Is 2018 the Best Year for Movies Featuring Women and Girls?

Posted on June 10, 2018 at 11:45 am

2017 was a good year for women in film, with “Wonder Woman” directed by Patty Jenkins and “Beauty and the Beast” in the top 10 for box office. 2018 looks even better, with “Oceans 8” doing better than its male-led predecessors with a very strong $41 million opening weekend.

Also worth noting:

The Washington Post’s The Lily, which focuses on news stories about and of interest to women, has a very good piece on upcoming movies and television shows with strong female characters. Recommendations on television include “Dietland,” “Claws,” “American Woman,” and the second season of “GLOW.”

And in movies, “The Spy Who Dumped Me,” “Crazy Rich Asians,” “Woman Walks Ahead,” “Whitney,” and “Brain on Fire.”

And Slate’s Lena Wilson says that horror movies have reached “the age of the monster girl.”

This year and the last in particular have seen a number of releases featuring monstrous young women. Cory Finley’s Thoroughbreds and Julia Ducournau’s Raw both found widespread critical success, while features like The Lure, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, Wildling, and Tribeca premiere The Dark feature lesser-known violent ladies. Regardless of Rotten Tomatoes score, each of the protagonists in these movies are girls with uncontrollable bloodlust, whether psychological (the sociopaths of Thoroughbreds and The Blackcoat’s Daughter) or physical (the flesh cravers of Wildling and Raw). None of these movies have overtly political plots, but it’s hard to dismiss the social implications of a spate of girls-bite-back films in the era of Trump.

Related Tags:

 

Gender and Diversity Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Movies From Another Point of View: Twitter Thread

Posted on June 4, 2018 at 8:55 pm

I love this Twitter thread from @profmusgrave

Retell a familiar story from the point of view of the supporting character.

Like: it’s the tragedy of a good husband and father who is killed by his pilot friend’s recklessness in fighter school.

It’s fun to do as an exercise in literary analysis, point of view, and empathy.

My entry:

A loyal domestic servant cares for the orphaned son of a wealthy family even after he grows up and dabbles in cosplay and vigilantism.

Related Tags:

 

Understanding Media and Pop Culture

More on “Solo” — Easter Eggs, Clues, and More

Posted on June 1, 2018 at 10:06 am

Don’t listen to people who say that “Solo: A Star Wars Story” is a disappointment on the screen or at the box office. It may not have set a record in ticket sales, and some critics may have complained that it wasn’t “A New Hope,” but I thought it was terrific. Whether you’ve seen it already or are planning to go, these will help you appreciate it even more.

Gifted cinematographer Bradford Young (“Arrival,” “Selma”) talks to his hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune:

I am always seeing that Chicago of my grandmother’s house, where I spent a lot of my high school years. It’s in all of my movies, in the way I light faces, in the way I photograph. It’s alive to me, always a reference. Her place was heavy on the senses, so sparsely lit, so textural. I guess I saw a vision there, a deep black aesthetic, in the way things were placed, a response to how space was used that felt specific to our DNA. It’s Great Migration-influenced, really. You don’t have a lot, so what you have you display. Plastic on the couch — black people were not the only people who did this, but for us it transcended the practical. We liked it. My grandmother had one of those Venice scenes on her wall, the kind with a light inside that twinkled. It was fine art to her — aspirational.

NOTE: Some audience members have complained that the movie looks too dark. That is because some theaters are not setting their projection correctly. If it does not look right to you, check with the theater manager. Believe me, this is one movie where you want to see everything.

Copyright Disney 2018
A breakout star of “Solo” is never seen. You just hear the voice of Phoebe Waller-Bridge as a very outspoken droid, L3-37. Waller-Bridge had her breakthrough as the creator and star of the hilarious and horrifying “Fleabag,” a series about a wildly dysfunctional young woman. She is also the writer/producer of the acclaimed crime drama, “Killing Eve.” L3-37 is a wise-cracking Sojourner Truth of droids, urging (and implementing) freedom in a manner that would be more inspiring if we all had not seen “Terminator.” Waller-Bridge is a treasure, though, and I can’t wait to see what she does next.

Slate has A Casual Viewer’s Guide to the Most Obscure References in Solo, including the explanation for the appearance of Darth Maul.

Copyright Disney 2018
And of course there are Easter eggs (hidden jokes, references, and clues). Slashfilm has a good list. I love the way a tiny detail from the first film (Episode IV) has become significant over time. And admit I am not enough of an expert to get the Aurra Sing reference without a little help. Thanks, as always, to the fanboys and nerds who deepen our appreciation for these stories.

Related Tags:

 

Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture

“Show Dogs” Edited to Remove Terrible Message About Abuse

Posted on May 24, 2018 at 3:01 pm

“Show Dogs” is a movie about a cop and a talking dog who go undercover at a dog show.  It has a nice message about not jumping to conclusions about others (whether dogs or people) based on prejudice or superficial factors.  But many parents complained about another message as well, unintentional, but disturbing, and the movie is being re-cut and re-issued.

You can get a sense of the problem in the trailer.

I’m sure it was supposed to be funny that the cop dog voiced by Chris “Ludacris” Bridges has to submit to a physical exam when he is undercover as a show dog. But the filmmakers showed very poor judgement at best in making it into an extended “comic” bit, where he is repeatedly told to accept examination of his private parts and “go to his zen place.”  The film’s production company has agreed to remove those scenes and the movie will be returned to theaters without them.

The National Center on Sexual Exploitation said the movie “sends a troubling message that grooms children for sexual abuse…It contains multiple scenes where a dog character must have its private parts inspected, in the course of which the dog is uncomfortable and wants to stop but is told to go to a ‘zen place.’ The dog is rewarded with advancing to the final round of the dog show after passing this barrier. Disturbingly, these are similar tactics child abusers use when grooming children—telling them to pretend they are somewhere else, and that they will get a reward for withstanding their discomfort. Children’s movies must be held to a higher standard, and must teach children bodily autonomy, the ability to say ‘no’ and safety, not confusing messages endorsing unwanted genital touching.”

Clearly, this was the right decision, and we hope it will make studios more sensitive to these issues in the future.

Related Tags:

 

Understanding Media and Pop Culture

Mysteries of Screenwriting Credits: & vs “And”

Posted on May 16, 2018 at 8:41 am

Scott Myers has an excellent guide to understanding the arcane world of screenwriting credits. For example:

Here’s the deal with “&” and “and.”

When you see an ampersand (&), that means the writers worked together on the project and are considered — at least for that project — a writing team. So whatever revenue they generated in the form of compensation, production bonuses, and residuals gets split. If it’s two writers as a team, each gets 50%. If it’s three writers as a team, each gets 33%. In the case of a movie like “The Simpsons Movie,” which has 11 writers with Screenplay By credit, each with an ampersand between them, I have no clue how they divide that pie.

When you see the word “and” between two or more writers, that means the writers worked independently of each other and are not considered part of a team. So for instance if you look at the writing credits for The A-Team, you’ll see this:

Written by Joe Carnahan & Brian Bloom and Skip Woods

That means that Messrs. Carnahan and Bloom are considered a writing team on the project while Woods’ contribution was as a solo writer.

Related Tags:

 

Behind the Scenes Understanding Media and Pop Culture Writers
THE MOVIE MOM® is a registered trademark of Nell Minow. Use of the mark without express consent from Nell Minow constitutes trademark infringement and unfair competition in violation of federal and state laws. All material © Nell Minow 1995-2018, all rights reserved, and no use or republication is permitted without explicit permission. This site hosts Nell Minow’s Movie Mom® archive, with material that originally appeared on Yahoo! Movies, Beliefnet, and other sources. Much of her new material can be found at Rogerebert.com, Huffington Post, and WheretoWatch. Her books include The Movie Mom’s Guide to Family Movies and 101 Must-See Movie Moments, and she can be heard each week on radio stations across the country.

Website Designed by Max LaZebnik