Category: Movies

Hello readers, I´m in New York right now! And just finished one major course at the university, with another course coming to an end (meaning lots and lots of time consumed by studying for the exam). So since I have quite little time, I would like to just briefly recommend some films, Tv series and Graphic novels. During this month I can say that a post on the Adult swim television series “Rick and Morty” will be posted soon enough, and a discussion about a “My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic” episode is due this month as well. So stay tuned, and check out some of the stuff mentioned below.

The film “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is an excellent character study as well as a psychological thriller. It tells the story of a young girl who struggles with reuniting with her sister after escaping a cult. It´s directed by Sean Durkin and stars Elizabeth Olson, who does an excellent job depicting the complexities of being brainwashed, as well as how painful it can be in the battle of freeing oneself from the oppressions of authoritarian control. John Hawkes (known mostly by his roles in “Deadwood” and “Winter´s Bone”) is shockingly creepy as the cults charismatic leader. “Martha Marcy May Marlene” is also a riveting depiction of systematic sexual abuse and oppression of women. The cult has extremely old fashioned views on gender, and therefore rape is used as a form of getting the newly recruited women to submit. Martha, the films protagonist, not only undergoes such abuse herself but is also shown drugging another girl during such rituals. It´s disturbing, but unfortunately feels like an honest account of how different forms of groups and societies control women. The film easily passes the Bechdel test, and has a heart-breaking depiction of Martha´s relationship to her sister. Martha´s sister tries to understand and support her, but it´s a difficult situation. Few films have such an honest depiction of family: showing events of the interpersonal which even the most loving family members are not able to control nor come to grips with. It´s an unsettling, moving and tragic watch, and it´s a guarantee that once you´ve seen the film you´ll never forget it.


“The Snows of Kilimanjaro” is a 2011 French film that has nearly nothing to do with Ernest Hemingway. Despite the name being a little misleading, this film is a thought-provoking, political piece that is neither simplistic nor preachy. Directed by Robert Guédiguian, the film spins the tale of an elderly couple who are life-long Marxists and who, once they find themselves the victims of a robbery, are forced to question not only their ideologies but also themselves. The film unravels the robber’s story, the thief’s mother, the aforementioned couple and the couple’s children – with all of the characters attempting to come to terms with their feelings, thoughts, and views on the situation. The director cleverly gives each character reasonable arguments. The thief points out that despite the couples avowed Marxism, they still exist in the sphere of the privileged due to their class and that what they may consider fair is not always fair for someone else. The robber’s mother (who has abandoned all of her three children, forcing the thief to become the sole provider for his two underage brothers) points out that it was her boyfriends (the robber and his brothers have two different fathers) who pressured her into having children and then promptly abandoned her after the children were born. The film also attempts to convey how little acts of kindness can at times solve huge problems. A smart film well worth watching!

Original french poster

Original french poster

“Daddy´s Girl” by Debbie Drechler is a very nauseating, but powerful graphic memoir. When Ms. Drechler was a child, she was reputably molested by her father. This would later reflect in her relationships in college, where she undergoes a rape and isolation from her peers. The comic is short, but honest in its brutality and melancholy. Dreschler shows the many layers and forms of abuse, and how they intertwine with each other. It is filled with gut wrenching scenes such as when Debbie wonders if she is a horrible person, since god allows her father to molest her and if her mother is so distant to her due to her father’s abuse. Even more unsettlingly, the comics end is left open, making the reading experience even more a disturbing endeavor. It´s fairly harsh, but definitely worth the read.

Scene from "Daddy´s girl"

Scene from “Daddy´s girl”

This recommendation is no doubt cliché, and therefore I´ll keep this extra short. I was first not sure whether I should or shouldn’t watch “Breaking Bad”, but finally caved in and have loved every minute of watching the first four seasons (fifth season still unseen). It follows a chemistry teacher named Walter White, who in order to pay for his cancer treatments takes up with his former student Jesse to cook Crystal Meth. The writing is tight, the acting superb and the comedic moments (bloody) hilarious. One of the best acting performances was done by Giancarlo Esposito, who plays the drug kingpin and Walters temporary boss Gustavo “Gus” Fring. Gus´ calm and collected demeanor is eerie yet fascinating, and as he switches between playing nice to ruthlessly violence one is reminded of such works as “American Psycho”. Gus has also an interesting back-story and motivations, which the show did an excellent job building up. “Breaking Bad” has also done one of the funniest bottle episodes, where Walt obsesses over killing a fly. Great series!

Walter and Jesse

Walter and Jesse

That’s about it for now. Happy Watching and reading!

(This post is the fourth part in mt series “Torture Awareness Month”)

After the scandals of the leaked photographs from the Abu Grahab prison, torture has been a hot political button. So much so that one of the big promises President Obama made during his presidential election was to close down the most obvious and famous of the detention centers performing torture (most infamously “water boarding”) on its prisoners, Guantanamo Bay. During the Bush Administration many human rights activist and groups held massive campaigns to bring attention to the secret prisons (black sites) and the torture that was carried on incessantly there. One of the most horrific and problematic situations this culture of torture instigated was to draw out a slew of politicians who came to justify, lie or downplay the abuse prisoners faced in these secret prisons. Recently the use of torture under the Bush administration came again to the attention of the world and we found ourselves again confronted with many a politician again responding to the most ignoble and abusive of tortures with either denial or with the literal argument that “what´s done is done, let´s forget it and move on”. Such mentalilites was even mocked on “The Colbert Report”.

One of Amnesty´s many campaigns

One of Amnesty´s many campaigns

Since the resurgence of the use of torture by supposedly Open Democracies, and their justifications as appropriate abuse (John Yoo’s legal justification for torture absolving the Bush Administration most notably), many documentaries have been made on this subject in the contemporary era. In this blog post, I will shortly review these three documentaries: “Taxi to the Dark Side”, about the death of a young Afghan taxi driver due to torture, “Standard Operating Procedure”, where the soldiers at the focus of the Abu Gharab torture scandal are interviewed, and “The Road to Guantanamo” recounting the tale of random atrociousness which placed three young men at Guantanamo.

“Taxi To the Dark side” (2007) is in my opinion the best documentary out of these three. The documentary was the second film in the BBC series “Why Democracy?”, was directed by Alex Gibney and won an Oscar for best documentary. It interviews former guards, politicians, former prisoners, and the family of a killed prisoner to give a whole picture of the politics and the rising culture of torture coming to the fore at the time. The film critiques the use of torture most effectively by the means of focusing on the one particular case of the afghan taxi driver, Dilawar, who is arrested arbitrarily and tortured without constraint. The case of Dilawar is shown bit by bit and we follow the vile pathway of how he is detained only because his customer was deemed suspicious, how he is subjugated to a torture founded on meaningless abuse and power, and finds his fate ultimately in his unjustified killing.


The Documentary film makers cleverly let those propounding pro-torture state their arguments and then later ply a decisive deconstruction to these that arguments mauling the pro-torture stance through facts. The case of the death of Dilawar is dealt with delicately and with candor, and the film even flits with a not completely unsympathetic view to the ordinary soldiers caught in the machinery of torture at Bagram imposed upon them from within and without restraint. In contradistinction to the nowadays abusive practices the filmmakers find an alternative to the abusive practices in a former war interrogator who worked during WWII. The Former interrogator from WWII expresses great sorrow and revulsion to the emerging status quo and that the states has fallen into the disgrace by using torture. The film is an emotional watch, but well worth the while.


“Standard Operating Procedure” (2008) is a documentary directed Erroll Morris, who also directed such classic documentaries as “The Thin Blue Line” and “Tabloit”. In this documentary he examines the history of the horrific photos leaked from the Abu Gharab prison. The soldiers that are in the photos and who took the photos are interviewed, and Morris, giving insight to the mentalities of the Prison, details other incidents within the world of the US Military and the White Houses move towards a normalcy of abuse to clarify the abusive photo moments of Abu Gharab which hold us in disgust. Morris´ film is much more stylistic and cinematic than “Taxi to the dark side”, but leaves less of an emotional impact. While in “Taxi to the dark side” one guard admitted that he wished that he would have gone with his own conscience, none of the guards interviewed in “Standard Operation Procedure” show any signs of reflection on their crimes. The film shows that the torture, that allegedly was meant to help the US find Saddam Hussein, didn´t lead anywhere and resulted in random torture and at least the death of one prisoner (captured in one of the photos). SOP follows how the original Abu Gharab was founded as to be used as a torture machine and execution site for and during the regime of Saddam Hussein, which was then quickly converted to be used, in a like manner, as a torture chamber by the American Military. The film isn´t as clear in its critique as “Taxi to the dark side”, but it does show how soldiers use all forms of rationalization to justify their actions and the political turmoil of the Bush Era which lead to the scandals.

poster sop

“The Road to Guantanamo” (2006) illustrates the torture scandals from a more personal point of view. The film focuses on three British citizens of Pakistani descent who were captured by military forces and detained unlawfully for years. The film director hired actors to portray the young men, who re-enact past incidents while filling these staged sets with stories directly from the protagonists.


The director, Michael Winterbottom, won the Silver bear for best director in the 56th Berlin film festival for this documentary and it is hardly a surprise since the film manages to be an intense true tale resembling a dark thriller while also delivering a harsh truth about corrupt, racist systems. The three interviewed men walk the audience through their experience; they explain that they traveled to Afghanistan to do humanitarian aid, but ending up just witnessing bombings. They later get arrested, but when discovering that they are being held by American military, grow hopeful that they will not be unfairly threated. Unfortunately this does not happen; they are detained, tortured and starved. This experience shakes the world view of the three men as they come to experience incarceration and torture without reprise or meaning and to this moment haunts them as possible from anywhere and from anybody. Tightly focused on the emotions and thoughts on the three protagonists, this is a documentary which is viscerally from the torture survivor’s point of view, and this documentary came to inspired more films to allow torture survivors to tell their stories*. Holding its own in creative filmmaking while pluming a subject which makes us recoil in shock, “The Road to Guantanamo” holds out as all-around good and solid work of film.


All three films bring different angles and views to the torture used by the Bush Administration, and deserve to be viewed. The subject matter is always dealt with wisdom and, due to their unyielding candor regarding the subject set into such dark places of the human mind, show uncomfortable truths about the war on terror.

Statue of liberty

*For example, A Finnish documentary named “After Life – 4 stories of torture” (directed by Mervi Junkkonen in 2011) interviews four refugee men who tell about their experiences with torture and the impact it has had on their lives. A similar documentary was also made in 2012, named “Beneath the blindfold” (directed by Ines Sommer and Kathy Berger) which also consist of four survivors speaking out.

Hello and Happy International Women´s Day! To celebrate, this blog will feature various articles and reports about Womens´s struggles for justice and equality, for respect and freedom. Enjoy and become aware!

Firstly, it is time for us as a society to not be friends with rapist.

Buzzfeed has a collection of animated depictions of society´s most beloved couples, where such characters as Marge Simpson and Wonderwoman are vitims of Domestic Abuse. Chilling and powerful. Serious Trigger Warning!

How US Politics contribute to the the epidemic portions of gendered violence in Mexico.

The Aftermatch of the Rwandan genocide, from the Rwandan´s womens perspective.

The horrific situation when millions of women worldwide are denied abortions.

The dangers women face when religious beliefs dominate hospitals.

One brave Afghan woman´s film about rape.

Two takes on Jared Leto´s role in “Dallas Buyers Club”.

What does the recent election in Honduras mean for the countires women?

A factsheet about the almost forgotten Comfort Women.

Amnesty Internationals campaign for Reproductive rights and justice.

Seeking justice for the thousands of murdered Indigenous Canadian women.

A factsheet of Chinese activist Cao Shunli.

Black women and the burden of HIV.

15 facts on sex, pregnancy and violence.

In Nepal, widespread gender discrimination has lead to a crisis in sexual and reproductive rights.

(In Swedish, use google translations). Poor women don´t get access to women´s clinics.

(In Swedish, use google tranlsation). Same situation in Burkina Faso.

(In Finnish, use google translation). Everyone must have the right to decide themselves what their genderidentification is.

Take Action! Sign this petition to prevent a new law in Mocambique which gives rapist the right to marry their victims instead of facing jail.

Take Action! Help a Guatemalan mother find justice for her daughter, who was brutally raped and killed.

In China, single motherhood and having children outside of weddinglock are the final taboo.

A crisis for women´s sexual rights in Poland.

In China, a activist protesting child rape was made homeless by the authorities.

India´s period problem.

How landgrabs in Kenya hurt the Sengwer women (an Indeginous people in Kenya).

There is still hope for Arab feminism!

The scars of the Iraq war lead to depression and drug abuse in Iraqi women.

Breaking the silence of Domestic abuse in the palestian communities.

Israel admitted to forced birth controll and sterilazation of Ethiopian women refugees.

Breaking the silence on violence against Indeginous women, adolescents and children.

Peru will reopen the cause of forced sterilizations, subjected to thousands of Indeginous women.

Top five issues which is killing of Native Americans.

A mother was charged with fellony since she heloed her daughter to get access to an illegal abortion pills online.

19 things women writers are sick of hearing.

Some articles on the Woody Allen controversy: An former lawyer who worked on many child molestian causes explains of how despite not being convicted, it doesn´t mean Allen isn´t guilty. Another piece shows the 1993 papers from the trial, showing he infact wasn´t found completely innocent. Vanity Fair spells out 10 facts about the cause. And finally, a piece on how bizarre it is that Mia Farrow is always accused of brainwashing and Woody Allen isn´t.

One-third of European women suffer from either sexual or physical abuse.

Take Care/ Maaretta

Hi everyone!

Febuary Is Black History Month in the US. To celebrate its last days, here´s some links to check out!

Here´s a good collection of Important, early black feminist.

Top ten black inventors you should know.

A map where slavery still exists.

The myth of the black superwoman, revisited.

Also, sadly, Harold Ramis died today at the age of 69. Rest In Piece, Mr. Ramis.

“Father always spoke Finnish!” – Elina about her deceased father

This is a post to celebrate “The Day of the Finnish Swede”, a day for all Swedes of Finnish Descent and Finns who happen to live in Sweden.

Despite being a good 2-10 percent of Sweden´s population, Finns aren´t much represented in Swedish Media. Only a few Swedish movies feature a character of Finnish roots, and when it comes to the ever growing literature which is penned by immigrants or second-generation immigrants, people of Finnish descent are even less present. Susanna Alakoski and Eija Hetekivi Olsson, both Swedes of Finnish descent, have won awards and been best-sellers, but the fact that they write about Finns hasn´t really been acknowledge by the Swedish critics. Therefore it is a delight that the film “Elina – As If I Didn´t Exist” (2002) not only exists, but is a touching tale of courage and a enchanting, and completely underrated, cinematic gem. It is directed by Klaus Härö, who has also directed “The Best of Mothers”, another work of bright cinematic display.

Original Swedish Movie Poster For "Elina"

Original Swedish Movie Poster For “Elina”

“Elina” centers on a young 9-year old girl who lives in a rural area of Sweden in the year 1952. Both of Elina´s parents were Finnish immigrants, her mother being a single parent after the death of the father. After recovering from tuberculoses, Elina must return to school after a year of absence. Being a year academically behind her age peers Elina must reenter the school into the same class as her sister, Irma. The teacher of Irma´s class is the strict disciplinarian Tora Holm, who is both loved and feared in the small town Elina lives in. While at times generous, Tora is also frightening in her determination. Since it is strongly prohibited in the Swedish schools of the Era, Elinas mother warns her to never, ever speak Finnish outside of her home.

However when in school, Elina decides to help a fellow Finnish speaking classmate, Anton, since he, being of Finnish descent and newly arrived to Sweden and the school, doesn´t speak any Swedish. Elina speaks Finnish to help Anton come to grip with new the language. Unfortunately The teacher, Tora Holm, overhears them speak Finnish and without caring to know the context of the situation, decides this means Anton doesn´t get any lunch (a penalty for speaking Finnish). Elina tries to explain that Anton is at a disadvantage. Furthermore she points out that she also shouldn´t be allowed to have lunch since both of them spoke Finnish. These statements are dismissed by Tora. At lunch Elina, to protest the unfairness of the teachers actions, gives her entire meal to Anton. This starts a chain of verbal abuse Elina receives from her teacher. Elina becomes bullied, since she refuses to tolerate the discrimination she and Anton faces.

Elina and Tora Holm

Elina and Tora Holm

Despite “Elina” being a childrens film, it doesn´t shy away from showing how openly hostile people could be to Finns at the time, as well as to the poor. Since the death of her father, Elinas mother struggles to feed her three children and maintain a meager existence in a richer Swedish community in which they find themselves. The poverty Elinas family faces are constantly mocked by Tora. Tora also refers to the ability to speak Finnish as a sole reason to being poverty stricken, and even states that it´s “so hard to teach these finnsavages”. Today in Sweden Finnish is recognized under law as a minority language (as are the Sami language, Mäenkieli, Romani Chib, Yiddish, and Sign language). This status, as now conferred by Swedish law, means that every Swede of Finnish descent has a right to have access to their mother tongue, or a right to learn Finnish.


Chinese Poster for “Elina”

While it is of great importance that minority mother tongues, and the cultures which circulate around them, have found respect (at least in theory) in the Swedish State, it´s also crucial that films such as “Elina” show that discrimination and oppression have also been a part of the Finnish-Swede experience. On another note, the Sami in Sweden faced harsher discrimination and still continue today to be erased in Scandinavian society.

Elina as a protagonist is a fantastic, inspirational character. She is strong, fierce and believes in justice. She is brave enough to do this even when literally everyone else is against her, even her family. She feels pride in being Finnish and her sense of belonging and self-respect give her strength to avoid the shame in being different from the other Swedish children.

Elina´s family

Elina´s family

Also, Elina is also shown as having a substantial and binding connection with her father, which the movie implies to have been the person who has nurtured, and inspired, her sense of justice and concern for rights. The Finnish father, in “Elina”, gets to be portrayed as a kind, loving parent, which may not seem to be an important detail, however a commonplace, as well as unfortunate, stereotype of Finnish men in Swedish society, is that they are often drunken and violent hooligans who are commonly brutish and unremittedly uncivilized. In Contrast to this simplistic and one-sided stereotype, Elina´s father is a positive, nuanced portrayal of Finnish men. Granting a space for Finnish men to be allowed more three-dimensional roles in Swedish media without recourse to this overly represented stereotype is important to not only recognize the value of minorities in a society, but also to recognize the importance of the Finn to the history and development of Sweden.

“Elina – As if I didn´t exist” is a powerful film about discrimination and bullying. It´s a film that speaks of a personal history of the Finnish immigrants, but also speaks of the universal will to fight for what’s right.

So for The Day of the Finnish-Swedes, go have a sauna, munch on some Karelian pies and watch “Elina – As if I Didn´t exist”!

Swedish/Finnish Flag

Swedish/Finnish Flag

(Spoilers for both “Frankenweenie” and “Alice in Wonderland” (2010)!)

As a director and visually insightful storyteller, Tim Burton has been a critical darling as well as an icon and initiator of Popular Goth Culture. Successful as a director, writer and producer, Burton has done some truly fantastic films, such as “Beetlejuice” (1988), “Batman” (1989) and “Edward Scissorshand” (1990), with the latter film being a film classic and arguably still his best work to date. After 2005, Burton has had a bit of a creative decline which can, perhaps, be pinpointed in his being too overly productive (Looking at his resume at IMDB, it’s stated that Mr. Burton made two films in both 2005 and 2012) and stuck in the trap of his own brilliant style and quirky narrative deployments. His current work has also grown towards the habit of filming adaption’s of previous existing films, novels and plays, and many of his critics have claimed this to be an ongoing error and a major cause of his fall from his high style.

Tim Burton working on "Frankenweenie"

Tim Burton working on “Frankenweenie”

However Burton is, and has always been, good in plying at the fresh fields implied in the adaption’s he has tackled. His darkly comical version of “Sweeney Todd” was extremely engaging and fascinating, as was his vision of the comic book hero Batman. Making his own personal interpretation of already existing ideals is not necessarily a bad move. The problem lies more in that Mr. Burton doesn’t seem to always think through the interesting aspects of the stories he re-creates.

Adding to the faults which have motivated criticism of Burton’s work since the new millennium, and which can be seen in his latest work “Alice in Wonderland” and “Frankenweenie”, Burton has begun to rely more on demonizing marginalized groups in the guise of shaping his villains and uses the soft narrative contrivance that conflates the normal attractive, or beautiful, guise with that of the good person of the narrative.

Victor and Sparky

Victor and Sparky

“Frankenweenie” is a re-make of a short film Tim Burton made when he was just starting out as a film maker. The story centers a young boy, Victor, who through a logic-free science brings his dog back to life. The story begins with showing Victor being a loner who instead of wanting to have friends prefers the company of his dog Sparky while making inventions and homemade films, starring of course Sparky. After introducing their protagonist, who at this point should be mentioned is white, cis-gendered, male and non-disabled (his character modeling is made personify the cute, i.e. fits our society ideas of what is a decent looking person would entail), the viewer gets a glimpse of his schools class: they consist of a heavily over-weight boy named Bob, a Japanese-American boy named Toshiaki, a girl with pale hair and giant black circles around her eyes, a boy who is most certainly a person of color (possibly having roots in the Middle east) named Nassor and a hunchbacked boy named Edgar. At first it’s a refreshing scene, seeing so many different types of children; especially seeing children of color and disabled children, since these groups are often ignored in mainstream films and media. But very quickly it turns out the roles for all these children are the roles of antagonist. Everyone is a bully. Victor is the victim.

Nassor (left), Edgar (beneath Nassor), Weird girl (next to Nassor), Elsa (right), Toshiaki (next to Elsa), Bob (next to Toshiaki)

Nassor (left), Edgar (beneath Nassor), Weird girl (next to Nassor), Elsa (right), Toshiaki (next to Elsa), Bob (next to Toshiaki)

The Weird girl, the one with pale hair and the sullen eyes, warns Victor that something will happen to him in the near future since her pet cat has had a vision. The vision being that one of its feces is shaped like a “V”; apparently the cat Mr. Whiskers has had feces in the shape of a letter that each student’s name begins with and shortly after something big has in fact happened to the kid in question. Victor blows this warning off since he doesn’t believe in this odd take on a superstition. Fair enough, however Victor is rather dismissive of the Weird Girl (who doesn’t even get a name) and openly shows her with his hostile body language that he doesn’t want to talk to her. He just says curtly “sure” and quickly leaves. I myself am a hard-core atheist and find superstition illogical, but for the sake of goodness, when someone is just trying to be nice and warn you without being offensive, you should at least be polite back.


After this exchange with the Weird Girl we see Edgar, another of Victor’s classmates approaching to ask of Victor a favor. Edgar, in this scene, is shown having trouble understanding personal space, so Victor being uncomfortable with how close Edgar gets to him appears reasonable to the viewer. Nevertheless, Edgar has approached Victor to simply suggest that they work together on a science project since neither of them have any friends. Victor responds simply that he wants to work alone, while crawling away from Edgar. Why? This revulsion is never explained. Edgar is not being mean. He is simply stating that they could work together since both are friendless. Victor denies the request but no reason is forthcoming, though Edgars socially “odd looks and behavior” seem swimmingly obvious.
The pivot point of the narrative of “Frankenweenie” comes when Sparky the dog is run over by a car and killed and we follow the trajectory of grief this brings to Victor. Victor’s obsession with Sparky’s death is transfigured when, during a science lesson, he is enlightened by how the muscles of even the dead respond to electricity. This inspires Victor with the plan to attempt the same technique to bring his dog back to life (as even Mary Shelly was inspired by the like experiments in her day to incorporate them into her “Frankenstein”). Victor succeeds in reanimating his pet, but wisely decides to keep the fact that he has awoken his dead dog a secret. This attempt at concealing the reanimated falls apart when Edgar spots Sparky chasing a cat. Edgar then proceeds to blackmail Victor into showing him how he brought the dog back to life. If Victor doesn’t show Edgar how he was able to bring his pet back to life, he will tell everyone about Sparky. Victor then reluctantly demonstrates the technique with a gold fish.


Before this point, the film was a typical Burton kid film: comfortable macabre with a light heart. A boy brings his dog back to life because he loves his dog so much. But then Edgar starts blackmailing Victor, bullying him into bringing a gold fish back to life. Edgar happily goes to school with the re-animated gold fish. It is then reveled that all of the other students are bullies: after Edgar blackmails Victor, he is cornered at school by Nassor who threatens him. Nassor makes it clear that if Edgar doesn’t tell him what he’s hiding, he’s in trouble. Simultaneously, Toshiaki and Bob are shown bickering about the upcoming science fair. Bob claims Toshiaki is the “smart one” out of the two, stereotyping the over-weight Bob as naturally stupid and Toshiaki as the naturally smart and science-obsessed one. Toshiaki is also shown being sinister and malevolent, as illustrated when he decides that a proper way to win the science fair is by forcefully strapping Bob to a small rocket and launching it off the roof, all while speaking in poor English. Toshiaki in short embodies every negative stereotype against Asians imaginable.


While it is refreshing to see a children’s film with a diverse cast, it is unfortunate that the entire diverse cast is in fact demonized. The only character that belongs slightly to a marginalized group and is not demonized is Victor’s science teacher, Mr. Rzykruski, who is an immigrant (but, he is not a Person of Color like Nassor and Toshiaki. Make of that what one will). Mr. Rzykruski is shown being an energetic and supportive teacher who is falsely accused of inspiring children to do deadly experiments. This results into an awesomely funny speech while he tries to defend himself, which will be linked below. (The science teacher’s design is strongly modeled after the deceased legendary actor Vincent Price, who worked with and strongly influenced Mr. Burton. Mr. Price was a major inspiration for Tim Burton’s first short animation, “Vincent” (1982)).

Mr. Rzykruski is the one to tell Victor he should become a scientist, which brings up another major problem with the film.

Whether it was intentional or not, the film sends the message that only white, “decent looking” men should be involved with science. The science replacement teacher the class gets is a woman, who formally taught PE. One of the students proclaims she knows nothing about science, to which she then snaps that she knows enough. The problem here is that there is an extreme lack of women in science as well as their being many harmful prejudices against women that make it difficult for them to take place in science. By having the female teacher being mean and ignorant of science is not progressive. It is also an outdated stereotype that strong women are mean.


In the films climax all of the kids Victor has interacted with decide to bring an animal back to life. After Victor’s secret is reviled Toshiaki, Nassor, Weird girl, Edgar and Bob all try to bring an animal back from the dead. After blackmailing and threatening, the kids enter Victor’s room, looking for the device that brought Sparky alive. The children all decide to experiment and to try to bring an animal back to life. Edgar brings a rat back to life, Toshiaki his pet turtle, Nassor his hamster and Bob sea creatures. Weird Girl tries the technique on a dead bat, but accidently mixes the creature with her cat. As one can predict, all of the creatures become uncontrollable monsters that start wrecking and terrorizing the city. The only explanation that is given for the significant different results of bringing the animals alive are that one must “love” the science or experiment. The explanation does not hold up, for Toshiaki and Nassor brought back their pets; sounds like there was a hint of love in that experimentation. True, they are more concerned with winning the science fair, but they actively chose their own pets instead of random dead animals. Weird Girl most definitely loved her cat. And lots of great science has been driven and performed by curiosity and ambition, which Edgar and Weird Girl probably were embodying in their own experiments. So the message of the film is that only white, non-disabled, thin males should do science. Everyone else – People of Color, women, the disabled – will only cause trouble. The film hammers home the message by even having Victor figure out how to destroy all the monsters and save the town. The person who no doubt has most of the privilege saves the day, proving that only white men can do science and fulfill its consequences. The statement about “loving science” becomes only an excuse for prejudice.


As a side note, it’s also worth mentioning that the meanest adult in the film is a bald man. He bullies his “pretty” niece and yells constantly at Victor. So people who fit our society’s ideals of “unattractive” are also bad since beauty and looks is what marks out the parameters of a good person.

Another case in point is the work of “Alice” by Tim Burton which moves along the same direction in the demonization of marginalized groups. In “Alice In Wonderland”, the villainous Red Queen is given an abnormally large head. The Mad Hatter in the film revels that residents fighting against the Red Queen use a slogan that goes: “Down with the Bloody Big head”. Even worse, the White Queen is hinted at being a bit dangerous (has served human fingers in a jar), yet she’s the one the audience is suppose to root for and the happy ending is encapsulated in the storyline with her being crowned Queen in the instead of her repugnant sister the Red Queen. The film implies that the White Queen should be the ruler, since she’s “prettier” and the lack of attractiveness on the surface pierces deep into the soul (causes or is caused by is never fully explored). Using the Red Queens looks (which may be a form of disability) as a way to critique her is placed on the viewer as a “given” and hints if not commits ableism. It also hammers home the message that only the attractive should be in positions of power and visibility.

The White Queen and The Red Queen

The White Queen and The Red Queen

This rejection of the outliers of accepted “looks” in Alice (the Red Queen has a “misshapen” head) along with placing the hunchbacked Edgar in “Frankenweenie” as a villain and mostly to blame for the problems in the film (he’s the one to push Victor to show him the device and then tell about it to others) makes a disturbing new pattern in Burton’s film. Indeed, the man who once defended people’s rights to not fit into our society’s norms now appears to be demonizing the very same.

The menagerie of children in “Frankenweenie” are supposedly a reference to different horror films, with each character being a reference to classical horror genres and it is no surprise that Burton wants to express an ode to these influential and important classic horror films. The problem lies with the ill conceived and notable disregard of the historical context of these films. The majority of these films were made in times when a lot of marginalized groups were completely deprived of rights, dismissed by the society at large, seen as problematic to majority culture, marginalized by negative imagery, and were nearly always portrayed negatively in cinema. So casting these old stereotypes into his film does not work without insight to the historical ethnicity and becomes double edge sword cutting towards the highly offensive. You simply cannot have a privileged person being the victim and all the marginalized groups being villains. Yes, even the privileged can have difficult lives, but that does not take away the fact that we still live in a highly hierarchical world where those of marginalized groups struggle to be engaged equally in the social, cultural and political. When Victor is the hero and is shown as the only one we should like and the only one who should be allowed to do science that hierarchy is strengthened. And that is fairly harmful, if not irresponsible.


Tim Burton has been and remains an important filmmaker. There is no other director quite like him. In his earlier works, Tim Burton has even strongly defended outsiders and probably doesn’t mean to be offensive. It is crucial that he should start thinking more about what roles he gives to marginalized characters; then he will once again be on top of his game.

Superhero films are at a height of popularity at the moment, with many superhero movies launching huge franchises. The most successful ones so far have been Nolan’s “Dark Knight”- trilogy and Joss Whedon’s “The Avengers” and many of the myriad of film adaptations of this comic book genre go on to get cinematic sequels. Often when a sequel is a particularly big flop, there will be an attempt to start a new franchise by re-telling the Hero’s tale on the big screen. In other words, a re-boot is made. Case in point was with Marvel Comic’s Spiderman.

Sam Raimi directed Spiderman’s debut film, “Spiderman” (2002) which held an enormous charm with its straightforward, effortless, and humorous storyline intertwined with a romantic tone and carried through with a stable of charismatic actors. Of special note was the pivot point of Tobey Maguire as the masked hero. The first of the Raimi interpreted Spiderman franchise was followed by “Spiderman 2” (2004) which was an interesting exploration of the cost of being a hero which pursued and elaborated the darker logic of the first film while never losing its own sense of charm and wit. The third Spiderman film however fell prey to a “upmanship” mentality regarding its own trajectory of films and became a total catastrophe, having too many plotlines and undeveloped characters, including an infamously inane dance scene (which everyone has made fun of, so I won’t comment on it!) performed by the main character.

This year has been witness to the reforming of this floundering series with the release and re-booted consideration of the hero with the film “The Amazing Spiderman”, directed by Marc Webb.

The film details Spiderman’s path to becoming a superhero with the same classic structure featured in the comics: Peter Parker, an outcast nerdy teenage boy, is bitten by a rather unusual spider and therefore gains powers such as the astonishing ability to stick to any surface, a pre-natural super strength, a intuitive sense of his surroundings, an extraordinary sense of balance, etc. Peter at first uses his newly acquired powers for his own personal amusement and benefit, but after his beloved Uncle Ben dies at the hands of a criminal (who Peter could have stopped during a previous crime) Peter rethinks his attitude to his powers and, after some growing up, which is a staple for this genre, becomes the mask vigilante Spiderman.

The new filmic incarnation of the Spiderman tale, following the original comic book title where the character was granted his own franchise, is called the “The Amazing Spiderman” and, with the logic of the reboot, infuses the story with some few alterations to Peter Parkers narrative in order to rejuvenate the tale and bring the franchise back from the Spiderman 3 pitfall.

“The Amazing Spiderman” stars Andrew Garfield, who is utterly fantastic as Peter and Spiderman. Garfield puts everything he has into this role, which results in a deliciously engaging performance. As Peter Parker he perfectly embodies the complex nature of teenage years: he’s insecure, he’s irritating, he’s wrapped up in his own world, and he’s sympathetic and adorable, all at once. As the masked vigilante, “The Amazing Spiderman” tones up the snarky and wisecracking nature of Spiderman a lot more than Tobey Maguire’s interpretation; this seems more true to the comics and the general ambiance of the character. In this adaption, Peter also invents the spider-like super-webs weapon (instead of just shooting them out of his wrist which is a feature of Spiderman as portrayed in Sam Ramie’s films) which animates the character with more of a academic and scientific inclination and gives foundation to narrative flows within the story line.

Tobey Maguire’s Peter was more sweet and kind, than the manifestation of Garfield’s character, but feels less connected with the reality of complexity the environs of New York entails and the weight of criminality infesting the city. In Raimi’s films, Spiderman’s sense of humor comes from his small comments of how much trouble he always finds himself in, not as a wisecracking hero, while Garfield uses this aspect of the “spidey” character to confront evil and violence in the only rational way (i.e. laughing). All of this is a construction of Maguire to play Spiderman as a pivot to tone up the heroic aspects of the masked vigilante while Garfield’s tone is to pull the characterization away from the heroic to the normal . Since Toby Maguire was in fact so good at doing a heroic and believable individual, one thrust into the role, but ascending to it requirements , it seems impossible for anyone to overshadow his performance. But Garfield succeeds, and succeeds well.

Garfield is what makes this movie work, since the viewer truly wants to see what happens to this charming young man. It’s good that the protagonist is engaging in “The Amazing Spiderman”, since neither the villain nor the love interest is. The villain is the one-armed scientist Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans). Dr. Connors is using the genetic code of lizard’s regenerative capacities to re-create limbs on mice, hoping to be able to do the same on humans some day. After a series of complex tragic events (which I won’t go into here), he is forced to take an untested doze of the genetic mutations and turns himself unwittingly into The Lizard, which affects his body leaving his mind intact. Ifans tries his best, and actually there is a lot of potential in this villain. The writing and acting does capture the sorrow and desperation of Dr. Connor’s character, but never really depicts Dr. Connor as a person who would willingly hurt someone. His character is depicted as continually nice and, even as a Monster Lizard, as overtly rational and humane, making us wonder why he would become the villain we find in the Narrative.

In The Lizards first scene, you see him cause destruction on a bridge while trying to stop a massive humanitarian and criminal act and only causes the damage due to his lack of understanding regarding his strength. In the scene, the writing gives a good explanation for his actions. However, near the end of the film, The Lizard makes some very extreme decisions and seeks out to do horrible things to the entire city. This diversion to criminality veers drastically from the logic of the character we have been presented with, since Dr. Connor is shown to be a man of science whose major ambition is to help others, and he has never shown any dislike for humans or human nature in anyway. When The Lizard becomes a real villain, it is not believable or has any credibility at all. Needless to say this lack is fatal flaw for the development of a villain, let alone a super-villain.

Also Emma Stone was pretty boring as Gwen Stacy. Ms. Stone is trying her best, but her character just wasn’t interesting.

But no doubt the worst part of this film is the scene where Peter first starts to realize he has superpowers. After being bitten by a genetically mutated spider, Peter travels back home, sleeping on the subway. After some hassle, Peter accidentally spills some beer on a woman’s shirt. He attempts an apology by saying sorry and laying his hand on her shoulder. However, due to his now emerging spider superpowers, he can’t peel his hand of off the woman’s shoulder. In a panicked state he yanks his hand forcefully away from the woman along with ripping off the woman’s blouse. The men around the scene proceed to attack Peter, only for him to discover more powers by jumping to the ceiling and beating the men senseless. The problem is that even if the men were being violent, Peter did from their point of view rip a woman’s clothing off without her permission – something that in all reason made them quite upset and willing to protect the woman. Even if from the audience’s point of view, Peter ripped a woman’s clothing off by accident, his action was none the less a form of aggressive behavior or at least a crime though accidental. In either way, the writers had decided to write in a scene where Peter commits a sexual assault. The scene plays out like an accident, but there is no going around the fact that the writers thought a good introduction to Peter’s superpowers was having him rip a blouse of an unwilling woman. Not to mention the fact that the scene is mostly played for laughs. The scene gives off the vibe that the writers don’t mind exploiting major problems that many women have to face, such as sexual harassment and assault, for the sake of developing the protagonist’s fate.

The scene is also bizarrely infantile. Even if we can forego the strangely aggressive vibe of the scene, we are still left with the first presentation of the Spiderpowers as making it able to gawk at a scantly clothed woman. Considering how “The Amazing Spiderman” was meant to be a more adult and serious take on the Spiderman character, a scene like this contradicts that statement.

So while some parts of the film felt like they were written under infantile motivations, other scenes were done with much tenderness and cleverness. Spiderman’s first heroic act consists of him saving a small child from dying from the horrible traffic accidents the Lizard caused. The scene follows the classical element of having the little boy trapped in the car as a representation for vulnerability, which leads to Spiderman’s (who’s previously used his powers for selfish reasons) change of heart. What’s new is that the writers not only have Spiderman use his powers to save the child, but Spiderman also uses psychological encouragement to make the boy braver and therefore easier to save. The scene is fairly emotional and exciting. It is puzzling to see such a contrast to the scene where Spiderman first discovers his powers. While the scene in the subway felt juvenile and offensive, the rescue of the child is captivating and thrilling. The contrast is extreme, which bakes the question of how the writers could zigzag like this.

Some other complaints worth mentioning are the depiction of Aunt May (Sally Field). Her role was ridiculously down played, making it almost seem like her and Peter had no connection. This is unfortunate, since, after uncle Ben’s death, the two are suppose to become very close and Aunt May is the loving caretaker Peter needs and loves. In Sam Raimi’s films, and what I have understood from some comics I’ve looked at, Aunt May is suppose to be very sweet and kind, but also a little tough. In “The Amazing Spiderman”, the audience does get the feel that Aunt May is sweet, but her tough side is totally ignored. The result is then a very bland overly kind caretaker typecast, instead of the interesting full-blooded character.

Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) and Aunt May (Sally Field)

It is also worth mentioning that the school bully at Peter’s High School is made into a more three dimensional person, in this version of the Spiderman film canon, instead of the classic brute, which is a magnificent plus to the film. Also Denis Leary as Gwen’s father and police chief did a solid performance.

This film was good, but had an assortment of titanic problems. However, a sequel will be much anticipated.

Dr. Seuss is one of the most loved and known of very young children’s books writers and a major influence on our modern popular culture. Dr. Seuss’s most famous works include “How The Grinch Stole Christmas”, “Cat in the Hat” and “Green Eggs and Ham”. His novels are age-related and logically quite short with very simple story lines, thus the first adaption’s of his books were half- hour long cartoons*. Unfortunately, in 2000, Ron Howard directed a live- action version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, which featured Jim Carrey as the Grinch (being as annoying as possible). The film was a success, and so began the phenomena of live- action adaption’s of Dr. Seuss’ work. One of the most horribly failed adaption’s is the live- action version of “Cat in the Hat” (2003), mostly because, despite its similar title and premise, the movie has nothing to do with the book it is apparently “based on”.

“Cat in the Hat” centers on the children pair of 12- year old Conrad (Spencer Breslin) and his younger sister Sally (Dakota Fanning). Conrad is shown being the out-of-control trouble maker while Sally is cast as the obsessive control freak. The film makes the children, despite their tender ages, caricatures of gender stereotypes: the wild male and the uptight female, a depiction of gender which cast women as killjoys and men as free and fun-loving, even if the behavior causes problems for those around them. The film depicts Conrad’s behavior, regardless of it being beyond the pale of mere trouble making and inflicting severe difficulty upon those around him (especially his single caretaking mother), the viewer is suppose to sympathize with Conrad more than with Sally who’s worst crimes is only that she alienates others.

The children’s Mother is a working woman whose boss wants to have an office party at her house. On the day when the planned party is meant to take place, the mother is pressured to leave for her work, and is forced to beg the kids to take care of the house to insure a “clean” party (Her boss is evilly phobic about the “clean”). She hires Ms. Kwan, an Asian woman, to babysit the kids. Since Ms. Kwan’s foreign, the film decides to make her watch a TV broadcast where her home country (Taiwan) is portrayed as being filled with people who even in parliament debates punch each other instead of having discussions. She then also falls asleep while she’s supposed to be babysitting the kids. The way Ms. Kwan is written weaves a subtle implication of the non-white as lazy and irresponsible, and (somewhat in contradiction) explosively and unexplainably violent – or as the tone of the film seems to suggest: “It’s never too early to teach kids to be prejudice against others!”.

As the kids stare miserably out of the window of their house, seemingly capture inside and the boredom entailed, they hear a bump upstairs. The bump turns out to be caused by a big black-and-white talking cat with a Tall stripped hat. This turns out to be the said Cat in the hat (Mike Meyers) and this is where the film truly begins its downhill journey.

The cat acts nothing like the original cat from Dr. Seuss’ book. While the Cat in the original book did cause some trouble, this cat constantly makes sexual innuendos and threats of violence. He is far less caring of the kids than his original counterpart. The original cat could cause messes, yet all the while sincerely wanting the children to break their boredom and enjoy his games. In the end (and this is also implied with the gentleness of the original) the Cat will back off when the kids show he’s crossed the line and in the end rectify unconditionally any damage his actions have created (in the movie the conditions are Actually A Contract!). Mike Meyer’s cat, on the other hand, puts children into danger, constantly threatens violence for the slightest inconvenience, is impregnated with the insipid gestures of the most cliques vaudeville actor (and seems to be channeling a bad cowardly lion impression for some reason), is fond of insulting others and is a threat to those around him. In short, Meyer’s Cat would seem to be the antithetical other to Dr. Seuss’ original character.

The introduction of the Cat begins with him storming into the apartment, answering the children’s question of why he has appeared with “well when a mommy cat and daddy cat love each other very much…”. After that, he proceeds to make innuendos while seeing a picture of the children’s mother, beats up an elephant (which just randomly pops up), cuts off his own tail, and threatens to kill several people on several occasions, including nearly hitting a kid in the back of the head with a baseball bat. In the midst of the film, when the children try to catch their runaway dog, the children lay out two options of what to do. The Cat responds to their plans, stating: “There’s also a third option. It involves… Murder!”. For those who are particularly attached to Dr. Seuss’ “Cat in the Hat”, seeing Meyer’s Cat state murder as a answer to a problem is the equivalent of finding Winnie the Pooh rambling on about the possibilities which lie in bank robberies – a terrifying and repugnant scene to witness, while leaving the nostalgic audience feeling dirty and betrayed.

The problem is not that the film uses violence and suggestive humor, but that the film on a whole doesn’t consist of any other kind of humor, except for the occasional scatological joke. The film doesn’t seem to understand whether the film is made for adults, or for children, or for neither (If you chose the last option, congratulations! You guessed right!).

As for the violent attitude of the cat, most of these scenes seem to exist for the sake of “Dead Baby Comedy”. The internet critic Kyle “Oancitizen” Kallgren has stated that “Dead Baby Comedy” is a branch of humor which is design to push the audience into the corner of shock and offense. Naturally, when done well, “Dead Baby Comedy” can be used to make people reflect and re-think on society’s taboos. However when this branch of comedy is done wrong, it only leads to as Mr. Kallgren puts it: “You end up laughing at it, because what else can you do?”. The “Dead Baby Comedy” used in “Cat in The Hat” consists of the latter kind, where the viewer is put into a position where the only way to respond to the excruciating violent tone of the film is to laugh. Not because the jokes are funny or thought-provoking, but because they are straight out offensive and frightening.

An essential flaw of “Cat in the Hat” is also how many prejudices are enforced through the films story-telling. As mentioned before the babysitter Ms. Kwan has fallen asleep. While sleeping, she is constantly tormented by the Cat and his minions. She’s thrown around, used as a mop and even used as a boat near the end of the film. Ms. Kwan has no agency, no active role or even speech, and is only there to be used and cast aside and in worst causes physically abused while unconscious, by all of the other characters that are white or a talking animal. Since Ms. Kwan is the only non-white character in the film, the treatment of her character is fairly uncomfortable and it boggles the mind why the filmmakers would portray Ms. Kwan in such a light.

It is also worth mentioning that one of the primary villains, the mother’s mean-spirited boyfriend Quinn (Alec Baldwin), is at one point shown to be a closet over-weight person. Ms. Kwan is also overweight. Since the only plus size people in “Cat in the Hat” are portrayed negatively, this leads to a strong fat phobic feel to the film.

Add on to the uncomfortable feeling about other ethnicities, the strange repulsion to the overweight and the films narrow depictions of women and we’ve got a film full of violence, sexism, racism and sizeism. One which in the end seems to be aimed at children.

“Cat in the Hat” is one of the worst film adoptions from a book. Not only does the film have nothing in common with the book its “based on”, but the film just doesn’t work in any way. It can’t even decide who’s its audience and, in the end, can’t really entertain anyone.


*The 1966 Chuck Jones animated Version of “How the Grinch Stole Christmas”, though diverging from the original text in a number of places, and having a musical score included, is considered a Classic of the Seuss genre and of the Jones animation style in general.

“Juno” (2007) is a movie directed by Jason Reitman and written by Diablo Cody, who won an Oscar for “Best Original Screenplay”. Since its release “Juno” has been well loved both by critics as well as by audiences. “Juno” has been seen as a witty comedy with a great female lead. However, despite the universal love this film has received, I didn’t enjoy “Juno” at all while watching it. The movie just seemed repulsive and creepy, instead of being charmingly witty. In this post, I will explain why. As a warning, it should be pointed out that this post will include spoilers.

Director Jason Reitman

The films protagonist is the sixteen year old Juno (Ellen Page), who has become pregnant after having unprotected sex (of course) with her best friend, Paulie. She first decides to abort the child, only to reconsider this option and choose, instead, to give up the baby for adoption. After some searching, she finds the upscale yuppie couple Vanessa (Jennifer Garner) and Mark (Jason Bateman), to whom she decides to give the baby up to when the time comes. The viewers of this film follow of the life of the expecting Juno in High School and at home.

The troubling nature of “Juno” is not the idea and plot point of unplanned pregnancy or adoption, but rather how these subjects are depicted. On top of the problems with the portrayal of the unwanted pregnancy, Juno as a protagonist isn’t a particularly likeable character (or at least to me and my inclinations she is not). Juno’s normal operating social sense seems to hover in the area of the quintessentially arrogant and emotionally distant, and throughout the entirety of the film we witness Juno endlessly looking down upon everyone unlucky enough to find themselves in her proximity, hiding behind an irritating sarcastic attitude, and engaged in a unremitting (and supposedly) hipster banter. Amazingly Paulie, the best friend and coordinated parent, is the main focus of this bad behavior (a verbal abuse which persistently puts him down and always in the midst of the public gaze) and is in generally so poorly treated by Juno that the claim of a strong friendship between these two would seem to be more than highly improbable. A primary example is illustrated in a scene between these two where an argument is taking place and we find the always “funny” Juno loudly yelling out in the public arena of the High School (Gymnasium for the European readers): “I took your virginity!”. If “Juno” would have at any point been realistic, the film would have depicted the awful and large amount of bullying Paulie would have been subjected to after this dreadful and malicious outburst of Juno.

Before the above scene of this public humiliation and question of virginity, we find the socially questionable Juno insisting to the much put upon Paulie that he should begin to hang out with other girls, regardless for his attachment or fondness for them. Yet by the end of the film, we find the subtly (which those who use the verbal) abusive Juno suddenly declaring her love for Paulie and the two end up dating. Considering how Juno, nearly for the entire film, verbally ill-treated Paulie, it’s hard to believe that the two of them could ever become a happy, healthy couple.

Juno as a character is suppose to be comedic and funny, but not once did I laugh at her witticism and verbal play which, instead of enlightening and exploring, wallows in the realm of overt narcissism and oblivious snobbishness. In fact, Juno’s personality cannot help but remind the audience of the persona of the penultimate bully, which makes it impossible to sympathize with her as a leading character.

However, the movies major flaw is the outrageously backwards depiction of the environment and servers working within Women’s Health Care Clinic’s (Translation for the movie is: Abortion clinic). Juno, after learning she’s pregnant, heads off to get an abortion. When arriving at the clinic, she meets a classmate outside of the clinic protesting and chanting: “All babies want to be born!”. One can wonder if the writer purposefully gave the protesting girl a nonsensical slogan, due to the fact that abortions are performed on fetuses that haven’t yet developed self-consciousness and therefore cannot want anything. However the audience is actually expected to sympathize with the protesting girl, as it turns out when she tells Juno that her baby by now has developed “finger nails” in hopes of getting Juno to change her mind, a statement the film regards as words of wisdom. The information of the now existing fingernails does in fact make Juno reconsider her decision.

The way the movie “Juno” deals with anti-abortion protesters is, to say the least, simplistic and simple-minded. Having only one protestor at the clinic having a “peaceful” conversation with Juno is fairly far off of the actual practice of the anti abortion protesters who operate in the horrendous realm of heckling and harassing of the women who find themselves in need of the services of a abortion clinic. If the film would have bothered to be more realistic, Juno’s classmate would have been accompanied by an unseemly horde of hostile campaigners blaring: “Murderer! Murderer! You’re killing your baby!” while using physical proximity to intimidate the already emotionally frail seekers of the service.

When Juno gets into the clinic, she at once is handed papers to fill-out by the clinics clerk. At the same instance Juno is also handed a condom by the clerk, hoping to encourage the use of the condom (Juno is there for an unwanted pregnancy!), notes that the condom leaves a nice smell after sex, something the clerk indicates that she knows from using the same brand herself. On receiving the condom from the clerk Juno dons a look of disgust to her face, indicating that the audience is suppose to view the clerk woman as a bit unseemly, and definitely crossing some line of “good taste”, for handing this young girl, with the unwanted pregnancy, free birth control. While I’ll agree that the clerk perhaps made Juno uncomfortable by telling a little too much about her own intimate life, it’s still hard not to interpret the clerks actions as anything other than extraordinarily reasonable and even pedagogically correct (teaching often uses the personal to create bonds for learning). Since Juno has shown up to abort a child she does not want, the clerk can assume Juno doesn’t feel ready to be a parent yet wants to be sexually active, so she gives her a condom and tries to further encourage Juno to use it remarking on the condoms nice smell. The Clerk is fulfilling the mandate of all Women’s Health Centers and Abortion Clinics by informing women on the importance of Birth control in order to insure that women won’t have to be constantly facing the challenge of unwanted pregnancies. The films decision to depict the Clerk, and therefore everything about the abortion clinic, as out-of bounds, and even a bit disgusting, seem to paint the mandate of sexual education as moderately nasty and even disrespectful. As a result, Juno comes off as infantile while the clerk seems like someone trying to help and professionally working to ensure the moral mandates and proper educational operations of the Clinic.

The scene ends with Juno retreating from the clinic and deciding to give the child away instead of aborting it.

The worst part of this film is not, however, this bizarre depiction of the clinic, but the conversation Juno has with her female friend directly afterwards. Juno informs her friend how the clerk freaked her out by doing the horrible and unforgivable act of trying to inform her of birth control, highlighting how the clerk giving her a condom was too much for her to handle, on top of the whole situation being wholly uncomfortable for the sadly put-upon Juno (at this point of the film, I felt really bad for the unfortunate clerk who had to put up with Juno for a few minutes – truly, the clerk is the tragic heroine of this film!). While the film tries to portray Juno as a smart young woman, the lines that Juno delivers just make her look like the stereotypically naïve and shallow “valley girl-type” going “eew, gross!” at everything around her instead of a smart responsible nerdy girl. Since the audience is supposed to sympathize with Juno, it is clear that the viewer, in some odd and backwards world of sympathy, is actually meant to concur that what happened in the abortion clinic as revolting and vulgar.

“Juno” could have worked as a film if the theme would have been about choice. Instead, the film very strongly demonizes the very idea of abortion and the act of providing young people with birth control and education, through the metaphor of the Clinic, by means of the actions of the films protagonist being fundamentally and childishly squeamish and ignorantly rejecting of information. The thing is that if you ridicule and portray some of the several options regarding an unwanted pregnancy (such as abortion) as perverse, than the film is no longer about choice, but propaganda for the anti-choice movement.

“Planned Parenthood” and abortion clinics provide an important service for women who feel like they aren’t ready to have children. Having abortion as an option for females everywhere is a right and gives women power over their bodies and lives. Since “Juno’s” depiction of the Women’s Health Clinic was so negative, the viewer can only assume that the film wants to send the message that when faced with unwanted pregnancy, one should automatically erase abortion as an option. As an added bonus, Juno’s disgust with getting a condom even makes it seem that the film finds the idea of being responsible with sex as a comical and “yucky” idea.

So how is one to enjoy the film “Juno”? As a movie tract promoting verbal bullying and devaluing sexual education (and control), whilst moving towards the creation of a morality play of anti-choice. And in the end what we are left with here is but a basic anti-feminist stance couched in the refinement of a young and hip female protagonist.

For another negative review of Juno, read Ezra Steads insightful article.

Many movies fail to portray women and men in an enlightened way, but few fail to do so in such a dishonest and outright depressingly hilarious way as “Snow White and The Huntsman”. The characters of Snow White, The Huntsman and the Evil Queen serves up a messy stew of old tired caricatures of the genders and asks us to savor it as feminist cuisine extraordinaire. In the midst of this muddle of narrative flavors the film serves up a few side dishes of antagonists so stupid that their fall is unquestionable and a mini-course of plot-related questions hanging unattended to.

The film begins with Snow Whites mother, presumably the only person who’s heard of feminism in this movie, wishing for a child who would be both beautiful and strong. She doesn’t specify the gender of the child, which means she has the same expectations for both boys and girls, which is amazing and refreshing to see. After Snow White’s birth, she constantly speaks of how her daughter’s beauty comes from her wonderful personality, being a great feminist mom by teaching her daughter that a woman should define herself by her personality, not her looks. Unfortunately the mother being too clever for this film dies quickly. Snow White’s father then heads off to a mysterious yet easily won battle, where he rescues a woman held captive by this incompetent foe. Snow White’s father finds this captured woman to be so beautifully bonerrific that he marries her the very next day, not even bothering to learn anything else about her except her name. So Snow White can then forget all about women’s worth coming from their personalities; her father leads the way!

On the wedding night, the newly-wedded queen Ravenna (Charlize Theorin) starts recounting her past to the visually enamored king. True to form of the relation of the sexes in this film, the king ignores her story and only focuses on trying to get to some action. Ravenna in her monologue verbalizes how men exploit women, only caring about their looks and abandoning them when they grow old – a conclusion she has come to from a hard life. A smart man would respond to this information, but the king just keeps on trying to get busy. He is then killed, and his ten year old daughter is at once locked away in a tower. Everyone below the queen and her brother are left to starve. Unintentionally the film posits the ignorant masculine role as the primary cause of the narrative action which is founded on a blatant ignoring of the suspicious and questionable personality of the rescued damsel, as the King seeks only to obtain the typical hot wife. Ravenna is supposed to be seen as bitter and unfairly angry towards the world, but judging by what has so far happened (and will continue to happen throughout the film) Ravenna’s beliefs seem to be completely accurate about the world and especially the men that run it.

Ravenna (Ms. Theron)

Snow White (Kristen Stewart) grows into a woman in a dark cell until one day the Queen figures out she needs the princess´ heart to become immortal. She dispatches her brother, Finn to escort Snow to her presence. Snow White, after praying because good people in this film are of the devoted Christian type and not of the nasty witch inclination, has found herself a nail (thank god for prayer!) which will become a handy weapon soon enough. Finn shows up and in a simplistic and indolent scene we find out that his most important character traits are his stupidity and the his sickening fondness for molestation. After opening Snow White’s cell Finn proceeds to leave the keys in the door, and the door wide open, and wastes no time to start groping the princess. Snow White asks why Finn has come. The following dialogue then makes it clear that Finn has been spying on Snow White while assuming she’s asleep, something that Snow has been aware of. This plotline is forgotten as soon as it’s mentioned and leaves one in confusion as to why it had to be in the film at all (besides the obvious reason to make us hate Finns character). Finn tells her not to be scared; the Queen only wants her heart, i.e. to brutally murder her and mutilate her body (That will calm Snow White down, alright!). Snow then strikes Finn with the nail and escapes the cell whilst locking Finn in (once again, thank god for prayer!). Since Finn blatantly laid out to Snow the Queens plans and leaves the key in the cell door lock unattended (with the door fully open as well) the results of Snow White’s successful escape was less than suspenseful. Finn literally set himself up to fail his task. A smarter person would learn from his mistakes, but Finns actions will continue throughout the film to be as laughable self-destructive. Finn is depicted as so dim that he cannot be viewed as a frightening character or as a believable one (which is obviously and notably sad as he is a horrific abuser!).

Snow White makes her way into the cursed woods and culminates in a scene of irksome and pointless hallucinations. We then are introduced to The Huntsman, who is so filled with stereotypical manliness that the first thing we see him do is get drunk and engaging in aimless, but man-producing, violence. These traits will be all that the character consists of, never really developing into anything but a thin stereotype. Finn appears outside the bar where the fights taken place and informs The Huntsman that the Queen demands his presence at the palace. The Huntsman gruffly replies, while sitting in a wooden bucket of water he was pushed into, “Can’t you see I’m taking a bath?” to which I reply: “Dear Writers: manliness is not the same as unfunny brainless macho-posturing and one-liners built around this behavior”. Finn drags our stereotype to the Queens palace, where the Queen promises to bring The Huntsman’s dead wife back to life (she has these MAGIC powers, see) if he in return will capture and bring Snow White to her.

All the while this is occurring we see an entirely male driven rebellion going on against the Queen simultaneously. An ENTIRELY male driven rebellion, since I guess women fighting would run the risk of the male warriors catching the girlie bacteria (basically cooties) from such close proximity outside of being only wives and mothers.

So The Huntsman now goes off to the woods and soon locates Snow White. The Huntsman however doesn’t want to hand Snow over until he gets his wife reanimated and presented to him, to which Finn, laughing wildly at our heroes naivety, tells our dimwitted hero that in reality Ravenna can’t bring back the dead, ending his nice little explanation with: “you idiot”. The Huntsman gets upset over this and proceeds to kill all the soldiers around him (he was sent with a battalion of helpers for his quest), however, for the sake of continuation of the tale, Finn gets away. Why does Finn tell The Huntsman he was being cheated while he was still in the midst of carrying out the bargain? Why is the vastly powerful and resourceful Ravenna ignorant of her brother’s inability to do anything according to plan? Why would she let Finn go along on the quest to capture Snow at all? Needless to say the supposed narrative will never answer these questions.

Snow White and The Huntsman flee into the woods, where they encounter an insanely aggressive troll which knocks out The Huntsman, but calms down after Snow White merely stands still and gazes (enchantingly??) at it. What are we to make of this passive gaze that brings the troll to heel? Naturally this can only be because women are so special, especially those who are beautiful! What necessity is there for the womanly and the lovely to do or say anything? Their mere divine and stunning existence solves any problem put before them. Oddly enough this doing nothing is shown as the empowerment of Snow White! Only non-action, the surface, is where women have power in this world.

Snow White (Ms. Stewart)

So after the wacky adventure of calming the troll Snow White and The Huntsman encounter a tribe of women with self-inflicted scars and mutilated faces. One of the women explains that the scars were made to ensure that Ravenna wouldn’t consider their beauty as a threat and therefore harass and persecute them. Ravenna is indeed killing women who she thinks are too pretty to live. But her idea of beauty must be outrageously narrow. The woman telling Snow about this plan, for instance is magnificently and stunningly beautiful despite her self-mutilations (which are barely visible, causing even more confusion for the viewer). The women of the village are tremendously lucky that Ravenna’s ideals of beauty are beyond logic.

We find that the tribe of women is actually not a tribe, and the women tell our heroes that their men are actually off at war while they stay at home. Once again the roles of men and women, mothers and fathers are inscribed on the surface of the story. Who does what role, and where all men and women should find themselves in society and in their own thoughts about themselves are very clearly laid out: Men are fighters, actors, and aggressors. Women are beauties, passive and motherly (except the queen, but she’ll get hers!).’

The dwarfs’ naturally show up now in the logic of the tale. Like all the characters of this film none of the dwarfs’ personalities are ever developed, but they do take the main characters to a magical forest where a spirit blesses Snow. Turns out she was born special. Brilliant – no need to bother developing our heroine’s personality when we can be given an explanation of having simply been born with good royalty genes! At this point I realized that the film just was a love letter to classist society and female passiveness.

Finn is eventually killed by The Huntsman in a fight but not before Finn gets to tell the audience that he raped The Huntsman’s wife as well as countless of other women. It is not surprising in the character of the films logic that Finn the idiot told this to the Huntsman which proceeds to motivate him more in his anger and the will to fight (and naturally win). The film shows an off-handedness to the horror of such a character trait placed onto Finn and it is used only to motivate the males in the action of the narrative. The subject of rape, a world-wide problem for women, is introduced in to this film so a man can be empowered. The consequences and traumas the victim of molestation has to go through are sidestepped (ignored as unimportant) and the only thing that is depicted as relevant for the movie’s plot logic is the male’s chance to be heroically active. This is a trope commonly seen in films (“Book of Eli”, “The Expendables”, “Spiderman” and “Gladiator” to name a few) and truth be told, it needs to end.

At this point Snow’s childhood friend William, who’s in the rebellious army, has reunited with her. They start bonding after some days spent together. When they get some time alone, Snow picks an apple from a tree. Before eating it, she kisses William on the lips and then bites the apple. Cue Snow White shaking and spasm out of control while William transforms, revealing themselves as a disguised Ravenna. Ravenna gets ready to cut out Snow’s heart and begins a monologue about her own vulnerabilities and weaknesses (which Snow White will naturally use to win later on). Snow goes into a coma, either from the curse or from the horror of kissing her technically only living parent and legal guardian. One can only ponder the childish fear and longing for the same gender kiss which seems to be on display here, and the simultaneous avoidance of it in the odd mechanics of this scene (woman kisses woman, but she is a man here so no problems. Except…).

The real William and The Huntsman now show up to fight the queen, who turns into a murder of crows and flies away. William tries to Kiss Snow, but she doesn’t wake up, probably because the kiss was planted on her bottom lip and chin, not on her lips. Aim a little higher next time, Will.


Comatose/dead Snow White is brought to the rebellions village and set on a bed of hay. While everyone is mourning, The Huntsman gets drunk again and goes to see Snow. Alone with her, he tells her about how his wife changed him from a brute to a good man, but her death turned him back into a violent and sluggish brute again. The myth of a good woman and the miraculous power it can have over the brutish and violent nature of man is now laid out in the mis-en-scene of the tale. Glad they could get this myth of the woman and the man in, even if it is just as a passing comment!

The Huntsman then decides to creepily kiss a dead woman (since every character in this movie seems to feel the need to molest Snow White in one way or another). After kissing the clearly deceased woman The Huntsman leaves and Snow White awakes. It is established that Snow is more interested in William then the Huntsman, so one wonders why Williams kiss didn’t work (assuming the curse works the same way in this films as it did in the original versions). But Williams kiss most likely didn’t work because William according to the primeval ideals of this film is a wimp for crying at times and The Huntsman is a real man for being an alcoholic and potentially dangerous ax-swinging rough guy. Of course his kiss will wake Snow White up! He’s the real man here!

Snow then finally takes some form of action and makes a motivational speech for the rebellious army. She says she knows now how to kill the queen (since Ravenna bizarrely decided to openly talk about those things to a still awake Snow White). It is quite surprising how level headed Snow seems to be directly after waking up from a poisoned induced coma. And considering that now she is aware of the forbidden kiss of her stepmother one would expect a bewildered Snow White to somewhat immediately enquire about the nature of such a kiss along the lines of: “Anybody know about the legality of this?”

At this point everyone marches off towards the Queen’s palace, with Snow comprising the single woman found this peculiar army, but we are naturally not concerned with this as we have already seen how she is special unlike all other females in this tale (Those royal genes again, and she is prettier than everybody else).

The dwarves sneak into the castle and proceed to incapacitate the guards of the castle and open the main gateway for the army. This grand and wonderous action by the dwarves is ignored by every character in the film (they are of “that” class after all) and they are never really given credit for this or thanked for it.

With men dying to the left and right in the heat of the ensuing battle Snow White dashes up to the Queens room. Snow initiates her complex and amazing battle moves, which seem to be composed of simply standing still and gazing at the queen (it did work on the troll, remember. But why Ravenna doesn’t just simply kill Snow while she passively stands and stares at her raises a bevy of questions about the competence of the queen here, clear, though it may be now that Ravenna’s sole purpose at this point is to lose as punishment for seeing the world correctly).

So Snow, the only protagonist woman we ever see to take action in this film, never actually takes action, while the men all do and with a force. William and The Huntsman are shown as fierce warriors, and there are many scenes to remind the viewers of that. The trailers and advertisements promised to portray Snow White as a fierce warrior and as Snow just stood there while the Queen attacks, the only tension that filled the theater at that moment was: “When will the promised warrior princess show up?” Snow however finally remembers her promise to everyone and does kill the queen in the last minute, but not before blurting out: “You can’t have my heart”. To which the bewildered viewers of the film silently replied: “Snow, please just let it go and don’t make things anymore uncomfortable then they already are”.

In a final scene, and as the people in this films world do not appear to crave any sort of equality, Snow White is crowned Queen. While this is the moment when the audience is supposed to cheer for Snow White, all one could wonder at this point was : “They’re going get the The Huntsman to an AA-meeting now, right?

This film is nothing but faux female empowerment. However Kristen Stewart’s acting skills have improved tremendously and many of the films scenes were entertaining due to how unintentionally funny they were. But if you decide not to see this film, I safely can promise you it is a wise decision.