Category Archives: movies

March 3, 2015, 5:53 pm

What Movie Did You See? A Response to Emily Yoffe’s Review of “The Hunting Ground”

Students protesting rape at Dickinson College, Carlyle, PA.

Students protesting rape at Dickinson College, Carlyle, PA.

Last night I went to see The Hunting Ground, a documentary by Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering about rape and anti-rape activism on college campuses that debuted in New York and Los Angeles last Friday. Full disclosure: I was interviewed extensively for this movie, and appear in two clips in the first half hour.

Let me begin by saying that it isn’t an easy movie to watch, even if you have heard all these stories before. Maybe especially if you have heard them before. Some of the cases are notorious. For example, there is the Notre Dame football player who played two games and went to practice every day while the Notre Dame police claimed they couldn’t find them. Then there is  the rape and assault accusation against a star FSU quarterback and Heisman…

Read More

February 5, 2015, 5:52 am

Historians: Beware of Movie Producers Bearing Gifts


“It’s about mosquitoes, see. But it’s about more than mosquitoes. It’s about life — lived on the edge, unpredictable and with a frisson of colonial erotics!”

In case you did not read it (and I obviously didn’t until I was on a delightful long train ride in the Black Forest en route to a conference in Freiburg), check out J. R. McNeill’s hilarious account of his Hollywood moment in Perspectives on History (December 2014.) You may recall that McNeill won the American Historical Association’s Albert J. Beveridge book prize a few year’s back for Mosquito Empires: Ecology and War in the Greater Caribbean, 1640-1914(New York and London: Cambridge University Press, 2010.) McNeill, who as my father used to say is funnier than a crutch on ice, writes:

One afternoon while I was struggling to grade midterm exams in my…

Read More

July 26, 2010, 1:12 pm

If You Can’t Be Good, Be Careful: Or; Why Is It So Hard To Make Lesbian Movies?

If you want to read the glowing review of Lisa Cholodenko’s lesbian family flick The Kids Are Alright go to A.O. Scott (New York Times, July 8 2010). Michelle Solomon, in The Guardian (July 23 2010), is slightly more reserved, dubbing it a “relationship movie” and noting that the high-profile actresses will allow it to “[avoid] being pigeonholed as a ‘gay movie.’” (Thank god for this, that’s what I say.) If you want to read the intelligent review by a queer scholar, that will actually get into it why this is a lesbian movie, go here for Jack Halberstam’s “The Kids Aren’t Alright” (bullybloggers July 15, 2010).

My review follows: it is a terrible, awful, embarrassing, piece of crap film. I could have had a better time had I saved $11.00 ($22.00 + dinner for two actually); spent the same two hours reviewing some critical, and hideous, months in my own life; and then had a friendly…

Read More

March 20, 2010, 1:42 pm

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell: Gendering War In The Hurt Locker

It may turn out that I am one of the few people in the United States who didn’t like The Hurt Locker, a movie about a bomb disposal team in Iraq which is all the rage. Yes, I know it won six Academy Awards, including the first Oscar ever awarded to a woman director, Katherine Bigelow. I realize that I am always supposed to cheer for the woman, but as a feminist historian and cultural critic I found this film terribly disturbing.

(Speaking of history: Bigelow’s Wikipedia entry lists her as married to James Cameron; go to his, and you will discover that they divorced in 1991, and Cameron has added one ex and a current wife since.)

There were the good disturbing parts, of course. Bigelow, a director of several action and horror films, was exactly the candidate for the scenes where Staff Sergeant Will James (Jeremy Renner) has to figure out, not where the bomb is, but how many bombs…

Read More

January 5, 2010, 9:46 am

Political Football: A Review of Invictus

We are in the last week of our two-month South African adventure. This is the stage of a long trip when the desire to squeeze every last drop out of the experience is in active competition with the urge to just throw away all your filthy clothes, get on a plane and go home. Now.

And at this moment, your favorite Radical got a nasty stomach flu, and was unable to do anything at all.

Except go to the movies, where we saw Invictus. This is the new film directed by Clint Eastwood that stars Morgan Freeman as Nelson Mandela and Matt Damon as Francois Pienaar, the captain of the South African national rugby squad, the Springboks. It memorializes the year after the historic election in which Mandela took office backed by a resounding majority of South Africans, most of whom had voted for the first time in their lives. It is a self-consciously uplifting movie, in which swelling music cues…

Read More

August 19, 2009, 3:34 pm

Cooking And Blogging Your Way To The Top: A Review of Nora Ephron’s “Julie and Julia”

I want to start by saying that for all of you who are cooking metaphorically in these muggy, torpid final days until the semester begins, Julie and Julia is the perfect grown-up summer movie. I barely go to the cinema in the summer at all anymore because I don’t like movies about kids and animals; I detest all comedies; and high-tech animation leaves me cold. I love movies about super heroes and star fleets, but none of them end happily anymore, and the point seems more to turn every last flicker of interest one has in a utopian future into gold than to tell a story that sticks with and/or moves a person. Compare, for example, the first Terminator movie — in which we see that we are not doomed to be ruled by machines –with nearly every one that followed that has rescinded that promise.

My point exactly. HOWEVER:

Julie and Julia is fun and witty, and it centers the question of what…

Read More