The movies opening this week at first seem to have very little in common. “2012” is a big-budget, chases-and-explosions film with an apocalyptic setting. “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire” is a small, intimate story of a hideously abused teenager. But both are in their way spiritual stories of hope, courage, sacrifice, and the determination to survive.
Look for my reviews on Friday.
And while we’re on the subject of makeovers, what is happening to Ken?
Barbie’s beau has had to endure some humiliating looks since he arrived on the scene in 1961. Of course his function is primarily as arm candy for Barbie, and so his primary job is looking good in a tux or whatever best matches her endless variety of outfits. When Barbie was a bride, he was the groom. When Barbie was Dorothy (and the Wicked Witch), Ken was the scarecrow (and the tin man and lion).
But Mattel has announced that Ken’s latest incarnation is “Palm Beach Sugar Daddy.”
I am not making this up.
Mattel says that this is intended for adult collectors, not children. It will be available in April for $81.99. Still, there is something louche and just plain creepy about this.
My friend Christian Toto makes an important point in his post about the “reality” of the record-breaking thriller, “Paranormal Activity.” The movie feels real not just because the actors use their real names and the footage all appears to be from their home-made video. It’s co-star Katie Featherston’s body. She has a lovely figure, but it is not the hyper-toned Size 0 we are used to seeing on screen.
Featherston’s conventional figure gives her movie an added sense that what we’re watching isn’t some artificial construct – even though it is just that.
It’s likely the next time you see her on screen she’ll be thinner, leaner and more like her Hollywood peers. But for “Paranormal Activity” her figure proves a very normal part of the film’s gimmick.
Toto says he likes the way Featherston looks now and wishes more actresses would appear on screen that way. But with the tabloid fat police shrieking about “mom jeans” for any actress who wears as much as a Size 4, I suspect that Featherston is already working with a personal trainer for some upcoming “how I lost 10 pounds” magazine story.
Pixar is the most successful movie studio in history, with every one of its 10 films a critical and box office success. But not one of those ten films has featured a female lead. There have been memorable girls and women in films like “The Incredibles,” “Finding Nemo,” and “A Bug’s Life,” but the main action has gone to the male characters — in “Up” the only female other than the main character’s late wife, who never speaks, is a bird. That will change with two of Pixar’s upcoming releases, according to Willa Paskin on Slate sister site Double XX.
The first film, Newt, out in 2011, imagines “What happens when the last remaining male and female blue-footed newts on the planet are forced together by science to save the species, and they can’t stand each other?” This sounds like the animated version of It Happened One Night (plus a few action sequences), so, you know, sign me up. The second film, The Bear and The Bow, will be even more girlcentric, telling the tale of “the impetuous, tangle-haired Merida, [who] though a daughter of royalty, would prefer to make her mark as a great archer.” It’s also set to come out 2011 and will be voiced by Reese Witherspoon.
Paskin wonders whether we really need another princess story, and I see her point. But I look forward to meeting these characters and to the reactions from girls — and their brothers — to seeing stories where girls get to take the lead.