Tuesday, March 10, 2009

We can do better than this, surely?

Over the weekend, the Mrs and I managed to catch a film, Ghost Town, which was an absolute cracker, thanks largely to Ricky Gervais.

For reasons I have never fully understood, Mrs INH insists we arrive on time so we can watch the commercials. This means we also watch the shorts for coming films.

Which is how I was forced to watch the short for Confessions of a Shopaholic.

Thirty seconds into this nonsense, I could feel the will to live ebbing from me. As I understand it, Confessions of a Shopaholic details the zany life of the said “shopaholic”, played at some volume by Australian actress Isla Fisher. I further understand that the Fisher character works as a “columnist” at a financial magazine, a role she fills by shrieking and falling over a lot – thus conveying “zaniness” and what not.

Bugger me sideways with a stick, how did we reach this point? How is it that most of the female characters in romantic comedies are generally portrayed as thick as two short planks covered in butter? And why are female characters in films from the 1940s, not a decade noted for its feminist advances, far more subtle, complex and intelligent?

Take for example, the character of Hildy Johnson, played by Rosalind Russell in the 1940 film His Girl Friday*. Johnson, a female journo on a Chicago newspaper, is respected and admired by her colleagues because she’s bloody good at what she does – not because she shrieks and falls over a lot. She also gives as good as she gets in the cracking dialogue.

Or Barbara Stanwyck in the 1941 film, The Lady Eve. As a razor-sharp conwoman Stanwyck runs rings around everybody else. I don’t recall much shrieking and falling over in this film, either.

I think you can trace the “female journo as shrieking dickhead” to Candice Whatshername who wrote the original column Sex and the City was based on. Either way, it’s a pain in the bum.

Both His Girl Friday and The Lady Eve should be available at any half-way decent video shop. I recommend them both highly.

Confessions of a Shopaholic I’d give a wide berth.

*And quite possibly the funniest film ever made, in the history of the universe.


Anonymous said...

How did a pic of Julia Zemiro sneak into a post about crappy modern rom-coms?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I needed a Julia fix, Boogey.

Perseus said...

And may I add just about everything with Lauren Bacall from the noir-era... and Bette Davis too, played complex, smart, non-shrieking characters.

A lot (not all) of Hitchcock's women characters were pretty cool as well.

I think before Candice Horseface, there was Goldie Hawn who had the whole shrieking but complex but dumb but smart but not woman-thing to a T. Horseface added 'successful business woman' into the shrieking mess. And Bridget Jones can get fucked too.

Mad Cat Lady said...

His Girl Friday is one of my favourites. Awesome fast snappy dialogue.

Bringing up Baby is a very silly movie, but Katherine Hepburn does zany and smart good. I think that must be who barbara streisand copied for What's Up Doc which has some of the best bag swaps eva.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Good call on Katherine Hepburn, MCL.

I picked up a good quality DVD of His Girl Friday for about $20 at the local Coles supermarket.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Oh and the other reason why I included a photo of the delightful Julia is that; if anybody could pull off the feisty female lead in a modern screwball comedy - it would be her.

squib said...

I thought 'Ghost Town' was a bit mawkish but I still enjoyed it, thanks like you said to Gervais

I saw that vapid promo too

I note that about 95% of the invites my 5 year old gets to birthdays are fairy themed. When I was six I remember having a dinosaur on my cake

Fairies and pink things are okay but just so long as these fairies are also playing with microscopes and lego

Fairies in moderation please!

Anonymous said...

Squib, you can have the best of both worlds - Dorothy the Dinosaur is both a dinosaur AND dresses in a fairy tutu.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'd like to see more Fairies with PhDs in political science.

"Hello children, soon we'll do the farie dance but first, a quick talk about Bosnia."

squib said...

Yeah Boogey but you'd have to play Wiggles music

Ramon, 'And then we're going to spend all day at a photo exhibition of Hiroshima'

Anonymous said...

Squib - pish tush to you. When my kids were little, I didn't mind the Wiggles' music. Certainly they were better than some of the torturous kids' music I could have been subjected to.

Ramon - Fairies with PhDs AND secretary glasses, upswept hair and power suits. Hawt.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Boogey, that sounds like Tina Fey to me.

squib said...

The Wiggles, Harmony, Rhapsody & all their annoying fairyland friends, and Hi5 should all be taken out in a boat and sunk

The Mariana Trench looks good

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Crikey Squib, you're Comrade Cranky-pants today.

Melba said...

Ramon, when there's so much good cinema around, why would you go and see that one?

But I'm with Mrs on teh shorts. Hate to miss the shorts.

squib said...

Comrade Cranky-pants

I want that on a shirt

wari lasi said...

I'm finding the Backyardigans a bit hard to bear at the moment.

And I didn't mind Big Red Car in the the car CD player when we lived back in Sydney and my smallest was at Toddler Junction. They've certainly made more money as The Wiggles than they ever did as The Cockroaches. Or am I mistaken? And did we see the latest addition to The Wiggles this morning?

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

I'm clearly wasted in the Factory O' Spin. I should be out designing tee-shirts.

Melba, choosing a film that both Mrs INH and I can enjoy is always a fraught process.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Good call.
Clumsy does not equal funny.
I am so sick of the clumsy.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Salon magazine observed that Isla Fisher falls over so much in Confessions of a Shopaholic that she looks not so much "kooky" and more like brain-damaged.

Melba said...

Ramon, I read your joke in the paper today. You know, the one about why do people hate so-and-so instantly, because it saves time? And you said it about Pauline Hanson?

Apparently, Paul Keating said it about someone. Or was it Gareth Evans said it about someone.

Anyway, my question is: was that you in the paper or are you in fact Gareth Evans? Or are you my dad, cause he went to see that movie on the weekend too.


Lewd Bob said...

Firstly, it appears Jeff from the Wiggles has no actual talent. He thumps the keyboard with all fingers at once with a goofy look on his face. Yes, I know he allegedly played the keyboard for the Cockroaches, but does anyone have any real evidence that he did so? He can't sing. He never does. He can't act. Well, none of them can but Jeff's the worst. He can't even act sleeping very well and he practises that a lot. He can't juggle. Ok, most people can't* but the other 3 Wiggles can! Jeff just lobs apples into the air and the scene cuts before they fall. In some of the DVDs his pants are too long and his shirt all baggy. Surely they can afford dry cleaning. He's just shit. Having said that, I quite like him.

Secondly (this is for you Squib), anybody who wants to sink Kathleen from Hi-5 can bloomin' well try to sink me first! Garn. I dare ya.

Thirdly, Ghost Town was ok, but a somewhat nauseous ending was apparent.

Lastly, cos I have to go to bed, Sandra Bollocks plays the shrieking, collapsing bimbo the best! For proof, watch Miss Congeniality.**

**Lewd Bob is an excellent juggler and is most happy to teach anybody who's interested.

** Broadcast every week on Channel 9.

Ramon Insertnamehere said...

Melba, your father is Gareth Evans?

How very embarrassing for you.

Bob, Ms Bullock is indeed queen of the "shrieking, collapsing bimbo" schtick.