Sydney Film Festival – Blackfish review

diving with whales

The Sydney Film Festival has started! I have a stack of tickets to upcoming screenings, but I began my festival experience this year on a rather sombre note. Blackfish tells the story of Tilikum, a male orca stolen from his family at birth and forced to entertain tourists at marine parks. You might know Tilikum from this news story, which made global headlines in 2010 after Tilikum viciously attacked and killed a Sea World trainer during a routine performance. What didn’t make the news at the time was that Tilikum, and many other killer whales held in captivity, had a history of violent behaviour prior to that 2010 incident. The thesis of Blackfish is that orcas are incredibly social and emotionally complex creatures, and their time in captivity constitutes an unimaginable form of torture that eventually causes the whale to “snap”.

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Fat Betty no longer fat

betty-draper-weight-season-6

A newly re-slimmed Betty Francis made her debut on Mad Men last night. You might recall Betty’s character arc from Season 5 revolved entirely around her weight gain and not much else. When Betty was shown on screen (which was rarely), it was only to discuss her weight gain. Somewhat ironically, Betty ceased to be a whole person once her body got bigger. All the things we had come to expect from Betty – the complicated mental health issues, the flirtatious nature, the obsession with family values, the obvious love of fashion – became a distant memory. As Betty ballooned, her personality appeared to float away.

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Julie Delpy doesn’t wear overalls

Julie Delpy

I adore Julie Delpy. She is so beautiful, and I admire her for not taking the easy route and becoming just another one-dimensional Hollywood love interest. She writes screenplays and music, sings, plays instruments, and directs wonderful films with strong female leads. I love that the characters she writes for herself are completely stripped of ego and vanity – she clearly has no interest in portraying her female characters as male fantasies. She writes complex women characters who are challenging and, at times, very difficult to love.

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For the love of books

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I was recently asked to interview author Mark Dapin, journalist Richard Glover, and TV presenter Gretel Killeen as part of UTS’s coverage of the Sydney Writers’ Festival. We got to discuss their favourite books, the power of literature, and the role of good writing. I have already read Lolita on Mark’s recommendation (it was amazing, I truly loved it even though it made me visibly cringe on the train) and have a huge list of books left to get through! It’s also the first time I have received an image credit.

You can read the piece here.

Breaking news! Tarantino cannot write women

Death-Proof-cast

The other day I sat down to watch Death Proof, one of my favourite Tarantino films. I first watched it as a budding feminist and was absolutely blown away by the final scenes. I had never seen a film where women went from being absolute and unsuspecting victims to total bad-asses hell-bent on revenge. I know, I know, there’s a whole genre dedicated to this kind of revenge porn, but I wasn’t particularly well-versed in cinema back then, okay? Usually the female protagonists of horror films find some inner-strength towards the end of the film and it’s all they can do to survive. In Grindhouse the female protagonists took it to a whole other level, and it felt like they were avenging their entire gender. What’s not to love?

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Shitty male “journalist” forgets women, too, can read

50s journalist

The other day I stumbled across an article entitled “The 20 mistakes you don’t want to make in your 20s”. You can read it here. It seemed innocent enough. “Probably just another pointless piece of pop-psychology written by some unpaid intern,” I thought. “He obviously didn’t spend his own 20s very wisely if he is being made to write crap like this at his age.”

What followed made me want to track this Adam Hayes character down and hit him over the head with my very un-ladylike handbag, then stomp on his testicles with my very un-ladylike shoes.

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We need to talk about Samantha Brick

woman with chainsaw

I wanted to discuss Samantha Brick’s latest Daily Mail article when it was originally published last week, but I knew it would be far more interesting to discuss its fallout. I mean, we all know Brick is an idiot. Discussing her politics (if you can call them that) in any great detail is surely a waste of time. This is a woman who prides herself on being a trophy wife, believes all women are conniving, jealous bitches, and has no problem shaming other women if they don’t meet her strict ideal of womanhood. She is a regular contributor to the Daily Mail, for fuck’s sake – what more warning does one need?

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In defence of TV’s most hated women

nancy botwin

This list is inspired by this one over at Pajiba, entitled “The Rita Bennet problem: why are so many great TV dramas weighed down by horrible, annoying female characters?” I know it sounds like shooting fish in a barrel, but this post didn’t actually raise my feminist ire until well after I read it. Because I realised that lately I have been reading post after post on my favourite blogs (not just Pajiba) of vitriol aimed at particular female characters on television, only to watch the show and simply not get where all the hate is coming from. Why are audiences so hard on women characters? Why are we so unforgiving when they deviate from their traditional roles as nurturers or eye candy?

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My Body Gallery: friend or foe?

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I feel like I need to include a warning here that this is another post about body image and weight. This has much more to do with how I am feeling at the moment than with anything I think about the world or women and what they weigh. I do not think weight should be discussed ad nauseum. I also think that obsessive discussions about weight can be harmful to women who are facing their own body image struggles, so please skip this post if you think this may apply to you.

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The beauty myth

woman in front of mirror

I saw the latest Dove commercial over at Mamamia this morning. Like Dove’s “Evolution of Beauty” campaign, this latest ad is supposed to combat the traditional beauty standards put forward by advertising and media, and convince women that they are beautiful just the way they are.

You can watch the video here.

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