AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, May 8, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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What’s a gal gotta do to get some attention? Fret over men, cry over being called fat, or fuck on camera. Come on, ladies, it’s fun!

WHAT’S A WOMAN HAS TO DO TO GET SOME COVERAGE BY THE ENTERTAINMENT PRESS. It’s always a chore finding interesting news about women for this column each week. I do try — I’d much rather promote interesting tidbits about creative women doing cool things, but it’s almost impossible to find that news. I’m sure there are plenty of creative women doing cool things — they just never make the news. I scroll through the industry and mainstream news sources, and when the coverage is about women, it’s invariably women coping with the infidelity of their men, or fretting over rumors of such, or beauty queens defending their right to be idiots, or women defending themselves against accusations of bad mothering, or against rumors of drug abuse, or against the supposition that they’re dishonest about their weight-control regimes. Sure, male celebrities do often get the gossipy treatment… but these men have behaved badly in actually felonious ways — they’re actually in legal trouble by having committed crimes, or have at least been accused of committing crimes. That’s what it takes for a man to get smacked around by the media: he has to break the law. The bar of acceptable behavior for female celebrities is much, much lower.

TILDA SPEAKS! Which is why I have to highlight IndieWire’s “13 Things You Want To Know About Tilda Swinton”: because it’s all about her work, her love of cinema, and her disdain for how dull and homogenized movies have, in the mainsteam, become. A few choice excerpts:

2. She and “Julia” director Erick Zonca met when they both tried to break into a Cannes dinner with a fire extinguisher.

7. She has a foundation that gives movies to kids on their 8 1/2th birthday.

9. She and Hollywood “are over.”

“Recently I’ve been working as a kind of industrial spy in Hollywood,” she said. “The truth is… It’s over.”

And there’s not one single thing about her weight, her clothes, her hair, her pets, or what she thinks about Susan Boyle.

MISSING THE POINT. Last month I wrote about the powerful and shocking PSA about domestic violence that Keira Knightley did with director Joe Wright for British TV. Turns out, it’s now been banned by TV honchos for being — wait for it… — too powerful and shocking. The Telegraph quotes Knightley’s boyfriend, actor Rupert Friend, on the banning:

I think that banning an advert because it is shocking is quite the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard of. What is shocking is that women are getting hit. The point is to shock people.

At least he gets it.

GIRLS WHO FUCK ON CAMERA GET ALL THE ATTENTION. Who’s the It Girl of the moment? Porn star Sasha Grey, who’s making a crossover to nonporn with Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience… in which she portrays a prostitute. Grey may have talent, and Soderbergh’s track record suggests the film will be intriguing (I haven’t seen the movie yet), but it’s hard to imagine that another young actress in the same role would be getting the kind of attention Grey is: she’s all over Rolling Stone this month. Don’t miss the near-pornographic photo shoot!

I look forward to Rolling Stone putting a young male actor through the same paces.

OPENING THIS WEEK. It’s still all boys, for the most part, making big-screen appearances this weekend. In Star Trek, Uhura has at least gotten a promotion: she’s no longer a mere receptionist, she’s now a brilliant linguist specializing in alien languages. But she’s still not the center of attention: that’s a job for Kirk and Spock… and the Romulan bad guy played by Eric Bana. *sigh*

Next Day Air? All guys… and some skimpily dressed female eye candy. Little Ashes, the gay romance between Robert Pattinson’s Salvador Dali and Javier Beltran’s Federico García Lorca? All guys… except for the one poor woman (Marina Gatell) who’s literally hopelessly in love with Lorca. Atom Egoyan’s Adoration does feature the exquisitely captivating Arsinée Khanjian… but she’s just a prompt for the coming-of-age of the teenage male protagonist (Devon Bostick). And perhaps we should be glad that Kirby Dick’s documentary Outrage, about hypocritical closeted gay politicians who overtly work to quash gay equality, is almost exclusively about men: a few political celebs who are out lesbians are featured, but the scolding is directly entirely at men. Of course, that’s just because there are so few women, gay or straight, in positions of power in the first place.

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