Forget “The November Man” — Try “Homeland,” “Hunted” or “Haywire” Instead

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You don’t have to be a feminist to not like The November Man. You just have to be someone who likes good movies. Even though I grew up watching sexist James Bonds films with my real-life CIA dad, this movie is worse. Not only does the film specialize in putting women down, but the female […]

What’s Missing From the Gone Girl Debate? Privilege!

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  WARNING: THIS PIECE CONTAINS SPOILERS Gone Girl has been called misogynist, an amalgamation of negative stereotypes of women, a text that perpetuates rape culture, and a narrative that fuels men’s rights activists’ ugly depiction of the gender equality feminists are trying to achieve. Putting the talent of the author aside—because I do think Gillian Flynn […]

Forgotten Women of Film History: Alice Guy

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Spielberg. Scorsese. Tarantino. Lucas. Hitchcock. When we think of filmmakers, we often think of men. It’s not surprising, considering a recent study by the Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film found women account for only 16 percent of directors, writers, executive producers, producers, editors and cinematographers working on the top films. But the film industry wasn’t […]

“This Is Where I Leave You” — Chutzpah v. Repression

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Jane Fonda and Tina Fey, two comic masterminds in one film? Yes, please! 9 to 5, which Ms. magazine featured on its January cover in 1981, remains one of my favorite comedies. Fonda as the naïve, buttoned-up secretary Judy, learns how to ovary-up from her feisty coworkers Violet (Lily Tomlin) and Doralee (Dolly Parton). In real […]

Lost in a Maze of Males

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The Maze Runner, the new post-apocalyptic film based on James Dashner’s 2009 book, has a strong lead female and a diverse cast in terms of race (what a nice change from the too-white Hunger Games!). But, when I mention “a strong lead female,” I literally mean “a”—yes, as in one—one female among a gaggle of adolescent […]

“Boyhood” Is Also a Film About Motherhood

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Richard Linklater’s film Boyhood has been widely praised for its innovative approach and its ability to handle a sweeping topic (growing up) largely without sentimentality. The movie is filmed over the course of 12 years, using the same cast and whatever cultural backdrop was handy in Texas at the annual time of filming. For instance, […]

“The Giver” Delivers Powerful Pro-Choice Message in Slick, IKEA Package

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Translating dystopian texts to the screen is tricky business, as such texts rely so much on the reader’s perception of what a truly dystopian society would look and feel like. To some, the visuals of The Giver might seem ideal: cookie-cutter houses filled with sparse, functional, IKEA-like furnishings and a society that also has a straight-lined, minimalist, […]

Lucy Is No Louise: Skip This Action-Packed Fail and Re-watch Thelma and Louise Instead

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Sure, Scarlett Johansson is a great actor. Alas, her lead role in Lucy does not do her justice. The premise of the film—that we only use 10 percent of our brains—is a faulty one and caused quite an angry buzzing across the Internet (as here and here) even before the film’s official release. The direction […]

A Quintuple F for Obvious Child (And That’s Good, Not Bad)

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The new film Obvious Child is informed by F-words of all sorts. It’s funny and feminist. It’s about friendship and forgiveness. It contains jokes about flatulence. It’s radically important for so many reasons, not least among them that “seeing an abortion in a negative light in a movie makes viewers less likely to support abortion […]

Dragon 2: DreamWorks Could Use Some Training in Racial Stereotyping

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Diversity in animation is often evident via the fanciful creatures that populate such stories. Big green ogres, cutesy blue smurfs, jocular bright-yellow minions. In How to Train Your Dragon 2 dragons are the diverse creatures of choice, ranging from the uber-spikey untrainable babies, to the salamander-like faithful Toothless, to the menacing mastadonesque alpha-dragon. The humans that […]