Romance

Courage, Death, and Love in Dorothy Arzner’s ‘Christopher Strong’

Christopher Strong

In spite of the ending or what the trailer suggests, ‘Christopher Strong’ doesn’t demonize Cynthia for her ambition and her desires; instead, the film sheds a sympathetic light on her story even as it depicts her pursuit of independence and love as an impossible one within the context of the world she occupies. The story of such a pursuit and the societal pressures attached likely felt familiar to director Dorothy Arzner, writer Zoë Akins, and star Katharine Hepburn — each of whom occupied positions of creative control in the film’s production and led successful careers in an industry still notorious for undervaluing women today.

One Woman’s View: Martha Fiennes’ ‘Onegin’

Onegin

Director Martha Fiennes unlocks this costume classic for a modern audience, deftly allowing the two main characters to take their share of the center stage to tell their stories. While Ralph Fiennes’ Onegin plays a familiar type of romantic male, Liv Tyler’s Tatyana is not often familiar, even in modern love stories. She does not play the martyr, pining for someone she can’t have, but rather takes stock of what she needs in life and makes her choices accordingly, regardless of how others may feel.

The Future of Anime Is Female: ‘Yuri!!! On Ice’s Director Sayo Yamamoto

Yuri!!! On Ice

Thankfully, this hasn’t stopped animator/director Sayo Yamamoto from not only surviving over the past two decades — but thriving. And in style. Like Attack on Titan, Yamamoto’s ‘Yuri!!! On Ice’ has become a breakout hit, and amazingly, it’s only her third time as a series director. … Yamamoto’s success as a woman director shouldn’t be the exception to the rule in the anime industry.

Teen Girls Coming of Age in ‘Clueless’ and ‘The Edge of Seventeen’

Clueless and The Edge of Seventeen

These two women directors, Amy Heckerling (‘Clueless’) and Kelly Fremon Craig (‘The Edge of Seventeen’), use their films to give a focused examination on the insecurity and self-doubt teen girls face. Cher and Nadine’s personal struggles, as well as their relationships with older mentors, reveal how patriarchal expectations shape their lives as they come of age.

Flaws Make the Woman: In Praise of ‘Love’s Mickey Dobbs

Love TV series

Too often, representations of women fall into clichéd binary opposites in the style of Levi-Strauss. Thus, TV shows feature the “good” woman in direct conflict with the “bad” woman, with this clash driving the narrative forward. Mickey encompasses both; she is simultaneously good and bad, selfish and giving, childish and mature. It is this complexity that ensures Mickey’s believability and development as a character. She is real and human, and thus, relatable.

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…

The Unvoiced Indigenous Feminism of ‘Frida’

Frida

Frida Kahlo’s sense of kyriarchy, in which the tension between Indigenous culture and European imperialism is a core aspect of her multi-faceted narratives of oppression and resistance, is simplified in Julie Taymor’s film ‘Frida’ towards a more Euro-American feminism, focused on Kahlo’s struggle for artistic recognition and romantic fulfillment as a woman, to the exclusion of her ethnic struggle.

The Women of the New York Film Festival 2016

julietacover

The New York Film Festival (NYFF) wraps up this weekend. Here are the best of films about women or directed by women (or both) that still have NYFF weekend screenings (including some “encore” shows on Sunday) or are streaming or open today in theaters: including Ava DuVernay’s ’13th,’ Kelly Reichardt’s ‘Certain Women,’ and Pedro Almodóvar’s ‘Julieta.’

Bi Erasure in Film and TV: The Difficulty of Representing Bisexual People On-Screen

How to Get Away with Murder

As frustrating as our erasure and stereotyping is, however, I’d like to go beyond the question of “good” and “bad” representations of bisexual characters to ask this: exactly what it is about bisexuality which makes it so hard to represent on-screen? And why, when bisexuality is visible, is it so likely to collapse back into dominant stereotypes of bisexuality as either promiscuous or merely a phase?

‘The O.C.’s Alex Kelly Deserved Better; All Bisexual Characters Do

The O.C.

I’ve had countless conversations with other queer women who had similar awakenings in 2004, when Alex Kelly burst onto our TV screens and shook up the Orange County. But upon subsequent re-watches, I’ve been forced to notice that Alex’s storyline isn’t the empowering queer narrative I remembered. For one thing, all of her romantic interests take advantage of her and use her for personal gain.

Bisexuality in ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ and ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’

I Love You Phillip Morris and Kissing Jessica Stein

Both films, then, arguably fit a wider cultural pattern of bi erasure, suggesting that bisexual characters must “resolve” themselves as either gay or straight. I would argue, however, that what marks ‘I Love You Phillip Morris’ and ‘Kissing Jessica Stein’ as something more nuanced and interesting than another tale of “inauthentic” bisexuality, is the subtlety with which they examine all sexual orientations as limited by our internalized need to socially perform.

The Conditional Autonomy of Bisexual Characters in Film

Imagine Me and You

The overall implication here is that the bisexuality of a female character is inspired by the male character. Where is the bisexual character’s free will? In fact, where is her bisexuality? All of these films have one thing in common, which is that the sexuality of the character exists to cause strife between the straight man and the lesbian woman that pursues them, and always ends up siding one way or the other.