What do I care if Rihanna wants to dance nearly naked before thousands of fans? I don’t. And I don’t care if Jenji Kohan -who is (don’t get me wrong) a brilliant producer- develops yet another dimwitted female lead to be beloved by the masses. I like it. It’s entertaining to see people make bad decisions in a TV show, and Rihanna is gorgeous: people enjoy seeing her dance with or without gem studded clothes on. Furthermore, I’m less than affected by what anyone at FOX non-news says about women, vaginas, the world, war or the economy. Nothing to see there, folks. This video shows what we all know- the depressing facts of our mediafied existence, but it’s still powerful, because, in summary, it magnifies the concept that women are not making decisions about how they are represented; they’re choosing their field and then being modeled. This video doesn’t necessarily glorify Kohan or Jennifer Lawrence, nor does it shame Rihanna or the female models in car ads. It’s about the driving forces in the media world: men with money.
Christoforos Papakaliatis wrote, directed and starred in “What If…?”, a hardcore romance, two ways. Will his character, Dimitris, follow his fate this way by walking the dog or that way by letting her out into the yard? Is fate so simple? This film graphically illustrates how our smallest decisions can completely change our lives, for bitterness, happiness, new life, or sudden loss.
There’s a magical quality to the film, partly because of the beautifully framed, sunlit, glowing setting (a small neighborhood in Athens), and partly because of the way the story moves forward through time, as two versions of the same couple’s relationship play out back-to-back, side-to-side.
In one version of the story, Dimitris meets Christina (Marina Kalogirou) when she runs over Dimitris’ dog, Lonesome. She gets out of the old hunk of metal she was speeding in, wearing a long silky gown, expecting forgiveness, somehow, though she becomes obnoxiously overwhelmed by her incidental shame and guilt. The pair begin to date, and quickly thereafter (because this story is on wheels), she’s angry at him and -in just a beat- we learn that they’re pregnant. The speed at which all of these life-changing events happen does not feel rushed, since it is all as romantic as a love song: short and sweet. The rest of the story- the troubles and pain- is less lyrical and much slower. The version without immediate love keeps Dimitris lonely for longer, but eventually gives him peace, and it is more methodical.
Ah, the storytelling: In a particularly heart-stopping montage, the unbearably happy couple literally walks through seasons: in a single conversation, they walk arm in arm through summer, put on their jackets as it snows mid-block in their first winter, and shake off their layers in springtime, with Christina’s growing belly visible. The two are one, for some time. They are happy, but when economic troubles hit and the last remnants of their before-each-other lives fade, they begin to fight.
Zig-zagging from one version of Dimitris’ story to the other, the twisted layers of fate unfold into equally bittersweet sagas for both tales of the protagonist Dimitris.
What if they had never met? Dimitris would be bitter and loveless. Christina would have married her boyfriend. Lonesome would have died of cancer. Quite brilliantly on the part of the writer/director, the two opposite stories are not exactly opposite, but merely oppose one another for the duration of the story. For example, it is made clear that Lonesome will die, at some point, regardless of which choice Dimitris makes in the intro scene. Christina’s child is a boy with another man and a girl with Dimitris, which shows the untold, necessarily figurative diversity of fate as a story.
Shadow of a Doubt is a beautiful example of the study of Evil. We are constantly confronted with images and descriptions of violence, and in these accounts of atrocious acts we rarely get a chance to consider the criminal from any angle beyond criminality.
Where evil meets innocence, and where it wins over good people, the life of what is evil gets boiled down quickly into all that is despicable about it, because the lives it affected were very real and perceivably good. He ran a summer camp? She donated thousands of dollars to children in need? How could this criminal have fooled us into thinking he was good, when, really he was capable of [insert terrible deed]. Everything good looks like pretend, because evil people aren’t capable of good…right? Hitchcock didn’t seem to think so.
The beauty of film is that everything can be put under a microscope safely. Evil people like Shadow’s murderer, Charlie, can slip their way into pretty little towns and hearts and the story of how they commit bad deeds can play out before us, chillingly, without consequences. We can even get a chance to sympathize with the bad people and the good, alike, as we do in Shadow. Since we’re watching -enthralled- we may as well be open to the concepts that are presented, and Hitchcock wanted the innocent niece Charlie and the disturbed uncle Charlie to play against each other: admiration, love, skepticism, hurt, fear, denial confusion, resolve, closure, destruction. They are the reason we can sympathize with criminals and grow to dislike heroes like the protagonist in Saboteur, who can’t seem to catch a break. They share feelings, but in the end their relationship demonstrates the line between the good and the disturbed: a fear of others that runs so deep that they see anybody but themselves as being of less value.
Feminist Frequency put Oscar nominated films to the Bechdel test in 2012. Watch how it played out…apply these questions to your best-loved films and see what happens!
On the tragedy/horror/senselessness of being dead while your heart is beating. Also, the trick to maintaining your dream-state long enough upon waking to record dreams in writing.
In time: art takes over, nature grows through, people forget, and Spring renews