Trial by Fire
The film plods at points, trudging along, and there are a few misguided narrative "devices" tacked on, but still, "Trial by Fire" bristles with anger.
This week we are tackling the age old question, how are women different than men? Sometimes when I read certain movie reviews I know instinctively that a female critic could have brought something different to the party, a morsel of thought untapped by the male critic. Of course this doesn’t happen with every movie. There is, more times than not, a critical consensus that has nothing to do with race, or gender or age. However, how do we know? Most of the reviews we read are by men, and usually of movies that are about men.
What if we had a week of articles and reviews by women? That’s the experiment I want to try this week at Rogerebert.com. This is something that Roger was also interested in doing, that we discussed several times, particularly when we could see a difference in our own thoughts about a movie, and we could pinpoint it to gender. Men and women are just raised differently in our society and so it shouldn’t be a surprise that we may think differently.
Just last week I attended the TED Women conference in San Francisco, and they too were struggling with this question. Is a “Women’s” conference so 1970’s? Or are there still enough inequalities between the sexes that make it important to highlight the accomplishments of women? It was reported that women still make 77 cents for each dollar earned by a man. More surprisingly, Dr. Paula Johnson said that old medical experiments that didn’t differentiate between men and women have to be thrown out because it has been discovered that each cell has a sex. And different cells express themselves differently in men and women for certain diseases, so that a heart attack for a woman may present itself differently than a heart attack for a man. Amazing. So while we are talking movies rather than health, let's see whether Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus.
This week we will have articles and reviews on a wide array of topics. We'll offer memories of women in film and television this year from Alyssa Rosenberg and an appreciation of Barbara Stanwyck from Nell Minow. Susan Wloszczyna, Christy Lemire and Sheila O'Malley will discuss 1980s cult film "Ms. 45." Anne Elizabeth Moore will discuss lesbians and male directors in connection with "Blue is the Warmest Color." Joyce Kulhawik will review "Nuclear Nation," Sheila O’Malley will review "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," Marsha McCreadie will review "Punk Singer," and there will be eight more reviews from our talented women critics. There will be new essays and reviews daily by these writers and more. We will also repeat some really strong articles previously featured on this website that deserve even more attention, such as Rebecca Theodore-Vachon’s essay about "12 Years A Slave," and Susan Wloszczyna’s article about women directors and comic-book superheroes.You can find links to all the content for the week and to some previously published content by and about women here. We'll update it as new content goes up.
So I am going to go for it this week, and I hope you come along each day and send us your comments about the articles and reviews and let us know whether you find any appreciable difference between this week’s edition and our regular editions, and whether you think gender makes a difference.
This message came to me from a reader named Peter Svensland. He and a fr...
A tribute to Doris Day.