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.
Not everyone is blessed with the ability to easily interact with others. For some of us, the scariest thing we can do is talk to people.
In the 2017 novel, Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, by Gail Honeyman, the title character, Eleanor Oliphant is not exactly a social butterfly. Awkward with a capital A, Eleanor often blurts out what she is thinking, has no social life and keeps to her regimented weekly schedule as if she was in the military. The only conversations she has are the most basic greetings with her colleagues and her weekly phone conversations with her mother, which are not exactly the most uplifting.
Then she meets Raymond, the new hire in her company’s IT department. Raymond is as awkward as Eleanor is. When they save Sammy, an elderly gentleman who has fallen on sidewalk, something changes for her. With the help of her friendship with Raymond, she may learn to move on from her past and open her heart.
This book was recommended to me by a friend. It is one of the best books I have read in a very long time. From nearly the moment that I started reading this book, I knew who Eleanor was because I understood her. It’s nice to read about a heroine who lives with social anxiety, mental illness and emotional hardships that come with carrying the weight of those obstacles on your shoulders. I also appreciated that Raymond is not a paragon of perfection, a prince charming type who “rescues” the heroine by seeing her inner beauty.
I absolutely recommend it.
P.S. The book is being made into a movie. Reese Witherspoon is one of the producers. This is one movie that I will be waiting in line on opening weekend to see.
Two thoughts come to mind when it is announced that a musical based on a story that is not a musical will soon be on stage. One thought is that the producers have chosen a known work with a dedicated fan base, who can spread the word and reduce the work of the publicity department. The other thought is that the producers took the easy way out, choosing a known work instead of taking a chance on a work by a writer whose name is not as well-known.
I saw Cruel Intentions: The Musical earlier today. As with the 1999 film of the same name, the story is set in New York City. Sebastian Valmont (Constantine Rousouli, taking over from Ryan Phillipe) and Kathryn Merteuil (Lauren Zarkin, taking over from Sarah Michelle Gellar) are rich step-siblings. They make a bet that Sebastian can seduce Annette Hargrove (Carrie St. Louis, taking over from Reese Witherspoon), the virgin daughter of their school’s new headmaster. If Sebastian wins, he gets to sleep with Kathryn, the one girl who is out of his reach. If Kathryn wins, she can claim ownership of Sebastian’s car, his pride and joy. It seems like a simple task, but by the time the game of seduction and lies is over, nothing will be the same.
Based on the book Dangerous Liaisons, the show is a ton of fun and extremely enjoyable. True to the film incarnation, with a singable soundtrack straight out of the 1990s, the show is one of the best I have seen in a very long time.
I absolutely recommend it.
Cruel Intentions is playing at (Le) Poisson Rouge (158 Bleeker Street, New York City) until March 16th, 2018.
Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is the typical empty-headed California blonde sorority girl. At the beginning of the film, Elle expects a marriage proposal from her long time boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis). What she gets instead is a broken heart.
Warner is heading to law school and sees his future in politics. Elle is not exactly the ideal politician’s wife, according to Warner. After throwing herself a pity party, Elle decides to follow her now ex across the country to law school. Her only goal is to get her boyfriend back. What Elle does not know is how life changing attending law school will be.
This movie is brilliant, for several reasons. First is Reese Witherspoon, who was perfectly cast as Elle. The second reason is that the movie is incredibly funny and entertaining. The third (and most important) reason why this movie is brilliant is that Elle is a role model. She may look the part of the typical dumb blonde, but grows into a strong woman who can stand on her own two feet and is incredibly smart. She is not a dumb blonde.
There are only a handful of performers who are so iconic, that it only takes a few moments to recognize their work. The late Johnny Cash was one of these performers.
The 2005 film, Walk The Line, chronicles the life, music and struggles of the legendary musician. Stepping into the shoes and up to the microphone as Cash is Joaquin Phoenix. As his loyal, but sometimes questioning second wife, June Carter Cash is Reese Witherspoon.
The film is an honest, but dramatic and sometimes brutal portrayal of it’s lead character. Cash, like many performers then and now is beloved by his fans and works with the best in the business, but suffers from addiction.
Every decade has it’s rom-com queen. In the early 2000’s, that actress was Reese Witherspoon.
During the early 2000’s, she played in a variety of rom-comish roles.
One of the films she starred in was 2002’s Sweet Home Alabama. Melanie Carmichael (Reese Witherspoon) has made it big in New York City. Her career as a fashion designer is extremely successful. Her relationship with Andrew Hennings (Patrick Dempsey), has taken a new turn. Melanie has just accepted Andrew’s marriage proposal. Life cannot get any better. But before Melanie can move forward with her new life, she has to get rid of the old life.
Born and raised in the South, Melanie married Jake Perry (Josh Lucas) years ago. Now Melanie must divorce Jake before she can marry Andrew. The trip home is supposed to be quick. But it is not as quick as Melanie intended and now she must choose the life and the man she wants.
This movie is a standard rom-com with the standard tropes and characters of the genre. But it is the film’s lead actress and the idea of facing your past before moving onto your present that makes it stand out.
The second film is 2005’s Just Like Heaven. Elizabeth Masterson (Reese Witherspoon) has a successful career, but she has no social life. On the way to a date, she is seriously injured in a car accident and lies dormant in a coma. Meanwhile David Abbott (Mark Ruffalo) now lives in Elizabeth’s apartment. While Elizabeth’s body is in the coma, her spirit remains in her home. She remembers nothing, except her home and knows nothing except the new tenant. Can David and Elizabeth figure out who is and return her to her body or will she spend the rest of her life in a coma?
This is another movie that moves beyond the standard rom-com film. It takes a slightly darker turn while retaining the qualities that make a rom-com a rom-com.
Happy 2015. This will be my first Throwback Thursday blog post of the New Year.
The 1950’s can often be seen through rose colored glasses, especially when viewed through the family sitcoms of the era. Television programs like Father Knows Best and The Donna Reed Show presented the audience with a perfect Caucasian suburban family whose problems were easily solved within a 30 minute time span.
Flash forward to the 1990’s where television story lines and characters were complex and problems were so easily solved within 30 minutes.
In 1998, Pleasantville, two 1990’s teens into the world of the perfect 1950’s family sitcom. David, who has little to no social life (Tobey Maguire) is obsessed with the 1950’s television program Pleasantville. His sister, Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) has a very active social life and looks down on her brother’s obsession. A strange looking remote transports them into the television program. As they spend more time in Pleasantville, things begin to change and the boat begins to rock.
I like this movie. What I like about this movie is that it brings color to a world that is black and white, literally and figuratively. The special effects are also a nice touch. They add to the movie as needed, without drawing attention away from the plot or the characters.
The dumb blonde is an obvious joke in our culture. She is easy on the eyes, but lacks the brain power. Or so we think.
In 2001, Legally Blonde turned the image of the blonde ditz on it’s ear.
California sorority girl Elle Woods (Reese Witherspoon) is eagerly waiting for a marriage proposal from her boyfriend, Warner (Matthew Davis). Instead he breaks up with her. Determined to win him back, Elle follows Warner to law school. She finds that he is newly engaged to Vivian Kensington, (Selma Blair) an East Coast Brunette that will help Warner fulfill his political ambition. Deciding to make the best of her situation, Elle finds that law school may be just what she needs and Emmett (Luke Wilson) may be the better man for her.
I like this movie. It’s funny and charming, but it also has an undercurrent of female power running through it.
In 2007, Legally Blonde was made into a Broadway show and an MTV reality show that filmed the audition process and used it as a marketing tool.
While the musical did not last very long in New York, the movie will live on.
Adapted from the novel The Dangerous Liasions, the story is transplanted from 18th century France to modern day New York City. Kathryn Merteuil (Sarah Michelle Gellar, taking a break in character and hair color from Buffy The Vampire Slayer) and Sebastian Valmont (Ryan Phillipe) are step-siblings. Annette Hargrove (Reese Witherspoon) is new to the city, her father is the new headmaster of the private school where Kathryn and Sebastian attend. She makes a public announcement to retain her virginity until she falls in love.
Kathryn and Sebastian make a bet. If Sebastian can sleep with Annette, he will get also sleep with his step-sister. If he cannot sleep with her, Kathryn will win Sebastian’s Jaguar.
This movie is well done. The plot keeps to the book and keeps the audience entertained. As an actress, Gellar shows that her range as an actress goes well beyond Buffy Summers. The fact that Phillipe and Witherspoon were married at the time throws an interesting light on their character’s relationship.