The African Queen: 6 STARS

* In this week’s feminist film news we see Maggie Gyllenhaal turned down for a role as the love interest of a 55 year old man because she was deemed to have spent too many years on this earth (37 to be exact). Maggie may be able to laugh at the ridiculousness of this, I, however, am still very much in the angry stage. Please join me in my anger and read the below for full details http://www.thewrap.com/maggie-gyllenhaal-on-hollywood-ageism-i-was-told-37-is-too-old-for-a-55-year-old-love-interest/*

(SPOILERS. I mean watching The African Queen has probably been an option for your whole life but as I only watched it for the first time this week I cannot judge you for not taking that opportunity. CN for threat of hanging, no one is hanged in the end but there is quite a lot of hanging related fuss. Also there are crocodiles so if you, like Sterling Archer, fear crocodiles you should watch out)

“Fancy, me, a heroine” – Rose

I really did not have high hopes for this film in the beginning. Any film called The African Queen made in 1951 suggests many chasms of potential horror. However as the vast majority of the film is just 2 people on a boat it steers clear of quite a lot of these horror chasms, much as Humphrey and Katharine steer masterfully through the rapids of ‘German East Africa’ one might say. Really what this film is is 90 minutes of jolly fun. Two quite weird looking people get to know one another, form a believable relationship and have an adventure. An adventure which they enjoy so much! Watching a man and a woman have fun together should not be such an odd thing but I have rarely been so surprised and refreshed. Let us follow them on their adventure and see how they got on.

The Bechdel Test

– Developed female relationships

(Ok so not a great start. This is however a case of where the actual events being filmed mean that there aren’t two female characters. There isn’t a large cast of women ignoring one another/obsessively discussing men there is just one woman who lives in a genuinely isolated situation and thus has no lady friends because she actually wouldn’t have, rather than because the film’s creators have decided that female relationships are boring. So as positive as a failed star can be really)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(Yes. A thousand times yes. Rose, played by the fabulous Katharine Hepburn, is wonderful. You think she’s just going to be ‘a straight laced missionary’, as the Wikipedia page describes her, but in fact she’s an adrenaline junkie. This is a woman who devoted herself to her brother’s mission and then, when he dies, realises that she is capable of so much more. Sure the mission she sets herself is artificially simple but her zeal, determination  and good humour are real and really admirable. She is a heroine with that legitimate bravery which is the conquering of fear rather than its absence. In other words she is wonderful)

STAR: No excessive air of misogyny

–  No rigid adherence to gender norms

(A lovely thing about this film is the way it deals with the problem of chivalry, and problem it is. Humphrey starts off treating Katharine like a lady, letting her sleep in his bed, keeping her away from menial tasks but the practicalities of their journey quickly render this impossible. They have to accept that they’re both people with different skills and abilities but equally capable in their own ways. Katharine steering while Humphrey mans the engine is a beautiful show of genuine partnership and compromise. No one has to win because they work together, each defeating their personal demons rather than trying to fight one another. This isn’t a world where everyone pretends the patriarchy isn’t a thing, Humphrey calls Katharine a dried up old maid and she throws away all his gin because women are nice and clean and sober and men are dogs, but together one feels they attempt to overcome it rather than just go along with it. There isn’t anything radical about Katharine’s femininity or Humphrey’s masculinity, they fit basically conventional gender roles, although she is more active and into speed boating than one might expect, but what there is is a pleasant and continual pointing out of the limits of these roles and how they need to be overcome in order to have real relationships/run a real boat)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

– STAR: No objectification of the female body

(There is a wonderful scene in this film where Katharine has been having a swim in the river and finds she can’t climb back into the boat. Watching her try and climb the side of the boat like a spider is just one of many scenes where it is revealed that she actually has a body and that it is used for something. Obviously the age of this film is part of why there’s no nudity/sexualisation but I would argue that it’s not just that, it’s the personhood of its heroine. She’s a real person with physical capabilities, always a presence in the boat rather than a pretty ornament sitting on a nice bench. Rose is a woman who can do things, another surprisingly refreshing fact)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No threat of male violence against women

(So, as previously mentioned, there is some danger that Rose will be hanged at the end of the film, also potentially shot, or eaten by a crocodile. So there is a threat of male violence (although the gender of the crocodiles was unclear) but that violence is not sexualised, it is shared absolutely equally with her male co-star and  and it is not lingered over. Again this is violence because when you go on a dangerous mission to undermine the German army there will be violence, not because the film’s creators felt women are funner when they’re under threat, which seems to be all too often the case. Another happy fail)

6 stars, and 3 Bonus Points. 1 for the women of German East Africa, Tanzania/Burundi/Rwanda as it now is. I think the politics of this opening scene could be debated. Depicting missionaries as bumbling and well intentioned is not necessarily great given the real harm that they did as a whole to many countries in Africa and laughing, as we presumably are meant to, at the native people of German East Africa failing to sing hymns does not feel entirely comfortable. However I think the humour is pretty squarely directed at the missionary trying to teach people who cannot speak English to sing along to insipid hymns which have no relevance to their lives. Having the congregation shout sounds of their own choosing to the accompaniment of Katharine’s piano playing doesn’t make me think they are being ridiculed but rather that they are doing the ridiculing. As I said, up for debate. 1 for ‘unglamorous’ women because Katharine, while having the cheekbones of a goddess, was 44 when this film was made and she doesn’t wear makeup and she looks genuinely sun worn. She’s still a babe obviously but she is far from airbrushed perfection. And 1 for women in masculine roles, because Katharine pulls her weight on that boat and she deserves some credit for it. This isn’t a film about women, or about feminism, but it does show that even a film with only one female character can tackle feminist issues in an unobtrusive but persistent manner. The fun that Humphrey and Katharine have could never have happened if they each continued to be the caricatures of masculinity and femininity that they began as. To get anything done and to have any fun they have to fight against patriarchal strictures, because they’re real people and that’s what real people have to do. Refreshing and wonderful.

*A note on Katharine Hepburn. I didn’t realise what a badass Katharine was, her mum was a suffragette, she won 4 Oscars (not that I respect the Academy but still 4 is a lot), and she bought the rights to various films to orchestrate her own comeback. That’s pretty sick. I will definitely be checking her out some more and I suggest you do the same. If anyone knows any other good films she’s in please do let me know*

Pitch Perfect 2: 8 STARS

*Just quickly before we begin contemplating the Pitch Perfect film franchise allow me to take a moment to talk about Game of Thrones (CN rape). Some of you may not watch Game of Thrones, please feel free to skip ahead. For those of you who did see this week’s episode I am sure that you, like I, considered making RAPE IS NOT A PLOT POINT tshirts and tracking down the show’s writers and jamming those tshirts over their stupid tiny heads. I just wanted to say that if you went further than considering it and are actually going to do it please contact me because I’d like to be part of your plan. That is all*

(SPOILERS because hey I went to the cinema again, truly living the life of luxury in my retirement, and so this film is brand new. It is also a sequel and I am going to talk about the first Pitch Perfect film here too, partly because it’s a cracking film which deserves more recognition, and partly because it is very very very similar to the second film. And I mean that in the best way possible. Going to the cinema to see Pitch Perfect 2, you basically want to see Pitch Perfect again right? But with different songs, a Snoop Lion cameo and more Rebel Wilson right? If so that is what you get. Nothing horrible happens in this film so there will be no content notes, huzzah)

Gail: “I think we have just seen some a capella history being made”

John: “And from an all-female group Gail I never could have called this one”

Gail: “Well John you have always been a misogynist at heart”

John: “Absolutely”

So some would describe this film as a chick-flick. My feelings about the phrase chick flick mirror those of Sarah Michelle Geller in that episode of Sex and the City she’s in when she suggests that whoever made up the phrase chick flick should have his balls cut off, just because something rhymes does not mean it should be said. But I digress. Chick flicks are films for women, about women. This does not make them silly and trivial and beneath the notice of everyone who is serious, it makes them important. And silly. You can be both. Personally I like a film were men play supporting roles to the women in their lives who are busy discovering their passions and taking over the world using their smashing vocal cords. So let’s begin.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

– STAR: Developed female relationships

(Stars for everybody! These women are a team who are most successful in the surprisingly competitive world of a capella singing when they work together and listen to one another. Is this cheesey? Yes. But after a lifetime of being taught that women are each other’s worst enemies and groups of women create toxic environments where psychological torture reigns supreme some cheese is rather refreshing. Part of the magic of Pitch Perfect one is that Beca realises that she’s not too cool to need or want female friends, or to be interested in girl stuff. That everything women do that men aren’t interested in isn’t automatically lame)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(This film definitely does play with stereotypes, and often plays with them for such a long time that they pretty much become true. The uberbitch from Das Sound Machine the super scary German a capella group is pretty much just an uberbitch. However I do like how much they run with Beca being really attracted to her. She doesn’t hate her, or ridicule her, or mock her when she wins, she just shouts YOUR SWEAT SMELLS OF CINNAMON at her because she’s just too damn hot to properly trash talk. The fact that most insulting things you could say to a rival woman would be misogynistic and/or untrue is a good thing to remember. So yeah you could pigeon hole pretty much everyone in the cast of Pitch Perfect and it’s not like character development is really what they’re going for here but every stereotype comes with an eye roll, or knowing wink, or at least an attempt to reclaim the label. Fat Amy is so known “so twig bitches like you don’t say it behind my back” and, although there are a lot of fat jokes, Fat Amy does not give a shit. She knows she’s fat, doesn’t make her less confident, or less sexy, or less happy (I know, cheesey again, what can I say close harmony singing melts my cynical dry old heart))

STAR: No excessive air of misogyny

–  No rigid adherence to gender norms

(So this is a film about pretty ladies who like to sing and dance. Let’s not get carried away with how groundbreaking it is. And this is a misogynistic world. The Bellas are suspended because a costume mishap caused Fat Amy to accidentally reveal her vagina to the world, and, more specifically, to the Obamas. The group then receive hate mail for months. Why having a vagina which was revealed to the public against her will should mean that Fat Amy deserves hate mail is a question which sadly many women whose lives have been thrust into the public eye have had to deal with. As can be seen from many of John and Gail’s (the competition presenters) conversations this, like all other industries, is one suffering from institutional misogyny (John at one disappointing moment in the Bella’s career says “That’s what happens when you let women go to college” We can only join Gail in asking incredulously “IS IT?!) However, Gail, Fat Amy and all of these lovely women attempt to fight against the barriers that are placed before them, and, let’s face it, admitting that women have vaginas even when they are not actually having sex is, weirdly, a step forward in the media’s presentation of women’s bodies)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

– No objectification of the female body

(Obviously we don’t see Fat Amy’s exposure and both skin baring and sex are kept pretty much to a minimum, bar Fat Amy and Bumper’s passionate embrace (the fact that their romantic subplot is by far the largest is excellent in every way, two people who are just really into one another, not just who are both conventionally hot and happen to be near one another, how refreshing) You can’t make a film about nubile young women shaking it on stage without getting into some objectification nonsense. And Das Sound Machine’s costumes really leave little to the imagination. All of these women are definitely hot enough to be cheerleaders by anyone’s standards and the suggestion that they represent some kind of group of misfits who would be shocking at first sight to the viewer is a bit like that trope Jesse mentions in the first film where a mysterious quiet girl takes off her glasses and you realise she was beautiful all along. No one was surprised when Sandra Bullock looked good in a bikini. No one was shocked that Anne Hathaway was a princess and no one thought the Bellas were anything other than regulation hotties. But, as Fat Amy says, they all have fat hearts)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– STAR: No threat of male violence against women

(Love a film with no violence against women. That’s basically all that one can say)

So 8 stars and 6 Bonus Points. 1 for female director Elizabeth Banks, who also plays Gail in the film. She’s comedy gold and I love her. 1 for female writer Kay Cannon who was a writer on 30 Rock and so deserves respect. 1 for LGBT+ women in the form of Cynthia Rose. I’m kinda uncomfortable about all the gay jokes Fat Amy makes at Cynthia Rose’s expense, maybe it’s a joke about how Australians are all bigots? Anyway Cynthia just rolls her eyes and deals with it, although that still doesn’t leave me feeling great. 1 for BME women, again everyone’s kinda stereotyped, the geeky near silent Asian girl, the butch Black girl, the Latina who has Seen Horrible Things in her Horrible Country. I would say that race wasn’t one of the things the film deals with well, but these women are there, they have voices and that counts for something. 1 for Fat Amy because being fat and starring in a film is rad and Rebel Wilson owns every step of it. And 1 for explicit discussion of feminist issues. For many moments ranging across both films eg when Beca walks in on the pillow fight and is like “you realise this has set women back 20 years”. Anyways the important thing to keep in mind is that the Pitch Perfect franchise is made for women, about women by women and that is a rare and beautiful thing. Also women’s ambitions in it have nothing to do with men and their friendship and creativity and humour is championed. Also Key of Key and Peele is in it and he is producing Snoop Lion’s new Christmas album because he ‘sleeps on a bed of grammys’. It’s a fun film people.

*A note on a capella singing. If you really like it you should listen to The Voca People. Because they’re really really good – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N6EYrqIn0yI*

The Tale of The Princess Kaguya: 7 STARS

*Having just retired for the first time (Something I plan to do at least 5 times) I now have ample time for watching wonderful films. However, even if you have not retired (and I think you should consider retiring because it’s so fun) you should make time in your day for this one because it is a feminist masterpiece of outstanding beauty and there can be no higher praise than that. Before we begin gazing in wonder at its however a brief note on last week’s post.You should probably all read this article about the role of Dr Helen Cho in the Avengers because it says many interesting things about the importance of representation that I am woefully unequipped to articulate. Also it’s from the Toast so it is of course written with grace and wit – http://the-toast.net/2015/05/11/helen-cho-age-of-ultron-representation/*

(SPOILERS. So originally I thought that this was a really old film because of the charming sketchy animation and the fact that it isn’t directed by Hayao Miyazaki, golden boy of Studio Ghibli that he is, but in fact it came out in 2013 so the spoiler warning is relevant. CN Misogyny and threat of sexual assault/rape. This film is about misogyny and if you’re just in the mood for some rollicking Japanese fun then I strongly recommend My Neighbour Totoro. However this dark subject matter is handled with such charm and grace that one feels that perfect combination of belief in the possibility of fighting against oppression and recognition that the struggle will never truly be over and will always be fierce (Did I mention that I love this film?))

“A princess does not show her teeth when she smiles” – Lady Sagami

I have always found Studio Ghibli films to be a happy place for women to adventure and fight and grow and be real people and this was no exception. However The Tale of Princess Kaguya is essentially a sad one, mainly, it seems, because it is set in the real world where Princesses do not get to ride into war on the backs of giant wolves but where they must move as little as possible and gratefully acquiesce to being fought over by strangers. To see a little girl crushed by the world is a terrible thing but, as I’ve already said, the belief that she gives you that that same world is worth fighting for makes watching this film a beautiful experience, rather than an experience that makes you want to go and find the nearest person constraining the behaviour of a woman and ram their head up a chimney. Well maybe that too.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

– STAR: Developed female relationships

(So the second star here is probably the most debatable. No doubt Princess Kaguya and her mum speak to one another, about gardening and life and going to the moon but only briefly and I guess that some would argue that their relationship is not developed. I can see where this imaginary challenger to my star allocation is going with this. One of the most terrible things about this film is that ‘The Bamboo Cutter’s Wife’ (not a great start) stands silently by while her husband pushes the Princess into a life she clearly despises. You can tell that the BCW thinks that her daughter should be allowed more freedom and she does defend her right to the various creative tasks she chooses to escape into, and accompanies her on her trip to see the cherry blossoms. But she doesn’t stand up and say This Is Wrong and some would say that that crucial omission limits the development of their relationship. However what I would say to these imaginary challengers (who seem to have grown in number) is that the BCW is also a woman, a woman who, we can presume, has been under different but comparable pressures to those the princess faces and that for her to defy her husband after he has abandoned his business and built a palace all for love of their daughter would be to defy a lifetime of both her own oppression and the patriarchal values of the society in which she lives. It is terrible that all the support this mother can give her daughter is an enthusiasm for her interests and an occasional embrace but it does not make her an evil person and it does not make their relationship any less complex.)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(Despite all my banging on about the BCW really the Princess stands alone here although her mother, Lady Sagami, and her maid, do mark this as a film where women shape each other’s lives in ways unrelated to men. Despite being a magical being grown from a bamboo stalk the Princess or Little Bamboo as she should perhaps more properly be known is never portrayed as an example of the ‘feminine mystique’ which allows so many films to entirely avoid exploring their female characters because they’re so damn mysterious. She is a lovely baby, a lovely adventurous and naive child and a lovely young woman. Where a lesser film would make the tasks she sets her suitors into a fun game where her cleverness is paraded Isao Takahata makes it very clear that this is an act born of desperation with dire consequences (the death of one of the suitors) which causes the Princess unbearable grief, even though it frees her from his suit. In much the same way the handsome suitor who gives her a flower and professes his love, only to shriek in horror as he sees what he thinks is the Princess but is in fact her fat little maid, is not the victim of a clever ploy where having an ugly wife is a hilarious punishment. The Princess wants him to pass that test of character because she wants to believe in his love, and his failure devastates her, while her maid, who seems unoffended by others’ perception of her attractiveness, berates the stupid young man for his shallowness – How many mountain flowers have you plucked only to abandon them to shave their heads and hide in a nunnery? – romantic gallantry is shown here as hollow and terrifying. This is not a Princess who can be saved by a Prince)

No excessive air of misogyny

–  No rigid adherence to gender norms

(Here the star system seems a little limited. For the film is not in itself misogynistic, rather it is about misogyny, the constraint of female experience, the commodification of women, in short about the patriarchy. But these stars are supposed to function as a guide to viewers about what to expect in terms of the representation of women in a film. They are not a recommendation nor a warning away they are merely designed to be informative. Also it cannot be said that misogyny doesn’t threaten even this lovely film. Are we not meant to condemn the silent mother and the sinister Lady Sagami for their complicity in a system which hurts the princess, however trapped in it they may themselves be? Is not the simple ugly fat maid a figure of comedy even if she seems entirely unabashed and impervious to other’s perception of her? And is not our heroine’s love interest a man who is ready to leave his wife and baby for the chance to be with a princess? (The answer to all of these rather pretentiously put rhetorical questions is, in my opinion, yes, in case that wasn’t obvious) The world of this film is a dark place and you cannot make a film about such a dark place without getting a little murky yourself)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

STAR: No objectification of the female body

(Partly the beauty of children’s films rearing its beautiful head again, but also partly an enjoyment of the female body in motion, as a tool for play and exploring a landscape and indeed breast feeding. Little Bamboo’s body is entirely concealed when she becomes the Princess. Having  proudly waved her bottom in the air as a baby she is now just a vehicle for her beautiful gowns. We are shown that objectification and enjoyment of the body are entirely antithetical, a lesson I for one always enjoy being reminded of)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No threat of male violence against women

(There is a scene where the Emperor embraces the Princess, clearly against her will and attempts to abduct her. The fact that this causes the Princess to temporarily vanish may seem like an easy escape, an insertion of a fantasy element to take the issue away from sexual violence. Perhaps that is true but it must also be said that this attempted rape is discussed as such, and is presented as a violation which threatens the Princess’s very humanity. No one could glory in this or secretly enjoy it, it is simply horrible, as it should be)

So 7 stars, and 5 Bonus Points. 1 for a female co-writer, Riko Sakaguchi, 1 for BME women, which in this case is everyone. Obviously from a Japanese perspective this film in no way tries to explore problems faced by women in an ethnic minority, but from the perspective of a Western film watcher it does provide that role. 1 for working class women, although I do think the danger of idolising working class life and suggesting that the life of a rich woman is worse than that of a poor one which is never really going to be true is the greatest danger this great film faces (if Sutemaru gets beaten in the street for stealing what might happen to his female companions who share his lifestyle?) 1 for older women, in this case the BCW and 1 for explicit discussion of feminist issues because, in my opinion, this is a film about feminism even if its creators wouldn’t necessarily call it that. Bravo Studio Ghibli is all that can really be said. if you want a magical experience that also makes you want to smash the patriarchy then this is the film for you.

*A note on Japanese culture. Clearly too vast a subject for a note to be sufficient but basically that’s my point. I think the worst trap someone could fall into when talking about this film is to say ‘Look at how terrible the Princess’s life is, classic misogynistic Japan thank god we live in the free thinking West where everything is fine and all the little girls are treated so nicely.’ While some of the specific practices in this film are specifically Japanese no one is exempt from the maltreatment of women (like Cirsei says in Game of Thrones: “Everywhere in the world they hurt little girls”) And let us not forget that this is a Japanese film, so little Japanese girls get to watch this, while we are left with Frozen. No high horses for us when it comes to children’s films*

Avengers: Age of Ultron: 5 STARS

*So it’s been a while, dear internet folk, but I have returned. I’ve been stressed out with work/in Japan since last we spoke but I’m back and I just went to see the new Avengers film so let us forget the time we’ve spent apart and enjoy this, our reunion. Let’s also try and forget that Birdman won the best film Oscar, even after my review, I know it’s been as difficult for me to accept as it was for you*

(SPOILERS. I mean I’m not going to go crazy but there will probably be some plot talk, if this offends you read through your fingers or be ready to shut your eyes really fast. TW/CN (which seems to be what people are doing these days, I mean I go to Japan for 2 weeks and the internet etiquette changes) enforced sterilisation)

“I am always picking up after you boys” – Natasha

So, not an obvious choice for me to review really. From a feminist perspective this is pretty middle of the road, nothing horrible, nothing great. It does however show us both how easy it is to get some stars/treat the ladies in your films right whilst highlighting the many pitfalls that lie in the road to this modest goal. In case I get carried away with my deep and childish love for this film later let’s start with two fundamental facts. On the one hand there is only one female avenger, and she, in a very Lara Croft vein, seems to have no need for female companionship so Boys Boys Boys would not be an inappropriate subtitle. On the other hand no women are tortured or sexually threatened, there is definitely more male than female flesh on show and the ‘damsel in distress’-ness is kept to a minimum, though not eradicated. This, as Ultron, or indeed Jesus would say, is the rock on which I shall build my church.

The Bechdel Test

– Developed female relationships

(There is one arguable conversation between Natasha and Laura Barton aka Mrs Hawkeye. It consists of 1 line for each woman and is definitely less than 30 seconds. I would love to count this as a conversation because it involves Natasha calling an unborn baby a traitor for being a boy but sadly it is too short to be considered as such. Other than that Scarlett stands alone. There is of course the improbably named Wanda aka the Scarlet Witch, Dr Helen and Maria Hill aka that lady who seems to actually run the Avengers and the massive – and now SHIELD is gone slightly inexplicable – team who back them up/do their recon/come to their wrap parties. None of them speak to each other. They all speak, form relationships, casual or otherwise, but none of them interact. Herein lies pitfall number one. It is not enough to have some lady scientists and business women and super assassins (although it is a damn good start) You’ve got to value them for more than their ability to flirt with and support and be saved by your male characters, all of whom interact with one another in meaningful ways. However I have high hopes for the next film on this front because some Scarlett/Scarlet interaction could well be on the cards (you were warned there would be spoilers and I made that as cryptic as possible so I want to hear no complaints from you anonymous internet reader))

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(So the ladies mentioned above give us some breadth of female experience. This is not a film about women (see above Boys Boys Boys comment) but Natasha holds her own, has an adequately explored (if horrifying) backstory and is given rather a lot more depth and screen time than her love interest. Also she does some cool shit with a motorbike, which, while not being character development per se definitely still goes in the category of GOOD. It is my opinion that the scene where Natasha reveals that assassins at her academy were sterilised on graduation was handled well. It could have been jarring and horrible and instead it was humanising. Her pain was taken seriously and yet she wasn’t somehow transformed into a scarred and ruined ex-woman. True she refers to herself as a monster and in retrospect that doesn’t seem great but would this be a more feminist scene if she was just unfazed by it, if she hadn’t internalised any of the rhetoric about femininity depending on fertility? That is a genuine question I will leave to you guys to decide for yourselves)

STAR: No excessive air of misogyny

– No rigid adherence to gender norms

(So despite having a lady super hero we cannot say that gender norms are not adhered to. For one she gets kidnapped and locked in a cage. Why does Ultron do this? (ok why does Ultron do a lot of the things he does, he does not have his shit together to be honest) It basically serves no narrative purpose, apart from some throw back DID shit (that’s damsel in distress for those of you who haven’t just watched Hercules) To redeem this she does kiss Banner and then push him into an abyss to bring out the Hulk. I like a damsel who pushes her rescuer into an abyss in order to make him as bad ass as she already is. If this was just about Natasha we might then say that gender norms were defied, however Dr Helen also has an at-risk/’thank you kind captain for bending over my broken body’ moment and the Scarlet Witch is both picked up by her brother a lot and heavily patronised by our good friend the shittest Avenger, bowboy. Just because the lady’s young you don’t get to imply that because you pushed her out of the way of an explosion one time you have been babysitting her and she is a massive burden who should probably sit out the rest of the fight if she doesn’t man up quick. She can literally control your thoughts man maybe you better watch yourself if you don’t want the realisation that the Avengers really really don’t need you brought home to you very hard thus shattering your tiny birdy mind)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

– No objectification of the female body

(I once read a review of the first Avengers film. It was written by someone who seemed to think the idea of superheroes was unutterably childish. What they thought they would get out of watching a film about a team of superheroes was unclear. Anyway they, incredibly unfairly in my opinion, wrote ‘Scarlett Johansson seems to be starring as ‘boobs”. Now at this point I could go into a whole thing about how women with large breasts are continually described as being more sexual than women with small breasts, as though breast size reflects a woman’s sexual availability or sex drive or basically anything apart from how big a bra she needs, but I think we know what this reviewer was trying to say. However not only does Natasha now have a back story and some emotional depth she also wears costumes that, while tight and made mainly of leather are no more revealing than those of her co-stars. Don’t get me wrong this is not a sensible gender neutral look but Age of Ultron has dispensed with the lingering shots of her body and the ‘cocktail dress strapped to a chair’ look she used to rock. We see Chris Evans in far more revealing clothes than Ms Johansson which moves us to a place where the Avengers glories in the beautiful bodies of all of its cast members regardless of gender which, in terms of short term goals, seems like a pro)

STAR: No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No threat of male violence against women

(There is violence. Scarlett Witch gets whacked in the head and visibly hurt by, guess who, yes it’s no one’s favourite super hero the bird eyed man. Dr Helen also takes a sizeable wallop and Natasha gets in plenty fights. However this is not sexual violence, it is not torture and there are fierce fighting ladies in this, so basically the violence is as mitigated as it’s going to get)

5 stars and 3 Bonus points. 1 for Dr Helen and her Korean heritage 1 for women in the abstract masculine role of ‘fighter’ and 1 for discussion of feminist issues. Maria Hill gets drunk at the Avengers work party and basically says ‘where my ladies at?’ and then implies that bragging about your girlfriends’ achievements is testosterone driven nonsense. To this I say bravo. Although if my girlfriend was going to win a Nobel prize I would brag about it too. And having girlfriends who are too busy to show up to the apocalypse because they’re such high fliers is a nice change of pace to the standard, our wives and girlfriends are staying home cooking tea while we save the world thing. I imagine that was a thing in super hero teams of an older generation. I don’t want to conclude with any kind of definite stance either way on this one. I think you’d be well within your rights to take a cynical SNL (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_5KgpN38hM) take on Marvel where you bemoan the fact that there is no Black Widow movie and that Whedon felt the need to develop her plot by adding a love story. You may also think that the Avengers is no time or place to discuss forced sterilisation and that if they’re going to have a character called the Scarlet Witch they’d better not make her a teary eyed and near silent exotic lady of the east. You would be right to raise these issues and I would fight right beside you but if considered as a stand alone film the Avengers:Age of Ultron does not, in my opinion do the central bad things that Hollywood cinema is so often guilty of. It is perhaps not much to brag about but an absence of sexist jokes, an acceptance of women as highly skilled professionals, a certain levelling of the playing field when it comes to sexualisation of heroes’ bodies and not a single scene that made me wince is a definite step forward. This film is obviously of a lower quality than such highly praised films for grownups as Birdman in many ways but despite its lack of sophistication it really does, by and large, treat its women far better. There is nothing radical going on here but there is nothing horrible either. This is the base point, the inoffensive ground zero which we should never stoop below and which we should hope to raise above. I hope that Hollywood considers it as such.

*A note on Joss Whedon. I don’t think Joss has distinguished himself in either of his popular guises here. He does not appear as First Feminist Ever, creator of Buffy and all that is good and pure, nor does he appear as Enemy of All Free Thinking Women Everywhere, creator of Buffy and objectifier of everything he sees. Probably this is closer to the truth of what Joss is ‘really’ like, clever enough not to be too awful but too aware of his own cleverness to escape awfulness altogether. The point about Joss is that deciding whether he’s a feminist or not is an endless task and you’d probably be better off just watching Buffy and glorying in her wonder, You should also watch Firefly because although it’s not about a teenage girl who beats up vampires it is still cracking*

I leave you with this link to the best article you will ever read about the Avengers. All hail the Toast ad infinitum – http://the-toast.net/2015/02/09/avengers-pretty-busy-right-now/

Birdman: 2 STARS

*A special post to celebrate me actually going to the cinema. This film is not 20 years old! Let us celebrate! If you were thinking this film would be about superheroes I must warn you it isn’t. I kinda thought it would be but it seems it is about actors. In my opinion an actor is not as good as a superhero but sadly Inarritu did not ask me*

(SPOILERS. There could be spoilers. Because I can’t be bothered to write without them. But even if you haven’t seen it I think you should still read because I’m not in the business of giving away twists or dealing out shocking revelations. My spoilers are much more of a ‘then Michael Keaton is a dick’ variety. TW for trivialised rape attempt. I guess that’s kind of a spoiler but a necessary and vague one)

“Does she speak?” – Mike

“She does. Yeah, she can sit, stay, and roll over if you have any treats.” – Sam

I did not care for this film. I didn’t hate it. I didn’t think it was horrible. But I also didn’t think it was good, which is, it seems, what everyone is pretending that it is. As my friend who accompanied me wisely said, it was pretentious in many directions. It seemed both cynical and naive and it also seemed to have confused realism with constant references to twitter. It was modern Hollywood navel gazing and it was not nearly clever enough to get away with being so lacking in joy. The only good bits actually had Birdman in them. But that is just one woman’s opinion. What matters for our purposes is that the women in this film, the female characters, are both treated terribly and are themselves little more than stereotypes for Michael Keaton to blame his emotionally stunted self on. In this woman’s opinion.

The Bechdel Test

– Developed Female Relationships

(This film has many women in it but they do not converse. The main female characters are The Ex-Wife, The New Girlfriend and The Estranged Daughter. What my father rather wonderfully referred to as the unholy trinity of Hollywood cinema. And that they are time and again; the perfect props for any male ego, however gigantic. The wife you loved but who you are a bit too wild for. The girlfriend who will never live up to her and the daughter who hates you for neglecting her but now your trying really hard/you say one nice thing to her, so you deserve to be forgiven. There is one moment when Naomi Watts’ and Andrea Riseborough’s characters have a long conversation but it is entirely about their massively shit boyfriends and includes the terrible exchange which is meant to get a big laugh and sadly did in Ipswich Film Theatre: Naomi: “I wish I had more self respect” Andrea: “Darling you’re an actress”. Ha ha actresses have no self respect but actors are wonderful bastions of truth and bravery. Was anyone else strongly reminded of that bit in Notting Hill where those guys are discussing how actresses are basically prostitutes? Because I was)

STAR: Non-stereotyped Female Characters

Developed, Prominent Female Characters

(Just. fucking. barely. I mean the unholy trinity are hardly very developed but they are on screen a lot and they are sort of based on what real women are like. As can be seen above Sam, Emma Stone, does at least object to being referred to as a dog. Of course she later hooks up with Mike so her objection is not too fervent. Emma Stone is really the person who stops this film getting the second star. She is a caricature of middle aged men’s fears about what the youth of today are like. An ex junkie whose most daring antics are still very truth or dare based and who accuses her dad of not being a real person because he doesn’t have facebook. Like that reference isn’t going to date this film horribly in 10 years. This woman is a 13 year old rebel, and she robs this film of stars, although you have to admire the steely glint in her eyes at all times, I do love Emma Stone)

No Excessive Air of Misogyny

– No Rigid Adherence to Gender Norms

(Yeah pretty excessive. I mean if women are actresses they have no self respect, and if they aren’t they’re civilians who are cut out of the brave and noble duty of telling the truth. Oh and of course if they’re critics, and if they dare to be over 40 and not constantly smiling they are a bitch with ‘a face like she licked a tramp’s arse’, a charming phrase which is rather lovingly repeated on several occasions during this film)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

No Objectification of the Female Body

(A surprising star for a blockbuster of this calibre to get, but the men are actually more naked than the women believe it or not. However the dreaded Mike, Edward Norton, although he does show us all his lovely bum does also comment on Emma Stone’s bum the moment he meets her. As a disciple of the truth it seems we are supposed to respect this in him. We, meaning I, do not)

No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No Threat of Male Violence Against Women

(“He tried to fuck me in front of the entire audience”. Another example of Mike’s commitment to the truth. What a character. What an attempted rapist. Also, Mr Keaton himself is not exactly the loveable egoist he’s painted as. When asked why they broke up his ex wife said that he threw a kitchen knife at her. That’s not cool Michael. That’s domestic abuse. So once again horrible crimes sneak in under the guise of moral ambiguity. When Michael grabs the critic’s notes and verbally assaults her she says ‘I’m going to call the police’. This is a world where women are frightened and where we are supposed to crow over their fear. Well if I haven’t quite lived up to her mission of writing the worst review anyone has ever written and destroying this film I have made an effort at least to deflate the hype. Even if I am but a lowly bitch critic who is daring nothing, while these great artistic men are so thoroughly out on their daring limb)

2 Stars and 2 Bonus points. 1 for LGBT+ women because Naomi and Andrea kiss after their long chat about their boyfriends. Is this kind of behaviour which is clearly meant to be an “experimental” way for damaged women to revenge themselves on their boyfriends worthy of a bonus point? Well yes basically but the above caveats do apply. Also one for women in power. For the critic does hold the power to break his play and in this film the play’s very much the thing. I suppose that’s the problem really, that the play is more important than the people and that this hierarchy is applauded to the detriment of all of the characters but most particularly and unpleasantly to the detriment of the female characters. In one woman’s opinion. Fly away Emma, and leave your awful father behind.

*I did not care for Birdman but I am perfectly happy to recommend Inarritu’s previous film Biutiful. For beautiful is what it is, harrowing and perhaps similarly occupied with middle aged masculinity but in a sensitive and interesting way which helps demonstrate that that occupation is not of itself bad. It is when the women in a man’s life are sacrificed to his personal development that I take issue to his self exploration. So watch Biutiful and enjoy superheroes because they are not the opposite of art*

Desperately Seeking Susan: 4 STARS

*No hatred of Madonna will be tolerated here. I just want to make that very clear from the get go. There will be no comments of the ‘mutton dressed as lamb’, witches who steals babies, bland misogynistic denunciation of women as sexual beings variety. This is not a Channel 4 comedy panel show. Here Madonna is the butt of no man’s joke. Here she is Susan*

(SPOILERS. as ever. The plot is so crazy I probably won’t spoil it because I can never fully work out what happens but trust me the plot is not the point, the ladies are the point. TW because despite its brilliance the misogyny is rife. The ladies are fabulous but the gents are a disaster. So there are definite moments of danger and Roberta (played by the lovely, better-than-Russell-Crowe, Rosanna Arquette (see my last post for full details)) is attacked by a creepy guy several times, once in a dark alley where the threat of rape is pretty palpable. So, not a walk in the park. But glorious, in spite of the horror)

“Between you and me, how much do you really know about Roberta?” – Susan

This film doesn’t get a lot of stars because there’s a lot of misogyny in it. In my opinion the film is deeply critical of this misogyny, we are not looking at a Gone Girl scenario here. However, pointing out that Madonna is being objectified by an idiot doesn’t mean we are not also objectifying her. Playing the stalker/potential predator guy as a definite (and, as ever, conspicuously European) villain does not mean that we do not at least partially glamourise and trivialise violence against women. So this film is an interesting case because we do need films that tell it like it is and not ones that imply that the patriarchy is some kind of really horrible shared hallucination and the real world is full of peaches and cream. However these films will always have problems, will always be partially complicit in the system which they reject and yet ultimately remain within. Who’d have thought Desperately Seeking Susan would raise such interesting questions hey? More than just a Madonna soundtrack and some really great fucking clothes it seems. (Speaking of which somewhere there is a person who will have bought a homemade version of That Jacket from a charity shop in Cambridge/South London. My friend made that jacket after I recommended this film to her so I take credit for it. Wherever you are, fair stranger, enjoy it)

So Desperately Seeking Susan, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

– STAR: Developed Female Relationships

(The premise of this film implies that is was sneakily going to make a film about women without having them talk to one another, as so many have done before. However the creators of Desperately Seeking Susan were not about to let the fact that our heroines only meet in the last scene stop them from creating female relationships. Firstly there is Roberta’s friend Leslie, who is her husband’s sister. Refreshingly Leslie is not painted as one of the Demon Women who are so often the chief representatives of the dreaded in-laws, rather she defends Roberta, berates her brother and in general seems like a good, if waspy, friend our heroine. Another refreshing change of pace is that Susan also has a friend, because just because you sleep with a lot of guys (and even that is conjecture, we only have 2 for sure) does not mean that you don’t like women and don’t value female companionship. Susan’s friend Crystal, like Leslie, is an excellent if minor character who quits her job as a magician’s assistant after being told she cannot wear her glasses on stage. And then she goes to the cinema with Susan. Like friends do. Roberta and Susan also have an important relationship, in that Roberta is, to all intents and purposes in love with Susan (as ever the prospect of a lesbian relationship is dangled before us with all that talk of Roberta being a lesbian prostitute, before being snatched away) But Roberta and Susan still help each other out, and their victorious picture in the paper really does encapsulate the spirit of this film)

STAR: Non-stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, Prominent Female Characters

(I think these pretty much go without saying. Roberta and Susan both reveal that the Madonna/Whore (ha ha ha punny) categories are way too simplistic to properly represent any woman, even one as seemingly pigeon holed as Roberta. I also like how both of them remain pretty mysterious, how we don’t really know what’s going on with Susan and how no one, as Susan points out, really knows Roberta. So yes, wonderful women and their lovely friends)

No Excessive Air of Misogyny

– No Rigid Adherence to Gender Norms

(Sadly the stars stop here. Roberta’s husband is cheating on her, neglects her, sends her on errands, doesn’t care when she is kidnapped and warns her not to eat all the cake. IE he is a misogynist. Roberta is persistently pursued by a man who attacks her in dark alleyways and when she is found by the police, having just been assaulted, she is arrested for being a prostitute, all because she is wearing a tutu. IE the world is misogynistic. I also do not care for Dez’s attitude to kissing crying women or blaming women for the attacks society makes on them. Just because you’re hot Dez doesn’t mean you can get away with that shit. In another world, with another star system, Desperately Seeking Susan would probably get the bonus star here and not the main one. Roberta basically comes of age in this story, runs away from home, has sex, gets a new job, defeats a villain with the help of her new pal the accidental jewel thief. That could be a man’s story, in that it is a proper actual story where the hero actually does something rather than has things done to her (although she does suffer from amnesia for a large part of the film, which does limit her agency somewhat). Regardless you can’t get points for subverting gender norms when all of the men in the film act like the standard dickhead representatives of patriarchal values that we know and love. The ladies can’t do it all on their own)

No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

No Objectification of the Female Body

(Much Madonna. Much Rosanna. Many prostitutes and scantily clad hostesses in sleazy bars)

No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No Threat of Male Violence Against Women

(So there aren’t any rape scenes, or grievous injuries. So I was a bit on the fence about this one. But you can only have so many women hit over the head so hard they lose their memory before the violence against women becomes gratuitous. And the scary man with the very blonde hair, he puts a gun to Madonna’s head while she’s about to have sex. I mean I don’t think you can sexualise threats much more than that without using very non PG language. So no stars here)

4 Stars, and 6 bonus points. 2 should have been obvious. Of course the director and the writer were female. I mean I only learned that this second on IMDb but I am not surprised at. all. Then one for BME women because the woman also arrested for prostitution who asks Roberta ‘what do you do with the birds?’ (good question) is black. I am very forcibly reminded of the Sarah SIlverman line which goes something like, ‘What I learned from the show today was that old black women are wise and young black women are prostitutes’ but the points do not judge the calibre of the representation, they merely register that it happens. Another one for working class women, because Crystal has a job and money problems and Susan hasn’t got $60 to buy boots. 1 for disabled women because Crystal does declare herself to be legally blind (she may be exaggerating but there are different levels of blindness) and she does lose her job for this very reason, and 2 for explicit discussion of feminist issues. Specifically because Crystal says that she would have understood her employer’s complaint if she’d been wearing her glasses on her tits because that’s where everyone would be looking, but generally because a suburban housewife being smothered and finding value and wonder in the life of a wayward sexual adventuress like Susan is an important feminist tale. In conclusion I have never not danced after I watched this film, it rocks my world, I hope it will rock yours too

*A note on related films – Having discovered that this film has those holy grails of feminist film making, a female writer and a female director (Leora Barish and Susan Seidelman respectively) I fully intend to look into their other work. If you care to join me in this endeavour I think the most enticing titles are She-Devil and Venus Rising. I have seen neither. I hope to rectify that shortly. Oh, and to those who read my last post, I’ve now read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and, while I think it suffers from many of the problems of male American sci-fi of the 50s and 60s, it both presents a far more ambitiously alien world than Blade Runner and is, really and truly, about sheep. Not rape or being a lone ranger cowboy hitman hero. The real Decker’s main desire is to own a sheep. So essentially that would have been hilarious and wonderful and I do not believe Philip K DIck would have cared for the film one bit.*

SOME MADONNA FOR EVERYONE – try and ignore the initial coupling up sequence and focus on the song/the newspaper bit with all the glorious female victory https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AyAOLk9D-ao

Blade Runner: 2 STARS

*Happy New Year! My New Year’s message to you can be summed up in 3 words: Fuck Russell Crowe. It is not often a film/feminism article trends on facebook so I feel it’s worth mentioning. For those who haven’t seen it Russell chooses to share his so called opinions on older actresses complaining of being offered fewer and poorer quality roles in Hollywood. According to Russell this paucity of roles for older women is an illusion. Women, such as Rosanna Arquette who has complained of this phenomenon, believe there are no roles because they are so demanding, they want to play ‘ingenues’ (ingenues are young women I think, it’s hard to tell) and if they would only accept the many rich roles open to older women maybe they would be more laid back and cool and successful (like Russell himself). Well to that one can say little more than Fuck You Russell. To enjoy such massive privilege, to be offered so many massive roles (I mean he was just Noah ffs) and then to suggest that Rosanna Arquette, who is twice the actor he will ever be, does not get those roles because she’s a fussy bitch who wants to play a 20 year old. Just look at Meryl Streep, Crowe cunningly argues. Well Russell, I think Tina Fey and Amy Poehler said it best when they were hosting the Golden Globes “And here’s Meryl Streep who stands as living testimony to the fact that there are great roles in Hollywood for Meryl Streeps over 50.” Once again: Fuck Russell Crowe*

(SPOILERS. The spoilers for this film will be two fold. Firstly I will discuss the plot. Secondly I will probably spoil this film for you if you like it, or if you haven’t seen it. Because I basically think it is massively over hyped. Some of it is really great. The replicants are really great. But Harrison Ford is like a charm black hole and the misogyny is palpable. And there are trigger warnings required, BIG TW. There is rape in this film. Some would deny this. Indeed in ‘Dangerous Days: The Making of Bladerunner, which I am watching right this second, while typing which is hard, everyone refers to this as a ‘love scene’. Which disgusts me. Also there is lots of violence towards women, abuse and coercion. As a side note, Happy happy days)

“I think Sebastian, therefore I am” – Pris

So. 2 stars. A terrible score. And I seriously dabbled with the idea of giving it 1. I don’t think you can really contest any of the missing 8. There are women in this film. They are all replicants (fancy robots for those not in the know) and the idea of robot women is already difficult. One is described as “A standard pleasure model”. So to some extent they are sex toys. With thoughts and feelings and emotions. Very difficult. On the other hand, this could be cool, as Joanna Cassidy says, she is as strong as a man, as intelligent as a man, a superwoman, an amazon, cut from the same cloth as Lady Croft perhaps. Except that is not the impression one is left with. Lots of nudity. Heavy sexualisation. Daryl Hannah does some cracking acting which is sort of belittled as merely a robot prostitute’s lies to get where she wants. She, and Joanna Cassidy’s characters are also brutally murdered. Unnecessarily brutally I think. But worse than all of this is that awful Gone Girl-esque championing of ‘darkness’, or ‘moral ambiguity’ which, instead of encouraging complexity, and allowing one to subvert the expected, merely goes on to prop up those most boring of misogynistic norms and, ultimately, allows ‘our hero’ to be a rapist and be applauded for it. Which is one of the worst things ever. So onwards and downwards

The Bechdel Test

– Developed Female Relationships

(The women don’t speak to each other. Ever. They are isolated so that Harrison Ford can encounter and abuse them one by one. Perhaps that’s a loaded way of putting it but this is neither the time nor place for measured impartiality. Also that is what happens. Zhora and Pris are never seen together, rather the replicants, who seem to adhere to human patriarchal structures for no given reason, pair off nicely into heterosexual couples. And are led by a man. The idea of Rachael maybe being a lesbian is dangled before us when she is asked the question ‘what would you do if you saw a picture of two naked women’ but quickly it is clear that, as Harrison’s questions go on to say, he is not checking if she is a lesbian, he is checking what she would do if her imaginary husband found this attractive. Even the suggestion of female/female relations is made entirely about the male gaze. We are not getting off to a good start)

STAR: Non-stereotyped Female Characters

– STAR: Developed, Prominent Female Characters

(Ok here lie the only stars. As I have said already I was hesitant about giving the second one. But why should the female characters, and the actresses who played them be punished for the evils of others. Daryl Hannah is fantastic, and Sean Young is haunting because her strength is so utterly destroyed. But these characters are interesting despite – not because of –  the many challenges both the plot and the mechanics of the film present them with)

No Excessive Air of Misogyny

– No Rigid Adherence to Gender Norms

(Such an excessive air of misogyny. So excessive. The weird thing is that there are efforts in the other direction. Harrison comes into Zhora’s dressing room, supposedly to check it for spy holes and to question her about whether she had been exploited in her role as a snake dancer at the club (cool job, that’s really her snake as well, the actress’s, so cool). He is fighting misogyny in the work place, or so it would seem. Actually he has broken into her room because he wants to kill her (and so we, and he, can look at her naked body, obviously). The ‘standard pleasure model’ that is Daryl Hannah is basically used as a sexual distraction for Sebastian by her lover and, well, a standard pleasure model, by the camera man. Oh and Harrison Ford coerces/forces a recently traumatised woman into sex. It’s a smorgasbord of misogyny really)

No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

No Objectification of the Female Body

(Lots of breasts. Viewed specifically in the context of invasion of female privacy. And fight scenes which are disturbingly sexualised. Also when one listens to the vast hosts of straight white men involved in the making of this film talk about casting, the ‘physical perfection’ of these actresses seems to be their most important feature. Oh and youth, don’t want someone too ‘worldly’, obviously. Urgh)

No Gratuitous or Trivialising Scenes of Rape or Male Violence Against Women

– No Threat of Male Violence Against Women

(TW Now here’s the rub. Two grisly murders of women by old Harry. And then the rape scene. Which is so obviously a rape scene. She’s crying. She tries to leave. He stops her. He pushes her up against the wall. And then ever so chillingly says “Say ‘Kiss Me'”. What kind of a fucked up way to rob someone who has just found out that they are a robot (with all its connotations of a lack of agency) of all of their agency. She says that she can’t rely on her memories (ie NO HARRISON FUCK OFF) and then he repeats ‘Say “Kiss Me”‘ while continuing to physically restrain her. This is rape. Later he draws the sheet off her face and I genuinely thought he might have killed her. What the fuck kind of ‘love scene’ is this? The robots love each other more than Harrison loves her, maybe that’s the point, maybe she and Harrison are robots too (she definitely is, maybe he is too, woooo little paper horse, woooo it’s as annoying a possibility as the end of Inception). This is not a morally ambiguous hero. This is a rapist)

So terrible basically. 2 stars. And 2 bonus points, also pretty pathetic. 1 for the many Asian ladies who bunny about the street, and 1 for women in traditionally masculine roles. Because being a super human robot with massive strength is typically masculine, although it doesn’t serve any of our super human ladies very well in their battles with the shit normal human Harrison. Dustin Hoffman was the first choice for this film. What a wondrous thing it could have been with him instead. Maybe. Or maybe it would have just ruined Dustin Hoffman for me too. I think it is very beautiful, I love science fiction, and I think Rutger Hauer gives a performance that could blow your socks off. Memories which disappear like tears in the rain, that line was his idea, such good stuff. The women are also great, though tragically ill treated, but Harrison is terrible, in every sense. I am left only with Rutger’s question to Harrison: “I thought you were supposed to be good. Aren’t you the good man?”

*A note on the book (one day I will review a film which is not based on anything) Philip K Dick’s ‘Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep’ – such a good title –  Basically I haven’t read it yet but I think I will and when I do I will update. If anyone has read it then let me know and I will share your views which I’m sure are brilliant*