Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip




AGORA
: Dragged from her chariot by a mob of fanatical vigilante Christian monks, the revered astronomer was stripped naked, skinned to her bones with sharp oyster shells, stoned and burned alive as possibly the first executed witch in history. A kind of purge that was apparently big business back then.


CRITICAL WOMEN HEADLINES

12/14/21

Rae Dawn Chong Receives WFCC Award 2021

 THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

Danielle Deadwyler as Cathay Williams, The Harder They Fall

Rae Dawn Chong, The Sleeping Negro
 
 

"Thank you WFCC,
This character epitomizes an invisible woman. Thank you for seeing her. I am truly honored. I once was reviewed by Ms. Kael and she was supportive and liked what I had done in a movie, so there is deep symmetry here. I love our movie The Sleep Negro and feel its message and heart are "right on time". THANK YOU from my heart for seeing her. Thank you for giving the invisible woman her due. WE need to be noticed. She needs to be seen."
 
Love,
Rae Dawn Chong
 
And this is the second awarded film this year, in addition to The Unforgivable, about the unlawful eviction of women and their families - in this case the elderly character 'Black Woman' dumped on the street by the sheriff, with only her walker and portable oxygen.

12/13/21

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE SPECIAL PAULINE KAEL JURY AWARDS 2021

 UNIQUE, PROVOCATIVE AND STYLISHLY OPINIONATED….

 

 


'Criticism is the only thing that stands between the audience and advertising.' - Pauline Kael



BEST FEMALE ACTION HERO
Sandra Bullock, The Unforgivable
Sandra Oh, The Chair
 
 What is the crime in The Unforgivable? Who did Ruth kill?


Sandra Oh Takes The Lead In 'The Chair' And 'Killing Eve' : NPR


 COURAGE IN FILMMAKING
Julia Ducournau, Titane
Sian Heder, CODA

COURAGE IN ACTING [Taking on unconventional roles that radically redefine the images of women on screen]
Halle Berry, Bruised
Sandra Bullock, The Unforgivable

WOMEN'S WORK: BEST ENSEMBLE CAST
Kathryn Hunter as The Three Witches, The Tragedy Of Macbeth 
King Richard

Get a Glimpse of Denzel Washington and Frances McDormand in 1st Trailer for  The Tragedy of Macbeth | Playbill

THE INVISIBLE WOMAN AWARD [Supporting performance by a woman whose exceptional impact on the film dramatically, socially or historically, has been ignored]

Danielle Deadwyler as Cathay Williams, The Harder They Fall

Rae Dawn Chong, The Sleeping Negro

WOMEN SAVING THEMSELVES AWARD
A Quiet Place Part II
Holler

BEST KEPT SECRET - Overlooked Challenging Gems
Mama Weed, Director Jean-Paul Salomé
Small Time, Directress Niav Conty
 
About Us - D'arc Productions 
 
              Mama Weed - Isabelle Huppert

 Mama Weed' ('La Daronne') review – The Hollywood Reporter
 
OUTSTANDING SERIES [Television or Streaming]
Lovecraft Country
The Handmaid's Tale

MOMMIE DEAREST - WORST SCREEN MOM OF THE YEAR 
Olivia Colman, The Lost Daughter



HALL OF SHAME [Individual Member Picks]

Free Guy - for giving us a kickass, lead female gamer, only to take her away by making her a manic pixie dream girl who just wants a boyfriend. 

Zola - for turning a true cautionary tale about sex trafficking into a dangerous sex farce for the male gaze.

Benedetta - a film about an early church feminist played as softcore porn

Being the Ricardos  - for taking a beloved female icon and turning her intelligence, talent and work ethic against her as a harping shrew, and the deeply flawed men around her as downtrodden male saviors.

Edgar Wright - for the disappointing third act twist in which the male predators are turned into victims in Last Night in Soho

Hollywood's attempt to cut Scarlett Johansson's payments for her work - and though the actress won the lawsuit, the Hollywood cost cutting trend now is to downsize actors in movies by maximizing documentaries as the cheap alternative - including sensationalistic reality tv style and tabloid docs.

Rita Moreno, writing about and talking about mistreatment as a Puerto Rican .but defending Lin-Manuel's lack of Afro-Latino representation with In the Heights - and becoming a media darling. Yet, because of an irresponsible statement made against the LGBTQ+ community by J.K. Rowling, she has been canceled in spite of all the work she has done for the black community and women's rights. Was this what Dave Chappelle was referring to?

12/12/21

Tribute To Lina Wertmuller, Filmmaker Ahead Of Her Time

 Contest Giveaway: 3 Copies Of Kino Classics The Lina Wertmüller Collection  Box Set | IndieWire

Italian film director and screenwriter Lina Wertmüller passed away on December 9th. The award winning, pioneering woman filmmaker is best known for Seven Beauties, The Seduction of Mimi, Love and Anarchy, and Swept Away...

By Cynthia Parsons McDaniel

I cannot believe how long Lina Wertmuller’s real name,

Arcangela Felice Assunta Wertmüller von Elgg Spañol von Braueich is!

 “I know they call me a crazy lady, but I’m only interested in making movies and having people see them,” Said Lina.

 To say she was ahead of her time is the biggest understatement EVER said about a female director.

 How did I end up interviewing her in Rome? Mainly because I was chasing my British boyfriend who had left me in New York to go work in Milan for Gianfranco Ferre. How did I get Lina’s phone number to even request the interview? Who knows? All I know is I was there on her patio with my camera and tape recorder. Then I was on her movie set working!

 Yes she was the first female nominated for an Oscar and yes she covered ruthlessly and magnificently the battle of the sexes. Power sex Women Men! She did a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame too That really amused her. She also got an Academy Honorary Award.

 Here is my interview with her below. I was mesmerized by her. By the way I never made it to Milan or the Brit. I had seen Seven Beauties In my Cinema class in London at University. I thought I have to meet her.
 

LINA’S HIT JOB

BY CYNTHIA PARSONS MCDANIEL


Lina Wertmuller: “Any object that has light shining on it, that has been washed and perfumed, loses all of its eroticism.”

Lina Wertmuller is sitting on the terrace of her house high above Rome, designed by husband-architect-production designer Enrico Job. Her latest film, Camorra, is opening tonight in Naples, the very place it was shot. The phones are ringing like crazy (“Ah, Marcello, come stai?” “Ciao, Giancarlo!”) and armfuls of flowers keep passing into the house. The 56-year old director of such films as Seven Beauties, Swept Away and Loveand Anarchy is reveling in the energy — it only seems to speed up her pungent observations on life and love.

Camorra (opening this March in NYC) is a story of the streets, crime and women. The “Camorra” is the Neapolitan equivalent of the Sicilian Mafia, and Wertmuller’s project was decidedly a risky one. The dons aren’t big on unplanned publicity but Naples — a city of crowds, traffic, deals, cement and decadence — was the ideal setting for this murder mystery. Camorra is replete with typical Wertmullerian passion and violence. It’s closer to her earlier work than her more subdued study of marital jealousy (Sotto Sotto) which just ended its New York run. Camorra stars the sultry Andalusian actress Angela Molina, and America’s own Harvey Keitel, among others.

Wertmuller:  “When I fall in love with a story, it’s like falling in love with a person.”

On Camorra’s themes:

“The film is dedicated to the beauty of youth and to its great fragility. For so many centuries, youth has been destroyed by high ideals—country, politics, religion. Young people are always searching for certainty, for better worlds, better paradises, but have always ended up paying a price for it. I wanted to say that it’s hard to be young. And it’s about Naples, which is a very special city to me. Mysterious.”

On Love and Sex:

“Love is from the head and then passes through to the body. Love is the dark object of desire, a hidden object. It’s not obvious. Any object that has light shining on it, that has been washed and perfumed, loses all its eroticism. Nature puts these hidden angles in us, secret paints that someone arrives at with someone else to establish a new system of sight, smell and vision. Love enters my filmmaking because when I fall in love with a story, it’s like falling in love with a person. I want to know others’ stories; my work is never autobiographical. I want to be the eyes for someone else. I’ve accepted who I am, so I can complete a project I feel strongly about. !feel passion for a story.”

On Being A Woman Director:

“In my films I’m a writer and director, and I’ve tried to interpret feminist, anti-feminist, capitalist and anti-capitalist issues as having both leftist and rightist tendencies at some point. I’m a political writer who believes everything often exists at once. I like to pit the capitalist against the proletarian under the veil of symbolism and depict characters who must continually choose between a life of honor and sheer survival. I’m really the first woman director to consistently gain enough backing to produce my own films.”

On the Past and the Future:

“I’m afraid to say that as a result of women wanting freedom, they’ve lost some romanticism: holding hands, kissing. There is no sentiment. There’s no mystery. We need to go back to the traditional rites of lovemaking, like priests and priestesses. Basically, I hate the violence of a masculine society— that was something I dealt with in Sotto Sotto and also in Camorra. But it isn’t easy to change a situation (between men and women) that is thousands of years old.”

12/11/21

WOMEN FILM CRITICS CIRCLE AWARDS 2021

 

BEST MOVIE ABOUT WOMEN

WINNER: Passing

RUNNER-UP: The Lost Daughter

Being the Ricardos

CODA


BEST MOVIE BY A WOMAN

WINNER: Jane Campion - The Power of the Dog

RUNNER-UP: Sian Heder - CODA

Nora Fingscheidt - The Unforgivable

Rebecca Hall - Passing


BEST WOMAN STORYTELLER (Screenwriting Award)

WINNER: Jane Champion - The Power of the Dog

RUNNER-UP: Rebecca Hall - Passing

Charlene Favier, Antoine Lacomblez and Marie Talon - Slalom

Sian Heder - CODA


BEST ACTRESS

WINNER: Kristen Stewart - Spencer

RUNNER-UP: Nicole Kidman - Being the Ricardos

Sandra Bullock - The Unforgivable

Virginie Efira - Benedetta


BEST ACTOR

WINNER: Will Smith - King Richard

RUNNER-UP: Benedict Cumberbatch - The Power of the Dog

Andrew Garfield - tick, tick… BOOM!

Nicolas Cage - Pig


BEST FOREIGN FILM BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

WINNER: Titane 

RUNNER-UP: Drive My Car

Benedetta

I’m Your Man


BEST DOCUMENTARY BY OR ABOUT WOMEN

WINNER: Rita Moreno: Just a Girl Who Decided to Go for It

RUNNER-UP: Introducing, Selma Blair

Gunda

Lady Buds


BEST EQUALITY OF THE SEXES

WINNER: King Richard

RUNNER-UP (TIE): Being the Ricardos

RUNNER-UP (TIE): The Harder They Fall

Gunpowder Milkshake


BEST ANIMATED FEMALE

WINNER: Mirabel - Encanto

RUNNER-UP: Raya - Raya and the Last Dragon

Abuela Alma - Encanto

Gabi - Vivo


BEST SCREEN COUPLE

WINNER: Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson - Passing

RUNNER-UP (TIE): Marlee Matlin and Troy Kotsur - CODA

RUNNER-UP (TIE): Nicole Kidman and Javier Bardem - Being the Ricardos

Anthony Ramos and Melissa Barrera - In The Heights 


*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD – For a film that most passionately opposes violence against women


*ADRIENNE SHELLY AWARD: Adrienne Shelly was a promising actress and filmmaker who was brutally strangled in her apartment in 2006 at the age of forty by a construction worker in the building, after she complained about noise. Her killer tried to cover up his crime by hanging her from a shower rack in her bathroom, to make it look like suicide. He later confessed that he was having a "bad day." Shelly, who left behind a baby daughter, had just completed her film Waitress, which she also starred in, and which was honored at Sundance after her death.


WINNER: Last Night in Soho

RUNNER-UP: Adrienne


*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD – For best expressing the woman of color experience in America


*JOSEPHINE BAKER AWARD: The daughter of a laundress and a musician, Baker overcame being born black, female and poor, and marriage at age fifteen, to become an internationally acclaimed legendary performer, starring in the films Princess Tam Tam, Moulin Rouge and Zou Zou. She also survived the race riots in East St. Louis, Illinois as a child, and later expatriated to France to escape US racism. After participating heroically in the underground French Resistance during WWII, Baker returned to the US where she was a crusader for racial equality. Her activism led to attacks against her by reporter Walter Winchell who denounced her as a communist, leading her to wage a battle against him. Baker was instrumental in ending segregation in many theaters and clubs, where she refused to perform unless integration was implemented.


WINNER: Passing

RUNNER-UP: Respect

Bruised

Test Pattern


*KAREN MORLEY AWARD – For best exemplifying a woman's place in history or society, and a courageous search for identity


*KAREN MORLEY AWARD: Karen Morley was a promising Hollywood star in the 1930s, in such films as Mata Hari and Our Daily Bread. She was driven out of Hollywood for her leftist political convictions by the Blacklist and for refusing to testify against other actors, while Robert Taylor and Sterling Hayden were informants against her. And also for daring to have a child and become a mother, unacceptable for female stars in those days. Morley maintained her militant political activism for the rest of her life, running for Lieutenant Governor on the American Labor Party ticket in 1954. She passed away in 2003, unrepentant to the end, at the age of 93.


WINNER: Passing

RUNNER-UP: Being the Ricardos

Benedetta

Spencer


ACTING AND ACTIVISM AWARD


Dolly Parton


LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD


Betty White

5/31/21

Cruella is the perfect kids’ movie for a culture that celebrates cruelty and malignant megalomania

Michael McCaffrey
Michael McCaffrey

Michael McCaffrey is a writer and cultural critic who lives in Los Angeles. His work can be read at RT, Counterpunch and at his website mpmacting.com/blog. He is also the host of the popular cinema podcast Looking California and Feeling Minnesota. Follow him on Twitter @MPMActingCo

Cruella is the perfect kids’ movie for a culture that celebrates cruelty and malignant megalomania
Disney has discarded the old princess narrative and, under the guise of self-empowerment, is now teaching generations of young girls to embrace self-serving toxicity.

This article contains minor spoilers for ‘Cruella’.

In the new Disney movie ‘Cruella’ the Rolling Stones classic ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ plays over the film’s final scene, which felt a bit too on the nose for the origin story of a notorious character that will go on to attempt to skin puppies for the sake of fashion. 

Cruella, of course, is Cruella de Vil, the infamous arch villain of the iconic animated film ‘One Hundred and One Dalmatians’. With this new, live-action, reimagined reboot starring Emma Stone, we discover why Cruella hates dalmatians so much and how she rose to power. 

What we really learn, though, is that the suits at Disney will go to any lengths to plumb the depths of their intellectual property vault to make money and corrode the culture.

Cruella, whose real name is Estella, is at first set in a sort of Dickensian London, where we learn of her troubled childhood. The film then magically shifts into the stylishly swinging London of the 60s and 70s, where Estella graduates from good girl gone bad to bad girl grown up. 

The soundtrack, which is easily the best part of the movie, reflects that time period, featuring an abundance of classics from the Doors, Queen, Nina Simone, ELO, Tina Turner, the Clash, and the aforementioned Stones.

Unfortunately, like seemingly all Disney films, ‘Cruella’ is a shameless money grab in the form of a two hour and 14-minute advertisement for Disney’s vast catalogue of past movie hits and its newfound woke politics.

Director Craig Gillespie has experience making movies about cartoonishly villainous women, as evidenced by his terrific film ‘I, Tonya’, about disgraced figure skater Tonya Harding, but on ‘Cruella’ he seems desperately out of place. 

The film’s star, Emma Stone, doesn’t fare much better. Stone is a likeable screen presence, but she is all bark and no bite as Cruella, as the threadbare script makes little human sense and reduces her acting to histrionics.

The film’s massive $200 million budget doesn’t translate into stunning visuals, either, as the film looks just okay and lacks any remarkable cinematic moments. 

It’s also painfully derivative, generously borrowing from other, much better films like ‘The Devil Wears Prada’, ‘Joker’, ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’ and ‘V for Vendetta’. 

The biggest problem with ‘Cruella’, though, is that it can’t quite figure out what exactly it wants to be. It’s too dark to be for kids and too silly to be for adults. Yet, despite the movie’s PG13 rating, it would appear from the movie’s rather ludicrous plot and minimal character development that the target audience is impressionable pre-teen girls, which is unfortunate since the film’s moral perspective is less than idyllic. 

Even though there are shades of Cinderella in ‘Cruella’, there are certainly no princesses to be found. The old days of the Disney princess are long gone, and some may say good riddance, but now the corporate behemoth Mickey Mouse built is pivoting to not just churning out generic girl power movies, but with ‘Cruella’, bad-girl girl power movies. 

This is a bad-girl versus bad-girl movie, a battle of the bitches if you will, where Cruella (Emma Stone) faces off against her fashion designer nemesis Baroness von Hellman (Emma Thompson – doing a second-rate Meryl Streep imitation), with the most-cruel and conniving female fashionista winning the stylish bad-girl championship crown with belt to match. 

I’m old enough to remember when ‘Joker’ came out in 2019 and hysterical establishment critics shrieked in horror, declaring it dangerous because Joker was the “patron saint of incels” who’d inspire white men to violence. Joker was rated R and obviously geared towards adults, but ‘Cruella’? It’s for 10-year-old girls and is designed, under the guise of self-empowerment, to encourage the selfish, bitchy, and viciously toxic behavior of brats of all ages. 

ALSO ON RT.COM'Patron saint of incels'? Outrage over Joker is a bad joke

And don’t be fooled: Disney knows exactly what it’s doing, as it clearly understands full well the power of pop culture to persuade, which is why it wouldn’t allow Stone to smoke as Cruella, despite that being a signature trait of the character. 

God only knows what deleterious effect ‘Cruella’ will have on generations of girls in a nation already filled with a plethora of narcissistic Karen De Vils. 

Of course, ‘Cruella’ is inoculated against that sort of moral and/or cultural criticism from mainstream critics because it has the “proper” woke perspective and a “diverse” and “inclusive” cast, where most of the “heroes” are women, minorities, or both. 

Among these heroes are Cruella, a genius taking on the small-minded patriarchy; Anita, the black female gossip columnist defiantly helping Cruella’s cause; Artie, the gay fashionista who fights for all things fabulous; and Jasper, Cruella’s right-hand person of color.

Ultimately, there’s nothing wrong with telling a story about an anti-hero or villain. These stories can have great value in that they help a culture assimilate its shadow and ultimately find catharsis. ‘Joker’ is a perfect example of this, and so could ‘Cruella’ be if it were made for adults.

‘Cruella’, though, is a sign of a culture intent on destroying itself; it’s a kids’ movie that teaches young girls to identify with and have sympathy for this undeniably immoral and malignant megalomaniacal she-devil, all while it celebrates cruelty. 

I guess a corrosive kids’ movie like ‘Cruella’ was inevitable, since we live in a popular, political, and social culture populated with so many cruel, immoral, malignantly megalomaniacal adults. As the saying goes, “You get what you pay for...” which is why I definitely wouldn’t recommend paying for ‘Cruella’.