Wait Until Dark (1967)

I first saw this movie at a Halloween party when I was 14. There were lots of people and boys and stuff and I dressed up as a pirate but I had glasses at the time so I wore my glasses over my eye patch. 14 was a good age for me. So we watched this movie. As anyone who has ever come in contact with a large group of 8th graders before could probably guess, the party goers talked loudly throughout the entire film. Unfortunately, nothing gets me in a huff faster than when people talk through a movie. So while everyone else was being sociable and forming fond memories,  I was sulking about how I couldn't hear anything and how dumb everyone was.  Then I went home and came to the conclusion that I should give up on trying to have friends and just accept that I'll be alone for the rest of my life.

Anyway, I re-watched the film last week. 14-year-old me wasn't missing much, as it turns out. The whole thing is tediously staged, with tv-movie production values and cringeworthy dialogue. Ms. Audrey tries her darndest, but she really doesn't have much of chance given the weakness of the material and her limited range. Alan Arkin is pretty good, but he's not enough to save it.

However, the sub-par nature of the production was not the main problem I had with the film. I was most grumpy about its representations of gender. Yes, I am predictable in my grumpiness. The main character is demure, submissive, and completely dependent on her husband.  She spends the whole film pining for and trying to please this dude she's married to, who in turn infantilizes her, disregards her concerns, and generally treats her like a pretty and amusing accessory. At one point in the film, she laments how she can't do the "important" things that she used to do before her blindness causing accident. These things include "making souffles, picking ties, and choosing wallpaper".

Well yeah, except for the fact that Audrey here, like in most of her films as well as in her personal life, is presented as a feminine ideal. She's a paragon of womanly virtue, with her timidity, wide-eyes, and diminutiveness. The men in the film admire her delicacy. One of them praises her, calling her "quite a woman" when she does anything halfway intelligent. The whole blindness thing just exacerbates the problem. It's not just a plot point, it's representative of how the film thinks women should behave. Hepburn's character goes through life unaware of her surroundings, dependent upon others for information and her general well-being. AS SHOULD YOU, LADIES!

Point is, I don't agree.


Near Dark (1987)

I haven't posted for a while. I apologize, for I know that you all rely on my movie reviews for spiritual sustenance. Sometimes life gets busy, though.

Here's an unfortunate fact: women are not well represented in the world of film. That's not to say that there aren't worthwhile lady filmmakers or interesting female characterizations nowadays, because there definitely are.  However, the reality is that in mainstream cinema, male filmmakers with manly perspectives dominate the conversation. Why, just the other day in one of my film classes, a boy interrupted me. WHEN WILL THERE BE JUSTICE IN THE WORLD?!

But for reals, it's a problem. In the 84 years that the Academy Awards have existed, only four women have been nominated for best director. Not that the Oscars matter, but still. Interestingly, the sole winner out of those four, Kathryn Bigelow, has made a career out of directing decidedly non-feminine films. She specializes in action flicks with male protagonists, copious amounts of gunfire, explosions, and surfing Keanu Reeveses.

I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with Bigelow's films. Action movies are a lot of fun and she does them well. I'm not even faulting her for making masculine, male centric stuff. After all, she didn't ask to be the cinematic spokesperson for her gender. She should be able to make whatever adrenaline fueled film she wants without worrying about what it means for female equality. However, I do take slight issue with the industry deciding that she be the one to to break the lady director glass ceiling. The film she won for,  The Hurt Locker, is extremely male-oriented. The themes explored have to do exclusively with men and there are no female characters of note. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with this approach. The Hurt Locker is a very effective film that deals with important issues and I appreciate its existence. However, by choosing The Hurt Locker to break their 80-year habit of disregarding female perspectives, the Academy sent a message. It's as if they were saying that women can only be successful and accepted in the industry if they subscribe to the male-dominated status quo.

Now you might be saying, "But Drew, you have it all wrong! She got that Oscar because her film was the best that 2008 had to offer! It was timely, well-made, and insightful! Her gender didn't even come into play! Isn't that the goal of all you feminist ladies? WON'T YOU EVER BE SATISFIED?!" Well sure, her film was worthy. Her gender might not have even been a huge deciding factor. If a man had directed it, it probably still would've won. BUT. What about all of the other equally deserving, female-oriented/directed films that came out that year? Or any other year? Why have barely any of those been nominated, let alone won? Because of their content. Academy voters were only comfortable with letting a female directed film win because the film itself was high profile enough and it didn't challenge their chauvinistic tendencies with it's subject matter. The industry got to pat itself on the back for promoting gender equality without having to validate any of those objectionable female issues or perspectives. And that, dear readers, is what I take issue with.

Anyway, Near Dark. Male protagonist, lots of violence, dirty people, etc. It's not very good. There are flashes of potential scattered throughout, but they're not enough to make the film likable. It's also relentlessly skeevy, so that's unpleasant. The ending is pretty stupid as well. But that poster features a guy full of bullet holes, so that's cool. Anyway. Watch it at 2 in the morning sometime.

Happy Women's History Month.


Many Movies!

New Year! Hope your December was good and all. I haven't updated for a while because I've been busy. Sleeping till noon. But don't worry, I'll make up for it now by mini reviewing all the things I saw over the break! What fun!

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

RDJ decided to ramp up the silly
this time around. Someone direct this man! 
The film as a whole feels pretty inconsequential.
Nothing really sticks. There are some cool camera
tricks and action set pieces, but there's no substance
to back them up, so whatever Guy Ritchie. Also, 
Noomi Rapace is stuck playing the most 
unnecessary character in film history, so that's 
too bad for her.

The Adventures of Tintin

This was very good looking. Very good looking  
 indeed. The 3D was great and the motion capture
looked like it's own medium instead of some weird
real-life impostor. So I appreciated what was going
on here. However, I found the whole thing to be 
too loud and show-offish and overworked for my 
tastes. Isn't Spielberg too old to be making this kind 
of stuff? I know he's a holy vessel of eternal innocence 
and the bringer of childlike wonder into this terrible 
world, but still. Maybe I'm just being a curmudgeon.

The Palm Beach Story

This was great. It was funny, witty, and snappily
paced. Snappily paced short movies are nice.
For added enjoyment, the prologue and the
conclusion were aggressively nonsensical and
deliberately confusing. I like when that happens. 
That is all I have to say.

Christmas In July

More Preston Sturges! Also starring my lover from
the past, Dick Powell. This film is similarly fast paced and 
delightful, filled with witty quips and amusing non sequiturs.

Shipmates Forever

Also starring Dick Powell. And Ruby Keeler, the most adorably 
bad actress of the 1930s. I didn't like this one much. The characters
lacked any believable motivation and the big plot points felt 
unearned. I also found the excessively nationalistic, "join
the Navy or else you're useless" approach to be unappealing.
Different times, different attitudes. I guess it means well, though.
Rare Exports

Bah. I'm disappointed that a perfectly good demon Santa
concept was wasted on such a terrible movie. Poor
relationships, stupid and unmotivated plot developments,
and a 12-year old who talks to his stuffed animal so the
audience doesn't get confused or anything. Probably made by
some BYU film graduates. There are a lot of naked old men
running around, though, so I guess that's kind of funny.

In Time

This was an interesting concept that was pretty well
executed. There was a little bit of clunky dialogue
and Justers couldn't quite pull off a key scene, but mostly
good. It also had a pretty radical political message that it was
promoting, so that's always fun to see in a mainstream
release. As a card-carrying communist, I approve. Also,
Amanda Seyfried looks like a fashion alien and her shoes
are extremely impractical.

Real Steel

So this was extremely manipulative,  what with its
crying children, father-son redemption crap, and
lovable underdog boxing robots. I guess it worked,
though, because I liked it. Hugh Jackman is a giant man.

Year One

This is low brow humor. Jack Black eats poop at one
point. However, once you embrace the dumbness of
it all, the whole exercise ends up being kind of
endearing. There is a long and uninterrupted shot in
which Michael Cera pees on his face while hanging
upside down. I laughed.

Pineapple Express

I watched this with my mother. Daughters of Zion and
all that. She made that loud laughing mom noise that
she tends to make many times. Success. I like this film.
It's sweet-natured and extremely funny. I cannot ask
for more.


I saw this on New Year's Eve. My friend and I had to
go through a DUI checkpoint to get to the theater.
The circumstances in which I saw the film are neither
important to the review or particularly interesting. So
why relate them? I don't know. I though this film was
smart, exciting, and good looking. It also had an
interesting and satisfyingly uncertain ending. So, cool.

Harold and Maude

This is a fun wee film. It's got that early 1970's feel 
 that is pleasant sometimes. There's nothing life
altering or particularly inspirational going on here,
but it is nice. The cheerier aspects are balanced
out by the more grim elements, so it doesn't go too
far in either direction. And I like this shot.  

The Trip

I liked this one very much. It was episodic, intertextual,
and digressive. I enjoy all of these things. It also 
featured lots of good looking food, so that is nice.
I especially appreciated how the film was content to 
let scenes go beyond what would normally be considered
an acceptable end point. I also like how Coogan and
Brydon converse. I wish more dialogue was that way.

Anatomy of a Murder
This is the kind of film that doesn't attempt to make
things simple or straightforward. It expects the viewer
to exert themselves both through its stylistic and
narrative choices. It unabashedly uses complicated and
technical legal vocabulary and frankly discusses a very
adult subject. So, respect. I like a film that doesn't feel the
need to accomodate everyone. The subject matter and moral
 implications presented are genuinely surprising, even after all
of these years. So, adult, interesting, and deliberate.
Good film. Jimmy Stewart is more natural in front of a camera
than any man should be.


For some reason, my siblings and I watched this film
a lot when I was a young lass. As well as this.
Consequently, certain elements of Oliver! are ingrained 
into my brain for all time. So, revisiting it after a 
while was an interesting experience. It's easy to see 
why this film was so memorable for my tiny self, for 
it is a very impressive piece of work. The production 
design is amazing, it's shot beautifully, and the score
is pretty great. It does drag a wee bit in the middle. 
However, considering the fact that the film is two and 
a half hours long, some draggage would be hard to avoid. 
I forgive it.