From wrestling in the 80s with GLOW to dealing with the consequences of war in the 1800s, and the thrilling ride of Baby Driver to the humbling world of Okja, we take on a broad range of media in this week’s Things We Binged!
1. Netflix’s GLOW
First, I would like to address how this show feels like it was made specifically for me and my lifelong obsessions and interests. From the 80s period focus of the show to the central narrative circling around women’s wrestling, this show has all of the things I care deeply about. There is one thing I haven’t mentioned yet: female friendship. As I’ve discussed countless times before, even dedicating a few posts to it, female friendship on screen is very important to me. GLOW not only presents itself as a series that focuses on women and their significance in this budding idea to form a women’s wrestling league, it delivers on its promise and dives right into the complexities of women and their relationships with one another. The main relationship comes between Ruth (Alison Brie) and Debbie (Betty Gilpin) who are best friends, direct competition, rivals, and so much more. Their relationship is painted as two best friends who look out for each other, arrive when called, and ultimately serve as support systems. But what GLOW does that many shows either attempt and fall short of executing or completely disregard is the lyricism in the ballad of their relationship. Ruth and Debbie give us a love story in their 10 episode presence in our lives. It’s both traditionally a friendship and yet unconventionally telling the story that takes the driver’s seat in this show.
The relationships between the other women are just as vital. There’s competition, disrespect, self-discovery, compassion, anger, but most importantly there is a dynamic and bond formed between the women that comes together in a sensational season finale. There stories transcend tropes and cookie-cutter backgrounds, but rather tackle some very serious topics like sexuality, societal roles, self-respect, and being seen as more than just women. Outcast, privileged, lonely, zany, driven, obnoxious, immature. These are just a few surface value descriptions for each of the women featured in GLOW, but as each episodes goes on you begin to see their layers unravel and a collection of beautiful women take the center stage (or ring).
Beyond the storyline, acting, and excellent portrayal of female dynamics, the aesthetic of this show is A+. There is a key nostalgia placed on this show and the feel of every shot makes it feel like it’s very much the 80s, yet not alienating or historical. The music and the costume/set designs bring the era to life, and it still feels completely fresh. A fun, diverse and relatively unknown cast, the characters of GLOW feel like real people. Alison Brie, Betty Gilpin, Marc Maron, Kate Nash, and more are joined by former professional wrestlers throughout the show too. The show is also loyal to the real life G.L.O.W (Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling) that came before it. With Jenji Kohan in a producer’s seat, you can expect quality television out of GLOW, so I highly recommend logging into your Netflix account and carving some time out this weekend to binge it. PS: There is a scene in the finale that plays out to Pat Benetar’s “Invincible” and if you don’t feel pumped up afterwards, I’d say you’re probably lying.
2. We Don’t Belong Here
A film that centers on a dysfunctional family and the secrets they keep, We Don’t Belong Here is a decent indie flick that holds its own with an all star cast of the late Anton Yelchin, Maya Rudolph, Catherine Keener, Kaitlyn Dever, Cary Elwes, and you guessed it, Riley Keough. Independently each performance is great as each of these actors encompass the anxieties, instabilities, and troubles of their character. From nervous ticks to angst, perfection to recklessness, the structure of this film reminds me of the feelings associated with mental illness which is a key subject within the narrative. Although it’s not an extraordinary film, I recommend you check it out and at least enjoy the beautiful vocals of both Kaitlyn Dever and Riley Keough (who channels her grandfather Elvis Presley to sound very similar to Lana Del Rey).
3. Films I Saw This Week: The Beguiled and Okja
Since both films are new and/or unreleased in many locations, I’ll just speak to how much I enjoyed them and their impact on me following my screenings. The Beguiled, which is a remake from the 1971 film starring Clint Eastwood, was just as dark, suspenseful, and interesting as its former. Directed by Sofia Coppola this time around, you can feel the influence of a female director’s eye and direction. There’s a weight of confidence, trust, appreciation, and expectation on each of the women in the film. Coppola works with her star-studded cast of Nicole Kidman, Kirsten Dunst, Elle Fanning, and Colin Farrell to bring new life to a story of the past. Highly recommend checking out both versions for comparison.
Okja is a Netflix original film that screened at Cannes earlier this year and focuses on the corporate greed and animal exploitation narrative we are all familiar with. It deals with genetically modified sources of food, the cruelty of animals who are bred with only one purpose, the blindness of a society, and the strong-willed individuals trying to make a difference. Okja is also a film about friendship, unconditional love, teamwork, and the power of spreading awareness and working for change. Directed by Bong Joon-ho (Snowpiercer), Okja brings some strong forces in Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Paul Dano, Lily Collins, Steven Yeun, and newcomer Ahn Seo-hyun. It’s active, flamboyant, impactful, emotional, and beautifully crafted. Okja is streaming now on Netflix.
Both films feature strong women and young girls. Both films show these women and girls in realistic, complicated, and familiar roles. Both films are worth your time.
1. Baby Driver
I’m almost hesitant to write about Baby Driver. I want everyone to go into this film without knowing too much… except the fact that everyone should see it. I’ll be brief, but know my praise is ebullient. And I’m not alone. As I was procrastinating writing this, I read this Ringer article by Shea Serrano that features this quote that I identify with so hard:
“Occasionally I will watch a new movie and it will end up being so good and great and fun and wonderful that I’m almost afraid to talk about or write about it for fear of giving anything away or ruining anything for anyone who’s yet to see it. (It almost always leads to me saying things like, “The movie was so good and great and fun and wonderful,” as it were.) […] now added to that list: Baby Driver, a Getaway Driver movie so interesting and excellent that the only thing I’m willing to tell you about it is there were several parts in it when, as a response to a thing that was happening onscreen, I gasped loudly or squealed in delight.”
So. Squealing, laughing, gasping. Multi-hyphenate Edgar Wright creates a tightly edited, shot, and written film. On top of his skill behind the camera, Baby Driver features incredible performances from Ansel Elgort, Lily James, Kevin Spacey, Jon Hamm, and Jamie Foxx. You’ll walk out of the theater riding high from the adrenaline of a great getaway driver film, as well as the high of seeing a perfectly executed movie.
Go. Watch Baby Driver in theaters. Drive home (carefully). Listen to the soundtrack. Repeat.
See Michelle’s review above! I was hesitant during the first 5 episodes of GLOW but the last 5 really hit home for me. The characters become multifaceted, beautifully developed through the season’s arc.
3. Anne Helen Petersen’s Too Fat, Too Slutty, Too Loud: The Rise and Reign of the Unruly Woman
Okay I’m not done with this book yet, but highly recommended! Media studies scholar turned Buzzfeed journalist Anne Helen Petersen writes about the high standards of women in popular culture, women who push those standards and become “unruly”, and how our society responds. It’s a great read.