Women are Leading Men in New Movies
December 14, 2009
(Makow Comment: these movies are designed to masculinize women and feminize men. They're not social change. They're social engineering. People imitate what they see on the big screen. The Illuminati who control the mass media are deliberately destabilizing society by attacking gender. )
Boorish male louts, step aside. It's the season of the self-possessed woman
by JOHANNA SCHNELLER
THE GLOBE AND MAIL
December 12, 2009
Men are getting the crap kicked out of them this holiday season, emotionally speaking. In movies as diverse as Up in the Air, It's Complicated, The Blind Side and Nine (Image Left), fellas are opening up and breaking down, while hard-charging women drive their lives.
One scene in Up in the Air encapsulates the trend. Ryan (George Clooney), who has spent his life flying away from emotional entanglements (literally - he lives on planes), is having a mess-free affair with the equally relationship-averse Alex (Vera Farmiga). They meet in hotel rooms when their schedules cross, which suits them fine. That is, until Ryan takes Alex to a family wedding, and lets himself fall in love. In one of those swoony, "Harry runs after Sally on New Year's Eve" movie moments, Ryan shows up unannounced on the doorstep of Alex's brownstone and rings the bell.
While waiting for her to answer, he steps down a couple of stairs, so that when she opens the door, we see her from his angle: on a pedestal, haloed by the porch light. But instead of throwing herself into his arms, she nearly shuts the door in his face. When he gets her on the phone days later, she's not contrite - she's furious. He's violated their pact, invaded her space. She crumples his newly opened heart like so much junk mail.
"George looked at me the second day and said, 'You know this is going to be a career-ender for you, don't you?' " Farmiga joked in an interview in September. "The one role where he unabashedly falls for a woman, and she does that to him. Women are expected to be feminine and loving and obliging, so it was hard not to worry, 'What will the audience think?' because it's very easy to think, 'Bitch.' But Jason [Reitman, the writer/director] was adamant with me: Alex is very clear. This is what she needs, this is their agreement, and he betrayed that trust. She's a man like that."
If Clooney is willing to play "the woman" in a relationship, you know there's something in the zeitgeist. And sure enough, no less a testosterone factory than Alec Baldwin does the same thing in It's Complicated, which opens on Christmas Day. It's Complicated was written and directed by Nancy Meyers, and it follows her formula of real-estate porn + quirky middle-aged-heroine commercial success. This film, however, goes particularly around the bend: It's like a Penthouse Forum letter for the estrogen-patch set. Jane (Meryl Streep) has been divorced from Jake (Baldwin) for 10 years. She has three doting grown children, a spectacular house, and a successful business. Jake has a 30-year-old wife with flat abs, a bratty five-year-old and a hankering for baby number two.
But dear Hot Flash Forum, you'll never believe what happens to Jane: Jake falls for her again. He likes her more than his trophy wife. He likes her house more, her body more. He says she's the better mother, lover, listener. He even likes - pardon me, but I'm not making this up - her vagina more. He admits he made a dreadful mistake leaving her; he didn't listen to her enough; he's so, so sorry. He gets it now. He sees her. And she's more fabulous than she's ever been.
God knows, we've seen enough insane male fantasies in movies (strippers with hearts of gold putting themselves through university, etc.), so I suppose Nancy Meyers is entitled to her insane female one. But I was rolling in the aisle. I was especially disappointed to see Baldwin so toothless, because what's the point of an Alec Baldwin with no bite? During one of the many scenes in which his eyes brim with tears, my 16-year-old daughter moaned, "No, Jack Donaghy, no!" (Donaghy being the rip-roaring, self-loving - and much more delightful - bastard Baldwin plays on 30 Rock).
Suffering even more extravagantly than Jake is Guido Contini (Daniel Day-Lewis), the Fellini-like director at the centre of the musical Nine, also due Dec. 25. Guido is completely in thrall to the intoxicating, powerful women in his life, including his mama (Sophia Loren), his muse (Nicole Kidman), his costume designer (Judi Dench), his mistress (Penelope Cruz) and his wife (Marion Cotillard). (This has to be the most Oscar-laden cast in history.)
He's miserable, searching for something that only women can give him, no matter how insatiable and soul-sucking they are. He asks his lover to "be savage." He begs his wife for work advice, because "without you, I won't know what I'm thinking." He calls Italy "a country run by men who are run by women, whether they know it or not." And by the end, he is devoted to being "a man trying to win back his wife."
The examples go on and on. A war hero in Brothers (Tobey Maguire) survives atrocities in Afghanistan, only to be undone by imagining his wife's (Natalie Portman) infidelity. On the new TV series Men of a Certain Age, the heroes (Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula) freely admit that they make no sense without women. The favourite pastime of the successful fast-food franchise owner (Tim McGraw) in The Blind Side is to cheerfully obey every crack of his feisty wife's (Sandra Bullock) whip.
In the magnificent The Last Station (which has opened in the United States, but won't arrive here until February), no less a personage than Leo Tolstoy (Christopher Plummer) is completely dominated by his wife, Sofya (Helen Mirren), while Tolstoy's celibate secretary, Valentin (James McAvoy), is taken firmly, um, in hand by his lover, Maria.
Even the irrepressible thief voiced by Clooney in the excellent animated film Fantastic Mr. Fox is humbled by his missus (Streep). "I love you," she says at a low point, "but I shouldn't have married you." Writer/director Wes Anderson just lets the line fall; it's the most startlingly grown-up sentence I've ever heard in an animated movie.
I'm not sure what explains this crisis of the male oversoul, but I think it has something to do with the large chunk of the population that is now coping with the disappointments and softenings, both physical and emotional, of late middle age. (This is the way the baby boom ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.) I also think we've seen quite enough stories about men who are boorish louts. (I've often wondered why men haven't risen up and complained about that reductive portrayal.)
And maybe, after 40 years of feminism, we're finally seeing onscreen what equality really looks like - a shared sense of human befuddlement that knows, or needs, no gender.