The Reviews Are In: Mustang

It probably speaks to how far out in the Sticks I live that I am just now seeing this movie. But given that this film won Best Motion Picture-Foreign Language at the Golden Globes, I heroically braved 45 minutes on the freeway and a quest for elusive downtown Salt Lake City parking, all to get to one of the three art house theaters in the whole state of Utah.

229810Luckily, nothing puts white girl problems into perspective quite like a film about gender inequality and the on-going struggle for basic human rights in other parts of the world. Mustang is about five sisters growing up in a small Turkish village, where their idyllic childhoods are derailed by impending womanhood and all that implies in some cultures. They are pulled out of school. Bars are placed on their windows. Their futures are now at the mercy of extended family who seem less concerned with the girls’ happiness than with their sustained virginity and culinary competency. But the girls, strengthened by their bond and maybe the memory of former freedom, subvert the new expectations of their community and struggle to hold on to who they are.

I’m making this film sound really heavy, because it is. But it never feels overwhelming or heavy handed, because for each moment of frustration and tragedy, there are moments where the sisters are just sisters. There’s one moment in particular where the two youngest sisters, Lale and Nur, go for a swim in their bedroom by splashing around in their blankets because they aren’t allowed to leave their house. They spit fake water back maxresdefaultand forth, and dive off their bed onto the floor. The scene is so warm and painfully adorable that you almost forget the systematic misogyny that necessitated it. It’s part of the reason the film is so effective; the softer moments make the rest of the film so much harder by comparison.

And maybe the worst part is that the horror that these girls are subjected to should feel foreign. As a woman in a developed, ostensibly gender equal country, I shouldn’t be able to relate to the experiences of five girls living in a place where children are beaten for playing with classmates of the opposite sex. But for most women, this will feel familiar. When Lale wants to go to a football match, but can’t because she can’t be allowed to run around with so many men. Or when Selma is rushed to the hospital to have her virginity verified while she’s still in her wedding dress. The feeling of being cloistered and held to standards that don’t apply to the boys, but never trusted to meet those standards without having someone look over your thumbnail_23275shoulder.

If you’re going to see any Oscar nominees in the next few months, make sure this is one of them. Where ever you’re from and whatever you look like, you’ll walk out of the theater with five new sisters you never knew you had.

Whitney Weldon

Fangirly Crush of the Week: Enver Gjokaj

Earlier this week, Whitney made a very strong case for why you and everyone on planet Earth should be watching Marvel’s Agent Carter.  I will now give you a lesser, but still very compelling reason, that of of Mr. Enver Gjokaj as Chief née Agent Daniel Sousa.

First of all, he looks like this:

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Second, he is funny and self-effacing on Twitter:

But, finally, and most importantly in my mind, you can’t help but fall in love with his character.  Sousa is evolving before our very eyes as he goes from self-conscious victim of war to slightly more confident Chief of the LA division of the SSR who kicks butt despite his disability.  I’m also rooting for him to be evolving into the future Mr. Carter but we will have to wait on see on that front (but it is SO happening).   For the time being, I will enjoy the romantically entagled angst and his 1940’s style Magnum PI vibe that he has going this season., because it is all working.  Well.

What else are we going to have to do to make you watch this show?

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That should do it.

-Ellen

 

 

Fangirly Poetry: Ode to Oscar Nominations

This time of year, if your hearing is keen

You’ve heard, drifting toward you, from the nearest screen

The sound of actor, director, and writer

(A group, I’m told, that couldn’t be whiter)

All wringing their hands and saying a prayer

That this year, a most coveted prize they will snare

A little gold nude that might help their careers

And earn them begrudging respect from their peers

To them, I offer some words of advice,

From a girl who’s won her Oscar pool (twice)

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Being liked is as important as paying your dues

I’d recommend, if I may, tripping over your shoes

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All awkward moments you must bare with a grin

Even if John won’t let go of your chin

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And if you want to rake in the awards in a heap

It’ll help if your name rhymes with Smeryl Schmeep

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So good luck, nominees, at the Oscars this year

May your acceptance speech be both short and sincere

Ratings will be higher than they ever have been

For this is the year our racist uncles tune in.

Whitney Weldon

 

 

 

 

Fangirl Talk: Why Every Guy Should Watch Agent Carter

 

It’s a truth rarely acknowledged that if you’re a lady in any industry, even when you win, sometimes you just can’t win. And for all it’s glamour, show biz is no different. (Don’t believe me? Then tell me, Where’s Rey?)

And while there does seem to be a general upswing for the portrayal of women in pop culture, “better” should never be mistaken for “good”. I can count on one hand the number of well-rounded, realistic, inspiring females in film or TV that aren’t also overly 1363991751468,0sexualized and whose character arc doesn’t ultimately lead her on a quest for romantic fulfillment. Calling a woman in TV “complicated” is shorthand for saying that she has a dark past. Calling her “strong” is another way of saying she’s emotionally unavailable. These have become the hallmarks of an empowered and sexy woman on TV.

When viewed as a whole, the representation of ladies in TV can seem pretty bleak. Luckily, there are some shows that are getting it so right,  it’s hard not to feel optimistic. Enter ABC’s Agent Carter.

If you aren’t watching the second season premiere of this Marvel spin-off tonight, you’re either not aware of just how good it is, or (frankly) a dude. Or possibly, you’ve been scared off by accusations of skewed gender politics (side note: it’s a show about a working woman in the 40’s. The fact that she’s surrounded by white men is just an accurate reflection of the time). Peggy Carter  (Hayley Atwell) is exactly the kind of hero prime time needs.  She’s carving her own path in a male dominated industry.

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And she’s doing it better than most of the males dominating that industry.

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She’s got an infallible sense of self…

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And self worth.

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Her hotness…

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Is the least interesting thing about her.

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The real tragedy of Peggy Carter’s situation is that her struggles with being looked over, objectified, underestimated, and undervalued aren’t specific to the 1940’s. Perhaps the reason this show has resonated with audiences and critics is because, almost 100 years after the ratification of the 19th amendment, it’s still easy for women to feel like an accessory. So if you’re still not watching this show, you might want to rethink your stance on Agent Carter. Watch it because it’s well-written. Watch it because it’s good TV. Watch it because it explores the conflict between perceived weakness  and inner strength. Or maybe watch it because Peggy Carter has a wicked right hook.

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You’ve been warned.

Whitney Weldon

The Fangirly Show: Episode #6 Fangirling Over the Best of 2015

Ellen and Whitney go through their favorites of 2015, everything ranging from books to music, movies and TV, performances and scenes.  We’ve got you covered.  Will Ellen go a full hour without talking about Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.?  (Don’t count on it.)  Will Whitney be able to overlook the swooniness of Oscar Isaac?  (Don’t put money on it.)  But still listen to find out.

You can listen and subscribe HERE on iTunes or you can go HERE to listen and let us know your thoughts in the comments below.

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Whitney’s Official 2016 Oscar Snubs

There are plenty to choose from, right? Ridley Scott, Star Wars, Michael B. Jordan, Idris Elba. The list of Oscar snubs, as it does every year, goes on. My diplomatic response would be that the Academy simply can’t accommodate and acknowledge all the great work that was churned out this year. My unfiltered Fangirl answer would be, did The Revenant and Fury Road really, really deserve 12 and 10 nominations, respectively? It’s a subject that’s certainly up for debate. But I’m not here to talk about the Academy’s apparent inability to spread the love. No, I would instead like to focus on the few specific snubs that really bring out the Troll in me.

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3) Crimson Peak for Best Cinematography

It’s pretty obvious that this movie wasn’t for everyone. But no matter what you thought about this Guillermo Del Toro horror set in a repressive, Victorian hell-scape, you must admit that it was beautiful to look at. As a genre, though, horror rarely gets any props at the Oscars, mad or otherwise, so this snub wasn’t at all surprising.  I had hoped, however, for some kind of honorable mention. Something like “Best Use of Tom Hiddleston’s Shapely Hind-Parts in a Drama”. Just a suggestion.

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2) JJ Abrams for Best Director

This is mostly wishful thinking. I just hoped that after all  the garbage that has been slung at this genuinely wonderful movie, it might have been recognized with a nom somewhat more meaningful than “Best Film Editing”. JJ Abrams gave us a Star Wars that was steeped in action and humor and nostalgia and feminism, and in return received a whole lot of internet bitching and a truck-load of broken box office records. We audiences are nothing if not inconsistent.

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1) Charlize Theron for Best Actress 

You would think that at least one of the ten nominations doled out to Fury Road would have gone to the performance that made the movie what it was. Theron’s Furiosa was easily the most moving and complex performance in an action movie, well, ever. I bet this pointed snub has left her pretty inconsolable right now.

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See what I mean?

Whitney Weldon