Tag Archives: film

Lady Film: Turn Me On, Dammit!

5 Mar


Jezebel calls Turn Me On, Dammit! a “movie that Hollywood would never make,” and that’s pretty much right. A movie about a teenage girl who is openly sexual without being victimized or trying to compensate for low self-esteem? Unheard of! It looks great, but be warned that the trailer isn’t really safe for work. As one Youtube comment puts it, “Hands up if you like the mastrebuting scene lol.”

What a cool, bold movie this is. As the film’s website puts it, “Why are there so many movies about a teenage boy who wants to have sex and this is the only one about a teenage girl who wants to have sex?”

My Favorite Movie of 2011: The Future

30 Dec


I operate largely based on feelings and intuition, not on thought or logic, so when I really like something it can be hard for me to talk (or write) about it. I want to tell you guys about The Future in a really smart, insightful way, maybe throw in a few jokes, use a metaphor that makes you say, “Damn, girl, this sounds like a great movie.” But instead all I can tell you is that this movie was just kind of there, waiting for me, when I needed it. When I was feeling really down and confused, it hit me like a punch in the stomach, leaving me kind of nauseated but also just exhilarated.
Maybe you don’t like Miranda July, and that’s fine, I guess. I certainly can’t make you like someone or something, but I can tell you what I like about her. All of her work, be it film, prose, or otherwise, has an emotional vulnerability that’s so complete it’s shocking. Rarely have I seen a writer/performer/director be so open and unafraid when talking about emotions. People tend to apply the word “brave” to art when there’s violence or ugliness or maybe just whatever the hell it was Charlotte Gainsbourg and Willem Dafoe were doing in Antichrist. When I think of brave filmmaking, though, I think of Miranda July, who isn’t afraid to handle the slippery, squirmy things like feelings. The kinds of things we’re, if we’re honest with ourselves, usually trying to get away from, not confront. But that’s exactly what she does. She puts relationships, feelings, emotions, and connections front and center, as if they’re the only things that matter. And, really, aren’t they?

Her previous film, Me and You and Everyone We Know was, to me, primarily about people trying to make connections and the problems that keep them from doing so. This film was more about people trying to figure out what their lives are supposed to mean. The Future is about getting to a certain age and realizing that, even though you thought you’d have things figured out by now, you don’t. It’s about trying to make a change and a difference by taking an action, any action. It’s about how taking the wrong action can lead you somewhere you never intended to be, a place where you’re not even sure who you are anymore, where you’re standing on a suburban street in a nightgown and wondering what, exactly, it is that you’re supposed to do all day. It’s an amazingly affecting film, and maybe you’ll get something completely different out of it! Even though it follows a fairly traditional narrative structure, I think a lot of it is open to interpretation.

It’s worth noting that the trailer doesn’t necessarily represent the movie very well. That’s no surprise, as I’m pretty sure a movie trailer has never done anyone any favors (aside from Sofia Coppola, who always manages to have perfect trailers). That talking cat, for example? A very small part of the film. In fact, I didn’t even remember it until I watched the trailer again. Also, the trailer makes the whole film seem a little cutesy, which couldn’t be further from the truth.

This is, to be very clear, an upsetting movie, one that is not in the least bit comforting (as Me and You and Everyone We Know was). But it’s honest about the important things, those parts of our lives that seem so monumental but ultimately become the mundane scraps we piece together to make our days, weeks, years, and lives.

If you want to hear Miranda July herself talk about the movie and her creative process, Meet the Filmmaker has a really delightful interview with her in which she discusses the film and her creative process.

Also worth noting: this may seem shallow, but Hamish Linklater gets better looking the longer you watch him. At first you will think, “This is an okay guy,” but by the end you will be thinking, “Okay, I get it. Attractive.” You’ll have to figure this one out for yourself.

Young Adult

18 Dec

Young Adult got a wide release on Friday, so I assume by now you’ve all seen it at least once.

I posted a month or so ago about how much I was looking forward to this movie and how much Diablo Cody inspires me. This movie makes it clear that she is a truly extraordinary writer. A lot of people, somewhat inexplicably, do not like her. I talked about this a little bit in my previous post, but let me reiterate it now: people don’t like her because she’s an outspoken, talented woman. The only thing that annoys me more than sexism is when people refuse to acknowledge their sexism. She wore leopard print when she won an Oscar, she changed her name to Diablo Cody, she wrote a book about being a stripper, and these are all things that annoy you. As if any one of us would not love to write a blog about being a stripper and then turn that into a book about it and then leverage that into a movie career (or, okay, maybe not that exact trajectory). That’s called intelligence and talent and ambition and drive, and you know what? If a man did the same exact thing, this would not even be an issue. As Tina Fey so brilliantly put it in her book, “I know older men in comedy who can barely feed and clean themselves, and they still work. The women though, they’re all crazy. I have a suspicion- and hear me out, because this is a rough one – that the definition of crazy in show business is a woman who keeps talking even after no one wants to fuck her anymore.”

But enough about that. What about the movie? Rarely do we see a movie that hinges on such an unlikable character as Mavis Gary. Not only is she unlikable, but she doesn’t change. Her epiphany comes, yes, but it’s not at all what it would be in a more typical comedy. Even though she’s a pretty terrible person (and a pretty, terrible person), we still, somehow, want to see her find happiness. She’s newly divorced, living in a haze of hangovers and Kardashians, binge eating fast food, and wearing sweatpants whenever she isn’t trying to have sex with someone. She declares that she’s an alcoholic, only to be met with “Don’t be silly!” laughter from her parents. The young adult series she’s ghostwriting is ending, and she’s grasping at the life she lived years ago. Mavis Gary is a portrait of despair, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen a character with her lack of self-awareness. Young Adult is a pretty fantastic movie, and I haven’t even talked about the delight that is Patton Oswalt.

If you’ve seen Big Fan, then you already know he’s a genius at portraying sad, lonely people who don’t have a lot going for them. He is even more wonderful here.
Also, The Concept by Teenage Fanclub is used in an absolutely brilliant scene, and it will definitely be stuck in your head.

A Very Important Movie

13 Nov

Young Adult, the new Diablo Cody film starring Charlize Theron and Patton Oswalt, is coming out soon.
As you might imagine, that poster alone means I can’t wait to see it. Show me the trailer and I’m sold!

Charlize Theron stumbles around wearing yesterday’s eyeliner and sweatpants for most of this trailer, yet she still manages to look like an even prettier cross between Katherine Heigl and Sharon Stone. She’s going to end up with Patton Oswalt, right? I mean, she’d better. If I’m going to spend upwards of 8 dollars on this movie, she’d better end up with Patton Oswalt.
If you don’t like Diablo Cody, please look deep within yourself and examine where that hatred is coming from. Could it maybe be for the same reason you didn’t vote for Hilary Clinton, because there was “just something about her” you didn’t like? Is it, possibly, related to the fact that you don’t like Oprah, because you think she’s too full of herself? Listen, I would never accuse your pretty face of sexism, but it’s just something to think about. I wouldn’t want to sit through Juno again either, but let’s just be honest and admit that it had some sincerely affecting moments. Also, despite the fact that so much criticism is directed towards her, she has a great attitude and doesn’t talk shit about other people in interviews. Diablo Cody is creative, hardworking, and productive, so let’s get this on the record: I like her!

Lady Horror Film: House of the Devil

26 Oct

I love, love, love horror films, but probably not the kind you’re thinking of. Well, okay, exactly the kind you’re thinking of if you know me. Unfortunately, when most people think of horror, they think of, like, the Saw movies, which is fine if that is your thing! But you guys, this whole genre that’s been dubbed “torture porn” does not cover all horror films! I like horror films that are suspenseful, kind of goofy, and not even all that violent (unless it’s a B-movie from the 80s and I’m watching it with Alex, then violence is fine).

Embarrassingly enough, I had to stop watching scary movies about a year ago. I already deal with a fair amount of anxiety/worry and in general I manage it pretty well on my own. But, at the time, Alex and I were watching a lot of scary movies and I was spending so much time thinking about cults and serial killers that it was negatively influencing my quality of life. I made myself stop watching anything that scared me, including documentaries about the Manson family, which are like my favorite thing to watch! It was a sacrifice in my best interest.

The movie that set me over the edge was one of the scariest movies I’ve ever seen, The House of the Devil. I cannot recommend this film enough, even though it has all of the things that scare me the most, including cults, very long quiet scenes where you think something scary is going to happen at the end (I seriously CANNOT EVEN HANDLE mild suspense), weird old people, and isolated houses. This is a near-perfect film, and a GREAT lady film. Here’s why:

1. Strong female lead who does not spend any amount of time conveniently forgetting to wear pants.

2. GRETA GERWIG. EATING PIZZA.

3. A great dance scene to The Fixx’s One Thing Leads to Another

4. Tom Noonan. Amirite, ladies?!

5. The director, Ti West, is a total babe. Also, a good director.

After I watched House of the Devil with Alex, I drove back to my apartment in the dark. When I tried to climb the steps up to my place, I actually felt panicked. I scared myself so much thinking about this movie that I didn’t think I could make it up the stairs. It was then that I realized that, however much I might love horror films, maybe they just didn’t love me back. I haven’t really watched anything scary since, but if you are not so easily frightened, I would highly recommend House of the Devil. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

Our Idiot Brother

31 Aug


Over the weekend, I saw Our Idiot Brother, a movie that was far sweeter and funnier than anything I’ve seen this summer (and I saw the Werner Herzog cave painting documentary!). I love family comedies more than just about anything. You know, like The Corrections. That was a comedy, right? Don’t even tell me it wasn’t, because what was that scene with the talking turd if not comedy? Either way, Our Idiot Brother surprised me by including very few crude jokes. Yes, we did see the back of Steve Coogan’s balls, crude as they may be, but other than that, it was really quite pleasant. No one had semen in their hair, or got hit in the face with a condom, or whatever sort of thing the kids think is funny these days. I appreciate a dirty joke as much as the next gal, but it was nice to see a movie where all of the characters (EXCEPT STEVE COOGAN) were clothed most of the time.

Paul Rudd’s character was a real rarity in film: an optimistic character who isn’t mocked. Most of the comedy hinged on his free-spirited, relaxed behavior around people who are more uptight or motivated or mean, but the film never mocked him. The movie opens with him selling pot to a uniformed cop, but at no point did I think, “Get a load of this dummy!” In a lot of ways, Our Idiot Brother reminded me of an 80′s comedy, maybe something like What About Bob. Actually, exactly like What About Bob. Let’s all rewatch What About Bob this week, everybody!

This movie had something else I always love in a film: sisters! I love watching movies with sisters (or nuns, or houses for unwed mothers, or all-girls boarding schools) because that’s an experience I never had and it all seems so wonderful and mystical. Does it involve less farting? I bet it does. I bet nobody farts at the dinner table when you have sisters! Probably your sister does not say, “Wait a second, did you hear that?” and then fart as soon as you start listening intently.

Watch this movie. Think about what it would be like to have sisters. Look at Steve Coogan’s balls. You’ll love it.

The Jerks You Will Date (According to the film Mahogany)

8 Aug

The Jerk Who Is Really Concerned About the Chicago Ghetto:

He’s always holding a megaphone and he’s always wearing a turtleneck. To be fair, it’s a good look for him. He enjoys jokes, like when you pour milk in his megaphone. While you admire his passion for social justice, you’ll get a little tired of his constant disapproval and the way he makes you feel like your dream of being a fashion designer is unimportant. Also, he is condescending as all get out.

You can wear a colorful poncho and drip candlewax all over yourself and hang out with Anthony Perkins if you feel like it! Speaking of him…

The Jerk Who Want You to Be A Model:

Once again, he’s got a sweet style, but he doesn’t have much else. Including a functioning libido. Like someone else you know, he makes you feel like your dream of being a fashion designer is unimportant. He tries to kill you at one point (don’t worry, he only succeeds in severely injuring you!), so he is probably the worst jerk you will date. Don’t even try to make him feel better about that whole impotence thing. He’s not having it.

The Jerk Who Buys One of Your Dresses and Nurses You Back to Health After the Last Jerk Tried to Kill You (But Wants Sex in Return):

Strangely enough, this guy is the least jerkish of all the jerks you will date. That’s because he has the decency (is it decency? Is that what it’s called when someone doesn’t rape you? Or is that just normal human behavior? I don’t know, Mahogany has me so mixed up!) to not have sex with you when it’s clear you absolutely don’t want to.

The Delightful Designer You Will Not Date But Should:

Bruce Vilanch!

“Mahogany: Good wood, great movie.”- Bart Simpson

Lady Inspiration: Miranda July (again)

3 Aug

I’ve been looking forward to Miranda July’s new movie, The Future, for an absurdly long time. It looks strange and fascinating, and I already know I’m going to like it.

A lot of people will hate that trailer. I understand that Miranda July is a divisive figure, but I think if we all opened our minds and hearts to her work, we’d appreciate her more. You might think a character talking to the moon is stupid, but I say who among us hasn’t tried to bargain with some higher power in the sky?

Miranda July is a huge inspiration to me, and not just in the vague, “I like the way she dresses!” sort of way. Her writing and her film work helped me gain the confidence to write about what interested me when I was in college. The stories in her collection, No One Belongs Here More Than You, are about the only subject that really matters, which is how we connect with each other. She explores the themes of human connection in unique ways that feels as if they could only have sprung from her mind. It was by reading her stories that I got the confidence I needed to write a story that was really important to me, even though it was about something that might seem strange out of context (phone sex, okay? It was a story about a phone sex hotline operator). I say it was an important story to me not because of other people’s reactions, but because of the catharsis I felt writing that story, as cheesy as it may sound. When I read one of Miranda July’s stories about a woman who has sexual fantasies about Prince Charles, that was when I realized we should all just write about what we want, even if it might seem strange or disgusting to a certain fraction of the audience.

On a considerably more shallow note, I’d like to once again mention that I respect women who are very pretty, yet deliberately choose to look strange. Observe:

Lots of people hate Miranda July, and a large portion of those people are men. I have a theory about this (of course I do). While July’s work often deals with sexual undertones (and usually overtones), that sexuality is not directed towards men. She embodies many of the cliches of femininity (big eyes, curly hair), but she uses her sexuality in a way that feels aggressive just because it doesn’t appeal to the male gaze. There is always a darkness to the sexuality in her work, a strange other-worldliness that doesn’t exactly make sex sexy.

Of course, I also admire the way that Miranda July is an out and proud feminist and all the work she’s done to support other women. It’s so easy to hate things, especially things that are earnest and emotional instead of sarcastic and detached. I hope people will be open to this film, instead of just leaving knee-jerk critical comments on the AV Club’s message boards.

Because all things come back to Carrie Brownstein, here’s a Sleater-Kinney video that Miranda July directed. This is one of my favorite SK songs.

You Have No Idea

2 Aug

…how much I’m looking forward to this movie. Unfortunately, I’ll have to wait until at least October.

It has all of my favorite things: cults, celebrity crush John Hawkes, and The Third Olsen.

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