Selective Viewing

An exploration of film, video and other media by Kate Blair

Tag: gender

In Force Majeure, male cowardice is a force of nature

Force Majeure avalanche

In the central moment of Ruben Ostlund’s Force Majeure (2014), a family vacationing in the Alps witnesses an avalanche. The parents’ very different responses to the near disaster push their relationship to its breaking point. Ostlund’s film is about evolving gender roles and their impact on marriage. The movie brings up a very common struggle: Humanity versus nature—a theme you see frequently in the movies. In this context, nature isn’t just external, but what lies inside. What makes people behave the way they do? To bring out these themes, Ostlund contrasts sweeping vistas with the human mechanisms populating the ski resort. Noisy machines climb up the mountain to prepare it for skiers; these are paralleled with other human mechanisms, like the mechanical toothbrushes the family uses to brush their teeth. But Ostlund also uses photography and digital video to bring out the question of self-presentation and reality.

Read the rest of this entry »

Review – Under the Skin (dir. Jonathan Glazer, 2013)

under the skin In my mind, this movie has already earned a place in the canon of science fiction films. Under the Skin does what sci-fi does best: holds up a mirror to humanity and makes it alien. Like the best sci-fi, Under the Skin isn’t about far off worlds or people, but the ones that populate this earth. I don’t mean great sci-fi narratives have to be about Earth at all – far from it. Rather, after watching or reading great sci-fi, you look at our world differently, whether or not what you’ve just experienced had anything to do with this galaxy or another one entirely.  Read the rest of this entry »

Women in the film world

Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac)

The Smiling Madame Beudet (Germaine Dulac, 1923)

I was having dinner with some friends the other day, and somehow the topic moved to women in film. I don’t remember how, exactly. Chances are I was responsible, because the lack of women in production roles in the film industry is something I think about frequently. I had just gone on a small tirade about Spike Lee, who last summer released a list of essential viewing for filmmaking students. The list contained exactly one woman, and she just happened to be one part of a collaborative team that included a man. Since Lee’s list was not a short one, the exclusion upset me.

Read the rest of this entry »