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Daily Reads: How Women Handle Sexism in the Marvel Universe, an Indefinite Break for Studio Ghibli and More

Criticwire By Max O'Connell | Criticwire August 5, 2014 at 9:15AM

Plus: Who's really behind the script of "Guardians of the Galaxy," and did Richard Linklater film two Astros games for "Boyhood?"
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Criticwire's 
Daily Reads brings today's essential news stories and critical pieces to you.

1. Who's the Real Author of "Guardians of the Galaxy?" The latest Marvel Cinematic Universe installment, "Guardians of the Galaxy," is among the best-reviewed of the bunch, but there's a burning question of how much of the film is director James Gunn's vision, how much is part of the Marvel brand, and how much credit should go to original screenwriter Nicole Perlman. The latter was given co-author credit by the WGA, and she's notably the first credited female screenwriter on a Marvel project. But Perlman never worked with Gunn in the process, and even she claims that most of the finished product is far different from her draft. Myles McNutt of Cultural Learnings tries to suss it out: 

I raise none of this points in an attempt to discredit Perlman; her status as the first woman credited on a Marvel film is enormously important, and will hopefully be the start of a trend for a company that has a production history problematically linked to broader narratives of gender and Hollywood. However, in writing about the film myself and reading writing about it — particularly Todd VanDerWerff’s review at Vox, where he takes pains to include Perlman in each nod to authorship — I found myself struggling with how to engage with the particulars of the film within these conversations. And this doesn’t even get into the larger question of how much autonomy any filmmaker — no matter how much they articulate their authorship — can have within the massive Marvel Cinematic Universe machine. 

Read more.

2. How Women Handle Sexism in the Marvel Universe. Last week highlighted the misogyny of certain swaths of comic fandom, but a key moment in "Guardians of the Galaxy" actually shows Gamora (Zoe Saldana) dealing with it and proving themselves in a sexist world. It's not the first instance in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, either, and Alyssa Rosenberg of The Washington Post wrote about it, highlighting Gamora, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and others.

Sexism may still exist in Marvel’s fictional universe, but it is a defunct idea. The men who give in to it are mesmerized by its sparkle, its potential to give them power over women. But again and again, it proves to be their downfall. A female scientist who is stereotyped as emotional ends up discovering another world. A superhero’s kidnapped girlfriend gets thrown into a suit of armor for her own protection and ends up playing a decisive role in a final battle, a hostage turned heroine. Read more.

3. Did Richard Linklater Film Two Astros Games for "Boyhood?" Three weeks after the release of "Boyhood" and the number of critical pieces and analyses of specific aspects of the film haven't stopped. For another example of the latter, Christopher Wilson of Yahoo! Sports decided to figure out which Astros game Richard Linklater and company filmed for the movie. The answer? Possible more than one. Wilson first noticed Roger Clemens was pitching against the Brewers and Jason Lane hit a home run, suggesting it was the August 18 game in 2005...

However, this cannot be the game. Why? Hawke’s character says later it was a three-run shot, which again, could be movie magic, but we know from our friends at Yahoo Movies that there was at least one runner on and the homer went to left. That August 18 game? It’s a solo shot for Lane to right instead of left, meaning it can’t possibly be the same swing as the image above. So there are a couple other options here.

Read more.

4. The Year of Posthumous Performances. It's always a bit strange to watch a posthumous performance, as watching  "The Dark Knight" or "The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus" with the knowledge that Heath Ledger won't be in any more movies makes it hard not to wish that they were equally noteworthy. But this year brings in not only some of Philip Seymour Hoffman's final roles, but also work from the late Christopher Evan Welch, James Gandolfini, Paul Walker, Cory Monteith and more (even River Phoenix is getting his final movie 21 years after his death). Vulture's Adam Sternbergh looked at the year of the posthumous performance, and at the implications of how technology might extend a deceased actor's time on the big screen.

Watching Hoffman in his new film, "A Most Wanted Man", induces a sense of deep sadness, of course, at the greatness that’s been lost — but then, if you’re feeling wistful for his particular brand of brilliance, his entire catalogue is available for instantaneous retrieval, only a few keystrokes away. It’s hard to truly feel that someone’s gone forever when you can watch pretty much any of his scenes that you care to revisit, along with any number of tribute ­videos that compile his greatest performances. As an actor, Hoffman lives forever, at least on YouTube, and you, like an amateur medium, can summon his spirit at will. Read more.


5. An Indefinite Break for Studio Ghibli. Sunday saw a number of Studio Ghibli fans (this writer included) aghast at the news that the people behind "Spirited Away" and "Grave of the Fireflies" were closing shop. But a clarification came that Ghibli wasn't disbanding with Hayao Miyazaki's retirement, but rather that it "will take a short rest and think about what's next," according to producer Toshio Suzuki. That rest is at least partially motivated by the recent financial disappointments of "The Tale of Princess Kaguya" and "When Marnie Was There." Grantland's Emily Yoshida got into why Studio Ghibli might need to figure out how to be financially viable again.

A big factor in the exorbitant cost of creating a Studio Ghibli feature is that it is one of the few animation studios to not outsource jobs to India or South Korea (a practice adopted by most major studios, as it can drastically reduce budgets). Studio Ghibli animators are all under one roof keying and inbetweening, in close, constant consultation with the director. Read more.


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