Posts Tagged: film

Badlands: The Most Stylish Movie I’ve Ever Seen About Murderers

Recently I watched Terrence Malick’s Badlands because Alex kept telling me I would like it, and I trust his opinion (but only enough to watch something several years after he recommends it, apparently). He was right! It was great! If you ever want to talk about Badlands (especially the scene with the fish in Martin Sheen’s room, SERIOUSLY WHAT WAS HAPPENING?), I’m available. But until then, let’s talk about how great Badlands looked.

Kit and Holly may be some truly messed up people, but damn it if they don’t always look great. Even when they’re living in the woods and on the run from the law, they still manage to look fly.
badlands woods

Apparently Sissy Spacek was actually in her 20s when she played 15 year old Holly, but I totally would’ve believed you if you said she was 12. Either way, her dresses are pretty amazing.
badlands dress

And, I don’t know, I’d probably wear this dramatic eye look.

Too bad only Martin Sheen is around to appreciate this.

Too bad only Martin Sheen is around to appreciate this.

And speaking of Martin Sheen…

He even looks hot holding a chicken.

He even looks hot holding a chicken.

I mean...

I mean…

I should probably find him less attractive because he’s a murderer. And I hate to play armchair psychologist and diagnose a fictional character (because that is a very boring way to watch a movie), but let’s get real: he’s psychotic. It makes it a little better if you look at this behind the scenes photo of him and Terrence Malick (ol’ Terry!). See? Totally not really a murderer!



But even aside from Martin Sheen being the most attractive murderer ever, this is a great movie. The tone is unlike anything I’ve ever seen, it’s totally weird, and it’s just beautiful. Check out Sissy Spacek’s house, which might just be my dream house (never mind that it meets an untimely end):

And it’s just a truly gorgeous movie in general.
badlands bridge
badlands martin

Badlands is a movie I could watch a million more times and always find something new. What about you guys? Have you seen it? Do you want Sissy Spacek’s weird eye makeup? Is Martin Sheen super hot? That last one was an easy question. You’re welcome.

Here’s Why I Don’t Really Like the Bechdel Test

Doesn't fit the Bechdel test, still looks sort of awesome.

Doesn’t fit the Bechdel test, still looks sort of awesome.

If you spend any time at all on feminist websites, you know what the Bechdel test is. And if you don’t…well, for starters, you’re probably very bored by my blog. But allow me to explain the Bechdel test to you anyway. Named for writer/cartoonist Alison Bechdel (who writes great books like Fun Home), the Bechdel test requires that a work of fiction features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man. It will not surprise you at all that many (maybe even most) films do not pass this test.

I definitely agree with the idea behind the Bechdel test, which you could probably gather just by reading the title of my blog. Frankly, movies where women only talk about men aren’t very realistic to me. I mean, what do you and your lady friends talk about when you’re together? Work is by far the primary topic of conversation among my friends, followed by things like vacations, our families, food, books, house or apartment hunting, bitchy things other people said to us, and yes, dudes. Although I enjoy nothing more than some quality girl talk about boys, I know that women spend most of their time talking about other things.

And, obviously, I support media that shows the broad spectrum of women’s lives and interests. So that’s not my problem with the Bechdel test. I’m glad it exists and it starts some great conversations, which I think is really the point. My problem, however, lies in how a lot of people have interpreted the Bechdel test. I’ve seen people on Twitter writing off a film or book because it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test, and I’ve seen blog posts that criticize movies that the writer hasn’t even seen, basing his/her criticism solely on the Bechdel test.

I’m pretty sure Alison Bechdel herself never thought that something she wrote/drew in a comic would catch on so much, and I doubt she meant for it to be the end-all, be-all of a film’s merit, so I’m not trying to blame her for anything. I am, though, saying that I wish people wouldn’t judge films quite so harshly by whether or not they pass the Bechdel test.

For example, I recently watched The To-Do List, a movie starring Aubrey Plaza. It ended up being really disappointing to me for reasons that aren’t worth getting into here, but it was about Plaza’s character’s quest to complete a sexual activity checklist before she goes to college. So, basically, the entire movie was about her making out with dudes. I don’t know if two female characters in that film ever talk about anything other than guys (or maybe having sex with guys is in a total different category than guys, and I’m just wrong), but the movie’s message was explicitly feminist and sex-positive. It might not have passed the Bechdel test, but is that enough to mean we shouldn’t watch it? There are lots of very good, very interesting films and books that don’t pass the Bechdel test, and I don’t think they’re any worse for it. I like a lot of films that don’t pass the test, and I would never say, for example, that Five Easy Pieces is a bad movie (Five Easy Pieces is the best movie and we can talk about Rayette all damn day if you ever want to).

And then we get into the old argument that I really feel like I’ve run into the ground: there isn’t anything wrong with pursuing love and talking about your romantic interests and problems. Too often, we dismiss women in books and movies who want to fall in love, as if this is some sort of foolish pursuit that we should make sure our daughters never mimic. And I really do agree with the principle behind this. I want girls to know that their career goals and personal goals are important and they shouldn’t abandon them for a dude. But I also think that falling in love is pretty important, and there’s nothing wrong with being open about wanting it. Why is it so silly to watch a film about someone who just wants a deep human connection? That’s a pretty basic need, one that almost all of us have. No, every film shouldn’t be about this…but is it really so wrong if some films are?

Here’s where I feel like my feminism and my enjoyment of arts/entertainment/culture start to split me in half. A lot of internet feminism is very black and white. A person says something sexist, so that person is bad. A movie has a scene that doesn’t line up with your beliefs, so that movie is bad. And all of that is useful, to a point. I don’t think that evaluating your entertainment choices through a feminist lens is bad–in fact, I think all of us should definitely do this! However, when we get to a point where we automatically shut down works of art or entertainment simply because they don’t meet our arbitrary rules, I think we’re missing out on a lot of culture that might really benefit us. Art isn’t black and white, and that’s the way it should be.

Examining what we watch? Yes, I’m into that. Talking about the Bechdel test and whether or not our favorite films pass it? Of course. Seeking out films that do pass the Bechdel test? For sure! Please do this! But simply writing off a movie because it doesn’t pass the Bechdel test is, I think, the wrong thing to do.

Image via Sequential Crush

Lady Film: Frances Ha

frances ha
Okay, okay, so I know Frances Ha came out forever ago, but I just saw it this week, in a completely empty theatre. Seriously, H. and I were the only ones there. I’m sorry, do you people not like to see Greta Gerwig films many weeks after their release at 6 pm on a Wednesday night?! Apparently I just like to live DANGEROUSLY.

I wasn’t sure if I’d like Frances Ha or not. On the one hand, I love Greta Gerwig. I think she’s so funny and charming and she seems to care more about playing interesting characters than she does about always looking good doing it. Like, I bet Greta Gerwig spends WAY more time thinking about acting than she does picking out her clothing, and I admire that quality in a person. I also had high hopes for Frances Ha because Noah Baumbach’s Kicking and Screaming (the one with Eric Stoltz, not the one with Will Ferrell) was one of my favorite movies right after I graduated from college. But I also thought I might now like it, just because it seemed like it might be boring.

It wasn’t boring! Yay! To be honest, not too much happened, which is fine, but I just want to warn you going into this. The film felt very long, when in reality it was pretty short. But I did enjoy it, because Greta Gerwig made Frances into a real weirdo. Not, like, a cute, quirky weirdo who you can really relate to, either. Just a straight-up, annoying, really terrible with money, not aware at all of social cues weirdo. But she’s not unlikeable! You want her to gain self-awareness, but you don’t want her to fail. You don’t hate her. Greta Gerwig could make anyone likeable, even someone who tells the most boring dinner party anecdotes in the world.

One complaint I’ve heard about this movie that I think is super dumb is that it’s not “relatable.” Seriously. “I’m 27 and I’m not like that! They’re all so entitled and annoying! I don’t take money from my parents!” Well, yeah. Who says you have to relate to them? I really dislike people who can only read or watch characters they “relate” to, the same way I dislike people who can only read about “likable” characters. Art (or entertainment) isn’t a goddamn mirror. You shouldn’t have to see your reflection staring back at you in order to watch something.

So anyway, I’m 27, and no, I don’t relate to most of Frances’s struggles. But that doesn’t mean I didn’t enjoy this film! As previously mentioned, Greta Gerwig is a delight. Adam Driver is around, bringing that weird energy of his into every scene he’s in. Sting’s daughter plays Greta’s BFF, and she has a very unfortunate pair of glasses but she’s still interesting. Also, the girl who looks like Meryl Streep is Meryl Streep’s daughter. No, not Mamie Gummer. There’s ANOTHER Gummer. Gummers for days!

And, of course, I loved the music. I personally feel that every trailer and film should feature David Bowie’s Modern Love, since it’s the best song ever written.

This Movie is the Best Movie: Post Grad

Just like with Elizabethtown, I’m not saying Post Grad is really the best movie. I’m not even saying it’s a particularly good movie. But I am saying I love this movie, even if no one else I know has seen it.

It came out right around the time I graduated from college, when both the economy and I were terrifically depressed. I was in a pretty awful headspace then, and what can I say? Post Grad spoke to me.

First off, it stars Rory Gilmore and Matt Saracen, and if one or both of those names doesn’t mean everything to you, then we probably can’t be friends.
alexis bledel zach gilford

Rory plays Ryden Malby, but I refuse to accept that name on the grounds that it sounds like a type of weird cracker. So Rory and Matt, who are childhood BFFs, just graduated from college. Rory ends up not getting her dream publishing job because some chick with a ‘tude who looks about 40 gets it. So Rory has to live with her family, which shouldn’t be a chore at all because they are the stuff my sitcom dreams are made of. Michael Keaton is her dad, Jane Lynch is her mom, and Carol Burnett is her grandmother. Give me a break.
post grad family

Anyway, Rory can’t get a job because of the economy, I guess? But mostly because she’s in LA. I don’t know that much about publishing, but even I know that the vast majority of publishing jobs are in NYC. Like, duh. So anyway, she takes a job at her dad’s store and she has to wear this, for some reason. Would you ever buy anything from someone wearing this uniform? No you would not. Don’t make that face at me, Rory. I’m on your side.
post grad alexis bledel

Matt works at a grocery store. I think? Either way, they have a genuinely charming scene where they hang out in a grocery store and we all find out that he’s nursing a serious crush on her. I mean, of course he is. Like any man can resist those Rory Gilmore baby blues.
postgrad feet

Rory inexplicably doesn’t care about Matt’s crush on her because…I don’t know. Like, if Matt Saracen himself has a crush on you, you should marry him. If Matt Saracen says jump, you say how high, and also you ask why this character hasn’t been developed at all. Don’t get me wrong, he’s still a great love interest because Matt Saracen has a natural charm, but what’s his deal? What’s his family like? What are his hopes and dreams? What does he like other than playing guitar, basketball, and tagging along while Rory tries on weirdly fitting dresses?

Either way, Rory has a thing for this strange old dude who lives across the street from her family. He has inflatable furniture that they have an uninspired make out sesh on, to which I say BFD. Cool 21 Grams poster, bro.
post grad neighbor

Can he play a guitar like Matt Saracen? I THINK NOT.
post grad alexis bledel and zach gilford

A bunch of stuff happens, and eventually that weird 40 year old girl gets fired from the publishing job Rory wanted so she gets it. When she goes to brag to Matt about it, he’s all “Sorry, gurl, I’m going to law school in New York,” and she’s all:
post grad alexis bledel upset

Too late, Rory. You should’ve appreciated him when you had him! Matt Saracen waits for no (wo)man!

At least it seems like Rory’s job is going really well. Her boss is Andy Daly, for starters.
post grad andy daly

Yet she still misses Matt. And here begins the most confounding ending of any movie, ever.

She quits her job and decides to surprise Matt in New York. I have a lot of problems with this! First, she worked so hard for that job! Well, actually she didn’t. She interviewed once and then basically did nothing until that other lady quit. But either way, it was her dream job and at no point did it seem bad. Secondly, why didn’t she give Matt a call first? Send a few emails? Some texts? Some sexts, even. Something other than just showing up in New York.

So that’s weird, but here’s what’s really weird. When she gets to New York and finds his place, she mosies on up to his room and says this:
post grad you took my heart with you
Which is nice. I guess. I mean, there are definitely worse things you can say.

But then she looks over his shoulder and sees a girl in his room. Since this is a romantic comedy, she’s legally obligated to run away before getting an explanation. Matt chases her down oustide and says, “That was just my RA.”

Okay, imagine a record scratch. Did you imagine it? Good. RA? Why in God’s name does a person in law school live in a dorm and have an RA? Granted, I don’t know much about law school, but it’s weird to live in a dorm in, like, your junior or senior year of undergrad, let alone law school.

But Rory doesn’t care about this lapse in logic because finally, she and Matt are together! And she’s wearing a really cute coat! And they kiss! And she says, “I love you,” and he responds, “Good, because I love you too,” which is probably the least romantic thing I’ve ever heard in my life.
post grad alexis and matt

If that didn’t make you want to watch Post Grad, please know that I didn’t even get into the subplot about Rory’s dad Michael Keaton going to jail. It’s like Say Anything lite, but without anyone from Frasier. Oh, and there’s a boxcar derby race. There’s a lot going on in Post Grad.

So, okay, I’m not saying this movie makes even a little sense. All I’m saying is that I will watch it anytime, any place, and get incredibly invested in the romantic story line even though I already know how it will end. That’s all I want out of a movie.

Previously on This Movie is the Best Movie:
While You Were Sleeping
Valley Girl

Lady Film: For a Good Time, Call…

I am so, so excited for this movie. True story: I am weirdly interested in phone sex hotlines. Not calling them, just the idea of them. I once wrote a story about phone sex hotlines in college and it remains one of my favorite things I’ve ever written (to be fair, I haven’t reread it since, so I’m basically going on warm, fuzzy memories here). This trailer made me literally laugh out loud (LLOL, new abbreviation). “Woman who decides she doesn’t want to be uptight anymore” is one of my favorite comedy plotlines. Can’t wait!