Brava, Rachel Feldman!

RachelPhoto‘‘It’s kind of like the church,’’ actress/filmmaker Anjelica Huston told Maureen Dowd. ‘‘They don’t want us to be priests. They want us to be obedient nuns.’’

So much for that! FF2 Media is honored to post this OpEd by filmmaker Rachel Feldman--a heartfelt & personal response to the terrific article Maureen Dowd published in the New York Times Magazine last Sunday on 11/22/15.


A response to Maureen Dowd by Rachel Feldman

The New York Times Magazine published Maureen Dowd’s phenomenal article “The Women of Hollywood Speak Out” Sunday November 22, 2015.  As a woman director and a longtime activist for women directors, I believe this piece of journalism marks a true demarcation line between past and future.  The “GENDERQUAKE”, a term by feminist journalist Melissa Silverstein, has arrived!  Before this exceptionally comprehensive article, we made excuses for the unenlightened and the fearful. But this piece of journalism changes things.  It has been a long time coming – and there is no turning back now.

I moved to Los Angeles in 1985 with a Masters degree from NYU in directing, several award winning shorts, and agents at William Morris. It took seven years to get my first job and that was only because I met a woman at “Mommy and Me” whose father knew Steven Bochco (one of a handful of producers who understood the relevance of giving women chances).  Bochco looked at my shorts and hired me to direct an episode of his much-loved TV series “Doogie Howser, M. D.”  That was 1992.  Now, after a quarter of a century of toiling in the trenches of Hollywood, I can testify with some authority that this is an industry of “no girls allowed” – complete with bricked-up walls and steel-trap doors.

Decades of producers questioning whether my camera placement was over the actor’s right shoulder or the left, sharing that their cast or crew didn’t like women directors, or sneaking peeks under my shirt didn’t cause me despair.  Lack of interest in my scripts because they featured female protagonists, or the inability to secure great representation because agents didn’t want too many women on their rosters didn’t dampen my sprits.  In fact, every instance of both subtle and overt discrimination only served to fuel my political awakening.

I come from a family of radicals.  My grandfather emigrated from Czarist Russia and became a labor leader in the Bronx.  My mother, even as she lay dying at the age of 91 and no longer remembered my name, sang perfect lyrics from childhood civil rights rallies.  My uncle Mac Benoff was a Blacklisted screenwriter, his career salvaged by men like Danny Thomas and Stanley Kramer who valued his talent and compassion for others.

For many years, I was told that I was too young to direct, now I’m often the elder in the room, rife with a whole new set of prejudices.  I was told that if I had done drama then I couldn’t do comedy; if I had directed 60 minutes then I couldn’t do 90; if I had only done fight stunts and car chases then I wouldn’t be able to handle visual effects.  Despite decades of experience, now that I am transitioning from directing television to features, producers have called me a “first time director.”  As Dowd and so many other journalists have documented, these excuses aren’t given to male directors who often seem to jump from making shorts or writing Indies to directing studio tent poles.

I was one of the initial women to bring these issues to the ACLU, and I have now worked with them over the course of nearly two years to educate them about inequities in the film and television business.  Now that the EEOC is investigating our experiences, I have done my family legacy proud and stood up for what I believe is morally just.

I also attempted to infuse progressive political action as chair of the DGA Women’s Steering Committee, but the Directors Guild of America is a challenging, entrenched patriarchy and my efforts culminated in little more than frustration and alienation.  However, the positive outcome of my DGA tenure was getting to know hundreds of other professional women directors with whom I shared our stories and forged collaborative friendships. LillyRF

My activism has taken form in other ways.  For the past eight years I have been shepherding Lilly Ledbetter’s life story as a feature film.  I believe that Lilly’s story, an Alabama tire factory supervisor who was paid nearly half of what the men with the same job were earning for twenty years, represents a remarkable personal journey that crystalizes the inequity that many women around the world endure.  I’ve won awards and grants for the screenplay and I’m thrilled to report that I will be directing my passion project with brilliant producers in the very near future.  Making this film is my rallying cry.  It wasn’t my intention to find a project that articulated my own experience, but that’s the way art works. Larger themes often reflect our personal drama.

In Ms. Dowd’s article, she refers to men who dismiss claims of unfairness.  These individuals will likely never change their point of view, but they are not the real enemy anymore.  Our challenge now is to weed out the phonies, the wolves in sheep’s clothing, the other women who still want to be “the only woman in the room”.  As GENDERQUAKE grows into an actualized movement of parity, we must embrace a culture of plenty, of kindness, and of generosity.

I am currently involved with two very distinct groups of LA women in the film industry.  One group, based in Silverlake, is a hive 600 strong, comprised primarily of 25-35 year-old independent filmmakers.  We sit on the floor in a crowded living room where there are few rules.  These women are bold, bright innovators who share their contacts, services, and good-will with ease and humor – and shit gets done! They are technologically cutting edge and their lingo is sprinkled with millennium-speak that has this baby boomer taking notes.  The other group is made up of women aged 55-65.  We meet in a Century City office and sit at a conference table.  These highly successful professional women from the executive suite with a burning desire to see real change in an industry that has for too long kept women down.  They want to use their expertise to support and nurture their colleagues, and they are filled with remarkable generosity of spirit.

Collaborating with these women filmmakers gives me faith and hope.  When I first started out as a young women filmmaker, it was very much a solo endeavor.  I knew very few other women doing what I was attempting to do. and there were very few role models or mentors.  When I first began writing about gender disparity in Hollywood over 20 years ago, I was very much alone.  I was told that speaking out would injure my career – and sometimes it did.  But now there are thousands and thousands of like-minded, talented storytellers, and we are moving mountains.

Several months ago I came very close to making my Lilly Ledbetter movie with another producer, a prominent woman who considers herself an ardent feminist and is mentioned in most articles about gender equity. But for as long as I knew this well-respected producer, she gossiped mean-spiritedly about women directors – even dredging up the ridiculous Catherine Hardwicke “crying issue” – and insisted that only male directors would get her films made.  She justified the disconnect between her politics and her business as pragmatic.  To me, this kind of attitude represents the crux of the GENDERQUAKE line in the sand.  Splintered, self-serving behavior will no longer fly.  We must all practice what we preach.

Lilly Ledbetter is a model for all of us in the film industry.  After enduring 20 years of employment brutality, she took her injustice to the courts.  First she won and then she lost, but she didn’t stop.  She pushed for fairness in Congress for another decade until eventually President Obama recognized her with a law in her own name – The Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act of 2009 – a law that protects women across the USA.  Lilly transformed her personal injustice into a rallying cry for others.  I am a Lilly, and if you are reading this article you probably are too.

Maureen Dowd: Thank you for telling our stories in such a vivid manner and for validating the realities of many. We female filmmakers have coalesced into a sisterhood – a talented and tenacious pack – and we must fight for one another as much as we fight for ourselves. All for one and one for all.  Hire women. Support women. Take chances on women. Solving gender disparity is no more complicated than that.

Just get us in the room, we can take it from there!

Rachel Feldman is a filmmaker and activist based in Los Angeles.  Her website is  Tweet her at @WomenCallAction.


Top photo & middle photo of Feldman with Lilly Ledbetter courtesy of Rachel Feldman.

Bottom Photo: Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) introduces Lilly Ledbetter during a rally for the Paycheck Fairness Act and the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act held by female Democratic members of Congress in Washington on July 17, 2008. Credit: Jack Hohman UPI/Newscom (7/18/08)

Click HERE to read more about the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act which was signed into law by President Barack Obama in 2009.

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Horror_Tara_Subkoff_Movie_PosterFilmmaker Tara Subkoff brings us #Horror a horror film based on real life events and the harsh truth about the effects of cyber bullying. While dealing with a very important topic, #Horror unfortunately misses the mark. (JEP: 3/5)

Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry

Written and directed by Tara Subkoff, #Horror deals with the growing issue of cyber bullying. Based on true events, the film deals with an important topic, but is faulty in its execution.

“Sam” (Sadie Seelert), like any 12-year-old girl, wants to fit in. As the only scholarship student at her new school, she’ll do anything to become friends with the wealthy popular girls. These new “friends” of hers are addicted to a social media game where posting cruel pictures of each other online earns them points.

The girls have a sleepover at “Sofia Cox’s” (Bridget McGarry) giant mansion. “Cat” (Haley Murphy) overhears Sofia’s mom “Alex” (Chloë Sevigny) talking about how the house may be haunted since the artist that lived there before went on a crazy murder spree. Naturally, Cat tells the girls as a ploy to spook them.

However, Cat angers quickly. She soon turns on her friend “Georgie” (Emma Adler) for being too overweight, urging Georgie to kill herself. Cat’s incessant bullying leads Sofia to kick her out of the house. Cat reluctantly leaves and turns hystericamaxresdefaultl, running alone through the woods.

Meanwhile, the rest of the girls agree to lock their phones away in a safe to prevent Georgie from having to see the nasty things that Cat posted about her online. All the while, a black leather gloved hand records the girls’ sleepover.

Once they have forgone the technology, ceasing their online addiction if only for a little while, the girls begin to talk honestly and learn new things about one another. But one girl’s obsession with the online game goes too far, and in an effort to be remembered forever and the all time top scorer, an innocent sleepover soon turns murderous.

The film is interesting in that it deals with a very pressing topic. Cyber bullying is becoming a growing problem for young children, and based on real events, the film will hold your attention for this reason. But sadly, it is only for this reason. The film itself is a bit of a disjointed mess. The parents have no real role in the film other than to further confuse an already flimsy the plot.

As someone who scares easily at horror films, I can honestly say that I was not scared once. So it appears entitling the film #Horror was wishful thinking on Tara Subkoff’s part, as the only thing you’ll be horrified by is the girls’ cruel behavior towards one another. And sadly the film as part of the “horror” genre just could not hit its mark.

© Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (11/22/15)#Horror Bottom Photo

Top Photo: Poster for #Horror.

Middle Photo: Sofia calls for help.

Bottom Photo: The girls dance in creepy masks during their sleepover.

Photo Credits: Paul M. Roura

Q: Does #Horror pass the Bechdel Test?RedA

Yes, 100%.

Sam has a conversation with her Mom (Natasha Lyonne) about wanting to fit in with her new friends, and not wanting her mom to interfere.

Likewise, at the sleepover the girls talk about many things, primarily turning to bully one another about their actions and/or appearances.

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CAROL (2015)

CarolInMinkDirector Todd Haynes and screenwriter Phyllis Nagy have made a new film that is all parts but no whole. Based on Patricia Highsmith's semi-autobiographical lesbian romance The Price of Salt, Carol has impeccable production values, but perfunctory character development and a predictable plot.

And even though the Supreme Court recently affirmed Gay Marriage in the USA, the whiff of pedophilia underlying all the gorgeous imagery still reeks. (JLH: 3/5)

Review by Managing Editor Jan Lisa Huttner

Todd Haynes' new film Carol is something of a sequel to his Oscar-nominated film Far From Heaven (released in 2002). In Far From Heaven, Julianne Moore played an upscale woman who appears to be living a perfect 1950s life--beautiful home, handsome husband, adorable children--but it is all an illusion. Her husband is a closeted gay man. "Conversion Therapy" doesn't work. Her neighbors refuse to accept her budding relationship with an African American gardener. And so, in the end, "Cathy Whitaker" is stuck in Connecticut--by herself--just as surely as America was stuck in the Eisenhower Decade.

But even though Far From Heaven received four Oscar nominations and swept the 2003 Independent Spirit Awards, Richard and I were lukewarm. We both rated it 3.5/5 and posted this haiku: "In a good Alfred Hitchcock homage, you’ll get the chills. Similarly, in a good Douglas Sirk homage, you should cry. Why didn’t we? Maybe because this story of forbidden love in 1950s suburbia was just a bit too “done” -- every object just so, every hair in place. More mind than heart?"

Ironically, twelve years later we felt exactly the same way about Carol (which is now considered one of 2016's top Oscar Bait contenders). Societal attitudes have changed so much in the interim that Haynes allows himself to give his new story of lesbian lovers something of a happy ending. After all, even the Supreme Court--in the midst of rolling back voting rights and continually narrowing a woman's right to choose--has affirmed Gay Marriage, and LGBT characters are fully accepted in Popular Culture.

And yet Carol left me icy cold. Great performances by name actors rolling in luxury onscreen--with huge amounts of money clearly spent off screen for top talent in all the technical categories--couldn't hide the holes in the predictable plot or the barely perfunctory character development.Therese

Here's a synopsis.

Date: Sometime in the 1950s.

Place: Manhattan.

A very beautiful--and very young--woman is working in the toy department of a upscale department store during the Christmas Rush. Another very beautiful woman magically appears one day, looking for a gift for her daughter. Woman #2 is much older than woman #1, and woman #2 is clearly very wealthy (which woman #1--fidgeting behind her display counter--is obviously not). Woman #1 is mesmerized. Woman #2 is first flattered and then flirtatious.

Woman #2 tells Woman #1 that she is looking for a gift for her daughter. "What did you want when you were a little girl?" "A train set." Woman #2 chuckles, orders the most expensive train set on the floor, writes her name and address on the delivery slip, and glides away wrapped in her full-length mink coat... The scent of fine French perfume lingers in the air when suddenly Woman #1's reverie is broken... Woman #2 has "forgotten" her expensive leather gloves!

But wait, Woman #1 (who we now know as "Therese") has both a name and an address for Woman #2 (who we now know as "Carol"). It's all right there on the delivery slip. Thus, a relationship between them becomes inevitable. After all, what is poor Therese to do? Save the gloves as a memento? Of course not. She returns the gloves. Carol reciprocates. Game on.

This initial encounter is extremely seductive--just as it is intended to be--but I must admit that it made me queasy. In the hour plus that follows, we are given precious few background details about Therese and Carol. Most important, we have no idea how old they are.

In fact the age difference between these two actresses is not prohibitive. Therese is played by Rooney Mara who is now 30, and Carol is played by Cate Blanchett who is now 46. But Todd Haynes has decided to make "Therese" look extremely young, fragile and innocent, whereas he has made "Carol" look old and jaded. So what I saw onscreen was not a lesbian romance (which would have been just fine with me); what I saw onscreen was a pedophile stalking her prey (which is not "fine" with me--not at all--not with any pair of people in any combination of genders).

Carol acts like a wily old cat toying with her mouse, baiting Therese with her wealth and her wit.

When Carol slyly mouthed "Like the hat!" (the little Santa's Elf cap which we already know Therese finds humiliating), I literally cringed and shuddered in my seat. Nothing that happened after that initial encounter surprised me, moved me, or ameliorated my totally spontaneous physical reaction of pure disgust.

It goes without saying that Carol moves as quickly as it can from Therese's world into Carol's world--a phantasma of WASP privilege filmed with adoration by cinematographer Edward Lachman (who received an Oscar nomination for his work on Far From Heaven). And once again, Sandy Powell--nominated for 10 Oscars and already winner of 3--makes an essential contribution with her costume design. Since she won an Oscar for The Aviator--in which she dressed  Cate Blanchett for her Oscar-winning role as Katherine Hepburn--Powell's Oscar nomination for Carol is an obvious no-brainer.

But alas, composer Elmer Bernstein (also Oscar-nominated for Far From Heaven) died in 2004, so Haynes has replaced him with Carter Burwell. Burwell (who is best-known now for his work with the Coen Brothers) has never been nominated for an Oscar, but I would have given him one in 2005 for his work on Kinsey. So I will be happy if he is recognized for his work on Carol (which is also quite good).

This brings us--I can delay no longer--to Phyllis Nagy. Oscar handicappers are already hyping Nagy in the Best Adapted Screenplay category, but if this happens--and it probably will--then I will be very sad. Last year no women screenwriters--not a single one--was nominated in either the Best Original Screenplay category or the Best Adapted Screenplay category. To see such mediocre work rewarded--when there are so many better women candidates this year as every year--adds insult to injury.

So much for the idea that I always root for women filmmakers just because they are women. I don't. I won't. If Phyllis Nagy is nominated, I will not cheer... even if she wins. For me, that would be like voting for John McCain just because he picked a female running mate. I didn't support Sarah Palin then; I won't support Phyllis Nagy now. The end.

© Jan Lisa Huttner for FF2 Media (11/20/15)

Top Photo: Cate Blanchett as "Carol" = a predator on the hunt.

Middle Photo: After Carol buys her an expensive new camera "for Christmas," Rooney Mara as "Therese" takes photos of Carol which open up future employment opportunities for her at the New York Times. Oy! Dream on, Therese! Dream on!

Bottom Photo: First Contact. Just like on Star Trek, these are beings from two different planets :-(

Photo Credits: Wilson Webb. Courtesy of TWC = The Weinstein Company.

Q: Does Carol pass the Bechdel Test? RedA


Almost every scene in Carol is gynocentric.

  • Intense and increasingly passionate scenes between Carol and Therese.
  • Tender scenes of Carol with her daughter "Rindy" (Sadie Heim). [Note that it's not clear Carol ever gives Rindy the train set, which would be a totally inappropriate gift for this particular child.]
  • Scenes of Carol with her BFF "Abby" (Sara Paulson) who was once her lover too or whatever... then scenes of Abby with Therese after Carol deserts her and Abby rushes in to pick up the pieces or whatever...

Of course there are some men in Carol and some of the conversations are kinda sorta about them. Specifically, Carol complains to Abby about her husband "Harge" (Kyle Chandler).

But none of the men play believable characters; they are simply onscreen to move the plot along (minimal as it is).

Therese has a boyfriend named "Richard" (Jake Lacy) but she doesn't love him. It's the 1950s, so sex really isn't an issue. Richard wants to marry Therese (in part so he can have sex with her) but Therese is clearly a virgin when Carol seduces her.

Richard has a friend named "Danny" (John Magaro) who is also in love with Therese. When Richard and Therese break-up, Danny--who works at--d'uh--the New York Times--offers himself as Richard's replacement... And that's how Therese ends up with a job at the New York Times... Say what?!?

Most egregious of all is "Tommy" (Cory Michael Smith), some guy Carol and Therese meet up with on their little road trip. He claims to be a traveling salesman but if I could see through him right away, why couldn't Carol?

So let me say it one final time:  Predictable plot. Perfunctory character development. THE END :-(

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Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.53.38 PMWhile in power in Afghanistan, the Taliban regime banned all photography and destroyed many preexisting photographs. However, after September 11th the power shifted and the media blackout was lifted. Even so, photojournalists continue to be targeted, risking their lives for their work. Directed by Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli, Frame by Frame is a riveting documentary about the power of a photograph and the effect it has on a country’s identity. (JEP: 4.5/5)

Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry

Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli deliver an incredibly powerful documentary about the power of a photograph, and the world of photojournalism in Afghanistan. The film focuses on four Afghani photojournalists: Najibullah, Farzana, Wakil, and Massoud. However, its primary focus is on the award-winning couple Farzana and Massoud.

When the Taliban came to power in Afghanistan in 1996, they instituted a media blackout. Suddenly, taking a photograph became illegal and many preexisting photographs were destroyed. When the US invaded in 2001 and power shifted, the media blackout came to an end. But even today, Afghan journalists must stand on their own, risking their lives everyday for their work in establishing free press.

We are first introduced to photographer, Najibullah, who recounts how he has risked his life to capture Afghan history. He insists that if a country does not have any photographs, whether historical or cultural, said country is without an identity. For this reason, Najibullah strives to make sure that Afghanistan does not lose its identity, and that its history is clearly documented.

Over the last decade Afghanistan has seen a photography revolution. However, there is still resistance to this freedom of expression, and 2014 marked the most cases of violence against photojournalists in Afghanistan.Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.54.01 PM

One photographer, who admittedly questions whether her work is too much of a sacrifice, is Farzana, who continues on taking photos even with the risk. Farzana strives to focus her lens on the true life of the Afghan woman, and not just one side of it. Through her work she captures the complete image of women, which has earned her recognition and numerous international awards for the photographs.

An admirer of Farzana’s work is her husband Massoud who is also a photojournalist. Massoud won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for his powerful photographs. He covers conflicts and war, always running towards the fight with his camera, instead of away from it.

Wakil photographs both the good and bad of society, believing that one photo can lead to change. A photograph is an international language and photojournalists in Afghanistan are now “passing the shutter” teaching the power of photography to youths who are interested in continuing their important work.

All four photographers have incredibly powerful stories to share with directors Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli. The diverse footage, still photographs, and interviews elevate an already thought-provoking film.

Frame by Frame is filled with incredible images, including one that has stayed with me, which documents the attire of female Afghan students before the Taliban in comparison to that of the early 2000s. In one image you see how drastically life has changed for these women. The photo is one you will have to see yourself, and is only one of many images in the film that beg to be seen.

Frame by Frame is brilliantly directed, pulling you in from its very first moments, and staying with you long after the film has ended.

© Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (11/22/15)Screen Shot 2015-11-24 at 2.53.51 PM

Top Photo: Frame by Frame poster.

Middle Photo: Wakil delves into the sensitive subject of heroine addiction through his photography.

Bottom Photo: Farzana capturing women through her lens.

Photo Credits: Alexandria Bombach and Mo Scarpelli

Q: Does Frame by Frame pass the Bechdel Test?RedA

Yes! Female photographer Farzana’s goal is to capture the complete image of women through her photos.

In one case in particular, Farzana speaks with a woman who lost the rights to her daughter in order to get out of a particularly abusive home situation. In an emotional interview, she speaks with Farzana about trying to get her daughter back, but having no one to listen to her pleas.

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Opens tomorrow (11/20/15) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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Opens tomorrow (11/20/15) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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JGLThe Night Before tells the story of three best friends who vow to spend one last Christmas together. The film is exactly what you expect it to be, neither good nor bad. But this buddy comedy, led by an always-lovable Joseph Gordon-Levitt, has a sweet message hidden beneath its slapstick, drugged out, holiday adventure. (BKP: 4/5)

Review by Associate Editor Brigid K. Presecky

When teenage “Ethan’s” (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) parents died in a car accident, his two best friends “Isaac” (Seth Rogen) and “Chris” (Anthony Mackie) made sure he would never spend Christmas alone .. they were his new family. That year and every year after, the three best friends honored their tradition of singing at karaoke bars, eating Chinese food and trying to find the best party in town.

But like most things in life, it all changes. While Chris is immersed in his burgeoning football career and Isaac is starting a family, poor Ethan is left alone with his guitar and thoughts about his ex-girlfriend, “Diana” (Lizzy Caplan). The one thing that lifts Ethan’s holiday blues? His traditional Christmas Eve with his best friends, only this time, he holds three invitations to the best party in New York City.


This one-night adventure film is a compilation of random plot lines, from Isaac videotaping himself in a cocaine-fueled haze to Miley Cyrus singing “Wrecking Ball” to half the cast of Freaks and Geeks (thanks to a cameo by James Franco). But when things get a little over-the-top, the script and Gordon-Levitt’s acting ability brings it back down to earth. Despite the expected nudity and profanity, the film’s tone is actually quite sad.

Seeing the world through Ethan’s eyes makes you reflect on your own holiday traditions and how sometimes, every once and a while, you wish the Ghost of Christmas Past could pay you a quick visit. It doesn't have to be a figure from Charles Dickens' imagination; it can be as simple as a dusty old GoldenEye game ready to be played on Nintendo 64.

Thankfully, the writers do not leave you in a emotional rut for very long. The sincerity of the plot and the dynamic of the three main leads make up for any bizarre, kooky plot points that seemed funnier to the actors than to anyone in the audience. Nevertheless, Rogen, Gordon-Levitt and Mackie have a believable chemistry and give a whole new meaning to the social media term “squad goals.”

The Night Before is an enjoyable kick-off to the 2015 holiday season. And if anyone is looking for gift ideas for me, just ask Joseph Gordon-Levitt to wear a Christmas sweater and show up on my doorstep wanting to meet my parents and marry me. Hopefully you can get free shipping and handling.

© Brigid K. Presecky FF2 Media (11/21/15)


Top Photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as “Ethan”

Middle Photo: Seth Rogen as “Isaac”

Bottom Photo: Joseph Gordon-Levitt as “Ethan” with Seth Rogen as “Isaac” and Anthony Mackie as “Chris”

Bechdel Photo: Mindy Kaling as "Sarah" and Lizzy Caplan as "Diana"

Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures

Q: Does The Night Before pass the Bechdel Test?

Not at all.

Mindy Kaling plays “Sarah,” the best friend of “Diana” (Lizzy Caplan) but their conversations are relegated to their respective relationship statuses.


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Opens tomorrow (11/20/15) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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Opens tomorrow (11/20/15) in NYC. Review coming soon…

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THE 33

TopDirected by Patricia Riggen, The 33 is a powerful drama based on the real-life mining accident in Chile in 2010, where 33 miners were trapped 2,300 feet underground for 69 days. The incredible circumstances of the real-life events make for a highly suspenseful and emotional film. (JEP: 4/5)

Review by Contributing Editor Jessica E. Perry

I remember watching news footage of this incredible event when I was 18, and those memories stayed with me five years later as I watched The 33 in theaters. Director Patricia Riggen delivers an emotional feature about the 2010 Copiapó mining accident. Based on the book Deep Down Dark by Hector Tobar and adapted for the screen by Mikko Alanne, Craig Borten, Michael Thomas and Jose Rivera, The 33 is a well-paced, suspenseful film based on incredible real-life events.

“Mario Sepúlveda” (Antonio Banderas) is a loving father to his daughter and a supportive husband to his wife “Katty (Kate del Castillo). The day of the accident was Mario’s day off, but he asked his boss “Don Lucho” (Lou Diamond Phillips) if he could take the extra day because he needed the money for his family.

Álex Vega (Mario Casas) has a pregnant wife, “Jessica” (Cote de Pablo). Everyone urges him to take other work and quit his job in the mine so he will be there for his child. But he can’t justify leaving the mine to make only $50 a week elsewhere.

It’s “Carlos Mamani” (Tenoch Huerta)—aka “The Bolivian’s”—first day on the job. Mario takes him under his wing and assures him everything will be all right. Little did they know that day would change their lives forever.

Before the men were dispatched into the mine that morning, Don Lucho found a piece of a broken mirror on the third level, the signal they use to show them when the earth has shifted inside the mine. He warns his superior, but goes unheard, as the owner of the mine is concerned only with bringing in their quota of gold each day. So 33 men go into the mine that morning, just like any other…

MiddleThe men began their day in the mine as usual, until the ground begins to shake and the earth collapses around them, a huge rock with twice the mass of the Empire State Building, blocking their only exit. Miraculously, all 33 men survive the initial collapse.

The 33 do not know if, or when, anyone will come to rescue them. But even as some men begin to lose hope, Mario never does. He easily steps into role as leader, rationing the food and talking the men down when it all becomes too much.

Outside the mine, “Laurence Golborne” (Rodrigo Santoro), a government official, is sent to assess the situation at the Copiapó mine. When he arrives, family members rally outside the gate demanding information. “María Segovia” (Juliette Binoche), the sister of one of the trapped miners, makes Golborne promise that he will do everything he can to save the miners. And even after being told no a thousand times from others around him, Golborne keeps his promise.

After seventeen days, they are able to successfully drill into the refuge where the 33 are located. The men survived underground for seventeen days with only three days of food and water. Everyone outside the mine expected no survivors, but when they pull the drill back up there is a note attached to the drill bit declaring: "We are well in the shelter, the 33 of us." With the knowledge that all 33 men are miraculously still alive, Golborne must now work with field experts to find a way to rescue the 33 men from the earth.

The 33 is a story you know. But artfully told, and wonderfully acted, the film keeps you on the edge of your seat wishing for the men’s safety even though you know the final outcome. Creating that suspense is a testament to Patricia Riggen’s directing. Antonio Banderas and Juliette Binoche deliver standout performances among an already extremely strong and dynamic cast.

© Jessica E. Perry FF2 Media (11/15/15)BottomTop Photo: Mario searches for a way out of the mine.

Middle Photo: Mario and his peers celebrating his rescue.

Bottom Photo: The 33 while trapped inside the mine.

Photo Credits: Beatrice Aguirre

Q: Does The 33 pass the Bechdel Test?RedA


The film shares two perspectives: that of the miners, and that of their families—primarily their wives, sisters, and daughters. These women actively fight for the rescue of loved ones in the mine, and all stay together outside the gates of the mine for the full 69 days it takes for the rescue to be completed.

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