Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Summer movies

The title of this article drives me crazy. Boys of summer: Manly movies muscle into the multiplex? The intro goes on to say that that the only must-see chick flick is Julie and Julia, and maybe the new Harry Potter movie. I have so many objections to this article, it is difficult to know where to start (common with my experiences with this particular reviewer).

But, diving in, I hate the term chick flick. It’s so dismissive, as if exploring human relationships is silly and lightweight. You know, I have met actual male people who want to fall in love and have happy relationships, so I find it hard to believe that there are no men who enjoy romantic comedies, even if they don’t want to tell their buddies that they do.

Next, anyone who implies that a movie with Hugh Jackman in it won’t appeal to women just as much as men must be smoking crack. Has this guy never heard of People magazine? I would happily watch Jackman read from the phone book for two hours; two hours of him rippling his muscles in various stages of undress sounds pretty appealing to me!


Sorry, I had to take a break there. Mmmm, Hugh Jackman…

Moving on, the list of movies that are due out on the right sidebar of this article shows that there are actually several movies made to appeal to a large number of women. There are two adaptations of immensely popular books (My Sister’s Keeper and The Time Traveler’s Wife), a French romance (Shall We Kiss?), a movie about a couple starting a family (Away We Go—bonus: Dave Eggers is one of the writers on this one), and a new Nia Vardalos romance (anyone remember My Big Fat Greek Wedding? No? I think a few women saw that.) I could go on, there are more, but these are the ones that jumped out at me as I looked down the list.

And I’d really like to know where this guy gets the idea that “grown women don’t go to summer movies.” Does he not know any women? Does he only go to the movie theater during the daytime when not many people are there? Because most women I know enjoy movies and escapism, especially in the summer, when they are looking to relax more.

But my biggest problem with this article is that the premise that things have changed this year makes no sense. Even if there really were less summer movies directed at women, how would that prove that women don’t like to go to movies? The fact that movie-makers won’t be convinced to market to women even with mega-blockbusters as proof that women spend money on movies hardly shows a lack of interest on women’s part. The evidence says that women flock to movies that have appeal to them. If movie makers choose not to capitalize on this and make movies that do appeal to women, that proves that their misogyny is making them bad business people, not that women don’t like movies.

Fortunately, that doesn’t appear to be the actual case. There are several movies that were made to appeal directly to women, and some of the movies he lists as guy movies seem to me to have a much wider audience than Joe Williams thinks they do. Sure, more guys go to Star Trek conventions than girls, but just as many women actually watch the movies and tv shows. And although Matthew McConaughey’s Ghosts of Girlfriends Past doesn’t particularly appeal to me, it seems obvious to me that it is being marketed to women. Sure, there are some movies that definitely seem targeted to men (Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra stand out here), but that hardly translates to a summer of pure testosterone. It actually seems like a pretty nice mix of movies, with something for just about everyone. I am looking forward to trying out some of these movies, starting with X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Mmmm, Hugh Jackman…

Friday, April 24, 2009

Behind on the books again

I have failed miserably at my goal of updating this blog with my book reading this year. I am posting about it on LibraryThing, and I run out of energy to do it here.

I have other things I want to talk about, though.
  • Last November I talked about starting another blog to talk about some feminist musings, but that never happened. I might as well go ahead and do that here.
  • Now that I have U-verse, I have a lot of thoughts about commercials that I see. Many of them are linked to the feminist musings I talk about above, but not always. I find commercials a fascinating microcosm of pop culture and stereotypes, and I love to analyze them. That is hard to do in real time though (because CSI:NY comes back on!), so I am going to take advantage of this forum for that, too.
  • I have been doing a lot of grammar nazi stuff, and I may still do some, but that kind of thing tends to make me feel like a crabby old person, so I am going to try to let up on that.

I am sure I will think of others, and there will still be some book stuff, but I thought I would put out a warning about the changing content, in case anyone is still checking here.

Which of these headlines doesn't belong?

From the Lifestyle section of the Reuters page:

Furniture designers braving crisis at Milan fair
UK's top students look to teaching as economy wilts
Cocteau memorabilia up for auction in Paris
Man admits keeping nurse in car boot for 10 days
Damien Hirst says crisis will stimulate artists
Living abroad? Study shows you're likely to be creative

So, what I want to know is, who at Reuters thinks that a story about a women bound and gagged and left in the trunk of her car for ten days in December belongs in the same category as stories about furniture designers, teaching jobs, art auctions and living abroad? Forcibly kidnapping a woman, tying her up, confining her to a small tight space in sub-zero temperatures and failing to give her food or water for ten days (while also using her credit cards to finance shopping trips, vacations, and outings with your girlfriend) is now a lifestyle choice?

Monday, January 12, 2009

Finishing up 2008

I have many excuses about not updating this blog (holidays, parties, my daughter broke the monitor on my laptop, etc.), but let’s just pass over that, shall we? Here are the last 9 books I read last year:

73. Outliers by Malcom Gladwell

I really enjoyed this book that points out how talent and skill have to meet up with luck and demographics for someone like Bill Gates or the Beatles to acheive the success they have. Some very interesting concepts here.

74. Beauty by Sheri S. Tepper

This was the first Tepper book I read many years ago, so when I saw a nice hardcover copy at my local used bookstore, I pounced on it. It was just as good as I remembered it, and I was glad to re-read the story. I had forgotten that she looks at many fairy tales, not just Sleeping Beauty, so that was fun.

75. Twin Study by Stacey Richter

When I first picked this up, I didn't realize it was short stories, so I found the second story deeply disorienting. When I started the third story, and it was again very different from what went before, I figured it out. Once I knew what I was reading, I very much enjoyed these stories. Richter has a very odd imagination, and the stories were really fascinating.

76. A Room With a View by E.M. Forster

I really loved this book. It is nice to see that people were writing about women as real people before modern times, and so well, too. I found Forster's thoughts on family life and getting along in society very interesting, too.

77. A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin

Le Guin is one of my favorite authors, so I am not surprised I really liked this, even though I am not generally a big fantasy fan. I borrowed this from a friend, and I have at least the next two books in a pile at home.

78. In the Woods by Tana French

Loved this book. The characters are well-realized, the story is fascinating and tragic and tight. This was the kind of book where I actively resented doing other things that meant I couldn't read, like work and sleep and talk to my kids. Well, not the kids as much, but everything else.

One quibble, though--they kept talking about psychopaths when they meant sociopaths. That drove me crazy, especially since the character that introduced the term was a psychology major and should have known the difference. And, they are very different. It was a bit jarring, actually. Still, I wouldn't let that hold you back from reading the book, which was excellent. I am going out to buy French's next book today. (Note—Borders didn’t have it! I still need this book!)

79. The Private Patient by P.D. James

Excellent, tight story. I am going to miss these books. James is what, 82? 84? (Consulting Wikipedia: 88) Anyway, I am not counting on anymore from her. It would be wonderful to have more, but that might be too much to expect. This book clearly wrapped up some threads, with Kate Miskin being settled nicely, and Adam Dalgleish getting married.

81. Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

This was an LT recommendation, and I am glad I read it. I am not a big graphic novel person, but I thought this was a good way to tell this story. I am going to look for part 2 soon.

82. Halting State by Charles Stross

I really enjoyed this book, too. Not a big surprise, since I liked Glasshouse so much. I like the way Stross creates believable characters that are well-rounded, whether the character in question is male or female. I was a bit thrown by the second person PPOV, especially since the story shifted between POVs of the three main characters, but it quickly became less jarring. I liked the combination of gaming, high-tech coding, business and old-fashioned human relations. I also liked the near-future extrapolation of many current trends, and how that made the world in the book seem both familiar and very foreign. I definitely recommend this one.


All in all, a pretty good year of reading, especially when you consider the whole house buying thing. Next up: A Look at the Statistics of the last year, and then the start of 2009. I am going to try for 100 again this year, and have already made a dent, with 5 books. I am also participating in Orange January, which is a great idea, and leading me to many wonderful reads.