Posts tagged ‘movies and tv trends’

February 19, 2013

All the CIA ladies

the human spies are women

Having recently finished my prep for the Academy Awards — I have already watched all of the Best Picture nominees, which covers a lot of other categories as well — I did notice the divide between the two trends of favorites — American slavery versus the CIA. While I did have a hard time deciding between Argo, Django Unchained, Amour, Silver Linings and Zero Dark Thirty, in the end, what I truly hear my heart singing is Argo fuck yourself.

That, however, is just a practically unrelated introduction to the matter of CIA ladies. If teenage vampires and the revamping of Snow White (and as of later, Grimm princesses in general) have been ruling the world of television and cinema for a few years now, the women at the Company have been given their fair share amount of spotlight without me particularly noticing it until now: Homeland, of course, Covert Affairs, Zero Dark Thirty.

I guess there has been no relevant tale of female spies since Mata Hari, who is, by the way, not a fictional character (but perhaps I’m just not knowledgeable on this particular subject, female spies, and it is just I who have not heard of the others). That of course until now that we have Claire Danes, Jessica Chastain and in a lighter mood, Piper Perabo representing for us the true personal hardship that is endured by the good covert people gathering intelligence for America at the Agency.

Argo — like I said, my favorite movie this year (except for Intouchables, which in fact was my favorite movie this year, but it’s just not running for the Oscars) — is a (true, or almost) tale of bravery and patriotism, spiced up with a delicious dose of nonsense and of course, success, and I do love a happy ending. The main character played by Ben Affleck is a flawless man — in fact, his flaws are those of others, such as his wife, who has left him for not being able to cope with the secrecy that came with his job. His thoughts and actions are all mission and country, plus he’s the coolest CIA agent ever, with some amazing Hollywood connections. This, I repeat, is the portrayal of a real man, not a James Bond or a Jack Ryan (though he does remind me of the latter).

The CIA ladies, however, are problematic. Annie Walker from Covert Affairs is the one with the least problems — she falls in love with some very wrong dudes (such as an FSB spy or a rogue ex-CIA agent) and sees her relationship with her sister become a very difficult one from the moment she joins the Agency. Carrie Mathison from Homeland is on the verge of lunacy, having bipolar and borderline personality disorder and falling in love with even more wrong dudes such as an American (cough British) soldier turned by the TV series’ resident Bin Laden. Maya from Zero Dark Thirty has no love life — no personal life at all — and no particular issues with promoting torture. As the years go by and she sees many of her friends die in the hands of Muslim terrorists, the quest for Bin Laden (the real one in this case) becomes a personal matter to her.

What they all have in common is that they have deep personal issues (even if due to the complete absence of a personal life) and that they follow their instincts almost irrationally, or at least that is how their colleagues often perceive their initiatives. Brilliance is eventually conceded to those women, but always at the great cost of being on the verge of losing all credibility. On the other hand, the male spies we have come to know are creatures of distinct rationality and perceived audacity, not lunacy (we should perhaps nod to the construction of the new kind of fucked-up James Bond, who is, however, at least how I understand it, on a carefully crafted path to becoming the good old proper one), who do not have any particular concern about their family and friends that are worthy to be portrayed for longer than five minutes per episode, if that much.

Basically, the women were chosen to portray frailty — an angle rather absent from the espionage thematic until our recent times. The question remains — what lies behind the media choosing the female to represent the human side to anything? Something of which to be aware.

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June 4, 2012

Snow White x Snow White

The recent Snow White obsession is probably the strangest to hit Hollywood during my lifetime. I remember learning about one of the movies for the first time when its trailer played previously to the beginning of the picture I was going to actually watch, don´t remember which one right now: It was two or three months ago, I think. Sort of like a dream, I had this foggy memory of Julia Roberts playing the evil Queen and kept wondering why the f…hell they had a Chinese girl playing Snow White — I know Lilly Collins actually has big eyes, but for some reason that´s how I perceived her at that point.

Later on I downloaded some episodes of Top Chef of the most recent season available at the time and to my surprise, Charlize Theron was invited to be a guest judge in a challenge inspired by her new,  soon to be released blockbuster… Snow White. I was like… I couldn´t have confused Julia Roberts with Charlize Theron — they are vastly different human beings. It got worst when I also learned Charlize´s co-star was Kristen Stewart: I couldn´t possibly have mistaken her for a Chinese girl! Finally I figured out that there were actually two Snow White motion pictures being released at the same time, and that no Chinese person was involved in any of them — at least not in the main cast (however, while doing research to find images for this post, I learned that there was a third Snow White movie project — this one done by Disney — which was finally cancelled, quite recently in fact, after ten years in the oven, and THAT project included Chinese people, although not specifically Snow White, who was to be a British lady heading to Hong Kong in the 19th century for her father´s funeral and then I don´t know how the Chinese warriors would have entered the story, but apparently, they would, had the movie gone ahead).

Well, one thing that struck me as another bizarre coincidence was the fact that both cast directors made heavy bets on the spectator´s good will in accepting their respective Snow Whites as beauties greater than their evil stepmothers: Lilly Collins is a strange choice when it comes to thinking of the fairest young lady of the land — she´s just cute, you know, and her father is a cool musician — and to compare Charlize Theron to Kristen Stewart is just mean in my humble opinion. Well, maybe they just wanted us to focus on the beauty inside or something.

Having said that, it is somewhat expected that the story was updated in the sense of incorporating more girl power to it, more specifically: both young ladies are at some point trained to kick ass and end up leading armies that storm into the evil Queen´s castle and take over the throne in the name of the fair and generous princess, who is also the rightful heiress to the deceased king.

I guess it´s funny that Snow White — the most boring Grimm story EVER in my opinion — has suddenly gotten all that attention from the entertainment industry. I thought the Green Lantern was a venture unexpected enough, but this is truly a more meaningful surprise brought to us by Hollywood: it is almost as if the studios decided to challenge themselves by turning the girlier, sissier heroin there ever was into a warrior.

Mirror, Mirror, to my surprise, is the winner in the competition. Not because the distance between the beauties of Charlize and Kristen is too large to be bared, but because I just was not sold on the Lord of The Rings vibe — that sort of dark and beautiful land, with magical sanctuaries and surprises — nor the combination of Frodo and Bella that surrounds the Snow White that pairs with the Huntsman was very appealing to me. Finally, I also blame Charlize for not being able to convince me of her immense cruelty — she kind of did a “dark voice” that was a little too much in my opinion and reminded me of the House Bunny movie with Anna Faris — her character would repeat anything she needed to remember, like someone´s name, in a truly grave tone, in order to memorize it. Lilly Collins did the naive, charming and strong thing in a much more convincing fashion, appropriately limiting the drama, and Julia Roberts was a very great surprise with her almost drag-queen like villain.

So, which Snow White movie do you prefer (if any)? And are you upset you will not be catered anymore to a third one with a Chinese spin on it?

Charlize kicks Kristen´s ass onscreen…

 

…and on the red carpet too.

 

P.S.: I also hated the way both movies reconstructed the magic mirror part of the story. Why couldn´t they do with a simple mirror talking back to ya?

P.P.S.: Chris Hemsworth should participate in all movies there are. I mean, seriously.

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