AN ANGRY WOMAN READS AUSTEN

Elise Walter | October 12, 2018
I left Washington DC with relief and regret.
Relief to escape the relentless, oppressive landscape of a new political reality, and regret that I was running away from a fight. The rights and dignity of so many people were–are–being stripped away, day by day. I was and remain furious. How could I justify abandoning my work to study literature, when everything else was burning? What good does reading Jane Austen do?

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Show, don’t Tell: the Representation of Homoeroticism in the Movie Dorian Gray

Maja Petek | October 8, 2018
What comes to mind when hearing about Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)? It is probably not the flowery language or witty social commentary, but the homoeroticism present throughout the novel, especially in the portrayal of the friendship between male characters. The implicit homoeroticism of the novel was greatly augmented in the latest reincarnation of the story, the movie Dorian Gray (2009). Directed by Oliver Parker and starring Colin Firth as Lord Henry and Ben Barnes as Dorian, the movie failed to attract a lasting audience, despite adapting Wilde’s subtlety to the modern audience’s demands for sensation. Despite the unfiltered portrayal of sexual exploits, the emotional connection between the characters, especially between the painter Basil Hallward (Ben Chaplin) and Dorian Gray, which builds the backbone of the story, is never addressed.  

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Recomposing Caesuras: The Silent Creativity of Sounds in A Quiet Place

Alexandra Huang | August 8, 2018
Ghastly verisimilar, aurally suffocating, and acoustically pioneering, John Krasinski’s sci-fi thriller A Quiet Place (2018) enacts the post-apocalyptic survival story revolving around the families of Lee and Evelyn (played by John Krasinski and Emily Blunt). Entangled in a fatal hide-and-seek human hunt in an unidentified wasteland set in America, the eerily predatory monsters attempt to trace the protagonists by utilizing auditory clues to target their prey across the ravaged planet. Witnessing the tragic deprivation of their youngest child by the reptilic monstrosities, the family is reduced to a miserable, quasi-mimical way of life against the backdrop of elegiac, death-like silence.

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On the Hollywood Trend of Woman-Centered Remakes

Whitney Hubbell | July 3, 2018
Ocean’s 8 has just hit theaters and so far has unsurprisingly received mixed reviews. The film definitely has appeal: it boasts an undeniably great cast – Cate Blanchett, Helena Bonham Carter, Sandra Bullock, Mindy Kaling, Anne Hathaway, even Rihanna – and an intriguing concept, being an all-woman heist film. However, the film’s title and the name of Sandra Bullock’s character (Debbie Ocean) reveals that it’s basically just a rehashing of the earlier Ocean’s films starring George Clooney as Danny Ocean. But Ocean’s 8 is just the latest in a growing trend of Hollywood remakes in which the formerly male cast is replaced with women.

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Handle with Care: Representing Chinese Factory Workers

Penny Wang | June 11, 2018
Stories about the miseries of Chinese factory workers have been regarded in the West as welcome gestures against the dehumanising globalised market economy to which China has submitted itself. These expository accounts have been applauded as signs of critical reflections against the silence imposed by the Chinese government—a government the Western media label as authoritarian and indifferent to the lower-income populations victimised by its profit-oriented policies. Much as I appreciate the necessity of such exposés, either through reports or slightly fictionalised accounts, I usually find these narratives deeply problematic. Taking an event I recently attended as an example—a screening of the short film Before Christmas directed by Chuyao He on 11 May at Edinburgh Printmakers (part of the Edinburgh Short Film Festival), I would like to examine exactly what is wrong with these representations.

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Their Unrelenting Eyes: I Feel Pretty and the Entrapment of Narcissism

Nadia Ahmed | June 4, 2018
Addressing the lives of women, particularly white, heterosexual, cisgender, American women, is the film I Feel Pretty, which came out last month. What struck me upon watching this film was that the main character’s sense of self compares so closely to the narcissistic woman described in Simone de Beauvoir’s work The Second Sex (1949).  This article is concerned with drawing parallels between I Feel Pretty and The Second Sex in order to question the transcendence of the protagonist, Renee (played by Amy Schumer), who, bored and unsatisfied with her life, inculcates herself into a state of self-obsession.

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Stories Worth Telling: Black Panther and the Rise of Diversity in Popular Culture

Patricia Ng | March 28, 2018
No matter what you say about the Marvel cinematic franchise, they are making some bold moves. Rather than simply making films about popular superheroes, they have now moved on to lesser-known characters, especially those belonging to minority groups. The newly released Black Panther is certainly one of their best examples. Featuring T’Challa (Black Panther), the king of the fictional African nation Wakanda, as the lead, the film can be seen as yet another attempt to diversify the entertainment industry. In recent years, Hollywood has been producing more and more movies with female leads and a culturally diverse cast, like the upcoming female spin-off of Ocean’s Eleven and the multi-ethnic cast in the new Star Wars reboot films. There is nothing wrong with creating films that don’t have white male leads, and we should welcome narratives that promote diversity. Yet, with the rise of such a trend in popular culture, one has to question what it means for a diverse narrative to be good.

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Fantastic Catharsis and Where to Find It

Laurie Beckoff | March 27, 2018
Fantasy, science fiction, and other speculative genres are often pejoratively labelled ‘escapist’, accused of being too distant from real-world issues and allowing audiences to dissociate from reality to indulge in daydreams. They let us forget about the problems plaguing our society so that we can enjoy an action-packed adventure or a whimsical jaunt through a magical land.

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Empty Words: The Politics of Performing Change

Anahit Behrouz | January 10, 2018
In an article for The Pool published the week before the 2018 Golden Globes ceremony, film critic Helen O’Hara questioned what a Hollywood awards ceremony would look like in a post-Weinstein world. O’Hara argued that although women only get 27% of the lines in the average Oscar-winning film, this year’s Golden Globes nominee list showed a progression towards a more equal awards ceremony, with numerous women and female-focused films up for consideration. As heartening as this may be, O’Hara did not delve into the question of how the mechanics of an awards ceremony in a post-Weinstein world would work, and what the optics would look like in an industry spending millions of dollars in self-congratulation during the same year that its ugly underbelly has been exposed.

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