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Femme Fatales, Son of Saul, The Revenant, A Perfect Day

Femme Fatales,”Son of Saul,” “The Revenant,” “A Perfect Day.” are the four essentials for February 5th, 2016

Robert is heading out for a cruise to Tierra del Fuego and points around. Wow!
His job is to talk about movies during the long nights and far passages. That’s our job too, on this podcast.

One of his talks will be a reinterpretation and reconsideration of the femme fatale character from Film Noir. She is much more than the one-dimensional person conventional thinking tries to dictate. We talk about Joan Crawford, Barbara Stanwyck, Jane Greer and others. Robert says the femme fatale is a strong woman leading weaker men into her dangerous clutches, but what options did she have?

Back in the 70’s the film critic Molly Haskell took an early foray into feminist film criticism with “From Reverence to Rape: The Treatment of Women in the Movies.”
She found that the strong powerful women in film of the 30’s fell into a few categories in “Women’s films.” During that era, women actors portrayed mothers, daughters, lovers and fighters. By the 40’s the star system and the end of the war gave us the femme fatale, who could be strong, but better not survive by the end of the movie. If she does, she better go to prison or mend her ways. The films pushed women back into the kitchen as the men came home from war. Rosie the Riveter lost her job. Here is a nice review, updating some ideas from the book.

“Son of Saul” is an Oscar nominated foreign language film about the Holocaust. It’s a powerful portrayal of a character’s survival. Some critics find that it does raise questions about the film using the Shoah as a perhaps a backdrop. But you could say many films have done that already sometimes to the point of seeming to trivialize the horror. But most feel this single character’s narrowly portrayed experience performs just as movies are supposed to. We liked it.

While “Son of Saul’s” claustrophobic violence reveals human nature within the small rooms of the death camps, “The Revenant” exults in the violence of nature, including the human part. The Mexican director Alejandro Inarritu has presented an international audience a singular vision of the American west. Though based on a true story, he takes a tale of survival and revenge into the very dark heart of colonialism, genocide and greed.

“A Perfect Day” is essential four, a film set in the Balkans during the wars of the 90’s. If it was meant to be a modernized version of Altman’s M*A*S*H or Heller’s Catch-22, but it doesn’t quite gel. Benecio Del Toro is great. It also stars Tim Robbins Olga Kurylenko, Melanie Thierry. It is supposed to be a black comedy, but the tone is off, the guys overdrawn as world-weary macho souls and it felt out of date.