Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Moar babies, chick flicks, and cannibalism

I am a bad, bad child. The very last thing in the world I should be doing right now is blogging. I have a paper to write for Friday, scales to practice for tomorrow, laundry to do, and on top of everything my wrists have been bothering me so much that I haven't been able to type for two days.

But there is much to discuss. We make sacrifices.

I just finished watching Grace, a movie that came out a little while ago (2009,) when I frequented, and there was quite a bit of hype in the horror community about it, if I remember correctly. It's been in my instant queue for a long time, but I just got up the courage to watch it today.

I highly, highly recommend this movie. Unless you are a male. Or know any males. Or have a baby. Or know anyone that has a baby or lost a baby or you were a baby yourself once.

Of course, that sounds like I don't watch anyone to watch this movie, I suppose, but that isn't what I mean. It really is a brilliant film, but it is a chick flick. An extreme chick flick. If you're driving on the road of chick flicks, drive past The Notebook and When Harry Met Sally, take a left at The Devil Wears Prada and then drive for a long time, past Ms. 45 and I Spit on your Grave, then maybe you would get to this movie.

I say "chick flick," meaning that this movie literally is almost entirely made up of females, and there is a lot of imagery in it that men, I'm sorry, are just not strong enough to handle. A lot of women probably aren't, either. There's a lot of menstrual symbolism, and a lot of very very nonsexy images of breasts, and a looot of babies.

The feminist message is very strong in this film, with a mother going to every extent to save her child. Even though the baby supposedly dies in utero at eight months, Madison, the heroine protagonist main character insists on carrying it full term and delivering it naturally. Luckily, the baby comes back to life when it is born (but it's dead for a long time, which is horrific and sad,) but isn't a normal baby--it has a thirst for human blood.
This baby wants some meat

Best. Baby. Ever.

The main themes in this movie are pretty intense, and pretty obvious. Madison, like I said, goes to extreme extents to keep her child well. Equally strong is the theme of white science vs. black magic, with white science being the masculine and black magic the feminine.

Carol Clover, one of my very favorite film theorists/professors of comparative Scandanavian literature (?) who wrote one of my favorite books ever, talks about this a lot. It's a very common or even unavoidable theme in possession films, and this movie borrows a lot from possession films. The influence of Rosemary's Baby is particularly evident, (as it should be in any movie with a demon infant,) particularly in the scenes where Madison decides its time to go buy some raw meat, and in the opening scene, where her husband makes passionate love to her while she just kinda lays there and stares at the ceiling.

Black magic, in possesion films, represents the "spiritual," earthy-crunchy superstitious voodoo priest, native American shaman, or, in this case, midwife that is the essence of all things feminine and natural, and is often on the side of the wife. Take, for instance, Poltergiest II, which I haven't seen but Carol Clover told me about. Or, if I'm remembering correctly, The Exorcist, where there is conflict between doctor and priest. Another one: The Serpent and the Rainbow. The closest example to my mind right now is actually from way way back, in Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors--when the main character's wife thinks he is crazy, she and her sister bring in Dr. Pinch, a crazy exorcist, to rid him of the spirits. The black magic team is often represented by a team of people against one man, the man of white science.

This movie, like Rosemary's baby, is a little different, and I really like that. We don't know in the end if we should be spiritual yoga vegans or high-class doctors.

Madison's veganism is heavily criticized, both by her husband, her mother in law, and the family doctor--the characters that represent white science. Spoiler alert--all of these characters die. We do get the feeling that Black Magic wins out here, because it is the midwife, Patricia, who ends up saving the day for the most part. However, even at the end of the movie it is implied that the reason the baby needs blood is that Madison's breastmilk is not sufficient due to the lack of meat.

"Black Magic" is also sort of played down here, or at least to be a good thing, besides the ambiguity of Madison's veganism. Patricia the midwife is made out to be very, very smart and down-to-earth, and suggests many times that Madison go to the hospital. Upsetting images of animal slaughter are played on the TV in the background of the kitchen (a little forced...) and much of the background music can only be described as if Enya worked with Bernard Herman or Wes Craven. Also, the fact that every representative and 2/3 of the males in the movie (there are three males in the movie,) die is a pretty strong indicator that women win. There's quite a bit of implied lesbianism too, but we shan't get into that this evening.

Here's the catch though, you guys--prepare to have your mind blown. I just found out that this movie was written and directed by a dude. A MAN. Whaat? I am so impressed with this guy. His name is Paul Solet, and his IMDB biography says that he majored in film and psychology at Emerson (<3!) and then got his masters in screenwriting. Then! Worked on some movies with his menor Eli Roth!! (<3<3swoon!!). This guy is either gay or has a seriously seriously strong stomach. Some of the images in this film are really really brutal, with a lot of bleeding from the breasts, and I honestly didn't think a guy would be able to handle it let alone direct it.

I'm scanning his bio more, and my point is proven. Look at this: "Since its (Grace's)premiere at Sundance 2009, where two men in the audience passed out from the intensity of the film..." 

Obviously this guys amazing, then, if he, as a man, could create feminine images so horrifying as to bring men to faint. It sort of goes back to Steven King and Carrie, (the book,) which really makes you wonder how a guy can put out a piece of literature that is so incredibly...well, girly. And girly in the sense that it's so girly girls probably can't stand to read or watch it. I was also thinking about this whole situation in light of American Psycho, (which I watched at 12:00 Monday morning--easily one of my top ten favorites.) With that movie, it's reversed--though a man wrote the book it was based off, two women directed it, which sort of nullifies all of those cries that it's one of the most misogynist movies of the last decade, in it's parody of men. However, Grace and Carrie (all right boys, good job on the stories but get some more creative titles pleaase,) were created by men but were not at all parodying women, but celebrating them, perhaps a bit in fear and respect of their awesome power to have babies and bleed all over stuff. 
Most slasher movies, though considered masculine and misogynist, are very feminist indeed, probably due to the rise of feminism that went along with the rise of film and later, horror. I'm going to start rambling very soon, so I'm cutting myself off on this topic for now. Go read Men, Women, and Chainsaws.

In closing, I'd like to share with you this article that I found the other day (on somebody else's blog--. It's very disturbing, but brings up some interesting questions. I think about cannibalism a lot, and obviously this movie deals with some sort of innate cannibalism that this baby girl has. So, with that--Is cannibalism innate?

I found that on a blog called "And Now The Screaming Starts."  No promises on the up there.

Real conclusion to a movie review.

I loved this movie. The cinematography is artistic and amazing, (which I didn't get into,) the imagery is disturbing and powerful, the plot is fast-moving and suspenseful, the themes presented are thought provoking, I'm going to marry Paul Solet if he isn't gay.

Good movie. Netflix it up if you aren't too scared of bleeding girl parts and zombie babies.

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