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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar Voynar@moviecitynews.com

Girls On Film

No, not the Duran Duran song (though I have that stuck in my head now).

What would guy-centric movie scenes look like with chicks playing the roles instead? That’s what website The Girls on Film set out to find out. So they’re taking movie scenes with male actors and reshooting them (essentially shot-for-shot, so far as I could tell without a frame-by-frame analysis) with female actors. And at first I thought it was gimmicky but as it turns out, it’s really a fascinating project.

So far they have a couple of these up: Fight Club, Star Trek and The Town.

So go and take some time to watch them. If you only want to pick one, I recommend The Town. But they’re not that long, so if you have time, or you’re bored at work and wanting to kill a few minutes, go for it.

For me, watching each of these a couple times was kind of jarring at first, and then interesting as I re-watched to pick up on subtleties of my emotional response to the clip that might be different than my response to the source material.

It’s hard to be objective in judging how much of the difference in reaction is simply due to it being a remake of scenes that I’ve seen in their original context versus the impact of seeing them specifically with female actors instead of guys. Maybe gender really is only one minor factor in the scenes feeling different and the disconcerting sense you get watching the clips is just about different actors (without regard to gender), differences in production value, tone of performance, etc.

I was most struck by the clip of The Town; for some reason the cursing in that scene stood out way more for me in the reshoot than it did in the original, which I guess speaks to my Southern Catholic upbringing around how ladies are “supposed” to talk … even though I’ve been known to curse like a sailor.

The physical fighting in both the Fight Club and The Town clips felt more jarring to me as well — as did the bloody nose in Star Trek — because girls were involved. Or at least, those things caught my attention in a different way, which I guess, I don’t know … makes me … genderist? Or maybe just a victim of my societal indoctrination in the expected gender-specific behaviors of guys and chicks.

I’m not sure, even after reading the “About” page of the site, whether the trio behind the site — Ashleigh Harrington, Cat McCormick, and Jeff Hammond — intend an academic angle with what they’re doing here, but really their intent matters little. The interaction of audience with their project certainly has the potential to generate some interesting (yes, interesting) conversation around gender and Hollywood. Fascinating stuff, and gave me something to think about.

As an aside: Take a look at the clip below. This is from the Oxford Film Festival awards in 2009. It’s a short remake of the diner scene from Pulp Fiction … but with little kids instead of adults:

Okay, now. Putting aside, if you will, the relative qualities of filmmaking — because really, the clips on The Girls On Film are pretty well shot — it’s also disconcerting to see the Pulp Fiction diner scene re-enacted by little kids, right? I remember when they played this at Oxford, we were all kind of shocked because we weren’t expecting it. But we laughed our asses off, I guess because we are bad people. And because it’s funny to see little kids sort-of curse.

Then again, I made my 9YO daughter a Hit Girl costume for Aki-Con last November (my husband went as Kick-Ass), so I guess for some people I already fall under the heading of “questionable parenting.” So you should maybe take that with the proverbial grain of salt.

PS There was a pretty smart write-up on The Girls on Film by Mathilda Gregory on The Guardian’s website a while back. If gender topics are your thing, you should check it out.

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“To be a critic is to be a workaholic. Workaholism is socially conditioned: viewed favourably by exploiters, it’s generally ruinous to a worker’s mental health. When T.S. Eliot said criticism was as inevitable as breathing, he failed to mention that, respiratory problems notwithstanding, breathing is easy. Criticism is reflexive before reflective: to formalise/industrialise an involuntary instinct requires time, effort and discipline. The reason we seek remuneration, as opposed to the self-hatred of being a scab, is because all labour should be waged…

“Criticism, so the cliché by now goes, is dying. None of the panel discussions on its death agony, however—including those in which I’ve formally participated—come at it from the wider perspective that the problem surely needs. They defend the ways in which criticism functions in relation to the industry and to the public, but they fail to contextualise these relationships as defined by ultimately rotten and self-harming imperatives.

“Criticism was a noble profession so long as only a few could practice it for money; when the field expands, as it has with a so-called ‘democratisation’ of our practice, those few lose their political power. Competition grows and markets are undercut: publications are naturally going to start paying less. Precarity is both cause and effect of a surplus workforce: the reason you’re only as good as your last article is because there are plenty of other folks who can write the next one in your place. The daily grind is: pitch, or perish.

B”ut criticism, so a counter-cliché goes, is not dying. An irony: this is an elite sport that is no longer elite in terms of who is able to practice it, but in economic terms it’s clutching to a perverse and outmoded hierarchical structure. It’s more meritocratic than ever, now: which is to say it isn’t meritocratic at all. That’s a paradox in bad need of a resolution…”

~ Michael Pattison Manifestoes Film Criticism

“It’s easy to forget when you’re reading a critic every single week or multiple times a week, that most of us who do this job, and have been doing it for a long time, understand that this is basically a parasitic profession. I don’t mean in the sense that we’re evil bloodsucking creatures, but we couldn’t exist if we didn’t have something to analyze. And I’m always conscious of that. So whether I like or don’t like a particular thing you do, my point of view is always that of an appreciator. I just like to be in the world that you create.”
~ Matt Zoller Seitz To Sam Esmail

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