The current masculinist cinema: a feminist rant

1 December 2011

Some terse capsule reviews:

Moneyball. Middle-aged white guy figures out how to make a better baseball team with no money and, in the process, discovers his inner nobility. Token female: his daughter, who sings a nice song to him.

Win Win. Middle-aged white guy and his (similar) friends place all their hopes for the future on the shoulders of a 15-yr-old high school wrestling prodigy. In the process he discovers his inner menschdom. Token female: sassy, utterly one-dimensional wife (played by the radically under-used Amy Ryan).

Attack the Block. (Fooled you re: race!) Working-class gang of black kids discover their inner heroism by fighting aliens who’ve taken over their housing estate. Token female: kindly white nurse lady who sews them up.

…and that’s just what I’ve seen in the last week. Could I be any more bored? And these are — by any measure — good films. Directors as good as Bennett Miller, Joe Cornish, and Tom McCarthy can probably be bothered to mix it up on the tedium/dudeliness scale if the rest of us emit very loud yawns at them. One, two, three: YAWN.

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14 Responses to “The current masculinist cinema: a feminist rant”

  1. Hattie Says:

    Quel bore!
    But with my Kindle Fire and Netflix, my days of enduring movie tedium are over.

    • Didion Says:

      Isn’t technology wonderful? I wrote quite a lot of a rant against the CEO of Netflix and all his shenanigans this summer & fall, but recanted — because the fact is, I love Netflix. Hate the sinner, love the service.

      Clearly I have to trust my advance judgment on films like these three. Have I mentioned how boring they were? It’s going to be nothing but interesting women and men from here on out.

  2. tam Says:

    Have no interest in Moneyball, and have never heard of Attack the Block.

    What I’m looking forward to – although it’ll be pretty dark – is Tilda Swinton in We Need to Talk about Kevin. Saw her hour long lifestreamed interview from NYT recently and wasn’t disappointed.

    Also Michelle WIlliams in My Week with Marilyn.

    But you’re right: films with intriguing women who act with agency are very thin on the ground.

    • Didion Says:

      Too right about both films. I’m beginning to despair that anything besides Twilight will ever come to local theaters, but I’m willing to drive all the way to Boston to see both of the above, even in the same day. I’ve heard such raves about Swinton in We Need to Talk About Kevin — a movie about the mother of a killer! — that I’m absolutely itching with excitement. I’m less interested in Marilyn Monroe but will line up to watch Michelle Williams in anything.

      • Hattie Says:

        I saw I am Love with Swinton, and I have got to say they left no cliche unturned. To play this hackneyed material without a glint of humor was, in itself, hilarious.

      • Didion Says:

        I’ve been so cranky about these dude films that any film featuring a female lead gets at least some of a pass with me.

        Plus, Tilda Swinton. I have such a weak spot. And I liked the fact that she ate that beautiful food with such lust and gusto. As cliches go, I’m down with that one.


  3. I’m a man and I can’t say I’m powerfully motivated to see any of those films mentioned. We Need To Talk About Kevin interests me because of the people involved. Swinton can be amazing, but I’m particularly hopeful to see a new Lynn Ramnsay film, given it’s been 8 years since Morvern Callar. It’s sad we live in an era where directors go so long in between projects Although I’m sure there’s sexism involved, it’s not just women- Spike Jonze, David Russell, Kenneth Lonnegran seemed so promising. Comparing it to the sheer number of films, say, Altman made in the 70’s, even if you only take the half of them that are good, it’s depressing.

    I’m looking through this blog and loving it particularly your analysis of older films from a feminist perspective. It would be easy to superficially dismiss “Sunrise” and “I Know Where I’m Going” for their sexism, but you dig to the more interesting material beneath. Adding this to my blogroll and looking forward to reading and commenting more.

    • Didion Says:

      I’m adding a new category called, “How to write a good comment for Feminema,” and tie it solely to your very kind note. I thought I’d made up my mind to skip Twitter, but now I’m curious about what you’ve got to say there. Thank heavens for the internets in hooking up the like-minded, eh?

      I just read an amazing piece about Kenneth Lonergan’s Margaret, which has been tied up in studio problems for five years. Apparently Lonergan initially produced a 3-hour (masterpiece? can we tie this to Erich von Stroheim’s Greed?) version that has been tweaked ever since. (Remember Lonergan’s brilliant You Can Count on Me, that beautiful piece of work that I saw three times in the theater back in 2000? Laura Linney and Mark Ruffalo were revelations.)

      Welcome, Suckersapien! looking forward to the back-and-forth.


  4. Didion-

    Gosh thanks. I’m not really posting much on movies, either on twitter or elsewhere- it’s just a good place to log in.

  5. Didion Says:

    AND another thing: last summer’s Super 8. As good as Elle Fanning is in that film, she’s the ONLY female character — they even killed off the mothers in a dramatic and Freudian indication of how filmmakers feel about us.

    The Ides of March. A Very Harold & Kumar Christmas. Hugo. The Descendants. J. Edgar. Jack and Jill. Hugo. These are my choices? And you think throwing us another Twilight film makes up for it?

    Meanwhile, still no sign of the films I actually want to see, like The Artist and We Need to Talk About Kevin and even Young Adult, which looks vile yet interesting. Oh, the agonies of those of us who live far from cinema hotspots.

  6. JE Says:

    Just saw a review in the NYT for “Young Adult,” which looks like it might be really interesting. Made by the same team that made “Juno.”

  7. THO Says:

    What’s wrong with a bit of masculinism in movies anyway? The WHOLE industry is feminist and radically at that, women are always getting the better of men in every way in every movie, for once wouldn’t it be appropriate show even the slightest bit of dignity for the male gender? Honestly, this is why feminism has become an issue today, it’s always “them them them them them” no one else!

    • Didion Says:

      You are so right, THO! Thank goodness you have the guts to stand up to this tyranny.

    • squawk Says:

      No, it isn’t—the whole industry is still run by men, no matter what you claim, and the business is definitely not feminist either.


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