Contagion means business. Gwyneth Paltrow and her son are dead within the first ten minutes–with the corpse of the Oscar winner graphically scalped to find the cause–and at least one other marquee name is dumped into an open grave. Making his end of the world movie (a genre, or a vibe, that many filmmakers feel drawn to), Steven Soderbergh directs the track of a lethal virus pitilessly, as it originates in Hong Kong and Macau, radiates westwards, and consumes between 70-80 million lives. And all in 106 minutes, scored to funereal, end-of-days electronica by Cliff Martinez.
Needless to say we’re not in Irwin Allen territory. For one thing the cast of snifflers and seizure bait (Matt Damon, Kate Winslet, Jude Law, and Marion Cotillard, once again extending her Hollywood work visa as few foreign-language actors do) is hipper than Red Buttons and Carol Lynley. For another the “master of disaster” would have insisted that the plague unleash fires, or zombies, or hordes of killer bees–something exciting, something spectacular. But Soderbergh and screenwriter Scott Z. Burns aren’t out to entertain us, especially not with a movie timed to open on another jittery, “chatter”-filled 9/11 weekend. Filmed with a drab palette, in the “paranoid style”
If you are a woman, the relationship you have with your best girlfriends is special. It’s different than any you have with your parents, siblings, romantic partners or even other friends. Your best girlfriend almost always knows you better than anyone else. You trust her with your secrets and you know that she is someone you can turn to no matter what. She’s someone who will listen to your problems and be honest with you, even it if it hurts.
A best girlfriend will be there to console you when you get dumped at 1 A.M. by that asshole you’ve been sleeping with who’s been stringing you along for months. And even though she insisted you could do better and you should stop seeing him a long time ago, but you didn’t listen to her, she’ll take you to an all-night diner and buy you pancakes and coffee and let you cry and bitch and moan without judging you or telling you she told you so.
A true best friend will go shopping with you and tell you when a dress you’ve chosen is totally fug and will help you pick out clothes that hide your fat rolls and make your boobs and ass look amazing. She will talk you out of buying those boots you love that cost almost as much as your rent because she knows you can’t afford them and she doesn’t want you selling any of your other possessions to make ends meet — or asking her for money that she doesn’t have but wouldn’t refuse you.
A BFF will gladly judge horrible skanks that your ex is now sleeping with, but will stop you from making an ass out of yourself when you drunkenly decide to approach the bitch and tell her what you think of her. She won’t judge you when you show up to brunch with greasy bangs and mascara smudged under your eyes, wearing the same clothes you had on the night before.
She will talk to you on the phone for hours about nothing in particular, but won’t be offended if you don’t call her for two weeks. She will organize your wedding and/or baby shower, even if she hates weddings and babies. She will throw you a surprise party when you think everyone has forgotten your birthday. And if something unfortunate happens, like a death in the family or a bout of depression, she will be there with a fresh box of tissues, your favorite ice cream and many, many hugs.
She will tell you when you’re being a bitch and will expect you to do the same for her. And she will always remind you that, no matter what happens, you’re awesome and fuck anyone who doesn’t think so.
Wow. That all sounded like one of those awful “In honor of women” forwards your crazy aunt who barely knows how to use her Hotmail account sends you every other week, doesn’t it? Well, whatever. I love my friends and I’m lucky to have such fierce ladies in my life.
Inspired by a recent viewing of one of my favorite films, Walking and Talking, and the success of the hit female buddy comedy Bridesmaids (which I still haven’t seen because I’m terrible), I thought I’d revisit some of my favorite female BFFs in film. Whether they’re laughing, crying, talking about sex or plotting murder, these ladies all share a strong bond that (for the most part) can’t be broken. And that’s why I love them.
My list was originally a lot longer than this, but then I noticed that several of the ladies I had listed were BFFs who happened to also be co-workers, so I decided they’d become their own Filminism post later on.
Who are your favorite female friendships in film? Tell me in the comments!
Warning: some of the clips below might be a little spoilery.
So, have we all been watching the Todd Haynes-directed Mildred Pierce mini-series on HBO? By now, episodes 1-3 have already aired, with the final two installments scheduled to premiere this coming Sunday, April 10th. I have certainly enjoyed it. I can’t say it’s the most uplifiting film I’ve ever seen — far from it — but the performances have been fantastic and Haynes’s impeccable attention to detail is present in its full glory. I’m betting that when awards season roles around, practically everyone involved will be nominated — Winslet is certainly a shoe-in for best actress for her portrayal of the titular role and I’m hoping that Mare Winningham gets recognized for her excellent turn as Ida Corwin.
Haynes definitely has a more realist take on the source material, the 1941 novel by James M. Cain, than had Michael Curtiz’s 1945 version starring Joan Crawford and Ann Blyth, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve never read the novel, but I think there’s a place in this world for both adaptations.
As I’ve been watching this epic “mini-series event,” I’ve been thinking a lot about the tempestuous relationship between Mildred and her oldest daughter, Veda, in this version played by Morgan Turner and Evan Rachel Wood. The bratty, entitled Veda got me thinking about other daughters in film and I thought it might be interesting to explore that topic, especially since it’s one I’ve rarely seen covered.
Of course, I’m not going to discuss every daughter portrayed in film — that would take ten years. And some that originally made my list I’ve held back to include in a future piece about sisters. So, these are just some of my favorites — daughters that, for one reason or another, have made an impression on me.
Who are your favorite daughters in film? Tell me in the comments!
Also, a quick warning: most of these clips are NSFW and could be kind of spoilery.