- Waitress (Adrienne Shelly, 2007): How much did I love this movie? So much! There are very few movies that I watch that are about pregnancy and/or babies that I genuinely enjoy without wishing that movies didn’t get so weird about motherhood, but Waitress I really didn’t have those issues. I knew I was in love when Keri Russell looked at her baby’s hearbeat in the ultrasound and proclaimed that “it didn’t look like much yet, just kind of a blob.” Also, it’s pretty funny and it made me cry. It’s so nice to have people act like real people and do things that might be wrong but not totally run around feeling guilty and being punished for things.
- The Caine Mutiny (Edward Dmytryk, 1954): This is a dude movie, but it’s the kind of dude movie I like. It’s set mostly on a ship during WWII, but it is not about battles, it is about how the captain is kind of crazy and everyone is really stressed out and tense. It’s got a pretty great cast — Fred McMurray playing the sort of charming overeducated guy that you sympathize with at first, but slowly realize that he’s actually pretty sad stands out the most to me, but Bogart’s performance as crazy Captain Queeg is justifiably legendary. The love story is beyond pointless and has nothing to do with anything though, the movie would have been way tighter without it.
- Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid (Carl Reiner, 1982): So this has Steve Martin and is basically a noir spoof, but it also incorporates actual scenes from actual films noirs, so that Steve Martin is having a conversation with Fred McMurray or Veronica Lake or Ava Gardner or whoever. I predict that you would only like it if you’ve seen most of the movies it was referencing — I have, so I thought it was good fun. I’m still not totally sure how it got made though: I realize that the 70s and 80s were definitely a big noir/old Hollywood nostalgia period, but I can’t imagine that this had that much of a market. I guess Steve Martin was big bucks back then and could get whatever he wanted made?
- Cleo From 5 to 7 (Agnès Varda, 1961): Oh my god, love. What a gorgeous movie: it’s about a flighty singer who’s waiting to find out if she has cancer, and it’s in real time, but not really, because it’s all French New Wave, and there are jumpcuts and stuff. It’s…it’s just gorgeous: like, it’s filmically really sophisticated, but she uses her cinematography to like, involve you as a viewer. There’s this really fast tracking shot right near the end that almost takes your breath away.
- The Earrings of Madame De… (Max Ophüls, 1953): This movie was awesome: it’s set in 19th century Paris, has illicit romance, a crazy lady, and a duel. And it’s pretty beautiful to look at — the camera’s always moving, there are some great transitions (like the heroine throws a torn up letter out a train window and then it changes seamlessly to a shot of snow falling). My favourite thing though is definitely how everything is sort of unspoken and just below the surface — it’s pretty wow how much goes unsaid.
Oh and on a totally unrelated note, I strongly recommend this first-person article about a female American reporter in Saudi Arabia. Quote:
The sleeves, the length of it, always felt foreign, at first. But it never took long to work its alchemy, to plant the insecurity. After a day or two, the notion of appearing without the robe felt shocking. Stripped of the layers of curve-smothering cloth, my ordinary clothes suddenly felt revealing, even garish. To me, the abaya implied that a woman’s body is a distraction and an interruption, a thing that must be hidden from view lest it haul the society into vice and disarray. The simple act of wearing the robe implanted that self-consciousness by osmosis.
In the depths of the robe, my posture suffered. I’d draw myself in and bumble along like those adolescent girls who seem to think they can roll their breasts back into their bodies if they curve their spines far enough. That was why, it hit me one day, I always seemed to come back from Saudi Arabia with a backache.
The kingdom made me slouch.
*I sort agree with the very Frankfurt School “talking about Paris distracts us from the real problems of the world and/or class struggle” line of argument in both those links, but at the same time, those complaints are all part of the Paris Experience from which there is no escape. It’s all built in to her bizarre world domination plan, the result of which will look a lot like the future in Idiocracy. Sure, it’s easy to hate Paris, but it is really hard not to, because she really does appear to be a pretty horrible, vapid, entitled, hateful person outside of the death of culture that she represents; no one’s that good an actor. I don’t know what my point here is: I schadenfreuded it up like everyone did when she went to jail, but I still cringe every time I hear a “Paris Hilton is a slut” joke, because there is still this really gross thing where sex gets used against women as a way of making them worthless and that is not okay with me. Yes, Paris’s promiscuity is a matter of public record, but it’s not like she doesn’t have countless other flaws to mock. I feel weirdly like I am defending Paris, but I really just hate the “slut” discourse when it is used to shame anyone, even someone who appears to have no shame. Because I bet women who do have shame hear it, and it perpetuates a whole bunch of sex=shame bullshit. And, uh, that is why I don’t want to talk about Paris Hilton anymore. (Ooh, except that after I wrote this, Jill at Feministe made basically the same point that I did.)
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