Motherhood at the Movies

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Women are making headlines. We’re standing up for our rights and saying #Metoo, #TimesUp and #EqualityNow.  And our voices are being heard. _101312188_hi046747529

An amazing 82 women commanded the red carpet this week at the Cannes Film Festival. They stood in solidarity to show how few women filmmakers have had films in competition in comparison to the 1600 male filmmakers in Cannes’ history. Rallied by the International activist group 5050X2020, their voices were heard and they got results in a pledge to work toward gender parity at this prestigious festival!

There are a wide range of films featuring mothers at your local cineplex. This Mother’s Day, you could see a drama, a rom-com, a thriller and a comedy!  What are the messages these films portray?  It’s clear that women need support in Tully and Overboard:  Charlize Theron gives an extraordinary performance in Tully as a mother pushed to the breaking point by exhaustion and postpartum depression. The writer/director team of Jason Reitman and Diablo Cody have crafted an intimate portrait of motherhood and a rare look at one woman’s overwhelming challenges.

Anna Faris is literally Overboard as a working class mother who gets revenge on the pompous millionaire who dumps her off his yacht…by claiming him as her husband. This gender-switch to the Goldie Hawn/Kurt Russell romantic comedy gives this film a needed update. In this film, the mother has supportive friends and family and her children are in on the joke. The message seems to be that even a playboy can be saved by hard work and the love of a good woman.

Women become warriors if their children are threatened in Breaking In and A Quiet Place:  Gabrielle Union is the Mom-on-a-mission as she rescues her children from the home invaders. The thriller has the tagline: “Payback is a Mother”.  Childbirth never looked so horrific as the scene in A Quiet Place when Emily Blunt is trying to remain silent while giving birth…and she knows that aliens are hunting her family!

If you were looking for a more cheerful look at motherhood, we learn that Moms want to have fun. Melissa McCarthy plays a newly-divorced mother who decides to join her daughter at college. Life of the Party makes it seem like college is a series of fun hi-jinks. The daughter seems chagrined but accepting…and the awkward scenes between the two are played for broad laughs.

Women need support. We can be warriors. And we want to have fun. It’s wonderful to see so many films showcasing the complexities of what it is to be a woman. If you live in a major city, you could celebrate how far we’ve come with Betsy West and Julie Cohen’s documentary, RGB. This intimate look at Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is touching, inspiring and a lot of fun. This is a woman who made her mark with the awesome support of her husband, has lead the charge on gender equality and clearly knows how to have fun!

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Read this nice review from The Economist about how the Notorious RGB is a “trailblazer for gender equality”.  It’s the movie all women deserve to see! Let’s all stand for gender equality by supporting films made by women, films starring women and showcasing our stories. Our voices need to be heard!

Concussion—-Lesbian sex, it’s so HOT right now!!

Concussion headlined many Queer film festivals this year.  With it’s high-production values, pretty star and fantasy plot of a lesbian who decides to become a high-priced call girl after a knock on the head; it’s easy to see why it is a popular film.  The sets are all beautifully-furnished suburban homes or artfully-decorated city apartments that our star spends all her time and money upgrading.  It’s a sex-film for upper-middle class lesbians who may be finding marriage, kids and a house in the suburbs more bland and less-fulfilling then they anticipated.

If it’s seems a tad unrealistic to think that there might be a market for Abby’s (Robin Weigert) services, or that leading a double-life would be so easy to keep from the kids and the wife…well, at least it’s an interesting film.  And don’t we all need a little wish fulfillment now a days? The fact that Abby’s escapades involve parading around in expensive lingerie, mentoring a young college student with feminist literature as well as sexual gratification and rough sex with another suburban housewife is about as reasonable as the assumption that getting hit by a baseball would lead to this new lifestyle.

Having won a Teddy Jury award at the Berlin Film Festival for writer/director Stacie Passon and a Best First Feature award at Frameline Film Festival in San Francisco, I wish this director and this film continued success.  The many soft-core porn sex scenes are pretty and not exploitative, and if they feel unrealistic; at least they were directed by a woman from a screenplay written by the same woman.  Thus dodging the controversy surrounding the OTHER lesbian film currently playing in LA and New York….

Concussion

Blue is the Warmest Color is generating controversy and discussion of female sexuality and male gaze.   A three-hour film about a young girl’s coming-of-age journey, “La vie d’Adèle” was directed by Abdellatif Kechiche and stars the two young actresses, Léa Seydoux and Adèle Exarchopoulos.  In an unusual and remarkable move, the Cannes jury awarded the Palm d’Or to not just the director, but also, for the first time ever, the actors as well!  Having not seen the film myself, I can easily predict that the length of the film will be more of an issue for me personally, than the six and a half minute-long sex scene.  Rarely do I find that the bloated Hollywood films need their 2-hour running time and though I tend to be more forgiving of non-traditional films from independent filmmakers, three hours speaks to a director who is too precious with his or her work.

I do enjoy reading all the press that this film is inspiring.  Any film that can incite writers to discuss female sexuality and representation is a winner in my book!   Here’s a quote from Matthew Hammett Knott that I rather liked:

“It all comes back to Robert Bresson’s inspiring maxim – “make visible that which, without you, might never be seen”.  In this respect, Manohla Dargis’s criticism that Kechiche “seems so unaware or maybe just uninterested in the tough questions about the representation of the female body that feminists have engaged for decades” seems less pertinent to “Blue is the Warmest Color” than with regard to the wider picture. All perspectives are limited, including Dargis’, including Kechiche’s, including mine. It doesn’t mean we have to reject any in particular. That is our prerogative. What is essential is to recognize the limitations of each, and most importantly, recognize those that are missing entirely from our cultural landscape, and seek them out. ”

Blue is the Warmest Color

http://whttp://www.indiewire.com/article/heroines-of-cinema-blue-is-the-warmest-color-and-the-real-problem-with-male-filmmakers-and-female-sexuality

So seek out queer cinema if you can!  Support all films that support women-driven narratives because they are few and far between!

http://www.indiewire.com/article/what-do-we-expect-from-lesbian-films

Rating: 3 soy lattes in an arty cafe while scheduling play dates, a Pilates session and waiting for your paid date to arrive…