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Daily Reads: Why Toronto Is the Best Place for Female Filmmakers, In Praise of Fincher’s Women and More

Daily Reads: Why Toronto Is the Best Place for Female Filmmakers, In Praise of Fincher's Women and More

Criticwire’s Daily Reads brings today’s essential
news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. TIFF as the Best Platform for Female Filmmakers. This year’s Toronto International Film Festival had 58 new films from women directors. The Week’s Monica Bartyzel took a look at not just how many new films were directed by women, but at the diversity in subjects and styles among the female-centric features. 

Maya Forbes makes her directorial debut with “Infinitely Polar Bear,” a story of her own history of dealing with a black mother who leaves to get an MBA, and a manic-depressive white father who must become the responsible provider. It’s a humorous and thoughtful reflection on growing up in the ’70s, one that manages to address racial identity without the usual tiresome tropes.TIFF is also boasting Gina Prince-Bythewood’s latest, “Beyond the Lights,” which focuses on a young British singer (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) as she struggles on the brink of stardom. It’s a straightforward self-realization narrative, but one that also speaks to race, the expectations of fame, and the sexism women in the spotlight face. Read more.

2. The Worst Clickbait on the Internet. We’ve all seen some truly dire clickbait, articles with headlines that didn’t give a good idea of what the article was about and served mostly as a way to draw readers. But Nathan Rabin of The Dissolve might have found the nadir (so far) for bad clickbait articles in a misleadingly-named list titled “14 Films You Thought Were Good But Were Actually Quite Bad.”

The piece’s title suggests it’s a list of overrated films. But who’s overrating “13 Ghosts,” “Scary Movie,” “Super Mario Bros.” or “Pearl Harbor?” Cultural consensus and conventional wisdom regard them all as terrible: Most fall well below 20 percent “fresh” on Rotten Tomatoes, with the best-rated of the bunch, “Scary Movie” with 54 percent, still qualifying as “rotten.” The entry for the first film, “13 Ghosts,” reads: “A great premise that could have worked well if the movie didn’t look like it was shot inside a rave. It’s a darn shame too.” Apparently there’s no point in pointing out what the premise is, since readers undoubtedly remember “13 Ghosts” so fondly. The writer was then apparently too exhausted by the effort of making that “shot inside a rave” argument to spare even one more word of quasi-analysis. Read more.

3. Changes In the Vivian Maier Case. The documentary “Finding Vivian Maier” shed light on the talented photographer of the title, whose work was completely unknown upon her death in 2009. But there’s a major legal battle over ownership of Maier’s work, as she had no next of kin or will, and a couple of cousins in France are the next best bets as to who’s entitled to it. There’s also the question of whether or not Maier’s default on a storage unit will send some of her other work into limbo. What does all of this mean? Carolina A. Miranda of The Los Angeles Times explains.

These are the questions that get at the tricky nature of copyright law: Copyright doesn’t automatically transfer with the sale of a physical object. One can own a negative or a print, while not controlling the rights for sale and reproduction…All of this means that in addition to figuring out who Maier’s rightful heirs are, the Illinois court has to determine exactly which objects — and which rights — Maier retained at the time of her death. This will not be easy. Read more.

4. Changing More than “SNL.” Michael Che was a correspondent for “The Daily Show with Jon Stewart,” and now he’s “Saturday Night Live’s” first black “Weekend Update” co-anchor. It’s a major spot for the show and for comedy in general (previous anchors included Chevy Chase, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler). But Che’s inclusion isn’t just an increase in diversity for “SNL.” Eric Deggans of NPR writes:

One of the biggest problems with a lack of diversity in key SNL jobs is the way it can affect Hollywood’s comedy pipeline. With so many movie and TV comedy stars pulled from the ranks of “SNL” castmembers, adding diversity to a high-profile gig like “Weekend Update” just might help diversify the world of comedy overall. Read more.

5. In Praise of Fincher’s Women. David Fincher’s films are largely dominated by men, from the hypermasculine leads of “Fight Club” to the neurotic ones of “The Social Network.” But Fincher’s female characters are equally complex, if not more so. Simran Hans of Little White Lies writes about Fincher’s women.

“The Social Network” – Erica Albright (Rooney Mara). Rooney Mara plays a small but significant role as Mark Zuckerberg’s (Jesse Eisenberg) ex-girlfriend Erica in The Social Network. Mara and Eisenberg’s verbal sparring is thrilling to watch, with Erica delivering Sorkin’s delicious zinger: “Dating you is like dating a Stairmaster.” Zuckerberg’s breakup with Erica is presented as the catalyst for the creation of Facebook, but she transcends her function as a plot device by verbally castrating him, publicly highlighting both his misogyny and his immaturity. Read more.


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