Week in Review: 7/28 - 8/1


Whether or not you're one to enjoy the scientifically preposterous gambit that is Luc Besson's Lucy, its strong showing at the box office last weekend seems to signal something roundly positive for Hollywood: namely, movies with female leads and original premises (by "original" we mean those storylines that do not build off in sequel, or prequel, or spinoff fashion the plot of something that has already been done. Did we say already?) can lure a sizable audience. Pamela McClintock of The Hollywood Reporter analyzes just how and why Lucy managed to best what should have been stiffer competition, that generous helping of testosterone popularly billed as Hercules.

Unfortunately, not everything over the past several days has echoed the empowering sight of ScarJo in action mode. When The Village Voice writer Stephanie Zacharek asserted her voice in lone opposition to this week's offering to the fanboys, Guardians of the Galaxy, said fanboys turned nasty. Not only did they impugn Zacharek's critical faculties, they attacked her personally, for being a woman, and offered helpful suggestions of the horribly misogynistic sort: "stick to reviewing chick flicks only." Sam Adams of Indiewire took to the site's blog yesterday to air his both male and non-sexist response to those Nathaniel Hawthorne characters calling Zacharek a "harlot," which was nice. Says Adams, "Sick 18th-century burn, dude."

Yes, archaism seems to be the order of things in many places, though happily, not everyone's head is twisted quite so far backwards. UN Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson, for instance, proved she was taking her new role seriously when she tweeted a picture of herself looking considerably less than serious. The actress posted her laughing snap in response to a speech made by Turkish Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, in which he exhorted women to be chaste and "not laugh in public." The silly comment prompted Turkish women to begin tweeting out pictures of themselves giggling, chuckling, guffawing, and otherwise normally (it is sad one could equally say here "defiantly") enjoying themselves, all with the accompanying hashtag, "#direnkahkaha" or "#direnkadin" ("resist laughter" and "resist woman," respectively). Watson's tweet of solidarity read: "#laugh #direnkahkaha @UN_Women." The actress with 14 million Twitter followers has thus earned herself the mantle of Coolest and Best Use of Global Platform this week.

While you'd be hard-pressed to find many a Westerner (all right, besides the GoG "harlot" hordes) who find Watson's stance on international affairs reprehensible, the same cannot be said of the Western response to fellow celebs Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, and Pedro Almodovar. The three, along with several others, earlier this week signed their names to an open letter denouncing Israel's recent bombings of Gaza as "genocide." Cruz and Bardem have each since independently issued "clarification" letters expressing their sympathy and goodwill towards the Israeli people, but one imagines so far as those who are pro-Israel are concerned, loyalties that transcend even Hollywood fandom, the damage has been done.

A sense of irreversibility is something Christopher Nolan, J.J. Abrams, and Quentin Tarantino are trying their darnedest to combat. Film manufacturer Kodak has entered into negotiations with the major studios in an attempt to keep film a viable filmmaking option. Nolan, Abrams and Tarantino are among those who have voiced concern over the recent industry-wide switch to digital shooting and projection, likewise urging Hollywood to halt that technological progress which, as its inevitable byproduct, is making their beloved medium obsolete. Kodak hopes to continue making film available for shooting, distributing and archival purposes.

Will whoever helms the new adaptation of Donna Tartt's Pulitzer-winning novel The Goldfinch for Warner Bros. shoot on film? What about all those forthcoming Harry Potter-related movies Warner Bros. has likewise assembled a task force to plan, among other Potter offerings? One can assume, given the opportunity, Tarantino will certainly shoot his on-again, off-again, back-on-again The Hateful Eight on film.

While you await the answers to those questions, here's a pair of awesome teaser trailers released earlier this week. Should you have more than a minute to spare, Wesley Morris of Grantland's wonderful take on the modern rom-com is well, well worth the read.