January 17, 2008

January 17, 2008

Sundance kicks off tonight
The Hollywood news is quite lacking today as everyone decamps for Sundance. I'll be covering things from here in NY. I'm working on some interviews with women directors which will run on a site I am partnering with - Zoom In Online. I am also working on a story called The Sundance Glow about the experiences of women directors post Sundance. That will be ready next week.

Teeth- Review
I've been sitting here for 20 minutes trying to figure out how to write about this film. It is one of the most bizarre films I have seen in a long time. I saw it several weeks ago and I still am thinking about it. That hardly ever happens.

Teeth takes on the myth of the vagina dentata -- toothed vagina. The story revolves around Dawn (Jess Weixler) a bright young woman so out of touch with herself and her body, as the most vocal member of the local chastity club. She won't go see movies with any sexuality in them, and she preaches to other kids to save themselves for marriage. We all know that abstinence only doesn't work (now even state governments are even starting to agree) and Dawn, like most teenagers today, gives in to her feelings. Suffice it to say things don't go as planned and Dawn's first loses his penis to her toothed vagina.

Dawn understandably freaks out and tries to learn what's going on with her body. She looks in her health textbook but the picture of the vulva is covered by a sticker (the penis is not); and she goes to a gynecologist for the first time and well, that doesn't turn out well either (Headline, touchy feely gyno loses fingers). Her mother is dying of cancer and she has no one to talk to. Then, when Dawn has sex on her own terms she realizes that she can control when and how her vaginal teeth are exposed, and she is empowered by this discovery. She uses her mutation (the images of a nuclear power plant hovering in the background helps hit home this concept) on her own terms and at the end of the film we see she clearly has gained the upper hand.

Writer and Director Mitchell Lichtenstein answers a couple of questions about the film.

Women & Hollywood: Why do you call you film a female revenge fantasy?

Mitchell Lichtenstein: Did I call it that? (Yes, you did - it's in the press notes.) It's partly that, but also a coming of age story, a horror movie and mostly a dark comedy. But a lot of women have come up to me and said "There were times when I wish I had that!" So the movie seems to work on that level.
W&H: What do you think the film says about masculinity and femininity?
ML: Well, for one thing, it says that neither are well-served by current sex education or the abstinence movement.
W&H: Do you think the film is a feminist film? If yes, why?
ML: As a man, I don't feel I'm in a position to say whether something is feminist or not.
W&H: There are a lot of political messages in the film -- the disaster of abstinence only programs, the lack of education in sex education, violence against women -- that have the potential to be preachy but they are not. Was that your intention?
ML: Absolutely. But all of that emerged naturally as I created the character and her journey.
W&H: At the screening I went to the men left were terrified and the women were feeling quite giddy. Has that been your experience in other screenings and if yes, what does that say about the relationship between men and women?
ML: Well, given what happens to most of the guys in the movie, it's understandable that men would experience it differently -- more viscerally -- than women. And the vagina dentata myth is more likely to resonate threateningly with men (who invented it) than with women. Women -- thankfully -- have not internalized the myth.
W&H: What do you want people to walk out of the film thinking about?
ML: What the hell lead men -- in so many cultures across the globe -- to ascribe this ludicrous feature to women? What are we afraid of?
Film opens in NY tomorrow, January 18.

The Good Witch - Saturday, January 19, Hallmark Channel
I don't think that I have ever watched anything on the Hallmark channel, but their new film The Good Witch looked interesting so I decided to give it a go. It's a very typical made for TV movie, similar to Lifetime films. Film stars Catherine Bell (JAG, Army Wives) as Cassandra Nightingale a mysterious woman who comes to a town somewhere in middle America and throws the whole community into a tizzy. She's different, carefree, doesn't judge and she makes people nervous. She inherits a supposedly haunted house so everyone thinks she's a witch, which we all know that means burn her at the stake. Film doesn't go that far, and it's got a good message of tolerance with a little romance with the town sheriff thrown in. Bell is great, she seems to be getting more and more interesting in her roles.

UN to create $100 million fund to fight stereotypes in films.
Queen Noor of Jordan announced the fund yesterday: "For a lifetime, it seems, I have agonized over the way stereotypes, reinforced by popular culture and the media, can set the emotional and political stage for policies that result in chronic misunderstanding. Yet the media has the power to humanize as well as polarize."
UN to Create $100 M Film Fund (Variety)