Sunday, May 04, 2008

Is There a Real Woman in This Multiplex?

Awesome rant from Manohla Dargis


In “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” the lucky guy is Peter (the screenwriter Jason Segel), whose stunning conquest, Rachel (Mila Kunis), is so out of his league as to be in another universe. No matter. Peter snags this prize specifically because - from his full-frontal nudity to his penchant for hugs and voluble crying jags, for which he's literally mistaken for a woman - he’s basically another chick, or what Arnold Schwarzenegger once called a girlie man. (The softly plumped Mr. Segel even looks as if he could fit into an A cup.) In one scene Peter goes swimming with Rachel only to end up clinging to the side of a cliff. Rachel, who has already taken the plunge, laughingly yells up at him, "I can see your vagina!"

Better a virtual vagina, I suppose, than none at all. Last year only 3 of the 20 highest-grossing releases in America were female-driven, and involve a princess ("Enchanted") or pregnancy ("Knocked Up" and "Juno"). Actresses had starring roles in about a quarter of the next 80 highest-grossing titles, mostly in dopey romantic comedies and dopier thrillers. A number of these were among the worst-reviewed movies of the year, including "Premonition" (Sandra Bullock) and "The Reaping" (Hilary Swank), the last of which was released by - ta-da! - Warner Brothers. The days of "Million Dollar Baby," for which Ms. Swank won an Oscar, and "Speed," which rocketed Ms. Bullock to stardom in the summer of 1994, feel long gone.

There may be more women working in the industry now — Amy Pascal is a co-chairman of Sony Pictures Entertainment — but you wouldn’t know it from what's on the screen. The reasons are complex and certainly beyond the scope of a seasonal rant like this one. Some point to the lack of female directors, whose numbers in both the mainstream and independent realms hover at around 6 percent. Others blame the female audience, though the success of “Baby Mama” indicates — just as the summer hit "The Devil Wears Prada" suggested two years ago — that if given something decent that speaks to their lives and lets them leave the theater without feeling slimed, women will turn out. The Apatow she-male isn’t bad, but give me the real deal any day.

One thing I meant to blog about was the antagonism between Jon Stewart and Judd Apatow when the latter appeared on The Daily Show . Although maybe it's wishful thinking on my part - I already think Jon Stewart is amazing, dare I hope that he's so cool that he also dislikes Judd Apatow, the People's Asshole? Oh Jon Stewart, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you!