a woman with a tumbler of alcohol sits in a chair, holding a cigarette and looking ahead
Collaborative Blogging, Film Reviews

Frida, or: Cry Me a River(a)

Our experiment with biopics and films based on true stories draws to a close!  This week, we break away from the subtheme of dirtbag men…and yet still manage to get our share of dirtbaggery.  We’re talking about women in the art world, after all–specifically, a painter who is now one of the world’s most renowned.

The Film:


The Premise:

This biopic follows the life of Frida Kahlo from her school days through relationship with muralist Diego Rivera and her own success as a painter.

The Ramble:

In the 1920s, a young Frida is a free-spirited student.  Close with her family, and especially so with her father, Frida boldly proclaims she will never marry.  Posing for her sister’s wedding photos in a men’s suit, it’s clear from the start this is a woman determined to live on her own terms.

Tragically, Frida’s schooling is cut short when a streetcar accident leaves her temporarily paralyzed and in chronic pain for the rest of her life.  Though she is eventually able to walk again, Frida’s time confined to her bed changes the path of her life–the only thing she is able to do all day is paint self-portraits.

a woman lies on her back in bed while painting a self-portrait

With medical bills piling up, Frida is determined to contribute to the household.  In a fateful move, she demands acclaimed muralist Diego Rivera critique her work and tell her if it’s good enough to make a living.  Impressed with her painting, Rivera quickly takes her under his wing and brings her into the Communist party crowd.  And I mean party in multiple senses of the word.

Both Frida and Diego drink a LOT.  While Diego gets angry and argumentative at parties, Frida opts for flirting with ladies in slinky dresses.  Even as Diego agrees he and Frida will be friends only, the two begin a sexual relationship.  Despite neither believing in marriage, it’s not long before the two have said their vows (and almost everyone in their circle places a bet on how long their wedded bliss will last).

a woman drinks alcohol straight from the bottle as another woman looks at her

Not long, is the answer.  Frida is furious when she learns Diego’s ex lives in the apartment above theirs while she finds a place of her own.  After an angry confrontation, Frida ends up with a new friend who teaches her to make the mole Diego loves.

Though Diego sleeps around, he promises loyalty to Frida if not fidelity.  The two get into SO MANY fights that often end with broken kitchenware, but they always make up.

Meanwhile, Diego faces critique from members of his own party for the government-sponsored murals he paints.  Diego argues his murals spread a socialist message for the people, though other Communists believe painting for the government makes him complicit in their policies.

With an unfinished mural on the wall behind them, a woman holding a bottle of alchohol sits next to a man covered in paint

Tired of this fight, Diego accepts an invitation to New York for an exhibition of his work.  Frida travels with him as she learned from Diego’s ex to never leave him to his own devices.  However, Frida instantly hates the idolization of wealth and ambition she encounters in the States, and the false smiles on every face.  Diego, on the other hand, loves the praise, admiration, and number of women always on his arm.  When Diego pushes things too far by including Lenin in a commissioned mural, the couple finally returns home to Mexico.

two women husk corn at a table, while a monkey sits beside them, and two children in the background play with a dog

Frida’s spirits lift, but Diego falls into a deep depression.  When he has an affair with Frida’s sister, who has recently left her abusive husband, Frida is finally sick of this shit and moves away.  She once again drinks A LOT, both alone and at parties.

That is, until Diego, who has agreed to host the exiled Trotsky, asks for her help in welcoming him to the country.  This plan works a little too well when Frida begins a relationship with Trotsky.

Eventually, Frida and Diego make up (IDK if this counts as a spoiler?), though her mobility and overall health decline.  Bedridden when she finally has an exhibition in her own country, Frida is determined to be at the opening.  What’s an artist to do?

The Rating:

4.5/5 Pink Panther Heads

I just love Frida.  Truly, has a more fascinating human ever existed?  Salma Hayek captures her energy, intelligence, and charisma here.  The film blends some surreal elements with life in a way that feels very Frida, and frequently weaves her paintings into the story.  Since her paintings are so personal, placing her work in the context of her life gives us a greater understanding of the pain behind them.

The film doesn’t shy away from Frida’s chronic pain, bisexuality, or infamously turbulent relationship with Diego.  I enjoy that other characters sometimes directly ask why Frida stays married to Diego in spite of everything, and the non-judgmental approach the film takes in response.  Whether we as a contemporary audience understand or accept her reasons, as a human of flaws and contradictions, they are her own.

I will say the one thing I do really like about this film’s portrayal of Diego is his encouragement of Frida’s art.  She constantly dismisses her own talent, but Diego frequently tells her and others what a skilled painter she is.

I’m obsessed with this film and its subject, even as it proves that behind every great woman is a dirtbag man.

Would my blog wife paint a beautiful portrait of this one or throw a plate at its head?  Read her review here to find out!

Life Rants

Sorry If That’s Too Complicated for You

If I’ve ever expressed an opinion about ranting on the internet, I’ve most likely advised you against it.  Even if you just had to get something off your chest.  So feel free to say I told you so because I have to.  Have to.   I have at least calmed down so I’m flipping the bird in my neighbor’s general direction approximately every 5-10 minutes (previous rate:  every 30 seconds).  I refuse to comment on the aspersions that I have been marching rather aggressively up and down the stairs every now and then.

Allow me to use a visual aid.  THIS is what I found when I returned home from work today: 2

I was inwardly seething already because a member of our board of trustees and our asshole neighbor had started doing whatever the fuck they’re doing to repair a connection about a week ago, and had dug up some of the garden and just left the wires exposed.  (Idiots.)  No prior warning whatsoever.

Anyway, I kept my shit together enough to ask “Um, what exactly is going on here?” in a tone that was my best attempt at neutral.  If anything I must have sounded extremely uncomfortable because I hate this kind of confrontational shit.  Honestly, guys, this is perhaps the number one reason I stay inside with my books and Netflix when I don’t have to work.

So, this is how it goes:  the trustee continues to work on trashing our yard, not answering any of my questions.  Just totally insane, unreasonable questions like “How long is this going to be here blocking the path?” and “After you’re done, is the yard going to look the way it did before?”  Asshole neighbor, about whom I had previously felt neutral (but just wait), starts to “answer” my questions.  And the trustee, if he answers at all, gives one-word answers, saying all this shit will only be here today, and that he’ll talk to my mom about it, just completely blowing me off.  My mom is out of town for a few weeks, so actually it is important for him to tell me what the actual fuck is going on.  Oh, and maybe for it not to be an obstacle course to get to my fucking front door.

According to my asshole neighbor, his wife told my mom what was going on, and that my mom knew they were going to dig up half of the yard (she didn’t).  And I’m sorry, but it should really have been someone on the board who told us what they planned to do.  Apparently my saying “I think it would have been considerate for us to have gotten some notice about this” just absolutely crossed the fucking line.  What did my neighbor have to say about this?  “What difference would it have made?  We would’ve had to do it anyway.”  And here we go, you guys.  Male chauvinist asshole gold:  “Sorry if that’s too complicated for you.”

At this point, I suppose I have to thank working with the public for my remarkable ability not to scream at people.  I did say “Seriously?  That’s a really condescending thing to say.”  To which he offered an extremely half-assed apology.

Keep in mind that the guy playing in the fucking dirt was a member of the board of trustees in the homeowner’s association which my mom is required to join.  As far as I know he was getting paid to do this really unprofessional repair, which just seems ridiculously unethical to me.  Instead of paying a contractor, he is in on the decision to pocket the money himself for fucking around in the dirt.  Apparently THAT is worth his time, but serving the members of the association is not. And guess how willing he was to talk to my mom when she was on the phone?  Yeah, not at all.

What the entire thing smacked of was asshole dudes getting pissed when I called them out that they didn’t have a plan and couldn’t answer a fucking question.  So instead of admitting they messed up, whose fault is it?  That feeble-minded, irrational female.  She dared question our already tenuous grasp on authority.  Welcome to being a woman in our society.  Fucking asshole pricks think it’s okay to call you stupid to your face when they’re the ones digging around in the dirt pretending to know what the fuck they’re doing.  AND straight-up refusing to answer your questions.

As a librarian, this was especially bitter since answering people’s questions is my fucking job.  Even when I think they’re awful questions, like one lady who calls asking for businesses that are “American” (read:  owned by white people.  Really).  As a member of the board of trustees, I would think answering the questions of the people you serve would be part of your job.

Though I’m still enraged, look at what happened a few hours later:

You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.
You’d better believe I’m going to complain about that ugly dirt patch they left where there used to be living plants.

All I’m saying is that bitches get shit done.  It’s that simple.

EDIT:  Since tomorrow’s film features Julia Stiles, I have to: