I first saw the movie trailer for Pitch Perfect when I made the wrong decision and went and watched Ruby Sparks (which is a terrible, terrible film). The best thing about the night, apart from spending time with my sister, was the trailer for Pitch Perfect. It looked amazing. So I showed it to my girl friend and one of the husbands and we agreed that we must go off and see it when it eventually opened in Melbourne – because it was going to be awesome.
The movie has been out for a while, so I don’t have any personal qualms about filling this full of spoilers. If you haven’t watched the movie, skip this post, go and see it, and then come back and read (or not, I’m not fussed). Continue Reading
(Just for clarity’s sake, there will be spoilers ahoy, because you’re not going to see this movie as it is SO awful)
Seriously, it is a REALLY bad film. Once upon a time there was a good script, but I think it was killed by a committee whose sole aim in life was to make something in their own image. The only two glimpses of the good script are at the end of the movie, one the “what big X you have grandmother” scene, and the other which was the twist to the whole movie – which had never been foreshadowed so was less of a twist and more of a “HUH???”.
Anyway, the director, Catherine Hardwicke, managed to get poor performances out of every actor in the movie. Gary Oldman, who is at his most entertaining when chewing the set, provided an incredibly wooden performance and I was much relieved when he eventually died. The pouting underwear models were wooden and unbelievable – as was pretty much everyone on set. Let’s get into the breakdown of everything.
Quick story synopsis – There is a village, and for the first time in a couple of generations the “wolf” has killed a villager. The villagers decide to go and hunt down the wolf and their priest calls a witch-finder. No hilarity ensures. The body-count builds, but no one seems to care much, and eventually after the witch-finder is dead, we discover who the wolf is (werewolf), and everyone lives confusedly ever after.
The movie is set in a village, in the middle of some mountains – it looks a bit like the German Alps or Scandinavia. Given the period(ish) clothing and basic living conditions, I would suggest that it was the Dark Ages, or perhaps if generous the Middle Ages. Everyone was surprisingly clean, with perfect hair, teeth and skin. No one was sick, no one was disabled from injury and everything was clean (they even washed their hands). When it snowed, they didn’t put warmer clothes on. I do get that people who live in cold climates have a different sense of what is cold and what is not cold, but their breath didn’t fog and there was no mud after the snow was trampled into the ground. It wasn’t really believable.
So, with the whining about the unbelievability of the set up out of the way, let’s move to the story itself. Now Valerie (Red Riding Hood herself) has a really bad day. Her love interest tells her that he’s just found out that she’s now betrothed to marry the other underwear model. They decide to run away together, but then the church/alarm bell sounds and everyone returns to town. Valerie’s sister has been killed by the wolf, and there is much wailing. Afterwards, while they are preparing the body (Valerie, her mother, and Valerie’s friends) of her sister for burial (which never features in the film), Valerie’s betrothed comes with his family to pay their respects. Valerie climbs the stairs to the loft of the cottage and retreats. Her mother follows her and they talk about how important it is that Valerie marries this underwear model than the other one, because this one has more money, and how the mother didn’t marry the man she loved either, and that’s just the way it is.
This is pretty much the end of the dead sister plot device. No one is sad in this film when someone dies. There are some immediate tears, but life goes on and a couple of hours later people are partying, working, whatever again like the dead person never existed. The townsmen go off to kill the wolf, believing that it lived in a nearby extensive cave system, when they return with a wolf corpse (and the dead body of the betrothed’s father – again briefly touched upon death, just another plot device), they throw a party. The witch-finder turns up just before the party, tells everyone that he knows that the wolf is not yet dead because his wife was once a werewolf and he had to kill her to save himself and his children, and then he wanders off with his army while the party is prepared.
It’s more of a rave than a party, and if I EVER find the choreographer of the dancing in this movie I will stab them repeatedly. The love interest is off dancing with another woman (after telling Valerie that they should go their separate ways), and Valerie is upset. So she grabs another girl and joins in the dancing. It’s a cross between the lambada and stately court dancing and is truly awful. Faux-lesbianism is incredibly wrong on many levels, and this movie doesn’t make it any more right. With a witch-finder in the village, I’m sure nothing else would attract his attention more than two women apparently dancing sexually together.
The wolf turns up, savages a few villagers, quite a few soldiers and then escapes. During this the village idiot (yes, they even had one of those) is suspected of knowing who the wolf is, and he’s captured and tortured. His sister (because apparently they didn’t have parents), goes to the witch-finder to bargain for his release. She gives him all her money (which isn’t much) and when he isn’t impressed offers her body to him. He’s still unimpressed so she offers information “about a witch”, specifically that Valerie can communicate with the wolf. Once Valerie is captured, the informant goes back and demands to see her brother, and she’s shown him crumpled on a bed of straw. We never find out if he is alive or dead, and again some minutes later the plot-device is discarded and everyone moves on.
Death as a plot-device certainly doesn’t endear me to any of the characters or the movie in general. Oddly, perhaps, I am more likely to engage with characters who experience the full range of human emotion, including grief that family or friends have died. Even shock that a massive werewolf is bounding around the village would be a good start.
This movie could have gone places. It could have been a great feminist movie about a woman taking a stand against the kyriarchy and living independently despite the unfriendliness of the world (does anyone ever wonder WHY Red Riding Hood’s grandmother lives out in the forest away from the village?). It could have been about a woman (or group of women) rewriting the rules of their society in order to make their lives fairer despite the wolves – because in the end Valerie ends up killing the wolf.
Above is the trailer for Easy A, a movie I went and saw with my husbands tonight. I don’t want to spoil it, but it is absolutely AMAZING. I laughed (which I don’t often do) at this funny, moving, honest and beautifully made movie. I give it full feminist support. It breezed through the Bechdel Test, was sex positive (apart from other people’s perspectives on sex but the movie/voice was sex positive), the parents were the most awesome parents ever (I wish they’d been mine), the main character (who is female) is flawed (which is nice), and the script is clever, witty and sweet.
I don’t to spoil the movie, so I won’t give any of it away (other than what is in the trailer), but I’d love to know from those who have seen it, whether or not they enjoyed it and thought of it as a feminist movie or not.
Ok, two movie reviews for the price of one… or something. Spoilers everywhere (where I think relevant) and these are just my thoughts… so if you don’t want to be spoilt on either Inception or Scott Pilgrim vs The World, go and enjoy my Flickr photos (shameless plug).
I think I’ll just divide this review into the good things and the negative things about this movie, then I might remember my thoughts for wrapping it all up. I meant to write this review some time ago, but got distracted with a holiday to Alice Springs, so here goes:
The first movie with some original concepts that I have seen in AGES. It was quite refreshing to think my way around a new universe.
The special effects were STUNNING. This movie could sell itself on those alone, and I do know that quite a few people went and saw it at the cinema for that alone.
The story twisted and turned and the ending was unclear. A lack of guaranteed happy ending with a big “BUT?!?!?!” added to an already great experience.
Not all the characters were white. This was fantastic. The “good guys” were from all over the world and the “bad guys” were generally all white. Two white American males, one Subcontinental male, one East Asian male, one British male, and one white American female made up the “good guys”.
There was only one female in the team. There was no reason why there could not have been more.
The female characters were reflections of the hero’s story, with Leonardo’s character’s wife being a subconscious projection (she no longer existed as an individual) and Ellen Page’s character being the helpful assistant to Leonardo’s character to help him get on with life.
Coherent wrapping up type thoughts have failed to materialise, so I will move onto the next movie.
Scott Pilgrim vs The World
I’ll go with a narrative style here. Be warned, there are spoilers.
So, I know quite a few women who are not interested in seeing yet another movie about a boy having to fight something/someone to win the girl as a prize/rescue the girl. Oddly enough, although the boy does fight the evil exes, this is not a movie about a boy having to fight to win the girl as a prize/rescue the girl. The actual ending (hence the spoiler warning) is about fighting, not for the girl, but for yourself and gaining self respect. It also focused on Scott learning to like himself and realise that he is a great guy without having others tell him that – which at the beginning of the movie was really annoying.
The movie does pass the Bechdel Test, though narrowly. There are named female characters who have (albeit brief) conversations about topics other than a man. Given the movie was about a man, this pass is actually unexpected – though apparently the comic, which I haven’t read, passes the Bechdel test beautifully.
The pop-culture references are fun and overall the movie is very silly. The sound-track is awesome and the filming beautiful.
The gay house-mate/bed-mate of Scott is sweet and funny, and the less creepy Culkin (Keiran) played the role perfectly. As a character his queerness was not an issue, he was gay and that was perfectly normal, as was the main (and presumably straight) character sleeping in the same bed as him. The fact that he had multiple partners during the movie could be viewed as problematic (all gay men are sluts!) but it wasn’t played in a negative way. After all there are plenty of straight men portrayed in movies with multiple partners and that is rarely negative (women doing the same thing is a completely different story).
Although Scott fought a female evil ex, and that ex referred to Mary Elizabeth Winstead’s character as a “hasbian”, the ex being a lesbian was again just a thing. She was no more evil or anything than the other exes.
So yes, I enjoyed the movie more than I expected to. And now it is time for bed.