I go to the movies a lot.
Part of it is the fact that I like movies. I will take a movie over a TV show any day. The lack of time limit, while it sometimes tries my patience, is the best way to coax honest acting out of a cast.
Part of it is that we live in a small, podunk town where your weekend entertainment options are as follows:
1) Experiment with some new drug whose street name sounds like an ice cream flavor and which will make you pull out your own eyeballs and eat them.
2) See how many billiard balls you can fit into your asshole before you have to go to the emergency room.
3) Go to the movies.
Most of the time, I choose Door #3, and that is how I spend a lot of time at the movies. So, without further ado, here are my 3 Favorite (and 3 Least Favorite) Movies of 2014, from a strictly feminist perspective!
Favorite: Life After Beth
Upsettingly, this little film got a very limited release, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t track it down and try to watch it. In terms of plot, a shy college-age boy named Zach notices his girlfriend beginning to act strangely, and eventually deduces that she is, in fact, dead and slowly turning into a zombie. In terms of acting, Aubrey Plaza totally nails it in this role. It is worth watching just for her hilarious performance. Also (spoiler, kind of) Anna Kendrick plays a vapid girl named Erica who ends up stealing Zach’s heart. The film doesn’t seem to judge Zach for liking her, nor does it judge Erica for not being a perfect human being. At least she’s not a zombie.
Favorite: Gone Girl
Saying practically anything about this film would be a huge spoiler if you haven’t seen it, but let’s just say that this movie (and the book it is based on) do an amazing job of creating a multi-dimensional female character who is captivating for so many reasons.
Maleficent is not my type of movie. I normally dislike CGI, I hate overdone makeup jobs, and I despise campy acting. But Maleficent, which it indulges in plenty of the first two, manages to avoid the third in Angelina Jolie’s stunning performance. I loved the character of Maleficent because it challenges the notion that all women are natural mothers and that all jilted women are unforgiving snakes.
Least Favorite: Adult World
This film’s protagonist, played by Emma Roberts, is a complete insult to women everywhere. The filmmakers obviously are under the impression that they created an impetuous, deliciously flighty, desirable woman-child, nymph-like in her curiosity and determination. In actuality, Roberts’ Amy is a repellent, tantrumy banshee. She is willing to ruin the lives of those around her to get what she wants, and yet the film still plays her off as a starry-eyed dreamer, proving the ability of the film industry to praise any attractive, white, blonde woman no matter how badly she behaves.
Least Favorite: The Giver
I loved this book as a child. And the movie wasn’t all bad – Jeff Bridges was, of course, flawless as The Giver, and I enjoyed Brenton Thwaites’ open, natural presence as Jonas. But I KNEW these motherfuckers were going to make it into a love story between him and Fiona. I just KNEW it, because that is their asinine perception of what teenage audiences want to see, regardless of whether or not it adds anything to the story, so that is exactly what they did. Every shot of Fiona was a closeup of her lips, a tantalizing glimpse of her glowing hair, a slow pan of her body. The film stopped having a message and become a preteen erotica, alienating audience such as myself who could care less about the romance of two children and wanted to see the world shift on its axis, the way it does in the books. What a let down.
Least Favorite: Horrible Bosses 2
Full disclosure: I laughed heartily for the majority of this movie. But just because it was a funny movie doesn’t mean it was a responsible movie, and just like its predecessor, Horrible Bosses, the sequel was far from responsible. The premise is that three men spend their lives constantly thinking of ways to outsmart their wretched employers, but Dale (Charlie Day), has a somewhat unique situation: nobody pities him for his hostile work environment, because his attractive boss, played by Jennifer Aniston, is hitting on him. Not just hitting on him – is sexually harassing him on a regular basis, and has admitted to drugging and raping him. Yet the film passes this whole ordeal off as a joke. The other characters laugh it off several times, and they even try to have sex with Aniston’s character, still seeing her as an object of desire even though she is a depraved sex criminal. If the circumstances were reversed, and the employee was a female being harassed and raped by a male employer, the movie would have been a dark crime drama instead of a comedy. But since the media still does not take rape as a real threat to both men and women, it is played as a humorous situation. Treating women as though they can’t be perpetrators of sexual violence is not funny – it is one more way to make women into a secondhand population, ones who are too powerless to cause real damage, and a way to silence rape victims who are not seen as “mainstream.” One huge, enormous step back for human rights.