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

7/29/08

Boarding Gate: 2007

Oliver Assayas
Director, Screenwriter

Cast: Asia Argento, Michael Madsen, Carl Ng, Kelly Lin, Joana Preiss

CONSENSUS: "Boarding Gate has little substance beneath its faux-thriller surface, and marks a step down from director Olivier Assayas' usual work". rotten tomatoes


And what is the substance beneath the surface of this summer's "must see " film Bat Man?

Boarding Gate is not a step down nor would I call it a faux thriller. It is a thriller with all the ingredients that kept my attention for the full 1:46 minutes which is more than can be said of Bat Man, the film everyone agrees is too long.

What is it that allows for this prejudice to continue, to have men determine the films that will make money, that cry out for others to see just because it is a film to be seen. Why can't women enjoy this phony applause of a film. Just because a film is called Bat Man and men remember when they read the comic and they love the character, Bat Man, and the Spider man and the Super man and they enjoy seeing the characters they read about as children come alive on the screen, doesn't justify reviewers' Faux applause for a film such as Bat Man where the acting is great but the substance is lacking and the film is too long to hold the audience attention.

Well, I loved Boarding Gate.. i thought the acting was great, the characters were creative and the sexual tension palpable . The over the top plot made for a tastefully made film about a subject(s) many would rather know less rather than more about.

I say see Boarding Gate. And if you are a woman I say seeing this film is a must! Feel the thrills, the sexual tension the weaving of a creative plot superbly acted and filmed with delicacy that only a seasoned film maker can champion.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective 2007
RT: Vine Witches Brew

7/20/08

DisFigured: Food, Flesh and Female Self-Loathing

By Prairie Miller

Obesity may be a challenging enough physical condition to deal with, but according to the sensitively crafted yet uncompromisingly candid female identity drama DisFigured, fat can be an unmerciful state of mind too. Filmmaker Glenn Gers, who pursued quite a different path as the screenwriter of that rebel girls gone wild feminist heist comedy Mad Money, dramatically explores in DisFigured weighty issues behind fat fascism in US society, and some tentative psychological if not physical solutions.

Lydia (Dierdra Edwards) is a charming, bubbly and surprisingly graceful but self-loathing obese young LA woman. Feeling lonely and marginalized, when not outright scorned in the rigid, literally and figuratively narrow, slim body fixation norms of US culture, Lydia joins a fat acceptance group run by a bossy and body image reverse-elitist bulky matriarch.

When quite evidently anorexic Darcy (Staci Lawrence) shows up to join the group because the scrawny, depressed woman can't stop feeling fat herself, she's treated like an intruder and sent on her way, despite a kinder, gentler Lydia's objections. Later the two meet up in the local park after Darcy responds to a flier Lydia had posted for a walking exercise group, and they soon become quite unusual odd couple girlfriends. Primarily because Darcy feels a need to help Lydia stop eating, and Lydia herself is just plain lonely.

Their girl bonding, however, goes through some harsh rocky patches, especially when Darcy is pushed to confess that she finds Lydia's body 'disgusting.' And Lydia in turn is understandably suspicious that she's just a project for Darcy to work through her own personal problems, and basically Darcy's 'worst nightmare.'

Tensions over their conflicting eating disorders eventually tear them apart, with Lydia sensing a destructive turn into 'some sort of weight loss fatal attraction.' And out of control desires like sex, food and emotional neediness intertwine with their opposites of starvation, abstinence, denial, shame and self-hatred throughout this raw and revealing, intensely intimate drama. Though more attention paid to Darcy and her own struggles and related anorexia issues - she tends to function like a shadow in multiple ways to her more dramatically imposing polar opposite - would have added significantly more depth to the story.

DisFigured is the second movie to be released within a week, in addition to Darryl Roberts' America The Beautiful, that deals ever so frankly with ingrained social traditions targeting women in physically and emotionally destructive ways in American culture. And amazingly, both films are conceived and directed by men. Go Figure...

Cinema Libre Studio
DisfiguredMovie.com
Rated R
3 1/2 stars

DVD features: Commentary by Director Glenn Gers; Extended Interviews; Deleted Scenes; Trailers.

Prairie Miller

7/17/08

comment on Prairie Miller's America the Beautiful review

this is a film that viewers will not forget once it is over. 

the information conveyed and the humor and fun along with the pathos ensures that one can not help but feel compassion for the young 12 year old girl, Gerren Taylor.

.

The many layers of substantive merit are as mind opening as is the story of this child's formative years as an envied star.

What was weak for me is the relationship between the film maker, Darryl Roberts and his subject Gerren Taylor, the preteen super star.

I thought the dish washing scene was riveting and informative on the substance of this relationship that in many ways made the film richer, more emotionally charged. But we didn't see Darryl and Gerren talking, eating, creating the atmosphere of intimacy and that for me was an important omission. At the end of the documentary I wanted Darryl to embrace Gerren to show her the compassion and support the viewer could not help but experience due to the excellence of Darryl Roberts directing skills.


I also thought that Gerren's mother was not appreciated enough. This is a single mom, black and brazen and her goal is not just the fame of her child but to ensure that Gerren has a life without poverty. that she be cared for financially without help from others. We may not applaud the method used for this end but I do applaud her efforts.



This is a film to see and to buy. It is a perfect gift for the coming of age girl who wants to wear makeup or have those boob jobs and plastic surgery. On second thought , it isn't just coming of age girls who have been brought into the" Amereica is Beautiful and so must I be", way of life. Maybe we should all see this film, and work towards having it shown on Television, again and again, like the Wizard of Oz

.


Linda Z

WBAI women's Collective

America The Beautfiful: Sex Sells Feeling Bad About Yourself

Sex sells feeling bad about yourself, from designer vaginas to canine testicle implants, in this indignantly passionate, don't believe the deadly hype documentary.

By Prairie Miller

Several weeks ago, just around the corner from the radio station where I work on Wall Street in New York City, Ruslana Korshunova, a stunning twenty year old rising star runway model from Kazakhstan, jumped to her death from the 9th floor terrace of her luxury apartment, her body smashing into the street below. And while you might have thought she had everything to live for, Darryl Roberts' documentary America The Beautiful, may indicate otherwise.

Roberts explores with both indignant passion and a keen sense of principled protest, the billion dollar beauty industry in this country that profits off peddling a nearly impossible-to-attain standard of beauty. And, while insuring a permanent and loyal following of obsessively image-conscious female consumers by basically, well, just making them feel bad about themselves.

America The Beautiful explores just about every facet of this massive commercial enterprise dedicated to perpetrating a universal sense of female inadequacy, in a culture where you're told it's all about how you look, not who you are, including deceptive advertising and frequently dangerous beauty products. And ironically, disfiguring cosmetic procedures (including designer vaginas and even canine testicle implants) by apparently perfectly legal uncertified plastic surgeons, ordinary doctors who learned to ply their lucrative beautification trade typically at a one day symposium carving up tomatoes. And the US military as well is seen exploiting this desperate craze, by offering free breast implants in recruitment ads to women who sign up.

Threaded throughout this scathing investigative inquiry, is the disturbing and at times heartbreaking spotlight on the tragic rise and hasty fall of overnight LA supermodel sensation Gerren Taylor. It seems that while this young African American girl was considered at the height of her breakout 'adult' modeling career to possess the perfect stick figure proportions at the ripe age of, yes, twelve, by the time the size two, six foot adolescent turned fifteen and her adolescent hips began their natural process of rounding out, she was deemed over the hill and dumped for being, in her own words, obese and ugly.

What Roberts sadly concludes, is that the entire American beauty industry exists to make tons of money putting females down, through bombarding every woman with forty thousand ads a year featuring models who essentially don't exist because they've been photograpically altered to look perfect. This, in country in which five percent of the planet's population is subjected to forty percent of the advertising in the world.

And a life doomed to low self-esteem may be the least side-effect of this conformist body image culture destructive in the extreme. The obsession with looking perfect has led to an epidemic of dangerous starvation diets, chronic depression and even death among young girls driven to bulemia and anorexia.

One mother grieving for her teenage daughter who died from bulemia, is stricken with guilt because 'I insulted my own body all the time' in front of her. Another recalls how puzzled a woman she met in Africa was, when learning that she as an American female didn't love her body. Insisting that all women are beautiful each in their own way and that she loves her own body entirely, the woman told her, would you love that tree over there any less, because it doesn't look like another tree?

And so visibly upset is Roberts himself by these revelations he had set out to discover - and how females are tormented from ever earlier ages about their body parts - that at one point he declares that he's 'calling up every man I know to tell every woman they know, how beautiful they are.' America The Beautiful, nourishing food for thought as a remarkable antidote to female self-loathing in a calorically depriving culture.

First Independent Pictures
Rated R
4 stars

Prairie Miller

7/14/08

EXPIRED Cecilia Miniucchi

Director,Screenwriter, Producer
Cecilia Miniucchi*


Genre: Dramas
Starring: Samantha Morton, Jason Patric, Teri Garr, Illeana Douglas
Director: Cecilia Miniucchi
Screenwriter: Cecilia Miniucchi
Producer: Cecilia Miniucchi, Jeffrey Coulter, Fred Roos
Composer: Jeffrey Coulter

Plot:
Expired is the story of Claire,(Samantha Morton) an unimposing, sweet-tempered meter maid and her new found sexual interest played by Jason Patric. These two adults try to overcome paralyzing fear as they come closer together to share closeness and sexual gratification.


Commentary
Cecillia Miniucchi is a female director who isn't just good or creative or just anything. She is brilliant and her film, Expired, left me speechless.

This film is so powerful, so real, so sensitive to the ways of a modern woman who has to deal with the modern man for whom the internet offers such rich sexual gratification that the feel of a real woman's body is almost irrelevant.

Expired answers so many questions about what it means to be a woman, what personality to effect when dealing with a man who is bigger,stronger,stranger than herself.

The acting is superb, the story compelling, the directing well beyond anything I have seen this year.. Cecilia Miniucchi is a giant in a world with many a tall man competing for a place in the fame and fortune that films done well can earn.

Bravo,

A must see film.

Linda Z
RT@Vine:Witches Brew

*Cecilia Miniucchi, apprenticed under Lina Wertmuller, Fellini, the Taviani Brothers, and at Francis Ford Coppola's Zoetrope Studios.

7/13/08

Princess Diaries: More than beautiful, a princess is powerful and compassionate.

Gary Marshall

Starring: Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews, Hector Elizondo, Heather Matarazzo, Mandy Moore
Screenwriter: Gina Wendkos

Princess Diaries is a Disney film with a new angle. it's main character, Mia (Anne Hathaway) is an awkward misfit teenage girl who makes her way to the pinnacle of what young girls want to be: a princess.


Mia doesn't do it without competition or with the whole hearted approval of those who sponsor her rise to fame and fortune. Her grand mother(Julie Andrews) who is pushing Mia into this new life's role often has to separate the Grandmother in her from the Queen that she now is. This Grandmother struggle is performed to perfection by Julie Andrews, whose cultured voice gives hope to the less than robust sound of Anna Hathaway

Mia is an awkward actress, clearly not of star quality but somehow that is okay in this film because the plot and the timing of events, and the action carry the substance to a final debut rather than a finished work of art.


Princess Diaries is far from even an elementary notion of great art but there is something so wonderful in the story line, where a young girl can grow into a role of importance,. She can rule the roost and the country too.

This film could not have been made fifty years ago.
when women were destined to a life at home with children, the emotional and physical supported of their husband. (except of course if they were women of color)

I recommend Princess Diaries be seen. Maybe not by the seasoned film goer but by the young, the girls who still aspire to make their little worlds larger, and embrued with significant meaning.




Linda Z
RT@VineWitchesBrew

7/11/08

Beeuty In Trouble Jan Hrebjk

BEAUTY IN TROUBLE
2006
English subtitles

Jan Hrebejk_

PLOT:
“A smart situation comedy that contrasts old and new Czecho-no-Slovakias... The title comes from a Robert Graves poem and the soundtrack from Once’s busker-songwriter Glen Hansard.”_— Harlan Jacobson. The story line is a woman marcela *anna geislerova)who is –forced to chose between two men, one whom she loves with her intellect, the other , her husband–who dominates and fulfils her sexual strivings.


Czech Republic | 2006_110 minutes_
English subtitles
Director: Jan Hrebejk_
Producer: Ondrej Trojan_is
Screenplay: Petr Jarchovsky_
Photography: Jan Malír

Cast:
Anna Geislerová
Marcela

Roman Luknár
Jarda (Marcela's Husband)

Jana Brejchová
Marcela's Mother

Jirí Schmitzer
Uncle Richie


Josef Abrhám
Evzen Benes (knight in shining armor)

Beauty in Trouble is such a delightful film with characters vividly drawn who come from a world very similar in class as the people found in a Coen brother films. ie. (Fargo 1996)

The characters who represent the old republic speak crudely but honestly and their love is often expressed in terms with little endearment.

But they are funny, pathetic, and yet…. .this film is about character, ethics, the true and honest way people can and should act towards one another. What is paramount is not sex, as stated in the promotional material. It is love and the conflict between the passion that the body craves and the love that is not passionate but full, rich and nurturing for the mind and soul. It is the conflict delineated in William Somerset Maugham Of Human Bondage, where for those who read the book or saw the movie, Mildred, the waitress with whom the intellectual author is obsessed, is the essence of love and hate while intellectual women are simply there for stimulation of the mind. Nothing passionate about that!

Beautyin Trouble has clear readable subtitles with only one blatant error “there “ was put on the screen when it should have read “they’re”.
But I could read it all, plenty of time afforded the slow reader and the film’s shots were effected without undo prolongation of a facial image.. I never got tired of looking at one actor or another and there were bodies to be seen, all the way from head to foot, not truncated at the shoulders or waist.


It was great dialogue and enjoyable images of an old lady and a sleazy older man and even the “knight in shinning armor “ who comes to save the day, is over drawn to the point of almost ridiculous but stops right at the moment when he is believable and enviable for his solid integrity, a quality so rarely put on the screen for us to imitate and absorb as a goal of our own.
The music is all the rave. If you see the vilm for nothing more than the music, you will not be disappointed.


Do see, women in trouble. Not for the sex particularly but for the plot, the resolution of conflicts we have all experienced in one form or another.


Linda Z

Beauty in Trouble: a second assessment

Films are immediate emotional experiences and often, only in hindsight, does the plot slowly deteriorate into something other than the fulfilling experience of the moment.

That is what happened with this 2006 film. Beauty in Trouble. While I watched the fairy tale of the poor financially devastated mother of two prepubescent children struggle when the flood forced her to return to her maternal home where her mother and step father lived in a somewhat less than tranquil abode, I was emotionally drawn into the seemingly fairy tale plot of a wealthy man who entered the sceen, superfluity of money in hand and a determination to help remedy the wrongs she has to endure.

But all is not right in this story line.

Does this wealthy much older man "buy" the woman and her children?

There is reference to an abortion but who was the father of the almost terminated birth is not explicitly stated.

There is reference to sexual assault by the step father that seems to slide into and out of the film without any real emotional impact: a shower scene with the naked step father and the young girl trapped in the room where he lets go of his protective towel.

What is paramount (emotionally accented) is the garbage that the step father throws onto the bed while the children sleep or the cookies the children ate that he claimed were for him only. But cookies and garbage do not hold the intellectual place in our lives that the sexual molestation of children rightly earns.

I still hold the opinion that the Beauty in Trouble is worth viewing, if only to see how emotions of the moment can triumph over intellegent understanding.


Linda Z

7/9/08

A Man Named Pearl

Scott Galloway
Brent Pierson

running time: 78 min

This documentary is not just about the self taught topiany Fryar Pearl. It is about a former share cropper deep in the United States' South Carolina where even Jewish people are not welcome. It is about a black man who has, through his work kept the small cummunity where he lives, alive and financially prosperous with a thriving tourist trade. By the busloads people come throughout the world to see what this one man,Fryar Pearl has created out of thrown away shrubs, plants, tree stubs. He has
used nature by enhancing it, the same concept that Homestead put into effect when he created Prospect Park and Greenwood Cemetarty in Brooklyn New York and the world famous Central Park in Manhattan.

The divide between the "white' community and the black or African American in South Carolina as captured in this documentary tells a story of how difficult it is to be a person of color and to champion the world of artisitc excellence. The black population seem to understand Fryar's work as the work of God but to the white community he has been given his rightful place along side the genius artists of our time(without reference to or benefit of God's help)

This film brings to the fore a black man living and working below the American mason dixon line. He is an inspiration for generations to come. and he knows it. He never tires of giving children the message, "you can do it, find a goal and you can achieve as I have. All it takes is hard work".

Well, I don't know about the hard work part because hard work aside, Fryar Pearl's creation is also based on a genius, a vision, the equiptment of a true artist.

This doumentary should be shown to all children to inspire a sence of achievement and a love of nature.

See it and take the children with you.
Now playing at the New York City Angelika Theater on Houston S
treet

Linda Z
wbai womens collective
and
rotten tomatoes
vine:witches brew

Wackness: Jonathan Levine: Writer/Director

If you are 70 years old and younger this film will delight, horrify and remind you of years gone by, hopes lost and new beginnings that might still be possible.
\
It is l994 when Luke Shapiro (Josh Peck) graduates from high school and the world of drugs is in full swing even though Mayor Giuliani’s war on the people has taken over New York City.

The Shrink was coming of age, no longer dedicated to the Freudian analysis of his patients with whom he was isolation from the real live therapist and the therapist’s life. He is the father figure, the one Luke seeks out to talk to since no one else is there for him. It is a service provided on a barter system, Luke talks and Dr. Shapiro (Sir Ben Kingsley) listens and then reacts.

This is a story filled with love, with hope, with the remembrance of the horrors of living on the edge economically, emotionally. Close relationships seem to be spontaneously developed and as quickly lost and yet into this mix of tension there triumphs the life of this coming of age teenagers who has just graduated high school and is on a summer time mission to make a lot of money(selling drugs) before settling down to the real world of college and a profession.

This film will provoke memories and define a world that is no more and yet, through the divorces and the lack of parent/child communication there is a strong bond formed, captured by an expert filmmaker and unforgettable actors doing what they do best. Acting.

I know you will see Wackness because this is a film not to be missed.


Linda Z
WBAI Women’s Collective

7/7/08

GONZO The life and work of Dr. Hunter S Thompson (2008)

Gonzo: The Life and Work of Dr. Hunter S. Thompson (2008)

Alex Gibney director, story, producer

Runtime: 1 hr 58 mins


Plot:
During Thompson's ten year heyday from 1965-1975 he wrote a huge amount of words both in book and journalism format. He created an entirely new style of journalism, dubbed "gonzo," taken from a song of the same name, and solidified his place in history as one of America's most influential writers and rebels. Fueled by ,drugs and Wild Turkey and his insatiable appetite for excitement and intense stimulation from without Thompson became a true iconoclast: goring sacred cows with impunity, hilarity, and a steely-eyed obsession to right wrongs.

Commentary:
The process of creating character assassination or hero through journalism is an experience film Director Alex Gibney understands well as he admits to being the grandchildren of the great Rev. William Sloane Coffin for whom the press was often merciless. ( go to Common Dreams for further information on Rev. Coffin)

But that is as far as the similarity in experience between Alex
Gibney and Dr. Hunter S. Thomspon seems to go. What Gibney missed is Thompson the man. Who was he and what informed on this genius of words, ideas and showmanship? What other than the drugs and booze informed on his character, his life and his premature death?.

Alex Gibney demonstrated that a film Director does not need to understand his subject as long as he is a profoundly talented film creator. Gibney is so talented that overly long scenes that contained only the full blown image of a man or woman's face without benefit of neck or torso did not repel me nor make me turn away from the site for extended periods of uncontrolled horror. That in itself takes talent.

Gibney interspersed backdrops of testimonials from those close to or those whose political life Thompson wrote brilliantly about with real live footage. He used tapes found in Hunter's basement as a voice over for the reproduction at one point in the film.

Visiting the past is always a good idea. Gibney provides wonderful footage from real television shows of old and Gibney's choice of music was pure pleasure. It felt like I was seeing old political friends and foes, and listening to music that I once loved, and still remember with the same intensity of experience. It felt like the sixties came alive again and that is the great achievement that Gibney brings to the screen.

But what Gibney didn't understand was the real Hunter Thompson the man hidden behind the Nixon mask.

Hunter had the experience of sitting in the back seat of a car with Richard Nixon. Over their hour and a half conversation that focused on their mutual obsession with football, a profound similarity in their character emerged. Neither Hunter nor Nixon were easy to define. It is not that they were Teflon characters but rather they both appear to be vacuous people whose life blood was determined by the external stimuli upon which they both fed.

To say that Hunter was addicted to stimuli is borne out in the film. In the quiet moment in Africa during the eighth round in the Mohammed Ali fight against Joe Frazer for the heavy weight champion of the world, Hunter got bored and left the fight, put on his Nixon mask, flippers, a swim suit and plunged into an introduction to his eventual fall from the spotlight of the great author he aspired to be.

This same inability to tolerate the quiet moment with his family or to be comfortably alone was revisited at the end of his life. Yes, Hunter was sick, probably physically in pain, but that quiet, potentially nourishing moment with his family was for Hunter intolerable. As he sat with the intimate members of his family he knew that this life was not for him. He left the family setting, went outside and all that was heard was a quiet thump like sound. Not a firecracker set off into the sky, with an audience to applaud the show. That part of his demise came later. After the cremation, the sprinkling of his ashes in Aspen Colerado, an event he designed as his life diminished and thoughts of death came to the fore. Too often, his ex wife said, and his second wife concurred. Too often he thought or talked of taking his life.

But I have written too much about Thompson, the pack rat with all his baggage of senseless stimuli carried where ever he went. I have written too many words, and filled too much space but isn't that a reflection of the man and the power of this film to inspire the remembrance of a time, when and to hope that we will again be allowed to speak our minds without fear of arrest or a beating from the armed forces that control our world.

In my opinion Hunter, who seemed to possess the uncanny ability to foresee into the blind future as demonstrated in his reaction to the famous 9/11 explosion/demolition would never have endorsed the likes of our current "great white hope", Obama, who is neither white nor a symbol of hope. Obama has demonstrated that the separation of church and state will continue to be blurred and his commitment to the all too many wars that pledge this earth will continue under his reign But who else is there to fill the American Dream that we hear and are diligently taught to believe in while in the infancy of our developing young minds.

Hunter would have long ago destroyed this political charade but now, he is gone and there seems to be no one to replace him.

See this film and maybe you will be inspired to speak truth to the political scene that holds us all in silent captivity.


Starring: Gary Hart, George McGovern, Jann Wenner, Jimmy Buffett, Jimmy Carter
Director: Alex Gibney
Story: Alex Gibney
Producer: Alex Gibney, Graydon Carter, Jason Kliot, Joana Vicente, Alison Ellwood, Eva Orner
Composer: David Schwartz

Currently playing at the New York city Angelica Theater on Houston Street,

Linda Z
RottenTomatoes Vine:Witches Brew

WALL E Andrew Stanton

Starring: Fred Willard, Jeff Garlin, Ben Burtt, Sigourney Weaver, John Ratzenberger
Director: Andrew Stanton: (Finding Nemo)
Producer: Jim Morris
Screenwriter: Andrew Stanton
Producer: Jim Morris
Composer: Thomas Newman

WALL-E
a computer-animated cosmic comedy about a determined robot named WALL•E
(short for Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth-Class) and his co-robot EVE

PLOT: After hundreds of lonely years of doing what he was built for, collecting knick-knacks, WALL•E discovers EVE a sleek search robot who sets him on a new life’s mission. He chases Eve across the galaxy and sets into motion an exciting and imaginative comedy that speaks mountains to the human experience we now enjoy on this fragile site called earth. The robots’ mission is to return the over stuffed, over indulged video addicted humans home to a sustainable earth where the accumulation of garbage no longer hinders their ability to physically fit on earth.

Commentary:
I never liked cartoons as a child. I was not one of those addicted to Saturday morning programs with made up , animated, figures racing across a television screen for no apparent reason other than to destroy one another and then bounce back as if death was only a game and life the real deal. When my three year old son had to explain the “plot” of the cartoon and the reason for his enjoyment of what he saw. I realized that his world and mine were very much at odds.

But Walt Disney has helped to bridge that gap. The Lion King, which I did not see, is strongly recommended by sane adults who never enjoyed the Road Runner or the Bugs Bunny of her/his day.
But with all the high praise and the enjoyment I reaped from the film “Year of the Fish”(reviewed for criticalwomen@blogspot.com), I decided to spend the money, take the plunge and sit through this elongated cartoon, WALL-E.

In the film WALL E, the robots unite. but don’t multiply, not yet. WALL E is a robot who devotes his time to gathering trash and yes, there is so much of it, after the earth has been abandoned and its denizens live in outer space.

We all recognize the trashed items and it is this along with the angular motions of the heads and robotic body twists and turns that helps the viewer identify with these decidedly inanimate objects. And their daily activities help us know that these creataures are replicas of us.

WALL E is designed to collect, assemble and move useless things that we once held claim to from one place to another.

I particularly liked the scene with an umbrella that seemed to have a life of its own, as they always do, turning inside out and becoming albeit momentarily the ally of nature’s seeming intent to force us earlthy creatures to get wet rather than stay dry.

The scenes with the “people" in outer space, the shape of their bodies, the snapping of fingers to be fed(they ingest only liquids because solid food takes too much effort to consume), protected, catered to in all its unhealthy humanlike ways resonates with anyone who has known the “shut in man" of today who never leaves his house because everything he needs to live and be entertained is found at the snap of a finger or a call to the local delivery eatery; or on the internet, the television or cell phone or hand held video game.

This film is so true to life, so funny in its exaggerations, so real to the mind, that one forgets that it is just a cartoon, written by the geniuses in the field and animated by the state of the art artists of which, judging from the long lists of credits, there are hundreds, maybe thousands.

With so many professionally gifted people involved in this extraordinary effort to entertain the viewer, you can’t go wrong in participating in the experience of Wall-E, a state of the art, masterpiece.


Linda Z
WBAI Women’s Collective
rotten tomatoes vine:Witches Brew

Theatrical Release: Jun 27, 2008 World Wide

Currently playing at the New York City Angelika Theater on Houston street.

7/6/08

Feedback on Fierce People

Prairie:

I loved the experience of Fierce People. I live in Costa Rica and hadn't heard of the movie so I googled to find out about it. Reading Rotten Tomato reviews, I felt retarded for loving the movie. When I found your DVD review, I was way happier and thought you were brilliant like me. :D

Also, I chuckled reading, "Too bad this wasn't made twenty-five years ago, when it still had a chance of being accepted by the masses because it was quirky."
[Edward Havens, FilmJerk.com] I'm old enough to get this observation.

What other movies should I see?

7/5/08

Visiting Hours: A Look At The Movie, The Vistors

By Sikivu Hutchinson

In the critically acclaimed film The Visitor Walter Vale, a white Connecticut College economics professor, burnt out from a moribund academic career, forms an unlikely friendship with a young immigrant couple who have illegally sublet his Manhattan apartment. The friendship unfolds when he allows the two to stay in the apartment until they find other living arrangements. The male half of the couple, a Syrian conga drum player named Tarek, encourages Vale to take up the drums after he surprises Vale playing them one afternoon. The movie’s plot focuses on the young man’s incarceration in a New York detention center and Vale’s increasing involvement in his circumstances, culminating in a tentative romance with his mother Mouna. After seeing the movie recently at a Westside theater, an older white woman sitting next to my spouse and I leaned over and asked him how he liked the film. Perhaps feeling expansive after the movies’ theme of interconnectedness, and seeing that we were an interracial couple, she volunteered that she thought Barack Obama has “opened up a lot of things.” Looking around at the nearly lily white theater, snug in the heart of one of the most real estate rich enclaves in the state, the irony of the woman’s pronouncement couldn’t have been more thunderous.

The title of the film plays on the vagaries of living in a city riven by deep disparities of race, class and residency, in which people of color are shut out of gentrified Manhattan where studio apartments can command $2000 and up. Yet for some, the film, like the Obama candidacy, may be seen as a metaphor for possible transcendence of and redemption from America’s racist legacies. A fish out of water cum male midlife crisis story, the film evokes the shopworn narrative of the emotionally vacant WASP transformed by a brush with the culture of the emotionally vibrant Other. Vale’s growing fascination with Tarek and the world of street percussion players underscores how desolate his overly intellectualized world has become. After Tarek is jailed for being in the country illegally Vale hires an immigration attorney, growing increasingly frustrated with the Orwellian machinery of the detention center. When Tarek is deported Vale takes his drum down into the subway and plays on the platform, signaling a rejection of his decidedly unexamined life. Like Vale, an insulated white man jolted awake to a world he had the privilege of being oblivious to, many white Obama supporters are attracted to his campaign’s emphasis on relationship-building and multiculti commonality as an antidote to racial injustice. Obama is a salve for those who would like to believe that the U.S. has gotten beyond the messy entanglements of segregation. Indeed, how can it not be so if for the first time in history the U.S. may be poised to elect a president who cannot claim the race and class privileges of full citizenship as his birthright? Citizen Obama, Harvard pedigree notwithstanding, would be hard pressed to rent or buy a home on the Westside, would be more likely to be profiled by the gendarmes of the Santa Monica PD, shadowed by a department store security guard in a chi chi boutique and suffer the everyday indignity of a Hillary Clinton lookalike’s purse grabbing nausea in an elevator on his way out. Given these paradoxes what exactly would an Obama presidency uncommitted to eradicating the very divisions in wealth and power that sustain our national “tale of three cities,” of illegal subletters, non-citizens and the landed gentry really open up?

Sikivu Hutchinson is a Los Angeles-based writer and editor of blackfemlens.org, an online journal of feminist criticism. She is also a contributor to The WBAI Radio Womens Show in New York City.

7/4/08

Kabluey: Another Tired Family Values Tale About Women As Bad Parents Without Men Around

By Prairie Miller

A dysfunctional family frolic about a guy whose day job entails getting himself stuck inside a gigantic promotional mascot costume known as Kabluey, the movie that goes by the same name is itself an equally ill-fitting matchup of sorts between Daddy Day Care and Desperate Housewives. There's also a sidebar about a soldier stuck in a different kind of outfit in Iraq, that seems tossed in for cheap sentimentality when the jokes fizzle out.

Scott Prendergrast, who was last seen salivating around Paris Hilton in The Hottie And The Nottie, directs himself here - never a good sign - as Salman, the loser brother-in-law of sourpuss mom, Leslie (Lisa Kudrow in whining shrew mode). Salman's brother - Leslie's soldier spouse - has been stationed in Iraq and is due to return in four months. But Leslie has a slim tolerance for loneliness, or single motherhood, and she's transformed into a rejecting mom to her two inevitably maladjusted young sons, while possibly prowling around for a new man on the sly.

When Leslie sends out an SOS to the extended family that she's got to go back to work to make ends meet or lose her health insurance - and needs a babysitter like right now - Salman, who's just been dumped from his own job, turns up on her doorstep. His far from enthused sad sack sister-in-law makes no secret of her displeasure and contempt for the unappreciated Salman, who's really doing her a big favor. Especially considering that his bratty nephews from hell have conspired to make his life miserable, when not outright threatening to kill him. At one point, the terrorist tots pour powdered disinfectant down the throat of their sleeping uncle. This is supposed to be funny. Laugh track, please?

Some solidly kooky moments do materialize when Salman gets a job passing out fliers on a rural highway in that Kabluey costume, and during his hard time in solitary confinement inside that blue bubble decides trying his hand at some suited up superhero stuff, by righting various wrongs around him. But between far too many puke jokes and grating malicious personalities, there's something really fake about the entire proceedings, that exposes careless research about fairly important matters.

First and foremost, the wives of deployed military men don't need to struggle to make ends meet, or for their children's health insurance. Hello, those benefits are provided for soldier families by the government. There's also something a little tacky about using the Iraq conflict as an incidental plot device, and with absolutely nothing revealed about that war, the related issues, or who this soldier, so central to everything else happening in this movie, actually is. As for that Kabluey suit, Prendergrast spends most of the movie emphasizing his captivity squirming around inside that fashion nightmare, then later on simply slips out of it and is on his way.

Kabluey, a whole lot of thin storytelling and thick outerwear with one central sob story, and Iraq as an afterthought.

Regent Releasing
PG-13
2 stars

7/3/08

little children todd field

Little Children (2006)
Todd Field

Rated: R
Theatrical Release: Oct 17, 2006

now on HBO

Little Children is Todd Field'S ( IN THE BEDRoom) adaptation of Tom Perrotta's celebrated novel that offers insight into a middle class white christian couples' life in a small American town.

Plot:
coming of age in small town United States of America isn't what many would like it to be. And that's not necessarily a bad thing,.

When pre programmed couples fall into the malais from which we all suffer, it gives the discerning audience hope for the future of this country.

Starring: Kate Winslet, Patrick Wilson, Gregg Edelman, Sadie Goldstein, Jennifer Connelly

Commentary:

If you like the television show "desperate housewives"

if you like seeing adults trying to live within the narrowly defined "normal" parameters allowed even in the Democratic country of the U.S.A.


if you like a film with a voice over to led you down their desired path, Little Children is for you

If you like to have your basic principles questioned, examined and maybe even turned around,

if you want to see how the internet contributes to our isolation from each other,

if you like to see couples struggling to learn the new ropes of common existence where children often seem older than their parents, Little Children is for you

If you enjoy beautiful music,

if you enjoy a moment of quiet laughter in response to heavy irony,

if you like to see the good guys win and the society values upheld, albeit at great cost, Little Children is for you

Personally, I loved this movie. I enjoy Desperate Housewives and this film seems to take the man to task much as Desperate Housewives explore the intimate intrigues of the modern woman's suburban daily life.

The acting is superb, the direction unique and it works! The music, the sets, the ebb and flow of the story kept me enthralled.

It isn't a new release. It is now available on Home Box Office. Do see it. Whether you are young or old, it informs on our basic nature and gives hints as to why it is so difficult for men and women to get along. We are, after all is said and done, different; physically, sexually, emotionally.


Linda Z
WBAI Women's Collective
Rotten Tomatoes Vine: witches brew

7/2/08

Elegy Movie Review: Penelope Cruz Boob Fetish Blues

By Prairie Miller

Movies by and about women don't necessarily, sorry to say, identify with women. In disappointing contrast to Italian director Cecilia Miniucchi's Expired, where Samantha Morton informs her macho moron leading man, 'You don't make love to a body, you make love to a woman,' in Spanish filmmaker Isabel Coixet's Elegy, Penelope Cruz's gullible college coed swoons when the lecherous lecturer played by Ben Kingsley confesses that he's fallen in love with her breasts. You've come a long way backwards, baby.

Based on the Philip Roth novella, The Dying Animal, Elegy is one of those pseudo-intellectual romps in which the classical music backdrop, fine wines and high minded existential gab as cunning seductive foreplay, make its run of the mill sleazy sexism all right. Ben Kingsley is David Kapesh in Elegy, an aging divorced English literature professor at Columbia University, who seems to have made his career choice based on all the worshipful young coeds he can charm into bed on a regular basis.

But the tables are turned when Kapesh is hit with a late midlife crisis schoolboy crush on his student Consuela (Penelope Cruz), a mysterious Cuban-American with a provocative air of elusive innocence. Assuming a rationalized role as Conseula's educational advisor, Kapesh dedicates himself to assisting this female whom he's certain 'isn't sure what to do with her beauty,' while violating his own cardinal rule that he'll never seduce his students 'until they've gotten their grades.'

As a heated romance materializes between the two, Kapesh is also cheating on his longtime middle aged lover, Carolyn (Patricia Clarkson, in her second, increasingly typecast older actress role in less than a year, after Married Life, where she's likewise dumped for a younger woman). But it's an okay, guilt-free betrayal folks, because Carolyn is only interested in pure sex in a permanent relationship. Whew. In any case, to sum up these shady proceedings, Kapesh announces to himself, 'We talked about Kafka and Goya, but mainly I wanted to fuck her.' Words of wisdom from his colleague and friend (Dennis Hopper) to break off this destructive and doomed relationship, go unheeded.

Eventually lust for her young body that he has objectified into a tantalizing work of art, morphs into obsession. And Kapesh is overcome with high anxiety that Conseula will eventually leave her lover over thirty years her senior, for a younger man. And soon his possessiveness begins to drive her away.

Elegy holds initial interest as an intelligent, introspective mood piece about the inevitable mirrored mortality of life and love. But the movie wears out its welcome from too much sulking and its digression into disease of the week fare, with at least two illnesses on hand.

On a side note, the NYC Columbia University setting by way of Vancouver, is an additional false irritant. And as a graduate of Columbia, I can attest to the fact that this movie college that plays out more like a male fantasyland party hard, 24/7 sex den rather than a serious and transformative learning experience enclave, could only exist on another planet.

Samuel Goldwyn Films
Rated R
2 stars

Prairie Miller