Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Finishing Up the Summer Blockbuster Series

This post is the last in my summer blockbuster series. I tagged the whole thing as 2013 blockbusters.

Y'all. I see a lot of movies. A LOT of movies. Call it research for my film making husband or call it a natural love of the cinema. Both are true. But the fact remains that despite writing about tons of movies this summer, there were are even a few more that I skipped over (and several independent flicks that don't necessarily meet "blockbuster" criteria.) Here's a quick run through of the films that I didn't write about because there wasn't much for me to say.

1) The Lone Ranger--nothing remarkable happened with the gender situation and overall the movie sucked. To my knowledge, it doesn't pass the Bechdel test because the only woman I can remember is the love interest/mom lady who was a fairly stereotypical damsel in distress. If you want to read something interesting about this horrific film, I suggest you Google about the red face in it and read from the many people of color about why that shit ain't ok.

2) We're the Millers--forgettable summer raunchy comedy. In the "Miller family" Jennifer Aniston and Emma Roberts play a fake mother/daughter duo and I think they probably have a few lines together. There was nothing special about their characters. As far as R rated comedies go it didn't offend me as much as it could have, but it also didn't have any progressive messaging. I'm sure someone out there might have examined the film further, but for me it was a big YAWN.

3) Elysium--On this list, this one was the biggest disappointment for me. I mean, it wasn't a bad movie, it just didn't come anywhere near to living up to the director's (Neill Blomkamp) last film, District 9, which I really enjoyed. Elysium tries to take a careful look at the dangerous potential future of our deeply divided class system, but falls short of really saying anything about it all. I thought that the gender situation would be interesting because there was all this hub bub about them turning Jodie Foster's character from a man to a woman for her, but she was just a one dimensional villain. Alice Braga plays the other female character, but sadly her story line falls into another damsel in distress situation. The movie does pass the Bechdel test because Foster and Braga's characters exchange a few words as (spoiler) Foster's character is dying...but that moment is about 2 seconds long.

4) The Butler--Of the films on this list, I liked The Butler the most. I'm a sucker for based-on-real-events history films and this one finds a subject, Cecil Gaines (Forest Whitaker) that was extremely endearing. It weaves the tale of Cecil, a black domestic worker in the White House, with his son, Louis Gaines (David Oyelowo) who is a civil rights activist, black panther member, and eventually professor and politician. However, as far as gender goes, nothing particularly special happens. Oprah does a great job as Cecil's wife, Gloria, who struggles with fidelity and sobriety, but she's really the only important female character. Cecil interacts with several of the first ladies, but the film is much more a study of the contrast between his life in the white house and his son's out on the front lines of the civil rights movement and the difference in their approaches to progress toward racial equality. It does tread into sentimental a bit...goodness knows by the end I was bawling like a baby...but I would still recommend it.

Anyhoo--that's it for me and the summer blockbuster series. I will, of course, continue to blog here and there about any films I see with particularly interesting gender messages!

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