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 Netflixdocumentary, 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.
The question of nature vs. nurture is a tempting one to ask. Does our upbringing dictate who we are and what we believe? Or is it our perception of ourselves and the world around us?
Cruella was released yesterday on DisneyPlus. Estella/Cruella De Vil (played by Tipper Seifert-Cleveland as a child and Emma Stone as an adult) has been a rebel and an outcast since she was young. Raised by her single mother, she is left parentless at 12. Arriving in London with only her dog as a companion, she finds family in the form of thieves Horace (Paul Walter Hauser) and Jasper (Joel Fry). Ten years later, they have become a trio.
But Estella wants more out of life than petty thievery. She wants to be a fashion designer. Fate sends her the opportunity she is praying via the Baroness (Emma Thompson). The Baroness is the queen of the English fashion scene. She is also self centered and selfish. What starts out as a door opening to the job of her dreams turns Estella/Cruella into a version of the person she wants to destroy. The question is, can our heroine keep up with the image she has created while being true to herself or will she sell her soul in the process?
What I loved is that this movie it proves that a female led movie does not require a romantic narrative to be successful. There are male characters who have a significant role in the narrative, but their relationships with the Baroness and Estella/Cruella are of a professional and/or plutonic nature.
Among the Disney prequels that have come out as of late, this is the best one. Though there is the argument of an easy cash grab, there are more than enough Easter eggs to keep fans of the original film happy. Expanded beyond the original narrative, it is a loving homage to its predecessor while standing on its own two feet.
Depending on who you speak to, the late British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is either a glass ceiling ball breaker who made history or a politician whose policies still were deeply controversial during her time in office.
The 2011 movie, The Iron Lady, explores her life and legacy. Starring Meryl Streep in the titular role, the audience relives the details of her life as she imagines conversations with her recently passed husband, Denis (Jim Broadbent). Still coping with his loss, we follow her story from her early years to her present circumstances.
I sat through about 3/4 of the film on Netflix a while back before turning it off. As a political history nerd, a feminist, and Anglophile, I should have been thoroughly engaged. But it lagged on to the point where I just couldn’t take it anymore.
For 150 years, readers have read and adored Little Women. Louisa May Alcott‘s timeless tale about the March sisters is a universal story of growing up, sisterhood and finding out who you are.
The new adaption, written and directed by Greta Gerwig, was released a couple of weeks ago.
Told in a non-linear narrative, the film starts as the girls are setting out on their own paths in life. Meg March (Emma Watson) is juggling marriage and motherhood. Jo March (Saoirse Ronan) has a day job as a private tutor and sells her stories to local newspapers. Beth March (Eliza Scanlen) remains content to be at home. Amy March (Florence Pugh) is in Paris and living with Aunt March (Meryl Streep) while she is pursuing her dream of becoming a painter.
The movie then flashes back and forth, from the present to the past. Growing up in New England during the Civil War, the girls are being raised by their mother, known as Marmee (Laura Dern) while their father fights for the North. Early in the story, Theodore “Laurie” Laurence (Timothee Chalamet) introduces himself to Jo. He is literally the boy next door and becomes Jo’s best friend.
Though some fans might disagree with Gerwig’s choice of narrative, I think it was a wise choice. Given the number of filmed adaptations of this beloved book, she chose to make her adaptation stand out because of that unorthodox narrative.
One of the things that impressed me about the film is how Amy is no longer a brat. In most adaptations and in the eyes of many fans, Amy March is disliked because she is spoiled and remains so throughout the book. But in this adaptation, Amy is spoiled like many youngest children are spoiled. But she also grows up into a woman who knows she wants, in spite of a world that would hold her back.
Anyone who has ever watched a film adaptation of their favorite book are likely to be disappointed. Changes to either character or narrative are certain. But Gerwig remains true to the text, retelling this beloved tale with a modern spirit and a reminder of why 150 years later, Little Women is a cherished novel.
Little Women is one of those books. It is the literary gateway drug that for many young bookworms (myself included). I remember reading an abridged version of the novel when I was around eleven or twelve. I loved it then and almost thirty years later, that love has blossomed into a life long affection.
The trailer for the reboot written and directed by Greta Gerwig was just released earlier today. Stepping into the iconic, universal and beloved roles of the March sisters are Emma Watson (Meg), Saoirse Ronan (Jo), Eliza Scanlan (Beth) and Florence Pugh (Amy). Supporting and sometimes bumping heads with the March girls are Marmee (Laura Dern), Laurie (Timothée Chalamet ) and Meryl Streep (Aunt March).
As a friend stated on Facebook, about this trailer and the film’s potential success, ” If anyone can top Winona’s Jo, is DEFINITELY Saoirse”. I have an incredible amount of love for the 1994 adaptation, but if this version can top that love, I will love this film forever.
Freedom of the press is one of our core freedoms. Without that freedom, our democracy is not a democracy.
The new movie, The Post, takes place in 1971. Kay Graham (Meryl Streep), is the owner/publisher of The Washington Post. The Vietnam War is raging on and the country is split down an ideological divide that looks impossible to cross. Kay is dealing with two equally troubling the issues: the newspaper’s financial issues and the fact that she is not just one of the few women in the newsroom, but one of the few women running a newspaper. The men around her are not exactly pleased to have to deal with on a professional level. Ben Bradlee (Tom Hanks) is her editor who is not afraid to tell the truth. After the New York Times publishes the Pentagon Papers and is called by the government for the printing, the documents get into the hands of the Washington Post. The question is, do Kay and Ben publish the papers and is freedom of the press more important than the security of the nation?
Directed by Steven Spielberg, this movie is a must see for every American citizen. It is a must see because the same arguments that the real life versions of the characters were having 46 years ago, we are still having the same arguments today. Especially with you know who in the White House. It is also a must see because without knowing it, Kay Graham was one of the women who helped to break the glass ceiling. She is still remembered today for her contributions in the arenas of both supporting the right of a free press and for the thousands of female journalists who have careers because of her.
Meryl Streep is without a doubt one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history. She is also a class act who is not afraid to use her name and her platform to speak the truth.
Her speech when accepting the Cecil B. DeMille Award last during last night Golden Globes was one of the best in recent years. She could have gone on and on about her career and thanking the usual suspects (spouses, children, agents, etc) and that would have been that. But instead, she went down a different path.
She asked for respect. She asked for respect for journalists, she asked for respect for the civil liberties that are the cornerstone of our democracy, she asked for respect for those who are different and she asked for respect from the man who will shortly be our commander-in-chief.
That is all she asked for. It’s nothing more than common human decency. Is that really so much to ask for?
Based off the best-selling book by Lauren Weisberger of the same name, Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway) is a new college graduate whose professional goal is to be a journalist. But a job in journalism is out of reach. The only job she can find is as an assistant to the notoriously difficult and demanding Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), editor of the fashion magazine Runway.
Andy initially is like a fish out of water. She does not fit in, especially with her fellow assistant Emily (Emily Blunt), feels overwhelmed by her job and has little to no social life due to her demanding job. Then something clicks and Andy finally starts to feel like she is fitting in and getting the job done. The problem now is that her personal life is being pushed to the side. Can Andy find that balance again and will she stay at Runway?
I saw this film during its initial release in theaters. From the moment the film started, I got the story and I got Andy. First, it is a very New York City story. It sounds cliché, but New York City was another character. Second, Andy is an every woman. She represents the millions of kids that graduate from college, have a dream career, but are forced to take a totally different job to survive.
At the time the film was released, I was in my early 20’s, only a few years out of college and working in my first long-term full-time job. I understood Andy and her struggles. Especially living in New York City, where dreams are well and good, but the rent has to be paid.
If there was ever a film to highlight Meryl Streep’s talent, this film is it. Miranda Priestly did not need to yell and scream if she was unhappy with her underling’s work. She only had to speak softly and raise her eyebrow. Even with stars like Streep and Hathaway, the MVP of this film is Emily Blunt. Not only does she have some of the best lines, but she steals the show from her co-stars.
I have nothing but good things to say about this film and I absolutely recommend it to anyone who has not seen it.
Sometimes, in life, you have to follow your dream. Even if following your dream means leaving the ones that you love.
In Ricki and the Flash, Ricki Randazzo aka Linda Brummel (Meryl Streep), gave her up middle class, middle American suburban life decades ago to live the rock and roll life style in Los Angeles. Her ex-husband, Pete (Kevin Kline) remarried and his second wife, Maureen (Audra McDonald), basically took over the mother-void left by Ricki. Then Julie (Mamie Gummer, Streep’s real life daughter), Pete and Ricki’s daughter has an emotional breakdown after her husband leaves her. Returning to the life she left nearly 30 years ago, Ricki/Linda has to face her past and the choices she made.
Some of the reviews that I read tried to put a positive spin on the film, but in reality, other than praising Streep’s performance (as they tend to do, because she is Meryl Streep), they were not kind. I disagree with those reviews. I found this film to be enjoyable, funny and very entertaining. Streep has once again proved why she has the stature as an actress, disappearing into the skin of a woman who made the tough choice to live the dream and leave the typical suburban life that was expected of her.
For a woman who only sings when the part requires, she has a great voice. Her playing felt very authentic. But what struck me as the overarching theme of the film is forgiveness and second chances. We can never predict how the choices we make will affect our lives and the ones who love us. But we can hope that we can be forgiven for our mistakes and have the opportunity for a second chance.
There is something about good food that brings people together.
The 2009 movie, Julie and Julia is about food and how it brings people together.
Julie Powell (Amy Adams) dreams of being a writer. But, like many writers, she has a day job. In post 9/11 New York City, Julie works in a call center speaking the survivors of the attack. To create a balance in her life, Julie decides to try to recreate every recipe in The Art Of French Cooking within a year. She documents her progress on her blog. In 1950’s Paris, Julia Child (Meryl Streep) is an American housewife who is taking French cooking lessons at the Le Cordon Bleu. The classes lead her collaboration on a cookbook, which she hopes to sell to other American housewives.
This movie is interesting because both main characters take a chance. Julie’s attempt to recreate the recipes and documentation of her progress will lead to her success. Julia who is looked down upon for wanting to become a cook, eventually becomes a success. Taking a chance is never easy, but the results are well worth it.