03 October 2010
3 Oct - Kids and whales and vaginas
Free Willy (1993)
dir. Simon WIncer, starring
Jason James Richter (Clown #2, Bones: Double Trouble in the Panhandle, 2009)
Lori Petty (Tank Girl, 1995; A League of Their Own, 1992)
August Schellenberg (The New World, 2005; Eight Below, 2006)
So for the very first time in my life I got around to watching this classic tale of child-large mammal camaraderie, and as I expected, it was wonderful! I definitely got teary-eyed when Jesse (who has a really depressing resume) transferred his own unrequited love for his mother onto that big ol' whale. And bonus points for having an actual Native person, August Schellenberg, play the Haida park manager. However, the best part of the movie (besides the iconic leap over the marina wall) was the reprise of Michael Jackson's "Will you be there" during the final credits, which is an appalling $1.29 on itunes. I'm always pleased when I hear a MJ song I like, because I'm so sick of "Billy Jean" and "Thriller" ("I want you back" is also starting to wear on me). Anyway, the Free Willy theme is nothing short of uplifting. In summation, if you haven't already seen Free Willy, get around to it.
Score: 5/5 - this isn't great cinema, but it perfectly accomplishes what it sets out to do, make me empathize with an orphan kid and his cetacean buddy
dir. Mitchell Lichtenstein
starring Jess Weixler (no movies that I've heard of)
John Hensley (that insufferable kid on Nip/Tuck)
Josh Pais (Adventureland, 2009)
Why? Needed to see something more grown up than Free Willy
This one popped up on my netflix recommendations and since I'm still waiting for The Assassination of Jesse James to show up, I had to pick something I could stream online. I didn't know quite what to expect from the description, which said "when virtuous high school student Dawn becomes the victim of sexual assault, she discovers that she has an unusual line of defense: a toothed vagina." Given that, this movie was a lot smarter than I expected, and I think well executed overall. Dawn is a sweet, sexually repressed girl who publicly advocates abstinence (there is a scene where she almost masturbates while fantasizing about herself in a wedding dress). Around her is a culture which openly denies female sexuality. In science class, the teacher finishes his piece on the penis, and asks the class to turn the page to a big gold sticker covering the vagina diagram. When one students asks why its okay to talk about penises and not vaginas, Dawn answers that females have modesty built into their nature. Dawn's toothy metaphor is that women aren't passive at all, they're active and volatile. Dawn is violated over and over by men who convince her they are trustworthy. In the process Dawn comes to own her sexuality and realizes that her "Vagina dentata" is a badass weapon that can control (the male in the consensual sex scene finishes unscathed). The highlight of this movie is the final scene with John Hensley, who plays a perfectly awful stepbrother and almost redeems his suckiness in Nip/Tuck (plus his face annoys me - stop plucking your eyebrows, asshole). The cinematography is awesome, I like the recurring image of the nuclear towers above most of the shots. I love Dawn's dorky outfits (long sleeve shirts under tank tops). Sometimes these indie films really blow but this was a treat, that being said, I wouldn't recommend it as a date movie, unless you're a lesbian, then I think it would a fun pick and you would both appreciate it.
Score: 5/5 - clever, pretty to look at, and made me feel empowered