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

3/28/14

Nymphomaniac I & II: Magical Sadism, Sex Noir And Porn For Eggheads

By Prairie Miller

More over, Blue Is The Warmest Color. In a brazen mix and match of genres and genitals, the notorious Danish bad boy of cinema Lars von Trier would seem to be psychoanalyzing himself in this more tedious than titillating, sleazy when not intellectually stuffy showdown between the sex addict in question and her celibate savior recluse.

And while screen porn has tended to bid for a pass with the censors by dressing up its bare behinds metaphorically in moralistic taglines and scriptural platitudes, Trier blankets his own ensemble backsides. That is, with the pretentious chatter arthouse stamp of approval.

Charlotte Gainsbourg is Joe, the somewhat gender-ambivalent muse standing in for Trier's own hangups as perhaps simultaneously appetite driven and obsessively burrowing into the seductive female mysteries that tantalize him. Which may lead the filmmaker's shrink to demand a screenplay credit at some point.

And not to forget that Trier abandoned his pregnant wife for their young babysitter - a scenario that might be said to sort of play out in Nymphomaniac II, when the androgynous Joe abandons her own infant for sexual pursuits. And is subsequently punished by her scorned spouse (Shia LaBeouf) and his new post-adolescent prey - who is in fact two timing the original extra-marital two timer, Joe. Don't ask.

Meanwhile, or for the four hour ensuing duration to be precise, strictly auto-erotic hermit Seligman (Stellan Skarsgard), retrieves Joe's battered body from an alley and proceeds to nurse her back to health. While existential matters periodically intervene, related to primary conscious notions we don't share with the animal kingdom. And not just awareness of mortality, but the possibility however precarious, of human ethics and conscience as well.

And as the asexual looking, scrawny storyteller sips tea from a very large bowl. And Joe in turn seems to offer as compensation a litany of her lifetime of sordid sexual adventures precipitated in childhood, evidently of far greater interest to the erotically deprived eager bookworm, than anybody in the audience. Not at all a good sign.

Identity issues are nothing new for Trier, whether on screen or the real world. And as a child raised by a Jewish father and communist mother, the latter confessing on her deathbed to Trier that his real secret father was her nazi employer, in her quest for a man with an "artistic" gene pool. And apparently, an illustrious family of Danish composers including Johan Peter Emilius Hartmann and Niels Viggo Bentzon. And when subsequently searching for his biological father, Trier was referred by the elusive 90 year old, to his lawyers instead.

Then there's the scandal that played out at the Cannes Film Festival in 2011 for Trier's award winning Melancholia. When he took to the stage and irrelevant to the conversation in progress, rambled on about Hitler not being such a bad guy and his admiration in some ways for him. Which led to the filmmaker being booted and banned from Cannes, and his own subsequent retraction of a sort of apologetic retraction. And a potential grudge alert against the world, in the manner in which he makes his movies.

Needless to say, Nymphomaniac whether One or Two, is sure to proceed as an ordeal for the perverted protagonist of this perhaps closet biopic, and the audience alike. Counting scientifically delineated foreplay, alphabetized lovers, far-fetched female pubescent pickup lines, math and sex, proper cake forks, Jewish pastry, the hunt for men in supermarkets, and a contemplation of all the foreskins in the world, stretching from here to Mars and back again. Or, dangling the likes of Pythagorean theorem, Bach, Poe, The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.

3/22/14

WFCC Jury Award For Sexual Violence Doc At Rated SR Festival

WFCC Jury Award members Chloe Glickman and Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi present award [center] for director Jessica Vale and her documentary, Small Small Thing

By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi

The WFCC Prize was awarded by the Women Film Circle Critics at the Rated SR Socially Relevant Film Festival in New York City on March 21st,  for the best feature by or about women. The prize was conferred by WFCC Jury presenters Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Chloe Glickman for director Jessica Vale and her documentary, Small Small Thing. Which delves into the tragedy of seven year old Liberian rape victim Olivia Zinnah who died in 2012 from her injuries, despite five years of medical treatments and the intervention of the Liberian government.

...The prize marks an important moment for this year’s festival, since Vanya Exerjian was an actress and producer, who passed away ten years ago and the festival was founded in her memory, and 2014 also marks the 10th anniversary of the Women Films Critic Circle organization. The WFCC is made up of 65 women film critics and scholars from around the country and internationally, who are involved in print, newswire, radio, online and TV broadcast media, in the belief that women’s perspectives and voices in film criticism need to be recognized fully.

The five women film critics from the organization who acted as jurors for the Vanya Exerjian award are: Chloe Glickman, Karen Benardello, Jhoanna Robledo Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Debra Wallace...

WFCC Jury Award members Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi and Chloe Glickman [center] with Rated SR Film Festival participants.

CONTINUE TO READ THE ARTICLE HERE

Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi writes for King’s Road Magazine and Shockya. Chiara is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.

3/2/14

Annette Insdorf Talks Oscars With Chris Hayes On MSNBC



WFCC's Annette Insdorf  was invited to talk about Oscar predictions on the MSNBC show, All In with Chris Hayes. David Edelstein of New York Magazine and Christopher John Farley, senior editor of Speakeasy at the Wall Street Journal, also joined in.

**The Oscars gender gap. Chris Hayes talks to his panel about the relatively low bar that test a film's gender bias.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

**The Oscars and demographics of The Academy. Chris Hayes talks to the film critics about an actual Oscar ballot released by an anonymous Academy member.

WATCH THE SEGMENT HERE

Annette Insdorf is the Director Of Undergraduate Film Studies at Columbia University, and the author of Indelible Shadows: Film And The Holocaust, and other books on cinema. Professor Insdorf is an internationally renowned educator, and her works are hailed as the definitive texts on their subjects. She has also been a jury member of numerous international film festivals.

Annette Insdorf is a member of The Women Film Critics Circle.