The Clash Film Column: Fading, Glamorously

Maps To The Stars is our pick…

It’s not that hard to treat everyone in the same way, regardless of gender, is it?

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The Clash Film Column: Fading, Glamorously

That was the week in which…

Emma Watson spoke at the launch of the HeForShe gender equality campaign, a speech that perhaps can be best summarised with the following paragraph:

"It is time that we all see gender as a spectrum instead of two sets of opposing ideals. We should stop defining each other by what we are not and start defining ourselves by who we are. We can all be freer, and this is what HeForShe is about. It’s about freedom. I want men to take up this mantle so their daughters, sisters and mothers can be free from prejudice, but also so their sons have permission to be vulnerable and human, too, and in doing so be a more true and complete version of themselves.”

The essence of her argument was brilliant in its simplicity. Gender equality is an issue of solidarity, a dual sex issue with clear benefits for everyone: equality for women in terms of rights and opportunities together with an erosion of the expectations of masculinity that results in suicide being the biggest killer of men aged 20-49. As Watson stated: “I’ve seen men made fragile and insecure by a distorted sense of what constitutes male success. Men don’t have the benefits of equality, either.”

The initial response was an odd mix of the predictably depressing and the altogether more positive before the story took a series of unlikely twists.

The wider solution is one that will only evolve over time: a single speech can only be a sparking point. Yet it has to be done. As Watson stated: “In my nervousness for this speech and my moments of doubt, I’ve told myself firmly, ‘If not me, who? If not now, when?’ If you have similar doubts when opportunities are presented to you, I hope that those words will be helpful because the reality is, if we do nothing, it will take 75 years… before women can expect to be paid the same as men for the same work – 15.5 million girls will be married in the next 16 years as children and, at current rates, it won’t be until 2086 before all rural African girls can have a secondary education.”

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The Clash Film Column: Fading, Glamorously

The Big Film: Maps To The Stars

If last month’s The Congress (review) was considered to be one of the most anti-Hollywood films ever made, the return of David Cronenberg with Maps To The Stars takes that outlook and smashes it to the next extreme.

This depiction of Hollywood is a place where dreams die: their desires lost in a cultural cesspit of lost souls, exploitative ghouls and stratospheric egos. It’s deliciously postmodern that Robert Pattinson is the biggest star on display, but his role as a struggling actor/celeb chauffeur is overwhelmed by young Evan Bird as one of the most sickeningly over-indulged child stars imaginable.

Attempting to mix contemporary satire with family drama while targeting a fecundity of ambitions which collapse into a nightmarish sewer, Bruce Wagner’s screenplay attempts to cover so much ground that it sags in terms of pure plotting. It barely matters, however, for the sheer venom of his words is gleefully acerbic. These are vomit-in-glass characters pampered by fame and fortune to intergalactic levels. They have everything and deserve nothing.

Far more accessible than Cronenberg’s previous film Cosmopolis, the director captures an element of faded film glamour in the flashback visions that haunt its protagonists who themselves live in an environment that resembles a slick daytime soap. It’s a sickly sinister journey.

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The Clash Film Column: Fading, Glamorously

Also Out: I Origins

Mike Cahill sets the scene for an almighty piece of work in his latest directorial outing, I Origins. The plot? To settle the debate between science and religion through nothing but optometry. It’s a captivating concept that unfortunately turns out to be the best part of a story that lost its soul somewhere between the set and the screen.

The opening 20 minutes offers a brief introduction to the leads, but it's all too hurried as character development is skipped in a series of nostalgia-hazed montages, resulting in a discernible lack of connection with any of the main players.

Michael Pitts as Dr Ian Gray never really dominates as the story’s driving force, arguably due to his living in a state of perpetual pre-occupation; if not with his work then with one of the all-too polarised women in his life: one a bespectacled doormat, the other too infuriatingly quirky to deal with. Think a grungier, more temperamental version of Zooey Deschanel’s character in 500 Days Of Summer.

That said, Cahill does deliver a wonderful exploration of New York City, but this alone fails to hold your attention. It’s a film that lacks the courage to fully address the science versus religion debate and ends up all too easy to take your eyes off. Words: Gareth Kolze-Jones

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The Clash Film Column: Fading, Glamorously

Shorts

Liam Neeson seems to play approximations of the exact same character in every film, but good for him: audiences still approve as A Walk Among The Tombstones (review) was by far the highest new entry at last weekend’s UK box office. In fact, a measly (well, in terms of box office stats) £16,000 more would’ve toppled The Boxtrolls from the summit. The Riot Club followed at #5 followed by Nick Cave’s 20,000 Days On Earth at #8 and Woody Allen’s Magic in the Moonlight at #12.

Simon Pegg’s Reddit AMA included the discovery of a very creepy parody poster for Shaun of the Planet of the Apes, a fan who was inspired to give up drinking after seeing The World’s End and how the Cornetto Trilogy came to, erm, have a Cornetto in each film: “That was an accident. We put one in Shaun Of The Dead, we got free ice cream at the premiere, so we thought we’d put one in Hot Fuzz so we could get more free ice cream, and it became the linking factor, the thing that people focused on as the linking factor in the movies, when really the linking factors were more complex, but ice cream is easier to explain.”

Finally, Julianne Moore can surely have her pick of the best roles available… But Havana Segrand can’t be so selective:

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Words: Ben Hopkins except where indicated

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