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If you haven’t yet found the time to watch Anna Rose Holmer’s The Fits, now is the time (you’ll find it streaming on Amazon Prime).
Let’s talk about war, shall we?
“You have to have men that are moral, and at the same time able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill; without feeling, without passion, without judgement. Because it’s judgement that defeats us.”
– Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now (1979)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
Drop the bomb! Exterminate them all!
When I think about Apocalypse Now, I think about where it ends – in a green, foggy haze. Marlon Brando mumbling a mantra equal parts survivalist and absurdist. Crazy-eyed Martin Sheen wielding a machete under orange lights, while Vietnamese men perform a ritual ax murder of a (literal) golden calf. This is a surrealist film, right?
It’s two days into March and I’m bringing an official (and officially late) end to #ChickFlickFebruary. I wanted to end with something classic. I wanted to end with something new and different. I had a strong desire for something with a bit of a twang, maybe a Southern Belle, and crazy rich mothers with a lot of absurd rules for their precious daughters. I figured I’d watch The Notebook. It was also suggested I watch Boy Meets Girl.
Made a decade apart, there are many reasons these films might be seen as polar opposites. What’s most striking, though, is that their differences are totally unremarkable.
The Notebook (2004)
I’ve loved another with all my heart and soul; and to me, that has always been enough.
This is the new classic, isn’t it? This is the movie women supposedly sit down and watch with a cup of tea, a box of kleenex, and/or a pint of ice cream (depends on how much crying you’re planning on doing – that shit melts).
I admit to owning The Notebook.
Shame on me for assuming Philomena would be precisely the type of “based-on-a-true-story” sentimental feature I hate. Shame on me, because Stephen Frears’ Philomena is a great deal more than that.
Because ‘human interest story’ is a euphemism for stories about weak-minded, vulnerable, ignorant people, to fill newspapers read by vulnerable, weak-minded, ignorant people. Not that you are.
That quote said it all, and it said it within the first fifteen minutes of the film. It was said by Steve Coogan, playing Martin Sixsmith, telling one woman why another elderly woman’s story wasn’t worth writing about. It was curt, honest, cruel, and wrong. And clear that what Mr. Sixsmith was really referring to, were stories about women, for women. Those are the stories not worth writing about.
Philomena does a great deal to prove that notion wrong.
Movie #3 is a dramatic and new choice – today I’m watching writer-director Gina Prince-Bythewood’s Beyond the Lights.
Beyond the Lights (2014)
I feel like I’m suffocating in the middle of the street and no one can see me dying.
Fact: I don’t watch a lot of straight up dramas. Fact: I watch them even less when they appear to be marketed to my own gender (female). I write them off as sappy. Uninteresting. Formulaic. At their worst, enforcing of gender stereotypes.
On those notes, Beyond the Lights didn’t really surprise me.
But it is important. Here’s why.
What’s the hell’s a Chick Flick, anyway?
Is it a rom-com? A romantic drama? A woman’s picture (hands down my favorite dated term)? We throw this classification around so casually, yet do we really have a general definition of the genre? Is it even quantifiable as a real genre? Honestly, I’m a woman and a film addict, and I wasn’t really sure what qualified something as a chick flick. So I did what any great scholar would do: I Googled it.
Here’s what the internet thinks a chick flick is: