In an attempt to take a fair look at corporate sexuality, Bombshell offers a depressing look at office politics leading to the current surge of revelations about the corporate promotion system. These politics continue still.

Ask, if you care to, why some women do and some don’t dress in the sex-for-promotion way. As this movie makes clear, woman seducers will usually have blonde hair and a good figure adorned in scanty clothes. In this film, these women are then surprised when head of Fox News Roger Ailes demands sex in return for promotion. Why, when dressed in next to nothing, are women surprised at what happens when men are so predictable?

Megan Kelly (Charlize Theron), a Fox News star, works in a high rise building that houses a host of conservative thinkers. She considers herself relatively safe because she is an independent columnist for the network – or is there more to her story? Second blonde Gretchen Carlson (Nicole Kidman), host of Fox and Friends, becomes the next example of violating business rule #1 – an employee must never sue her boss. When she does, she learns “I’m damned for doing it and damned for not doing it sooner.” Yes, but that confusion is the price of a solution.

Both women face the inevitable self-questioning: will I be left out? Lose my job, lose my money? If I stay, do I have to put up with it? “I’m damned for doing it and for not doing it sooner.”

When Ailes’ taped conversations are revealed, Ailes is out. Why did it take this long? If the Fox News scandal is just another case of what has been going on for years, is it still simplistic to ask why women don’t avoid all this by refusing to work in corporations where men can still manipulate them?

John Lithgow infuses Roger Ailes with a perfect mixture of qualities that aren’t brutal or mean. He’s just the contemporary boss driven by wanting women whenever he wants them. He coaches them on how to dress, how to move, and believes accurately that he is helping them to rise in his corporation. He is not a monster, just a contemporary man swaddled in disgusting out-of-date illusion. Lithgow’s performance is superb.

Charlize Theron and Nicole Kidman paint skillful portraits of the two women caught in the culture of their time while waking up to what they must do to obliterate sex as the main stepping stone to power in a male corporate culture. Their fine performances are part of a monster wave that is publicizing the problem at last. Their dart hits the center of the target.

You will see groups of men, discarded women, and, no surprise, Donald Trump. As current movies become stepping stones to solutions, wouldn’t it help if ambitious women wore beautiful clothes that covered more skin? It’s that skin that ignites the men. If that fails, just go to work one day in a snowsuit.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : Bombshell
Word Count : 495
Running Time : 1:48
Rating : R
Date : 29 December 2019

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael

The new documentary about film critic Pauline Kael is a pile of contradictions that paint an intriguing portrait of the world’s most famous movie critic. What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael is a beautifully crafted look at the smart woman who wrote twelve books along with columns for The New Yorker. Did a given movie work? Movie lovers heard her answers to that one as she scorched or loved the plots, filming, and acting of movies during the 1960s and 70s.

The word “controversial” is nearly always part of any description of this writer who sped to the heart of her praise or anger in her writing. Writer/director Rob Garver’s portrait of her takes audiences to a state of delight. His film becomes a story of the strengths and difficulties of a critic who explored her field with a bunch of verbal arrows. If you love movies, she said get rid of the cheap stuff.

The cast includes shots of her interaction with the strongest actors, writers and filmmakers of her time. Sarah Jessica Parker brings Kael to us through the writing and letters that made her famous. She had no patience for bad quality in anything. Though many were angered by her outspoken views, Kael was immersed in a lifelong search for what made the good movies that she loved. She often savaged the weak ones.

As her reputation grew Kael offered this: “The main thing is fighting off the successes that trap you.” She embraced popular cinema by writing as part of the audience. She loved many kinds of beauty in art, music, theater, and movies but was a demanding viewer of everything.

By 1967, she was known by moviegoers in Japan, India, Sweden, Italy, and France. As a lover of the excitement of anything both new and good, she was stunned by Bonnie and Clyde and her review changed everything in movie criticism. For her, the violence of that movie put the sting back into death. Her review became more important than the film. “Seeing trash liberates the spectator” with the proviso that the trash must be well done. She made heroes of some bad people, loved the violence and blood of the Godfather films. Don’t soften terror or cruelty. This was a woman who loved movies that scorched her. She wanted to go to a theater to sink into “hypnotic excitement.”

The movie tells us all about her intelligence, her love of film and her impatience, but as good as that portrait is, it doesn’t tell us enough about who she was as a woman. How did she become the driving force she was? That question drove me immediately to a list of those who made this movie, and yes, of course, they were men. Perhaps a woman will see it and decide to explore the qualities that powered this brave woman to shake the world of movie lovers and makers for two decades.

Film Critic : Joan Ellis
Film Title : What She Said: The Art of Pauline Kael
Word Count : 495
Running Time : 1:38
Date : December 15, 2019