Linda Stirling Unmasked: The Black Whip

: 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.



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

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

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!



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.

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.

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.


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

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.


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 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 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



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...


More information about the Human Rights Watch Film Festival is online at: and


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...


Jan Lisa Huttner
Films For Two