Tag Archives: film

Whip It: Kicking Ass & Taking Names … all to a Killer Soundtrack

6a00e55007daf088340120a5e482e1970c-320wiDrew Barrymore’s directorial debut had been something that many critics claim they did not expect. But honestly, critics, what were you thinking? she would just stop at the actor-producer hyphenate and call it a day? Why?

Luckily, Drew Barrymore thought why not? when it came to shepherding Shauna Cross’ novel, DERBY GIRL to the screen. D.B. produced the film, called the shots from video village, and even took a supporting role as Hurl Scout “Smashley Simpson.” Her multi-hyphenate efforts paid off. “Whip It” is a fun and exhilarating romp around a derby track matched with an equally thrilling soundtrack (thank you, Randall Poster!) featuring everyone from The Ramones to Tilly and the Wall, Jens Lekman and even Dolly Parton. The tunes provide the perfect segue way into the fast-paced competition sequences. Though not perfect in execution, watching these actors whip around a track allows the audiences a slick view of the action, leaving them just shy of a sensation of having eight wheels laced on their feet.

Ellen Page’s Bliss Cavendar/Babe Ruthless provides us with a newcomer’s look into the sport and an honest portrayal of a teen who doesn’t quite fit in with the popular tribe of girls, but doesn’t try to either. She embraces her lack of confidence and finds something she’s good at, roller derby, and with that, her tribe. Page, screenwriter Shauna Cross and Barrymore all deserve credit for staying true to the look and feel of the kind of teenager many of us were: decent kids, always in our heads, a little self-centered, but mostly just looking to belong to something bigger than ourselves.

Perhaps the biggest standout performance in this crew of derby girls, (which includes an awesome performance by Juliette Lewis as rival roller girl, Iron Maiden, and Alia Shawcat as Bliss’ best friend, Pash) is Kristen Wiig as fellow Hurl Scout, “Maggie Mayhem.” Wiig shines whenever she’s on screen. You want to know more about her both on and off the track. She gives us a sense of Maggie’s past (though she is furnished with a tiny back story, unlike most of the other girls) that she plays solidly throughout the film. She is the grounding force in the derby and a perfect foil to Bliss’ mother, Brooke Cavendar, played beautifully by Marcia Gay Harden. Maggie Mayhem tells Bliss what Brooke Cavendar cannot seem to handle telling her own daughter, “Put on some skates and be your own hero.”

“Whip It” reminds us all to look past some of the ridiculous movies that will define this generation of teens (High School Musical, Hannah Montana, etc) and see there is finally a soul akin to John Hughes. If “Whip It” is any indication, and I think it is, in Drew Barrymore we will finally have a director (and a woman at that) with enough sensitivity and candor to reflect images of our teen selves back at us, and who encourages us to find our inner Bliss.

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A Note From the Trenches

I’ve had the opportunity to work with some extraordinary women in Hollywood who have paved quite a path for themselves. But as much as they’ve helped change the landscape for the women that come after them, they also do their best to bring them down. For a young woman in the film industry, trying to make a name for herself, whether it be on a studio lot, casting couch, in a production office or on a set, there is still that feeling of “there’s only one seat at the table for a woman and that seat’s going to be mine.” The camaraderie is almost non-existent.

I’ve worked in several aspects of the industry since I was a teenager. Now, in my late 20’s, I find myself even more jaded of other woman, especially those just above me. I used to love working for female bosses, I thought of many of them as my mentors, but the harder I worked, the more I was recognized, and that resulted in backlash from those women or put them on the defensive. I’m currently working on a big-budget film helmed by a female 201925all-about-eve-postersauteur, with a crew heavily tipping in favor of the double x chromosome. You would think, “yay for women!” And, at first, I had that glimmer of hope, maybe this would be different. But in fact, it’s not.

It’s disappointing and a let down. I notice woman of a certain generation are not necessarily ready and willing to help mentor or groom the next generation in the same way that our male counterparts are. As a result, we’re blowing some of our biggest chances on ego. Instead of applauding for our gender, we’re thinking of ways to undermine each other. It’s a sad state, but one that I’m confident can be righted, if there were more women reaching out or reaching down. I want to think the best of my generation. I want us to be the first to elect a female president, see higher numbers of women in CEO positions, running studios, helming everything from dramas to comedies and action flicks. I know it’s possible, it’s just a matter of finding the ones that are the real feminists, the real supporters of our gender.

I know despite how others act, I will continue to look behind me, not our of fear of who maybe on my heels, but to see what talented young woman I can bring with me, to stand along side me as a colleague, a feminist, and a force of nature. I wish everyone thought the same way. Imagine what we could accomplish if they did.