Category Archives: Movies

Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”


Once your eyes are opened to the patriarchy – the idea that much of society is about men controlling women’s lives, their sexuality and their fertility for their own ends – then you begin to see it everywhere.  If a woman’s role is to bear a mans children for him and bring them up and keep his house then it makes sense to bring women up to see their future role as being to look for a good provider. For some women helping to ‘heal’ a damaged man to make him whole so that they can function as a partnership may seem like a good option – the issue is that it is an unequal relationship which often ends in abuse.  

S&M is a private thing in which individuals ‘play’ or experiment with the proprieties and power balances of their relationship – it doesn’t seem to me that this is what Fifty Shades is about. I worry that it is  telling women that having a romantic relationship with a damaged, controlling man is a good thing when in fact it is often a gateway to an unequal relationship which has a high probability of ending in abuse…

Why You Should Talk To Your Kids About ’50 Shades Of Grey’ – The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy By Soraya Chemaly February 11, 2015

One of the great virtues of insomnia, otherwise a deplorable problem, is the found time to do silly things for no good reason. During two sleepless weeks in 2013, I stayed up every night and read the Twilight books and then, for good measure, their fan fiction follow up, the Fifty Shades trilogy. As I read, I vacillated between giggling at some execrable, entertaining writing and amazement that anyone could think these books were transgressive.

It was like eating too much sweet, pink, and airy cotton candy. Then eating some more. Then feeling kind of sick and wishing you hadn’t because of the empty calories. Then being glad you did, because you probably wouldn’t touch the stuff again.

The disturbing thing about these stories, however, was that young teenagers voraciously consumed Twilight and many of them will see Fifty Shades of Grey. A few years ago, many people thought the Twilight books and movies were just fine for early teens because Twilight had “no sex.” Those children, only a few years older, are a prime target market for the film Fifty Shades of Grey and millions have, no doubt, also read the books. Both franchises normalize coercive sexuality and abuse.

If you put them on a spectrum, however, you’d have to start with Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Consider the immediate narrative similarities:

Innocent, younger, virginal girl/woman
Damaged, older, more experienced boy/man
Female characters are relatively poor
Male characters are relatively wealthy and their lives filled with luxury
Male characters engage in controlling access to food, clothes
Male characters practice controlling/stalking behaviors such as following, eavesdropping, spying and this is considered a sign of love
Female characters are systematically isolated from their friends and family
Male characters are violent and physically overwhelming
Female character’s love, or the quest for that love, “change” the male character and make him less “monstrous”
Female characters learn to anticipate and “manage” male anger to reduce stress, risk.

There are many ways to interpret all three as portraying strong women, in control of their destinies. Regardless, however, these similarities remain valid, and both subtle and not-so-subtle abuse fills these stories. (Practitioners of BDSM disavow the books’ portrayals, arguing that the depictions do not reflect safe/consensual practices, but are about indefensible sexual and emotional violence.)


In the case of Fifty Shades, a recent analysis of the books revealed that “Emotional abuse is present in nearly every interaction.” Researchers make a compelling case, and provide backup for it, that stalking, intimidation, and sexual violence (including using alcohol to compromise consent) are pervasive. Anastasia, the protagonist, is described many times as feeling constant threat and described experiencing physical symptoms associated with it (“my stomach churns from his threats”); her identity changes and she becomes quick to “manage” Christian’s anger so that there is no violence.

Continue reading Fifty Shades of Grey – “The book and movie perpetuate the idea that the abuse and sexual control of women is sexy”

All 6 Marx Brothers – Rare picture


Left to Right:

Groucho – Julius Henry Marx Born October 2, 1890 Died August 19, 1977 Aged 86

Chico – Leonard Marx Born March 22, 1887 Died October 11, 1961 Aged 74

Harpo – Adolph (After 1911: Arthur) Marx Born November 23, 1888 Died September 28 1964 Aged 75

Gummo – Milton Marx Born October 23, 1892 Died April 21 1977 Aged 83

Zeppo – Herbert Manfred Marx Born February 25, 1901  Died November 30 1979 Aged 78

Manfred (“Mannie”) Marx Born 1886 Dates Not Known

This photo was probably taken on the publication of  Groucho’s autobiography in 1959


George Clooney Directing Film About Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal

George Clooneyby Kara Brown

George Clooney will direct a film about the News International phone hacking scandal. The script will be an adaptation of Nick Davies’ book Hack Attack: The Inside Story of How the Truth Caught Up With Rupert Murdoch.

The scandal shut down News of the World in 2011 after 168 years in print. It also brought us that display of straight up ride or die realness from Wendi Deng Murdoch when she leapt over several people to block her husband from a pie attack.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that George Clooney, the son of a journalist, kind of has a thing for telling the stories of journalists and real life events.

“This has all the elements — lying, corruption, blackmail — at the highest levels of government by the biggest newspaper in London,” said Clooney in a statement. “And the fact that it’s true is the best part. Nick is a brave and stubborn reporter and we consider it an honor to put his book to film.”

I would like to preemptively give the Oscar to the person in charge of crafting all wigs for the actor tasked with playing Rebekah Brooks and I would also like to stress the importance including the Wendi Deng Murdoch pie-deflection onscreen.

Original Article

A book review that probably wouldnt be published in a British Newspaper describes the state of British Media in the wake of the Phone hacking scandal

Rebekah Brooks – How the F*** did she not know….

What the obituaries didnt tell you about Lauren Bacall

femme-fatale-lauren-bacall-bogiesbaby-tumblrWhat the media isn’t telling you about Lauren Bacall (and Humphrey Bogart) – Mostly overlooked in the flood of tributes to the star of “To Have and To Have Not”: She was a true-blue liberal CLANCY SIGAL, ALTERNET TUESDAY, AUG 19, 2014 12:15 PM +0100

The Lauren Bacall obits I’ve seen take only a fleeting glance at her politics. She had the guts and stamina of a classic New York-born Jewish left-liberal. She was not only Bogie’s sultry siren in To Have and Have Not and The Big Sleep, but a kickass fighter, the only child of a divorced, dirt-poor, single immigrant mother. During the 1950s blacklist purges, aimed more at Jews and liberals than at “reds,” when so many in Hollywood ran for cover, Betty Joan Perske Weinstein-Bacal pushed her new husband Humphrey Bogart into establishing the Committee for the First Amendment to damn the blacklist and protect its victims. CFA was a cross-section of the plucky, upstanding Hollywood left: Danny Kaye, John Huston, Bette Davis, Frank Sinatra, Katharine Hepburn, etc.

Bacall, a mere ingénue just starting out, risked her virgin career to stick her neck out, as did Bogart who wanted to vote Republican until his new Jewish wife corralled him otherwise. Anyone who has seen Bacall in her non-sultry roles, as the rich, destructive lesbian in Young Man With A Horn or the disabled young dowager in Harper or the demanding psychiatrist in Shock Treatment can understand just how fiercely imperious Bacall could be on screen, and in real life, too, if my all-too-brief meeting with her is any evidence.

I was one of her husband Bogie’s agents during the worst of the Hollywood blacklist. The pressure on him and Bacall to recant and retreat was overwhelming, from the government, Warner Brothers studio, his agents and an atmosphere of compromise and informing. (“What’s the point. It’ll blow over.”) You never knew when your best friend might turn and rat on you. Or your union brother—Bogart and Bacall’s Screen Actors Guild president Ronald Reagan was FBI informant “T-10.”

The just-married Bogart, tied hand and foot to a studio bossed by a fanatic blacklister Jack Warner (trying to live down his few “liberal” movies), wasn’t a youngster anymore. He was nearly 50 when he took his brave stand in Washington D.C. In the end, faced by waves of spy mania and a cowardly Truman White House bent on out-witch-hunting the hunters, most of the CFA members resigned. The Hollywood 10′s off-putting harangues to HUAC gave the weaker spirits a perfect excuse.

But except for a single article in a national magazine denying he was a Communist (all the big stars like Edward G. Robinson and John Garfield had to write the same “I was a dupe” piece to get J. Edgar Hoover off their backs), Bogart never betrayed his blacklisted or “tainted” friends. In real life, aside from hard drinking, tough-guy Bogie was a rather gentle soul, so I suspect his New York Jewish liberal wife had a lot to do with his political backbone. Continue reading What the obituaries didnt tell you about Lauren Bacall

RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

Robin Williams

Comedian and actor Robin Williams has died at the age of 63. Here are some of his most memorable quotes.


  • “Goooooooood morning Vietnam! It’s 0600 hours. What does the ‘O’ stand for? O my God, it’s early!” – Adrian Cronauer, Good Morning Vietnam (1987)
  • “We don’t read and write poetry because it’s cute. We read and write poetry because we are members of the human race. And the human race is filled with passion. And medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • “Carpe diem. Seize the day, boys. Make your lives extraordinary.” – John Keating, Dead Poets Society (1989)
  • “My first day as a woman and I’m getting hot flushes.” – Mrs Doubtfire/Daniel Hillard, Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
  • “You don’t know about real loss because it only occurs when you’ve loved something more than you love yourself. I doubt you’ve ever dared to love anybody that much.” – Sean Maguire, Good Will Hunting (1997)
  • “Are you lookin’ at me? Did you rub my lamp? Did you wake me up? Did you bring me here? And all of a sudden, you’re walkin’ out on me?! I don’t think so! Not right now! You’re gettin’ your wishes, so sit down!” – Genie, Aladdin (1992)
Robin WilliamsWilliams was honoured with the stand-up comedy icon award at the 2012 Comedy Awards in New York


  • “Nanu Nanu.” – Mork and Mindy (1978 – 1982)
  • [Mork picks up an egg] “Hello? Hello? Anybody in there? Little hatchling brothers, you must revolt against your oppressors. You have nothing to lose but your shells.”
  • Mindy: “Mork, why are you building a tower of Cheerios?”
Robin WilliamsWilliams won a best supporting actor Oscar in 1998 for his role in Good Will Hunting


  • On comedy: “You’re only given one little spark of madness. You mustn’t lose it.”
  • On his financial dispute with Disney over Aladdin: “The only reason Mickey Mouse has four fingers is because he can’t pick up a cheque.”
  • “Never pick a fight with an ugly person, they’ve got nothing to lose.”
  • “Why do they call it rush hour when nothing moves?”
  • “Do you think God gets stoned? I think so… Look at the platypus.”
  • “In England, if you commit a crime, the police don’t have a gun and you don’t have a gun. If you commit a crime, the police will say, ‘Stop, or I’ll say stop again.'”


Continue reading RIP Robin Williams (1951-2014)

The Best Film Critic of the ’60s on the Best Filmmaker of the ’60s

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The New-Wave classic ‘Band of Outsiders’ turns 50 By Pauline Kael

In September of 1966, Pauline Kael penned her first film review for The New Republic. Just one year and eighteen reviews later, she left. “The readers there were offended because they were used to Stanley Kauffmann. They thought of me as an impertinent little snip and wrote hostile letters to the magazine, many of which were printed,” Kael grumbled to Francis Davis in Afterglow: A Last Conversation with Pauline Kael. She then decamped to The New Yorker, where she would establish herself as one of the foremost film critics of all time, and one of the first to include the personal voice in her reviews. From New York, she led a memorable career, taking aim at Hollywood directors, sparring with Joan Didion, and mentoring a coterie of young critics—David Denby among them—called the “Paulettes.” In her first piece for The New Republic, Kael reviewed Jean-Luc Godard’s Band of Outsiders, which was first released in France on August 5, 1964—50 years to this day. (The film would hit American theaters in 1966). Kael describes the significance of the French New Wave to this particular historical moment: “To say it flatly, Godard is the Scott Fitzgerald of the movie world, and movies are for the sixties a synthesis of what the arts were for the post-World-War-I generation—rebellion, romance, a new style of life.”

This piece was originally published on September 10, 1966.

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Jean-Luc Godard intended to give the public what it wanted. His next film was going to be about a girl and a gun—”A sure-fire story which will sell a lot of tickets.” And so, like Henry James’ hero in The Next Time he proceeded to make a work of art that sold fewer tickets than ever. What was to be a simple commercial movie about a robbery became Band of Outsiders.

The two heroes of Band of Outsiders begin by play-acting crime and violence movies, then really act them out in their lives. Their girl, wanting to be accepted, tells them there is money in the villa where she lives. And we watch, apprehensive and puzzled, as the three of them act out the robbery they’re committing as if it were something going on in a movie—or a fairy tale. The crime does not fit the daydreamers nor their milieu: We half expect to be told it’s all a joke, that they can’t really be committing an armed robbery. Band of Outsiders is like a reverie of a gangster movie as students in an expresso (sic) bar might remember it or plan it—a mixture of the gangster film virtues (loyalty, daring) with innocence, amorality, lack of equilibrium.

It’s as if a French poet took an ordinary banal American crime novel and told it to us in terms of the romance and beauty he read between the lines; that is to say, Godard gives it his imagination, recreating the gangsters and the moll with his world of associations—seeing them as people in a Paris cafe, mixing them with Rimbaud, Kafka, Alice in Wonderland. Silly? But we know how alien to our lives were those movies that fed our imaginations and have now become part of us. And don’t we—as children and perhaps even later—romanticize cheap movie stereotypes, endowing them with the attributes of those figures in the other arts who touch us imaginatively? Don’t all our experiences in the arts and popular arts that have more intensity than our ordinary lives, tend to merge in another imaginative world? And movies, because they are such an encompassing, eclectic art, are an ideal medium for combining our experiences and fantasies from life, from all the arts, and from our jumbled memories of both. The men who made the stereotypes drew them from their own scrambled experience of history and art—as Howard Hawks and Ben Hecht drew Scarface from the Capone family “as if they were the Borgias set down in Chicago.”

Continue reading The Best Film Critic of the ’60s on the Best Filmmaker of the ’60s