If you haven’t heard of Snowpiercer, I recommend steering clear of trailers and going to see it blind. That’s how I saw it—and afterwards I watched a trailer that spoiled lots of things, and I’m glad I didn’t watch it beforehand. All you need to know is that this is a high-concept, post-apocalyptic, sci-fi (ish), fantasy wherein the world’s last survivors live on a train, with each car acting as a literal reinforcement of class structure. I know. It sounds weird. If you have seen the trailer, I don’t think it does the film justice. So, there.
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Although they may be everybody’s favorite sociopaths, Claire and Frank Underwood have the best romantic relationship I’ve ever seen on television. Other Western television shows and stories often depict the same relationship stereotypes ad nauseum, rather than showing the reality of an everyday healthy relationship, let alone one that’s some 30 years old. So, buckle in for a discussion. In case you haven’t figured, there are spoilers ahead, so if you haven’t seen the show, stop reading and start watching House of Cards.
People are angry about Pacific Rim. Maybe “angry” is too strong of a word, but there’s definitely a fair amount of disappointment going around. At the risk of sounding block-headed and completely naïve, I was shocked (yes, jaw-droppingly so) when I read the Internet rants, disapproving of the way women were portrayed in the film. Usually my feminist radar is fine-tuned and rearing to go off at the slightest hint of dehumanizing or anti-feminist tropes. Even my favorite films will usually trigger my radar enough for a laundry list of gripes. So why didn’t my radar alert me when I saw Pacific Rim?
The film takes place in the not-too-distant future, where the world has banded together to fight giant monsters (kaiju) with giant robots (jaegers). Each jaeger must be piloted by a team of two, and in order to successfully control the man-made wonder, the pilots essentially meld their minds to act as a single unit, letting the other pilot peek into all their thoughts and memories. It’s pretty intense, to say the least. Our two main characters are Raleigh Becket, famed kaiju killer, and Mako Mori, novice but enthusiastic pilot, whose adoptive father has only just recently and reluctantly encouraged her to take the jaeger helm with Raleigh.
In this high-concept, action-packed film, the biggest complaint from my fellow feminists is that there’s a lack of female characters and lines. One of the main characters is a woman (Mako) and there’s a nameless Russian woman who pilots another jaeger, but that’s not to say that these complaints aren’t well-founded. It’s easy to see that the film definitely fails the Bechdel Test. “Only three lines are spoken by a woman in the entire first half-hour of Pacific Rim,” says an article from Vulture. An article from Kulture Keeper adds, “The only two actresses… barely register as characters. They’re more like plot-objects in the shape of female bodies.” Ouch. The women in this film are products of a writer and director who brought us full-fledged and interesting female heroes in films such as Pan’s Labyrinth and The Devil’s Backbone, so there must be more going on here.
Well, I didn’t think it was possible, but Man of Steel actually made me like Lois Lane. Not only was it the first time I believed she was a journalist capable of winning a Pulitzer, but she also seemed like a good person. Say what you will about the newest Superman movie (I liked it, despite the criticisms), it features the best Lois Lane ever featured in comics, television, or film.
I liked that Man of Steel took time to show Lois Lane’s character, letting the audience see her curiosity, quick wit, and intelligence, rather than just telling the audience that’s she’s smart. Lane’s passion for her career and her unwavering desire to find truth showed an interesting, driven individual. This is all very different from the Lois we usually see, who can’t take care of herself, let alone tell if a guy is Superman when he puts his glasses on.
Not only is Lois pretty dense in most depictions, but she’s also downright mean, and it’s difficult to see why Clark is so head-over-heels for her. She’s always firing off some snide remark about Clark being from a small town, or making fun of his clumsiness. And since she’s mean and dumb, we’re only left with one conclusion: “Clark must be into her because she’s hot.” Either that, or he’s a glutton for punishment.
In this latest Superman rendition, however, Lois shows kindness, trustworthiness, and honesty. She shows she’s a person who Clark can count on, and it’s clear that they have a deep and meaningful relationship, rather than one simply built on Lois getting in trouble and Superman saving her every 10 seconds. Because of her kindness and sincerity, Lois brings hope to Clark—hope that the world’s capable of change, nuanced thinking, and acceptance.
Lastly, I loved Amy Adams as Lois Lane. She doesn’t look like previous Lois Lanes, and I think that’s a very good sign indeed. Like any actress, Amy Adams is attractive, but she’s also not too young—she shows some laugh lines, and she doesn’t have a supermodel body. She looks like the woman next door—and therefore, she looks like the kind of woman who very well could have devoted her life to journalism, rather than facials, working out, and tanning. And I like that.
If nothing else, I dare you to argue that Man of Steel didn’t feature the best Lois Lane of all time.
This is a spoiler-free review. Tune in soon for a review so full of spoilers, you’ll cry.
So by now, the Star Wars stuff is old news. Disney bought Lucasfilm and they’re gonna make episodes 7, 8, and 9 with episode 7 projected to come out in 2015. I hear a lot of the same things from Star Wars fans– some relieved, some angry, but I thought I’d throw in my two cents (this is the internet, after all).
I’m not gonna lie– I’m excited. I sent texts to brothers and nephews, and I went nuts on Twitter and Facebook during the live conference call. Now let me clarify, my excitement is not naive. I’ve been burned by Star Wars before. I’ll never forget my supreme disappointment when I skipped school to see Episode I in theaters opening day, only to find it was about trade legislation (this was only after I’d bought Episode I action figures, gushed over Darth Maul’s look, and dawned Queen Amidala’s makeup for the opening). I think episodes 1 through 3 are beyond boring, and I think Empire Strikes Back is the only truly well-made Star Wars film, though I love the world with all its creatures and characters.
Having established my scorn, I’m still elated that the baton has been passed and someone else is going to give it a go. Will it suck? Maybe. But looking at Disney’s relationship with Marvel, I have hope for Star Wars yet. And whatever happens, I’m thrilled at the prospect of episodes 7–9, which have only been discussed in hushed tones, and I’m relieved they’re being made by someone other than Lucas. If Lucas were making them, I don’t think I would even see them.
Lucas came up with a wonderful world, and he is one admirable philanthropist– I don’t think anyone should ever let him write or direct. Neither of those things are his strengths, nor his talents (geez, the guy made Natalie Portman look like a bad actor, for crying out loud). I know Lucas has had a hard time coming to terms with his angry fans and trusting his beloved ideas to others, but in the end, selling Lucasfilm is the best thing he could have done for his fans, and it’s the most selfless thing he’s done for his fans in years. I’m optimistic about the future (er, or the past, a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away).
Here are my picks for best movies to get you in the Halloween spirit. Let me know what you think. Argue. Suggest. Taunt.
10. The Devil’s Backbone
I love Guillermo del Toro with an unrivaled passion. This is probably my second favorite movie of his, after Pan’s Labyrinth. If you haven’t seen this unconventional ghost story, it’s about time. It does have subtitles, so not the best movie for background noise at a party.
9. High Tension
As the title suggests, this film highlights the art of tension-building. I’ve never bitten so many nails.
8. Shaun of the Dead
This is the pinnacle of horror-comedy. Perfect watch for a Halloween party.