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Sisters in the Struggle: SUFFRAGETTE, FREEHELD, THE KEEPING ROOM

Saturday, October 10, 2015

Discussion of Three Female Driven Movies Screened Back to Back - "Suffragette", "Freeheld" and
"The Keeping Room"


By Tinsel & Tine Editor, Le Anne Lindsay


SUFFRAGETTE - which takes place in England (1920's) during the height of the feminist movement led by Emmeline Pankhurst's (Meryl Streep) Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU) which was founded in 1897, but after years of peaceful methods of trying to gain women the right to vote without success, the WSPU began practicing militant, radical and rebellious methods to call attention to their cause. Most of the characters in the film are composites of Suffragette's of the time representing both upper class and working class women. Pankhurst and Emily Wilding Davison (Natalie Press), who was trampled to death at the Epsom Derby, either attempting to put a Vote for Women banner on the King's horse during the race or deliberately committed suicide to draw attention to the cause, are the only two historical figures represented in the piece. The Protagonist is Maud Watts (Carey Mulligan) a young woman whose mother died from an injury suffered working at a laundry factory, leaving her daughter Maud to be raised living at the factory under terrible working conditions and the sexually perversity of the owner. It's a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and mild curiosity, which brings Maud face to face with the Suffragette movement.

After the film there was a Suffragette Photo Booth

The film's gray, drab coloring and harsh circumstances of many of the women, both in and out of prison, does not make for a particularly rousing, feel good film, as of course, it's not meant to. Bottom line: I was engaged but not gripped. Yet, as with many movies about slavery, Suffragette also made me stop and think of the souls that suffered and gave their lives, so that I can now live in relative comfort and equality. Although, as a side note: I've come to understand most suffrage movements did not welcome black women into the ranks. Directed by Sarah Gavron / written by Abi Morgan
Read about this T-shirt controversy. Come on, don't take everything so literal and out of context
Pathé, Film4 Productions, BFI, Ingenious Media, Canal+Ciné+, Ruby Films,Distributed by Focus Features

T&T's LAMB Score 3 Outta 5


FREEHELD - Ocean County NJ. Det. Laurel Hester (Julianne Moore) is on her way to making Lieutenant, but not she feels, if it's known that she's a lesbian. So she socializes away from Ocean County and not even her partner on the force, Dane (Michael Shannon) suspects the truth.  What Laurel didn't expect was to fall in love with a pint sized woman, half her age, Stacie (Ellen Page).  It's Stacie who makes the first move asking Laurel for her number after meeting during a game of volleyball.  Their first date ends badly due to Laurel's "rules" and need to be in charge. Still, Stacie gives her a second chance and soon they become inseparable, but their relationship remains secret. Just as you're starting to fall for them as a couple - bam! Laurel gets hit with the news of stage 3 lung cancer.

New Jersey is the only state where elected county officials are called "freeholders." Laurel's need for secrecy and privacy go out the window as she files with the Board of Freeholders to request her pension go to her legal domestic partner in the event of her untimely death. Only these frickin freeholders are the most arrogant, selfish, unenlightened, privileged bunch of white guys you've ever seen! Well, 4 of the 5 of them, one wants to do the right thing, but feels ineffectual as the newest member of the board and doesn't want to make waves.  Neither of these non-activist, private women would have ever dreamed this one request would become a major battle and ultimately be a step on the Gay Rights road to the Supreme Court ruling granting same-sex marriage in all states.  

Bottom Line: I'm glad Freeheld was made, as it says a lot about how a small group of people can make a big difference when it comes to seeking justice.  And Julianne Moore will undoubtedly be up for a Golden Globes and possibly Oscar for once again (Still Alice) going without make up and being a very ill, sympathetic character.  And it's Ellen Page's first role as a lesbian since officially coming out. Directed by Peter Sollett / Written by Ron Nyswaner 

Endgame Entertainment  Distributed by Summit Entertainment

T&T's LAMB Score 3 Outta 5


THE KEEPING ROOM - I got to see this one as a screener directly sent from Drafthouse Films. In this radically reimagined American Western set towards the end of the Civil War, Southerner Augusta (Brit Marling, Another Earth, I Origins) encounters two renegade, drunken soldiers (Sam Worthington, Avatar and Kyle Soller, BBC’s “Poldark”) who are on a mission of pillage and violence. After escaping an attempted assault, Augusta races back to the isolated farmhouse that she shares with her sister Louise (Hailee Steinfeld, True Grit, Pitch Perfect 2) and their female slave Mad (newcomer Muna Otaru.) When the pair of soldiers track Augusta down intent on exacting revenge, the trio of women are forced to take up arms to fend off their assailants, finding ways to resourcefully defend their home––and themselves.

You know the part of Gone with the Wind, near the end of the war right before Scarlett's famous "As God is my witness" speech, when her sisters don't want to help farm potatoes and their father is out of his head and Scarlett has to defend Tara against drifters and deserters.  Well, that's similar to The Keeping Room, only Augusta and Louise don't even have a daft father to turn to, all they have is one faithful slave who cooks up a pot full of the most non-filling, tasteless looking carrot and potato soup I've ever seen. Not that it's Mad's fault, she doesn't have much to work with and neither does this film.

Bottom line: Again, I'm happy this movie was made as I love women heroes, and the idea of a female driven western. All 3 actresses are great in their respective roles. Production wise, you certainly feel the rural loneliness these women must endure. The theme of three women needing to rely on each other despite their differences, is a good one to explore... yet... for one thing I feel the the scenes are too slow and quiet for my taste, sometimes a slow build to action works, it doesn't in this movie. It's difficult to put my finger on exactly what's missing, other than to say it's got no spark. Side note: why so often do movies show a woman doing something to make a dangerous man angry and then they stand and wait for the blow, why not at least try to run or duck or look for a weapon, when you know he's about to strike?!?  Directed by Daniel Barber / Written by Julia Hart

Anonymous Content, Gilbert Films, Wind Dancer Productions,Distributed by Drafthouse Films

T&T's LAMB Score 3 Outta 5

 
SUMMARY: I wish I had really loved these three movies or even one of them, because it's so important to tell stories about women of all different ages, backgrounds, and time periods showing grit, fortitude, intelligence and heart. In no way were these movies lacking because they starred women or were about women's struggles. They are all well made, well documented, strong films, just without that lightening in a bottle thing that happens to make you apart of the movie.  However, the important common denominator between Suffragette, Freeheld and The Keeping Room is each film's ability to bring to light how despicable men in power positions tend to be throughout the ages.  It's men who normally have the ability to right wrongs, create justice and equality or simply not rape women because they're living alone in the wilderness, and yet you see so many men do exactly the opposite in movies, because it so often happened and continues to happen in life.





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is about discovering what I find pleasing in screening & eating - in case you missed it, the name is a play on Tinseltown using the Tines of a Fork.

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Will there ever be a cap on movie prices?

Will we one day pay $20 a pop?

Why don't we pay on a scale?

A crap movie like everything Adam Sandler has ever done should cost about $4.50.
Big action movies like"Lord of the Rings", "Iron Man," "Transformers" are worth $10.
Woody Allen movie or something like "Silver Linings Playbook" $6-$7.
A chick flick or light comedy $5.75 and most Indie Films $5.25.

You could even do it by seasons - all summer block busters from May to August - $10
Sept - November 15th $3.50 - $4
Back to $10 for Thanksgiving and Christmas etc...

Or you can do it by A Actors ($9 - $10), B Actors ($6 - $7) TV actors on the big screen ($3.50 - $4)

Surely I'm not the first person to realize this makes sense. Has it been voted on in the Motion Picture Industry and then vetoed? If so, why?
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