Feminist Film Reviews attempts to critique various films both on the quality of the film in general, but more importantly on how a film represents women. The objectification of women runs rampant in modern film. Even movies that are otherwise great films often lack in female presence and/or portray women as objects.

This blog will gauge how a film does in relation to the Bechdel test. For a movie to pass the Bechdel test it requires only three elements:

  • There are at least two female characters with names
  • The characters talk to each other
  • Their conversation is about something (anything!) other than men

These requirements are simple but it is amazing how few movies actually pass it.

I will also go beyond the Bechdel test in this blog. A movie can pass the Bechdel test and still be overall degrading. I will address other elements of the feminine presence in each film.



4 thoughts on “About

  1. Hi,
    I found your blog while doing research for an upcoming project and thought perhaps you could help me out a bit.

    This semester I’m assistant teaching a film history class at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco. However, neither the head teacher, nor myself are actually film historians, (although I did study film in undergrad many years ago and remember a thing or two) and the head teacher put together a syllabus so dull and so predictable, and there isn’t even a single film directed by a woman included in the whole damn course! Because of this, I requested to lead class for a day, to give a presentation on Female Directors that would veer from the syllabus.

    Now I am a bit overwhelmed at where to even start and how to hone down. Three hours (and a few weeks to prep) just isn’t enough to scratch the surface. However, I think I’d rather not focus on Hollywood or even big-budget indie films, but rather, would like to focus on outsider film movements, drawing a larger connection between the lens through which females view the world and the context in which their art arises.

    I will probably discuss Miranda July’s Joanie4Jacke project, in the context of the riotgrrl movement, but would love a few more suggestions for articles, critiques, filmmakers, movements and movies that might be interesting to share. If you have any wisdom, or can point me in the right direction, that would be very much appreciated.

    Thanks again,

    • Sounds like you’re off to a good start! I want to be in this class! If you want to venture into silent film, you could include Alice Guy-Blache. She was the first female director but is largely forgotten. She would be interesting to include because her work is great, but also because I think we tend to be unaware of how involved women were in early film, and how that changed in later years.

      One modern film I would suggest is In A World. It is written, directed, and stars Lake Bell. I like it because it’s a female triple-threat film, but the content is great for discussion of women’s roles in entertainment. It could also stimulate a discussion about how we judge women based on how they speak. In the film, Lake Bell’s character wants to teach women to avoid the “sexy baby” voice, which can be a fair critique. But on the other hand, why do we judge women because of the way words come out of their mouths? That’s less film-related, but it does extend to what we see in film and how that influences our perceptions in real life.

      I think one of the important contributions of female directors is they tell women’s stories how women would tell them. That sounds obvious, but because most directors are men, even when they want to tell a woman’s story its often through HIS perspective–imagined and otherwise. In that vein, I recommend Adirenne Shelly. It being Pi day yesterday, I watched her film Waitress. It’s a relatively simple story, but one that many women can relate to and since it’s told by a woman, it maintains the realness of a woman’s perspective of abuse, love, and want that might otherwise be lost if told by a man.

      You said you don’t want to focus on Hollywood, which has merit because Hollywood has largely failed women. However, if you wanted to include Hollywood at any point at all, there are some great moments for women in Hollywood history, granted they are not directors so it might not be what you’re looking for anyway. But, if it helps: Barbara Stanwyck’s body of work is impressive on many levels. What her roles say about the time is surprising and interesting. She played the femme fatale (Double Indemnity), a journalist pretending to be the “perfect homemaker” but who probably couldn’t even crack an egg (Christmas in Connecticut), an invalid wife (Sorry, Wrong Number). Her roles were diverse, compared to today where actresses are frustrated that their roles are so limited. What happened? Why did diversity diminish? Were there limits to the diversity of roles? In a time when women’s rights were lacking to say the least, why did these roles exist for women?

      I hope these ideas help at all! You are right that it can be overwhelming to begin. My apologies if these ideas aren’t what you are looking for exactly. You could probably teach an entire semester just on women’s contributions to film. While women’s contributions might not be as well known, they are certainly there and very important for film as an art form. Good luck!!!

  2. I am very excited to find your site. I have a hard time finding movies or TV series than I can even tolerate. I get very frustrated with the lack of female roles but I have gotten to a place where I am unwilling to sit through a movie in which sexual violence is a theme. You can imagine how fun I am on a Friday night! I am very concerned about how tolerant our society has become to watching sexual violence in our entertainment. If we want to change the rape culture that we live in (and I am afraid many would ask “why”) then we must change the way sexual violence is portrayed and used as a tool. Anyone want to start a campaign with me?

    • I’m glad you found it! Sorry it hasn’t been the most active site lately. One of my purposes in having this blog is to–in the way I know how to, by writing–campaign against sexual violence in the media. So I’m campaigning with you!!! šŸ™‚ But it is difficult because you’re right–so many people don’t understand why it’s such a problem. It’s become so normal and expected, people just don’t even question it, and so often the absence of sexual violence is enough for people to say, “See! No sexual violence! It’s feminist!” And that is a very low bar. I think pointing it out, or explaining why you might not want to watch a certain film on a Friday night is a good start. It makes people start thinking about it, even if at first they’re annoyed that you brought it up.

      Good luck finding great films!

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