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 Gemini, Cinephile, Actressexual. Also loves cats. All material herein is written and copyrighted by him, unless otherwise noted. twitter | facebook | pinterest | tumblr | instagram | letterboxd | deviantart 


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Entries in gender politics (131)


Interview: Gillian Armstrong on Her Orry-Kelly Documentary and Why the Film Industry Needs Affirmative Action 

Jose interviews the director of a new costume design documentary at TIFF 

Orry-Kelly with Kay Francis. Photo courtesy of Scotty Bowers

In Women He’s Undressed, the extraordinary Gillian Armstrong paints a delightful portrait of Australian costume designer Orry-Kelly whose bold designs changed Hollywood forever (he was the first costume designer to draw the actors' faces on his designs!). The brilliant man behind Ingrid Bergman’s tasteful suits in Casablanca, Rosalind Russell’s larger than life gowns in Auntie Mame, and Marilyn Monroe’s nude dress from Some Like It Hot (he did Jack and Tony’s dresses too) had an exciting life that had him leave his small hometown to find a career in a budding industry across the world. From gangsters and plays with an unknown Katharine Hepburn, to affairs with Cary Grant and uprisings with Bette Davis, Orry-Kelly’s life was so rich that one wonders why no one had done a film about him before.

In typical Armstrong fashion, the documentary is told with whimsical flourishes (Darren Gilshenan plays Orry who reads from letters and adds commentary) and features interviews with Colleen Armstrong, Michael Wilkinson, Jane Fonda, Catherine Martin, Angela Lansbury and the legendary Ann Roth, all of whom express their admiration for Orry, and share anecdotes about working with him. The film played at the Toronto Film Festival, and I had the opportunity to talk with Ms. Armstrong about discovering Orry’s work, working with Ann Roth (“someone should do a documentary on her next, she’s extraordinary”) and her thoughts on the way the industry treats women.

Orry-Kelly, Australian Oscar winners, and artists as film subjects after the jump...

Click to read more ...


HBO’s LGBT History: Middle Sexes (2005)

Manuel is working his way through all the LGBT-themed HBO productions.

Last week we looked at the surprisingly touching, inclusive and politically relevant Rosie O’Donnell documentary All Aboard! (it seems not a lot of you were as enthused as I was). This week we change gears by looking at perhaps the most boring HBO LGBT entry yet, Middle Sexes - Redefining He and She, a documentary on gender variance that is as entertaining as those educational tapes you’d be forced to watch in high school when your teacher couldn’t be bothered lecturing.

It’s disappointing given its exhaustive approach to the material and the many opportunities it offers in engaging narratives and insightful conversations about those living outside of the gender binary.

Middle Sexes - Redefining He and She (2005) (YouTube)
Directed by: Antony Thomas

If sexual diversity is natural, why is it so threatening?”

Oh that the doc could have taken up this question with the inquisitiveness of most of its talking heads. [More...

Click to read more ...


Pt 1 Smackdown Xtra: High & Mighty Executive Suite

Nathaniel (your host) welcomes Brian Herrera (aka Stinky Lulu), Mark Harris (Grantland and EW) Anne Marie Kelly (The Film Experience), Manuel Muñoz (award winning writer) and Todd VanDerWerff (Vox) to the podcast for a Smackdown conversation. To flesh out our thoughts on the 1954 Oscar Battle (we trust you've read it now?) and expand the topic to include the four films themselves, and where Hollywood's head was, here is our 80 minute conversation in two parts.

Pt 1 (40 minutes)
00:01 The High and the Mighty and the birth of both DeGlam and the Disaster Epics. With shout outs to The Love Boat (?), Airplane, and Grand Hotel
21:45 Executive Suite, experimental filmmaking, and trusting the patriarchy.
36:40 Marlon Brando and New Acting Styles. Post World War II / Pre Something Else.


You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes Continue the conversation in the comments. For fun I thought I'd include this video of Nina Foch (An American in Paris), our Smackdown runner up, discussing her Oscar nominated role in Executive Suite. The pencil necklace was her idea! Thank you to reader David Q. for pointing it out to Nick who sent it along to me.


Pt 1 Smackdown: The High and The Mighty


Is "Notorious" Hitchcock's Only Feminist Film? 

Welcome back to our Ingrid Bergman Centennial... we accidentally took a week off. Here's Deborah on Hitchcock's Notorious (1946) - Editor

Notorious is Hitchcock’s only feminist film, and Alicia Huberman, as played by Ingrid Bergman, is the only Hitchcock heroine rewarded, rather than destroyed, for her sexual agency. Notorious pairs a tramp, which is what Alicia calls herself, with a misogynist, as Cary Grant’s Devlin says he’s always been afraid of women. Alicia, then, is not fighting Nazis, she’s fighting the patriarchy and its misogynist attraction/repulsion for female sexuality. 

Everyone knows that Hitchcock coined “McGuffin” to mean the thing that everyone in the film cares about, but no one in the audience cares about. The example generally used is the radioactive sand from Notorious. But I’d argue that the entire Nazi plot, in fact World War II as a whole, is the McGuffin. This is a love story, a sex story, an awakening story, and, yes, a feminist story. [More...]

Click to read more ...


Podcast: Ant-Man and Southpaw

We're spoiling you with two podcasts this week. Yesterday we talked 1995 (to tease the Smackdown). Now, conversations about Marvel's Phase Two ender Ant-Man with Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lily, Michael Douglas, and Michael Peña, and the new boxing drama Southpaw starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Rachel McAdams.

Contents (43 minutes)
00:01 Marvel's Ant-Man
27:55 Antoine Fuqua's Southpaw
40:00 Coming Attractions: Mistress America & The Finest Hours

You can listen to the podcast here at the bottom of the post or download from iTunes. Continue the conversation!

Southpaw & Ant-Man


We can discuss sexism in comic book movies when you get back from the theater.


Misc: Silly Villains, Prequel Genies, Naughty Droids, Creepy Dolls

AV Club Parker Posey cast in Woody Allen's next film. Here's hoping she can graduate to lead muse
Variety Miramax and its 700 film library (all of which were Oscar nominated in the 1990s*) are for sale. Potential buyers balking at the $1 billion price tag.
Guardian Emma Stone on being "the butt of jokes" and learning about whitewashing in Hollywood through that Aloha fiasco of hers


Empire Aladdin added to Disney's growing 'let's make live-action movies based on our animated library' list
Joanna Robinson ...offered my favorite response to this 
Variety Julianne Moore leaves Nicole Holofcener's Can You Ever Forgive Me? - replacement seeking commence (10 bucks on Catherine Keener cuz that's how Holofcener do)
Coming Soon David Gordon Green will direct a Boston Marathon bombing related film with the extremely generic title of Stronger
Harpy annoys me with this article asking us to excuse bad character design in X-Men movies if the movie turns out OK. Let's not lower our standards shall we? 
The Wrap Star Wars unhappy with Amy Schumer's risqué GQ photoshoot 
Screencrush realizes that every Marvel villain is essentially the same guy 
Salon has Hollywood reached a tipping point with sexism? More and more A listers speaking out

Long Read
This piece from The Telegraph won a lot of online attention. It looks back at the then unique Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004) and how the filmmakers (Kerry Conran and Kevin Conran) were immediately forgotten by Hollywood despite their process becoming enormously influential.

...and ICYMI Tim's Toons also revisited this Visual FX landmark last year for its 10th anniversary

Off Screen
The Cut "what open marriage taught one man about feminism" - I would argue that this is not about feminism at all BUT it is about one couple's complicated relationship and it's interesting to hear intimate things about people's private lives that you're not usually privvy to. What's even more fascinating (if depressing / expected) is how defensive and hateful the comments are. People just can't handle anything that challenges the norm without excessive judgement - it terrifies them, they lash out. We've seen this over and over with every social battle... and also with every argument about what "marriage" means. Marriage has such a fraught complicated evolving history in legal, political, sexual, religious terms that it's hilarious that conservatives are always claiming that it's this great unchanging sacred monolith since the days of Adam & Eve. 
Smithsonian has a history of creepy dolls
The Verge 'the trolls are winning the internet' - you don't know how often I'm grateful to most of you in our comparatively pleasant comments here at TFE
Pajiba asks that you stop writing, reading, publishing thinkpieces if the people writing them have not seen the thing they are writing about (it's an epidemic, really in this clickbait era) 

*I'm kidding but it feels true.