Women On Film – The Week In Women, January 30, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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Revenge! Moodiness! Weight gain! And it’s not even that time of the month!

‘PUSH’ COMES TO SHOVE: The big hit at just-wrapped Sundance? Push: Based On The Novel by Sapphire.” , the story of an obese, illiterate 16-year-old girl who escapes family abuse, which won both the Grand Jury prize for U.S. dramatic films and the top Audience Prize. Starring the unknown Gabourey “Gabby” Sidibe in the lead role, it doesn’t sound like the cheeriest movie ever, but kudos to filmmaker Lee Daniels for taking on a down-to-earth story of the female experience, and to audiences and critics for embracing it.

HELL HATH NO FURY: Oh dear. Ellen Barkin is set to star in a series for HBO based on her own messy divorce from billionaire investor Ron Perelman. Apparently she’s going to use the series to rake her claws across the scoundrel’s reputation. Way to go, Ellen. Thanks for reinforcing all those catty, vindictive stereotypes about spurned women. You’re a class act.

TAKE A MIDOL, GIRL: This is what happens when you let girls become celebrities: they turn their female sulks on us, their devoted public. A recent survey in the U.K. saw Paul McCartney’s ex, Heather Mills, named Britain’s “moodiest” celebrity. No. 2 was supermodel Naomi Campbell. No. 3 was former Spice Girl Victoria Beckham. Male moodiness comes with a paycheck premium: see Russell Crowe, Daniel Craig, etc. Female moodiness gets you slapped with a negative label. Who’da thunk?

TOO-FAT WATCH?: Jessica Simpson is no longer maintaining the stick-thin figure that was the result of an austerity diet and hours-long daily workouts, so of course everyone is appalled. After spotting Simpson performing at a concert sporting actual womanly curves, some fans went berserk. From ABC News:

“Clearly since we saw her last, she slayed that dragon named dignity and just spooned frosting into her mouth full-time.”

“What Would Tyler Durden Do?”

“Honest to God, her appearance couldn’t have been any more shocking unless she had grown glow-in-the-dark tentacles.”

Simpson looks lovely, of course. What is it about a woman who doesn’t deny her own pleasure — in this case, by actually eating food — that is so threatening to some folks?

And, did you know that Beyonce Knowles and Kate Winslet both had to gain weight for their roles in, respectively, Cadillac Records and The Reader? So now womanly curves are a matter of “artistic integrity,” a costume to be donned for a role, then shed again for the return to reality?

HE’S JUST NOT THAT INTO CHICK FLICKS: Guys! It’s okay to hate chick flicks because they suck and are stupid and clichéd — which they are, of course — but don’t be afraid of He’s Just Not That Into You, because it totally avoids all those clichés. So say some of the guys who star in the film:


Watch Ten Chick Flick Cliches That Are Not In “He’s Just Not That in Funny Videos  |  View More Free Videos Online at Veoh.com

I’m amused by their takedown of chick-flick idiocy — I share their disdain — but I’m reserving judgment on Into You itself until I see it for myself.

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Movies Opening Today: [warning: minor spoiler for Taken] Oh, the ugliness at the multiplex this weekend! Elizabeth Banks is an evil stepmother and Emily Browning is her crazy stepdaughter in The Uninvited. Renée Zellweger is an unpleasant bitch — until she suddenly isn’t anymore — in New in Town. And poor Maggie Grace gets to scream and scream and scream in Taken… until her knight-in-shining-armor dad rescues her from the Eastern European sex traffickers who might sully her purity. Who says Hollywood doesn’t give us images of women that cover the full range of female experience? Virgin, bitch, nutter–we get it all this weekend.

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MaryAnn Johanson

MaryAnn Johanson is a freelance writer on film, TV, DVD, and pop culture from New York City and now based in London. She is the webmaster and sole critic at FlickFilosopher.com, which debuted in 1997 and is now one of the most popular, most respected, and longest-running movie-related sites on the Internet. Her film reviews also appear in a variety of alternative-weekly newspapers across the U.S. Johanson is one of only a few film critics who is a member of The International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (the Webby organization), an invitation-only, 500-member body of leading Web experts, business figures, luminaries, visionaries and creative celebrities. She is also a member of the Online Film Critics Society. She has appeared as a cultural commentator on BBC Radio, LBC-London, and on local radio programs across North America, and she served as a judge at the first Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Film Festival at the 2003 I-Con, the largest SF convention on the East Coast. She is the author of The Totally Geeky Guide to The Princess Bride, and is an award-winning screenwriter. Read Johanson's recent articles below. For her AWFJ.org archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).