07 June 2008
  burn after reading
the trailer for the new coen brothers movie came out this week, and i am really pleasantly surprised by it. i don't mean to be blasphemous or anything, and no country was just fine and all, but this seems like a return to the coen brothers we know and love. it reminds me a lot of the big lebowski, with maybe a little bit of fargo (or at least frances mcdormand) and raising arizona thrown in for good measure. this one definitely goes up on my list from mild curiosity to can't-wait-til-it-comes-out. that's in september by the way.
  taking sides: clint eastwood v spike lee

point: at cannes last week, spike lee criticized clint eastwood for doing a disservice to black wwii vets, by not featuring them in either of his recent historical films flags of our fathers or letters from iwo jima. according to lee, black soldiers did indeed fight at iwo jima (and in other important battles), a fact he is apparently illustrating in his upcoming film miracle at st. anna.

counterpoint: eastwood responded, quite eloquently, that lee "should shut his face." he argues that it would have been inappropriate for him to have focused on black soldiers in either of his films. flags of our fathers focuses on the lives of several specific soldiers who raised the flag on iwo jima (all white) and letters from iwo jima, of course, focuses on the japanese.

rebuttal: lee responded, also eloquently, by calling eastwood "an angry old man." he offers to set up a meeting between eastwood and black soldiers who fought at iwo jima, so that the director can tell them that their contributions were meaningless.

no doubt, clint eastwood is a bit cantankerous, but spike lee is the one who picked this fight, and then he criticizes "the angry old man" for taking it personally. it sounds like both of these guys need to simmer down. but, more importantly, lee needs to take a few steps back from this and realize that he is taking his deep-seeded (albeit rightful) frustration regarding the removal of black history from the textbooks, and he is focusing this resentment in the wrong direction. if eastwood had somehow worked a storyline about african american soldiers into either of his movies, not only would it have been inappropriate, but he would have been attacked for dumbing down his work in favor of political correctness.

both eastwood and lee are great filmmakers, and letters from iwo jima is really an excellent movie. i am sure miracle at st. anna will be too. but come on spike, do you honestly think that clint eastwood believes that the contributions of black soldiers are insignificant? i totally support your anger and frustration at this situation, but express this through your work rather than taking it out on your colleagues.
06 June 2008
  a rant about jake gyllenhaal

[anyone who knows me need not read the following, since this is a constant topic of bitching that you have no doubt heard from me before.]

reading the entertainment news section of imdb today as i do pretty much every morning i came across a short article about how the website afterelton.com (somehow associated with logo) published its annual list of the top 100 gay male icons, placing in the number one spot jake gyllenhaal. so i went to the website and read the list, and i was surprised to find that gyllenhaal is immediately proceeded by four openly gay actors.

what is wrong with this picture?

exactly why is jake gyllenhaal, an openly hetero actor whose biggest accomplishment in the field of homosexuality was being "brave" enough to play a queer in a movie three years ago, the biggest gay icon while actual gay actors including activist neil patrick harris are relegated to runner-up status? interestingly enough (and even more bizarre), afterelton's lesbian companion site afterellen.com published its list of girl-on-girl icons, giving the top spot to tina fey (?!?) ELLEN is number 17 (?!?!?!?!?)

this is absolutely one more example of the way "glbt" organizations including hrc, glaad and logo have, especially over the past few years, placed ACTUAL gay politics in the backseat behind hobnobbing with celebs. from my conversations with a good friend who actually worked for the hrc, i know that their offices spend a great deal more time and energy planning parties and cattily criticizing staff wardrobes than they do attempting to make this country a more equal place for queer people.

a couple years ago, the glaad media awards were in the spotlight, because they refused to give awards to programs on explicitly gay media (like logo), preferring to reward "mainstream" entertainment. they had some inane bs reasoning that i dont even remember behind this decision, but the truth is that they wanted to give awards to bigger celebrities so glaad members could get their pictures taken beside johnny depp or *jake gyllenhaal*

e.g. the vanguard award, according to wikipedia, "is presented annually at the Los Angeles GLAAD Media Awards to honor a member of the entertainment community who has made a significant difference in promoting equal rights for LGBT people." the past three winners include janet jackson (wtf?), jennifer aniston (WTF?) and charlize theron (WHAT THE FUCK???) if someone could PLEASE make the case that janet jackson or charlize theron are promoting equal rights for lgbt people (with a straight face) and that some glaad chair person isn't just a big "rhythm nation" fan or something, i would really appreciate it.

and this brings us to jake gyllenhaal, apparently our number one gay icon. honestly, i have nothing against jake gyllenhaal, and i love janet jackson, but i have to tell you, honoring them as somehow important to gay communities makes me sick. there are so many people out there that are doing great work to promote gay rights, to stop the spread of HIV, to make this country a better place for queer people. and none of them are being honored as "vanguards" or "icons."

ellen, i'm sorry the folks over at logo feel that you are only number 17 in importance of lesbians in entertainment, but thank you for the work that you do and have done. you are my icon. bitches.
04 June 2008
  women in film
so i don't know if anyone's been reading awards daily's coverage of the state of women-driven films lately, but it's something about which i've been meaning to write. with the success of sex and the city this past weekend and the release of the trailer for diane english's the women this morning, it seems like a lot of people in the blogosphere have been thinking about the topic.

this whole issue really blew up back in october when that idiot president at warner issued a memo to his production staff saying that the company would not be making any more female-driven films. rather than attributing any of the blame for the failure of jodie foster's the brave one and nicole kidman's invasion on the (male) directors behind them, robinov decided that it was the female stars' fault.

right after that, several columnists started publishing info and stats they pieced together on the place of women in the film world. the writers at xkcd put together this interesting piece on women-driven films over the past five years. In 2007, none of the top 20 highest grossing films featured a female lead, and since 2004, only five top 20 movies were female-driven. Also, none of the top 20 biggest movies over the past 20 years and none of the top 20 movies on imdb have women at the helm.

women and hollywood, a really great entertainment blog i enjoy, followed this up with their own study on the issue. they write that in 2006 only 3 of the top FIFTY movies starred women and of the over 300 movies eligible for oscars, less than a dozen were female-driven. Of the last 150 movies nominated for best picture oscars, less than six had female leads, and only a quarter of all speaking roles in these films were women. The find also that women make up just 15 percent of all producers, directors, cinematographers and editors working on the top 250 highest-grossing films of all time are women. (it is hard not to notice this last statistic each year at oscar time. no woman has ever won a best director oscar, and only three women have even been nominated!)

still, despite what robinov thinks, there have been a lot of great movies starring women, even in the past couple years, and some of them *gasp* have even made money. besides sex and the city, there was the devil wears prada a couple years ago. and this year tina fey's baby mama won its weekend. a lot of my favorite movies are at least one half female driven: beaches, fried green tomatoes, steel magnolias, a league of their own, the end of the affair, far from heaven. . . these movies all made money and/or garnered critical success. the folks at awards daily have put together an even longer list of successful female-driven flicks.

so this leads to the question: should we just stop making movie starring women, because they aren't making enough money at the ticket counter, or should filmmakers maybe just try a little harder to make better films and write better parts. the answer should be obvious. how often are you watching a movie with a great (usually over 40) actress and you say to yourself, wow she is really great. why doesn't she do more? i think we say that a lot more about female rather than male actors. there just aren't many roles out there for (especially older) women. e.g. julianne moore. honestly, i think sometimes that she does crap like freedomland and the forgotten, because there just isn't anything else out there. the stats above prove this.

and now we have coming up the women. the cast looks incredible, but will anyone go see it? honestly i think a lot depends on whether or not it is any good. seeing the trailer, i have a bit of hesitation, but i am hopeful. as long as it doesn't devolve into some estrogeney festival of weeping and wailing about unfaithful husbands and pregnancy (honestly, is this all the women do?) then i think it has definite potential. in any case, i think it is time for film goers to really start rallying behind (good) female driven movies or else they just might stop making them altogether.
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