A couple of weeks ago I was part of an all-female panel discussion of the treatment of older women in Hollywood. The discussion followed a screening of the recent Paul McGuigan biopic Film Stars Don’t Die in Liverpool which charts the relationship between ageing Hollywood star Gloria Grahame and younger British actor Peter Turner.
I enjoyed the film very much and was excited to be asked by marketing assistant and my PhD supervisee, Becky Jones, to be part of the discussion event at the wonderful Phoenix cinema in Leicester.
The film itself was very good, beautifully shot and both Benning and Bell’s performances were excellent. It also raised a number of issues around the idea of the ageing female star and the broader treatment of women in Hollywood which really seemed to chime with the recent Weinstein allegations and the public debate around the #MeToo campaign.
I was recently interviewed by PhD candidate Becky Jones* for Phoenix Talks – her podcast in association with the Leicester’s independent cinema, the Phoenix.
Becky invited me to talk about the noir spy thriller Atomic Blonde which recently ran at the cinema. The film, based on the 2012 graphic novel The Coldest City and set on the eve of the collapse of the Berlin Wall in 1989, is a visceral experience and features a blistering performance by Charlize Theron as MI6 agent protagonist Lorraine Broughton.
The film is notable for its director, David Leitch, who is a renowned stunt man but what I really wanted to talk about was what our expectations around how action-packed this film would be were regarding Theron’s performance. I also wanted to talk about the discourse around Theron in relation to the film, her star persona and reputation as a skilled actress who really throws herself into her roles, about her as an ‘aging’ star, about Lorraine as an empowered character and Theron as a producer and the history of ‘action women’ roles in Hollywood.
Here is a link to the podcast:
*Becky Jones’ PhD is on cyborgs and gender in film. Continue reading
I’ve spent the last couple of days in the company of my two nieces who are five and seven.
They are such funny, engaging and intelligent girls. Every time I am around them I am aware of how impressionable children are and the part we can play as role models young people’s lives.
Whilst hanging out with these two young girls, I couldn’t help but think about the recent BBC two-parter, No More Boys and Girls: Can Our Kids Go Gender Free? I wanted to watch the programme because of my interest in gender but also because as the documentary itself mentions, research undertaken at Stamford University suggests that seven is a key developmental age, because apparently this is when children develop fixed ideas on what constitutes men and women and that even this early in their life, children have already been conditioned to ‘think that boys and girls are fundamentally different.’ As I mentioned previously, my nieces are five and seven. Continue reading
My chapter on Marilyn Monroe and Jane Russell ‘A Travesty on Sex’: Gender and Performance in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes’ appeared last year in an edited collection called Howard Hawks: New Perspectives. I recently discovered that this book has been shortlisted in the top three for this year’s Kraszna-Krausz Book Award in the category of Best Moving Image Book.
The Kraszna-Krausz award celebrates excellence in photography and moving image publishing, with prize for the Best Photography Book Award and the Best Moving Image Book published each year. The shortlist was announced last week and the winner will be announced on Thursday, at this year’s Photo London, exhibition at Somerset House where there is a display of material from the shortlisted and winning books this week.
It was my long standing interest in pin-up brought me to the project, and naturally it is through the lens of Monroe and Russell’s pin-up personas that I investigate their roles and Continue reading