From ‘Bad Education’ to ‘Mulholland Drive,’ the Modern Femme Fatale Must Be Queer

This essay is by our guest writer, Cody Corrall.
The classic femme fatale is elusive. She is a film noir staple: Gilda and Honey West. She uses her sexuality as a weapon against the patriarchy, but is inevitably foiled for having challenged it. Since the creation of the femme fatale, however, there hasn’t been a modern version that holds up. This is because the femme fatale, while a beacon of sexuality, is inherently a political statement.
In the height of film noir in the 1940s and 1950s, the rights of the straight cisgendered white woman were the next to be fought for. While these rights may not have been fully achieved yet, the rise of feminism and liberation have weeded out the femme fatale from modern cinema. This archetype no longer fits the rebellion and desire for power of the femme fatale. In order for a femme fatale to work in today’s society, it must be queered. We see these modern depictions of the queer femme fatale in Pedro Almodovar’s 2004 film Bad Education, and in David Lynch’s 2001 cult classic Mulholland Drive.

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Why Aren’t We Talking About ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’?

This article is by our guest writer, Clare Ostroski.

The second season of Hulu’s most acclaimed original series, The Handmaid’s Tale, began streaming on April 25, 2018. Since then, I have been fixated on its antic pandering and refusal to acknowledge or rectify its glaring toxicity.

Reviews and commentary of season two have almost unanimously venerated the show, but few opt to mention its frivolousness. With just three episodes left, I feel it important to acknowledge these things now, before its finale deafens any criticism of the season more broadly.

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From left to right, Sydney Sweeney as Eden Spencer, Joseph Fiennes as Fred Waterford, and Yvonne Strahovski as Serena Joy Waterford, The Handmaid’s Tale, Hulu (2018)

Season one of The Handmaid’s Tale posed the question: what if women were slaves? The country of Gilead is a not-too-distant United States, transformed into a religious autocracy that rounds up women to be raped and impregnated in the hopes of repopulating a broken society. Families are separated as women are enslaved to upper-class households, brothels, or labor camps. The problem with this story is that it isn’t entirely fictional. Slavery exists today, and it existed in America not so long ago. Families are currently being torn apart and abused at the United States border. Ethnicity accounts for incredulous disparities in American incarceration. Women have been there for all of it.

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Don’t F**k It Up: The Top 10 Drag Race Lip-Syncs

RuPaul’s Drag Race, for all its flaws, has become a staple of the reality television calendar. Mixing pop culture with petty drama, Drag Race provides light entertainment to audiences regardless of sexuality and gender – and highlights some of the greatest talents of the queer community at the same time. The show may have become more mainstream, but one thing has remained: the infamous lip-sync for your life, a two minute battle between contestants to establish who truly has the charisma, uniqueness, nerve and talent to impress the all-seeing, all-powerful RuPaul.

To celebrate ten fantastic seasons of the show, I’m taking a trip down memory lane and counting down my favourite lip-syncs in Drag Race her-story.

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Killer Queen: The Trouble with ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’

Trigger warning:  Bryan Singer, sexual assault, sexual abuse against minors.

This essay is by our guest writer, Lindsay Miller.

It was announced a few days ago that Bryan Singer would be receiving directing credits for the upcoming Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic, despite being fired three months into principal photography due to his “unexpected availability” on set.  And while his replacement, Dexter Fletcher, directly expressed not wanting the credits himself in an interview last month, this brings up yet another issue in the ongoing saga that I like to call: Bohemian Rhapsody Hell.

I was not planning on seeing this movie before this news was announced.  I love Queen and I love Rami Malek, but nothing about this project really seemed to spark my interest besides the awesome photos of Malek in that Mercury Mustache.  It just kinda seemed like the standard music biopic that comes out once a year to pretty good reviews but is then altogether forgotten in six weeks time.  It is rare for movies of this nature to transcend the border of mediocrity, either due to the film itself or because of poor marketing. When both elements are seemingly in sync, you get a hit like Walk The Line or Ray but when one of them fails, you get duds like CBGB.

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To many, Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be on the fast track to success thanks to Malek’s casting (“Somebody just give Rami his Oscar already”) and the overall attention the movie is getting from the media. But despite my overall apathy, I really cannot bring myself to support this film in theaters for one reason and one reason only: Bryan Singer.

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Edinburgh International Film Festival Preview

EIFF may not be the biggest event on everyone’s calendars but it’s the world’s longest continually-running film festival. For the next 2 weeks, Scotland’s capital will play host to British world premieres, festival circuit favourites, and plenty of smaller films looking to find distribution. Two of our writers, Iana and Hannah, are attending this year and highlight a few of the films they are excited to see from this year’s eclectic programme.

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‘Set It Up’ is a Delightful Summer Rom-Com

Romantic comedies don’t sell as many theatre tickets as they used to a decade ago, but if Set It Up is any indication, Netflix is their future. Enjoying something on the streaming giant has been an unfamiliar feeling this year, but with 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, Set It Up is the site’s highest-rated original film of the year so far. It’s an enjoyable watch for a genre that has had some great hits, and equally as many misses, but director Claire Scanlon’s film is funny and charming in the way that a good rom-com should be.

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‘Bao’ is a Tribute to Motherhood and the Daily Life of Asian Immigrants

When your family rushes to the cinema to see Incredibles 2 this weekend, be sure you head there on time and bring a box of tissues while you’re at it. Pixar’s newest short film, Bao, plays right before every screening of the new animated sequel, and in my opinion, it might be their best short yet. It follows the story of a Chinese-Canadian mother adjusting to her empty nest, who one day creates a little dumpling child to take care of. This eight-minute animated short is home to some of the best high-grade animation, a beautiful score, and delicious animated food. But Bao is so much more than just a technical demo for Pixar – it also serves as a cultural piece! Told through visual storytelling, Bao captures the essence of a 1st and 2nd generation Chinese immigrant household and their family dynamics, as well as paying tribute to the love of Asian mothers.

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There are tears in my eyes from how cute this is.

There’s a lot to love about this short if you come from a family of Asian immigrants. The immediate thing I noted was the expressive, chibi-like art style that manages to successfully cartoonize Asian features, but doesn’t do so in a racist, caricaturist fashion. But thinking about the short since I saw it last Friday, I realized that it made me feel so much more validated and represented than most times I see myself in Western, Asian-targeted media. I then found out that the film was actually directed by a Chinese-Canadian woman, Domee Shi. Bao is the first Pixar short ever to be directed by a woman of any ethnicity, so already this short has made history and garnered lots of praise. I particularly want to highlight the successful way it captured the experiences of coming from a family of Chinese immigrants.

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