greensword: (Default)
So, before you read the rest of this entry, I want you to do something. I want you to think of your five favorite movies - or your one favorite, or your ten favorite. Have a definitive list in your head. Okay?

There's this thing called the Bechdel Test, which comes from Alison Bechdel's comic Dykes to Watch Out For. The test consists of three deceptively simple steps... to pass, the film must have:

1) At least two named female characters, who
2) talk to each other about
3) something other than a man.

This test is astonishingly hard to pass.

Here are my favorite movies:

Star Wars
There are two named female characters, Princess Leia and Beru Lars. I think this is it for the entire series, though I may be forgetting someone. Leia and Beru never meet, let alone talk. So, fail.

The Lion In Winter
There are two named females here, again - Eleanor and Alais, and they do talk to each other. Mostly they talk about Henry (although, to be fair, everyone in this movie mostly talks about Henry) but I am remembering that one scene where Eleanor is reminiscing about raising Alais, so this one passes.

Despite having a kick-ass female lead in Ellie Arroway, I'm struggling to remember whether this movie has another named female. The book version would pass with flying colors - Ellie has various scientific, political and religious conversations with, among others, the female President of the United States and her good friend, a female scientist. But who is there in the movie? IMDB tells me there's a character named Rachel Constantine, and since pretty much everyone in the movie talks with Ellie, I'm willing to bet she does, too. And since Ellie almost never talks about men, I'm willing to bet it's not about a man. So! I give this movie a pass, even if I can't remember the specific scene.

All The President's Men
Yeah, not a chance. Fail.

The Philadelphia Story
There are several named females, and although they do primarily spend their time talking about men, it is a romantic comedy, and anyway I think there must be a conversation between Tracy and her mother, or Tracy and Liz, that doesn't revolve around a man. So, another pass, but a tentative one.

So... 3/5?

Notably, all five of these movies would pass the reverse - they all contain scenes, most of them many, with two men discussing something other than a woman. They pass the reverse easily, whereas I have to struggle to come up with scenes that allow them to pass the actual Bechdel test.

Also interesting, two of the three films that do pass the test are older films - The Lion In Winter is from 1968, and the Philadelphia Story from 1940.

What are your favorite films? Do they pass the test? I'd be really interested to see.
greensword: (Default)
Yesterday Sean and I watched quite possibly the worst movie I've ever seen, Grande Ecole. We dubbed it the Gay French movie, and worried it would be too depressing, but it was actually so bad it was kind of funny, though not in the good way. The highlights included a scene of two boys having sex on a bed while mirrors swirled around them, and a scene where the main character talks to his parents, only they're all superimposed onto a field of stars and staring off into the distance. Add this to their sad little attempts to address classism and racism, their slightly less sad but still quite futile attempts to be sensual and risque, and the fact that NO ONE COULD ACT and, well. When it was over, I turned to Sean and said, "Well, that's two hours of our lives we'll never get back."

Here's a question: What is the absolute worst movie you've ever seen, and why?
greensword: (Default)
My new roommate has a pretty nice DVD collection, so last night I picked out The Virgin Suicides and sat down to watch. I realize it is 4 a.m. but I'm going to attempt a review anyway. My apologies for any incoherence.

I think what it really comes down to is the title. How many meanings does the title have? Surely more than one, since a literal interpretation is incorrect - Lux Lisbon, as the film delights in detailing, is not a virgin by any definition by the time she kills herself. Well, then, perhaps the intent is to focus on the Lisbon girls' youth and purity, on the innocence which makes them symbols of teenage girls everywhere. But there is a deeper significance to the word and the concept "virgin", if one chooses to see it - virgin is the mystification and idealization of women, virgin is the definition of women by men, virgin is silencing and stultifying and ultimately violent. Virgin is the heart and soul of the story and my question is, did the people who made the film realize that? Because most reviews I've seen seem to entirely miss it.

In the end, the suicides are completely unexplained. You get glimpses of the girls' unhappiness - their incredibly strict parents, the boy who has sex with Lux on a football field and is gone the next morning - but no real reason for their actions. Reasons? They barely even have personalities. The narrator is a schoolboy, one of several schoolboys who watch them from a window across the street, who worship them decades after their deaths. From the movie's final monologue:

What lingered after them was not life, but the most trivial list of mundane facts -- a clock ticking on the wall, a room dim at noon, the outrageousness of a human being thinking only of herself. We began the impossible process of trying to forget them... So much has been said about the girls over the years. But we have never found an answer. It didn't matter in the end how old they had been or that they were girls...but only that we had loved them...and they hadn't heard us calling, still do not hear us calling them out of those rooms where they went to be alone for all time and where we will never find the pieces to put them back together.

The movie rightly condemns the way the media objectifies and sensationalizes their deaths, and highlights the suffocating strictness of their parents and their focus on keeping the girls pure, innocent, virgin. But it is unclear whether it realizes that the narrators themselves have a role in this process. Look at how the final monologue is worded. "Hear us calling them out", "thinking only of herself", "we will never put them back together". In the end this about the boys, not the girls, and while this is fine - the boys are people too - it is not a choice that can stand in isolation. Why tell this impossibly horrible story in a way that renders it "beautifully tragic"? Why silence the Lisbon girls? As some sort of meta context for the silencing that led to their suicides?

I'm not sure I can give the writer and director that much credit. Maybe I'm underestimating them. But from where I stand, this is one of the most despicable movies I've seen in a long, long time.
greensword: (Default)
So now I've suddenly got a ton of free time on my hands.

Review of RENT. )
greensword: (Default)
Is there still a limit of five posts a day on unpaid users? Because if that's been got rid of, I can stop condensing my public posts and indulge in more obsessive private to-do lists.

I've been up since four a.m. yesterday, and I've gone past being tired and have now my second wind. Damned unfortunate, as I want to go to bed. Had a bit of a party in the lounge, watching the playoffs and mocking the Red Sox fans. Have I mentioned how much I adore our firsties? If I haven't, let me say it now: I adore our firsties. There. I bet you weren't expecting that.

My UMass midterm is an essay. I know it's very bad of me, but I was sort've looking forward to a multiple choice test.

And the reviews:

The Last of the Wine, by Mary Renault (Mild Spoilers) )

Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister, by Gregory Maguire (Even Milder Spoilers) )

Dead Poets Society (Major Spoilers) )

Max (Minor Spoilers) )


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