AWFJ Women On Film – The Week in Women, April 3, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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Girls say: Spiders, yay! Domestic violence, nay!

NOT ALL GALS THINK SPIDERS ARE ICKY. Spider-Man is swinging onto

Broadway soon — with music by Bono and the Edge of U2 — and at the helm? Visionary director Julie Taymor. Let’s count the ways in which this is unusual: A woman handling a comic book property? Check. A woman with a huge budget? Check. A woman taking risks (or being

allowed to take risks)? Check:

Julie Taymor appears to be considering going the unknown route in casting the leads for her return to Broadway with “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.” A nationwide casting call has been announced running April 9 through May 27 in Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, Seattle, Chicago and Austin.

Nice. Go, Julie.


she’s teamed up with her Atonement director, Joe Wright, to produce a shockingly powerful PSA to raise awareness of the issue:

Powerful, and necessary. As Knightley tells FilmMaker magazine:

I wanted to take part in this advert for Women’s Aid because while domestic violence exists in every section of society we rarely hear about it. Domestic violence affects one in four women at some point in their lifetime and kills two women every week.

Remember those stats when you see–worse yet, supporrt and applaud–films that brutalize women!

OPENING THIS WEEK. Adventureland is a charming coming-of-age

story, and you barely need to say more that than to know that it is, of course, a male coming-of-age story: that’s the default in Hollywood, and Hollywood is sticking to it. (And we could write a dissertation on how The Movies treat male viriginity as a problem to be solved, while female viriginity must be protected at all costs.) Kristin Stewart at least brings a feisty spirit to the stereotypical helpmeet-girlfriend role, insisting that we recognize her character

as a person in her own right, and not merely the goddess-savior of the guy.

You can hardly call Fast & Furious feminist — not with all the anonymous, faceless, mostly naked gyrating female bodies director Justin Lin uses to decorate his movie. But screenwriter Chris Morgan does give Vin Diesel a nicely feminist moment when the street racer

explains what kind of woman he likes: one who’s as complex and complicated and contradictory as he is. Now, if only the rest of the movie appeared to agree with him…

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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, 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 archive, type "MaryAnn Johanson" in the Search Box (upper right corner of screen).