AWFJ Women On Film – The Week In Women, July 10, 2009 – MaryAnn Johanson

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Yes, girls like movies too, the secrets of female reinvention, and why Bruno is feminist…

OH, GIRLS LIKE MOVIES? The Los Angeles Times notices that women go to the movies, too:

Women make a difference.

Female ticket buyers made up nearly half of the audience for the supposedly male-appeal titles “The Hangover” and “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” At the same time, women moviegoers helped give Sandra Bullock’s Disney romantic comedy “The Proposal” the actress’ best opening weekend by a wide margin: $33.6 million, compared with her previous best debut, $17.6 million for “Premonition.” If women turn out for July 24’s “The Ugly Truth” and “Julie & Julia,” they could leave an even bigger mark on the summer season.

What’s odd, though, is that this tidbit comes as the very last lesson-to-be-learned that the Times discerns in the cooling of the box office this summer. The tenor of the entire article is negative: Bad Things A, B, and C are what we should take from this summer’s box-office performance (adult dramas are dead, moviegoers’ word-of-mouth is more important than ever when it comes to sinking a movie, films without international appeal won’t get made). The whole piece is about “why movies aren’t doing well this summer.”

But some movies are doing well. And they’re doing well because they’re appealing to women as well as to men. Talk about burying the lede! The story here isn’t “Summer movie season cooling off” — which is the actual headline of this article — but “Women are the key to movies’ success.” Isn’t it? Shouldn’t that be the first lesson of this summer — “Appeal to women, Hollywood, if you want a hit!” — instead of an aside that, it appears, the article’s writer, John Horn, doesn’t seem to appreciate the importance of?

But even when women are a force for Hollywood to reckon with, we’re still not noticed. Unbelievable.

JULIE AND JULIA AND NORA AND AMY AND MERYL. Speaking of movies with chick appeal, Nora Ephron, Amy Adams, and Meryl Streep talk Julie & Julia at Ladies’ Home Journal:

Nora Ephron: One of the things I love about this movie is that the women in it are able to reinvent themselves.

Meryl Streep: Because we’re less about what we do and more about what we are. I can never get over the fact that Julia Child’s famous book, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, was published when she was almost 50 years old. So she didn’t really become “Julia Child” until she was 50.

LHJ: Why do you think reinvention is such a female thing?

Streep: Men buy into the idea that there is a path up to success. I think — speaking for myself — that women are more 360. We’re looking all around — behind, in front, to the side. And we take a lot of other people into account in our decisions.

There’s lots more, including some realistic chat about food, fat, relationships, and other girlie things that is refreshingly honest and down to earth. Check it out.

OPENING TODAY. Bruno is, of course, completely dominated by men, what with Sacha Baron Cohen’s gay Austrian fashionista and celebrity suckup on his rampage across America on a quest to (among other things) make homophobic straight men uncomfortable. But I award Baron Cohen honorary feminist status for his daring in exposing the heteronormative perspective of (some) men (and some women) for the terrified-little-boy reaction that it is. The straight men who think they’re so alluring that no gay man could resist their (dubious) charms are frequently hilariously wrong about that self-perception.

Even grading on a stupid-teen-romance scale, I Love You, Beth Cooper is shockingly inept, from the viewpoint of filmmaking craft, and even worse from a philosophical one. The golden-cheerleader heroine quickly moves, in the eyes of both the film and the male protagonist, from a remote and idealized object of fantasy to a pitiable slut who may — just possibly — be worthy of the “nice guy” hero’s love, if only to redeem her. Disgusting.

On the indie scene, the manga-inspired Blood: The Last Vampire is eminently dismissable, even with its female protagonist. But Humpday, from write-director-producer Lynn Shelton, is well worth a look, particular as a female view on men’s friendships and sexuality.

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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).