Wednesday, May 20, 2015

It's a Girl's World!

Funny, but the last three movies I've seen have all prominently featured women and not a single one of the films has been a romantic comedy. The times, they truly are a-changin', my friends. Not everyone is happy about this (particularly a small, extremely vocal group of menfolk who find a female lead character in an action movie some sort of estrogen encroachment), but you just can't get through this world without offending some numbskull or another.

 So - the first (and admittedly weakest) of the three was the "buddy road movie" Hot Pursuit. Starring Reese Witherspoon as a by-the-book cop and the cantilevered Sofia Vergara as a mob moll on the run, this film is just fine. It's a silly, light popcorn movie that's heavy on jokes about the differences between the two women - both in appearance and in temperament. No great shakes, but worth a rental when the time rolls around.

Then there was the science fiction thriller Ex Machina. 2015 seems poised to be the year of the AI movie and Ex Machina is a fine addition to the genre. The title itself is a little bit of a play on words (I'll just leave it at that - go look it up and then ponder a moment) and the movie toys with your perceptions and your allegiances. At what point does a machine become intelligent? At that point, does the machine stop being an "it" and have rights and agency or is it just a fancy word processor? And who's being played? Ex Machina has a great deal of brilliance going on, but it's a quiet, thoughtful film which may cause it to be overlooked in the summer blockbuster season. That would be a shame as Ex Machina is the best artificial intelligence-themed film I've seen in ages.

On the entirely other end of the spectrum is the loud, in-your-face noisefest Mad Max: Fury Road. Directed by George Miller, who directed the first three Mad Max films, thereby giving the world both Mel Gibson and the Thunderdome, this film is a celebration of all things that go *boom*. The violence level means it's not for the kiddies, but if you like your entertainment apocalyptic and over-the-top nuts, this film's for you. Much of the fuss is directed at the role of women in the film, who (shockingly enough) are not portrayed as victims and/or sex kittens. Instead we get young, hard women willing to do hard things to survive, along with biker grandmas who just might save the world. Miller doesn't have to show us sexual violence to have it be an undercurrent of the film and we understand why these women are willing to chuck the security of their bank vault to live on something more like their own terms. Light on dialogue, but hey - you get a blind guitarist strapped to a bank of amps with a bungee cord and that's not CGI! Go and enjoy and seriously - it's a surprisingly balanced film in terms of gender roles.

And be sure to keep up with Meet Me at the Movies through the new streaming service! Click here for the latest! And if that link doesn't work for you, go to the Cleveland Community College website at and click on the C19TV link at the top, then pick Meet Me at the Movies from the available options!

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