Max Thornton

Touching Friendship in ‘Marie’s Story’

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‘Marie’s Story’ dramatizes the real-life biography of Marie Heurtin, a deafblind girl who was taken in by a convent in the late nineteenth century. It’s an intimate portrayal of an unusual relationship between two young women.

‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ Is a Feminist and Comedic Triumph

This poster promises to upend How I Met Your Mother's yellow umbrella and its white, heteropatriarchal norms.

White men are background players in the world of ‘Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’ (and, of those who do appear, there’s scarcely a one who isn’t either comically inept or flat-out evil). As the lyrics of the theme song state, “White dudes hold the record for creepy crimes, but females are strong as hell, unbreakable. They alive, dammit!” The show is fundamentally about the collective trauma of growing up female in a woman-hating world.

Athena Film Festival Review: ‘Althea’

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You don’t have to be any kind of sports watcher to be compelled and moved by Althea’s story. It is not (though Althea herself might have wished it to be so) merely a story of athletic excellence, but a tale of race, class, and gender, of how these factors are inextricable in the United States: a story of intersectionality.

Broken Relationships and Broken Systems in ‘Benched’

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It’s quite possible that systemic inequality was never meant to be more than a backdrop, but, regardless of the creators’ intent, the events that took place in the US over the months in which ‘Benched’ aired its first season have brought the inadequacies of our legal system to the fore. In the light of Ferguson, it’s now impossible to watch the show without seeing an indictment of a very broken system.

Life, Death, and Cinema in ‘Benny Loves Killing’

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There are plenty of movies about making a movie, to the point where it’s arguably a little passé, and ‘Benny Loves Killing’ is careful not to ever be heavy-handed or obnoxious in its extra layer, addressing it obliquely – by which I absolutely don’t mean obscure or pretentious, but subtle and thought-provoking. This is one of those films where the more you think about it the better it gets.

Finding Faith and Feminism in ‘The Sisterhood: Becoming Nuns’

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Nuns are often unsung activists, and convents are underexamined as feminist spaces. In medieval Christendom, entering a convent might be the only way for a woman to have control over her body, her choices, and her reproduction; and, as reproductive rights come under increasingly virulent attack in the US, it could be interesting to consider how a convent might still be that space today.

Folk Mariology in ‘Jane the Virgin’

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‘Jane the Virgin’ isn’t about the fetus, and it certainly isn’t about being a passive receptacle. The show’s real coup is its emphasis on the agency of a woman who is a victim of reproductive coercion. Jane is thrown into a reproductive situation which she wouldn’t have chosen, and the show takes her quandary seriously: how does she feel? What does she do next? How does this affect her career plans, her relationships with those around her, her self-conception?

Nudging Up: The Nice Comedy of Adam Hills

Look, how about we just don't talk about how it's possible for people outside the UK to watch this, okay?

Comedy can be potent when it’s a transfiguration of rage at injustice, or of inner demons and self-loathing – but it can also just be nice. Adam Hills is a nice comedian. He’s not punching up or down: he’s not punching at all. At most, he’s nudging up.

Almost Perfect: ‘Attack the Block’

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Basically, the alien invasion is a way to explore the idea that poor kids in rough situations might act in ways that look like senseless yob violence to the outside observer, but internally have their own logic and sometimes even heroism. It’s a hell of a response to a mugging.

High School Hospital: ‘Red Band Society’

Seen here in no way invoking The Breakfast Club.

‘Red Band Society’ presents the high-school dynamic explored in a sick-lit microcosm. It’s largely fluff and nonsense, but it’s quite entertaining nonsense on the whole – not least because Octavia Spencer is a treasure and is marvelous as the superheroic Nurse Jackson.

‘It’s A Girl’: The Importance of the Reproductive Justice Framework

Fun fact: if you google this movie, you find pro-life websites love it. Sigh.

The framework of reproductive justice was conceptualized by Black women to be a much broader, more sophisticated analysis of the various factors beyond individual choice, encompassing race, socioeconomic status, disability, and other intersections of oppression and marginalization. A very clear illustration of the necessity for replacing the choice framework with the reproductive justice framework lies in the issue of sex-selective abortions.

‘Matilda’: Women, Class, and Abuse on Page, Stage, and Screen

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For my birthday this year, my partner took me to see the Broadway musical of ‘Matilda,’ which I loved. The cast recording has been in regular rotation on my iPod ever since, and this week I decided to watch the 1996 film again for comparison.