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.
‘Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation’ is kicking it at the box office and getting great reviews. And I can confirm that it is fantastic. If you like action movies or spy thrillers at all, you should see it. You’ll love it. But after you see it, I would like to spoil your fun by unfurling my feminist criticism by looking back at the previous entries in the nearly 20-years-running Mission Impossible franchise to see how women have fared overall. The news isn’t great.
‘Trainwreck’ made me cry. As in weep. I’m not talking about my eyes welling up, or having to furtively swipe a single tear off my cheekbone, but full on is-there-snot-leaking-from-my nose CRYING. I’m sitting there in the theater wondering if there was some alternate trailer for this movie cut to “Everybody Hurts” that I missed. And hoping I’m not ruining my eye makeup. [I did.]
Confession time: I really want to see ‘Ant-Man’ this weekend. But I feel it is my duty as a feminist to go see ‘Trainwreck,’ and moreover, to NOT see ‘Ant-Man.’
A few months ago I wrote, “Today, no one who is relevant doubts that women are funny, at least not out loud.” And here we are in 2015 and Important Men are making casual declarations that only certain types of women aren’t funny. In this case, unbelievably beautiful women. Progress?
‘Kingsman: The Secret Service’ wants to remount the early campy Bond movies for the 21st century. Kind of like ‘Austin Powers’ did, but without so many jokes, because they detract from how coooooool these spy dudes are. We’re talking gadgets, one-liners, babes, convoluted action sequences, and brooding permitted only upon the death of one’s father or mentor.
Fuck Daniel Craig’s haunting pathos and Oscar-caliber cinematography. Bring on the shark lasers.
‘Welcome to Me’ is pitched as “woman wins the lottery and uses it to finance her own daytime talk show.” I interpreted this as “Joan Calamezzo: The Movie” and immediately added it to my to-watch list. What that quick summary fails to mention is that Kristen Wiig’s character Alice Klieg has borderline personality disorder, and that her decision to produce her talk show coincides with her going off her meds.
On the eve of the release of season 3 of ‘Orange is the New Black,’ and while the rest of the world’s feminist media critics still struggle to sort out ‘Sense8,’ I decided to take a look at one of Netflix’s least-buzzed-about original series: ‘Grace and Frankie,’ which premiered in May to little fanfare outside a late night tweet from one Miley Cyrus. ‘Grace and Frankie’ stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as the title characters, whose husbands Robert and Sol (Martin Sheen and Sam Waterston) leave them for each other after admitting to a 20-years-running affair. Grace and Frankie move into the beach house the couples shared and forge an unlikely friendship while navigating the single life for septuagenarians. The show has its charms, such that I might have watched the entire season without journalistic integrity as a motivation, but ‘Grace and Frankie’ let me down in a lot of ways:
So yes, ‘Jupiter Ascending’ provides women and girls the “you’re secretly the most important person in the solar system” narrative that is so often granted to cishet white men, the demographic who already are treated as the most important people by virtue of the kyriarchy. What’s missing, however, is the part where Jupiter taps into her secret set of special skills.
But don’t let the buzz mislead you into thinking ‘Fury Road’ is some sort of feminist watershed, a 21st century cinematic ‘Feminine Mystique’ with monster trucks. I would have enjoyed this flick even if it had typical gender politics, because I love car chases and over-the-top action sequences and the sort of high camp that yields a vehicular war party having its own flamethrower-enhanced metal guitarist. If you don’t love those things, you probably don’t want to see this movie. But if you are into that kind of action flick, this is a really good one that has the bonus of a thick layer of sweet, sweet feminist icing.
‘Avengers: Age of Ultron’ succeeds in all the places you’d expect it to fail, but while Joss Whedon was tiptoeing around all the expected pitfalls of a major franchise sequel, he stumbled over a cliff when it came to the one character I would have most trusted him to get right: Scarlet Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff, or Black Widow.
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.”