Last week, the trailer for Jennifer Aniston’s upcoming film “Cake” was released online. The movie, which is already generating significant Oscar buzz, is about a woman (Aniston) who suffers from chronic pain and becomes obsessed with the suicide of her friend and fellow support group member (Anna Kendrick, as a chirpy, impossibly high-cheekboned ghost).
In all honesty, however, the trailer for ”Cake” is far less interesting than the response to it online, where bloggers and commenters are applauding Aniston for her “shocking” “transformation” into her role—which, if the trailer is any indication, basically involved her wearing the wrong shade of foundation and not washing her hair for a few days. Some critics, like Vulture’s Jada Yuan, have compared Aniston’s turn in Cake to Charlize Theron’s Oscar-winning transformation into killer Aileen Wuornos in “Monster”:
Aniston isn’t just sans makeup in this movie; she’s caked in a foundation that makes her face look greasy and jaundiced. White, puffy scars run across her chin and her cheek and her forehead, hinting at a trauma that will slowly reveal itself. Her hair is unwashed, her clothes the baggy khaki-linen variety of a woman who’s just given up.
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Actor Katrina Day has collected a series of sexist casting breakdowns for her not-haha-funny new Tumblr Some Lady Parts. Some of these notices read like Craigslist personal ads: “Seeking: Hot Blonde girl … Blonde hair …. classic hot girl.” Others aim for highbrow, but end up unrealistic and porn-y: “Seeking: Ultimate fantasy woman of a sexually frustrated college graduate. Sophisticated, stylish, sexy, intoxicating.” Reading the Tumblr all at once is jarring, a reminder that there are many ways to be sexist — from styling a character as “a typical prostitute” to the many female characters that are not given names. Keep reading »
Having already seen “The Fault In Our Stars” and “Glee,” I don’t think I’ll be tuning in for Fox’s “Red Band Society,” a new dramedy produced by Steven Spielberg about teenagers living in a hospital. But it’s come to my attention that on a promotional ad for the show, which debuts September 17th, the Oscar-winning actress Octavia Spencer, who is Black, is labeled the “Scary Bitch.” Portraying Black women as unpredictable and scary — gee, we’ve never seen that in Hollywood before. To be sure, the show’s labeling of other characters in the promo ad isn’t too original either. For example, the hot blonde girl is the “Mean Girl” because of course she is. Still, Spencer’s “Scary Bitch” label stands out as especially harsh and problematic. There are plenty of ways to portray someone as an antagonistic character without relying on a tired stereotype. Would “Nurse Ratched” have gone over America’s collective heads? (If so, go watch “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” now.)
Two Hollywood legends passed this week — Robin Williams, 63, on Monday morning, and Lauren Bacall, 89, on Tuesday night. They died in extremely different ways, but both were household names who’d been in numerous iconic films. These two deaths are being handled very differently — Bacall’s obituaries and remembrances are far more focused on her sex appeal than her career.
It’s understandable to mention an iconic actress’ beauty in an obituary, especially one who was discovered while working as a fashion model. I’m not suggesting that Lauren Bacall’s great beauty should be off-limits entirely. And to a certain extent, the emphasis on Bacall’s old Hollywood glamour is also understandable — her scandalous romance with Humphrey Bogart is far more interesting to most people, I’m sure, than Robin Williams’ three marriages. Yet the way some of her obits have been written make it seem as though Bacall was more famous for her looks and her husbands than for her over-half-a-century-long career in which she appeared in some of Hollywood’s biggest films, like “The Big Sleep,” “How To Marry A Millionaire,” and “Misery.” Writes blogger Tracy McVeigh in the UK’s Guardian, “It’s often the case with beautiful women that their achievements can be undone by people transfixed by their smouldering celluloid gaze.”
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I guess, in our post-”Harry Potter” world, a lot of people would be really excited when a new movie comes out starring Daniel Radcliffe.
Alas, I am not one of those people.
When I heard about the cast for the new rom-com “What If,” I was more excited about Zoe Kazan. The Yale graduate does things like tweet about Criterion films and how “Boyhood” reminded her of Truffaut’s Doinel stories. She a star of stage and screen, appearing in shows like “The Prime Of Miss Jean Brodie,” and films like “It’s Complicated,” “Revolutionary Road” and ”Ruby Sparks.” In fact, it’s “Ruby Sparks,” which she wrote herself, that made me a Zoe Kazan fan — there’s something very badass about writing yourself a lead role in a movie.
In “What If,” Kazan is a leading lady once again, playing Chantry, a young woman with a boyfriend (Rafe Spall) who befriends her cousin’s aimless pal, Wallace (Radcliffe). As their friendship gets closer and closer, Chantry and Wallace both start to wonder whether it’s possible to remain friends when you’ve got romantic feelings. It’s super emotionally realistic in a way most rom-coms usually aren’t.
Earlier this spring, I met up with a bubbly Kazan to chat about “What If,” rom-coms, feminism, and femininity. Our conversation is after the jump:
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“I had an agent that told me not to speak in meetings because I was too intelligent and it was stressing to the men. It was a woman that told me that. I didn’t say anything, then I went to my car and kind of cried and then I was, like, ‘Fuck you’… [I]t’s been amazing changing gears and doing things that honor my brain….I spent the better part of 15 years not being myself, and I’m just kind of over that.”
“Charmed” actress Rose McGowan told “HuffPost Live” that two years ago, she was scolded by an agent for speaking well in meetings. She says that only lately has she gotten comfortable acting like her true self and speaking her mind instead of blending into what she thought others wanted her to be in the male-dominated film business. Her full interview is pretty kickass, and full of clever observations about the overt sexism she’s seen over the years in Hollywood. [Huffington Post]