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

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Sixty-seven cents on the dollar would be an improvement, misogynist vampire stories suck, and Tilda takes the cinematic highroad.

SHOW US THE MONEY. Forbes.com has published its annual rundown of who’s earning the biggest paychecks in Hollywood… and guess who’s earning less than half of what the men earn? A cookie for you if you guessed “the women”!

Jolie’s cinematic butt kicking made her the highest-paid actress on our annual Celebrity 100 list. Between June 2008 and June 2009, Jolie earned an estimated $27 million. Much of that came from her share of the profits on Wanted, but she also scored a fat upfront check for Salt, an action film originally slated to star Tom Cruise, in which Jolie plays a CIA agent who is accused of being a Russian spy. Judging by scenes filmed on the streets of New York City, the film should have plenty of action to satisfy Jolie’s fans.

Whoa. That’s a lot of money: $27 million? Who’d turn that down?

Well, how about Harrison Ford, Forbes.com’s top-earning male actor?

As is still typical for Hollywood, our actresses earned significantly less than their male counterparts. Harrison Ford was the top-earning actor this year with $65 million, $38 million more than Jolie earned. All told, the top 10 actors earned $393 million, compared with $183 million for the top 10 actresses.

Only a chick would work for chump change like $27 million…

THIS SUCKS. Dodai at Jezebel — my go-to source for feminist snark — noticed something not at all surprising about one hot trend of the moment:

Although there are many vampire books written by women, and a few fierce female vamps — Buffy‘s Drusilla, Underworld‘s Selene, Let The Right One In‘s Eli, Queen Of The Damned‘s Akasha. But none of these women have achieved the fame and notoriety male vampires enjoy. A woman’s role in vampire mythology is to get bitten, become enthralled, or both; the undead dudes are the ones with all the power.

I’ll note, too, that the hottest of the hot vampires of the moment — the one Jezebel hilariously dubs “Count Sparkula,” Twilight’s Edward Cullen — has an even great female-crushing mojo: the power to enforce teenage-girls’ celibacy. Telling girls and women they shouldn’t have sex, and that their sexuality is bad, has long been a way to control women… and now Twilight has them longing to be told just that!

MOVIES AS COMMUNAL EXPERIENCE. Tilda Swinton, goddess of cinema, is bestowing her filmic largess in a new way at the moment — she’s bringing a movable film festival to the remote north of Scotland. According to ScreenDaily.com:

Actress Tilda Swinton and Mark Cousins, the former director of the Edinburgh Film Festival, are hitting the Highland trail with the first travelling film festival ever staged in the UK.

The new eight and a half day event, called A Pilgrimage, follows on from The Ballerina Ballroom Cinema of Dreams, which Swinton and Cousins staged in Nairn last summer.

Starting from August 1st, Swinton, Cousins and their team will be touring with a huge 80-seat, 37 tonne cinema, known as The Screen Machine, through remote communities on Scotland’s East Coast.

There are remarkably few cinemas in the Highlands, and they seem to feature mostly Hollywood blockbusters. The traveling festival will go in another direction:

They will be holding digital screenings of films including Akira Kurosawa’s Macbeth-inspired Throne Of Blood (which will be shown in Cawdor), and Peter Watkins’ Culloden (which will be shown on Culloden Moor, the site of the battle that the film depicts.) It will also have a focus on road movies including Preston Sturges’ Sullivan’s Travels (the opening film), Fridrik Thor Fridriksson’s Cold Fever and Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale.

“It will have the same values as last year,” Cousins told ScreenDaily. “There will be a combination of an international range of films with affordable prices and a community (feel) and warmth. We feel that the multiplex experience is a bit cold and under-powered and under-passionate. We want to go the other way.”

Movies as a community experience? How lovely! How, dare we suggest it, feminine…

WHO’S YOUR DADDY? Dorothy Robinson, in her “The Word” column in the free multi-city newspaper Metro, recently:

used the adjectives “gross” and “creepy” to describe Jon Voight calling his daughter Angelina Jolie “sexy.”

That original column isn’t online, at least not that we could find, but what is available is the one in which Robinson collects the outraged responses from readers (“boy did we hear it,” she says). We like this one:

“I can’t believe the piece of anachronistic trash Dorothy Robinson wrote — it’s clearly biased, backwards and highly judgmental! If I had a daughter that looked like Jon Voight’s daughter I would call her ‘sex goddess’, ‘the most sexy creature on earth’ and would be proud of it! Wake up! Close mindedness and puritanism won’t help this country get over its problems. It’s people like Dorothy Robinson that perpetuate the ‘sex’ related issues that most young people have in this country by writing an article suggesting proper ways on how parents should address the fact that they have ‘sexy’ daughters without sounding like perverts!…”

And this one:

“A proud father has every right to say so if he so wishes. It is your twisted brain that makes a nice thing ugly. Wise up.”

We thought it was a bit weird and creepy that Robinson found Voight weird and creepy, but kudos to her for giving her unhappy critics space to have their say.

OPENING THIS WEEK. Being a girl, I am constitutionally unable to resist the siren call of Johnny Depp. I do wish, however, that Public Enemies had given me just a smidgen more opportunity to place myself in the shoes of Marion Cotillard’s Billie, moll to Depp’s John Dillinger. Of course, the movie is about cops and robbers in the 1930s, so it was inevitably going to be all about men, but couldn’t we have had just a bit more about their relationship? It’s still a great film. But someday someone is going to make a great movie about the women in these criminal enterprises, too, right? Like maybe the whorehouse madam whom Depp’s Dillinger clearly respects and trusts as his protector? No?

If you love sitcoms, you’ll love Ice Age: Dawn of the Dinosaurs, because it places women — well, the one major female character, the mammoth voiced by Queen Latifah — on that unenviable sitcom pedestal: “Ellie” is wise and calm and hugely tolerant of her “husband” (voiced by Ray Romano), and always forgives him his male insecurities and idiocies. Because that’s simply what women have to put up with, you see, if we want marriage and babies (Ellie is pregnant here), and we’re fine with doing so, because they’re saints. Now that’s rendering women cartoonish.

Nia Vardalos is back, so soon after My Life in Ruins, with I Hate Valentine’s Day, which she wrote, directed, and stars in as a woman terrified of commitment, even though John Corbett is madly in love with her. We wish movies like this one didn’t make us choose between supporting women filmmakers and saving our brains from exploding, so we won’t say any more about it.

Legendary French filmmaker and feminist Agnes Varda’s autobiographical Beaches of Agnes opened on limited screens in select cities to sold out houses. Another well-deserved triumph for Varda, now in her 80s.

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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).