Posts Tagged ‘Feminism


The Love Witch (2016)

Dear friends, I’m out of practice. Like way, way out of practice. But a movie like Anna Biller’s The Love Witch is enough to get me hopping back into the game. I mean, a blog called schlockwave couldn’t in good conscience not write about this campy homage to sixties sexploitation.

Life can be a fairy tale, if you just give your Prince Charming everything he wants!

What do men want? Elaine, The Love Witch knows: “Just a pretty woman to love; to take care of them.”  Fresh off the loss of her husband Jerry (they couldn’t prove she killed him) she’s ready to explore the sea for bigger, better fish. Using sex magick she woos all sorts of men, only to discover they’re never as good as they seem. In fact, she dazzles them so much she turns them into whimpering crybabies – and Elaine has no time for crybabies!

This film is gorgeous. It’s shot on 35mm and the colors pop amazingly. I want to live in Elaine’s technicolor world. You spend 90% of the time immersed in the 1960’s – the props and clothes are spot on (not to mention to die for – my GOD I want every decanter in this film), until Elaine’s friend Trish pulls out a cell phone, or you see a modern Subaru next to a classic

Wiccans know how to party – naked, and in a circle.

car. The acting and pacing is also pretty-well perfectly matched to any classic sexploitation horror flick you can think of. It’s obvious Anna Biller has done her homework (and though I have not yet seen Viva it’s pretty darn high on my list now).

I admit when it was over, I knew that I’d enjoyed it – but I wasn’t sure if I loved it or not. It seemed strange to me that there were anachronisms like cell phones and new cars in this world that was obviously painstakingly made to look like another time and place. I’d also wondered exactly what it was trying to say – was there a coherent message?

After giving it some thought, I’ve at least interpreted it in a way that does make me love it, and makes me want to see it a second time. We’re never quite sure what Elaine’s real motivation is. Sure, we know


it’s love but what does that mean, and why? We know that Elaine was berated by her husband, humiliated by her father, and schooled into the world of sex magick by a dude. A bunch of different dudes expecting different things out of a woman, and a woman feeling conflicted trying to fulfill all these different roles? Add to that the confusion and conflict between Elaine and Trish – each one wants to be like the other – until they realize they don’t. Think of how much easier it would be for these women to navigate social expectations if only they could support each-other instead of hide behind jealousy and lies? These problems are timeless and persistent, and perhaps those anachronisms are saying that though we feel modern, we’re still stuck in the same old world where women are subjugated rather than celebrated.

This movie is well worth a watch. It is beautiful, hilarious and even shocking at times. I am loving all these flicks paying tribute to the beauty (and idiocy) of exploitation horror. This, The Editor, The Strange Color of Your Body’s Tears – love them all. Keep them coming!


The Punk Singer (2013)

punksingerWhen I hear there’s a documentary out about one of my favorite singers, songwriters, authors, filmmakers, etc., I get really nervous. Will the director paint them in a negative light? Will it be a crappy, half-hearted documentary that reveals nothing interesting and only repeats hollow, lame garbage we already knew? Sometimes, the answer is yes. Other times, I leave the theater relieved, maybe even elated at the picture they’ve painted of the artist in question. I’m happy to report the latter is the case with The Punk Singer, a documentary about one of my all-time favorite ladies, Kathleen Hanna.

When I was an angsty little teenager, nothing made me happier than listening to Hanna’s band, Bikini Kill. Except maybe the look on that curious boy’s face in photography class when he asked to hear what I was listening to and I blithely let him listen to Alien She. The look of shock and horror on his face made me smile deeply, and it still does today. I’m glad Bikini Kill gave me at least one thing to smile about in high school.

Kathleen Hanna, Bikini Kill, and all the members of the Riot Grrrl movement didn’t give a fuck, and that’s what made them so attractive to me as a kid. As an adult, watching this documentary made me remember exactly what I felt back in high school, and my respect for Hanna and the movement actually grew. Those ladies have some serious balls. They didn’t like the sexist rules society was making them play by, so they wrote their own. They didn’t like the fact their female friends were getting harassed, raped and murdered and no one gave a damn, so they spoke up about it.

The documentary covers all of this territory through face time with some major players, and plenty with Hanna herself, who tells us her story pre-Bikini Kill all the way through to Le Tigre’s final show and her newest musical project, The Julie Ruin. It’s kind of hard for me not to fawn all over this documentary, and Hanna, because I just freakin’ think she’s so damn cool.

Before I sat down and watched this, though, I have to admit I didn’t realize this stuff was going on right in my backyard – Bikini Kill and some others in the Riot Grrrl movement were very active in the Washington, DC area. Unfortunately for me, I was around eleven years old when it was going down. I was, no doubt, obsessively listening to Pearl Jam’s Ten at the time. I guess I just missed being part of the revolution, but it still touched me just a few years later, and I know high school wouldn’t have been tolerable without it.

Well, this is more a reminiscent love letter to Kathleen Hanna than a review of this documentary, isn’t it? I guess that just speaks to how difficult it is for me to have an unbiased opinion about this film. I can say pretty firmly that it affected me in a very positive way. It made me feel lucky for having stumbled into Riot Grrrl bands as a kid. And I think it would do anyone involved with Riot Grrrl proud. Having also just read Sara Marcus’ chronicle of the Riot Grrrl movement, Girls to the Front, which talks a whole hell of a lot about the issues the movement suffered with the media and its many proposed media blackouts, I think it is save to say this documentary does Hanna and the movement justice. Definitely recommended for anyone who gives a crap about feminism, punk rock, and the 90’s.


Old Wave