Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge Book Review

The making of a movie or television show is sometimes just as exciting as the movie or television itself.

Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge, by Becky Aikman, was published in 2018. In 1991, the film Thelma & Louise took Hollywood and the world by storm. Written by Callie Khouri, it was revolutionary then and unfortunately, is still revolutionary now. The story of two women (played by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon, respectively), who start out on a road trip and turn into outlaws is a classic.

The book not only tells the story of how the movie was made, but it also speaks of the boundaries that were broken in the process. Interviewing the actors, Khouri, the producers, and others, it is a fascinating tale both in front of and behind the camera that created a crack in the glass ceiling and opened the doors for women to be more than a pretty face on the screen.

Geena Davis GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

I loved this book. I also love the movie, in case you didn’t notice. What was not surprising was not just the usual strung-out process from page to screen, but also the idea of a female screen writer creating a tale that is more than the expected narrative. It’s a reminder of how far we have come and how far we still need to figuratively travel.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge is available wherever books are sold.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Ira Lowenstein

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

The key to any successful business is marketing. The product or service can be the best thing since sliced bread, but without the buying public being aware of it, success is unlikely to happen. In A League of Their Own, Ira Lowenstein (David Strathairn) is the man behind the appeal of the AAGPBL. When his boss, Walter Harvey (Garry Marshall) wants to close down the league due to the lack of an audience, it is Ira who keeps it alive. But, like any businessman, the cold truth of the bottom line counteracts the personal relationships of its employees. When Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) becomes a star, that spotlight adds to the long-simmering tension with her younger sister, Kit Keller (Lori Petty).

To sum it up: It takes vision, drive, and belief to make it in the business world. This is especially true when an idea is new, untested, and the response from the public is not what it was expected to be. What makes Ira special is that he believes in the players, even when it contradicts the ideals of the period and is not bringing in the expected profit.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Marla Hooch

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for not posting last week. Life got in the way.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Movie makeovers are not uncommon narratives. What makes one stereotypical and another unique is how the writer(s) approach the makeover. In A League of Their Own, Marla Hooch (Megan Cavanaugh) is not your average woman. Raised by her widower father, Marla was brought up as a boy. She can play baseball like no one’s business but was never taught the female graces of the era.

Brought to tryouts with sisters Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty), she makes the team. Before they can get on the ballfield, they must go through etiquette lessons and a beauty expert. The response to Marla’s appearance is not unexpected.

Ironically, it is Marla who lives the traditional life. She meets her husband at a jukebox joint. After being given a lot of liquor and a tight dress, she gets on stage and starts to sing. Though she lacks the voice, the standard image of a beautiful woman, and the confidence without the liquid courage, she gets the guy. Marrying halfway through the season, Marla returns the next season to play with the Peaches.

To sum it up: Marla’s glow-up is more than a physical makeover. True beauty, as cliche as it sounds, comes from within. It is her belief in herself that not only gets her on to the team, but also provides the romantic life that might not have had otherwise.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Doris Murphy

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

Every era has its own ideal of female beauty. Though the external images change, the expectations of how to be a “proper woman” remain the same. This, of course, does not include playing sports in either a formal or informal team. In A League of Their Own, Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) is far from the idealized 1940’s pinup (unlike her best friend Mae Mordabito). A resident of New York City, Doris has a zaftig figure and speaks with a stereotypical NYC accent.

Joining the AAGBPL gives her the opportunity to feel like an insider. After spending years feeling like an outsider due to her physical appearance and her love of baseball, Doris has finally found her people. She also finds the confidence to believe that she is worthy of being loved and not forced to be with someone for the sake of being with someone.

But she also has a temper. When Kit Keller (Lori Petty) has an argument with her sister Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis), Doris makes a joke at Kit’s expense, which leads to a fight that changes the course of their relationship. Doris does not just talk the talk. She walks the walk. When pushed, she is not one to be messed with.

To sum it up: Then and now, seeing women who are not a size 2 is still revolutionary. In both the character and actor looking like the average woman, it allows those of us who are not modelesque to see themselves on screen.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Kit Keller

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It’s hard to be the younger sibling when your older sibling is perceived as a paragon of perfection. In A League of Their Own, Kit Keller (Lori Petty) feels as if she is in the shadow of her elder sister, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis). When they are recruited to join the AAGPBL, Kit is eager to sign up, but Dottie would prefer not to. She only agrees to stay on when Kit convinces her to.

Though the sisters start on an equal playing field, Dottie quickly becomes a star. Kit’s insecurities start to get the best of her. The conflict between them starts to affect the rest of the team when Dottie insists that her sister can no longer play. As it was back home, Kit believes that she will never be seen as anything else than Dottie’s little sister. This eventually leads to Kit being traded. At the climax of their dispute, they meet on the ballfield as both the personal and professional issues collide.

The last time we see Kit, she is a woman of a certain age. The strife between the sisters is in the past, their relationship has come full circle, allowing them to regain the bond they had when they were younger.

What I think makes Kit relatable is her insecurities. Regardless of whether we are the oldest, the middle, or the youngest child, it’s difficult to walk your own path when you feel like you are fighting for the spotlight. The only way to move beyond this insecurity is to be bold enough to go your own way. In doing so, Kit finds the courage and confidence to make her own decisions, regardless of what Dottie may say or do.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Dottie Hinson

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

When we have a certain skill, many would assume that we would build our lives and career around the skill. But not everyone is interested in that life. In A League of Their Own, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) is discovered playing on a local baseball team during World War II. While waiting for her husband, Bob (Bill Pullman) to come home, she works in the family dairy with her parents and younger sister Kit Keller (Lori Petty). Convinced to try out for the AAGPBL, Dottie not only makes the team and joins the Rockford Peaches, she becomes its initial de facto leader and star. Coach Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is at first more into drinking his days away than supporting his players. But as good as she is, this is not something she has dreamed of. It is just a way to pass the time until Bob comes home.

As the seasons wear on and Dottie becomes one of the faces of the league, the tension between her and Kit grows. Believing that she is forever in her elder sister’s shadow, Kit starts to resent Dottie. This soon spreads to the rest of the team, nearly sending Dottie home with her newly returned husband and Kit changing teams. It finally comes to a head during the World Series, when their respective teams play opposite one another.

By the time the last pitch is thrown and the game ends, the Peaches have lost. Dottie and Kit have both moved on emotionally and resumed the relationship they had before all of this started.

To sum it up: We all have talents and we all have choices. Depending on our perspective, we can either draw on those talents or choose to go down another path. Dottie obviously has the skill, but this is not her life’s goal. I admire that. She knows what she wants and goes for it, even if someone else disagrees with that decision.

Which is why she is a memorable character.

A League of Their Own Character Review: Jimmy Dugan

*The schedule for the Character Review posts will be changing to Friday (or Saturday at the latest from now on).

*I apologize for the delay in posting. There is only so much writing I can do in a day.

*Warning: This post contains spoilers about the characters from the movie A League of Their Own. Read at your own risk if you have not watched the movie. There is something to be said about a well-written, human character. They leap off the page and speak to us as if they were right in front of us, as flesh and blood human beings, instead of fictional creations.

It is easy to judge someone based on a popular image or perception. That image can only change when we are with that person or persons, hopefully forcing us to reconsider what we think we know. In A League of Their Own, Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks) is hired to coach the Rockford Peaches, one of the all-female teams within the AAGPBL. While the men are fighting for the United States in World War II, they are temporarily being replaced by their wives, sisters, and neighbors.

A former baseball player whose career has been taken over by constant drinking, Jimmy is given the opportunity to revive his reputation by taking the coaching position. His reaction is well, can only be described as chauvinistic. But then again, we have to remember what time period the film is set in (though to be completely honest, this idea is still sadly too prevalent, even in 2022). Over the course of the film, the booze is replaced by his renewed love of the game and his growing respect for his players.

That does not mean, however, that Jimmy is easy to get along with. He can sometimes be described as crass and a little short with some members of the team. He does however become close with Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis). Dottie has the talent and the drive to succeed. But she also has a husband in the army and is eager to return to normal life. Jimmy wants her to stay to the end of the season, but he knows that he cannot force her to do so. Though the Peaches don’t come out on top, Jimmy has regained his sense of self and a healthy appreciation for the women on his team.

To sum it up: the character arc from unlikeable to likable is a common one. What makes Jimmy stand out from other characters is how he changes over the course of the narrative. He goes from someone who the audience does not trust to someone we trust implicitly. He may not be as mannered or cultured as other people. But we know that he admires the players and in doing so, has transformed his life for the better.

Which is why he is a memorable character.

This Changes Everything Review

Change, whether on a personal level or societal level, is hard. It requires work, the ability to open our eyes, and most importantly, the want to change.

The 2019 Netflix documentary, This Changes Everything, examines sexism in Hollywood and its impact on the careers of female creators, filmmakers, and performers. Speaking to noted names such as Geena Davis, Meryl Streep, Shonda Rhimes, and Reese Witherspoon, the film looks at the ways in which women are inhibited from reaching the peak of their careers. Female filmmakers are not given the same opportunities as their male counterparts. If they have one successful film, it is a fluke. If a male filmmaker receives positive notices from critics and audiences, the door opens more work and a bigger budget. In the same vein, female actresses are often boxed into certain roles and are limited in screen time compared to their male co-stars. Very often, they are over-sexualized or forced into playing traditional female parts.

I got angry watching this film. Women are 50% of the population, yet on screen, we are at best minimized and at worst, forced into the background. What is worse is that we learn early that we need to fit a certain physical and sexual mold to not only be happy but also thrive. The one moment that really pissed me off was a conversation with actress Chloë Grace Moretz (Carrie, 2013). At the young age of 16, a directive came down from the studios that she needed to amphliphy her bosom. What kind of adult tells a young girl that this is necessary to keep her job?

It is the kick in the but we need. Women are just as creative and capable as men. But we have not been given the opportunities to show what we can do. Those opportunities can only come when we break down the doors and demand our rights.

Do I recommend it? Absolutely.

This Changes Everything is avaliable for streaming on Netflix.

Musings On The 25th Anniversary of A League of Their Own

This past weekend, the 1992 film, A League of Their Own, celebrated its 25th anniversary.

Taking place during World War II, it is the story of two sisters, Dottie Hinson (Geena Davis) and Kit Keller (Lori Petty). While the boys are fighting their way across Europe, a girls baseball league, called the AAGPBL is created. Both Dottie and Kit try out and are chosen for the Rockford Peaches, coached by Jimmy Dugan (Tom Hanks). But while their professional lives are a success, the relationship between the two sisters begins to degrade.

For a generation of young girls, this movie is nothing short of life changing. It was feminism without hitting the audience over the head. It was a history lesson that far from boring. It was the story of two sisters whose relationship felt normal and real. Most of all, it encouraged young girls to become athletes.

I recall seeing this movie in theaters back in the day and I remember walking out of the theater transformed. It was an amazing film then and 25 years later, it still is an amazing film.

I still can’t believe it’s been 25 years, time goes way too fast. Thanks for the memories.

Throwback Thursday- Thelma and Louise (1991)

Once upon a time, women were taught to settle down and maintain a quiet life. Support their husband, raise their children and take care of the home. Nothing more.

Betty Friedan explored this issue in her 1963 classic feminist text, The Feminine Mystique. She labelled it “the problem that has no name”.

The 1991 movie, Thelma and Louise completely destroyed the idea that a woman had to be meek, amiable and subservient. Louise (Susan Sarandon) works as a waitress and lives with her musician boyfriend who is always on the road.  Thelma (Geena Davis) stays in the kitchen so her husband can watch football.  Needing a break from their hum-drum lives, Thelma and Louise decide to go on a road trip. Their road trip takes a sudden turn when Louise kills the man who tries to rape Thelma and they are now hunted by the police.

This is nothing but a classic. The journey of the characters represents so many women who made the choice to cut the apron strings that kept them tied to hearth and home and take the road less traveled. And of course,  no mention of Thelma and Louise is complete without Brad Pitt’s boy toy character and that six pack of his.

Dam good movie.

 

%d bloggers like this: