Made in Dagenham (UK, 2010)


Sisters doing it


The Equality Commission report was published today stating that women are still earning 16% less than men; this followed a report, published in August, that suggested, at the current rate of progress, equal pay would occur in 2067. That’s one year shy of a century after the events portrayed in this film, which precipitated the Equal Pay Act. So it’s great to see this story being told and I could even forgive the ‘artistic license’ of having the women strip to their underwear because of the heat.

Channel 4 News got involved in the marketing of this film by taking the original ringleaders of the strike to meet Theresa May, the most prominent of only four women in Cameron’s cabinet. The reporter cajoled May to say that the women were right to strike; she wouldn’t but clearly without the right to strike workers would be even more exploited than they often are.

The script does well to pack in so much into the feelgood narrative: the snobbery of the Grammar school; the transition from communal to electronic music; the rise of sexy fashion at the expense of the frump; the imprisonment of middle class women in subordinate roles. Nigel Cole’s also has the odd flourish such as the long take when the wife of a Ford boss (Rosamund Pike) is dispatched to get the cheese and biscuits, her long walk to the kitchen is shown in full.

I also liked how the unions were portrayed as patriarchal, believing that the class struggle had no room for feminists. However it was the women, with Castle’s support, who took on the unions, and multinational companies, and scored a victory (albeit one that hasn’t delivered what it promised). It shows we shouldn’t be cowed by the thought of offending ‘big business’ (memo to Vince Cable: refer News Corp’s attempt to buy the 62% of Sky it doesn’t own to OFCOM).

Miranda Richardson (Barbara Castle) seems to have been struggling for decent roles recently; a victim of being ‘old’ and female in film industry terms? However her brief appearances in the film are electric. And the cast, all round, take their opportunities with relish, offering some great ensemble acting.

I’m too young (or is that not quite old enough?) to remember 1968 clearly, but the period detail seemed to me to be geniune; though a friend reckoned the use of ‘fuck’, that’s given this film a 15-certificate, wasn’t used so prevalently at that time. I doubt whether many youngsters will be attracted to the film, and the audience I was in made me feel youthful, but it is one that they should see, particularly females.

Bechdel test passes 13/31
Protagonist: female 9/25
Lacey test: 13/13

Up (US, 2009)

The joy of living

Pixar is an extraordinary production company: how many mainstream films, aimed at a family audience, feature a cantankerous old man (well Secondhand Lions immediately springs to mind but you get my point)? And, brilliantly, pull off the pathos of age whilst celebrating the joi de vivre of youth? Add the homages to Looney Tunes, brilliant characterisations of dogs and wonderfully absurd visuals… well, you probably know how good it is already.

NB Bechdel tests:
It’s dawned on me that the way I’ve been counting whether films fail or pass the test is not as straightforward as it could be so, starting today, the tally will feature the number passed out of the number seen. For protagonists it will be number of females out of the total. The Lacey test is the reverse of the Bechdel test.
Bechdel test: fail 12/30
Protagonist: male 8/24
Lacey test: 12/12

In other words, of the last 30 films I’ve seen only 12 feature two named women discussing something other than men; 8 out of 24 films featured a female protagonist; every film, out of 12, featured two  named men discussing something other than women.

September Update

Films I’ve seen in September but haven’t blogged:

Toy Story 3 Bechdel: F Protagonist: M Lacey: P
Yella Bechdel: F Protagonist: F Lacey: P
Michael Collins Bechdel: F Protagonist: M Lacey: P
The Girl Who Played With Fire Bechdel: P Protagonist: F Lacey: P
The Edukators Bechdel: F Protagonist: M Lacey: P
Vicky Cristina Barcelona Bechdel: P Protagonist: F Lacey: P
On the Town Bechdel: P Protagonist: M Lacey: P

Bechdel test: Fail 17; Pass 12
Protagonist: Female 8 Male 15
Lacey test: Fail 0 Pass 11