Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Gravity of the Situation

It’s not too often I get excited about a movie that I’m almost certain will fail the Bechdel Test. But in the new space thriller “Gravity,” I just might be. It’s been another predictable summer of dudes blowing up shit at the box office. Superheroes, soldiers and spectacularly stupid stuff have crammed the theaters. The two movies I was most interested in seeing (“The Bling Ring,” “The Heat”) I missed because I’d rather spend my weekends supporting shows with amazing female casts (“Orange Is the New Black,” “Orphan Black,” “The Fosters”) that are the rule, not the exception. Don’t worry, I’ll catch those movies on Red Box of Netflix or whatever some lazy Sunday afternoon in the future. p.s. I did see “The Conjuring” in the theater which was quite good with an amazing cast and did pass Bechdel’s Test because talking with another woman about a demonic ghost totally counts.

But for now only one trailer has me most mesmerized and ready to perhaps head back into the theater. It’s “Gravity” a lost-in-space drama about two astronauts literally adrift. If you check out the on-screen cast it’s only Sandra Bullock and George Clooney. Like, no kidding, those are the only two characters in this piece. The film is from director Alfonso Cuarón, the man behind “A Little Princess,” “Y Tu Mamá También,” “Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban” and “Children of Men.” And fucking hell trailer makes it look like your worst nightmare. If it’s possible to feel claustrophobic in the endless expanse of space, these clips do it.

At Comic-Con, Cuarón told the press he got predictably sexist pushback from the industry about having a female lead. Like, why do we even need one? This is a movie about space, chicks don’t need to be in space. A report from Women in Hollywood quotes him as saying:

When I finished the script, there were voices that were saying, 'well, we should change it to a male lead.' Obviously they were not powerful enough voices, because we got away with it. But the sad thing is that there is still that tendency.
You know, of all the genres, women have actually done quite well for themselves in science fiction. Think Ripley in the “Alien” franchise, think Sarah Connor in “Terminator” franchise, think Dana Scully in “The X-Files,” hell, Princess fucking Leia!

So while this movie more than likely will fail Bechdel’s golden rule about having two named female characters who take to one another about something other than a man, I think it will still advance our presence on that final frontier.


Carmen SanDiego said...

Looking forward to that one

Amanda Morrell said...

Don't forget Jodie Foster in Contact!
And she will be gracing our sci-fi screen again this summer.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

If/when there are only two characters, can/should the Bechdel test apply?

Anonymous said...

lol but who's she gonna talk to anyway when she's stranded in space? i don't think the bechdel applies here

Anonymous said...

I'm sad you didn't get to see "The Heat," partly because it was ridiculously funny and Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy had fabulous chemistry, but also because I think one of the most effective ways to show our support for female-led movies is to put our money where our mouth is at the box office. If these types of movies make money, the people who green-light projects will become increasingly willing to “take a risk” on making more of them. Awesomely, "The Heat" has been doing VERY well. Of course, it’s still a sad state of affairs, and it’s been a generally abysmal summer for women in movies.

That being said, I am very much looking forward to "Gravity," and I couldn’t care less that Sandra’s character won’t talk to another woman. There’re only two people in it anyway. And while I think the Bechdel Test is a useful litmus test in some cases, it doesn't really say anything about the quality of a movie, the quality of its characters, or the depth of conversations between women. Movies that technically pass the test don't necessarily have a good overall depiction of women, and movies that fail the test can have interesting and complex female characters. Under the Bechdel Test, a movie that has two women talking about the weather for 10 seconds passes, while a movie like "The Avengers,” which has a well-rounded, engaging, integral-to-the-plot lead female in Black Widow and a high-ranking, competent, badass Maria Ross in a supporting role, fails. Overall, I think I’d rather have one well-written, dynamic female character that isn’t shown talking to other women than several cardboard women who happen to share a conversation about cheese.

Don’t get me wrong, I want to see women talk to each other in movies like women actually talk to each other in real life without bigwigs saying that audiences don't want to see that. I also want to see awesome, intelligent, strong, vulnerable, flawed women kicking ass and driving plots in movies. And I want to see well-made, quality movies. Sadly, we don't often get all of those things together in one movie.

Anonymous said...

Since you mentioned that you went to see The Conjuring... can we just take a moment to acknowledge the underrated awesomeness of Vera Farmiga? She is an amazingly talented actor who does not get nearly enough appreciation. I confess I've fallen madly in (celebrity crush) love with her. I think it's her expressive eyes. Most people appear to look AT things, while she appears to look INTO things. There's just something about her that captivates and intrigues me...

Anonymous said...

So... did you see it? And what did you think of it?