Christmas time is always one of the most emotional times of the year. It brings joy, happiness, and jolly good cheer. But it can also bring other emotions too: pain, sorrow, fear. In Bob Clark’s 1974 slasher masterpiece "Black Christmas", these emotions are all brought to the forefront in very realistic and sometimes unnerving depictions. At the core of this film is women fighting for acceptance, the right to their bodies and ultimately their lives.
Sexual assault is a crime that has been perpetrated upon far too many women; some who’ve unfortunately gone through this may find this film to be one too difficult to sit through. An experience like this is not one which needs re-living--especially when it hits this close to home (which happens to be the case of the director/screenwriter/producer, Cédric Jouaire according to my press notes). A best-selling writer is seduced, then kidnapped by a stalker who accuses him of rape. She claims that the rape occurred 20 years ago and that he has used her personal tragedy and exploited it by making it the plot of his latest novel. The author insists that this is merely a coincidence and that his work is merely one of fiction, yet the vengeful woman persistently forces him to confess.
On 21st November Anita Sarkeesian tweeted to highlight the lack of female characters in the first episode of Disney’s new Star Wars show "The Mandalorian" and it caused an immediate backlash.
The discourse that’s still raging raises some fairly universal arguments which are worth exploring. It’s this discourse I want to focus on here, not the accuracy or otherwise of Sarkeesian’s tweet as I have not seen "The Mandalorian".
With all of the Scrooges out there bashing “Last Christmas” (2019), it seems that it is important to remind people that feel good movies are something we all need.
The flack “Last Christmas” is receiving is from Tarantino/Scorsese/Kubrick Film Bros (my assessment of the situation), who think that every movie needs to be riddled with piousness, plot points that make no sense, and toxic masculinity. So, when “Last Christmas” (2019) hit theaters, it certainly did not please this crowd.
Amidst the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, it as become glaringly obvious how pervasive toxic masculinity, harassment, and abuse are in the film industry. With film and television as not just art forms, but avenues of escapism, how do we watch cinema more responsibly?
Following the scathing Weinstein report, MANY men in Hollywood – and some women – have been accused of sexual harassment and assault. This is not a new thing, but we are certainly not remaining as complacent as before. Louis C.K., Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose, Bryan Singer, R. Kelly and so on are facing exile from the entertainment industry.
Anyone who uses social media to discuss their favourite tv shows or movies has probably run into a crazy fan or two. Most major franchises - Star Wars, Marvel, DC, Harry Potter, Doctor Who, Game of Thrones, Disney, etc- have a large following on social media that unfortunately includes some people whose goal is to make everyone else miserable. These "Toxic Fans" (or "Toxic Fandoms" as a group) are defined as fans that are overly negative towards opposing opinions, are possessive, entitled, and/or abusive towards people they think are "ruining their franchise". These groups of people have been in the spotlight recently for being so abusive they've made actors flee social media entirely. An example of this is with Rian Johnson's "Star Wars Episode VIII: The Last Jedi" (2017) and its character Rose Tico and actress Kelly Marie Tran.
People like to say that original movies are in short supply these days, swallowed up by the onslaught of comic book films, remakes/reboots, and live-action adaptations of 80s cartoons based on toys. Whilst there is truth to this observation, its conclusions are flawed. Not only have some incredibly bold and unique recent films come from pre-existing IP like "The Lego Movie", "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse", but so-called “original” films are often just as guilty of recycling and retrofitting the concepts of the past.
Quentin Tarantino and Edgar Wright have made their entire careers out of essentially crafting extended tributes to their childhood favourites, communicating their own perspectives and ideas through the lens of pulp genre cinema.
"Hereditary" and "Midsommar", directed by Ari Aster, disguise a family drama and a relationship drama under the facade of horror. They demonstrate women’s grief during the most heinous of circumstances, as well as the agency that each protagonist has in facing that grief and finally achieving a sense of peace. Toni Collette and Florence Pugh give stellar performances as women absolving their grief through the most extreme means possible.
In Hereditary, Annie (Toni Collette) faces the loss of her mother, Ellen (Kathleen Chalfant), and her thirteen-year-old daughter, Charlie (Molly Shapiro). Ellen dies of old age and Annie’s son, Peter (Alex Wolff), accidentally decapitates Charlie (Milly Shapiro) on their way to the hospital (Charlie has an allergic reaction to nuts).
This Halloween will probably see many of us revisiting some classic horror films, and it's more than likely that one of those films will be "The Birds" (1963), a horror film from Hollywood's ultimate master of suspense Alfred Hitchcock. And, while "The Birds" is an effective horror (a small coastal town becomes under attack from birds for no apparent reason), what is perhaps more horrific is the story behind the scenes regarding Hitchcock's abusive treatment towards the star of the film, Tippi Hedren.