Family

‘The Girl Down Loch Änzi’ and Our Slippery Relationship with Ghosts

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‘The Girl Down Loch Änzi,’ which had its North American premiere at the 2017 Hot Docs film festival, is a ghost story. Laura lives on a Swiss farm that borders the fabled Änziloch – a deep ravine that, legend has it, is home to the ghost of a woman cast out from the village several centuries before, and either left to die or imprisoned below. …An unusually stylish documentary, with beautifully-composed shots and scenes that play out with a feature film’s attention to blocking…

From Racist Stereotype to Fully Whitewashed: Tiger Lily Since 1904

Tiger Lily in Peter Pan

Whatever the other problems might be with this film (and they are many), my focus for this review is the character Tiger Lily, who was originally conceived as a racist stereotype by J.M. Barrie and who has had her Native identity completely erased in this latest iteration. Is this progress? I think not.

Sisters in ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ and the Slow March Toward Equality

Downton Abbey and Fiddler on the Roof

The narratives surrounding the television series ‘Downton Abbey’ and the musical film ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ are about change and more specifically, how the daughters within both families represent the small, but important contributions that these characters make to modern feminist narratives. … In both ‘Downton Abbey’ and ‘Fiddler on the Roof,’ each trio of sisters takes a step in determining her own fate.

‘Little Women’: Learning to Love All of the March Sisters

Little Women

However, the clearest, most poignant development that comes through growing with the films is how ultimately, the love story between Jo and Bhaer and the unrequited love story between Jo and Teddy mean little juxtaposed to the love shared between the four sisters. They are one another’s hearts and souls, evident as Jo writes her novel at the end of the film.

Second Mom Syndrome: Sisterhood in ‘My Neighbor Totoro’

My Neighbor Totoro

The film shows how Satsuki struggles with this dual role of acting as the most present parent while still being only a child herself. … While Satsuki fulfills the role of mom to Mei, it’s her status as sister and child that ends up saving the day. … ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ is one of Miyazaki’s best odes to sisterhood, portraying both the struggles but also the benefits of having a sibling at your side.

How Feminist Is ‘Beauty and the Beast’?

Beauty and the Beast

Belle saves the Beast – not just physically by breaking the spell, but emotionally and psychologically by changing his behavior and smoothing his sharp edges. … Both of them begin as loners and societal misfits, but they end as the perfect fit in each other’s lives. However, this nice, mushy message comes at a cost: Belle’s agency as a character. …When we are introduced to Belle she has no more growing left to do in this film other than learn to be less judgmental and find a suitable husband.

“You Have No Power Over Me”: Female Agency and Empowerment in ‘Labyrinth’

Labyrinth

So what distinguishes ‘Labyrinth’ from the Hero’s Journey tropes it so closely follows? Its protagonist. Sarah is the hero of the story. She doesn’t need to be saved because she’s the rescuer, and she carries the plot forward with her resourcefulness, tenacity, and self-actualization. …She navigates a tricky tightrope between fantasy and reality, dreams and goals, past and future, and discovers the kind of woman she wants to be.

‘Dogtooth’: The Blindfold of Socialization

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By introducing the audience to a tight-knit family with a very peculiar upbringing, the film allows a glimpse into socialization, explores gender politics, and shows how art can lead to individualism.

‘The Boxtrolls’: Better Than Its “Man in a Dress” Jokes

The Boxtrolls

In a nice contrast to many children’s films and books, the character at the start who goes against the mob is a girl, Lord Portley-Rind’s daughter, Winnie (voiced by Elle Fanning in a mid-Atlantic accent passing as British). Although Winnie, in her pink ruffled dress and blonde ringlets might look like other storybook heroines, her fits over never being believed or taken seriously by adults and her morbid fascination with the boxtrolls make her more like Daria than Alice in Wonderland. When she asks another character if boxtrolls ate his parents, she adds, “Did they let you, I mean, make you, watch?”

On ‘Annie,’ Lady ‘Ghostbusters,’ and “Ruined” Childhoods

'Annie' (2014)  movie poster

And the matter of representation here is so important. Little Black girls deserve to see themselves on screen, to try to be like Annie the way I tried to be like Punky Brewster when I was a kid. They deserve to see this kind of Cinderella story, where the benefactor is a successful Black businessman (Jamie Foxx as cell phone-mogul and mayoral candidate Will Stacks, the less-creepily named equivalent to Daddy Warbucks). Black parents deserve to take their kids to movies that will show families like theirs. And people of all ages and all races need to see Black actors star in movies like this so the gross privileged reaction of “but the star isn’t white OH NOES!” goes away.

Binge Watch This: ‘Dance Academy’

The central female characters of 'Dance Academy'

‘Dance Academy’ is a teen soap opera set at a ballet school. So basically, it’s ‘Degrassi’ meets ‘Center Stage.’ That should be enough to have you diving for your remote right now.

Family, Friendship, and Getting By: The Two Mrs. Harts of ‘Reba’

It took Reba several seasons to warm up to BJ's manic energy.

Like many of us, I’m a child of divorce, and I saw firsthand the lasting effects of infidelity and separation. For years, I’ve turned on ‘Reba’ because I find it comforting; everything from the stills of the cluttered kitchen to Reba’s adorable southern twang make me feel very tranquil as I clean or type on my laptop. I detect similarities to my own experiences, such as living in close proximity to a parent’s ex or a father who seems to abandon his former life for a newer, shinier one. ‘Reba’ normalizes these experiences and reminds viewers that every family has its issues.