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

5/25/10

Reader Mailbag: SATC 2 And The Woman Question


Reviewer Resignation, Please

I read your review of the recent film Sex in the City 2, on Rotten Tomatoes. I have to say, to help with the quality of RT, can you please resign from your position?

You obviously have no real value of history, film, or plot if you thought SATC2 was even close to a decent film. The movie was pointless to the sex in the city story, was disrespectful and stereotyped middle east cultures, and was just flat out obnoxious. I will never read another one of your reviews again, for being so blatantly incompetent at your job.

Eli Joyce
Swashbuccaler@....

Hi Eli:
Sorry to hear. Thankfully, we don't live in a country where those of a different opinion should expect to be executed or resign from their positions. Not to mention the tens of millions of women flocking to the theaters to see the movie, who would have to do so as well in such a country.
Here's a different sort of response below that I received yesterday - from a man!
Prairie Miller


Prairie:
I am THRILLED to see your take on the movie, which is exactly the same as mine.
It rankles me to see all the ageist bullshit about how old the characters look and complaints about the insensitivity to the unemployed and celebration of wealth--as if the NY Times wasn't filled on every page with mammon-worshipping. I was planning to write something about this later and am feeling my oats after reading your review.

You are the greatest! My hero!

Lou


THE LAST STATION: DISSENTERS DISEMBARK


Having just watched the movie, I can say that his is an absurd, ridiculously exaggerated, review that bears no
relation to the excellent movie that I enjoyed.
Alan White

Hello Alan:
Can you tell me exactly what you found enjoyable that I didn't? That would be helpful in understanding your opinion, thank you.
Prairie Miller

Try reading other reviewers on Rotten Tomatoes. Helen Mirren was first class, the ambiguities & frustrations of Tolstoy's last years were accurately represented and he was well played. Also the visual representation of the Russia of that period was excellent and the drama was also good. Note that both Mirren & Plummer were Oscar nominated for their performance. I have not read any other reviews that you have written, but I find your perspective on a really good movie to be hopelessly off-base. I hope this is not typical.
Alan

Alan:
Yes, I see that Rotten Tomatoes has a 70 percent positive critic rating for the film, which is not exactly glowing. Nearly one third of the critics disliked the film, and anything less than 60 percent at RT gets a negative rating. But that hardly matters, really. What I find disturbing and troubling, is this tendency lately towards a kind of consensus fascism. Just as there are many potential critic opinions about any movie, so are there diverse tastes in the audience. And what's more invigorating than a diversity of thought. How tedious the world would be, if everyone has identical reactions to everything.
Movie criticism is not an election, where the one with the most critic votes or biggest box office receipts wins and everyone else loses. The suggestion that there should be only one opinion about a movie and any dissenters should be banished, makes me cringe.
Prairie

Frankly My Dear: Molly Haskell's Exploration Of Nation And Of Self


Haskell Captures the Dynamics Underlying an American Icon in Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited

By Penelope Andrew

Film scholar Molly Haskell could not have been a more perfect choice for Yale University Press to tap for another volume in its Icons of America series that explicates the phenomenon—both novel and film—of Gone with the Wind. Its virtues and flaws are explored with an erudite, yet fresh perspective from a feminist who considers aesthetics before politics in her role as film critic. However, in Frankly, My Dear: Gone with the Wind Revisited, Haskell draws from France’s vanguard social theorist Alexis de Tocqueville as well the visual artistry of Hollywood’s William Cameron Menzies in analyzing the wonder of GWTW.

The author--a transplanted southerner raised in Richmond who now lives in NYC--never turns away from the fact that Margaret Mitchell’s story trivializes the enormous human tragedy of slavery, yet elevates Mammy, a slave, to a position of wisdom who often serves as the saga’s moral center. These fascinating dualities and ironies fuel the power of GWTW, and Haskell’s book itself. Exhaustive dichotomies in which Haskell poses Cukor next to Fleming, the delicate alongside the bold, the fussy with the sweeping—essentially every “yin and yang” firing up the strands of GWTW’s DNA--are explored.

CONTINUE TO READ ARTICLE HERE

Molly Haskell is a distinguished critic and author, and a member of the Women Film Critics Circle. More information is at: MollyHaskell.com

Penelope Andrew, a NY based writer who contributes to The Huffington Post and Critical Women on Film, is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle. A certified psychoanalytic psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker, she maintains a private psychotherapy practice in NYC.

HE SAID, SHE SAID....Winter's Bone


SHE SAID....

...Seemingly set for release on the successful coattails of that other likewise Sundance award winner venture in exploitative underclass tabloid cinema, Winter's Bone plays out like a seedy and no less cynical white trash version of Precious. Or, as NY Post critic Kyle Smith aptly characterized the lurid genre, 'poverty porn'....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE



HE SAID....

...This is a masterful film adaptation capturing life in the subculture of Missouri's Ozark clan community, its drug culture, and female teenager attempting to take control of her life without parental guidance....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Gerald Wright
National Association of Black Journalists
HDfest.com
Film Showcase

HE SAID, SHE SAID....Sex And The City 2


HE SAID....

By Louis Proyect

...The NY Times’s A.O. Scott assumes the posture of James Agee in finding the movie insensitive to our current economic crisis: “But the ugly smell of unexamined privilege hangs over this film like the smoke from cheap incense.” Scott also appears to have read Karl Marx at some point in his life based on this observation: “The Emirate to which the four friends repair is an oasis of gilded luxury in a world that has grown a little ambivalent about unbridled commodity fetishism.”
Excuse me. Am I missing something? If there’s any media outlet that should not be talking about “unexamined privilege” and “unbridled commodity fetishism”, it is the NY Times that is almost singlehandedly responsible for backing the yuppification of the island of Manhattan. This is a newspaper with society pages gushing over $10 million weddings and whose restaurant reviews are strictly devoted to venues that will cost you $150 per meal...

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW COMMENTARY HERE

Louis Proyect
The Unrepentant Marxist


SHE SAID....

The hostile, emotionally charged critic assault on SATC 2 is really a 'veiled' attack on the power of the older woman. And gives the strange impression that females are pariahs more here than in the Middle East, women - not men - who confront sheik sexism and burka blues in the movie. If only those 'make war not love' critics were as outspokenly outraged against the US military in that region, as they are against these women. And the fact that women are showing up in droves without men for SATC 2, says it all about the gender divide right here at home. Not since the nasty sexist campaign to drive Hillary Clinton out of the presidential race, has there been such an attack on anything expressing female political or sexual empowerment...

READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller


HE SAID....

By Gerald Wright

As events transpire to bring out hidden secrets of these two characters, I found myself engaged in the film. Their dialogue consists of clever witticism and they make some acute social observations. At times, the absurdity of the ridiculous and nonsensical takes over in the lives of these characters....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Gerald Wright
National Association of Black Journalists
HDfest.com
Film Showcase

5/24/10

HE SAID, SHE SAID....Princess Kaiulani



'PRINCESS KAIULANI' ARRESTED

Go to fullsize image
The actress portraying Princess Kaiulani and Native American legend Pocahontas in the 2005 film The New World, has been arrested in Washington, D.C. for staging a protest outside the White House. Q'orianka Kilcher, 20, chained herself to the White House perimeter fence to protest a state visit by Peru's President Alan Garcia, who has announced plans to sell large areas of indigenous land to oil companies and other foreign investors.

Kilcher's father is a Peruvian Indian.

The actress' mother Saskia was also involved in the protest, pouring black paint on her daughter to give the appearance of being covered in oil. The mother has been charged with defacing government property. Kilcher was charged with disorderly conduct.

Kilcher also recently visited Lima, Peru to help champion an indigenous leader there, and supported Bolivian president Evo Morales at a political rally in April on climate change.

Kilcher's name Q'orianka means "Golden Eagle" in Quechua. Her father is a Quechua Peruvian artist, and her cousin is Grammy-nominated singer Jewel Kilcher.


HE SAID....


By Gerald Wright

The in-depth development of realistic characters dealing with emotional feelings, racial prejudice, religious intolerance and corruption, put characters in conflict with themselves, as well as societies. The performances of ensemble are flawless...

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE


Gerald Wright
National Association of Black Journalists
HDfest.com
Film Showcase

SHE SAID....

Unfolding somewhat like James Cameron's Avatar relocated back in time to planet earth, the film ironically excavates a very different homeland security, in resistance to US imperialism. And a rare woman on screen, not living through a man....

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Prairie Miller

5/14/10

Hawaiian Historical Society Responds to Princess Kaiulani Review


Aloha e Ms. Miller...

I have read your review of Marc Forby's version of Princess Ka'iulani's life, and appreciated your comments about Hawai'i's submerged history. I assume, though, that you are aware that Mr. Forby takes considerable dramatic license with what Ka'iulani experienced in England (Great Harrowden Hall was anything but the miserable place/experience that he portrays it as, and the romance is also largely a fiction - I doubt Ke Ali'i Ka'iulani would have been pleased by either depiction).
I imagine you were aware of Ka'iulani as a historical/cultural figure before this film?

While I am waiting to see the finished film (I've read the script in its several drafts...save for the first, which elders in the Hawaiian community found so offensive in some of its content that Mr. Forby was forced to alter it), it remains a matter of ambivalence or controversy for members of both the Hawai'i history and ethnic/cultural communities...for a variety of reasons.

It is a pity that a "romance" had to be resorted to at all (but I suppose Hollywood formula dictates here)...since Ka'iulani did so many interesting things that I am assuming are not depicted in the film...as they are absent from the scripts. (From surfing to playing the violin...and she was quite a talented artist).

But of course "romance" - and naturally with a white man [one is unhappily reminded of the Pocahontas/John Smith convention, particularly with Ms. Kilcher in the lead] - takes precedence over the things an intelligent young woman might otherwise occupy her time with. Aue no ho'i e!

I hope the film truly awakens Americans to at least some of the issues centered on the theft of the Hawaiian nation from its people. I also hope that some gifted Hawai'i/indigenous documentary makers will in the near future make a fact-based documentary about Ka'iulani's real life...which is dramatic enough without an assortment of fictional baggage.

All the best,
Mindi Reid
Hawaiian Historical Society

READ PRINCESS KAIULANI MOVIE REVIEW HERE

5/11/10

HE SAID, SHE SAID....Agora



HE SAID...

By Gerald Wright

Rachel Weisz gives a brilliant performance as she deals with the climate of violence and confrontation in her stance against the socio-political debacle. It is quite remarkable. The supporting cast are great and bring a most diverse creativeness to their fictional characters.

This is a very impressive historical period piece film. As biopics go, this displays a solid fact based theme and allows a fictional narrative explode on screen. With crisp pacing and terrific performances by a great ensemble, I enjoyed this movie.

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE

Gerald Wright
National Association of Black Journalists
HDfest.com
Film Showcase


SHE SAID...

Rachel Weisz is her usual luminous self in a role that sees a religious fear of educated female leaders pitted against a woman who is drawn to the challenge of unlocking universal truths. Unfortunately, the key drama between Hypatia and the Christian zealots is drowned in at least half a dozen other plot strands and conflicts.

In a lavishly shot ancient world with great costumes and set design, we encounter a freed slave, a spurned lover, an aging father, a ruler's crisis of faith, and plenty of modern parallels with the rise of extremism. These characters and elements are explored with various degrees of success - and as they all clamour for screen time, clarity is lost and urgency slackens...

CONTINUE TO READ REVIEW HERE


Catherine Bray
Channel 4 Film, UK
Guardian
The New Statesman

5/4/10

Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2010


An annual spring event at the Film Society of Lincoln Center's Walter Reade Theater in New York City, the Human Rights Watch Film Festival 2010 will host thirty socially themed documentaries and dramatic features from twenty-five countries this year. Many of the directors will be present for discussion following the presentations, and twenty-eight of the films are NYC premieres. The Festival runs June 10th through 24th.

There are several features this year touching on a topic rarely explored in movies, the economic injustices inflicted upon a troubled world, and how economic issues permeate multiple aspects of society and individual lives of women and the poor, in significant ways...

CONTINUE TO READ ARTICLE HERE

More information about the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is online at: HRW.org and FilmLinc.com

5/3/10

Please Give Movie Review: The Supporting Leading Lady On Screen


Middle-aged, middle-class Manhattanite is overwhelmed by all the things in life she can't make better no matter how hard she tries. Keener steps up & gracefully allows herself to be the butt of every joke, & the rest of the cast provides great support. Jan gets this woman & LOVES this film...

READ REVIEW HERE

Jan Lisa Huttner
TheHotPinkPen
Films For Two
WomenArts.org