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Gender roles and pairings in the movies

By Staff | Jan 31, 2013

As the filmmaking Class of 2012 moves toward the ultimate award’s ceremony, The Academy Awards, current screen offerings reflect a brewing gender equality battle that has seen few women nominated in the high profile directing category.

“Zero Dark Thirty” meticulously and suspensefully (although the outcome is a matter of history), has stirred controversy. The absorbing piece by piece sleuthing by Maya (Jessica Chastain) rivets a compelling thriller from combing of Freedom of Information sources.

Directed by Kathryn Bigelow, the only woman in history to win a Best Directing Oscar, in 2008 for the war drama, “The Hurt Locker,” “Zero Dark Thirty” has received a best picture nomination, but Ms. Bigelow was not nominated for directing.

Aside from continual rumblings concerning filmmaker access to formerly classified documents, the production set off a mini-war regarding its torture scenes. Although the United States has officially denied the use of torture, such as waterboarding, after the 9/11 attacks, the lead investigator and other CIA operatives regard it in the production as routine.

In fact, Maya, the strong female lead played by Chastain proves herself capable of playing with the not-by-the-book boys when she must observe, then, interrogate a tortured prisoner. Her lesson is well learned, as she outlasts all her male superiors when the terrorist’s location has finally been pegged.

The film “Silver Linings Playbook” explores modern romance from the perspective of two flawed individuals that pair as a stronger, but still flawed, couple.

Nominated for eight Oscars, including Best Direction and Best Picture, Bradley Cooper (Pat) and Jennifer Lawrence (Tiffany) infuse the value of interventions along the bumpy pathway of loss.

Encapsulated with the hurdles faced by those suffering emotional challenges, both Cooper an Lawrence deserve strong consideration for the Best Actor and Best Actress categories.

That brings up a second gender battlefield. The term “actress” has fallen out of political correctness. In recognition, the Screen Actors Guild had nominations for best performance by a “male actor” and “female actor.” Maybe, some of the other awards shows need to catch up with the realities expressed by the S.A.G.

Looking at the cinema release schedule as Valentine’s Day nears, gender differences are highlighted.

“Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters” pairs Jeremy Renner and Gemma Arterton as the “Buffy Vampire Slayer” inspired assassins. Chalk up a strong female role for Arterton, who previously appeared in “Quantum of Solace” and “Clash of the Titans.”

On Valentine’s Day weekend, “Beautiful Creatures,” hurls into the supernatural as Ethan and Lena both have dark pasts with which they must overcome before Cupid’s arrow can pierce their hearts. Upon her 16th birthday, she must make a tormenting decision about her incredible power – whether to use it for good or swing to the dark side.

Two additional gender equality flicks coming around V-Day (although these will be in select markets) are “Playroom” and “Murder 3,” where a rising fashion photographer purchases a lovely old world house that proves to have secrets.