Tag Archives: anna kendrick

Happy Christmas: 10 STARS

*My feminist film news for you today is that of Rose McGowan getting fired by her agent for sharing a casting note she got for the new Adam Sandler movie where she was advised to wear a tight fitting top, showing cleavage “push up bras encouraged”. Really this story speaks for itself. Everyone hates Adam Sandler. Everyone hates people getting fired for pointing out sexism in the workplace. Everyone hates the unrelenting sexualisation of women in Hollywood. (Ok actually lots of people like all of those things but lets face it those people don’t read this blog so let’s pretend they don’t exist). Sadly while I want to howl a battlecry out across the wilds of the internet giving Ms McGowan my full support there has since been another story where she said gay men were more misogynistic than straight men. Clearly exposure to Adam Sandler’s evil has caused Ms McGowan to turn to the dark side where one forgets basic truths such as NO ONE is more misogynistic than straight men. So sadly my battlecry cannot be one which fully supports Ms McGowan in all of her endeavours, but it can still be full of hatred for Adam Sandler so let us not lose hope. Here’s the link for the full story http://uk.businessinsider.com/rose-mcgowan-fired-for-calling-out-sexist-adam-sandler-movie-role-2015-6?r=US&IR=T*

(SPOILERS. It is a new film. Not so many people have watched it and I am going to make a real big effort not to give too much away but it’s not that big on plot so don’t fear I will not be divulging any terrible twists. CN for NOTHING. That’s right, you heard me, not a single content note required. That’s how you get 10 stars baby, by filling your film with amazing women and male allies and not a strip club in sight. However it should be noted that I discuss sexual assault, there is none in the film but there is in my discussion)

“I think the concept of ‘having it all’ is really dangerous. It just means I have to do everything” – Kelly

Ok I’m going to get my adoring rant out of the way quickly and then we can move on. I’ve watched this film 3 times in 3 months. I try and get everyone I talk about films to to see it. Because this is a great film, the actors give great performances, the dialogue (mainly based on improvisation) is top top notch and it tells a really subtle lovely story about two women and their relationship. I mean this is the story which continually goes untold. This is why the Bechdel test is even a thing, it’s because female/female relationships are consistently undervalued and reduced to either bitchy standoffs or cloying blandness. This is now one of my favourite films and honestly I have never felt a film spoke directly to me as a young woman more, outside of the work of Eric Rohmer who is my number one fave guy and you should all watch his work. Also there is the best baby I have ever scene on screen in this film. Honestly you should watch it for the baby alone he’s phenomenal.

STAR: The Bechdel Test

STAR: Developed female relationships

(Is it going to get boring just saying STARS STARS STARS FOR ALL 5 times? No, because celebrating female excellence is not boring it is necessary. And rare. So this is really the central success of this film. Anna Kendrick and Melanie Lynskey play Jenny and Kelly so so well. I mean the stay at home mum and the young feminist are always somehow pitted against one another as if they are in competition and the beautiful thing about this film is that it shows just how bullshit that is. These women are united, not by some unquestioning biological tie of womanhood but because they like each other and are interested in each other and refuse to pigeonhole each other. Also the importance of Lena Dunham’s character Carson as a kind of instigator in their relationship, as well as her entirely separate and different relationship with Jenny demonstrates the complexity of female relationships. No one model of friendship is ever going to sum up all relationships between women because women are complicated and amazing and my god I love this film)

STAR: Non- stereotyped Female Characters

STAR: Developed, prominent female characters

(In part this has already been covered but it is completely true that the differences as well as the similarities between these women are so interestingly explored. Carson and Jenny, for example, have a discussion about their different feelings about maternity where Carson definitely wants to have children at some point and Jenny isn’t sure she ever will. These two women are both young feminists but neither of their views are more or less feminist just as there is space within the wide spectrum of feminism for Kelly’s position as wife, mother AND writer. The fact that it is hard to maintain all of these roles, as Kelly says having it all just involves her doing everything, shows that this is not some feminist utopia where all women love each other and are able to do anything they want and are free from all constraint BUT they are all equally considered as people and their differing desires and paths are viewed with equal importance and respect)

STAR: No Excessive Air of Misogyny

STAR: No rigid adherence to gender norms

(As we know this is the hard star to get. Given the importance placed on female friendship and the fact that the men in this film are an amazing baby, a loving father, husband and brother who is mainly seen in relation to the women in his life (what a change) and a nice young babysitter who Jenny kisses sometimes we can safely say there is no excessive air of misogyny. There is a scene where Jenny and this young man are making out, then she’s like ok let’s stop, I’m going home now and he’s like ok cool see you soon. That is a scene I want to show to every teenager in the world. Because he doesn’t whine, or wheedle or try and get her to stay or guilt her about turning him on and not having sex with him, he’s just cool and acts like a normal human. And then later, on another day, they have sex. So everyone’s a winner. (Not to say that you shouldn’t coerce people into sex because that will result in more sex for you in the long run OBVIOUSLY you shouldn’t do it because it is terrible and evil) Interestingly there is a scene later on where Jenny attempts to pressure him into coming home with her and the fact that that ends with her crying and massively freaking out again shows that that is fucked up behaviour and not something a happy healthy person should be doing. So top points regarding consent. I also think it’s important that Jenny doesn’t really have a job, not that I love unemployment (jokes I totally do jobs are for suckers) but she doesn’t have the typical “girl job” nor an ill fitting “boy job” she is just allowed to be herself)

STAR: No Excessive Female Exposure or Sexualisation

STAR: No objectification of the female body

(So there is some sex in this film, but no female nudity, we see our nice young man’s naked back and that’s it. That is so great. The idea that the sex scenes would be about development of character and exploration of relationships not just objectifying the actors and turning the audience on. That’s great. Also Anna Kendrick’s body seems very real, like she has to get dressed, and wear tights and wrap up warm and then take off some clothes and be carried around when she’s black out drunk. She is a person who takes up space and partly that’s just the naturalism of the film but what that naturalism adds up to is treating the characters like real people which in the context of feminism is really really important. I mean partly what Anna’s bodily-ness shows us is her vulnerability, the fact that her brother can just pick her up and carry her when her female friend could not, the fact that when she drinks she does really get drunk and that has physical consequences on her and the people around her but that really just shows again that this isn’t a utopian film and that part of naturalism is letting in the good with the bad. Basically there isn’t any objectification and that’s great)

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

STAR: No threat of male violence against women

(Ok so one could argue that as there is a passed out drunk woman at a party and later a woman alone in the apartment of a near stranger with said near stranger lying on top of her (in a kissy way) that there is threat of male violence. However one can argue many things but one is not always right. Such an argument plays into the notion that a woman, just because she is not able to physically overpower a male assailant, is a victim waiting to happen, a kind of moving target for sexual assault. Such a person would have to concede that Jenny’s brother, when he comes down to her bedroom, is equally capable of assaulting her. The fact that she is in her own home, with a relative who she trusts sadly is not a guarantee that she is safe because the same rule applies: She is not as strong as Him. However there is no such threat in this scene, at the party, or at the house of the young man Jenny kisses. Because being a woman does not actually mean you are constantly in the way of harm and you should always be on your guard to defend your body. Being in the presence of rapists is the only factor which effects the likelihood that you will be raped. Thus this film helps to move away from our victim blaming culture. There are no rapists in this film thus there is no threat of rape, despite the amount of “vulnerable” situations Jenny “puts herself in” she is never in danger. A final, and glorious huzzah)

So there you have it. 10 stars. And 1 Bonus Point. For explicit discussion of feminist issues, which really goes on throughout the film because all of these women’s discussions could be said to be feminist because they are women and so all aspects of their lives are effected by feminist issues, from having babies, working, boyfriends, what they write, what they read, where they live. There’s a question whether the film should get a female writer credit because the actresses improvised all their dialogue but Joe Swanberg is still considered the creator and this is very much his baby. The one drawback of this film is that it doesn’t get any other bonus points. The cast is very small so that is one reason for the lack of diversity in the film but really that is a poor excuse. There is no mention of BME, disabled, older or LGBT+ women. Not everyone can be represented in every film but the fact that almost every film is about cis straight white middle class women should not be overlooked. That being said this is really a failure of the industry as a whole rather than this one film in particular although it does say something important about the lack of intersectionality in mainstream white feminism.To reiterate, however, I love this film and overall I think it is phenomenal.

*A note on Joe Swanberg. I also really liked Drinking Buddies. For me it’s a more ambiguous and difficult portrayal of relationships, and is much more focussed on romantic, straight relationships but it is very interesting and 100% worth a watch. I am currently working my way through the rest of Swanberg’s films which is a very enjoyable project. What a babe. Here’s an interview he did with Collider – http://collider.com/joe-swanberg-happy-christmas-interview/ – and here’s my favourite part of that:

culturally, it’s a lot harder for women, especially right now.  There’s an expectation now that, in some ways, being a stay-at-home mom is a disappointment, and you’re not being an independent feminist and fulfilling your potential.  But then, at the same time, if you’re a working mom, you’re still expected to be a super-mom at home, buy organic food, put dinner on the table every night, and do all the research into preschools.  It’s really hard.  There’s this expectation of having it all, and there’s a lot of judgement.  Even when there’s not judgement, there’s the perception of judgement or the fear of judgement.  

So, my wife was having a really hard time and we were talking a lot about it, in our relationship, and I felt like I hadn’t seen that in the movies, really.  It wasn’t a conversation I was seeing married couples having on screen.  There’s a magic quality that movies have, in making you feel less alone in the world.  There’s an affirmation that you get, as a person, when you go to a movie and see people talking about the things that you’re talking about.  So, I wanted to put that out there, just so that women that were having those feelings knew that they weren’t alone. 

So thank you Joe for making me feel less alone in the world*

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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*