The film moves through arcs of pity, empathy, and then downright horror. Violence is abrupt and can come from anyone. I was blessed to watch the film with an audience that was one third deaf, and the experience of witnessing visceral scenes with the sounds of hands pounding, slapping, moving around me with frantic finger blurs of American Sign Language made the viewing electric.
Can women be friends? Or, most importantly, can two women who share the same man be friends? The depiction of genuinely loving and caring female friends has found its way onto many movies and TV shows, but when it comes to the idea of a more complex situation—the “frenemies”—it’s harder to find characters that do it justice. There is a shallow notion that when two women want the same man, they turn into hair-pulling, catfighting brats.
Menstrual studies is a discipline very close to my heart. While earning my master’s degree, I temporarily became obsessed with texts like ‘Periods in Pop Culture’ (Lauren Rosewarne, 2012) and ‘Flow’ (Elissa Stein and Susan Kim, 2010) as I composed my thesis. I was blessed with a supportive advisor who made me realize that those who shot me disgusted looks in the past were in fact the weird, misinformed ones. I find it perplexing that so many have capitalized on menstruation, yet many are still terrified of discussing it in any form or on any platform. Menstruation is uniquely female and yet suggestive of violence, sacrifice, and trauma: that’s compelling. The menstrual cycle reminds us all of our own mortality, the devastating truth that our bodies will eventually decompose or burn into ashes, and that’s terrifying for many people. Why has the “fairer sex” been assigned this burden?
A few thoughts about the Czech filmmaker, Věra Chytilová, who died March 12 in Prague. She was 85. Chytilová was one of the key directors of the Czech New Wave and is renowned for her feminist classic, Daisies (1966). Experimental and surrealist, Daisies is an anarchic trip about two girls behaving badly and strangely.
Directed by Margarethe von Trotta, ‘Hannah Arendt’ (2012) is not a comprehensive, A-Z biopic of the political philosopher. The veteran German director focuses, instead, on a remarkable, turbulent period in Arendt’s personal and professional life in the early sixties. Specifically, it chronicles the academic’s reporting of the 1961 trial in Jerusalem of Adolf Eichmann, the man responsible for the mass deportation of Jews to the death camps during the Shoah. The film begins with the capture of Eichmann in Argentina in 1960. The war criminal had settled in South America in 1950 after escaping to Austria at the end of the war. But we are soon transported to New York and introduced to the woman who endeavored to examine the motivations of the man who implemented the “Final Solution.”
‘White Material’ is about Maria Vial, a white Frenchwoman striving, in the face of mounting hostilities, to secure the coffee plantation she manages. French troops are assigned to evacuate their nationals but she refuses to leave the land she considers home. Superbly played by Isabelle Huppert, Maria is a profoundly complex character. Whether hanging on to the back of a bus heaving with humanity, or applying red lipstick as the world around her goes up in flames, her tenacity is shown to be incontestable and remarkable.
Arati is, in fact, a great screen heroine. She is elegant, giving, gritty and spirited. Committed to supporting others, she has a strong personal and public moral code. She cares for both her loved ones and her fellow female co-workers. She buys presents for every member of the family when she gets her first salary and, although he has hurt her, she does not hesitate to praise her failing husband when she is with others. At work, Arati is not frightened of asking her boss for a raise and she learns to bargain with her colleagues for extra commission pay. When Edith’s virtue is slighted at work (the boss believes Anglo-Indians to be inherently promiscuous), she speaks out against the injustice and makes an extraordinarily risky yet heroic move. It is important to note that Arati is not regressively presented as a maternal martyr but as a dynamic, engaged worker and citizen.
As we watch Gloria’s flailing, her triumphs, her mistakes, her fun, we can’t help but be reminded (and I was just by typing all those words) of another single lady on a smaller screen and a familiar part of the feminist zeitgeist: Girls’ Hannah Horvath. Only living in Santiago, Chile, all growed up. I’ve seen a couple of Gloria reviews mention Girls, but almost always in the context of the film’s sex scenes, the sort not traditionally shown, between bodies wider audiences (or producers) aren’t generally begging to see nude. But the character similarities don’t end there. Though they are generations and cultures apart, it continues with their flighty boyfriends, with their finding themselves alone in a dress on a beach without their belongings, with their ability to be irritating and down-to-earth simultaneously, and with their love of dancing.
We learn in The Past that not is all as it seems, and maybe all that is left in the past isn’t really. Academy Award-winning director Asghar Farhadi (2011’s The Seperation) returns with his first movie outside of Iran. Ahmad (Ali Mosaffa) returns from Iran to finalize his divorce with Marie-Anne (Berenice Bejo, 2011’s The Artist) and finds himself awkwardly sleeping at the house of her new boyfriend, which also contains her children.
Older Women Week: The Extraordinary Romance of an Ordinary "Old Girl": Thoughts on ‘Ali: Fear Eats the Soul’
Of course older women have traditionally not been allowed to be sexual beings, and mothers have always been held to a higher sexual standard than fathers. In fact, when a woman of any age does not conform or transgresses sexually she customarily suffers greater social condemnation. What Ali: Fear Eats the Soul makes clear is that the Whore-Madonna complex still reigned supreme in 1970s Germany. When Emmi first tells her daughter and son-in-law that she has fallen in love with a much younger man, they laugh. The thought of an old mother in love and lust is so impossible, so unnatural—horrific, in fact—that laughter is the only fitting response. When she introduces her children to her new husband, one son calls her a whore and another kicks in her television. In the eyes of her deeply conventional, racist children, Emmi is guilty of the most profane double betrayal—racial disloyalty and defilement of the maternal role.
Thérèse film poster. Written by Janyce Denise Glasper The 2012 film Thérèse touches on the aftereffects of burgeoning sexuality between two women–Thérèse and her sister-in-law, Anne–and focuses on a companionship that was formed when they were young girls. “Have you thought about it?” Anne asks. “You mean sleeping with your brother every night?” Thérèse asks back. “Yes? […]
In the House movie poster Written by Amanda Rodiguez Spoiler Alert Francois Ozon’s In the House (or Dans la Maison) is actually quite good. It’s an intelligent film with brilliantly portrayed, complex, interesting characters along with pathos and moments of poignant humor. The film is very aware of social class dynamics, showing the interplay of […]