Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Women Empowered

A selection of recent movies I've seen have shown various aspects of women empowerment. Seen through this lens here is a short review of each film. What we see in a lot of these films is women making choices on their own without a male figure saving them. With the exception of one film each of the women set off on their own. [Spoilers are revealed].

Augustine - This French film is about a woman in 19th century who is misdiagnosed by a neurologist as having some form of sexual hysteria. She is literally poked and probed by the doctor with whom she develops an affair. Her empowerment comes from her ability to manipulate the doctor and his all male colleagues into believing that his diagnoses actually work. Then she steels away into the night to her freedom.

The East - Brit Marling plays an undercover agent who commiserates so strongly with the eco-terrorists she is investigating that she considers joining them. But when she does she does it on her own terms. Having seen the truth she doesn't join them so much as make the causes her own and develop her own organization. Granted this all happens at the end credits.

Fill The Void - This is perhaps the most interesting of the bunch. In this film a young Israeli woman's sister dies and she is persuaded to consider marrying her sister's husband. But no one pushes her. Quite the opposite she is told to do whatever she thinks is best. She chooses not to pursue the marriage but she realizes that she has almost complete control of the situation. She begins to believe she is empowering herself when, in fact, she is sliding right into tradition.

Francis Ha - This is primarily a Greta Gerwig vehicle in which she plays an aspiring dancer in New York city who has little talent, no job and can barely keep her self above water financially. After her best friend moves out she is left on her own to try and make ends meet and get her shit together. Somehow, mainly through force of will and a positive attitude [and because it's a comedy], she manages to eventually make the kind of choices that will fit her specific talents.

Hannah Arendt  - Sometimes empowerment comes at a cost. Especially if you are a writer who attempts to explain the ways of evil in philosophical terms when those affected by violence only understand it in visceral terms. If Hannah Arendt were a man maybe no one would have cared. But staking a strong unique view on the Holocaust - while debatable in the classroom - was not welcome to the greater number of Jews who were listening.

Stoker - Mia Wasikowska plays a young woman who discovers secrets about her family which lead her to tap into the madness of her genetic make-up to advance herself into adulthood. Make no mistake, she is a blossoming femme fatale but from first frame to last we cheer for her to come through, which includes killing the only male figure left in her life and leaving behind her weak-willed mom.

Stories We Tell - This documentary by Sarah Polley is essentially about how she becomes liberated by going back and investigating her own family and her own origins. The enlightenment comes when she realizes her talent and drive come not so much from a mother she never knew but from her mother's secret about her true father. It's a detective story about finding oneself.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Before Midlife

Before Midnight

Is it just me or does the Julie Delpy character seem a bit bitchy and unreasonable while the Ethan Hawke character seems levelheaded and reasonable? I don't feel the character of Celine is that well written this time around. The script is touted as being collaborative but it seems to be written by a man or more so from the perspective of Jesse.

I mean, maybe she is not meant to be appealing, which is fine but it makes the movie much more sympathetic to the male character and therefore a less satisfying experience than the other two films.