2017 Does Not Pass the Bechdel Test

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Having seen many of the movies likely to be nominated for an Oscar, I can say that a particularly discouraging trend is how few of them would pass the so-called Bechdel Test. For those not aware, the test has three criteria:

  1. The movie has to have at least two women in it,
  2. who talk to each other,
  3. about something besides a man.

A few weeks ago, I saw a screening of “I, Tonya” and, besides great Margot Robbie and Allison Janney performances, one thing that struck me is how easily it passes the Bechdel Test. Tonya and her mother speak about many things (especially Tonya’s figure skating career). How disappointing, then, that so many of the movies I’ve seen recently fail this test. Here are just some examples off the top of my head:

  1. “The Post” – Meryl Streep does have two scenes with her daughter (played by blog favorite Alison Brie) in which they discuss personal troubles. The scenes last a total of about 90 seconds, but this is actually pretty close to a pass.
  2. “Downsizing” – Hong Chau (who is wonderful in the movie) only speaks to men, as does Kristen Wiig, the only other notable female character.
  3. “The Last Jedi” – Rey only speaks to Leia at the end (about Luke), Leia speaks to Holdo (but only about Poe), and Rose only speaks to Poe and Finn.
  4. “Call Me By Your Name” – Elio’s mother only speaks to Elio and his father, or to other female characters about food preparation.
  5. “The Disaster Artist” – literally everyone speaks either to or about Tommy.
  6. “3 Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” – Frances McDormand’s character does not interact with other women except her ex-husband’s girlfriend (and they only speak about her ex).

Now, not every movie fails – “Lady Bird,” which I just saw today, has some great scenes between female characters (though boys/men often are topics of discussion). But in a world in which Hollywood has been exposed as a place of rampant sexism, misogyny, and harassment, I hope that more movies will be made that emphasize many great, strong, female roles.

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Made-Up Hallmark Christmas Movies

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My friends Shannon and Jessica, like me, love nothing more than a good (read: cheesy) Hallmark Christmas movie this time of year. The formula is pretty simple: take one (1) 90s/00s female¬†“star” (ideally from “Full House,” “Party of Five,” “Beverly Hills, 90210” or its reboot, “90210,” or “Saved by the Bell”). Make sure she has a busy and important job: anchorwoman, ad executive, etc. She’ll definitely have no time in her busy schedule for two things: romance, and the magic of the Christmas season. Now find her a gentleman (often by way of Santa) and you’re off. But what makes these movies even better, in my opinion? The titles. Almost always a clever play on words, who basically spoil the plot entirely, these are the best parts of the movies. So, without further ado, I present to you my own, entirely made-up Hallmark Christmas movies. Some of these I think would actually work on the air. If you see one you like, please feel free to email/tweet/facebook/etc. this post to your friends – who knows, maybe this time next year we’ll be watching one of these. Continue reading

Star Wars Films, Ranked

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Choosing the best “Star Wars” movie, for me, is what I imagine parents would feel when asked to choose their favorite child. It’s an impossible task; each has brought me hours of joy and escapism. But, having just walked out of “The Last Jedi” for the second time in 72 hours, this is my current ranking of the “Star Wars” filmography. Maybe upon subsequent rewatches, this will change. Let me know your personal order in the comments.¬† Continue reading

Things that still bother me…Benjamin Button edition

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As my friend Tessa can tell you, things that bothered me, say, ten years ago often still bother me today. One of these things is a non-crucial plot point from the movie “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.” Spoilers for people who haven’t seen a nearly ten-year-old movie to follow.

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New York Movies

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This past weekend, my family and I were discussing this article whose central conceit is the following question: “But what if you wanted to just pick one: a single movie [set in/about New York] that the whole city could watch together?” And let me tell you, the movies that they chose to answer that question are not the ones that I’d suggest. First, the Times’ suggestions, and then a much better list after the jump. For a Martin Scorsese movie, they chose “New York, New York” – a fine film, sure, but not anywhere as good or capturing of a New York spirit as “Mean Streets,” “Wolf of Wall Street,” “Gangs of New York,” or “The Age of Innocence.” The critics also chose “Crooklyn,” a fine Spike Lee movie, sure, but is it even as good a statement of New York as “Do the Right Thing” or the best post-9/11 movie, 2002’s “25th Hour”? And then they nominated “Desperately Seeking Susan,” which…ok? I mean, is that a movie that, when you see it, you think, “That truly captured the spirit of New York”? And the last nominee? Ang Lee’s “The Wedding Banquet.” I’ll pause here to let you google that movie, because that’s how memorable it was for me. And now for some movies that should have made the list. Continue reading

Top 30 Challengers

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Tonight is the premiere of the thirtieth (!) season of The Challenge, nee the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Everyone has their own opinions, of course, but in my mind, here are the top 30 players in Challenge history. Note: I’m considering how entertaining the person was, how many victories he or she has, and appearing on multiple seasons is inherently valuable. For instance, someone like Carley won her only challenge (Fresh Meat II) – but does anyone really remember Carley? Continue reading

In Praise of Marisa Tomei

I recently saw “Spider-Man: Homecoming,” and while a lot of the movie is very good, my first comment walking out of the theater was, “Man, I wish Aunt May [Marisa Tomei] was in it more.” And it’s not the only time that Tomei has had a (small) part in a movie, done a lot with it, and left the audience wanting more. In fact, let’s take a look at her IMDB page. You may be like me and forget in just how many roles she’s been really excellent.

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