me that this was a movie I needed to see. It was the first time I experienced such a strong, immediate response to a movie, let alone a trailer.
Full disclosure: I love Paul Verhoeven's movies. I'm a fan of RoboCop, Total Recall, Starship Troopers...and, yes, even Showgirls. (Stay tuned for more about Showgirls later in this series.) These movies may not be cinematic masterpieces, but they are entertaining, escapist fun. So when I decided to give Basic Instinct a try, I was actually looking forward to it. I expected to enjoy it, even if only in a campy sense.
There aren't all that many fictional depictions of women in politics, at least compared with fictional portrayals of women in domestic service, women in trouble with the law, women in the porn industry, and women in some stage of being attacked and killed by a psychopath. Parsing through characters to search for patterns in these portrayals of politicians has led me back through decades, which has given me a little bit of reservation because I believe that different eras highlight their own tensions. On the other hand, we're only one remake away from reviving and re-distilling those stereotypes for today's audiences (I'm looking at you, Manchurian Candidate).
The Kermit I see is sensitive, silly and sweet. He sings with abandon, despite not having an auto-tuned perfect voice. He talks about his feelings, and friends, and rainbows. Jim Henson created Kermit in the Free To Be You and Me-fueled culture of the '70s, when people were itching for different role models for kids—ones that didn't play into the tired gender stereotypes of previous decades. As a mother of a son? I totally appreciate that. Kermit is a relatable character that my son can look up to.
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.
This trend of remaking childhood classics holds no nostalgia for me. It only holds anger that companies feel that they can update a part of my childhood in order to double their profit margins and, in the same breath, insult my child by suggesting he won't enjoy something with a simple, timeless message.
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: