Not been to the cinema very much recently. Feels silly to spend a few hours in a dark room when the days are long and warm, doesn’t it?
I did see The Bling Ring this week though. A tremendously strong passer of the test as the film features a mostly female cast.
What this film also proves is that even a strong passer of the test can be not especially feminist.
It might be my personal politics but I found the entire conceit impossible to give the tiniest of shits about. Rich people steal from richer people in the pursuit of massive materialist consumerism. YAWN.
And despite the fact that this story is based on real events, the women characters seemed strangely two-dimensional and unrealistic. The only character you might feel some sort of sympathy for was the male one, who came across like an actual real person.
I like Sofia Coppola‘s style, and she’s very good at making films that have women in them but I think she’s fixated on rich women (and men – let’s not forget the snoozefest that was Somewhere) in particular. In this case, the film was really quite boring for me. Her movies all seem to be about the loneliness of being really rich. Excuse me if I’m not affluent enough to do one over this. Ennui is a privilege. And a boring one to watch.
I have been slack recently. I think going to the cinema once a week was too ambitious, let alone going once a week to see a Bechdel-passing film.
That said, I went twice this week. On Wednesday I saw Compliance which was easily the most horrible & uncomfortable film I have ever sat through. It is a really well made film but I never want to see it again. It passes the test on many, many occasions because the two lead characters are female. It’s based on a true story & the film claims that nothing is exaggerated. I think it’s an incredible film but it left me feeling sick for hours.
The other film I saw this week was Cloud Atlas. It’s based on the book by David Mitchell & I think if you haven’t read the book, the film might be impenetrable. It only just passes due to conversations between two of the fabricants (Somni & Yoona) working in Papa Song’s. A lot of the cleverness & wit of the book is lost in the mawkishness of the film – a massive difference is that the book’s main theme is “predacity” & the film’s main linking theme is “love” (ergh).
The interesting thing the film explores is identity – mostly through the same actors playing different roles. They play different genders & ethnicities (this has sparked a bit of controversy). I enjoyed it but I did find myself wanting a few more women actors (of 13 main cast, 4 were women) to see them being allowed to explore changing identity as much as the male actors. The exploration of identity certainly fits with something the directors might want to examine. Director Lana Wachowski made her first public appearance as a fully transitioned woman in a trailer for the movie.
For all the explorations, 7 of the 13 main cast members are caucasian men, so the film still has a very White Man basis from which it explores.
These are just some thought farts of mine. Both of these films have got me thinking which is probably a good thing.
I remedied my missed weeks by going to see Lore today.
I wouldn’t have considered it previously as I’d not heard of it at all. I haven’t seen any trailers or posters for it. I was hoping to see Zero Dark Thirty but my local Picturehouse wasn’t showing it & I was beginning to feel like I wasn’t putting in enough effort with this challenge.
So, I saw Lore was on, read the blurb, watched the trailer & it looked like a good contender for a Bechdel-passing film. It wasn’t listed on bechdeltest.com though so I tried googling to see if anyone had blogged about whether it passes and accidentally learned that the film is directed & co-written by a woman. Surely, thought I, this film must pass the test. I asked Twitter and a helpful follower told me it did. Of course I couldn’t be totally confident after the Bullhead palava but seeing as there were lots of women in the trailer, a woman writer, a woman protagonist (which the film is named after) and a woman director – I felt pretty certain this film wouldn’t let me down.
It didn’t. It passes the test over & over again. Along with Beasts of the Southern Wild, this is my favourite film of 2013 so far. It really satisfied my (now increasing with this project) demand for stories about women, told by women. Having a woman protagonist (technically, a teenager here) is a real pleasure for me to watch. I especially like seeing relationships between mothers & daughters explored & the idea of women being in charge of difficult situations.
I found the film to be beautiful, detailed & fraught. I don’t know if my enjoyment of it was boosted because of it being exactly what I want from this experiment or whether I enjoyed it so much because I started this experiment to find movies exactly like this.
I probably would not have seen this film at the cinema were I not doing this project so I’m really pleased as I feel like I’m beginning to get what I was hoping for from it. It’s now March, by January 2014 I hope I have a sizeable list of films like this.
The Bechdel Test is a very simple test designed by Alison Bechdel to gauge representation of women in film.
The rules again, if you didn’t get it from the comic, or just enjoy seeing things expressed in pictures and words and then in words alone:
1. there must be at least two (named) women
2. they must speak to each other
3. about something other than a man
Sounds simple, eh? Except loads of films don’t pass it. Bloody loads.
I’m bored of watching films that don’t feature women. So, this year I am going to try to only pay to watch films that pass the Bechdel test, and I’m going to try to see one new film a week. I’ll check if a film passes it by checking here or asking people on Twitter who have seen it. I’ll probably be going mostly on Wednesdays (with my Orange Wednesdays 241 – let me know if you want to be my cinema buddy) and I’ll update this blog with how it goes.
I love movies. I LOVE them. I can watch three in a row without getting bored but I really wish they better represented women and I hope this experiment sheds some light on the representation of women in cinema.