FRIDAY, DECEMBER 16, 2022
We did have to chuckle at this: What does feminist filmistry look like? The elevation of Jeanne Dielman, 23, quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles has had us thinking about that.
By happenstance, Jeanne Dielman replaced previous winner Vertigo in the new Sight & Sound survey of the world's greatest films. On its face, that may seem halfway odd, given Alfred Hitchcock's reputation for directing misbehavior at his female stars.
That said, Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) is one of our three favorite films. We love it because it's such a well-crafted thriller, but also because it examines a crucial question:
Why are (some) men inclined to loathe and humiliate the women they're inclined to love?
Hitchcock examined weird male behavior in a long list of films. That said, the fact that weird behavior is being presented doesn't necessarily mean that it's being endorsed.
Anne Bilson advanced that argument in this essay for The Guardian way back in 2018:
Vertigo is not the last word in misogyny, but a feminist deconstruction of it
We see Vertigo as a more aggressive continuation of Rear Window. In each film, the James Stewart character shows a remarkable inability to pay attention to the actual, real-life woman throwing herself at him.
(Grace Kelly in Rear Window, Barbara Bel Geddes in Vertigo.)
By the time of Vertigo, the Stewart character engages in classic delusional / domineering behavior toward a woman he wants to dominate, own, make over. That said, for better or worse, the plot in Vertigo takes us beyond the valley of the wildly implausible. The plot in Notorious makes pluperfect sense.
Should Jeanne Dielman be seen as a feminist film? We have no idea. It may seem to call to mind Belle de Jour. We don't mean that as a compliment.
We could talk about feminist filmistry all day; it's a worthy topic. Another of our favorites, Casablanca, plainly isn't a feminist film, but then again, consider the perfect behavior one of the leading characters displays toward his much-loved wife.
He isn't content merely saving the world. He's a spectacular husband.
In an unrelated matter, we did have to chuckle at this. The piece appeared in the New York Times. These high-end elites today!
Soledad O’Brien’s Painted Hardwood Floors Spark Debate on a New Trend
The broadcast journalist recently painted the floors of her Florida bungalow. Some people loved the idea; others hated it.
"Ms. O’Brien chronicled the progress on Twitter, gushing over every room." Or at least, so the news report said!
Our third and still final favorite film is My Brilliant Career, a classic feminist offering. With great fondness, we recall the way one audience gasped, right there at The Charles, when Judy told Sam, "Sadly, no."