Category Archives: Movies/TV

Diane Freeleng, Feminist Horror Movie Icon

My sister and I are HUGE HUGE HUGE fans of Poltergeist. It was one of the movies that played 24/7 the summer that we had cable as kids. Schlock Corridor makes the case for a feminist reading of Poltergeist (1982) – focusing on JoBeth Williams’s portrayal of Diane Freeleng as the take charge one:

“While Steven has a mock gun battle with his neighbor, Diane is giving Carol Anne her first understanding of mortality, creating an almost Egyptian-level sarcophagus for the corpse of Tweety.

“This is the first time the film presents us with one of its themes: only women can get things done. Throughout the movie it’s female characters who are forced to actually effect change, and it all begins with Diane’s tender ceremony for Tweety. Later Dr. Lesh (Beatrice Strait) is the glue that holds the parapsychology team together, then Tangina is the key to the final rescue of Carol Anne – which Diane must do herself while Steven can’t even hold the rope correctly.

She’s a cool mom who seems to understand where Dana is coming from as she goes through her adolescent angst – possibly because she was around Dana’s age when she got knocked up. She’s also a stay at home mom. In 2012 this character probably couldn’t exist – she would have to be a writer or a painter or sell crafts on Etsy because the modern movie world doesn’t truly respect stay at home moms. But for all of her fond remembrances of ‘the old days,’ Diane doesn’t seem unhappy to be at home with the kids. Steven’s adulthood has turned him into a person he doesn’t truly recognize – it’s turning him into James Karen, in fact – but adulthood has been better to Diane.

I like to think that it was Carol Anne’s birth that started it all, though. It certainly fits thematically with what comes later – her closet turns into a huge vagina, and she is returned from the Other Side in an ectoplasmic birth caul. The rescue of Carol Anne is a rebirth, almost quite literally when she and Diane aren’t breathing in the tub. It also helps explain why The Beast is interested in the girl. It seems unlikely that the Freeling’s pool is the first serious digging in Cuesta Verde, but it is plausible that Carol Anne was the first baby born on the development. That makes Carol Anne’s rebirth a cleansing new start, a reclamation of the birth process.

“Carol Anne as the focus also feeds into the film’s essential feminism. The Beast wants to use Carol Anne as a beacon to attract the souls trapped between this side and the other; it’s her life force – something that comes from the feminine – that attracts them. The Beast is specifically said to be male – a male entity that is abusing the warmth of femininity to devour innocent souls.

The diminutive psychic is the final element of the film’s feminist trilogy – the cool mom, smart doctor and tough as nails medium seem to make up the life cycle of childhood.”

Here’s the trailer for the new remake (with a male psychic – boo!!!):

Christopher Nolan, Virtue, Interstellar, Fascism, and Batman

From a Reddit thread about Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy:

“Heroes have a special vision of what society could be, and it’s worth bending or breaking the rules, lying, secrecy, surveilling, or using violence — all to mold society, or keep society in line.

In all of Nolan’s superhero movies and Interstellar, it’s very uncertain if the people are even worth defending. The hero is the only source of virtue — he is needed to lead the people away from their own corruption and short-sightedness, or, failing that, to craft some sort of order that the people will accept.

The revolutionary, who justifies his actions because of oppression and income inequality, is a terrorist who all along was planning to destroy society. The wealthy liberal, who wanted to give technology to the people, turns out to be secretly allied with the terrorist. The rich, who were exposed as fools in a few key scenes, are dealt with, and everybody else is happy to wallow in mere anarchy as long as they can take rich people’s stuff.

[In Nolan-produced Man of Steel,] Superman’s purpose on Earth isn’t to protect people; it’s to inspire them to be better. … Superman is just better than the rest of us, and this is all he asks, the unchecked freedom to use his ability to surveil everyone in the world and to use violence when and where he chooses, because it will help us become better – whether we agree to it or not.

But in Nolan’s movies the hero is necessary because corruption is too pervasive, too insidious, too powerful, and the people are too weak. Paranoia about corruption and trust in strongmen — literal strong men, in superhero movies — is one of the hallmarks of fascism.”

Full discussion

If Gandalf Had Taken The Ring

A commenter on Reddit plays out the scenario if Gandalf kept the ring:

“Gandalf would be more like Mao, I think. He comes onto the scene as a conquering hero, overthrowing the Shadow in the East and promising a return to peace and prosperity. For a time, it works. He sets about showing the world how to order itself without the threat of a Dark Lord to rule it. A cult of personality springs up, and Gandalf is worshiped as the great savior of Middle-earth. His wisdom spreads throughout the land in the form of a Red Book, composed by his closest friends, the Halflings. He continues to go by names others have created for him, a sign of his humility, and so he is known still as Mithrandir, or Gandalf, or Incanus, or Tharkun.

“He finds the task difficult. Early on, he sticks to the restrictions of the Istari, trying to lead by example and persuasion, rather than by force or command. But over time, the ordering of his great realm, stretching from the Tower Hills to Harad, proves too much. Shadowfax grows lean and rebellious as Gandalf rides him too hard, for too long, responding to small crises all over the continent. Wherever Gandalf turns his attention, though, things prosper. Projects are streamlined, the poor are fed, fields are planted and harvested to unheard-of bounty.

“But he cannot be everywhere at once. After a time, Gandalf convinces several of the Fellowship to go to different parts of the continent, to rule there in his name. After all, they knew him best, and can carry the wisdom he has to the furthest reaches. He sends with each of them a palantir. It grieves him to separate old friends like Frodo and Sam, and they feel totally under-prepared for the tasks before them, but with Gandalf a mere palantir-communion away, they go. And after all, how can they deny Gandalf? Just being in his presence, they feel compelled to follow his requests. They are, after all, perfectly reasonable ideas, and only the Fellowship can be trusted to implement them.”

Read the rest

The Xenomorph Was Trying to Save Jonesy

Maybe the xenomorph was really just trying to save the cat:

“He is born and immediately a dude tries to stab him so he runs off. Growing up alone in the abandoned dreary back rooms of a mining ship he lives a life of terror and loneliness wondering when someone is going to return with a knife to finish him off until one day he finally meets another lifeform that isn’t trying to kill him. Jones the cat finds and befriends the juvenile xenomorph sharing his cat food and teaching him how to evade the humans. For the next several hours life is good the Xenomorph grows into a dashing young adolescent all the time never forgetting his good friend Jones. Later he is hanging out in the drippy room grabbing a quick shower and spots his friend Jones being chased around by a maniac. The sadistic human is mocking the cat yelling “here kitty kitty” and false meows. The Xenomorph isn’t looking for trouble so he just stays out of it until it becomes clear that Jones is cornered and he has to act or watch his only friend be murdered. He grabs the human and rescues his friend.

“Shaken by what he was driven to do the xenomorph seeks a life of quiet contemplation moving to the air ducts where no one will bother him. His peace is short lived however and he soon hears the telltale sound of a human approaching. He sneaks closer to investigate the disturbance only to find out that this insane human is crawling around the air ducts firing off a friggen flame thrower. Knowing the risk such a weapon poses inside a pressurized space ship he once again is driven to act disabling the threat and again protecting his life, his home, and his friend Jones.

“At this point the xenomorph knows this madness has to end so he seeks out the humans so they can discuss peaceful cohabitation. He crawls through the vents toward the sound of human voices and peers down just in time to see three of them, the two women and a man beating another human to death. The one man hits the other one in the face with a fire hydrant decapitating him while one woman holds him down and another shouts encouragement from nearby. Faced with the harsh reality that these humans are murderers he knows he has to rescue Jones, jump on the shuttle and escape to a place where they can make a life together free from the madness that is mankind.

“He rushes through the vents to begin his preparations for departure only to find that the humans have beaten him to the supply room and are stealing all of the air canisters for god only knows that nefarious purpose. He calmly approaches one hoping one last time that despite everything maybe the humans will just let him take his friend and leave but as he is approaching the woman to try to plead his case the man sneaks up behind him with a flame thrower. Once more our hero is forced to kill.

“The xenomorph weeps solemnly in the supply room over what the humans have driven him to but in time he pulls himself together and gathers the necessary supplies for his journey. He begins scouring the ship searching for his friend Jones so they can finally leave in peace. He catches his friends scent and as he comes around the corner he sees the last remaining human has Jones hostage in a small container and is menacing him with a flame thrower. Luckily this human is a coward and agrees to hand over the cat in exchange for her freedom. As the human retreats the xenomorph realizes that he has been deceived for without small dexterous human hands he is powerless to free his friend. Our hero is not deterred. He realizes his only hope is to fake his own death and wait for the human to free Jones before swooping in. He hides himself aboard the shuttle and waits patiently.

“The plan goes perfectly with the human entering the ship bringing the trapped cat along and encases it in a cryo pod (presumably to preserve its freshness for when she decides to eat it). But our hero has underestimated this human she is as clever as she is cruel. She unleashes a torrent of steam driving him from his hiding place and as he approaches her once more to simply ask “Why?” she opens the shuttle door venting him toward the cold blackness of space. The xenomorph in desperation clings to the doors trying to scream Jones’ name as the roaring winds drown out his words until the human fires a spear directly through it’s stomach. In a last act the xenomorph desperately clings to the shuttle engines trying to find some way to work his way back inside to save his small friend and as the plasma blasts him into space his last thoughts are of the small orange cat who took a chance on a kid in the wrong part of town.”

from ‘What is the Xenomorph from the movie Alien is actually a tragic hero?

Tyler Durden and Ferris Bueller

My favorite thought-piece about Ferris Bueller is the “Fight Club” theory, in which Ferris Bueller, the person, is just a figment of Cameron’s imagination, like Tyler Durden, and Sloane is the girl Cameron secretly loves. One day while he’s lying sick in bed, Cameron lets “Ferris” steal his father’s car and take the day off, and as Cameron wanders around the city, all of his interactions with Ferris and Sloane, and all the impossible hijinks, are all just played out in his head. This is part of the reason why the “three” characters can see so much of Chicago in less than one day — Cameron is alone, just imagining it all. It isn’t until he destroys the front of the car in a fugue state does he finally get a grip and decide to confront his father, after which he imagines a final, impossible escape for Ferris and a storybook happy ending for Sloane (“He’s gonna marry me!”), the girl that Cameron knows he can never have.

via Commenter on MetaTalk.