Friday, September 5, 2008

Return of the Bechdel

It’s time for another Bechdel 2008 round-up! You can catch the earlier installments here and here. Again, the rules are simple. For a movie to pass the Bechdel test, it needs to
1. Have to have at least two women in it,
2. Who talk to each other,
3. About something besides a man.
My criteria for judging disincludes minor/background characters (a female character has to appear in at least two scenes to count), and doesn’t count conversations shorter than roughly ten lines (five per actress). This is not an exact science, and I will nudge rules around a bit depending on the circumstances. If a film is on the fence for one section but maybe barely qualifies and is pretty shitty to women for the majority, I won’t rule in its favor. On the flipside, if a film is on the fence but is generally female-character-friendly, I’ll nudge it over. So, without further ado:

1) The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor – 3/3 – Three female characters who kick all sorts of ass, plus a female baddie. Brendan Fraser may be the “star” of this movie, but the women easily steal the show.

2) Tropic Thunder – 0/3 – You have no idea how much it pains me that one of my favorite movies of the summer fails so bad.

3) Mirrors – 3/3 – This is one where I nudged it to pass, since the conversations between mother and daughter and mother and housekeeper might not have been quite long enough to count, but the movie has three well-developed female characters and two more supporting female characters, and I felt like they were all pretty well written and had their own purposes and lives in the film.

4) 21 – 2/3 – I feel like I remember the two girls on the blackjack team conversing a bit. Pretty guycentric movie, but it boasts three fleshed out female characters, two of whom are shown to excel in stereotypically “male” activities like math and card playing.

5) Vantage Point – 1/3 – I feel like I’m being generous here, since we technically see the news producer in two different scenes, otherwise it would just be the conspiracy chick holding down the lone female fort and giving Vantage Point a 0/3.

6) Doomsday – 3/3 – Four strong female characters who kick a ton of ass does not, alas, keep this from being the worst movie I’ve seen in years.

7) Pineapple Express – 1/3 – Well, it’s an Apatow movie, what did you expect?

8) 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days – 3/3 – This, along with Teeth, is probably the most important film of 2008 that every feminist-minded filmgoer should watch.

9) The House Bunny – 3/3 – The girls easily outnumber the boys in this one, and even though a lot of what they talk about is boys, there’s also some nice looks at female politics. And it’s a makeover movie that you probably won’t hate yourself for liking.

That’s five out of nine, better than the last two installments at least.

So, to recap, out of the 2008 movies I have seen, these are the ones that I (in my highly subjective way) feel scored 3/3 on the Bechdel test:

4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days
The Air I Breathe
The Eye
The House Bunny
The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
One Missed Call
Sex and the City
The Strangers

Here's hoping for a stronger showing in the fall crop.

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