MOVIE REVIEW: Chasing Amy (and also something about the films Lockout and Sucker Punch)

Posted: August 19, 2012 in Movies
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

I know you’re gay and all, but I bet I can TOTALLY fix that!

Okay, I was never a big Kevin Smith fan. I like Dagma. I dig the fem-god thing. Thats…about it.

Conversely, I liked Ben Affleck’s Daredevil. And it wasn’t anything to do with Jennifer Gardner who I can take or leave as an actress.
So thats out there now.
(just like, real quick before we get into this: I was never a Daredevil fan, which is probably why I didn’t have issue with it like fanboys of the comics did in the same way that I loooooooooathed everything to do with the three Spiderman films because I love Spidey comics–2012 reboot rocks!)

Back to the point: Certain people running in certain groups adore this film. These groups being:

A. Kevin Smith fans who love hockey AND potheads simultaneously (my father was a Sovet-era Olympic hockey-player and I lived in Amsterdam for a few months..but I really wouldn’t call myself a fan of either despite having many a-pothead friend. So thats all out there now too. Suck it!)

B. Indie Film buffs who just can’t get enough of low-budget bullshit. Seriously, the only reason someone should watch Clerks (in my humble opinion) is because they are an aspiring director and they need to do research on low-budget flims. Thats…really about it.
Btw: I fucking LOVE Hard Candy, and that shit had all of like four actors in it (little red riding hood and the wolf with additional cast being a coffeeshop guy who sold the wolf a coffeeshop t-shirt at the beginning and the wolf’s ex-girlfriend who arrived at the end, both of whom only got like one line) all while being filmed in the director’s own house. That movie is forever in my top ten not because it had a low budget and a skeleton crew cast, but because it was a fantastic fucking movie.
If you haven’t seen it, WATCH ‘HARD CANDY‘!

C. People who feel they are ultra liberal on the whole gay rights movement and really want other people to know it.

There is nothing I can or should do about group A. If you love everthing Kevin Smith, go to it but PLEASE don’t pretend like this film also relates in some way to group C. Group C and somewhat group B are the folks I want to talk to.

Upon starting this film I was cautiously optimistic. I recognized the faces and it seemed to be heading into a cool direction (finally, the fucking guy doesn’t get to sleep with the girl!)

Okay, pause. I need to address that. I am really. Like, REALLY tired of seeing the dude save every plot, every day. Its OKAY for a guy to be the hero. But for the hero to do ALL the saving while tugging a hapless actress along is just insulting to every sensibility I a Straight, Slavic, Male have. I just finished watching the casual action film ‘Lockout’. Guy Pearce’s character is amusing and the production quality is pretty damn solid, but its just another tired damsel in distress film. LITERALLY the whole point of the movie is to save some dipshit president’s daughter from a loony-bin of rapists. Its not like there aren’t dozens of opportunities for her to return the favor and actually do something competent. Instead she looks pretty and disheveled leaving it to the wise-cracking jackass hero-man to save her over…and over…and over again. That is both aggregating to watch and fucking sexist as hell. Its like Mario if Peach didn’t also have the ability to fly and summon hellfire (didn’t know that did you!?)
Sure there are a few exceptions, like (maybe?) in Wanted were Angelina Jolie is a badass (yet highly irrational) assassin. (have you read the comics? NOTHING like the movie…and thank gods. That comic was awful.) But I am not talking about just action titles here. If a film goes outside the boundaries of this Hollywood norm, like the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo films/books, it literally has to be the whole premise behind the film (All Hail the Mistress Salander, sovereign of the United Queendom of Sweden!).

But I was talking about a romantic comedy and though there is rarely any physical ‘saving’ in the genre, the guy getting the girl that is gay and should not be gotten but still getting her anyway is FUCKING ABSURD. Oh yeah, *spoilers*. This movie SUCKS!

So right back to it then (thanks for indulging me in that little side-rant).
Instead of say, exploring what it is like for a straight man to have a relationship with a gay woman (its just like having any relationship ever where your first thoughts shouldn’t be ‘man i’d hit that’) this movie explores how all a gay woman really need is a good hot dicking to set’em straight (Dr. Tran style!)

Okay, here are the details:

This movie is about a comic book artist who falls in love with a woman that he meets who also writes/draws comics and then finds out that all his wooing skills are for naught when he realizes that she is gay. Inexplicably, he acts weirded out, let down and generally emasculated by this discovery, all while insisting upon decidedly non-homophobic things while gently berating his offensive best friend. The woman, being a friendly sort, seeks out this butt-hurt little sack of testosterone and tries her damnedest to be friends with him and answer all of his asinine, school-yard boy questions about being a lesbian.

Since this movie encourages the myth that it is physically IMPOSSIBLE for straight guys to have a non-sexually tense relationship with a member of the opposite sex, our ‘hero’ (who is Ben Affleck, btw) confesses to his new gay friend that he loves her. She is understandably offended by this and tells him that one cannot simply stop being gay before walking out on his juvenile ass. Since she made it perfectly clear there could never be anything between them and he is just not capable of being a fucking adult, I found this scequence of events to be logical and silently smiled as she stormed out of his shitty car into the dramatically milky rain. At this point, any director making a movie about homosexual-straight relationships would have faded to black and then picked up a few days later where they reconciled as friends or NOT. Instead, this director (Kevin Smith, you guys!), isn’t worth a shit, so he has Ben Affleck leap from his car and chase her down where she promptly folds in his strong, masculine arms like the gentle origami dove that she is and they go back to his place and inexplicably FUCK.

The rest of the movie isn’t really important. Benny ends up losing both her and his buddy because his buddy ends up being totally gay for irresistible old Ben but they can’t work out how to have a polyamorous relationship like ADULTS and therefore both of them say ‘fuck you Ben’ and leave his sorry ass. Which isn’t the point. This is not a ‘ha-ha, the juvenile man-child that always gets what he wants didn’t get what he wants this time’. This is a ‘holy shit this is supposed to be an ending to a movie that tried to prove that lesbianism can be dropped at the simple introduction of dick’.

On top of every homophobic insult a man can make to both gay men and women being ‘vibrantly’ present in this film, it is BAFFLING that I found not a soul online who seemed to share my distaste for this cinematic boy-fantasy bullshit. Every feminist blog that I came across seemed to be praising this film as some kind of brave new step in talking about homosexuality in cinema. Everybody seemed to love it. And if they didn’t it was because they were “hatin’ on da gayz!”

I don’t know how anyone can come out of this movie with a sense of ‘wow that was really a step forward for gay rights and my personal understanding of that lifestyle!’ That is like walking out of Twilight and thinking ‘wow that was the next big step in showcasing the ability of women in a male-dominated world since En HeduAnna the first philosopher-that-was-also-a-woman’! (bet you didn’t know that, huh?)

Conversely I don’t know how you can walk out that film and say ‘man that sure was a cinematic achievement for indie flims!’ In other words when I finished feasting my eyes on that steaming pile of trash, I went in search of kindred souls who also loathed this disaster. Instead I found people politely praising this debacle. (yes I said debacle!)

In short, this film is not just a failure as decent entertainment, it somehow managed to showcase how totally oblivious people today are to glaring examples of skull-numbing bigotry.  These same people that called crass an action flick (Sucker Punch), because they failed to grasp that there was a certain cerebral element to the power of the mind retreating into a fictional world as a means of escaping the psychological ramifications of sexual assault. But thats a topic for another time.

Or you know what? No. We will talk about this now. For all the movie critics that hated Sucker Punch but loved Chasing Amy, and for all the feminists that loathed Sucker Punch but thought Chasing Amy was great, here ya go:

Sucker Punch looked to me in-trailers like a female perspective on Sin City, a movie and graphic novel series that I love. My only objection to Sin City was ever that it focused almost exclusively on the male protagonists while tackling female abuse (instead of having more fem-heroes). Sucker Punch dressed its actresses in skimpy anime dresses, gave them stripper nicknames and stuck them into an Alice the Madness Returns sort of fantasy land that they can escape to when being sexually brutalized by their caretakers in an insane asylum. That is the movie that those critics hate. They expected a feel-good action flick, instead they got an Inception level mindfuck about rape and they just couldn’t fucking make the transition (or handle it). And the feminists that hate that film just couldn’t wrap their heads around something that both mocked the male gaze and pandered to it at the same time.

First, the fantasy landscapes look amazing. Its like a Steampunk meets Tolkien DnD meets Anime meets Sci-Fi wet dream with each consecutive ‘dance’. The dance, obviously, is when they are being raped in the asylum. Apparently (apparently to me, anyway), this was ‘Baby Doll’s’ way of keeping the heat off the other girls, meaning she was attracting all the rapists’ attention, meaning she was being abused triple as much. Its unclear how much of what they did actually lead to the escape of “Sweet Pea”, what is clear is that this dream within a dream within a dream delusion/escape fantasy is not pedantic and therefore is easy to misunderstand for people who go in with low expectations.

Anyway, Sucker Punch in my opinion mocks the male gaze while being as feminist as any action-based (cerebral or not) movie has ever been. Whereas Chasing Amy is a ‘romantic comedy’ hate fest that enforces the myth that  1. Lesbians just need a good dicking to turn them straight again. and 2. Men are incapable of loving a woman without wanting to fuck her.

  1. arttoa says:

    i’ve never watched ‘chasing amy’ but i have seen and adore ‘sucker punch’ . i found that in ‘sucker punch’ that it also addressed some conflicts that happen among women, whether to assist males in dominating women or to simply survive in male dominated society. perhaps that’s why some women didn’t like it made them uncomfortable to see that directly.

  2. arttoa says:

    yes, i think it folks that dismissed it was made uncomfortable, it was stylistic eye candy addressing some very harsh issues. it’s easy to just look at the surface, few people want to see that they are responsible for themselves.. i think too many women want to cope out and blame the entire sexism debate on men..when it’s just as many women as men that enforce sexism. the women i talk to..wanted to complain that it was too sexy..or why didn’t anyone see baby dance? they didn’t want to discuss the plot or what the characters did or even why. but that’s just my experience on it.

    • Cinema is not just entertainment, it *can* be a type of artistic expression and as such (like many artistic works) a dialogue for pressing issues. It is a shame most would rather bash a unique approach to that communication than listen to what is being said.

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