Summertime! And the air conditioning is preferable… Popcorn’s popping and movie attendance will be high. But Lillian, you say, I’m a discerning filmgoer. I’m queer and feminism conscious. What popcorn films can I see?
Well, my friend, I have devised a scale very similar to Mr. Kinsey’s except with misogynism and feminism instead of hetero or queer.
Remember, a higher number in this case is more problematic. This is in no way a judgment on homosexuality, I just like implying that Tucker Max is not in any way the hetero bro he so insists he is. These are all guesses at the issues presented in the film and judgements based on the marketing.
Sometimes I’ll give fangirl ratings. That’s working on the usual 1 to 10 system with 10 being the best. (All films are listed in order of release date.)
Iron Man 2 (May 7)
Tony’s womanizing and generally jerky ways are depicted as problematic, and Robert Downey, Jr. and Sam Rockwell are always a delight. After seeing Rockwell do amazing things with anti-heroes in Moon, Choke, and A Behanding in Spokane, I can’t wait to see what he does with Justin Hammer. It’s also great to see Pepper standing up for herself a bit more. It seems like we’re a bit far off from Tony’s dark phase.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 2.7
Fangirl Rating: 10 (The kinds of films I want to make are somewhere between Iron Man, Kick-Ass, and The Hurt Locker.)
Letters to Juliet (May 14)
I might be the only one who still likes Amanda Seyfried, but I still think that she, like Anna Kendrick in Twilight, makes some of these terrible scripts bearable with her charm and earnestness. And this film has a Redgrave and a senior citizen romance thrown into the mix. I might see a bit of The Notebook potential here. Expect the same level of hokeyness but a lot of people liked The Notebook. I bet even the reader who’s shaking zis head (I don’t make any assumptions.) cried a bit. And come on, VERONA, ITALY.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 3 (This could really go either way.)
Just Wright (May 14)
The film already gets major points for making the absolutely gorgeous and charming Queen Latifah as a romantic lead opposite the equally charming and physically fit rapper turned-halfway-decent-actor Common.
That said, some of my warning bells are going off. It’s got the tell-tale “tomboy femmes up and comes down the stairs” moment, and I’m worried that she’ll end up giving up her career to stay with the NBA star she re-built. Either way, I think this film is probably worth supporting if only because Queen Latifah deserves everything awesome in the world.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 2.3
Robin Hood (May 14)
I’m honestly not too sure about this one. Ridley Scott is a reliable and talented filmmaker, sometimes even on the feminist front. This dude created Ripley, remember! Though, to be fair, James Cameron shaped her into the iconic action hero we know and love.
Cate Blanchett is usually a good sign. (Don’t you dare mention the sequel that shall not be named.) There does seem to be a shot there of a man creepily touching Blanchett’s face though. I’ve never understood why every Robin Hood movie goes the “Marian gets threatened sexually” route. The jury’s currently out on this one.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 4
Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time (May 28)
Director Mike Newell helped the Harry Potter franchise recover from its rocky start and Jake Gyllenhaal is a good actor, not to mention just as good looking up close as on screen. (I’ll tell you that story sometime.) Yes, that was Alfred Molina seemingly reprising his role in Raiders of the Lost Ark as a strange looking sidekick. And yes, that is once again Gemma Arterton, Io from the Clash of the Titans remake, again taking every job that Rachel Weisz turned down. (There is hope for Ms. Arterton yet though, her interviews suggest she’s got her feet firmly planted on the ground.)
But I’m afraid even some very gender conscious interviews can’t save Prince of Persia for me. It’s a brilliant video game, but where it separated itself from the pack was its innovative gameplay system, not in its plot. Also, was there really no actor of Persian or even just Arab descent that could’ve played the lead instead of just covering Jake Gyllenhaal in dust and hoping we won’t notice his pale chest? (I mean I could give you some Arab actor names, not the least of which would be my very talented friend Arya, who is a great fight director and stunt performer when he’s not making awesome campfire theater with PigPen.)
Overall, lots of ill advised decisions. I’m not sure Bruckheimer can make lightning strike three times. (Pirates of the Caribbean, Transformers, which is not a good series, but definitely a phenomenon.)
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 4.5
Sex and the City 2 (May 27)
Okay, the show was kind of awesome sometimes. The film was terrible and completely dumbed down from the original material. This time the girls go to Morocco. Unless this ends as an epic action movie where they get taken hostage and Daniel Craig and Kathleen Turner have to save them or Samantha suddenly decides to become an aid worker, I am not interested. If you see this, I hate you.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 5
Killers (June 4)
Oh look! Another romantic comedy about a woman who finds out about her paramour’s secret life and comically complicates it. Yay! ….I really don’t know why you would watch this instead of Mr. and Mrs. Smith. And I didn’t even like Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 4
Splice (June 4)
Since I’m directing A Number, a film that is about the horrors of human cloning is obviously of interest, if only for its implications in terms of cyborgfeminism. Splice seems to really just be the story of Frankenstein with two parents rather than just Victor, but there is something very intriguing in that, to suggest that the mother and father that every child supposedly deserves can screw up even more profoundly than a single parent working three jobs.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 2
The A-Team (June 11)
This doesn’t seem to have any women in it aside from Jessica Biel as a love interest, but it is The A-Team, which gets some points with me because of its emphasis on male bonding through emotional dependence. And I’d rather the film be about men behaving like boys and damaging property rather than behaving like boys and objectifying women a la Porky’s.
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 4
Fan Girl Rating: 8 (Bradley Cooper! Liam Neeson! A-TEAM!)
Toy Story 3 (June 18)
Oh, Toy Story, your franchise is so old, and I still love you. I especially love how you encourage young men to keep playing with toys. Masculinity studies win!
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 1.7 (It could use some female leads other than Jessie and a little less heteronormativity.)
The Twilight Saga: Eclipse (June 30th)
If you know me in the real world, you already know my views on Stephanie Meyers’ series of teen romance novels that redefine both the words “vampire” and “werewolf” to orbit her narrative world around a clumsy, frustratingly slow, and woefully naive teenage girl who is extra-special for no reason other than the fact that she is a Mary Sue. This installment in the series should include the infamous pregnancy and aborted sexual assault of Bella by Jacob. I mean you get the whole story by seeing Edward and Jacob argue over who is better for Bella without her present. If you want to see Robert Pattinson, rent Little Ashes. Though the film is a hot mess, it’s way more interesting than Twilight. (Because Salvador Dali is infinitely more awesome than pretty much every vampire except Spike.)
Feminist-ey Scale Rating: 6 (i.e. RUN AWAY!)
Instead of paying to see Twilight: Eclipse in a theater (I refuse to call it a saga. Beowulf is a saga. The Lord of the Rings is a saga. You write romance novels that don’t even have sex in them, and the only monsters are your supposedly sympathetic main characters. This is not a saga. It is not an epic. It is badly written Anne Rice fan fiction that is rated PG.) you should watch this brilliant mashup of Twilight and Buffy the Vampire Slayer in which our favorite Supergirl gives the stalker what’s coming to him. (Bitter? Me? No! Never!)
“You know being stalked really isn’t a big turn-on for girls.”
It’s very late guys so I’ll do the second half of the summer really soon. Remember, you can always ask for your money back if you didn’t like a film for any reason. Financial support is a political statement.