Archive | Film Matters

Why Bridesmaids Just Ain’t Funny

Question: How many feminist girls does it take to light a lightbulb?
Answer: It’s women—and that’s not funny.

You get the picture. Feminists aren’t funny. Feminist cultural criticism is even less funny. God knows complaining about Bridesmaids, which opened last month to a round of fanfare, really isn’t funny. After all, the movie has made more than $100 million at the box office at this point. Many, many women—including ones whom I adore and admire—have sung its praises to the high heavens. Some have even gone so far as to suggest that attending this film is a political act: Use your box-office dollars to compel Hollywood to put more funny women front and center. So this New Deal Sally has tried to keep mum.

Except that Bridesmaids is a disaster on the women tip. Or, to be more specific: feminist tip.

I know, I know. That’s not funny.

But for long stretches, Bridesmaids isn’t either, despite all the bruja-ha it’s been reaping. In fact, in addition to being the least funny comedy over which producer Judd Apatow ever waved his Magic Wand (vibrator joke intended, always), it’s actually kind of offensive. At the very least, it’s wrongheaded. Continue Reading →

2010 Top Ten, Sally-Come-Lately Style

I confess that I’ve experienced a very difficult few years—more hardships than joys; more losses than wins. That Age of Grief, as Jane Smiley once described one’s 30s, in which I shed the sort of illusions that our culture reinforces. Namely, that remaining young and pretty forever was a valid goal, that belonging to any kind of relationship was preferable to going it alone, that death wasn’t a regular part of life, and that things could get better without our actively making that so. Now, I’m clearer but possibly harder to bear; kinder and a hell of a lot less nice. I could say the same of the best films of this year. Continue Reading →

You Say Fact, I Say Fiction: I’m Still Here and Catfish Call the Whole Debate Off

We’re all back to school in one way or another—including the film world, who is rolling out all the top guns for Oscar consideration right around now.  To that end, I’ve seen a bevy of fascinating, and fascinatingly flawed, films in the last few weeks. The two haunting me most are the docs I’m Still Here, Casey Affleck’s exploration into brother-in-law Joaquin Phoenix’s ostensible nervous breakdown, and Catfish, about 24-year-old NYC photographer Nev’s curious relationship with an 8-year-old painter and her talented Michigan family. The old news, and even older hat: controversy swirls around both docs, whose authenticity has been called into question ever since their initial screenings. In the case of I’m Still Here, of course, Affleck invited that controversy, especially since he declared this week that he and Phoenix staged the breakdown, including the actor’s legendarily dissociative Letterman performance. Many critics and (fewer) members of the general public are now up in arms.  How dare he prank us? Who does he think he is? Who does he think we are?

L’Shana Tova, indeed. Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy