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the film criticism aspect of cyber | by maryann johanson

time-traveling husbands are implausible, but aliens who like cat food aren’t?

Plus: Roger Friedman just now noticed how Hollywood hates women?

Yup, it’s another installment of The Week in Women, over at the Alliance of Women Film Journalists.

Enjoy.



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  • sherry

    I think I get what you are saying and agree with your descriptions of the tendencies of critics related to gender.
    Interestingly enough, I did hear a review by two guys who parodied a situation where a film maker tries to sell his idea of these aliens who eat cat food, etc., and they could not buy it, but I think they did like the film. As I recall, they also gave a pretty good review of Time Travellers Wife. They are the Filmspotting guys, Adam and Matty. I think Mark Kermode of BBC also commented favorably on the clothes-left-behind aspect of the TTW science, although he and his cohort made great fun of the way Americans spell “traveler”, and other words, like “judgement”.

  • SaintAndy

    For the most part, I do agree with you. It’s obvious Hollywood churns out sexist, misogynistic crap, and that great roles for actresses are few and far between.One look at the state of rom-coms shows just how little they seem to think of people and their feelings in general, let alone women. However, I also think that sometimes you take this truth to extremes.

    Case in point: D9 vs TTW. I’m not sure the problem here is indeed related to the target audiences. Suspension of disbelief works in any medium, whether film or literature, as long as the material itself justifies it. In other words, if a film is bad, the audience will surely start to nitpick its flaws and plot holes, simply because the film isn’t good enough to make them look the other way, and to focus on the story/message/emotionality.

    Moreover, I also believe the TTW was based on a great, and original (or at least original twist) idea. The problem is not that the apparent target audience of this film is women, the problem is that the treatment of this idea is not good enough. It’s like a wasted opportunity, because instead of focusing on those fears of abandonment, and of also escaping your responsibilities, the film plays out as your standard romance of the week, with a lot of sighing and lovelorn looks.

    I can’t help but think that TTW could’ve been a much better film had it been done in Britain, or Europe. Hollywood does have a penchant for turning everything into romantic mush, whereas British film makers, for instance, always take a more adult approach, with much more satisfying results.

    Also, I don’t know the first thing about the community of American critics, but simply by reading the reviews listed on RottenTomatoes, you notice that women critics too were displeased with TTW, because they considered it flat and uninvolving, not because it has an implausible concept.

  • JoshB

    A genetic disorder that causes time-travel is not implausible, it’s impossible. Eric Bana’s DNA forms proteins that create black holes? Uhhh…

    The implausibilities that you list from D9 are not so far-fetched as you make them out. An alien species capable of interstellar travel would likely have mapped out planets that they knew were capable of sustaining their own lives. If they had evolved on a gas giant then they would have stopped on Jupiter or Saturn.

    As for their cat food addiction, well, already you can see how it affects them differently. For some reason their own biochemistry reacts to cat food the same way ours would to cocaine. It’s possible that it isn’t really food to them at all.

    Not the D9 didn’t make my inner scientist squirm. The alien fluid and its two different uses, well, that was implausible. If I were a critic I would definitely have noted that in my review.

    Also, ‘guy’ movies do get made fun of for this sort of silliness. Remember Independence Day and Jeff Goldbloom’s virus?

  • I haven’t had the chance to see either film but I wanted to add that any fantastical film has to have an air of plauseabilty for me to accept it.

    In relation to TTW, the premise sounds no more or less plauseable than The butterfly effect, while I could accept the idea of a man willing himself to time travel I thought the way it was presented was less than stellar, but that is just my opinion. Point is that its how the movie is done that makes the factors to how I view it.

    On gender bias, yes its been a huge part of the hollywood landscape for decades and is one I wish would change quickly.

  • MaryAnn

    you notice that women critics too were displeased with TTW, because they considered it flat and uninvolving, not because it has an implausible concept.

    As I noted in the actual piece at AWFJ, even some male critics who wrote *positive* reviews of *TTW* have gone out of their way to indicate how implausible they think the whole thing is. But female critics who don’t like *TTW* don’t feel the need to call it implausible.

    As I also wrote over there:

    To my mind, D9 is unquestionably the superior film (though I do like Wife, too). And if I want to be generous to my fellow critics, perhaps the explanation for the apparent disparity in how the two films are being treated can be found here: the qualifiers about implausibility may merely be those critics trying to figure out why they cannot be as enthusiastic as Wife as they can be about D9.

    [snip]

    So why all the handwringing over The Time Traveler’s Wife? Is it that Wife isn’t a great movie, merely a pretty good one? Or is it that men are less willing to suspend their disbelief when approaching a movie that’s about emotions instead of explosions?

    If you’re just reading my TWIW teaser here, you’re really not getting the whole gist of it. :->

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