The (Ignored) Feminist Heroes of Wonder Woman

Scheherazade Khan | 13 June 2017

Warning : Spoilers ahead for Wonder Woman (2017)

Though box office ratings and some critiques seem to suggest that Wonder Woman is finally giving a female role the appropriate attention, I join with other critics who argue that the movie itself failed to deliver on the hope that it would be a feminist dream. For me, Wonder Woman suggests that the only way for female superheroes to be successful is to mimic traditionally male roles. That is, having adventures, engaging in physical violence while proclaiming superior – if not slightly naïve – moral standards, all while wearing absurdly tight clothing that seems like it would be a hindrance when fighting for one’s life. In comparison, the working women in the movie (of which there are a grand total of two) are used either as comic relief or for nefarious purposes.

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The Siren’s Call: Mica Levi’s Soundscapes of Alien Femininity

Katie Goh | 15 May 2017

Under the Skin (Jonathan Glazer, 2014) opens with a bright white light shining into the audience, which then morphs into an eye over the span of five minutes, accompanied by a crescendo of buzzing violins. The opening is disturbing and abstract, setting the tone for the film’s sonic and visual imagery and for the alien language created by Mica Levi’s soundscape.

Mica Levi’s second film score was for Jackie (2016), Pablo Lerrain’s biopic of America’s most famous widow, first lady Jacqueline Kennedy. The film chronicles Jackie’s response to the aftermath of her husband’s assassination as she simultaneously processes her personal grief and works to mythologize her husband’s legacy. Both Lerrain and Glazer’s films are about alien femininity: whereas Under the Skin centres on a literal alien playing as woman, Jackie follows an alienated woman.

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Hollywood: Shell without Ghost

Erden Göktepe | 18th April 2017.

I must be honest, I had high hopes for the 2017 remake of Ghost in the Shell directed by Rupert Sanders and starring Scarlett Johansson as Major, the female protagonist, perhaps even for seeing something as intriguing as the original manga story and anime. Sadly, at the end of it, I simply felt indifferent and bored. Apparently, Hollywood has taken another well-written story with a phenomenal potential for audience impact and turned it into a breezy action movie….

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Finally, A Final Girl for the Twenty-First Century

Vicki Madden | 3 April 2017.

Anyone who knows me knows I love a good Final Girl. As a long-time horror film devotee, this unique figure has fascinated me ever since I first encountered her in the form of Alien’s Ellen Ripley. As Ripley shows us, the Final Girl is a bad-ass – she’s the last woman standing who’s left to defeat the monster through sheer wit and ingenuity (though occasionally, she still requires a man to rescue her – a trait inherited from the classic gothic stories of yore, no doubt). The Final Girl, as Carol Clover first described her in her seminal essay “Her Body, Himself: Gender in the Slasher Film” (1987), is “intelligent, watchful, level-headed; the first character to sense something amiss and the only one to deduce from the accumulating evidence the patterns and extent of the threat [1].” In other words, the Final Girl is the audience’s point of identification – we root for her because, unlike almost everyone else in a horror film, she knows what’s up and she’s prepared to do something about it.

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Trauma, Traditional Gender Roles and Radiation Fears: Shinya Tsukamoto’s Kotoko

Chantal Bertalanffy | 21 March 2017.

[TW: discussions of domestic and physical violence]

Single-mom Kotoko (played by Japanese singer Cocco) is traumatized. She is the anti-heroine in Japanese cult director Shinya Tsukamoto’s psychological horror film of the same name, Kotoko (2011). The story revolves around her struggle to raise her baby while suffering from paranoia, reoccurring visions, self-harm, and other Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)-related symptoms of an unknown cause.

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The Hobbit meets Film Adaptation Theory

Margaret Graton | 20 Feb 2017

For literature lovers, the news that a treasured book will soon become a film is always a double-edged sword. We’re simultaneously thrilled to experience the book’s setting, plot, and characters onscreen while afraid that the film won’t meet our expectations. Fantasy and YA fans might fearfully recall “bad” adaptations like the Eragon movie, where the plot underwent so many edits that adaptations of the following books became impossible. However, for every “bad” adaptation, there are plenty of movies that fans defend loyally, even in cases where the adaptation strays from the book.

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Rooms of One’s Own: Teenage Bedrooms in Film  

Katie Goh | 6 February 2017

Juno’s hamburger phone. Cher’s computerized wardrobe. Ferris Bueller’s Union Jack. Regina George’s PRINCESS four poster bed. As memorable as the characters, the teen movie bedroom set has become iconic in pop culture. Spaces of rebellion, creativity, and conflict, the bedroom functions as a visual indicator of a teenager’s personality as it is the only space wholly their own.

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The Princess Bride: Reconsidering the Medieval in William Goldman’s “Storybook Story”

Anna McKay | 6 February 2017

Defining medieval romance has troubled scholars and readers alike for centuries, but the blurb to William Goldman’s cult classic The Princess Bride (1973) offers as comprehensive a description of the genre as any. Indeed, compare this broad taxonomy to the medieval Breton lays described in the introduction to the fourteenth century verse romance, Lay Le Freine:

Sum bethe of war and sum of wo,
And sum of joie and mirthe also,
And sum of trecherie and of gile,
Of old aventoures that fel while;
And sum of bourdes and ribaudy,
And mani ther beth of fairy.
Of al thinges that men seth,
Mest o love for sothe thei beth. (5-12)

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“My boy’s wicked smart”: Gramsci and Good Will Hunting

Ian Anderson | 23 January 2017.

This Christmas, the mystical cerebral alchemy induced by 10-yr-old Macallan, cheese, and endless well-loved films on TV (invariably already 20 minutes in; nonetheless, you just know you’re going to watch them anyway) threw up a connection between Good Will Hunting (1997) and the ‘wicked smart’ stuff I read up at the university; namely Antonio Gramsci, whose theories have some light to shed on an ostensibly ‘working-class drama’. Allow me to explain.

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From ‘A New Hope’ to ‘Rogue One’: A Successful Star Wars Adaptation to Current Political Climates

Erden Göktepe | 9th January 2017.

(Warning: Spoilers Ahead!)

The original Star Wars is a romantic and epic space opera with stunning visual effects, but at the end of the day, it is still an essentially political saga. It is a heroic mainstream statement of the fight against corruption, totalitarianism and injustice. When I first watched A New Hope in the 1980s, though, it was not the political aspect which swept me away from the Aegean small-city life I used to live. Star Wars invited me to travel to different worlds full of creatures in all shapes and sizes. To me, it was a truly romantic story with marvellous music that spoke to my emotions, while politics operated in the background.

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