Are Divergents Feminists in Disguise?

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Last year the first film of the Divergent series made close to $200 million, putting it almost in league with The Hunger Games. While the latter dystopian trilogy, featuring the intrepid Katniss Everdeen, is richer and more politically nuanced, the Divergent series—now weighing in with a second film, Insurgent—also offers relevant political critique and a realistic […]

“The Lazarus Effect” Is No “Frankenstein”

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The Lazarus Effect focuses on reviving the dead—hardly a new concept—and few texts have done as well as Mary Shelley’s 1818 Frankenstein. The Lazarus Effect is no Frankenstein, but, as in that novel, betrayal, questionable ethics and a fascination with the possibilities of science frame the narrative. The plot follows a team of medical scientists […]

“It Follows”: A Horror Film That Doesn’t Blame the Victim for Having Sex

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It Follows has an uncanny eye for detail, using jump cuts, long takes and a heavy musical score to build a horror/arthouse film that suggests very ominous things about sexuality, sexual agency and sexual coercion/abuse. The second film from director David Robert Mitchell, It Follows draws upon ’70s and ’80s horrors flicks, filling the screen […]

“Seventh Son”: Witches Aren’t Merely Wicked

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Seventh Son, the film adaption of portions of The Last Apprentice series by Joseph Delaney has much going for it: compelling visuals, an episodic format with lots of beasties and action, a pleasing admixture of humor, horror and romance wrapped in a fantasy/supernatural package and, best of all, witches: good, bad and in-between. You might […]

5 Fabulous Feminist Films from Sundance

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While feminist achievements in popular culture are not always easy to come by, the last few months have brought more than a few heartening examples. This year’s Golden Globes, for instance, had a plethora of feminist moments. Perhaps more surprisingly, even the Super Bowl featured anti-domestic-violence ads, an anti-racism ad starring Mindy Kaling and a spot […]

Unbroken: Jolie’s Testament to the Human Spirit

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Starvation, deprivation and torture permeate Unbroken, making director Angelina Jolie’s film (based on Laura Hillenbrand’s book), one that invokes flinches, jerks, audible gasps and covering one’s eyes. The edge-of-the-seat opening sequence, set in a B-24 bomber that is being shot apart above the Pacific Ocean, captures the noise of war as well as the heart-pumping […]

The “Both/And” Celebration of “Into the Woods”

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The film adaptation of the Tony Award-winning Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical Into the Woods should please feminist lovers of musicals, fairy tales and narratives that don’t take themselves too seriously. The film, like the play, pokes fun at our all-too-human wishes and failed quests and, oh joy of joys, suggests heteromonogamy is the true tall […]

The Final Hobbit Film: One Kick-Ass Chick Among the Sausagefest

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You like battle scenes? You’ll probably like The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, the last of director Peter Jackson’s six films based on the work of J.R.R. Tolkien. Battle scenes make up the majority of the 144-minute film—and that doesn’t even count preparing for battles and talking about battles. Though there are some […]

Sometimes the Master’s Tools Can Light a Fire

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Dystopian and utopian texts are incredibly important for envisioning our world otherwise, a point emphasized by Ursula K. Le Guin at the 2014 National Book Awards. In her speech, Le Guin noted that we need writers who “can see through our fear-stricken society … to other ways of being,” and she named the profit motive […]

“Twilight” Screenplay Contest to Boost Women Writers and Directors

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Just when you thought Twilight had receded into the zeitgeists-of-popular-culture-past, a new short film contest called “The Storytellers— New Voices of The Twilight Saga” promises to bring the series, and its vibrant fan base, back to life. Before you grit your teeth and shake your feminist fist, bemoaning that one of the most regressive, non-feminist-friendly blockbuster sagas is […]