VERONICA MARS, Season Four – Review by Martha P Nochimson

In its first three seasons, Veronica Mars was widely regarded as a sparkling feminist television series. Well, its fourth season, airing on Hulu, would seem to unmask the show as creator Rob Thomas’ 21st century version of the kind of backlash entertainment that appears right on cue whenever women make new strides toward independence, personhood, and realization of their talents and goals. Like running for president and “me too”? Suddenly, Veronica has emerged as a sinister warning to any girl who would be her own person while female. And in a very big way.

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THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY – Retroview by Martha P Nochimson

In revising Henry James’s novel as no man would or could, Jane Campion demonstrates more than the changes that have taken place since 1881; she demonstrates the changes that have not taken place. In thoroughly missing the organic relationship of Isabel’s fantasy life to the plot, earlier critics just assumed Campion was flamboyantly showing off her directorial chops, or sensationalizing James. We failed to see that she was giving the audience a piercing, feminist insight into what happens, at least in some cases, on the road to gender equality.

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HOMECOMING Season One – Overview by Martha P Nochimson

As far as I know, there will be two seasons of Homecoming, so it is still possible that this wonderfully innovative beginning will collapse into a formulaic conclusion in the next season, marooning us in the older thriller world of simplistic right and wrong. (I hope not.) But the series thus far is so tantalizing that a discussion of the way it touches on current anxieties and blind spots in contemporary America is not premature.

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RUSSIAN DOLL – Review by Martha P. Nochimson

Stories about journeys made by men in which women play supporting roles as inspirations, antagonists, and helpers have been the foundation of Western Civilization. The old Bards stuck to narratives in which the old heroes explained the patriarchal cosmos through their exploits as they came home from war, or established great cities, perhaps met God, and, almost always, as they conquered death in one way or another. Options are now more various.

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ROMA – An Appreciation by Martha P. Nochimson

The very ephemeral nature of moments in which life and death come to a head unweaves the old neo-realist assurances of the powerful weightiness of the least of us. Rather, Cuaron distances us from any pretensions to human importance as he opens the door to his vision of how fleeting, brief, and weightless human life is. This is a realism that is harsh medicine to the individualist American and to all cultures that are Americanized.

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Defining Feminist Film Criticism – Martha P. Nochimson comments

The answer to that question is a work in progress, certainly for me and, I believe, for our culture. I prefer to answer the question with many questions rather than with definitive answers. Maybe feminist film criticism is simply good film criticism because what used to pass for respectable film criticism is now clearly visible as too narrow. Similarly, feminist film criticism that focuses only on women’s issues might also be built on tunnel vision and bad criticism.

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ESCAPE AT DANNEMORA – Commentary by Martha P. Nochimson

Ultimately, this show about brief, ambiguous escapes is reminiscent of the fatalism of the early 20th century American naturalist novels in which the plight of trapped characters becomes a microcosm of the American macrocosm, a culture depicted gloomily as the habitation of beings with no real place either in nature or culture, no core identity, no coherence outside of the deadening rules and conventions society has invented. This is a vision that is too bleak for my taste, but I respect it because it goes well beyond being the same old familiar jailbreak story. It has a perspective.

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