3 items from 2017
Pregnancy and childbirth are intensely physical events. Despite their bodily primacy, these experiences are freighted with various significations, running the gamut from the woman-centered skill sets of midwifery to the all-too-frequent scaremongering and misinformation of anti-choice politics. This is not surprising since bodies have their semiotic dimension. Everything has meaning. However, the fact that these human events are unavoidably located on and in the female body—a body whose very generative capacity has historically made it an object of fear—seems to produce an excess of verbiage, a lot of it denigrating or punitive. And often this discussion leaves little room for other knowledges—the haptic, the gestural, the somatic.So what if, for a brief moment, we observed silence? To be clear, silence is no solution to political aggression against women. The more persistent the braying of misogynist forces who claim to know best, the louder the protests must be, »
A quintet comprised of Lena Dunham, Hailey Benton Gates, Durga Chew-Bose, Siobhan Burke, and myself moderated the post-screening discussions for Celia Rowlson-Hall's American fairy tale Ma on its opening weekend in New York.
Ma stars Rowlson-Hall with a terrific speechless supporting cast including Andrew Pastides, Amy Seimetz, Jason Kittelberger, Neal Bledsoe, Matt Lauria, Kentucker Audley, Peter Vack, William Connell, George McArthur, and Bobbi Jene Smith. In the tradition of Claudette Colbert in Frank Capra's It Happened One Night or Uma Thurman thumbing a ride in Gus Van Sant's Even Cowgirls Get The Blues, a modern-day Virgin Mary hitchhikes across the Southwest, ultimately arriving in Las Vegas where she meets Nevada showgirls and a tiny singing Queen Victoria lookalike.
Celia Rowlson-Hall: "I really wanted to tell an American story. »
- Anne-Katrin Titze
The first clear sign that there’s something unusual about Ma, the debut feature from Celia Rowlson-Hall, occurs just a few minutes in. A young woman (Rowlson-Hall)—she’s never named, but the credits call her Ma—steps out of the desert and onto a lonely highway, standing right in the middle of the road. Soon, a young man (Andrew Pastides), called Daniel in the credits, drives up in an Oldsmobile and stops in front of her. Ma climbs onto the hood of Daniel’s car, stretching out as if it were a king-size bed, and taps gently on the windshield, whereupon he drives to a motel, with Ma splayed across his hood the entire way. It looks like an absurdist joke, but the entire movie, it turns out, consists of unconventional motion. Rowlson-Hall was trained as a choreographer, and Ma is her attempt to make something roughly midway between »
- Mike D'Angelo
3 items from 2017
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