What an incredible week for cinema it is if you’ve got a genuine interest in the representation of women in film. It’s the kind of week you could write an entire research paper on. First of all we’ve got Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, which uses Michael Bay’s ever-so-male gaze to stare at Megan Fox with the same kind of lust with which it stares at the vehicles the Transformers turn into—an empty collection of moving parts that are probably good for a ride. It’s worth noting that Revenge of the Fallen appears to have been treated as a writing task by the majority of movie critics, taking extreme pleasure in kicking it apart in more and more imaginative ways. Roger Ebert reminds us all why he’s still unmissable with his review, but I especially like his later blog post—”The movie is pretty much all climax. The Autobots and Decepticons must not have read the warning label on their Viagra. At last we see what a four-hour erection looks like.”
Then there’s The Girlfriend Experience, which uses actual porn star Sasha Grey to tell the story of an escort whose business is in providing the titular service. As a casting experiment it makes our view of the character heavily affected by what we know or think of the star, especially intriguing given that the film, as (positively) reviewed by NOW‘s Norm Wilner, explores “explore the various ways people package and sell themselves.”
Michelle Pfeiffer plays an ex-courtesan in Chéri, intriguing because it’s a film in which the female star is (gasp!) fifty-one but (egad!) still sexual. Admittedly the plot centres on the idea she’s past her prime, something Eye‘s Jason Anderson notes doesn’t seem entirely true—”[Director Stephen] Frears struggles to make Pfeiffer seem pitiable — moments like the one when Lea assesses her own arms as ‘beautiful handles for such an old vase’ seem faintly absurd giving how glamorous and gorgeous Pfeiffer remains.”
Having your body “sold” unwillingly is the concept behind My Sister’s Keeper, following a girl suing her parents for “medical emancipation.” Arguably, it’s mostly of interest as yet another cynical adaptation of the kind of mawkish book ladies like. Oh, and then there’s the latest Woody Allen film, Whatever Works, where for some reason the film industry agrees that it would be fine for Woody Allen to make another creepy film in which an old man dates a teenager. Listen, Allen, it was gross in 1979 and it’s still gross now, even if you’re getting Larry David to play your role instead.
Also out this week, Tokyo Sonata, while the Reelheart International Film Festival continues.