Music

Alienated Women: The Terror in Mica Levi’s Scores for ‘Under the Skin’ and ‘Jackie’

Under the Skin and Jackie

Jackie’s deeply emotional outbursts may stand in stark contrast to the alien’s lack of empathy, but both women share a troubling alienation from the people around them. Mica Levi’s scores make this alienation audible, the grim discomfort of her music allowing the audience to feel, even for 90 minutes, the terror of such a solitude.

Does ‘Pitch Perfect’s Fat Amy Deserve to Be a Fat Positivity Mascot?

Pitch Perfect

It’s great to see a character whose fatness is a part of her identity without being a point of dehumanization, but the films try to make Fat Amy likable at the expense of other characters, positioning her as acceptably quirky, in contrast to the women of color, who are portrayed in a more two-dimensional manner, or Stacie, who is unacceptable due to her promiscuity. Ultimately, the underlying current of stereotype-based humor puts the film’s fat positivity in a dubious light…

If It Were, We’d be Dating: The Tale of Brittany and Bisexuality on ‘Glee’

Glee

Brittany’s sexuality, while never explicitly stated by the character as bisexual, goes unconcealed for the most part because the ‘Glee’ audience is led to believe that she doesn’t have much agency over her own personal life. … Sure, ‘Glee’ might be one of the only shows on television to use the word bisexual to describe a character, but all the biphobia it exhibits sort of nullifies that progress.

Sheila E.’s Agency as an Artist in ‘Krush Groove’ and Beyond

Krush Groove

But Sheila E. represents a woman’s creative musical power in an early hip hop film dominated by male artists. … As we consider hip hop’s presence in U.S. films and documentaries spanning the globe, it is also reasonable to consider that Sheila E. has one of the biggest roles for a woman that was written in the spate of films that began portraying hip hop culture.

Women Musicians in the 80s Used Music Videos to Expand Notions of Womanhood

Tina Turner Whats Love Got To Do With It

Women in music broadened visual representations of gender as their cacophony of voices inoculated the population to women of all ages, races, and socioeconomic backgrounds. … The ladies of 80s music video brought forth new visual representations of women including: experiences in the workforce, issues of class, messages of power, and unique expressions of love and sex.

Historical vs. Modern Abortion Narratives in ‘Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’

Dirty Dancing and Fast Times

Given this climate, it is somewhat surprising that two mainstream Hollywood films, ‘Dirty Dancing’ and ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High,’ would take progressive approaches to a topic like reproductive justice. While ‘Dirty Dancing’ remembers the realities of abortion pre-Roe v. Wade and illustrates the role that class plays in access to abortion, ‘Fast Times at Ridgemont High’ shows a main character who exercises her right to choose without trauma or punishment, while managing to keep a relatively light tone.

Things I Learned About Rocker/Poet Patti Smith at Tribeca Film Festival Talk Series

Patty Smith_image via Paula Schwartz

Rock legend Patti Smith and Oscar-nominated actor Ethan Hawke shared stories and ideas about process, acting and writing Thursday afternoon at the SVA Theater in Chelsea to kick off the Tribeca Film Festival talk series. Here are things I learned about the rocker/poet, who is a fascinating raconteur who had a packed audience spellbound.

When Love Looks Like Me: How Gina Prince-Bythewood Brought Real Love to the Big Screen

Love and Basketball

Gina Prince-Bythewood’s choice to center these themes around a young Black couple shouldn’t feel as revolutionary as it does. But when you consider that “universal” is too often conflated with “white,” Love & Basketball feels like such a turning point in the romance genre. It was certainly a turning point for me because, for a moment, Black love and romance, as told by Hollywood, weren’t mutually exclusive.

A Joyful ‘Mavis!’ Plus Q & A with Director Jessica Edwards

Mavis Staples documentary

Director Jessica Edwards includes plenty of the Staples’ less familiar music (which still sounds fresh and striking: I predict most people who see this documentary will quickly add a Staples Singer channel to their Spotify and Pandora selections) as well as photos and TV clips from their appearances stretching back to the 1950s. Although Pops had a smooth, clear voice, Mavis usually had the lead vocal even at the beginning. Like Amy Winehouse her style and virtuosity were already an adult’s when she was still a young teen.

Meryl Streep Has a Blast in ‘Ricki and the Flash’ and You Will Too

Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep is having the time of her life in ‘Ricki and the Flash’ — playing rock star, acting alongside her daughter Mamie Gummer, macking on Rick Springfield, and wearing leather pants. Her joy is infectious, and lends an overall lighthearted tone to what could be a very sad movie about estranged families.

‘Garfunkel and Oates’ and the Sea Change for Women in Comedy

Kate Micucci and Riki Lindholme are Garfunkel and Oates.

You probably know Garfunkel and Oates from their funny songs on YouTube, but you might have missed the eight-episode series they had last summer on IFC (I’m guessing most people did, because it got cancelled). But the series is now available on Netflix Streaming, and it is just the right level of quality where you’ll be happy you watched it but not miserable that there won’t be any more episodes.

It’s also an interesting study on some of the issues facing (caps-for-seriousness) “Women in Comedy.”

Cookie and Co.: The Women of ‘Empire’

Taraji P. Henson as Cookie Lyon in 'Empire'

Fox’s midseason drama ‘Empire’ is a huge hit, and it is easy to see why. The gloriously soapy family melodrama is chockablock with “watercooler moments” (are those still a thing?), many provided by the series’s breakout character Cookie Lyon, played with obvious joy by Taraji P. Henson. But despite all the well-deserved attention Cookie is getting, she’s not the only great female character ‘Empire’ has to offer.