I can’t believe I’ve reached part VII already. This blog is getting old! But it’s three months (and four days) again since last time and there a lot of movies, so let’s get back to this (not very popular) series.
The holidays helped me to watch 60 movies in the last three months, which (again) is the second-highest number since I started this. Last time it was 1981 week and now it is the upcoming 1990 week that generates a higher number of movies from that decade, but the current decade still rules.
The average rating is 6.5 again, exactly like last time. After the streak of terrible 1990 movies, I had expected less but that’s just recent memory clouding everything. But no 10s or 1s again.
It seems incredible to me that I watched so many movies in the cinema again in the last three months. A big chunk also falls to my Michael Fassbender- and Carey Mulligan-runs.
Depiction of Women
Let’s see which stereotypes the movies tell us about women this time. They are horny and nasty (Sleepaway Camp), victims (Cobra), need to be rescued by men constantly (Marked for Death) even if they went through training to make them fighters (Divergent), used for evil purposes (Town Creek), stay by the hero’s side, even if he is crazy or criminal (Days of Thunder, Public Enemies), are hysterical (Honig im Kopf), annoying mothers or passive wives (The Pride of the Yankees), are aimlessly following men (Crazy People, Nightbreed) or are competent and resistant, but still used to see them from a voyeur’s perspective (Hardware).
Surprisingly though, I watched more movies with strong female characters than movies with hard stereotypes, even with some of the 1990 movies. Das schreckliche Mädchen (The Nasty Girl) is all about a woman trying to uncover secrets in a German village, despite all the efforts of the authorities to not take her seriously. A Dangerous Method features an interesting performance by Keira Knightley as the first female expert in psychoanalysis, even if it’s just a supporting role. She also did a great job of being strong and determined in Pride & Prejudice. Mia Wasikowska plays a similar role in Jane Eyre, which mostly is about her not living according to society’s standards. Despite some problems I have with Zero Dark Thirty, Jessica Chastain’s character of Maya is a really unique female character that in probably all other realities would have been cast with a male performer. Some critics complained that Carey Mulligan is almost too strong in The Greatest, which seems fair criticism, but she also plays a great character in the third (and best) of the classics adaptation I watched in Far From the Madding Crowd, where she plays this amazing woman who simply prefers to be on her own instead of being married. Faye Dunaway clearly is the stronger character in Bonnie & Clyde (underlined by Clyde’s impotence) and Tatum O’Neal plays this amazing girl who is just so good at playing baseball that she has to be taken away from her dancing lessons. I could go on and on, but let’s finish with Kate Winslet’s non-romantic role in Steve Jobs and of course the future role model for girls, Rey from Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Overall, this was a very good run for women.
Out of 60 movies, four featured non-white lead characters. There is Beasts of No Nation, which nevertheless reinforces some stereotypes about Africa, The Long Walk Home with Whoopi Goldberg fighting in the Civil Rights Movement, the documentary God Loves Uganda, which mainly features a black priest warning of white Christian fundamentalists increasing homophobia in Uganda and of course Creed, the notoriously not nominated for any black people movie starring Michael B. Jordan and directed by Ryan Coogler. It’s not much, but the examples are mostly good.
On the other hand, there is stereotypical depiction of black people in Sleepaway Camp, like the cook who ignores the pedophile in his kitchen. Or the horribly racist depiction of Jamaicans in Marked for Death as voodoo priests and drug dealers. The Ice Pirates features a “black” robot that acts as a pimp. The Bangkok of The Hangover, Part II is also filled with stereotypes.
Das schreckliche Mädchen is not a successful movie, but it clearly criticizes the ignorance of the society at the time after World War II. Bonnie and Clyde is the amazing counter-culture movie it is claimed to be, breaking societal rules, condemning capitalism and mocking the police state. Up in the Air and I Hired a Contract Killer show the cold calculated business world, in which emotions are unwanted. Carol is a fascinating portrayal of the discriminating 50s and its homophobia. The Revenant finally judges the treatment of Native Americans by the white settlers.
There are two movies that have a 9,5 rating and it’s not easy to decide between the two. One is The Revenant, the other is It Follows. Both impressed me a lot and were unusual for their genre. It Follows is such a unique, moody and scary horror movie, where the premise is amazing and the execution even better (no matter what Quentin Tarantino says). The Revenant is masterfully filmed and talks about issues that rarely find a mention in any movie. This is tough. I think, I admire The Revenant more than I love it, but It Follows really touched me in a certain way, so I give it the close pass (and I should really write about it in the future).
When it comes to bad movies, I again have to differentiate between depressingly bad and entertainingly bad. Sleepaway Camp is the most incoherent and absurd movie I’ve seen this time, but also one of the funniest. Cobra is also very entertaining while being complete crap. Super Mario Bros. on the other hand is just bad, not fun in any way and boring too. So, there you go, crappy 90s video game adaptation, take that!
See you again in April!