The second the opening titles start Guy Ritchie’s latest film “The Gentlemen” (2020) sets itself up as something sophisticated, colourful and bleeding with style. And it was. The story veers from one twist to another, punctuated by side quests and violence. The soundtrack was sharp as a knife, the characters were larger than life. Nothing about this is supposed to be serious, it’s a drug dealing gun toting romp. Except for the attempted rape. At this point the film went from a lot of fun to deeply disturbing in a split second. But even more galling was that it went straight back to being fun again. Is rape really that much of a throwaway plot point?
For me, 2019’s most divisive film was “Bombshell.” which chronicles the downfall of right-wing propagandist Roger Ailes (John Lithgow). Ailes, a well-known predator, was eventually ousted at Fox News, the 'fascist' juggernaut he created. Numerous women came forward with horrific stories of sexual harassment and abuse. “Bombshell” highlights the story of three characters - two real women and one who is the amalgamation of stories. The real women Megyn Kelly (Charlize Theron) and Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman) have a history of perpetuating the far-right ideology of Fox News. Kayla (the stellar Margot Robbie) is a fictional portrayal of many women who encountered Ailes.
"Bombshell," tells a tale of how neither predators nor victims fit into a box; anyone, no matter who they are, or how they identify, can be capable of harassing/being harassed. It showcases the events which brought each of these women, at first hesitant to speak up, to eventually speak their truths. This isn’t a film which will change anyone’s mind on politics: staunch, conservative viewers of Fox may be slightly put off by Hollywood’s opinion of their favourite news network
Every year, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosts the Golden Globes. The Golden Globes are used as a predictor for Oscar nominations. As always, there are only so many slots for each category. Not every actor, filmmaker, or movie can be nominated. But the Golden Globes typically proves to be pretty white and male dominated. This year, five male filmmakers were nominated for Best Director. Bong Joon-Ho, who directed “Parasite” (2019), is the only non-white person nominated. The other nominees, Sam Mendes, Todd Phillips, Martin Scorsese, and Quentin Tarantino are all white dudes. And, in my frank and honest and personal opinion, it is comprised of mediocre white film bros. Sue me. (Actually, please don’t. I have lots of student loans.)
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.