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Monday Movies: The Influence

The only movie I watched this week was Cassavetes’ A Woman Under the Influence, which I showed for my feminist theology course. My goal in showing it was to give my students, most of whom are Highly Successful People who have probably not experienced overt sexism, what it looks like for a woman to be denied any meaningful agency — and I had a follow up quasi-sermon in class where I said essentially, “You can probably go most of your life without experience something like this, but once you start to question the justice of the system, it’s likely that you’ll be pulled into a similar vortex.”

The movie is amazing, though, and everyone should watch it.


January 17, 2011 - Posted by | Monday Movies


  1. “Death Race,” the one with Jason Statham, was on the other night. Last time we saw it, it was On Demand. This time it was on Showcase or somesuch. Fortunately, Canadian rules allow for all the bad words to be left in, so long as they give a warning about bad language and violence after every commercial break, like when the mechanic on Statham’s team refers to “Machine Gun Joe” as “one angry homo.” Having said that, some radio station got in trouble last week due to a complaint about playing Dire Straights’ “Money for Nothing” and its use of the word “faggot.” Evidently, songs which are explicitly mocking a homophobic view are themselves homophobic.

    Comment by Craig | January 17, 2011

  2. Sweetgrass is lovely, and was made more entertaining by Mrs. K-sky voicing the sheep for the first half-hour. The early shot which ends with this image is thrilling.

    Comment by k-sky | January 17, 2011

  3. A Woman Under the Influence might be my favorite Cassavetes movie. I watched The Killing of a Chinese Bookie and it wasn’t all that great.

    I also watched Heartbeat Detector, which I recommend as a good demonstration of how inhumane the life and language of corporations are.

    Comment by Jake | January 17, 2011

  4. i’ve tried to watch the movie and can’t feel any sympathy towards the heroine, that’s i think a case of not overt sexism and under-priviledge, but the case of “can’t bear ‘happiness’ and boredom” and female midlife crisis, as if, beauty/youth is almost gone, just kids and house, though loving but unattractive working class husband-loser to whom she must be feels superior, therefore her life is unfulfilled etc that she can’t stand a night alone and goes out to have an affair with whomever and gets raped to that drunkenly, her agency is denied by herself which is manifested by such a small thing, not carrying with her any lighters if you are a smoker, if one wants independence and agency, provide them yourself, the lighter, at least symbolically
    well, being a victim of the society or circumstances, she’ll become an alcoholic or is already, i suppose, if to watch further, but i can’t

    Comment by read | January 17, 2011

  5. read, You seem to completely misunderstand the movie.

    We watched A Few Dollars More last night. It was good, but I didn’t think it was as good as the other two. Klaus Kinski’s cameo was an unexpected treat, however.

    Comment by Adam Kotsko | January 18, 2011

  6. i didn’t watch it, so, maybe, i am
    but if one goes out for whatever reasons, behaves like a prostitute and gets her consequences, one has no sympathy from me
    such irresponsibility to her kids and family, only me me me, so underappreciated, but she can sure be so able to yell at her mother and look all in command there
    generally, i admit i don’t like white women so easily deranged and precious that can’t watch the movie further until the end and get its correct interpretation

    Comment by read | January 18, 2011

  7. I celebrated upgrading our Netflix account to where we can download movies through our Wii by watching GI Joe in the early afternoon (while my wife napped) and Shutter Island in the evening (my grown-up movie).

    I think GI Joe was probably worse than any of the cartoon stories whose arc spanned more than one episode. Hollywood’s obsessive need to explain every personality or costume quirk of every single character in every single movie seems like some sort of failure of imagination to me.

    Shutter Island won’t be mentioned in Scorsese’s eulogy (he directed it, right?), but it was okay. I wouldn’t watch it again, but it was a fine way to wind down a weekend.

    Comment by mattintoledo | January 18, 2011

  8. i am misunderstanding i was writing
    the other day i wanted to watch Shutter island too but got diatracted and quit it
    LdC’s face was so always frowning that i thought must be a very grim movie, better to not watch it adding self negative feelings
    i confess i felt myself severely underpriviledged, the feeling i hate btw, after reading the nominations of golden globe and seeing i haven’t seen any of them, except last yrs Mad men and the beginning of I am love, i like the actress in there, but the movie was starting so slow
    bc didn’t watch tv or movies in the theaters

    Comment by read | January 18, 2011

  9. I would say I liked Love Streams over A Woman Under the Influence. I’m not sure your sermon on AWUTI is quite on point though: has Mabel been denied any meaningful agency? I’m not sure Cassavetes makes her situation that black and white.

    Comment by burritoboy (Alex) | January 18, 2011

  10. More often than not, read’s comments are a gift from the internet.

    Comment by Craig | January 18, 2011

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