Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, or: Feminist(?) Rage

Catching up on classics is my favorite thing to do during Blog Free or Die Hard month, and this one has been leaving an approximately 50 foot hole in my heart.

The Film:

Attack of the 50 Foot Woman

Where to Watch:


The Uncondensed Version:

It’s not a good time to be in 1950s California—for more reasons than one.  The primary reason being a comet rapidly speeding towards the area, which turns out be a…glowing alien orb?  With a giant alien ghost who has a fondness for diamonds.  But I’m getting ahead of myself.  To understand the complex drama unfolding in this film, let’s back up just a little bit.

A practical and aesthetically pleasing UFO.

Nancy Archer is the first person in town to stumble across the crashed UFO, having just stormed angrily out of the bar where her husband, Harry, was sleazily flirting with his mistress.  Harry would leave his wife except that would mean sacrificing her inheritance and the cushy life he’s grown accustomed to.  As Nancy has a vague history of mental illness, including a sanatorium stay following violent headaches and…falling down(?), it wouldn’t take much for Harry to get her committed for good.

Conveniently, Nancy runs to the police to report her alien sighting, where she is pretty much dismissed as a raving drunk.  And cautioned against wearing diamonds because they might tempt thieves.  Fucking hell.  Is it any wonder she’s going to get super angry (spoiler)?


Nancy and Harry obviously have a really unhealthy relationship—if unclear before her return home, it is written out when Harry confronts her.  Harry threatens to leave her, which is what supposedly drove her crazy before.  In a really condescending scene, he tucks her in for bed and goes out drinking again.

However, Nancy’s rest is short-lived as the local news is giving a lot of attention to her alien sighting and making pretty fucking rude jokes about finally finding a man to love her.  Fuck off, men.  Determined to prove her sanity, she goes out to the desert and encounters the alien once again.  Her encounter with the alien leaves her in a coma due to radiation…(?) for some reason.  It also turns her into (spoiler spoiler spoiler) a 50 foot woman.

Everything else was in the wash…

Mandatory scientist with a pipe and incomprehensible German try to figure out what’s going on, reaching the conclusion that women who mature become irrational like middle-aged men.  JFC, dudes.  To cure her, they will need Harry’s permission to operate.  Urrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrgh.

In spite of Harry’s best efforts, Nancy does finally wake up and all hell breaks loose.

The Rating:

3/5 Pink Panther Heads

This is one of the early examples in horror where you are just waiting for a specific character to die…but honestly the payoff doesn’t feel worth it.  No one is supposed to come off squeaky clean in this one (at least none of our 3 leads), though my biggest problem with Nancy is that she didn’t crush more skulls.  I really wanted her rampage to be more satisfying and I would have been okay with more or potentially all men dying.  In painful ways, which makes me feel conflicted about the person I’ve become.

Frankly, for a movie entitled Attack of the 50 Foot Woman, the aforementioned 50 foot woman really has very little screen time, and her attack is quite mild.  Does not live up to the poster.  Next time I’d like her to destroy the foundations of our society or at least raze an entire town.

Did Christa embrace the rage here or…let’s be real, there is no other option.  Read her thoughts on this one here!

Film Reviews

Obvious Child, or: Russian Roulette

To be completely in line with this month’s theme, I fucked up and forgot we were posting today.  That is the level of my commitment to this blog—I will deliberately fail to remember things just to more authentically represent a theme.  You’re welcome, readers.

Our theme, of course, is “Oh Dear God How Did I End up on This Adulthood Train and How Quickly Can I Jump off Without Winding up on the Tracks?”

The Film:

Obvious Child

Where to Watch:

Amazon Prime

The Premise:

It’s the abortion comedy you never knew you needed!

The Uncondensed Version:

Donna is a stand-up comedian struggling to make a living from her passion in NYC.  Though talented, she is just barely holding things together in her personal and professional life.  Things start to unravel when her boyfriend dumps her after a gig.  To make matters worse, the bookstore where she works during the day is closing, so there goes her major source of income.  Luckily, Donna has friends to help her through:  the angry feminist and the gay best friend.

Feminists make the greatest bffs!

While Donna has an easy relationship with her father, she doesn’t get along well with her mother, who pushes her to do more with her life.

Still not over her ex, Donna takes the opportunity to get shitfaced both before and after a standup gig, resulting in (a) perhaps the most emotionally intense stream-of-consciousness ever for a standup routine, and (b) a one-night stand with an awkward but sweet guy she meets at the bar.

Read the room, girl.  Please.

If you go into this film knowing it’s an abortion comedy, you know what happens next:  Donna discovers she’s pregnant and decides to get an abortion.

After that, a series of miscommunications and chance encounters with her one-night stand, Max, leads her to believe she should tell him about the abortion.  That is, until Max tells her how much he’s looking forward to being a grandfather, and Donna begins to think he should never know.

Book sale??!  This is the most unexpected surprise I could possibly learn about today!

To borrow a page from Christa’s book, dramatic questions:  Will Max find out?  If so, how will he react?  And will Donna give herself a break for not having all of the answers?

4/5 Pink Panther Heads


I really didn’t know what to expect from this one, but it unflinchingly addresses a (still) controversial topic with warmth and humor.  I flipping love the dialogue in this and the relationships Donna has with her parents and close friends.  The feminist friend has a great line about Donna playing Russian roulette with her vagina.  Max is unrealistically sweet, or perhaps I am unrealistically cynical.  But I’ll take it.

We explore briefly how this procedure can be cost-prohibitive for some women.  At $500, Donna’s abortion is a relatively low-cost medical procedure, but she cries when the doctor gives her this figure.

There are also several female experiences with abortion–for Donna, it is an easy decision but she still feels a certain level of stress and shame.  Her angry feminist friend (I say this with affection), however, feels zero regret about it.  Donna’s abortion doesn’t ruin her life or wrack her with guilt—it’s a decision about her body and future rather than the act of cold-blooded murder certain conservative groups make it out to be.

I will stop now because I could go on all day.

Would Christa take this film out for a nice Italian meal or make up flimsy excuses during chance encounters with it the next day?  Find out here!

Book Reviews, books

Book Review: Bitch Planet, Vol. 1

I’m the worst at keeping up with book reviews, but look at me now.  Writing a review…like a month after I read this one.  Which doesn’t reflect my feelings toward this comic/graphic novel/I can never decide which term to use, Bitch Planet, Vol 1:  Extraordinary Machine by Kelley Sue DeConnick.

The premise is the stuff dreams are made of:  in the near future, non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet informally known as Bitch Planet.  You know you’re going to adore all of these characters, don’t you?  You also know your love is doomed.

In the beginning, we follow Marian, a married woman who insists this is all a mistake and her husband will be doing everything in his power to have her released.  There are some great point/counterpoint panels that support everything Marian says…until there’s a sudden dark turn.  Remember this series is called Bitch Planet, ok?

After our dramatic twist, it turns out Kamau is really our protagonist.  In addition to being a gifted fighter, Kamau has some sort of mysterious dark past b/c of course she does.  Her life on Bitch Planet is about to get even more unpleasant since she is framed for murder by the prison guards.  All of this happens because the Bitch Planet execs want Kamau to form a team that will fight to the death against a team formed by the prison.  It’s apparently a Bitch Planet tradition that makes them a lot of money.

Only the biggest badass ever.

So we’ve got a rigged futuristic football game to the death, which Kamau is pretty reluctant to participate in.  However, several of the other inmates convince her to form a team, which includes my faves Meiko and Penny.

Penny had a particularly difficult childhood—her mother was considered dangerous, and Penny was raised by her grandmother until age 8.  After her grandmother was arrested, Penny became a ward of the state.  In her adult life, Penny remains fiercely loyal to her family and becomes violent when provoked.  Not a reflection of idealized beauty, Penny nevertheless remains full of strength and self-confidence, never letting others define her.  She’s definitely my hero.

Fucking hero.

It’s not a great idea to get too attached to any of the characters, though, as even the practice game of prisoners vs. guards ends in tragedy for our team.

You know even more shit is going down in volume 2 (which I’ve already pre-ordered).

Rating:  4/5 Pink Panther Heads

I really enjoyed it, but there were times when I wanted to skip ahead to the fake newspaper at the end of each issue called Hey Kids, Patriarchy!  Not because there’s anything wrong with the main story plot but because the biting satire is at its strongest in these issues.

I think it’s clear what I mean.  Highly disappointing that you can’t actually buy any of the advertised products.
Activism, Life Rants

A Few Words About Choice

My intention with this post is not to sway any opinions, but to express my admiration for women who unabashedly support the causes they believe in.

I care about politics more than I’d like to, but I haven’t been one for political rallies up to this point.  They hurt, even when peaceful.  I attended a pro-choice rally a couple of weekends ago organized as a counterpoint to a demonstration at a clinic that provides abortions.  Basically, the people who work for the clinic get harassed for doing their job, and it was especially obnoxious during Lent.

It’s so self-congratulatory.  They wouldn’t do this alleged praying privately because no one would be watching.  Perhaps not a surprise when the current likely GOP nominee is just the one who equates being right with yelling loudest.

Keep in mind these were pastors, religious leaders, who said they were there because they love us and want to save us…despite the fact that we are murderers who will burn in hell.  And that we are Satanist communist pagans, which I really don’t see the problem with.  I admit I got a bit of a giggle when a few pro-choice women started chanting Hail Satan and the pro-lifers believed it to be a literal moment of devil worship.  This is why liberals can be funny but it’s so incredibly painful when conservatives try to use humor—everything has to be literal.

One of the pastors argued that you can’t speak Gaelic and be pro-choice…with a member of our group who then proceeded to speak Gaelic.  That he doesn’t care if anyone gets raped, there are alternatives to abortion.  That all of the Christians there would adopt a child—but have they?  And have they supported a single mother who has no job, maternity leave, or healthcare?

It got really ugly when a pastor told a veteran who has served 3 tours of duty to get back in the kitchen.  And called Obama a Muslin f–, one of only a handful of words I won’t use on this blog.  (Hint:  not the “fuck” f word.)  So many homophobic slurs and the reiteration that sodomy is a sin (but it’s fun).  And abortion is racist because it’s mostly black and Irish babies (I have no idea where the Irish part comes from or why they still think Irish is a race; perhaps it surprises no one that they aren’t interested in talking about Latinas when discussing stats).   It was the only time I’ve heard women un-ironically called “jezebel” and “witch” outside of The Crucible.

I don’t mean to assign blame to religion because I know these groups don’t represent a majority of the faithful.  This isn’t meant as an attack on religion, but on a certain approach to religion.  The mentality that there’s a correct religion to follow, so it’s okay to have a morality complex and talk down to everyone who disagrees with you.  I can’t stand the idea that there’s no room for a viewpoint that isn’t yours (a statement that I acknowledge contains a certain degree of irony).

Some of the cars driving by were encouraging, while others were pretty douchy.  Guess how many of those driving by flipping us the bird were women?  Zero.  And guess how many middle fingers we got from men?  Don’t tell me this issue is about religion or morality or politics.  It’s about men controlling women.

Besides the torrent of verbal abuse, it was sort of the ideal social gathering for me as it required no small talk whatsoever.  Lots of chanting “What do we want?”  “Choice!” and honking and screaming when people supported us.  I truly admire the activists who attend rallies every month and even every week and manage to hear insults hurled at them without taking them to heart.  It was extremely difficult for me to switch gears and go to work later that day without the words popping into my head.

As a librarian it really hurts that people don’t bother to find credible sources of information, which they could at the library.  FOR FREE.  These people STILL believe Planned Parenthood sells baby parts even though the alleged proof was fake, and Planned Parenthood has done more to prevent abortions than Right to Life.  The words you use and the “truth” you spread can kill, so please be careful with them.

You can still feel morally superior and pray for me.

*Image via Unsplash

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Feminist February: The Punk Singer

This week’s feature in Feminist February takes us into documentary territory.  Christa’s pick, which may not surprise you when I tell you it’s the Kathleen Hanna documentary.

The Film:

The Punk Singer

Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

Documentary following Kathleen Hanna, the Riot Grrrl movement, and her decision to quit the scene in 2005.

The Uncondensed Version:

Editor’s note:  I knew very few concrete facts about Kathleen Hanna prior to this film.  What can I say—Christa is the cool punk riot grrrl of our relationship.

Our film opens with Kathleen performing angry, intense slam poetry.  Her performance captures the focus of this documentary and her career—it’s all about message over form, and being empowered to have a voice.

One of the sticking points for Kathleen is how her childhood gets twisted in the media.  Admittedly her father was a bit of a jerk and was sexually inappropriate to Kathleen (in her own words).  Meanwhile, her mother did things like play the trust game and let her fall!  This is literally what happened in Wetlands, and the mother in that was awful!

Not sure this image is relevant, but Kathleen Hanna in a sailor hat.

Kathleen gets involved with feminism and its expression via art while a college student.  After her best friend is assaulted in their house, Kathleen’s feminist rage is awakened, and everything she creates puts voice to that rage.

When she’s asked to form a band, she recognizes the opportunity to spread her message.  This is Bikini Kill.  As in We Are the Best, lack of musical experience is not an obstacle.

So Kathleen does several (actually way more than several) incredible things while part of Bikini Kill.  She starts the “girls to the front” thing, which encourages women to find safe spaces at her concerts.  Oh, and basically comes up with “Smells Like Teen Spirit” while wasted with Kurt Cobain.  And begins Riot Grrrl meetings, writing a manifesto, and encouraging other women to write their own Riot Grrrl manifestos.


However, her relationship with the press is dismally bad, she has little money despite rising fame, and Bikini Kill is not getting along well as a whole.  She also gets death threats and a punch in the face from Courtney Love (for no apparent reason).

Kathleen is able to find some happiness by recording a solo album, Julie Ruin, which deliberately sounds like it was made in a girl’s bedroom.  I love the way she describes girl’s rooms as creative spaces, and this album is a way to reach out and connect those space.  She also pursues a relationship with a Beastie Boy.

All good things come to an end, which is most decidedly true for Bikini Kill.  Kathleen then starts Le Tigre, which she describes as a band creating politically radical content that you can dance to.  I can’t even count the number of times “Deceptacon” has gotten stuck on repeat in my head.

Who took the bomp, indeed.

Le Tigre is doing really well and off on world tours when Kathleen abruptly quits.  As it turns out, she had been getting sick on tour really frequently.  She is eventually diagnosed with late-stage Lyme disease, which became much worse as it went untreated.  Her doctor tells us that sometimes it gets worse before it gets better, and it’s quite heartbreaking to see the toll it takes on Kathleen.  After having fought so hard for control of her life, she is in a lot of pain and has little control of it at times.

However, we do end strong with Kathleen’s words:  “People don’t have to believe in feminism, but they shouldn’t get in my fucking way.”

The Rating:

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

Watching this documentary made me really wish I were the kind of person who gets interviewed as a premier expert on punk.

This lady was my fave for how many times she used the word “fuck.”

And also made me want to watch We Are the Best, but literally every film we watch right now makes me want to watch We Are the Best again.

I have so much respect for Kathleen Hanna battling both rampant sexism and Lyme disease; both are horrific.  I got super emotional at the end because I can’t deal with people crying at this point and I had no clue how awful Lyme disease can be.  This is an incredibly empowering documentary, whether you’re into punk or not.  You may have to remind yourself that it’s not okay to break your keyboard on a man’s skull, though.  At least if you get caught.

Did Christa embrace the feminist rage or will our difference of opinion break up the band (why is this even a question)?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Feminist February II: Advantageous

Feminist February continues!  This week is Christa’s pick, it’s sci-fi, it’s about ageism, and it’s written/directed by and starring women.  Let’s dive in, shall we?

The Film:


Where to Watch:

Netflix (US)

The Premise:

In the near-ish future, a middle-aged woman undergoes a dramatic procedure to keep her job and secure her daughter’s future.

The Uncondensed Version:

Gwen is a career woman, mother, and face of her company.  She has a lot going for her even in the somewhat disconcerting future she lives in.

Everyone has a little flying UFO-type aircraft to zip around the city.  Well…it occurred to me that in the future (as in the present), only rich people will be able to afford really cool shit like that.  Thus all of my enthusiasm for the future has been crushed.

On the bright side, waterfall skyscrapers are a thing we can look forward to in the future.

Gwen’s daughter, Jules, is having a hard time understanding the world they live in, esp. as most things have gone to shit.  Jules didn’t get in to the exclusive prep school she applied to, she may not have eggs by the time she’s 20, and she feels that humanity’s awareness of how bad things are has done nothing to alter the course of history (she has a point there).

They’re pretty cute.

Though Gwen tries to remain optimistic and instill a sense of hope in her daughter, things go from bad to worse when she is let go as the face of her company, which specializes in radical procedures to help women (and I mean, probably men too, but mostly women.  Fucking patriarchy) maintain a youthful appearance.  The latest procedure is experimental—it involves transferring one’s brain into a younger body.  Of course it does.  And guess who is too old to be the face of the company?

So Gwen is fired and immediately calls her…agent?  He seems to be a robot named Drake, which cracked me up every time.  At one point, Gwen asks “Drake, are you a human being?”  Valid question, Gwen.  Drake is really unhelpful and suggests Gwen donate eggs…which will earn her money in a few months.  Not going to help when Gwen needs to live and somehow afford a $10,000 down payment to reserve a spot at a fancy private school.

You used to call me on my Bluetooth…

Guess where this is going.  Guess.  Yeah, Gwen decides to be a guinea pig for the procedure in which her identity and memories are transferred to a new body.  She continues to reinforce to her daughter, who has some major preteen angst, that she is a beautiful, strong young lady.

On a side note, Ken Jeong is in this(?!?!??!?!?!).

Gwen and Jules spend Christmas together.  Jules draws quite a nice portrait of Gwen.  Gwen reminds her that the wisdom and kindness Jules has is the secret beauty everyone wants.  Cue the waterworks.

Shortly after, the time to undergo the procedure arrives.  The way this film builds to the inevitable conclusion is brilliantly done, but still feels jarring.  There is no other option for Gwen as the external (and internal) pressures build on her.  However, I kept trying to find ways around the ending as it’s not going to conclude happily for anyone, really.  As more is revealed about the procedure, this film becomes increasingly horrifying/sad/wrenching.

The Rating:

4/5 Pink Panther Heads

Chilling.  Make sure you have a cat to hug immediately following viewing.

Did Christa feel the need to hug a cat as well?  Find out here!

Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Tootsie, or: Feminist February Is Now

Last film of accidental smoking month and, as it turns out, my memory is even worse than I realized.  There is ONE instance of smoking in this film even though it’s 1982.  I thought everyone smoked in 1982.

Though our film this week makes little sense with our inadvertent theme of the month, it does transition us nicely into Feminist February.  After this review, Christa and my sister have seen Tootsie, so I can now say with conviction that I have contributed to the betterment of their lives.

The Film:


Where to Watch:

You’re on your own with this one.  (No, you can’t borrow my copy.)

The Premise:

American classic about Dustin Hoffman impersonating a woman to get acting gigs.  Frequently watched by Liz Lemon.

The Uncondensed Version:

As noted, Dustin Hoffman plays Michael Dorsey, struggling actor whose main (and possibly only) source of income is providing coaching for other actors.

Michael fails to get acting jobs because he’s never quite right for the part—but also because he has a terrible reputation for being difficult to work with.  His goal is to make enough money to be his own boss and put on Bill Murray’s play, who happens to be his roomie and bff.

Both dudes are reasonably sleazy, and Michael is a huge douche to his friend, Sandy.  Michael helps Sandy prepare for a role on the soap Southwest General, but ultimately steals the role as the incredibly cleverly named Dorothy Michaels.

“What’s wrong?”  Besides you being a complete asshole?

The super sketchy director immediately says Dorothy’s not right for the role, but her sass impresses a female producer(?), who asks Dorothy to come back and audition.  Dorothy/Michael is definitely interested in costar Jessica Lange, who is sweet but in extreme need of some confidence.

After landing the role, Dorothy has some shopping to do, and it’s quite impressive (if a tad unrealistic) how quickly Michael masters the art of applying makeup.  However, he’s just about to make the major dick move of sleeping with Sandy if only to distract her from the fact that he was trying on her clothes.

A true bff will always help adjust your wig.

Everything seems to be going well until there’s a rewrite of one of Dorothy’s scenes in which she’ll be kissing the creepy older actor (who plays a doctor).  She tries to discuss the scene with the fucking awful director, but he absolutely will not listen, calls all of the women “honey” or “baby,” tries to speak for Jessica, and makes creepy jokes about her being on her knees.  UGH.  At the very last moment, Dorothy hits the doctor on the head with a clipboard, after which the director insists that Dorothy discuss any changes she’d like to make with him beforehand.  And then the doctor kisses her anyway—what a sleaze.

Suddenly Michael finds himself worrying about things he never had to worry about when he was a male actor.  As a female actor, Dorothy has to worry about if she looks pretty enough, whether it will make a bad impression if a man answers her phone, and if she has anything appropriate to wear.  It’s almost like there are a slew of problems women have that men rarely—if ever—have to think about.

Did I just lose an earring?

On the other hand, Michael is still a bit of a dick as he lies to Sandy about being sick to avoid her and stands her up for dinner with Jessica Lange.

As it turns out, Jessica has a baby, a really terrible romantic relationship with the director, and quite possibly a drinking problem.  Oh, and a father with a keen interest in Dorothy’s life and career.

One big happy family?

Meanwhile, Dorothy is becoming a media sensation because of the sass she brings to her improvised lines.

Things get complicated when Dorothy’s contract is extended from 2 weeks to a year, and Jessica Lange’s father decides to ask Dorothy a very significant question. Michael/Dorothy is developing feelings for Jessica Lange, but he is STILL stringing Sandy along and making really lame excuses for not telling her the truth.  Not cool.

What I love about this film is Michael’s slowly dawning realization of the way he enforces a double standard for men and women, as well as how awful and misogynistic his excuses are regarding his treatment of women.  Fuck the patriarchy.

The Rating:

5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I love this film.  If you ever ask me about Tootsie and I say, “Eh, it’s not that great,” you’ll know I’ve been bodysnatched.  I want to give this film a standing ovation every time Dorothy goes off on the director about calling her “tootsie.”  Also Bill Murray is in this.

There’s a reason this is a classic, and it’s fucked how relevant a lot of this shit is for women in the workplace and their daily lives.

Minor beefs with this movie include the title (a major point of this film was NOT to call women “honey,” “tootsie,” etc, and the name of the fucking movie is Tootsie?!??!  Is it reclaiming the word tootsie???), offhand remarks about rape, the occasional gay joke that has not aged well, and “It Might Be You” getting stuck in my head every goddamn time.

Something’s telling me there might be a review (all of my life)…on Christa’s blog.