Black Swan

Controlling Mothers in ‘Carrie,’ ‘Mommie Dearest,’ and ‘Now Voyager’

Carrie 2013

These three “bad moms” fashion themselves the Moirai, the Fates, the three women in control of everything on earth. … These films were just the start of audiences’ obsession with controlling mothers. We continue to see these tropes replayed in a multitude of ways.

The Golden Gogol Awards: Gender, Psychosis and Big, White Rabbits


“You’ve got a lot to learn, Myrtle Mae, and I hope you never learn it.” These words, from 1950’s ‘Harvey,’ apply equally to sex and sanity. Harvey’s young women, Myrtle Mae and Nurse Kelly, are open and assertive about their sexual desires and frustrations. It is the older woman, Veta, who is inhibited. She flinches when a bosom jiggles and squirms when discussing sex. Society’s usual concept of sexual inhibition, as a natural innocence corrupted by experience, is flipped in Harvey: female sexuality is the natural innocence that experience disciplines into inhibition. Myrtle Mae and Nurse Kelly have a lot to learn, and we hope they never learn it.

‘Birdman’ Is ‘Black Swan’ for Boys

Michael Keaton in 'Birdman'

‘Birdman’ bears striking similarities to ‘Black Swan,’ both in the broad strokes—each follow their protagonist’s slipping grip on sanity in the days before a high pressure stage debut—and in a strange number of superficial details—hallucinations of menacing black winged creatures, “surprise” lesbian scenes, and ambiguous suicides at least partially showcased on stage.

Seed & Spark: The Bad Mamas of Contemporary Cinema

Badass mom warrior Patricia Arquette in Boyhood

This is not an article that will chronicle empty mother characters. This is for all the badass mamas out there—the honest mother roles that women have nailed. Hopefully this will present a case for why we need a million more. Here’s to the female characters who have outlived the digital revolution and will continue to. Characters that live with us and remain faulted heroes. And here’s to the women who made them so electric.

Child and Teenage Girl Protagonists: The Roundup

The personification of freedom

Check out all of the posts for Child and Teenage Girl Protagonists Theme Week here.

The Horror of Female Sexual Awakening: ‘Black Swan’

Natalie Portman in Black Swan

What disappointed me most, I think, was that Black Swan could easily have been a progressive film with a positive, young woman-centered journey out of repression at its center. It could have recouped that gender-centric childhood ballerina dream of so many little girls into a message about determination, hard work, personal strength, and emotional growth. Instead, Darren Aronofsy has produced an Oscar-winning horror film. That’s right: I said HORROR. While that might seem like a stretch, it seems clear to me that the horror I refer to is the possibility of changing an age-old story. The horror of Black Swan is the absolutely terrifying idea that a young woman might make it through the difficult process of maturation, develop a healthy, multi-faceted sexuality, and be successful at her chosen career at the same time.

’20 Something’: Youth and the American Dream

20 Something Documentary Poster Written by Amanda Rodriguez The documentary 20 Something is a labor of love for its creator Lanze Spears.With a non-existent budget while sleeping on floors as he filmed, Spears followed and actualized his dream, which is exactly what 20 Something is about. 20 Something trailer. The documentary follows a handful of early […]

Surprise: Rich White Men Dominate the Cinema

I don’t want to see the film Oliver Stone will want to make about Romney Here is my draft of an open tweet I am working on for directors and producers of Hollywood who continue directing and producing movies mostly about rich white men: @WealthyDirectors&Producers I know ppl r told 2 “write what u know” […]

Sunday Recap

Afghan Women Fight to Not Have Their Rights Bargained Away in ‘Peace Unveiled’ in ‘Women, War & Peace’ Series: In the documentary Peace Unveiled, the third installment of Women, War & Peace, written by Abigail E. Disney and directed by Gini Reticker (and WWP series co-creators), we witness 3 tenacious female activists, Parliamentarian Shinkai Karokhail, […]

Guest Writer Wednesday: Darren Aronofsky’s Black Swan: Viewers’ and Critics’ Miss-steps in a Dance with a Female Protagonist

Black Swan (2010) As Mila Kunis’s character descends upon Natalie Portman’s in the (dream) oral sex scene in Black Swan, a college-age young woman in the movie theater audibly whispers, “And this is why every guy in the theater is here.”  Darren Aronofsky’s 2010 Black Swan is a film about repression, perfection, and letting go.  […]

Quote of the Day: Monica Nolan

bitchfest. Edited by Lisa Jervis & Andi Zeisler Motherhood is a theme we’ve visited before (Black Swan comes immediately to mind, as does the mother character in Rachel Getting Married), and anxieties about it abound in film and television. Mothers can’t seem to escape the same virgin/whore dichotomy structure that plagues all depictions of women […]

2011 Spirit Award Winners

The 2011 Film Independent Spirit Awards Ceremony took place on Saturday night–the night before the Academy Awards–and aired on IFC. (Which I didn’t watch, because I don’t get IFC.) In terms of who and which films were nominated, there was a good bit of crossover this year for indie films: four of the five Best […]