Review: Frankie and Alice

Frankie and Alice was panned by the critics, often for reasons that had nothing to do with the film itself. One critic panned it because it was finished in 2010 but not released until 2014. <sarcasm>Well, that sure seems like a good reason to hate a film to me. </sarcasm>

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: Frankie and Alice”

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Gloria Steinem on “Chick Flicks”

Gloria Steinem blogs about books at Open Roads Media. The blog is called “Reading our way to the Revolution.” The once monthly column looks at a timeless and timely book.  Her latest review is about The Group, a 1963 novel by Mary McCarthy.  The Group is the latest review of a book that helped start the feminist revolution.

The Group book cover

I read The Group back in 1963. If you haven’t read it, I recommend you do. It’s a great read. This story of 8 women who graduated from Vassar in 1933 lead directly to the more current Sex and the City. And it was a bestseller, destroying the myth that chick lit would never make it. The Group was made into a movie, dubbed a chick flick.

I love what Gloria Steinem has to say about chick flicks and want to quote it:

In truth, anything that has more dialogue than deaths, more emphasis on how we live than how we die, may be called a “chick flick.” Hollywood’s preference for movies full of high-tech chases and gun battles rests mainly on the fact that they can be exported without language problems. Yet dollar for dollar spent on production, so-called “chick flicks” are equally or more profitable than those “prick flicks” seen multiple times by teenage boys.

I am so sick and tired of prick flicks. All that killing, all that shooting, all that violence. And for what? How does it help anything, fix anything, cure anything, change anything?

It’s the stories about people, about real life, that change the world. Stories that reach into our hearts and make us think. Stories create change. Think about The Color Purple or Glee or Transparent or My Left Foot or The L Word or Selma or a hundred other stories that impacted our culture in a positive way. We need more stories that help us understand each other, see each other, accept each other, learn from each other.

Long live the chick flick! Thank you to every filmmaker, every writer, every director, every actor who tells a story that would qualify as a chick flick.

Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris

Hello, My Name is Doris screened at SXSW to very good reviews and won a SXSW Film Festival Audience Award. I haven’t seen any news about it being picked up for distribution, but I want to mention the film just in case. I’ll keep an eye out on streaming services as well as for potential theater distribution. Continue reading “Sally Field in Hello, My Name is Doris”

HBO Discovers Women: Will I Have to Subscribe?

HBO is coming out with a new app for Apple TV, iPad and iPhone called HBO Now that subscribes to all the HBO content for $15 a month. I may have to consider using it, because HBO has suddenly discovered women.

Elizabeth Banks

Upcoming on that network is a Billie Jean King film called Battle of the Sexes, about tennis star Billie Jean King. King will be played by Elizabeth Banks. Paul Giamatti will play Bobby Riggs. There’s a lot more to the story of that tennis match than just a tennis match. I hope the film will include all that background and history.

Marisa Tomei

There’s a film called Ms. about the founding of Ms. Magazine and Gloria Steinem. Steinem will be played by Marisa Tomei. Ms. Magazine was an important and powerful inspiration in my life. Gloria Steinem is a woman I admire tremendously. I’m always telling people we need a national holiday named for Gloria Steinem. How could I miss a film about her?

Kerry Washington

Confirmation is about Anita Hill’s role in the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Hill will be played by Kerry Washington. The thing I recall about Anita Hill at those hearings is how calm and collected she was. She was surrounded by an ocean of pompous asses and she remained steadfast and calm in telling her story.

Ever Carradine

HBO is planning a series on the Salem witch trials called The Devil You Know. It features a lot of men, but quite a few women, too. Co-writer on the project is Jenji Kohan. I’m sold right there. Among several featured female characters will be Ever Carradine as the wife of a character played by Eddie Izzard.

The biggest thing on HBO, Games of Thrones, has never interested me for even one second. Same with Boardwalk Empire. I’d watch Treme if it’s still possible to watch it, maybe True Blood.

But movies about women, now that’s catching my eye. HBO, you’re getting hard to resist.

My Life Coach Plan for Alyson Hannigan and Casting Directors Everywhere

Alyson Hannigan tends to take parts in shows that turn out to be wildly popular and last for years. For that reason we usually see her as a sweetheart of a character for long stretches of time.

Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer 1997
Alyson Hannigan in Buffy the Vampire Slayer from 1997

The result is that when we think of Alyson Hannigan we think of the nerdy and loyal best friend in Buffy the Vampire Slayer or the funny, mild-mannered wife on How I Met Your Mother. A 7 year run and a 9 year run. Long runs as one character.

Alyson Hannigan, Josh Radnor, and  Cobie Smulders in How I Met Your Mother from 2012
Cobie Smulders, Alyson Hannigan, and Josh Radnor in How I Met Your Mother from 2012

Her long-running gigs make us forget something: Alyson Hannigan can do a whole lot more than we think she can as an actress. She’s had these two iconic parts in two iconic long-term shows that prevent her from showing different stuff. I believe she’s got different stuff to show.

Dark Willow in Buffy the Vampire Slayer was awesome. Alyson Hannigan nailed Dark Willow. Scary and very sexy. Alyson played flamboyant and over the top in Veronica Mars, even though her part was small there. I’m giving you those two cases as examples of different stuff.

Dan Aykroyd, Jon Lovitz, and Alyson Hannigan in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988
Jon Lovitz, Alyson Hannigan and Dan Aykroyd in My Stepmother is an Alien from 1988

She’s been in about a billion things since her first listing from 1985 on IMDB – movies, TV series, animated shows. Obviously, she can act. My point is, you probably don’t think of her as one of those talented actresses who can do everything well.

I think you should.

As the unappointed and unwanted life coach for Alyson Hannigan, I have some post How I Met Your Mother suggestions. I hope she’ll spend some time doing a few guest spots on wildly different shows – a lone survivor on The Walking Dead and some evil archetype on Once Upon a Time and a quirky visiting doctor on Grey’s Anatomy and a murderous Soviet spy on The Americans. Mix it up. Remind everyone that she’s got the different stuff.

Then she can go find another steady job that will last 7 or 8 years.

Casting directors everywhere should be reading this and taking it to heart. Hello? Casting directors?

Brain Dump: Supergirl, Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Blacklist

It’s a brain dump day. Short thoughts on big topics.

Supergirl’s Costume

Just released photos of Supergirl’s costume show a muted color palette. But the costume is not over-sexualized. I love that. It looks like Supergirl, but a serious super hero, not a sex object.

Melissa Benoist in the Supergirl costume.
Melissa Benoist in the Supergirl costume.

I was hoping for brighter colors and mentioned that on Twitter. Heard back with this:

Fingers crossed that Willie is right!

The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

Maggie Smith and Judi Dench
Maggie Smith and Judi Dench

I went to The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel on the first Saturday it was open. The theater was crammed for the 4PM matinee with a crowd of mostly older people.

The film was charming and very funny. There were many laugh-out-loud moments. The cast was fabulous – every one. The performances from Maggie Smith and Judi Dench were particularly interesting. There was an intimate feel to them. Maggie Smith showed a side I’ve never seen from her before. There was the trademarked acerbic wit but she went beyond that into something quietly profound at the end of the film.

Go see it.

The Blacklist

The famous James Spader neck tilt.
The famous James Spader neck tilt.

Is it just for The Blacklist Red Reddington character, or has James Spader always tilted his head toward his shoulders to deliver his lines? Maybe I’m just noticing it because he gets so many close-ups on the series. Or maybe his neck is failing him and he can’t hold his head up straight. It isn’t always the left side like in the photo. It’s the right side, too.

I don’t remember him doing the head tilt on Boston Legal or The Practice. It’s driving me to consider buying him a neck brace. Does it distract anyone else but me?

Maggie Smith & Judi Dench photo credit: AP. Supergirl image: CBS. Scandal image: ABC.

 

Review: 1000 Times Good Night

1000 Times Good Night stars Juliette Binoche as a war photographer. Check the background information and trailers. It’s a slow, introspective film interspersed with scenes of violent horror.

Spoilers ahead. Continue reading “Review: 1000 Times Good Night”

Jennifer Lawrence will Star in a Steven Spielberg Film

Just when I think I want to stop following Steven Spielberg on Twitter because he’s something of a jerk, he goes and decides to make a biopic about war photographer Lynsey Addario called  It’s What I Do.

Jennifer Lawrence signed on to star as Addario. The film will be based on Addario’s new memoir It’s What I Do: A Photographer’s Life of Love and War.

Lynsey Addario and the cover of her book
Lynsey Addario and the cover of her book

Addario is 41. It isn’t often that a film gets made about the life of someone so young. Jennifer Lawrence is 24, so I’m presuming that the story will be about the early part of Addario’s career as a war photographer.

For a quick education on why Addario is famous as a photographer, visit her web site at lynseyaddario.com and look at the photos there.

This is the first time Spielberg has directed a movie starring a woman since 1985’s The Color Purple, which starred Whoopi Goldberg. 1985. Do the math. That’s 30 years. Truth in reporting, Spielberg has produced women centric stories such as The United States of Tara since 1985.

Surely there’s some deep message to be unearthed from the fact that one of the most famous directors on the planet only undertakes a film about a woman once every 30 years.

Maybe it’s capitalism in action. Jennifer Lawrence is huge now. She’s part of the reason films starring women bring in a better return on investment than films about men. Go, Jennifer! You’re helping to change the world. May the rate of pay for female stars be ever in your favor.

Yes, a hot young 24 year old can get a lead part in a movie by Steven Spielberg. However, I don’t see Hollywood beating a path to the homes of the over 40 women in Tinseltown offering them big parts. I love what Jennifer Lawrence is accomplishing for female-led films – but all is not forgiven, Hollywood. You still need to do better.

There’s no word yet on any other casting choices or when the film will be underway or completed.

The Hunting Ground

A scene from the film "The Hunting Ground"
A scene from the film “The Hunting Ground”

Director Kirby Dick and producer Amy Ziering did it before with their film on rape in the military. Their Oscar-nominated film The Invisible War helped spark congressional action. Now they are bringing the issue of campus rape to the forefront with The Hunting Ground.

Two young activists featured in the documentary, Annie Clark and Andrea Pino, are both survivors of campus sexual assault. Instead of being quiet and not mentioning what happened to them, they decided to speak up and take action. They were both students at the University of North Caroline, but the problem is rampant on many college campuses. The film looks at why schools don’t prosecute or even pursue the vast majority of reported cases and how the women who report such crimes are treated by their universities.

An interview by The Wrap with Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering gives some background.

The Hunting Ground. received standing ovations at Sundance. The film recently opened in New York and Los Angeles, and will soon appear in Boston, Berkeley and Washington, D.C.

The film website has information on where to see the film and how you can take action. You can even host your own screening. Information on how to do that is on the website.

With enough media attention, colleges can be forced to make changes to protect women.

Watch the Trailer

Watch This: Trailer for Welcome to Me

I think winning $86 million in the lottery would make everyone go a little crazy, but in Welcome to Me, the main character is already crazy. Welcome to Me stars Kristen Wiig as a woman with Borderline Personality Disorder. She spends her winnings on buying herself a TV show which is about her and stars her. Oh, yeah, and she goes off her meds.

The cast in this indie production is simply outstanding: Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bently, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Tudyk, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Thomas Mann, Loretta Divine and more.

There is also a long list of producers, among them is Will Ferrell. The film boasts a female director:  Shira Piven.

When you think about it, what Wiig’s character does in this show is a little like starting a blog where all you want to do is share your opinions on things. Like, say, this blog. (Except I don’t have any money, and Kristen Wiig, James Marsden, Linda Cardellini, Wes Bently, Jennifer Jason Leigh, Alan Tudyk, Tim Robbins, Joan Cusack, Thomas Mann, and Loretta Divine don’t want to come and play with me.)

The film will get a wide release on May 8, 2015, with limited openings on May 1. It looks good and you don’t have to win the lottery to afford it. Go see it.

Image Credit: Kristen Wiig TIFF 2014” by GabboTWelcome to Me 46. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons.