Elizabeth Kiy

The Anti-Celebrity Cinema of Mary Harron: ‘I Shot Andy Warhol,’ ‘The Notorious Bettie Page,’ and ‘The Anna Nicole Story’

Valarie just can't fit into Andy Warhol's world

I’ve always thought Mary Harron’s work was the perfect example of why we need female directors. I think the films she produces provide a perspective we would never see in a world unilaterally controlled by male filmmakers. Harron appears to specialize in off-beat character studies of the types of people a male director may not gravitate towards, nor treat with appropriate gravitas. She treats us to humanizing takes on sex workers and sex symbols, angry lesbians and radical feminism and makes them hard to turn away from.

What Your Doctors Really Think About You: Fatphobia on Medical TV

Jessica is an overweight 10 year old, treated cruelly by her doctor

Fat bodies have a curious position in medical drama, reflecting the fatphobia existing within the medical profession. Doctors tend to assume weight always a cause rather than a symptom and overweight patients are either lazy, uneducated or poor. The wealthier we are, the more opportunity we have to strive for thinness. As a class, doctors are incredibly privileged, both highly educated and wealthy, they have the privilege of deciding to be thin that many of their patients do not.

‘Taken 1, 2, and 3’: Modern Masculinity Meets Modern Fatherhood

The Taken films are really about Bryan’s relationship with his daughter

When looked at as a trilogy, the ‘Taken’ films are all about Bryan’s relationship with his daughter as she becomes a woman and he is no longer sure how to relate to her. It’s a common real life situation writ large, and a wholly unexpected through-line for an action franchise.

The Kims Next Door: Korean Identity on ‘Gilmore Girls’

Lane’s true love (and best friend) is music

While Rory struggled with the myriad of concerns afforded to a main character: her love life, her future, her friendships and family, Lane’s biggest conflict was always her overbearing, uber-religious mother and to a lesser degree, her own Korean heritage. Being Korean is never posed as a positive thing for Lane, it is only a marker of difference.

How To Write A Wife: ‘Neighbors’ and ‘A Most Violent Year’

Anna Morales is the woman behind the man

In real life, of course, women are wives and girlfriends and to deny the importance of the relationship many of us share with men, would be inaccurate and farcical. Yet, with a media landscape overwhelmingly dominated by films about men being men made by men for men, wife roles are often dim shadows of real women. But it’s hard to list well-written wife characters in male dominated movies; Jessica Chastain’s character, Anna Morales in ‘A Most Violent Year’ and Rose Byrne as Kelly Radner in ‘Neighbors’ are two successes I’ve come across recently.

‘Marnie’: What We’d Like To Forget About Old Hollywood

Mark dominates Marnie and breaks her down to reveal her weakness

With all the talk of ’50 Shades of Grey’ in the past few weeks, boycotts and debates, and a planned re-release of the superior BDSM-romcom ‘Secretary,’ the film that has really been on my mind is ‘Marnie.’ The 1964 Hitchcock outing is about the capturing (through marriage) and breaking of a young, beautiful and damaged con artist, played by Tippi Hedren, the grandmother of ’50 Shades’ star Dakota Johnson. The cinematography is beautiful, the performances are captivating, but the story? Watching it, I keep expecting someone to jump out and scream that it was all a joke, that we weren’t expected to swallow this. Maybe it’s dated, but I want to believe that the relationship in ‘Marnie’ was recognized as horrific and abusive even then.

The Internal Monologue of ‘Wild’: Lone Woman Walking, Lone Woman Writing

Most of the film follows Cheryl as she walks alone

In a film, as in real life, with no language to defend herself, the lone woman is a suspect. She gets stared at and scowled at and catcalled and often told that she’s making herself vulnerable, or taking unnecessary risks. In short, our culture says she’s asking for what she gets. A woman alone is unloved, uncared for and written off. In ‘Wild,’ the film based on Strayed’s memoir of her months solo hiking the Pacific Crest Trail, she has several uncomfortable and frankly terrifying encounters.

Old Hollywood Legend in a New Skin: An Interview with the Filmmakers of ‘Starry Eyes’

Poster for Starry Eyes

‘Starry Eyes’ is a bloody, brilliant horror spectacle, about a desperate starlet who makes a dark deal for the promise of fame. Creepy, gross and well observed, complete with a complex female character and a crazy good performance from star, Alex Essoe, it is a film you have to see to believe, as long as you’ve got a strong stomach, that is. I spoke with writer-directors, Kevin Kolsch and Dennis Widmyer about their film, their inspirations and the universalities about struggling to make your way in Hollywood.

But Where Does The Road Go?: Journeys of Self Discovery in ‘Electrick Children’ and ‘Blue Car’

Poster for Electrick Children

I suppose its no coincidence that many coming of age films feature runaways. The coming of age plot is, after all, the search for self realized through the search for something external. It doesn’t really matter what the search was originally for: an old home, a long lost father or a missed connection; in the end, it’s the journey, both literal and figurative, that matters.

What Would You Do to be Famous?: Looking at ‘Black Mirror’ and ‘Starry Eyes’

Black Mirror Hot Shot

I’ll just say it, reality TV scares me. It has so much potential to affect the way we live and look at ourselves by showing us how other people live. It can chip away at our idea of strong womanhood by highlighting the successes only of the beautiful, compliant and willing to backstab.

‘White Bird In A Blizzard’: A Storm of Crime, Carnality, and Coming of Age

The poster for White Bird in A Blizzard

For months, Kat idly notes her mother Eve’s increasingly odd behaviour, but is too busy falling in love and losing her virginity to care, until, suddenly, one day, Eve disappears without a trace. Kat assumes she ran away because she didn’t love them, and attempts to go on with her life, but a police investigation slowly begins circling her family. As an audience, we’ve been conditioned to see a movie with thriller or mystery elements in it as a thriller or mystery story. But Gregg Araki’s film, ‘White Bird in a Blizzard,’ is only part mystery, part coming of age story, and part haunted dreamscape, and refuses to be easily categorized as any of the above.

Femme Fatale in a Training Bra: ‘Orphan’s Esther and The Questionable Motives of Lolita Haze

The unnerving poster for Orphan

Movies where young girls are victimized are generally our idea of real world horrors, movies that are too sickening to sit through, but as much as they unsettle us, we expect them. We see these stories in the news every day. What is made truly terrifying and shocking in our culture is the advanced young girl already aware of her powers, and what she can get with them–a girl who knows how to move, how to dress, and how to manipulate.