Hanksgiving 2018

Hanksgiving is officially over this year and we don’t want to THINK about gathering around the table with family again (at least till the next mandated holiday coming up) BUT a question was posed by Jaslyn of the High Expectations podcast-

What five Tom Hanks characters would you like to invite to a Thanksgiving dinner?

Now I’m going to keep within Cutaways canon and just pull from the pool of characters we have covered.  I also want to them to be their characters from the beginning through mid-point of their respective movies, before they’ve gotten together with their loves.


Walter from The Money Pit

 Don’t ask this man to bake a pie.

Don’t ask this man to bake a pie.

Walter is the only one in this list who has a serious girlfriend, so of course he would be accompanied by Anna at our Thanksgiving table. He would never ever be allowed in the kitchen or near any electronic device or outlet. Doubtful if he is even allowed near a bathtub. As nice and helpful with good intentions he is, this man can set off many a Rube Goldberg-like disaster.

He is in charge of bringing the mashed potatoes because he could sculpt his dream house in them, and also I don’t think he could afford to buy much else and will take plenty of leftovers home with him and Anna.



Joe from Joe Versus the Volcano

 This man needs a vacation.

This man needs a vacation.

Joe does not show up. He’s gotta go throw himself in a volcano. He sends his regards though.


Sam from Sleepless in Seattle

 Finally ready to date, this Thanksgiving!

Finally ready to date, this Thanksgiving!

I’m happy to get depressed Sam out of his Seattle houseboat and even happier to have him bring his quirky son Jonah along. The best part about having Sam at Thanksgiving would be the other Toms giving him modern dating tips. Imagine 1993 Sam learning about dating apps. IMAGINE. Jonah of course knows all about them.

Sam brings Tiramisu after Jonah googles it.


Joe from You’ve Got Mail

 Does not put his devices away at the table.

Does not put his devices away at the table.

This Joe would be the most happy and wealthy Tom in attendance. I don’t even remember his girlfriend from this movie, so she can just stay at home. He schmoozes well with the other Toms, especially teaching Sam about the internet and all the dating possibilities that come with it. They also discover they have the same taste in women. Joe would often be stuck in his phone texting back his boo, then resurfacing to control the events and other Toms. He does not like Walter and judges his poor investments.

Joe would bring a big turkey to impress everyone.


Josh from Big

 He better wear this suit.

He better wear this suit.

Josh has himself a big bowl of baby corn at the kids table.







What Tom Hanks characters are you having over for Thanksgiving? Let us know!

Crazy in Love: Finding Representation in Secretary - Guest Blog by Em Barger

At twenty, I loved rom-coms more than any other genre. But I never saw myself in any of the leads. Their lives, filled with meet cutes and mix ups, were far removed from my own. I wasn’t going to meet the love of my life on top of a skyscraper- I would be too busy having a nervous breakdown in the parking garage. I was a mess. I had already flunked out of one University, due in large part to my tendency to prioritize numbly lying in bed over attending class, and was constantly on the brink of failing out of the local community college for similar reasons. I was rudderless. All that to say, it was the perfect time for me to watch Secretary.

It may be unconventional, but at its heart, Secretary is still a rom-com. Rom-coms are often considered one of the more escapism-focused genres. They (usually) run in an idealized world, in which everyone that deserves a happy ending will get a happy ending. True love may not run smooth, but the audience can rest assured that it will, eventually, conquer all. It’s a satisfying formula. But it can also feel exclusionary. Rom-coms aren’t really designed to engage with big problems, like mental health. The leading men are witty and winsome, not depressed. Heroines are quirky and determined, not diagnosable. 

Enter Secretary. The lead character, Lee Holloway as played by Maggie Gyllenhaal, starts the film having recently completed a stint in a mental institution after a self-harm incident. She is directionless, at times listless, and most likely clinically depressed (though that exact term is never used in the movie itself). With such a set-up, it would be easy to steer into maudlin Oscar-bait territory.

Instead, Lee gets her meet-cute via an ad in the “Help Wanted” section, and accidentally stumbles into a BDSM relationship with the equally troubled E. Edward Grey. From there, the film proceeds to follow the typical rom-com beats. There’s the relationship building, complete with montage of fun times- albeit in this case, the fun times are various BDSM scenarios played out at the office. At first, the two are shown to be improved by their relationship. Of course, the budding relationship is tested (boyfriends! Ex-lovers! Edward’s tendency to flip between his two volume settings of little-mouse-man-whispering and sexually-charged-yelling without warning!). The climax offers the audience the usual dramatic declaration of love, only there’s no rain-drenched run to the airport. Instead, it’s a hunger strike in a urine-drenched wedding dress. You know, the usual.

There are some strange trimmings, but the core is familiar. While Lee’s history with mental illness is an important part of her characterization and her relationship, it isn’t the ultimate question the film seeks to answer. Like all good rom-coms, the movie’s question is a simple one: “Will these two lovable weirdos be able to make it work?”

Spoiler alert: of course they do.

Watching Secretary, for the first time I got to see a rom-com with a lead that was something like me- in broad strokes at least, if not specifics. It might sound petty, but seeing a character who fell outside the bell curve of mental normalcy and still got to have a love story, still got to have a happy ending, was immensely helpful. I loved the film instantly and rewatched it often over the next couple of years. It was a comforting reminder that it was okay to not be okay for a little while. For a person prone to catastrophizing, that’s an invaluable thing to be reminded of.

This isn’t to say it’s a perfect film. The premise of a woman more or less being tricked into a BDSM relationship without proper discussion of consent is troubling, to say the least. Especially now, watching in the #MeToo era, it is discomforting to see the power dynamics play out. Even its portrayal of mental health isn’t without fault- I don’t think it would be out of line to suggest that what Lee really needed was a better therapist and treatment plan, not a new job and a spanking.

We hit #timesup territory by the fifteen-minute mark, and it’s really all downhill from there.

However, this isn’t the real world, this is rom-com world, and I’m willing to let some things slide. Rewatching it now, years later and hopefully less of a mess, I still genuinely like the film. I don’t connect with it quite the way I did then, but it’s a fun twist on the tropes we know and love. It helps that it brings some strong performances from both Gyllenhaal and Spader and is beautifully stylized. But even if it didn’t hold up, I would still have a special place for it in my list of movie favorites. It may not be a perfect film, but, for a very specific time in my life, it was the perfect film for me.

 

Em is the co-host of Hate Read Podcast with her sister-in-law Anna. Every episode, they challenge one another to read a book that they think they’ll hate… and then they talk about it! They’ve covered everything from Laura Ingalls Wilder to Nicholas Sparks and release episodes every other Monday. You can follow the podcast @hatereadcast, or, you can follow Em specifically @emnoteliza.

Want to hear our take on Secretary? Make sure you listen to our episode!

Script Supervising: Oh the locations you'll go!

Hi guys, Justine here! I previously wrote this blog post as a guest for AuteurMark’s film blog. I will be leaving in a few weeks to be on set as a script supervisor for three weeks. This may disrupt these precious pods and blogs, but I hope not. We’ve mentioned the role of Script Supervisor on the podcast a number of times. In this article I do my best to describe the very complicated job! If you would like to keep up with the film I’ll be working on, you can follow @goodkissermovie on Instagram!

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Imagine what a set would be like if there was no Script Supervisor.  I think it would be more chaos than it already is.  The Script Supervisor can answer the questions: What take is this?  Which hand was the coffee cup in?  Will this cut together? Line?!

The Script Supervisor is in constant communication with nearly every other crew member and talent.  Starting in pre-production, a Script Supervisor works with the Director, Cinematographer, and 1st AD to break down a script.  A Script Supervisor can also time the script with the Director and observe and help at table reads and rehearsals.

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During production, the Script Supervisor’s role is non-stop; they talk with the Costumer and Production Designer making sure everything through their eyes is accurate. Having been a Script Supervisor, I find it extremely beneficial to take lots of pictures because there are so many things that take place and it is almost impossible to remember every bit of detail!

Script Supervisors also make sure Location Audio and the 2nd AC know what takes are coming up.

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When the camera is rolling, the Script Supervisor’s eyes never leave the monitor.  They have to remember everything that the Actors do and make sure their lines are correct.  They line the script making sure everything is covered and make notes with the Director’s comments. 

The lined script is the blueprint for the Editor cutting the film.  At the start of each shot they write down the shot number then draw a vertical line down to where the action or dialog stops.  These lines can cover multiple pages for a master shot, for example, or an 1/8th of page for an insert.  “Wiggly lines” are drawn through off-camera dialogue or actions.  This provides the editor with a quick sight-reading as to which characters are speaking on camera and which are off.

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At the end of every shooting day, a Script Supervisor compiles a report to give to the 1st or 2nd AD to say what was shot that day and what still needs to be done.  Copies of these reports, lined scripts, and facing pages along with camera and sound reports get shipped with the footage to the editor.  The Editor who is hardly ever on set uses the Script Supervisor’s notes to figure out what everything is and what the director likes so they can start assembling the film.

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I come from an editorial background so getting into Script Supervising was easy for me.  I already knew what I liked as an editor and what general shots can cover a scene.  Script Supervising is very demanding but a great way to work with and meet a lot of talented people. 

Many people have told me that they couldn’t do the job, that they don’t have the patience or attention span for it.  Script Supervisors are always in demand because every shoot needs one.  Although Script Supervisors don’t get awards and not many people know they exist, they are extremely essential to making sure a film goes smoothly from pre- to post-production.

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F-Rated Movies

Let's talk about dat F. What does an F-Rated movie mean? Well quoting http://f-rated.org directly, "The F-Rating is applied to all films which are directed by women and/or written by women." AND if the film also has significant female characters, like the kind that drive the story, you've got yourself a Triple F-Rated movie. How. Difficult. Could. This. Possibly. BE?

Well here on The Cutaways we just celebrated our 10th female directed movie in nearly 120 episodes. (I'll pause for golf claps.) I KNOW. I know we've covered movies from a time where women were barely even ALLOWED to direct and that movies nowadays have waaaaay more female directors. 

I asked my friend Amanda of Amanda's Picture Show A Go Go, who covers current movies on her podcast a question: How hard is it to find female directed movies in wide release?

Her response, "Fairly difficult most of the time. More recently we get one maybe every month or two. But that's still minuscule when you compare that to the three or four wide release movies directed by men that released each week."

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This of course brings us to how does this rating help us? Just like the Bechdel Test, this rating is not a judgement of the quality of the film, if it is good or bad. It doesn't not mean the movies are feminist. It really is a call to action and an alert to public to think about the media they consume. The F-Rated tag was added to IMDb in January 2017.

The F-Rating has been noted as a reaction to the Celluloid Ceiling phenomenon. Which is, "a metaphor for the underrepresentation of women in hiring and employment in Hollywood." I wonder who we know that works in film in Hollywood... and are women... why The Cutaways of course! While this is a multi-faceted dilemma, I think just starting with awareness and sharing that awareness with others is a good place to start for change. Also our jobs are in your hands. I know we're not directors, but studies have shown that when a women is in a hiring position on a film crew, she does what men do, hires her peers.

I've been guesting on Amanda's podcast for the past year, and every month we try to cover a Triple F-Rated film. Remember, that's a movie that is directed, written, and staring women. It's called the Celluloid Ceiling series. We also usually highlight a project or group that advocates raising awareness and promoting women working in Hollywood. You should totes check it out.

I really don't have a thesis but if you like supporting women-made art, look for that F-Rating. If you keep supporting, then more of us will be able to work. And we want to give you such good things.

-Justine

Two Weeks Notice: An Altered Future - Guest Blog by Diana

I was the ripe age of nineteen when Two Weeks Notice came out. Alas, I was still too cool for school for rom-coms then and it didn't make it into my DVD player until the riper age of 33. It turns out my 19-year-old instincts were correct, but my 33-year-old maturity gives me the confidence to dislike this movie, while simultaneously keeping it in a special place in my heart.

In 2016, Two Weeks Notice was the subject of the first episode of my podcast, Happily Ever Aftermath. My then friend (and now podcast co-host) Polina and I decided to watch romantic comedies and crap on their ridiculousness. We wanted to know why people fell in love so quickly and also guess if the characters' relationships survived beyond the film based on what we saw.

It seemed like the perfect first movie. Neither of us had seen it, the trailer told us exactly where we were going and where we would end up. The title gave away how long it would take. Sandra Bullock. We were ready to go. 

On the surface, the plot and love story were exactly what we wanted to destroy. Lawyer Lucy and billionaire George brought together by the wackiest of circumstances. She has to jump through a series of hoops if she wants to save the community center. Why does that sound familiar?

Thank You TV Tropes

Naturally, these two polar opposites will find their way to love and we brought out our magnifying glasses so we could screenshot the moment. I wish I was kidding, but we spent at least ten minutes dissecting a meal they had together. From a filmmaking standpoint it was beautifully choreographed. As a podcast conversation, it was not great content. 

If you go look for this episode, you will not find it. It is now an unaired pilot buried in my hard drive (and in the cloud). Sure, there are stumbles and awkwardness that show our amateur status, but there was a deeper reason we withheld it.

We had no clue Trump was in this movie. Apparently now, he is first billed according to Google. 

Apologize to Sandra Bullock, Google!

We naively rolled our eyes and laughed when he appeared. That was summer 2016. We didn't start releasing episodes until spring 2017. There was a lot of debate. I didn't want to burn an episode. I also didn't want to alienate listeners with pre-election content post election. Looking back, it was the right call and I have no regrets.

While this cameo was a shock to the system, I maintain that even if he was replaced by generic real estate rival for Hugh Grant, you still shouldn't waste your time with this movie. It is a time capsule of early 2000s that is unremarkable. That is a huge flaw. The two leads are not likable. I do not care about them or their happiness. I'm not above enjoying a movie with really rich people being so sad, but I have a vast catalog of choices. Plus, don't insult my sense of humor by giving a character diarrhea and have them search for a bathroom while playing, "Taking Care of Business."

Ugg, this is also why we quickly reevaluated our focus. There are more talented people covering romantic comedies in a more entertaining way (cough.... Cutaways). We pivoted away from unfunny, angry ranting to reminiscing about movies that shaped the way we view love and romantic relationships. Even better, we are no longer shackled to a genre. We cover the more conventional titles like My Fair Lady and Pretty in Pink, but don't have to shy away from movies like Newsies and The Lost Boys

All that being said, thank you, Two Weeks Notice, for a spectacular fail. You were prefect fodder to abuse and you helped us see there was a more fun podcast for us to make.

Diana likes to talk about movies more than watching them and is grateful to have Happily Ever Aftermath to channel that weirdness. You can follow her on Twitter @HEAMCast and @DeeRoSko. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and adorable nine year old puppy.

Finding Home in Sweet Home Alabama - GUEST BLOG BY AMANDA IMAN

     I love a good Reese Witherspoon rom-com, and even the mediocre ones; from Legally Blonde to This Means War to Home Again and everything in between. But I have a particular soft spot for Sweet Home Alabama. I've probably seen it more than any other Reese Witherspoon movie, rom-com or not. It was one of the first DVDs I owned in high school and I watched it countless times throughout both high school and college. There's something about Witherspoon's Melanie that I've always liked and the cast is full of character actors I adore: Melanie Lynskey, Ethan Embry, Jean Smart and more. Plus, both men Melanie chooses between are decent guys and they're nice eye candy too. However, as I rewatched the movie this time around, after having not seen it in a couple years, the relationship that stuck out to me was the one Melanie has with her hometown and the people in it, not her romantic relationships with the men in her life.

     When I first watched the movie as a 16 year old I remember not fully understanding why Melanie had such a sense of disdain for her tiny hometown at the start of the film. I was growing up in a suburban village (that's right, village, it didn't become a town until the 2010 census) on the edge of Columbus, Ohio. We were far enough out though that I grew up around corn fields, rednecks doing chew and pickup trucks. At that point in my life I assumed I'd always be friends with my friends from high school and college was a couple years away so I hadn't fully considered the idea of moving away. Then later when I would watch the movie in college I was on the opposite side of the fence. Of course, Melanie needed to get the hell out of Greenville. That town was too small for her talent and ambition. At that point I didn't fully understand the southern-ification that Melanie undergoes throughout the film. Her accent gets thicker and she embraces more of her hometown culture. My interpretation in my college years was that she was regressing a bit to fit in with Jake and his world.

     Now that I'm an adult and have more perspective on how complicated your sense of home can be though, I see Melanie's relationship with her hometown in a very different light. She can have both the appreciation of her hometown and the love of her life in the city. She even expresses this feeling in the movie when she and Jake are talking in the dog cemetery. “I'm happy in New York, Jake. But then I come down here and this fits too.” He asks her “does it have to be one or the other?” It takes Melanie another half an hour to realize this fully but I like the subtle ways the movie shows her embracing both places she now considers home. She tells Andrew she wants to have the wedding in Alabama but we see scenes of her planning her hometown wedding while back in New York. There's also the way Melanie integrates her “Yankee” friends into her life in Alabama when they come down for the wedding. It's refreshing seeing them in her parents' home interacting without judgment as a contrast to Candice Bergen's snob. The photo snapshot epilogue, though, is where we see that Melanie and Jake have made a life together in New York that includes bringing Alabama to them like visits from her parents and the opening of a New York branch of Jake's glass shop. Home is no longer one place for Melanie. She doesn't have to choose. She can have the best of both places she loves. I see this in my own life, too. I absolutely don't want to live in my hometown but I'm happy to visit frequently and take pride in the little place I grew up. I've embraced the city girl that I am with an appreciation for the small town roots I have, just like Melanie. We can all choose to find our “sweet home” wherever we like and embrace the capacity to love more than one home.

 

Amanda is the host of Amanda's Picture Show a Go Go and co-host of Culture Pop a Go Go. You should visit her website at amandaagogo.comand follow her on social media at @MandaAiley @AmandasPicShow and @CulturePopAGoGo 

Want to hear our take on Sweet Home Alabama? Make sure you listen to our episode!

Year Three: By the Numbers

Hey guys! Recently we celebrated our third birthday of the podcast! Hooray for us! We released an episode that was mailbag episode combined with our annual Cutaways awards ceremony. As a Cutaways tradition, we look back on what we watched over the season and evaluate the good, the bad, and just how many times we had to suffer though multiple movies of the same actor. If you have listened to that episode, here is just everything presented in hard print. What's nice about this page, is that there are handy-dandy links! If you have not listened and want to be surprised, go listen here!

Without further ado..... 

Most Watched Actor

 John Cusack

John Cusack

Of course we celebrated Jonuary this year so it is no surprise that this man tops this list. Here's how it shakes down with the other runner ups.

John Cusack- High Fidelity, Serendipity, America's Sweethearts

Hugh Grant- Notting Hill, Bridget Jones's Diary

Morris Chestnut- The Best Man, The Brothers

Most Watched Actress

 Julia Roberts

Julia Roberts

We didn't have many repeat actresses this year, but we should always shine a light on Ms JULIA!

Julia Roberts- Notting Hill, America's Sweethearts

Molly Shannon- Never Been Kissed, Serendipity

Miriam Shor- Hedwig and the Angry Inch, Bedazzled

Most Watched Director

We have no repeat directors within the year but a few that we want to give shoutouts to as we have covered their other films previously: Garry Marshall and Harold Ramis.

Most Watched Editor

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We watched films by Garth Craven twice this year! He edited Return to Me and Legally Blonde.

Most Watched Year

This year we watched ELEVEN movies from 2001! And it got pretty exhausting....

Worst Movie

The runner-ups for worst movie (with their combined rating score) we've watched in the past year are...

1999's Drive Me Crazy (1.75)

1999's Notting Hill (1.25)

2000's Return to Me (1.25)

2000's What Women Want (1.25)

2001's Someone Like You (1.25)

And we have tie for worst movie this year! Both with a rating of 1- 

1999's Sexo, Pudor y Lagrimas
and
2001's On The Line

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Best Movie

The runner-ups for best movie (with their combined rating score) we've watched in the past year are...

1999's 10 Things I hate About You (4.2)

1999's But I'm a Cheerleader (4.25)

2001's Amelie (4.375)

2001's Legally Blonde (4.7)

2000's High Fidelity (4.75)

And the best movie we watched this year, with the only combined score of a 5-

2001's Hedwig and the Angry Inch

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Remember if you want extra podcast content and goodies, head on over to our Patreon at patreon.com/cutawayspodcast

My favorite line from every Hedwig song

This post may read exactly like a Buzzfeed article, but that's ok with me! I'm going through the movie soundtrack and tell you, the reader, what my favorite line is in each song. Now, there are three soundtrack listings on Wikipedia. The off-Broadway soundtrack, the film soundtrack, and the Broadway revival soundtrack. I actually prefer the off-Broadway because the songs are listed in the order that they appear in the movie. Also, I will not be covering the songs that don't fully make it into the movie like "The Long Grift" (which I don't really like) and "In Your Arms Tonight" (which I do kinda like.)

Ladies and Gentlemen...

Tear Me Down

I'm the new Berlin wall, try and tear me down.

This song for me, kicks it right out the gate. I mean, there are lots of lines in the song I like, especially Yitzhak's part. I like the part where he goes, "Reviled. Graffitied. Spit upon." and the part after where he declares, "Ladies and Gentlemen, Hedwig is like that wall!" It's just a good story song, which gives you a lot of character information and visuals. Plus it's totally punk rock.

The Origin of Love

Last time I saw you, we had just split in two. You were looking at me. I was looking at you.

Another great story song! Ahhhh I seriously love it. I love the second verse starting with, "And there were three sexes then," and how that continues on the three different types of humans. I like the strong line, "Like I cut the legs off the whales, And dinosaurs into lizards." I like how it's sung. Each verse also has a tone shift too. I chose the lines because that's when the song because first person, not just a story of how this happened, but a story of how this happened to ME. It just really ties into the whole story of heartbreak as they try to make love by shoving themselves together and become whole again (the big theme of Hedwig.)

Sugar Daddy

So you think only a woman can truly love a man. Well you buy me the dress I'll be more woman than a man like you can stand.

I think this line speaks for itself. In a song about Hedwig enjoying the new American lifestyle of sweet, sweet things, this line is a reminder of the price tag.

Angry Inch

My first day as a woman and already it’s that time of the month.

Again, self explanatory. :D Hilarious.

Wig in a Box

Suddenly I'm this punk rock star of stage and screen. And I ain't never, I'm never turning back.

This one was also hard to choose a line from because it's such a good story! Not only that it's a journey! Hedwig starts out completely down and sad and slowly, with each verse starts transforming. When at first it's sad to be someone else she then takes ownership of it. It does have feelings of abuse though. She's doing it, "all because of you! It's all because of you!" and has that bit of rage in the middle of the song there. After that we get the sing-along and then final transformation, which is the lyric I have chosen. But seriously, you can see in this song she is due for a mental breakdown. "But then again, aren't we all?" (great segue, Justine, to...)

Wicked Little Town

And if you've got no other choice, you know you can follow my voice.

No joke, I love every single line in this song. It is my FAVORITE Hedwig song. So there. All, all the lyrics.

Hedwig's Lament

I gave a piece to the rock star. He took the good stuff and ran.

This song is very short 12 line poem right before the next song. I just chose this line because I relate to it personally from dating so many musicians and pretty much making other people better.

Exquisite Corpse

A montage! I'm all sewn up!

I don't really have any favorite lines in this song. This song is harder punk than all the other songs and it's meant to be jarring. It's also very much about the visuals but if you take all those lovely pretty visuals of earlier and rip them up and put them together the wrong way. Hedwig in two songs has sang that she rose from the doctor's slab and in this song she declares that she is the Monster.

Wicked Little Town (Reprise)

You think that Luck has left you there. But maybe there's nothing up in the sky but air.

Ok some more favorite lines- "When everything starts breaking down, you take the pieces off the ground," "And there's no mystical design, no cosmic lover preassigned," "'Cause with all the changes you've been through it seems the stranger's always you." Anyway, this is Tommy's goodbye song. It's an apology for stealing her songs and doing the damage he did but also he's calling her out on her beliefs. That they are no soulmates, that she's focusing so much on literally following his voice across the country that she keeps finding herself alone again in some wicked little town. Hedwig has to move on. Ok let's wrap it up and see what she's learned.

Midnight Radio

All the misfits and the losers

This line is great because we're also singing about punk rock so it is also The Misfits and The Losers. In this song Hedwig declares "Know that you're whole." She's gone the fullllll transformation. This song is also about connecting with people through music, what she's done her whole traveling show. This song is tribute to how she got here and calls out "the strange rock and rollers," like Patti and Tina and Yoko... She heard the transmission and sought her destiny. It's how we all got here to this point.

Ok I hope you enjoyed this Buzzfeed knock-off article. I hope you learned a little about Hedwig and maybe a little about me. Please check out our Hedwig Episode to hear more ranting about how much I love this. -Justine

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Is 27 Dresses actually good? - Guest blog by Ellen Walker

I suggested to my team at work that we have an “ice breaker” question at the beginning of every team meeting. The intention of the ice breaker was to get to know each other better. One of the questions I asked my team was - what is your favourite film? You’d think I would have prepared a good answer for my own question. I didn’t. I explained that I decided on my favourite films as a teen and I never thought to change them. My favourite teen films being ‘80s classics Dirty Dancing and The Breakfast Club.

If I was to update my so-called favourite film, what would it be? I have asked myself if the best films can be judged by how many times you have watched them, and if that’s a fact, my favourite film might actually be 27 Dresses.

 "The Ultimate Romantic Comedy?"

"The Ultimate Romantic Comedy?"

The premise of the film is simple. Katherine Heigl plays a woman with a type A personality and an unsatisfactory love life. In other words, the same role as she plays in almost any of her other films.

Her character, Jane, is always the bridesmaid and never the bride. She has been the bridesmaid 27 times, in fact, and she keeps all 27 dresses in a dedicated wardrobe in her apartment. She has a huge crush on her outdoorsy good guy boss and she has a sassy friend who deserves a spin off.

Enter James Marsden, or Kevin Doyle AKA Malcolm Doyle, the handsome yet troublesome stealth reporter. He has a penchant for aggressively pursuing Jane and being generally disparaging about marriage (relatable).

It’s also important to note that Jane has always been the helper and never the helped and raised her younger sister after their mum’s death. Her younger sister, Tess, is now a grown up brat and she captures the interest of outdoorsy boss man, George. Drama ensues when they become engaged and Jane becomes the reluctant maid of honour.

I will point out a couple of things- 

1. I do own 27 actual dresses, this is a coincidence and I can fit many other pieces in my wardrobe, unlike Jane.

2. I’m not sure if this movie is actually any good and it makes me question flaws in the genre of romantic comedies, in general.

I love romantic comedies and I have difficulty reconciling that love with my values as a feminist. It’s obvious that rom coms often fall victim to tropes that were developed to make the stories palatable to a mass audience. Mainly an audience of women. The issue with 27 Dresses is that Jane spends all of her time serving men and brides.

Jane takes on the burden of emotional labour. The screenplay for 27 Dresses is written by a woman, and the film is directed by a woman, but this doesn’t save the film from some anti-feminist messages.

Jane never puts herself first. Her professional life and her personal life is dictated by her time serving others. If she is not fixing her baby bossman’s tie for him she is helping brides pick out their flowers.

The dresses

“Marriage like everything good and wonderful is never easy. Cynicism on the other hand, is.” -Jane, 27 Dresses

This line is delivered to Kevin Doyle. He is also known by his reporting alias, Malcolm. His main job is to report on weddings in the area in the Commitments section of the newspaper. He also hates weddings and is generally a real downer about relationships. I don’t understand why someone who truly hates weddings is forced to report on them. Surely, Jane should take his job?

It’s weird that movies try to convince us that a man that gets your hackles up is the kind of man we ought to love. Surely we should value kindness and a partner who makes us laugh? Someone with whom we can work with throughout the difficulties of everyday life. But no, someone who constantly and aggressively questions our values is bang on the money for this rom com. It’s not uncommon that the romantic comedy film attempts to convince its viewer that if at first the pursuer doesn’t succeed, he should keep trying until he wears our main character down.

I don’t think the appeal of this rom com is the disjointed story of true love between the odd couple Jane and Kevin. Kevin isn’t especially likable for most of the film. He finds Jane’s diary left behind in a taxi that they share. He uses the diary to find her whereabouts to create another meeting between them. He could have used Jane’s contact details, which I’m sure are in the Filofax, to respectfully return it to her. Using her diary to essentially stalk Jane is dangerous behaviour that the film should not pass off as normal.

When the diary is returned Kevin has written in vivid that she must meet with him again. This is entitled and he is essentially defacing her diary. This action is not redeemed for me by his eventual gift of an electronic diary to Jane. Kevin could have easily won over Jane using manners and respect. The aggression he shows towards Jane is a hint of the type of controlling behaviour seen in abusive relationships that should never be normalized in media.

The worst thing that Kevin does is use Jane’s wedding obsession for a big story in the newspaper without her consent. Kevin says to Jane in his defense that he begged his editor not to run the story. Yet, he wrote the story in the first place, which disrespects Jane’s right to privacy. Kevin, in sum, is unwittingly written as a total jerk.

This film is not great media. It fails to subvert the genre. The cast are mainly white. There is one Latino character called Pedro. George acts as his mentor. This character is used as the punch line for a cheap joke when Tess employs him to clean George’s apartment in secret. There are also no queer characters at all. The film follows a formula that has rendered the film barely distinguishable from any other film in the genre.

It is the performances that hold together the film’s disjointed plot. Especially Katherine Heigl as Jane.

I’m not like Jane at all. I would love to be invited to weddings but I don’t get tears in my eyes thinking about a couple tying the knot. I don’t wish to get married myself. It’s not important to me. Weddings and marriage are very important to Jane, she isn’t a maid of honour for money nor sport. She behaves as the brides emotional dumping ground for one reason only—a genuine belief and love for the institution that is marriage.

She is, of course, entitled to that love. That’s the spark behind Jane as a character. Her devotion to the brides is a true passion. This character may be victim to feminine stereotypes but at least she is a fully fleshed out character. She is as neurotic as she is anal. She is as charming as she is flawed.

Jane’s determination to destroy Tess’s happiness is hard to watch but it speaks to insecurities that run deep. Jane raised Tess in the place of their mother who died when they were young. She feels that Tess has had everything handed to her and now Tess not only gets her man but she claims Jane’s one true fantasy — the perfect wedding in their mother’s wedding dress.

Tess has convinced George to marry her through manipulation and lies. Tess also feels completely entitled to Jane’s help and all aspects of Jane’s dream wedding, which she hoped to mirror on her parents wedding at the same venue and with the same dress.

Kevin and Tess

The redeeming factor of this film is that at its heart it’s about a woman learning to say no. Jane is learning to stop providing endless emotional labour for others. She is learning to stop putting her life on hold. Her sister takes their mother’s dress and destroys it, using only parts of the original’s dress material to create a new poorly fitted dress. This is the final straw for Jane who abandons her role as the maid of honour.

This is a turning point in the film that sees Jane ferociously claim her right to put herself first. This message is what truly makes the film enjoyable.

I often joke that I have probably seen 27 Dresses 27 times. I have watched it again in preparation of this blog post and I still find it just as entertaining with a more critical lens. This film isn’t a great film but it’s an entertaining film with some dedicated performances. There is no need to have to defend what you enjoy in films. I don’t have to justify a love for a genre that suffers from a lot of major issues.

I can imagine a world where rom coms are written by women and for women. Where the characters are queer and racially diverse and more of an audience can relate to what they see on their screen. 27 Dresses was released in 2008 and we have made strides in films made for women and queer people with Man Up; Love, Simon; Set it Up; Bridesmaids; and The Incredible Jessica James being amongst the many films generally related to the chick flick or romantic comedy genre in some way. These films subvert the tropes of the genre and make for a more enjoyable watch.

I know that 27 Dresses can be considered good, but it could be so much better. It will always have a special place in my movie watching diet but I hope to see filmmakers continue to do better.

Ellen is the co-host of High Expectations Podcast with the lovely, Jaslyn. Their podcast is about sex, pop culture, relationships, and whatever else they feel like talking about. You can follow High Expectations on twitter @highexpodcast and on facebook at High Expectations Podcast. When Ellen is not recording she is writing her next comedy set, playing with her dog, and being addicted to lip balm. 

Ellen

We have watched only one Katherine Heigel film on the Cutaways so far, My Father the Hero. You can listen to it here.

Screen Queers Are Dear - Guest blog by Jaslyn Heaphy

When I was a young teen I saw a film on TV about a high school girl with a thing for wearing hats and dark hair that I think she eventually cut short. She realised that she was queer and had a ‘coming out’ party in her backyard. I’ve never been able to find out what it was called but I’d love to see it again because it captured my imagination. If you have an idea, please tell me!  Seeing someone I could relate to on TV was so important because it helped me to figure out more about myself. I wasn’t exactly sure how I related to her, but knowing that I did at all was comforting. I always thought it would be cool to come out in style like that but in the end I was too scared.

It’s heartwarming now to see ‘teen’ romantic comedies like Love, Simon (2018) and Alex Strangelove (2018), and TV shows like Degrassi: Next Class (2016 - ) helping to show not straight teenagers being a part of everyday life. In 2009, season 3 of the UK version of Skins launched. The whole season arc was a mutual coming out story between two of the characters, Naomi and Emily, who ultimately began a relationship. It holds a special place in my heart for being so relatable and cute. ‘Naomily’ gifs can still make me squee. They were reluctant to admit their feelings at first, but in time felt no choice if they were going to be happy. This is an idea that resonated with me. It’s like there is a point where any sadness that may come from coming out is outweighed by the sadness of not.

Emily and Naomi, Skins (2009)

I wonder how I would have felt seeing these things when I was in school? I’d hope I would be more inspired to come out or have better understanding of what I was feeling. It’s much better than me watching Casper (1995) and pondering  that I want to both be Christina Ricci and be slow dancing with Christina Ricci.

There was the 2000 film But I’m A Cheerleader, a cheesy, literally campy, satire reality movie. It is a movie about an anti-gay conversion camp that has its problems, but is ultimately beloved in the queer community for being an early awakening for many, and being so relatable despite the satire. It even teaches that you can be cheerleader and a lesbian at the same time! I didn’t see it until 2004, however, but it was while sitting next to my girlfriend. The same year that My Summer of Love came out starring Emily Blunt in a queer romance, it’s a rollercoaster of a movie that cemented my forever crush on her.

Megan and Graham, But I’m A Cheerleader (2000)

In recent years adult actors playing realistic queer characters in media like Carol (2015) and the Black Mirror episode San Junipero (2016) have been great to have in the mainstream. Their portrayals have stood out and have been applauded by the queer community for having realistic emotions and relationships with other queer characters. I’ve also noticed a rise in bio pics like Battle of the Sexes (2017) about tennis champion Billie Jean King, and Freeheld (2015) about police officer Laurel Hester. They don’t always show ideal scenarios, often some sad realities about family not being accepting, but they are ultimately inspiring. I do hope they also have a role in helping adults learn more about themselves and possibly even come out as a result.

Yorkie and Kelly, Black Mirror: San Junipero (2016)

It’s very special seeing more queer representation now, especially with lead role characters. It’s so much more valuable than having them be a ‘read between the lines’ character and unmentioned like I saw as a kid in A League of Their Own (1992) or Are You Being Served? (1972 - 1985). Every time there’s good representation in mainstream media, it leads to happier and safer lives as more and more of society get on board with different types from the sexualiy and gender spectrum. I can’t wait to see what characters I get excited about next.

Jaslyn Heaphy is a queer femme from New Zealand. She is Host of Up In Ten Club, the motivational podcast that helps you get out of bed, and Co-host of High Expectations Podcast, which is about relationships, pop culture, friendship, films, books, sex positivity, music, and whatever they feel like talking about!. She is also a standup comedian, pun battle champion, zine maker, and a bullet journal enthusiast. When she's not being creative she can be found on a bicycle or enjoying pizza.

Want to hear our take on But I'm a Cheerleader? Listen to our episode!