Bright Lights Film Journal

GIRLS (1968), CHE (2008) and other threats


Man, it was really disturbing on a metatextual level to finish watching THE GIRLS (1968) a Swedish intellectual feminist sex farce about a touring company of Lysistrata, and look online for reviews only to find one or two reviews, and a few hostile male dismissals. And barely any pictures (hence my off-projector screenshot, above)

Considering how deftly the (female) director, Mai Zetterling, plays off smug male dismissal (all the male actors react towards their female counterparts attempts at equality with conspiratorial snickering both on and off stage) you would think these “critics” might realize the extent to which they are metatextually hanging themselves by saying things like “stridently grrl powered” (Fernando Croce, Slant) and urging readers to see “George Cukor’s LES GIRLS instead.” Why, Mr. Croce? Because both have “girls” in the title? Gosh darn it, I would ask anyone who automaticallly labels “grrl power” as strident to examine their own feelings of being threatened by truly liberated women.

There were a few other little bits of condescension out there, but now I can’t find them.

Then there’s Soderbergh’s CHE, recently premiered at Cannes. A four and a half hour epic, it will be cut into two halves (like KILL BILL!) I read some ignorant comments here and there, but I wont name no names this time. They’re too big for that; they could smite me like an ant. No wonder they’re threatened by CHE! He’ll topple them, for sure, and us ants will rise.

I mean really, could there be a better casting choice in all of cinema than Benicio Del Toro as Che? I was rooting for this union since 2000, when I first saw him on the big screen in YEAR OF THE GUN (and TRAFFIC, of course). He couldn’t be more… Che-ish?

I know a lot about Che, because I was married to a highly opinionated intellectual Argentine documentary filmmaker for five years. And yet, after all that socialist posturing, nagging and bossing around and being expected to shoulder the guilt of my country’s, race’s and sex’s capitalist crimes (insert patriarchal snickering on my part), I STILL dig on Che! What better testament could there be?

Whatever fine shadings of character Soderbergh fails to etch out, I’m sure he’ll do the saga justice, and keep it in Spanish with English subtitles. Que bueno y re un flash!

As Mr. Toro put it when receiving the best actor award at Cannes earlier this week: “I’d like to dedicate this to the man himself.

Damn! Can you even tell them apart?