The Michigan Daily - GUSWee e. - Thursday, October 5, 1995 - 3B
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Sitting in some pretentious cafe at 3
in the morning, attempting to memorize
random dates, wars and deaths, I am on
the verge of kicking two of my fellow
customers. Not because history is
boring, but because the two suburban-
grunge girls sitting next to me are going
on and on and on about how much they
love the new heartwarming, women's
film' "Moonlight and Valentino."
To explain in detail the plot of this
sappy piece of gush would be pointless,
but it basically deals with a lot of
women getting together and bonding
over house-painter Jon Bon Jovi's ass.
Deep stuff, eh?
Granted, when anything is presented
s being "heartwarming," or "feel-
good" or God forbid, a "three-hankie
movie," a little radar goes off in my
brain that says "Run! Run!" But a
"heartwarming women's movie" makes
me want to kick someone. And
unfortunately, most so-called "women's
movies" are heartwarming. And those
that aren't are called anti-male paranoia
(attn: "Thelma and Louise"). The recent
slew of sap is no exception.
Historically, films like "The
Women" and "Stella Dallas," estab-
lished the term. The movies were
altemativeAo the action, detective and
western genre pictures produced by
most major Hollywood studios.
Nowadays, it's "Beaches," "Steel
Magnolias," "Boys On The Side" this
summer's "Something to Talk About"
and, of course, "Moonlight and
Valentino" that revive the trend. Yet
these new pictures are not the
"woman's altemative" they once were,
but most frequently, a passive, female-
centered, watered-down version of this
period's comedies and family dramas.
Occasionally, a film that defines the
genre will simultaneously defy it, but
for every "Fried Green Tomatoes" or
5Thelma and Louise," there is a "For
he Boys," "Bad Girls" or "Moonlight
. What's annoying is that the few films
;oming out of Hollywood that warrant
the "women's film" label tend to be
some of the few films coming out of
Hiollywood that are spear-headed by
women at all - precious few feature
wVomen in the top-spot roles of director,
producer, writer, etc.
Yet, the seemingly innocuous label is
detrimental for several reasons. Not
,nly does the proclamation ward off
nany potential male viewers and
segregate the film as being only
appropriate for its intended gender, but
aue to the stigma of the label "women's
lm," it may even alert women who
therwise would have seen the film that
the material will be warm, touchy-feely
and ultimately saccharin. No wonder
ifiese films rarely do the box-office of
their male counterparts.
These films are not an accurate
reflection of the breadth of ideas and
talent of women filmmakers or of male
filmmakers telling stories that feature
Women. What they are an accurate
eflection of is the lack of faith of film
producers in the economic potential of
intelligent, non-sappy films centered
ground women. One can easily imagine
bald, pony-tail weasnn movie exes
eitting around saying "a bunch of
chicks cook and talk about guys? Cool,
women will love it."
Obviously, there are exceptions. The
aforementioned "Thelma and Louise"
$nd "Fried Green Tomatoes," "Crimes
of the Heart," "Ruby In Paradise," "The
Piano," "Little Women," and the
upcoming "How to Make an American
Quilt" and "Home For The Holidays"
immediately come to mind.
But even in these films, these
women's lives revolve almost wholly
around their sexuality. This is not to say
(hat a good film that focuses around
women should deny them the sexusl
part of their identity, however, to give it
full credit for their development not
only sexualizes them, but denies them
Che depth of personality they normally
fulfill off-screen. Is this a throwback to
the restraint of past dcades or a
subtle, right-wing encouragement from
Few and far between is the film that
Is about a man whose whole world is
shattered by a lost relationship or whose
life is utterly meaningless without
someone to love. Men are allowed to
have their sexuality stand as important
but not definitive, as vital but not life-or
=death. When men are portrayed on
screen, their sexuality is just another
sphere of influence in the make-up of
Who they are. When it's women in
"women's films," their sexuality is who
Sorry, but my life just doesn't
revolve around Jon Bon Jovi's ass and
frankly, I can't think of any woman
whose life does. So why push film after
film that say our lives do?
-Alexandra Twin's column appears
in this space biweekly. Contact her
Meg Ryan reincamates'Sally'
By Joshua Rich the dumb. She also starred with Hanks in After all, Ryan has found an
Daily Film Editor the 1993 smash, "Sleepless in Seattle," foolproof way to repeatedly sue
Maybe it's the little sneer her mouth which, as many discovered, really turned the cutthroat world of entertains
makes every time she gets pissed off. out to be "When Harry Met Sally ..." if she remains a pretty face an
Maybe it's the fact that she almostsalways withoutthemeveractually meeting. How her lovable signature role aliv
wears her hair the same way. Maybe it's inventive! her fan base will grow and the
the way she always plays opposite comi- In the middle, Ryan showed up in a will keep rolling in. And this is
cally aggressive, overbearing men. Or slew of films, including "Prelude to a career strategy too sly and w
maybe it's her choice to repeatedly por- Kiss" (1992) and "When a Man Loves intelligent to have been the de
tray attractive yet annoying and idiosyn- a Woman" (1994), opposite hairy- one of her Sally personas. The
cratic women on the big screen. chestedHollywood hunks Alec Baldwin mayactually be a better actress t
Whatever the reason may be, Meg and Andy Garcia, respectively. As ex- leads us to believe.
Ryan often stands out amongst the fe- pected, the roles basically stayed the
male Hollywood elite. But this is not same. In the former she was like a Other Recent Releases Inclu
necessarily due to her (at the very best, whacked-out Sally in La La Land; in
mediocre) acting talent. Her most origi- latter she played an alcoholic Sally on "Bulletproof Heart" - Join
nal and important quality may, in fact, the verge of manic depression. ranks of"The Shawshank Reden
be her uncanny ability to play the same Perhaps the only slightly anomalous and "The Englishman who We
role over and over and over again. And role Ryan has had since "Innerspace," Hill, but Came Down a Mount
she usually succeeds in doing so. in fact, was that of Jim Morrison's sub- one of the latest additions to the'
As it turns out, most all of Ryan's missive fiancee, Pam, in Oliver Stone's Terrible Film Titles Club. This
performances can be tracedback to her greasy bio-pic"The Doors"(1991). This ment certainly sounds like some
signature role as a baby-faced, dim- non-fictional character did not neces- "True Romance" rip-off. You'v
witted and indecisive young woman in sarily fall in line with the usual Ryan- ably got a bad actress scream
Rob Reiner's classic romantic comedy playing-Ryanrule that theactress seems dodging bullets and jumpingi
"When Harry Met Sally ..." (1989). to faithfully adhere to. Nevertheless, it arms of her Jack Nicholson-w
Acting opposite Billy Crystal - "Mr. may have been the closest real-life per- lover (loosely-bound breasts b
Saturday Night" himself- Ryan gave sonality one could find to fit her signa- all the way home), saying suc
an admittedly clever and novel perfor- ture airhead role. lines as: "You're so cool, yo
mance asa confused lover. Her part, of In 1995, Ryan has probably surprised cool" to sum up the whole mes
course, made popular suchbehaviors as no one in bringing us two films, both
ordering food with everything on the with, as always, similar plots and virtu- "Cinderella" (Disney) -On
side, and the unforgettable fake orgasm ally identical characterizations. "I.Q." all time favorite Disney cartoo
over a pastrami sandwich. saw her as Sally playing opposite the nally available on home video.
Yet one may argue that it all really always humble Tim Robbins with can truly understand whatJulia
began two years earlier, with 1987's Walter Matthau as a cantankerous Albert ... grooowwwl" Roberts and La
"Innerspace" - the first of three films Einstein in the staple "Hello Dolly!" Giacomo were talking about in
(before 1988's "D.O.A." and 1993's matchmaker part. Later,she starred with Woman." Of course, little didv
"Flesh and Bone") in which she starred Kevin Kline in "French Kiss"- avail- ize then that the whole flick isa
opposite husband Dennis Quaid. As the able on home video this week - which a carbon copy of the classic ch
girlfriend of a miniature man shot into turned out to be a movie more appropri- tale. In Julie's version, she ha
Martin Short's butt, it was in that film ately titled: "Quand Henri a fait la evil step-sisters (other pim
that Ryan began her long streak por- Conaissance avec Sallie ..." whores), a prince charming (I
traying the "Sally" character. What a surprise ... Meg Ryan made "Gigolo" Gere), a ride home in
She continued acting seductively stu- another film playing the same basic pumpkin (a Ferrari or somethi
pid in John Patrick Shanley's silly fable, part involved in the same basic plot. loses her glass slipper (use your
"Joe Versus the Volcano" (1990), play- And as is so often the case, we paid to nation ...).
ing(forthe first time)oppositeuber-actor see her. So why do we keep going back
Forrest - um, I mean, Tom - Hanks. to watch thisactressknowing perfectly Corning soon...
Unlike most ofher filmshowever, Ryan well how her character and the overall "Casper"
not only bore her traditional golden locks movie will arrive? Who knows. One "Destiny Turns on the Radio
for the part, but also played identical thing, however, can surely be said about "Friday"
women with red and black hair. Yes, it this attractive and moderately-talented "Rob Roy"
was three times the Meg and three times woman: She's smart. "Tommy Boy"
"Village of the Damned"
Rs7 7 W7ding
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ns is fi Oh Sally! You ard so beautiful, we want to see you again and again and again..;
i"Prettya B Y S L
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it's Henri meets Sally... no, Sleepless in Paris... I mean Prelude to a French Kiss?
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