Tag Archives: feminism

Tribeca 2018, Part 2: Fuck-Ups or Just Funny?

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

I don’t mean to be glib when I say that this year’s Tribeca is, like some Tribecas of the past, pretty big on women-fucking-up indie movies. I’m actually pretty excited to say that, because women-fucking-up indies tend to be a lot more fresh and a lot less mopey than their male counterparts, the latter tending to be awash with sensitive acoustic guitar music, passivity, beards, and Manic Pixie Dream Girls.

There actually might be a Manic Pixie Dream Girl of sorts in Duck Butter (Grade: C-), or maybe she’s a commentary on one; it’s hard to tell, because the movie is so low-key unpleasant. Sergio (Laia Costa) meets Naima (Alia Shawkat, who co-wrote the film with director Miguel Arteta) in between Naima’s first day on the set of an indie movie and the next day, when she is told she’s been fired; Sergio is first seen singing in public in a way that’s not very good but supposed to be bold and charming (not a good sign) and makes a post-hookup proposal that Naima initially rejects, then warms to after her firing: Why don’t they spend a full 24 hours together, having sex every hour or so, as a way of jumpstarting their intimacy and honesty?

Why not? Well, mostly because it’s exhausting, even with a 93-minute running time. Sergio acts vaguely mercurial (which is to say petulant), Naima acts vaguely overcautious (which is to say normal), and rather than a fuller understanding of their characters, you mostly get an idea of what kind of thought-experiment noodling Shawkat and Arteta would like to see from the movies they watch. Credit due, though: Duck Butter (which opens today in limited release and hits VOD next week) is the first movie where I’ve seen both Duplass Brothers playing themselves, and the awkwardness of their interactions with Naima feel more like vintage (if second-tier) Arteta.

Naima is an actress who is too self-conscious about the shitty state of the world to appear especially creative. Two more Tribeca movies focus on women who use their creativity to fight their crummy circumstances, not so much women-fucking-up movies (though one sort of takes the form of one) as women-fucking-shit-up movies. The documentary Love, Gilda (Grade: B-) chronicles the life of peerless SNL player Gilda Radner, who died far too soon at the age of 42, from ovarian cancer. The film, assembled from old photos, home movies, and diaries (though it’s hard to tell when the latter are fudged together with the audio book of her autobiography, It’s Always Something), is a moving and candid portrait, though the materials it’s working with sometimes feel stretched thin, cinematically speaking (some of the shots of old photos linger too long, as if the movie has nothing else to cut to for the moment). It’s not a wildly insightful movie, but it’s valuable both for getting to hear Radner’s voice again (in the voiceover audio as well as her comic voice in various clips, some oft-repeated SNL bits and some more obscure), and to see Amy Poehler, Melissa McCarthy, Maya Rudolph, and Bill Hader read through her diaries and reflect on her comic technique (Poehler calls most of her SNL characters poor Radner imitations, a humble way of acknowledging her hero’s influence).

The talking-heads from people who actually knew Radner are a little thin. Lorne Michaels, Chevy Chase, and Laraine Newman go on camera, but it’s disappointing not to hear from Dan Aykroyd, Jane Curtin, or (less surprising, but even so) Bill Murray. What resonates most about the movie is Radner’s joy of performance – that despite her eating disorder or neediness, she truly and, especially toward the end, unselfishly, loved making people laugh.

It wouldn’t be fair to compare the tough and fictional stand-up comedian of All About Nina (Grade: C+) to Gilda Radner, but as well-observed as the movie’s fake stand-up routines are, it could have used a little more sense of that joy, however fleeting. Nina (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is a brash, smart lady comic with a dark past who gets a long-awaited shot at an SNL-style show (based for plot convenience in Los Angeles rather than Nina’s native New York). The pacing of the movie, as Nina breaks things off with an abusive boyfriend, moves to L.A., temporarily rooms with her agent’s new-age-y friend, and strikes up a romance with a plainspoken guy outside the entertainment industry (Common), is careful and appealingly slow. But the movie’s turn into Nina’s tragic backstory, while right up to the minute with the #MeToo movement, isn’t handled as adroitly, and even makes the movie’s first hour feel poky and rambling in retrospect. It’s too bad, because Winstead is typically great as Nina; she has a great scene running through some material three-quarters naked in front of her apartment window, invigorated by her own talent. In the end, though, All About Nina feels ambivalent about the very act of making comedy; it wants to position it as Nina’s salvation, of sorts, but at arm’s length, like it secretly finds the whole thing kind of distasteful, a remove the movie never fully explores.

Karen Gillan’s The Party’s Just Beginning (Grade: B-) is more of a traditional young-lady-fucking-up movie, about a Scottish gal (Gillan) flailing through a drunken, French-fry-binging, casual-sex-having life after the suicide of her best friend. As written, the material is pretty boilerplate, but Gillan shows a lot of promise behind the camera. In front of it, she captures the desperate helplessness that can come with grief. Even when she’s spiraling, the movie never mopes—or breaks out the sensitive acoustic guitar.

The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Wonder Woman

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

We weren’t sure if we were going to do a Wonder Woman podcast because we cover so many comics-related movies so often, but then Wonder Woman came out and became a phenomenon and suddenly it seemed pretty lame to have podcasts on Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad and not the first of these DCU movies that everyone loves. Plus, we had a genuine superhero novice in the form of Sara, who never sees this stuff, so she and Marisa and Jesse and Nathaniel sat down to talk about our Wonder Woman experiences: How it’s different from other superhero movies, how it’s similar, and what it means to the larger audience that’s obviously connecting with it.

How To Listen

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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: Representation and Identification in Media

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

With this year’s more diverse Oscars trying to make up ground lost by the #OscarsSoWhite debacles of previous years, and issues of representation getting more attention than ever (especially in Trump’s America), your friends at SportsAlcohol.com decided to sit down and have a conversation about representation and identification issues in popular culture. Marisa, Sara, Jon, Jesse, and Nathaniel talk about media that’s spoken to us for those reasons (be it gender, race, or geography), try to differentiate between representation and identification, and talk about all manner of movies and TV shows, past and present, including Hidden Figures, Moana, Manchester by the Sea, Moonlight, and many more. It’s one of our longest and widest-ranging conversations, with tangents on Marvel movies and self-casting and gotcha questions and college-dorm disclaimers, but we think it’s well worth listening to!

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The SportsAlcohol.com Album of the Year: LEMONADE by Beyoncé

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

In a fragmented, subgenre’d, and mix-heavy music culture, it’s notable whenever a full album is able to grab some attention for its full damn self, not just its killer singles or release strategy or guest stars or endless delays. Beyoncé’s Lemonade is such a record, showing up on all four individual SportsAlcohol Best of 2016 lists and warranting the kind of track-by-track exploration we last applied to the St. Vincent album in 2014. This does make us four white people talking extensively about Beyoncé, so we should preface this post, and our upcoming music-of-2016 podcast, by saying please go check this out. And then check out our albums six through two for 2016. And then enjoy four indie rockers drinking up Lemonade.
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The SportsAlcohol.com Podcast: The Career of Tim Burton

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Tim Burton is easily one of the most commercially successful directors in Hollywood, with a name awareness up there with Steven Spielberg, Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, and Christopher Nolan. Yet in recent years, the director, whose new movie Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children just came out, has been the target of plenty of scorn, too. Is he an underappreciated auteur, a self-plagiarizing hack, or something in between? Is Miss Peregrine a comeback or did he not really go anywhere? What’s up with how much the internet hates Alice in Wonderland?

These questions and more are at the heart of our Tim Burton podcast, where Nathaniel, Marisa, and Jesse started with his new movie and wound up discussing every single feature he’s directed in some capacity. We talk about the best, the worst, the unloved and the underloved. Who sticks up for what? Who has a hot take on Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? And what have any of us bought at Hot Topic? Listen up and find out.

How To Listen

We are now up to SIX (6) different ways to listen to a SportsAlcohol podcast:

The Best 30 Rock Episodes: A Chronological Journey, Part One

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

Ten years ago this month a much-hyped new series premiered on NBC. Marketed as a rollicking satire of a very recognizable late-night sketch comedy show it boasted a starry cast and a strong TV auteur behind the scenes. It was Aaron Sorkin’s Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip and it tanked, hard. Its earnest investment in the trivial backstage drama of its characters, along with a tenuous grasp of what makes for good, or at least believable, comedy, doomed it to the cancellation bin after one season.

It’s odd now in hindsight to remember just how much of an underdog 30 Rock was when it debuted on the same network and in the same month as Studio 60. The brainchild of Tina Fey and based on her tenure as head writer of Saturday Night Live, the pedigree was more untested and it shows in the first several episodes. But voice and vision are paramount in a comedy and, at a time when NBC was struggling to find itself post Must-See-TV-Thursday, Fey and company stood out: the jokes were quick to the point of weaponization, often literally coming a second at a time, with a commitment to character beats as strong as to the outright bizarre set-piece. It also benefitted from a dynamite central pairing with Fey as the biographical-to-a-point Liz Lemon and Alec Baldwin as Jack Donaghy, her right-wing blowhard of a boss and singular comic creation. Even in the sloppily paced pilot their scenes have a spark that carried over seven seasons and remained reliable whenever the storytelling faltered over the 138 episodes that eventually ran. Ten years on, in the midst of so much “peak TV,” no currently airing comedy quite comes close to its alchemical mix of breakneck zaniness and reluctant heart, though Fey’s own Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt does its gosh-darndest. For a show that often worked deliberately against the serialization trend, 30 Rock amply rewards re-visiting and here are the fifteen best episodes to get you started, whether it’s your first time through or your thirtieth.
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The Top Six Best Albums of 2015

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Last year, we kept it concise to bring you the top five records of 2014. Not 50, not 25, not even 10. Top 5, just like High Fidelity. Well, it’s been a productive year here at SportsAlcohol.com, so our music-voting core of Marisa, Sara, Rob, and Jesse decided we’d earned an extra spot. Maybe we can work our way up to a Top 10 over the next bunch of years, and achieve full Rolling Stone bloat by the time we’re, appropriately enough, in our seventies. In the meantime, here are the six records from 2015 that we most agreed on, full of brilliant women and unexpectedly wonderful reunions. We’ll discuss all of this and more on our podcast later this week; in the meantime, enjoy our top six.
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“You’re a Funny Girl”: Greta Gerwig, Mistress America, and Dangerous Women

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

At a recent double-feature at the IFC Center, Greta Gerwig, who was there to present her new film Mistress America, mentioned the idea of the “dangerous woman” in cinema as one of the inspirations for the script, co-written with director Noah Baumbach. I was intrigued, not least because the two ’80s films she highlighted, Jonathan Demme’s Something Wild (which she screened alongside Mistress America) and Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, happen to be personal favorites of mine – though I’d never thought to put them together in that way. In the weeks following I kept turning the phrase over in my mind, trying to think of modern examples of the trope outside the action and horror genres and coming up blank. Was the dangerous woman a relic of its time? Or has our idea of a feminine threat shifted to something a little less overt but more idiosyncratic? In these third wave, MRA-plagued days, it seems worth dissecting.
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The 11 Best Sleater-Kinney Songs of All Time

Jesse

Jesse is a cofounder of SportsAlcohol.com even though he doesn't care for sports or alcohol. His favorite movie is Ron Howard's The Paper. I think. This is what happens when you don't write your own bio. I know for sure likes pie.

Sleater-Kinney woke up from a ten-year nap (during which Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss all accomplished more than any of us have in our lives so far) and reformed properly this year, with a recorded-in-secret new album No Cities to Love and a tour that just started this week and will continue into the beautiful spring. To celebrate this and our last month or so spent playing No Cities endlessly, the SportsAlcohol.com Sleater-Kinney core — that is, the editors and writers who have tickets to see Sleater-Kinney at the end of this month — put together our aggregate and completely definitive list of the band’s top eleven songs.
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Reading in the #YesAllWomen Year and the Best Fiction of 2014

Sara

Sara

Sara is big into reading and writing fiction like it's her job, because it is. That doesn't mean she isn't real as it gets. She loves real stuff like polka dots, indie rock, and underground fight clubs. I may have made some of that up. I don't know her that well. You can tell she didn't just write this in the third person because if she had written it there would have been less suspect sentence construction.
Sara

This was a challenging year for many reasons. But it was also a year where many of us rose to those challenges, shaking off our complacency and examining our biases to become better cultural participants. Or at least more aware ones. Which is partly what made reading so exciting this year. Inspired by the still disappointing VIDA numbers, which track gender representation in print media and review outlets, 2014 became, for many, the year of reading women. At a time when the question of likability is still on everyone’s tongues, I was struck more than ever by the risks so many female authors are taking, which may be why so many of them made my final list. Don’t get me wrong, it was a good year for the men too, particularly those making their debuts with big sweeping books of America, as a place and a concept. But ultimately what made reading in 2014 such a pleasure was the sheer variety of stories begin told. So without further ado, here are my five best fiction books for the year:
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