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

4/23/08

VIVA Anna Biller

Plot:
Two housewives and their husbands go outside of the marriage dictates to find swingers, orgies and the world of “Sin” that typified the public image of the 1970’s sexual revolution. Brought on by the proliferation of the Pill and the woman’s freedom from that constant worry about “getting pregnant,” this film tries to bring humor and deliberate vacuous intellectual substance into a world full of unrestrained life and imagination, and change; the very qualities Anna Biller attempts to capture in her own artistic endeavor.


Trivia from IMDB
“The Japanese Mae West in the orgy scene who says, "Murray, peel me a grape" is Anna Biller's mother, dubbed by Bridget Brno. The guy at the bar in the brown plaid suit behind Rick is Anna's father. He originally had one line as a drunk”.
:

This is a family driven film that has outstanding use of color and scene and costume design but for me it was empty, almost stupid and certainly did not reflect the world of the sexual revolution it attempted to expose and make fun of.


What happened to the little girls who fell in love with their Barbie dolls and devoted entire toddler plus free time to holding, talking, being with their dolls? Part of the answer is contained in Anna Biller’s recent film Viva.
Anna Biller is the writer, director, film editer, costume designer, set maker, film producer and most importantly, she is the led actor in her own film

This film shows more bosom than any film I have seen outside of the porn industry, and more unattractive body parts in general than I ever want to see. They are the human equipment of these flat one-dimensional actors who are put into a flat, non arched plot with disturbingly simple dialogue and plot

But what stands out is the quality of the Barbie doll, of Anna Biller desire to present herself as a fat Barbie doll with the men faring no better as the Peewee Hermann or the Superman doll type actors. Although she might think this is a funny satire on a life style and time she knows practically nothing about, she is wrong. This movie is, on the surface dull, (except for the colorful imaginative costumes and scene designs) apparently unedited and the subject matter is an insult both to Anna Biller the film maker and to the audience who is not too old to forget what life was like then, even in Hollywood

I am grateful for the American Doll, for allowing girls to play with dolls who look like them and not like the stick figure, boob protruding Barbie dolls that dominated the doll world and unfortunately often still do.




LindaZ
WBAI Women’s Collective

1 comment:

  1. I want to clarify some things for you Linda, since I've come across your blog a few times and some of the things that you say are inaccurate. First of all, this is not a family-driven film. My parents were extras in the film and each appeared for one day on the set. They had nothing to do with the film other than that.

    Second, this film has nothing to do with Barbie dolls. I challenge you to find some connection between this film and Barbie dolls, or little girls playing with dolls, or body image influenced by dolls, anywhere in the film. The main character's name is Barbi, which is a nickname for Barbara. She was not named after Barbie dolls. Her name is not even spelled the same way. Moreover, there are no attempts by any of the women in the film to conform to a thin or unrealistic body image. Plus, I am olive-skinned and dark haired, and do not have Barbie doll's body (which you yourself noted when you unkindly called me a "fat Barbie doll"). The resemblance to myself and a Barbie doll is so remote as to never cause confusion as to my intentions regarding my character. If you have issues with Barbie dolls perhaps they should be discussed in another place.

    And where do you get the reference to Peewee Herman or Superman dolls? Is it because you yourself see the world in terms of dolls? Is it because you think I am presenting stereotypes? If you think the characters are flat that is a valid criticism, and yet your illogical doll metaphor undermines your credibility.

    As for the excessive nudity, apparently you missed the slew of films produced in the '60s which showed lots of natural nudity and which were part of the sexual revolution. These were not porn films, but celebrated the relaxation of censorship laws that allowed films to show more nudity than they had in the past. Often these films depicted ordinary people just relaxing at nudist camps. The contemporary view of these films is usually that it's disgusting or comic to see ordinary people who aren't porn stars in the nude, but the sexual revolution was about sexuality for everyone, not just models and professionals. It was a time when people were attempting to be free: from clothing, judgments, mean people, censorship. Nudism as a lifestyle exploded in the '60s, and its effects echoed throughout mainstream culture.

    You are saying that I have made a film about a time I know nothing about, and yet you yourself seem to have missed many things that were going on. A lot of my ideas came directly from men's magazines, which were read widely in the '60s and '70s by practically every man in America, and which informed a lot of the behavior, fantasies, and lifestyles of the period.

    When you mention "disturbingly simple dialogue and plot," perhaps you should explain what seems too simple to you. Simple in comparison to what? Does it disturb you to see people hanging out and trying to enjoy their leisure time, without life-changing events happening? You claim to be a feminist. Are you aware of the feminist cinema of the '70s that depicted women going about their boring lives in order to show the world a glimpse into a uniquely feminine experience? Or of the domestic sexploitation films which depicted couples flirting and getting it on, with relatively little else going on? VIVA is much more eventful and fast paced than any of those movies, yet it references them directly. And yet it is not a pastiche, it is an original film which attempts to talk about current and lived female experience, which is not as different today as in the '70s as most people would choose to believe. If the movie seems dull too you, it's because you didn't understand what it was about.

    And last, how can the film I made be an insult to my audience, and especially to myself? Do you think I have so little control over what I do that I am totally unaware of what I am producing and the effects of my work on the world? The meticulousness of the design, which you yourself noted, should be a pointer to the fact that this is not the case. This is a fiction film, not a documentary. Thus it does not provide the whole truth, only one person's point of view. But If you think you know what life was like during the sexual revolution, and how that reality feels different to you than what my film depicts, then why don't you talk about that?

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