Showing posts with label wonder women. Show all posts
Showing posts with label wonder women. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Wonder Women: Mission: Impossible Franchise

If Ethan Hunt is considered the quintessential American spy opposite MI6 British royalty James Bond, then his female counterparts are presumably bad-asses in their own right. Throughout the Mission: Impossible franchise led by Tom Cruise, Hunt's squad has offered actresses a wide range of love interests and agents. With the series's sixth installment Fallout hitting theaters, I thought it was about time to take a look at how the women fare throughout the franchise. Here's another edition of Wonder Women featuring Mission: Impossible. (Note: this list is in chronological order of the movies' release date and contains spoilers). Which is your favorite Mission: Impossible female character? Feel free to let me know in the comments!

Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Where Are All The It Girls of 2018? (And Here Are My Top Five)

The It Girls of 2018
The label It Girl is a complicated one. Originating in the 1920s, Clara Bow was a young up-and-coming actress who captivated audiences on-screen with her looks, vulnerability, style, and talent to become one of Hollywood's earliest icons. In one year, she made twenty-five movies, and was eventually dubbed the first It Girl, the simple definition of which is a woman with a magnetic personality and/or sex appeal. Despite becoming an instant sensation, her work and unique charisma from the silent film era continues to live on and inspire.

Over the years, It Girl has often come to mean something else; a way of noticing women for their fifteen minutes of fame regardless of the industry in film, television, music, or fashion; treating them more as a promoted trend than a natural force to be reckoned with. It became less about celebrating actresses who rose from indies or obscurity to entertain and enlighten, and more of who could be more gif-worthy in interviews and on the red carpet. Most recently, Hollywood used the the term to peg rising stars Brie Larson, Emma Stone, Lupita N'Yongo, and Jennifer Lawrence as they captured the audience's and media's attention with their talent, personality, and range on-screen. Yet just as fast as they took over film, magazine covers, and social media, the celebration of a woman or women taking over Tinseltown slipped quietly out of the spotlight, rarely to be used again since.

This suddenly made me ask: What happened to all the It Girls? Granted, the answer arrived pretty easily: The past six months in Hollywood alone from the #TimesUp and #MeToo movement, and the political warfare making waves around the world, have paved the way for more important issues. (And comparatively, there is no It Bro putting actors on a pedestal, is there?.) The glamorous side of Hollywood isn't the first thing on most people's minds right now when it constantly feels like the world is in peril.

Though I shirk at the idea of singling out actresses over others in a superficial game of Who-Is-Better-or-More-Famous, I also look forward to the inspiring success newer actresses have created by breaking out on-screen or out of the mold. It is refreshing to see fresh faces pave the way for themselves and imagine where their careers will be in the future. As 2018 is almost halfway over, powerful actresses have continued to slay on-screen but haven't been offered the spotlight as they have in the past. This still made me want to share my top five favorite bad-ass It Girls for 2018 in the hopes that you're inspired to check them out and see what they have going on. 'Cause they are slaying Tinseltown right now (and for the foreseeable future).

What actresses or actors are onto big things this year? Whose work should I check out? Let me know in the comments below!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Thank you Carrie: 13 Moving Tributes to Our Princess Leia

Princess Leia Carrie Fisher Artwork Tributes
Carrie Fisher didn't expect to become famous, let alone the icon of a major franchise. 

Daughter to actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher, she started studying the arts as a young adult, and then sort of fell into showbusiness by taking one small job and then landing the role of a lifetime. In 1977, Princess Leia in George Lucas's A New Hope became a beacon for what would become generations of fans. Her character's intelligence, tenacity and resilient attitude set herself among the best and most beloved heroines in film history.

After being absent from the big screen for nearly thirty years, the fandom never thought Han Solo, Luke Skywalker, and Princess Leia would ever return. When Disney rebooted the franchise in 2015 with The Force Awakens, one of the greatest most anticipating moments was to see the original characters come back. Leia returned as a sophisticated General still fighting the good fight against evil. Though Fisher unexpectedly passed away in December 2016, a year before the eighth film and most recent installment The Last Jedi hit theaters, her character and performance became a sudden a goodbye that has meant the world to so many fans, including myself.

The legacy she leaves behind both on and off the screen is unforgettable. Now that the eighth movie has hit theaters, I thought now would be the best time to send out a simple Thank You to Carrie and our Princess Leia with thirteen moving tributes celebrating her humor, confidence, bravery, spontaneity, vulnerability, and pure bad-assery. May the Force Be With You.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Wonder Women: Lisa Freemont in Rear Window (1964)

When one thinks about the intriguing elements of Alfred Hitchcock's filmography, the abundance of "icy blondes" he utilized throughout his career is hard to ignore. He worked with a myriad of starlets like Tippi Hedren, Janet Leigh, and Kim Novak, establishing them as femme fatales and victims on-screen. In celebrating Halloween by watching Rear Window, Grace Kelly's role as Lisa Freemont felt like a great character to highlight for my Wonder Women series.

Elegant and tenacious Grace Kelly dazzles in the classic thriller about an injured photographer L.B "Jeff" Jeffries (played by James Stewart) who's cocooned in his apartment and starts spying on his neighbors. Getting caught up in their own imaginations and theories, they suspect a grizzly murdered took place just across the street and try to prove their accusations to the authorities.

Throughout his career Hitchcock examined the themes of a seemingly perfect crime, and the morals that came along with the act in question. Like similar suspenseful films Marnie, Vertigo and Dial M for Murder, he also dabbled in the complications of marriage, singlehood, and the sexual tension between men and women. More prominently Rear Window, a tale of voyeurism and murder, offers a switch of gender roles where its independent and undaunted leading lady becomes the hero.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Wonder Women: Sasha Williams

Guts and blood? Check. Zombies? Check. Andrew Lincoln looking amazing? Check. Oh yeah, what does The Walking Dead also have: kick-ass women. BOOYAH.

For a while now, we've been celebrating women of The Walking Dead like Lori Grimes and Andrea, and then Maggie and Beth. Lucky for us there are plenty of strong and complex survivors who are worthy of being under the spotlight.

For this edition, we're moving onto the calculating straight-shooter, Sasha Williams. From her skills as a warrior to her devastating losses and post-traumatic stress, she's been an invaluable and complex survivor.

We're going to take a look at how awesome this woman is, and how the flaws or achievements of the writing shape her. What do you love about Sasha? Feel free to share in the comments! Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Wonder Women: Maggie Greene (The Walking Dead)

Women of the Walking Dead Maggie Greene
Guts and blood? Check. Zombies? Check. Andrew Lincoln always looking amazing? Check. Oh yeah, what does The Walking Dead also have: kick-ass women. BOOHYAH.

In the first edition of celebrating women of The Walking Dead, we evaluated two controversial survivors: Lori Grimes and Andrea. I personally love them both and it was fun to dissect how the writing served them in the best and worst ways.

Each character on this show handles surviving the apocalypse differently. What works for one person may not work for another. There may be no better example than the Greene sisters, Maggie and Beth.

In a previous post here I've explored Beth Greene and her underrated layers as a survivor until the fifth season. For this post we're focusing primarily on the elder Maggie, and compare how they were both similar and different in terms of adulting in the apocalypse.

We're going to take a look at how awesome this woman is, and how the flaws and achievements of the writing shapes them. Hope you enjoy!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Wonder Women: Lori Grimes & Andrea

Character Lori Grimes Andrea
Zombies? Check. Guts and blood? Check. Andrew Lincoln looking hot? Check. Oh yeah, what else does The Walking Dead have: kick-ass women. BOOHYAH.

If there's one thing the zombie apocalypse breeds other than walkers, it's survivors, people who rise or fall to the challenge of learning new skills, losing their loved ones, making kick-ass walker kills, and waging wars against their enemies. These characters may be damsels and in distress, but they can handle themselves.

This first part of Wonder Women: The Walking Dead series will cover two controversial figures, Lori Grimes and Andrea. Nobody on the show is perfect, and frankly, the show's writing can be imperfect too. With this in mind, we're taking a look at how a lack of development affected these characters and if there's more to these women beyond their acquired love-hate relationships from critics and fans.

More parts celebrating other women will be coming along shortly with Maggie and Beth Greene, Sasha Williams, and Michonne. Beyond that, if I keep going, will cover Rosita, Tara, Jessie, Denise, and Deanna. Let me know what you think and hope you enjoy!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Back Off Man, I'm a Feminist

feminist Ghostbusters movie blog
The original Ghostbusters is one of me and my sister's favorite movies. It's right up there with other movies like Back to the Future that we watch, quote, and analyze all the time.

When news broke out about a Ghostbusters reboot, frankly we weren't surprised. Hollywood has been and will be remaking movies. Studios and producers are always up for revamping any kind of classic for a younger generation while also ignoring that the genre can be a tiresome idea.

Negative reception of the new version before the movie even reached theaters was, in fact, disappointing but again unsurprising. Unlike other re-imaginings that only get a whisper of unflattering reviews, Ghostbusters was put through the ringer of overwhelming misogyny.

Fanboys by the masses opposed the reboot to one of  'their' beloved favorites. Not just opposed the movie but absolutely vilified it and the cast. Their reaction reached new heights of erratic behavior: IMDb was flooded with one star reviews, conspiracies were created about Sony paying off reviewers, and made the new trailer the most disliked in YouTube history, dowsed the cast in vitriol backlash - to say the least.

While the unprovoked response was alarming, it was also not unexpected. Not when Renee Zellweger is criticized for aging, Blake Lively's Shallows is torture porn , profiles on actresses reveal critics' deep-seated sexualization and the list goes on.

It can't be denied that in film, books, and television we need other stories that don't focus solely or for a majority on the male's version of the hero's journey. Fiction is a reflection of the real world; it's universal and doesn't apply to just one kind of person.

When we go to the movies, we look for a good break from our regular lives, looking to escape, for a reflection of ourselves or where we are in life, to be entertained and/or enlightened. As a woman, I look for people who aren't there to be no-named sought after hotties whose only lines in a movie are to say No to a guy who won't take no for an answer and then inevitably gives in because he won't leave her alone.

As Viola Davis said upon her 2015 Emmy victory, "You cannot win an Emmy for roles that are simply not there..." Well we can't see movies with women if they aren't there.

One only has to look at the success of Rey in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the complex nature of Mad Max: Fury Road, or the incomparable success of Frozen as examples of the importance of roles for girls of all ages. And, Ghostbusters is no different. Seeing women playing scientists and ghostbusters will give women and young girls something to identity with and vicariously live through.

Opportunity and equality is what levels the playing field. 30% of speaking roles belong to women, so it shouldn't be a surprise when we ascend upon the hogged platform and set up our own mics for a fellow audience that is surely craning to listen.

Films with all-male casts get the star power and the "original story" but aren't touted specifically because they are men. Everything is just accepted as if it's law. They're just marketed and believed as bad-ass, funny, smart, action-packed, and capable as is - so why can't women enjoy the same?

When movies star anyone besides the typical male star, they are the special snowflakes of Hollywood that were created by osmosis. Movies shouldn't be compartmentalized into a girl's thing, and instead women have access to tell layered and entertaining universal experiences. Case in point, rumors about an Oceans' Eleven reboot have been circulating. Sandra Bullock and Jennifer Lawrence have been attached without any further confirmation of its development, except again that it will star an all-female cast. This gives me hope that a heist film with women might actually utilize actresses to play roles other than love interests.

Case in point: The 1960 original starring the Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Peter Lawford, and Sammy Davis. Jr.), practically the only woman is Angie Dickinson as Sinatra's wife, who is given little to do in terms of the heist or her husband's cohorts. Likewise, Steven Soderbergh's 2001 remake limits roles for women as spouses with little agency such as Julia Roberts to George Clooney and Catherine Zeta-Jones to Brad Pitt, and an independent and powerful right-hand woman (Ellen Barkin) who is tricked to beg Matt Damon for sex. It's embarrassing that nearly fifty years passed, and the results are the same: if the women were removed, the plots could go on as if business was usual.

The lack of depth a female character is not given isn't right. But we can't go back in time and change the original, and we shouldn't want to solely because they had male casts. Just like literature mavens have to contend with changes of their beloved books when they're adapted to movies, we must be able to separate remakes from originals. Rarely does the makers of the former want to eradicate the former; everything is just about expanding on the other and growing it. I's okay to watch a movie, know the era it originated from, the gender politics of this time and then, and be aware of the differences (if even rare ones).

Unlike the initial ugly reception of the Ghostbusters reboot, it would be great to see a heist film, or film in general with women that exclude the emphasis on gender but instead focus on the material, strength of it's script and direction, the talent (not looks, race, weight or age) of its cast. A movie like Ghostbusters is just the beginning. Certain critics, official and unofficial know how to do this, but not enough. (The surface hasn't even been scratched for movies with racial diversity, LGBTQ community, trans community, people with disabilities, etc.)

As a fan culture, a territory has been marked around 'the classics'. If anything happens to selected untouchable favorites, well, it's just forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria...Only it isn't. This reboot could've been something the pre-emptive haters enjoyed if they looked past themselves to give it a chance.

Women's contribution to film shouldn't be devalued and discriminated. Gender equality within entertainment, within the world, can be accomplished if we just make the right calls.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Wonder Women of Twister (1996)

It's no secret that Twister is one of my all-time favorite movies. I've watched it to the point of having memorized it, raved about it, and visited the now defunct movie attraction at Universal Orlando Resort. Now with the 20th anniversary around the corner, I wanted to celebrate the film's two main women: Melissa Reeves and Jo Harding. Let's be honest: they are both true boss ladies of the disaster genre.

If you want to celebrate even more Twister (who doesn't?), check out: 5 Epic Facts You Didn't Know About Twister!

Thursday, April 14, 2016

10 Times Women Ruled The Box Office

Audiences and critics alike have been clamoring with more women-centric casts in movies. It's not that casts with a superior male cast are in the wrong. Their films have done well for the past 100 years of cinema. But there simply not just one type of hero's journey people want to see all the time.

From the Sony hack emails to the constant fight by industry insiders to get women in an equal position of power, it's not a secret that Hollywood struggles putting women in diverse movies and roles.

Since the beginning of film-making, women like men have proven their worth not only in money but versatility. From princesses to warriors, and in genres from comedies to action, leading women have racked in millions to almost billions of dollars in ticket sales.

Hollywood has plenty of talented actresses, directors, and writers "at their disposal". The issue isn't that they aren't available or that audiences don't want to see them or they aren't critically acclaimed. The big movie studios just don't think that women can pull in the box office numbers.

Here's the thing: They do.Countless films with complex female leads have been successful in terms of pleasing moviegoers, critics, and making good bucks. Taking a closer look at the numbers, here are ten examples when women ruled the box office.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Stars I Love: Judy Garland

I'm sure the triple threat above needs no introduction, and any attempt I could manage to thread together probably wouldn't encapsulate her talent or my admiration of her. In the two years of running Oh So Geeky so far, I'm surprised that I've only mentioned this actress and singer in passing. When anyone mentions movie star worship, Judy Garland is as close as it gets for me.

Every one has his or her idol, someone that no other person in the history can hold a candle to. It may be a historical figure, movie icon, or music legend that arrives in the midst of our teenage years and wakes us up in a way no other person we've seen or read about had done before. Growing up, my mom was (and still is) obsessed with Classic Hollywood. My family has always treated films like its own religion; we devoured them for fun, debate, and even aspiring occupations. So when I say that I had seen Judy Garland movies during all of adolescent years, I truly did. Turner Classic Movie channel was something of a surrogate parent to me, where I had seen all of her movies like Meet Me In St. Louis, the Andy Hardy series, and The Harvey Girls dozens and dozens of times.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Wonder Women: Shailene Woodley

Shailene Woodley actress profile
The young adult fandom is vast and growing, and there are a number of young stars moving up in Hollywood's ranks. While it's hard for many to pave roles in projects outside of their television or movie franchise, Shailene Woodley is a leading lady paving a path for young adult stars.

Despite her rising popularity status for starring in films like Divergent and The Fault in Our Stars, Shailene Woodley got an early start in show business As the central character in ABC Family's The Secret Life of an American Teenager, it could be said that my fandom for her started there. However, having never watched the show's episodes in their entirety, I might have seen clips of her characters' scenes on The Soup (an E!  television clip show that pokes fun at Hollywood's best and worst entertainment moments). Throwing teenagers into one cliche debacle after another was often how the show was regarded, Woodley came through the show's five-year running, she seemed to jump on everyone's radar in The Descendants.

For her first major film role, Woodley stood out as George Clooney's rebellious conflicted teenager who helps him track down her mother's lover. At first glance, she seems unabashedly outspoken and explosively reacting off of her father's guidance. Her insecurities are slowly unmasked as she replaces her mother as a maternal figure to her younger sister. During the award show season, Woodley gained momentum among the indie crowd earning Golden Globe nominations and a win at Independent Spirit Award. It was hard not to miss her as a young starlet to watch out for. Now three years later, her on-screen talent and off-screen personality are making monumental waves on me and Hollywood.

In The Spectacular Now (2013), Woodley stars alongside Mike Teller in about a young man floating through life and relationships. Sutter Keely (Teller) is not a slacker but numbs the pain of his father's abandonment with alcoholism and keeping up appearances in the cool crowd since his football days are long gone. As Aimee Finicky, Woodley is just a normal girl who falls in love with Keely. Their crises guide them through painful circumstances and courageously putting themselves first.

The best of the movie is in the performances themselves. Teller creates a complicated protagonist whose life is tied up in his abandoned father's ambition to live in the present moment, but he's not particularly motivated in school or life. Woodley, whose Finicky is confined by her mother's dependence, exudes patience, enthusiasm, and apprehension. Together, their performances are stellar, but perhaps more so for Woodley and her budding career in the genre.

For the time being as Woodley respectably portrays young women in a variety of dramas, her characters are significantly unique. Similar to her portrayal as Beatrice Prior in the big YA phenomenon Divergent (another female character trying to brave the storms of life and love), Woodley's characters are all young at heart but aren't cut from the same YA cloth. As she grows up on-screen as in real life, I'm excited to see where her talent leads her career from big blockbusters to the independent genre.

Perhaps most of all, I admire Woodley's candor and off-screen personality. Similarly to how much I could listen to Matthew McConaughey talk all day long, Woodley shares her interests beyond acting openly and passionately. It seems rare with young stars today to hear them share anything beyond one or two adjectives let alone some of their personal interests or their movie career with bold confidence and enthusiasm. Both aspects Woodley seems to be all the time.

Her easygoing personality makes it easy to listen her press rounds and read in-depth interviews. Often calling herself a "hippy dippy", Woodley stands by her organic lifestyle and her causes of being more environmentally friendly. Showing up on the red carpet with organic or without make-up, gathering her own water from springs and adapting a paleolithic diet to her life, she doesn't forcefully encourage people to follow her lifestyle but freely shares what she does. As someone who has always followed an organic lifestyle, it's refreshing to see a star follow through with her claims of loving nature and the environment, and not skimp out from photoshoot to red carpet event on her beliefs. Her frank nature doesn't necessarily mean the more personal a star is the more relatable or likeable I'll find him/her - I just like how she isn't afraid to let her free spirit flag fly.

Whether on the big carpet wearing gowns and sporting natural make-up, or hanging out at press conferences, Woodley seems to mix in every situation. Optimistic and happy-go-lucky, Woodley hangs out happily being in the moment. In a world where people are so cynical and judgmental, Woodley is down-to-earth. Bohemian and chic, she holds no expectations against others and holds no plans for the future - what will be, will be. In Woodley's own words, that's just rad and bad-ass.

Does Shailene Woodley inspire you? What's your favorite role of hers so far?

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Wonder Women: Stella Gibson / The Fall

Over the past year, BBC made waves around the world with The Fall. Created and written by Allan Cubitt, it has become one of the vastly most popular crime shows in recent history. Centered around a handsome psychosexual serial killer Paul Spector (Jamie Dornan) of professional brunette women in their 30s, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson (Gillian Anderson) trails his violent depravity in Belfast, Ireland.

At first, I streamed the show on Netflix because HELLO, DORNAN with a beard. Instead, it was hard not to fall more in love with Gibson and Anderson's precise and gratifying performance. In fact, she inspired me to start a new series Wonder Women, which is my attempt to shine a light on fascinating and versatile female characters.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Stars I Love: Jenna Coleman

Jenna Coleman actress profile
From television shows like The Vampire Diaries to mega-blockbusters like Divergent and The Hunger Games, a collection of eccentric, beautiful, and talented leading ladies has been born out of Hollywood. While a lot of attention focuses on U.S. stars like Shailene Woodley, Nina Dobrev, Kristen Stewart, Jennifer Lawrence - and the list goes on, one of my favorite stars happens to be from across the pond: Jenna Coleman.

Born Blackpool, London, Coleman participated in dance during her childhood. Eventually her love of performing transitioned into acting at a local school theater during her early teens. At only nineteen years old, she won her first major role for a British soap opera Emmerdale. During her three-hundred episode arc, she had planned to finish university but performing would lead her elsewhere. Her career may have just been starting out but already she was garnering awards for the heartfelt performance she was producing. Following some three hundred episodes later playing one-half of a normal lesbian couple (a breakthrough portrayal for daytime television), the eager starlet soon moved on to other television series like Waterloo Road and Room at the Top. There was always room to go back to school, but Coleman was destined to go down a different road; one that spanned across time and space.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

In Defense of Beth Greene

Beth Greene is not on most fan's radar from The Walking Dead. As a minor character shown by the writers when the storylines call for it, she is not a central figure like Rick Grimes or Carol Peletier who carry the brunt of securing protection through violence. As a young adult and mother figure, Greene's importance to the group (or lack thereof) opens up an intriguing discussion about the role of a survival in the walker apocalypse.

At the beginning of season two, the Greene family was introduced; a small religious-minded clan living on a peaceful, isolated farm out of the dog-eat-dog climate. Their knowledge of the world coming to an end was mostly shown to them through the television and various happenings with members of their community. In the safety net of their barn, they didn't square off what Rick and his group had to deal with: violent invasions of walkers into their camp, scrounging for food and water, and dealing with dissension between the ranks.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Wonder Women: Samantha Brown

Before Travel Channel became obsessed with men gorging on food and treading into limited access sewers, a female host took the network by storm. Her exuberant personality and sense of humor were something I was obsessed with a teenager. Her name was Samantha Brown.

Brown started out with giving tours and staying overnight in ritzy houses and in the tropical United States. Having no previous experience in hosting for television, Brown had been found through The Travel Channel through an audition tape. Luckily the network knew they had someone really special on their hands, and Brown grew to be the first lady of on-air travel.

With her next series Great Hotels, Brown scoped out the North American landscape staying at the finest hotels and exploring the local culture. You couldn't help but fall in love with her. She was the girlfriend and best friend you wanted to hang out at home and abroad. Her love for chocolate and ice cream was your cravings. While you wished to be bouncing on beds, playing games in a hotel lobby, or venturing outdoors on nature escapes or connecting with the locals, she did it with charm and wit.

In her second series titled Passport to Europe, which lasted two seasons, Brown traveled the Euro-world in style, hitching up in places like London, Germany, and Italy. In another series, Brown took temporary residence in Mexico and China. Her willingness to try new things took us sword dancing, rollerblading through Paris at night, snorkeling, and dog sledding.

Her travels weren't always full of smiles. Behind the camera journeying across the world brought long schedules away from family and friends, and going to explored places on her own with a small camera crew. But rarely did those struggles ever come across on-screen. Brown was always a down-to-earth people person.

Forging on with her travels, she never failed to show us everything that could be done in every corner of the world. She taught us the best sights to see, how to save money to travel locally, which hotels to check into and during which season. Her honesty came through when she ate something atrocious or wanted to try something again and again. Meetings with tour guides and special-interest instructors were with a keen interest and open mind. With more series to come like Passport to Asia and Great Weekends, Brown clocked in more than a 160 hours of television. And, she remains one of the sole female hosts to ever grace Travel Channel and really do it all.

She was funny, smart, and down to earth. Brown is one of the few - next to only - explorers (once) on television who didn't have to chow down impossible gargantuan meals in two minutes or live on an island by herself for sixty days and peruse all her survival skills. This woman-sized bubble of enthusiasm proved that we can have an adventure any place we travel, especially with a few spoonfuls of style, humor, and a smile.

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Stars I Love: Amy Adams

"If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?" When I first heard actress Amy Adams answer  "Green" quite blondily in the film Drop Dread Gorgeous (1999) I was in love.

Years later, and this actress became a four time Academy Award nominee. And her career has never slowed down. She kicks ass and takes names in every film, photoshoot, red carpet event - you name it. You just can't merely call her an actress. She's a super one.

From her early start as the bimbo classmate trying out for Miss Mount Rose American Teen Princess in Drop Dead Gorgeous and playing inexplicably adorable Daddy's girl in Catch Me If You Can, she's incomprehensibly able to fit every single role.

Her supporting role in the 2005 film Junebug confirms how easily she's able to capture then break our hearts. Not appearing in the film for more than a few scenes as pregnant Ashley, she earned the Academy's attention with a heartbreaking scene where she grieves over the loss of her newborn baby. This was the first of a few downright worthy Oscar nominations to come.

With Enchanted, Adams made every little girls' dream come true by transforming the 2D princess into a 3D world. Critics praised and audiences had no choice but to agree. She was exquisitely innocent, girlish, and had a heart of unbelievable gold. Playing Giselle paved the way for Adams like Julie Andrews and Mary Poppins; she was cemented as an icon for younger audiences around the world and as a showcase actress who could take the most innocent roles and make them work realistically.

This 5'4" firecracker just keeps churning out versatility like none other. Adams is able to curse up a storm and battle against five New Jersey sisters in The Fighter, and then change into lovable effervescent friend in The Muppets. These little movie name droppers don't even cover some of her invincible roles as out-nunning Meryl Streep in Doubt, going Marilyn Monroe-esque in Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day, or tackling leading lady indies like Sunshine Cleaning. The funny thing about Amy Adams is even if the movies sucks - which is rare - she always comes out as a favorite. (The Wedding Date - comes to mind).

Let's just take a moment to admire her face and style because it's honestly not one too bad to gawk at.

Many actresses can well-disguise themselves in indies and blockbusters, but somehow their transformations are always tracked - maybe because their off-screen fame is bigger than their on-screen ones, or their pathetically more valued for their beauties than their talent. Adams, along with a small special legion of leading ladies, has been able to take her doughy wide eyes, red hair, and overwhelming talent to be more than just a red carpet clothes hanger or a feminine sidekick.
"I think a lot of times we don't pay enough attention to people with a positive attitude because we assume they are naive or stupid or unschooled. But what if she sees the truth about her life, understands it all and ultimately makes the choice that this is what she wants? Is she goofy? Yes. But she could ultimately be the most intelligent person in the movie."
Like an actress from Old Hollywood, her off-screen isn't personality wrapped up in publicity or tabloid propaganda. Neither in interviews does she try to be outrageous, forcefully quirky or manifesting personalities to suit different interviews. She's always herself; genuinely likable, smart, a bit of a fan girl (to her leading men), and someone who has fun with show-business but wants to make a lasting career with every film.

Her small town roots as an employee at the Gap and musical theater transformed Academy Award nominated powerhouse. When commenting on one of her Oscar appearances, Adams admitted to having an existential crises sitting next to Sean Penn and Meryl Streep; questioning she didn't belong there and that it all could be taken away. Nobody in their right mind can ever take away what is rightfully hers; a shining beacon in cinema.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Women in Film Blogathon

John over at Hitchcock's World began a marathon earlier this summer about Women in Film; a challenge for bloggers to spotlight a female character from any film genre or time period and explain the various qualities that make them a strong character in the masculine entertainment industry.

There were a lot of interesting choices. As a big Harry Potter fan I thought I'd write about J.K. Rowling's range complex witches like Hermione Granger or Professor McGonagall, or George Lucas's Princess Leia. However, Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise caught my attention and held it more strongly.

Growing up, I remember seeing the first three films in theaters, and of course, was overjoyed by Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow - as most of the world was at that time. But also Keira Knightley as the governor's daughter turned pirate, wife, and mother was an interesting evolution I didn't notice as the films rolled out.

The adventurous Pirates series are centered around the ridiculous mishaps and broken promises of Captain Jack Sparrow. Most of Elizabeth's goals inevitably has to do with saving herself or Will. Yet, Swann isn't very much like other damsels in distresses within the pirate/action genre.

In the first film, she defies the social morals of the 1700s as a respected governor's daughter. The  adolescent portrait of Swann is often forgotten. With her father sailing across the ocean, she is enraptured by the life of a pirate and scallywags brought aboard. Her father and his commodore try to keep her in the dark about such scandalous behavior. She will eventually grow up, stop having such foolish hobbies, and will be married off as political leverage.

Or that's what the plan was. She is everything a well-brought up girl should be, but underneath she wants more adventure and freedom. When she well into her teens, Swann is captured by Captain Barbossa, but doesn't allow her passage aboard the grim Black Pearl scare her into submissiveness. She tries to manipulate and guarantee her safety. Of course she has to do this to protect herself. This example doesn't cover the many ways she is bad-ass from day one; going for the swords when pirates first break into her house, stabbing Captain Barbossa the second she has a chance, using all of Captain Sparrow's rum to get the attention of the militia for her own rescue. As the films go on, and she becomes more like her counterparts: doing what is necessary to survive, going where the sails take her, and dealing what comes across her path.

Perhaps one of the most memorable moments for Elizabeth is when she wears a corset gown her father had bought her. Atop a cliffside unable to breathe and listening to a heartfelt proposal from her fiance-to-be, Swann falls into the ocean below. Once brought ashore by Sparrow, she is rarely found in the same feminine and confining wardrobe again. As her pirate persona grows stronger, the studios didn't take advantage of this and give her less-to-wear wardrobe. Her costumes let her breathe, move, and look like an actual pirate; not fancied or frilled up. Later, she even fakes passing out so Will can rescue Jack. By doing so she goes against her father and the entire militia's orders. This girl was not meant to be tied down and constricted.

No one said a strong female character can't be in love, but Swann also doesn't deny that she wants to be married either. In the second film, Will fails to show up to their wedding after one of his escapades left her behind. Swann goes on her own search with Sparrow to find him. Along the way, she struggles to keep her moral compass and to fight for honorable men. Her days as a governess taught her that's how life should be. But being surrounded by pirates she becomes less subservient to the all-male crews and grooms herself to survive in this dog-eat-dog world, doing what she can to find Will but also getting caught up in the pirate's life she was supposed to avoid.

In the third film, she is unwilling to be dependent on others but secure her own fate. Swann becomes a leader of her own crew, defends herself in sword fights, and isn't afraid to take calculated risks - if its in the name of love or her own freedom. Swann and Will are a more cohesive couple out on the open seas, but she grows more independent and retaliation is in her blood. When the stakes are down she delivers the "speech of the king"; not Jack, Will, or Captain Barbossa and moves everyone to fight until the end.

In the closing moments of the final film, Elizabeth and Will are married, only he is bound working on the Dutchman's crew. Stranded on an island with their child, she fends for herself. She gets married to a man she loves like she always wanted. The deserted island motif is a bit extreme, but she has long shed civilized society. Even though Elizabeth is often associated alongside Will because of their relationship, it was more difficult to find anything as Elizabeth Turner (his surname) other than Elizabeth Swann.

Long live the pirate king!