Sunday, 31 December 2017

Film Review - The Greatest Showman (PG)

Does it bother you that everything you're selling is fake?
Whether or not you enjoy The Greatest Showman may well hinge on your expectations. If you're looking for a gritty biopic of P T Barnum, which wrestles with the contradictions of a huckster-philanthropist and which confronts the morality of his touring 'freak-show', then keep searching. If however you're up for a Moulin Rouge-style musical fantasy that uses the bare facts of the man's life as a springboard for a crowd-pleasing tale of common humanity, then get set for great night at the movies. The distinction is between films 'inspired by' and those 'based on' a true story, and in this case it's key. Showman is most definitely the former.
The Barnum of the film (Hugh Jackman getting back with eagerness to his musical-theatre roots) may have the real guy's flair for show-business and dreams of glory, but he's also instinctively drawn to the outsiders and 'freaks' of the world in a purely benevolent way. So when he creates his museum of oddities and populates it with dwarfs, Siamese twins and bearded ladies, he's doing so to help them find a place in the world as much as to make a fortune off their backs. His wife and daughters are able to throw themselves into supporting the venture as something gloriously altruistic and innocent, and we, as an audience, are made to feel good about the whole thing. We're on the side of the freaks from the start, and Barnum isn't exploiting them here - he's giving them a voice.
It all sounds over-sentimentalised and crass, and it easily could have been, had The Great Showman not been made with such zest and technical aplomb. This is a big, brash, colour-saturated family movie that attacks the sheer cheesiness of its storyline with the sharpness of its production and the overpowering feelgood of its tunes. 
Because this is a musical - did I mention that? Not just a showbiz movie with musical interludes. Like La La Land it's the real deal - characters bursting spontaneously into song on an emotional whim. The first time, when the pre-teen P T Barnum begins to emote tunefully to little Charity, his future wife, is the only moment when it threatened to bother me. Then instantly the movie's momentum took over, carrying the audience through a whirlwind of tightly edited visual storytelling to Barnum's adulthood, as the same song plays out. 
That's one of Showman's major virtues - the tidal force of its narrative, a story propelled by one massive contemporary song after another. (Like the aforementioned Moulin Rouge the soundtrack is deliberately at odds with the period setting, only this time the songs are all original.) It's a style that works particularly well in scenes like the one where Barnum persuades young businessman Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) to join him, or when Carlyle attempts to woo the Barnum circus girl (Spiderman: Homecoming's Zendaya) who has charmed him. Rather than acting as interludes in the drama, the songs are essential to it, driving the plot and underscoring the film's themes of equality and diversity.
The movie's fervour is apparent throughout the cast. Jackman is commanding as Barnum, Michelle Williams radiant as his wife. Efron and Zendaya provide a touching second-string love story, often told more through glances than words. Rebecca Ferguson shakes off memories of The Snowman (she was good, but no one came away unscathed from that debacle) to shine as opera singer Jenny Lind, while Keala Settle proves the film's breakout star as defiant bearded lady Lettie Lutz. 
It all adds up to a powerful concoction, that knocked the cynic out of me any time it threatened to stir. This is a movie that knows what it wants to be. Playing fast and loose with the historical facts of Barnum's life, it's a modern fable of crossing boundaries, celebrating difference and embracing your true self. It's loud, it's proud and frankly it's not a bad way to round off the year.
Gut Reaction: Swept along by power ballads and glorious visuals, and consistently entertained.

Ed's Verdict: Story-wise this is free with the facts and cornier than the contents of the buckets they were selling in the foyer. But it's also great entertainment value, and packing a message of inclusiveness with which it's hard to take issue.

Friday, 29 December 2017

Filmic Forays - Top Ten Films of 2017

So, 2017 was Filmic Forays' first full calendar year. This time around I've viewed enough films for 'top ten favourites' to mean something. Not that there aren't gaps in my knowledge; The Florida Project, Call Me By Your Name, Raw and The Killing of a Sacred Deer are just four films recommended by friends, which I've yet to see and which, for all I know, might now be taking up space in my 'ten' had I done so. Working with what I've got, however, I still had to whittle it down from a short-list of twenty-four. And that can only suggest that despite blockbuster fatigue and tired remakes, there's still a whole lot of great cinema being made. 

All my choices are based on a combination of technical achievement, how the film affected me at the time and the extent to which it stayed with me afterwards. Kind of. It's not a science.

Before I get to the big ten, here are a few honourable mentions in the form of a brief award presentation. (All films included in this feature were UK 2017 cinema releases. You can access the full review by clinking on each link.)

Funniest Film Based on a True Story: Tie between The Disaster Artist and The Death of Stalin

Most Harrowing Film Based on a True Story: Detroit

Most Impressive Expansion of a Cinema World Even if I was Uncomfortably Aware of its Running Time at Points (this might also gain the Second-Viewing Grower award down the line: Blade Runner 2049

Most Radical Reworking of a Franchise: Logan

Biggest Blub-fest: Tie between Lion and Wonder

Best Star Wars Film (yes I know there was only one, but it was really good): Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The Filmic Forays Low Expectations Award for a Film that was Massively Better Than I'd Expected: Happy Death Day

Film I'll Probably Most Regret Not Putting in the Top Ten After I Re-watch It Because It TOTALLY ROCKED, Especially the Foot-Chase Scene to a Backing of Hocus Pocus by Dutch Rock Band Focus: Baby Driver

Enough faffing around. Here's the big ten. 

10: Mother!
And I'm kicking off with pure cinematic Marmite. This film has a WTF factor that baffled and enraged many cinemagoers - understandably, as it had been pitched as a creepy supernatural thriller and turned out to be something very different. Set within a single location, it's a primal howl of rage at the state of the entire world. Mother! is bewildering, disturbing and occasionally horrific, but it's also the most intense and original piece of work I've seen this year. 

9: Get Out
A horror-thriller-comedy (and at points it is very funny), Get Out is utterly unflinching in how it addresses race relations in modern America. It doesn't just tag a racial theme to the 'wake me up from this nightmare' plotline, it fuses them outrageously together to create an experience that's unsettling and entertaining in equal measures. Daniel Kaluuya conveys the hero's incrementally increasing paranoia superbly. Seriously, dude - just get out!  

8: La La Land
The genius of La La Land isn't that it recreates moments from Hollywood's golden era of musicals. (As some of its detractors have pointed out, the protagonists can't dance like Fred and Ginger.) It's that the glorious song-and-dance sequences fade out, giving way to a whole other kind of film, as reality complicates the characters' dreams of love and success. The result is bittersweet, yet still manages to be warm and uplifting. And the tunes are sensational. 

7: Lady Macbeth
Lady Macbeth is like a cinematic detox. It's all ambient light and sound and is unsullied by a single trace of CGI - basically it's as stripped back as the cold house to which its heroine is introduced at the start of the film. Played with glowering conviction by Florence Pugh, she's a heroine worthy of the title. For this is also a tale of simmering passions that burst into eroticism and shocking violence. Now won't that heat up your January?

6: IT
The TV mini-series had its pleasures (chiefly Tim Curry as Pennywise the Dancing Clown), but for lovers of the Stephen King novel this is the first half of what could well be the definitive adaptation. Think Stand By Me combined with A Nightmare on Elm Street-style horror and The Goonies' sense of adventure, if Mary Berry were charged with mixing the cinematic ingredients. The result, a sublime entertainment-cake. (I'll avoid metaphor for the rest of this feature, I promise.) Bring on IT Chapter 2, because this was scary at its most fun.

5: The Big Sick
Based squarely on a bizarre true story, The Big Sick is a touching romance, a hilarious comedy and an involving drama all in one. Triple result. The movie is also a wonderful exploration of family dynamics, interracial relationships and how to form unlikely bonds in a crisis. It's warm and it's moving, with zero schmaltz and huge heart. And you will root for the central couple (I love them - I mean I'm smiling just thinking about them) the way you did for Harry and Sally. Only this really happened.

4: Paddington 2
'Surely it's just a kid's movie,' a friend of mine suggested. But then so were The Wizard of Oz, Mary Poppins and the Toy Story trilogy. Paddington 2 is proper film-making. Yes it's an exquisitely crafted plot, yes it's funny and uplifting, yes the characters are played to perfection including the Ben Whishaw/CGI combo-marvel that is the bear himself. But it's also a stunning frame-by-frame work of art - a kind of harmonious parallel-London, pretty as a pop-up book. A source of undiluted joy from start to finish.

3: War for the Planet of the Apes
More than any other film this year, I wanted this one to be good. Well it surpassed good, completing an unexpectedly great modern trilogy in grand tragi-heroic style. Who would have thought that its audience would side so strongly with the ape protagonists over appalling, self-serving humans? Or that we'd have believed so completely in the computer-generated ape community? Well, anyone who's seen what Andy Serkis can do in a motion capture performance. This is both an epic technical achievement and a powerful fantasy story - with a dash of humour and a lot of heart.

2: Dunkirk
Christopher Nolan found a way of capturing the ground, sea and air elements of the Dunkirk evacuation, using a crafty triple time-frame to draw all the strands together. He also used real destroyers, real trawlers and real fighter planes to make this feel authentic, while Hans Zimmer's score cranked up the sense of jeopardy to near-unbearable heights. And the cold, frightened look of the young soldiers told the story more effectively than any mawkish dialogue could have done. A colossal achievement that had me riveted throughout. 

1: Moonlight
And the Oscar goes to... the right film, as it turns out. My apologies to La La Lovers - check above, I loved that one too. But Moonlight is just as exquisitely made, with understated power and real profundity, heightened by its released into Trump-era America. Dealing with issues of race, class and sexuality through one boy's coming of age, it's subtle and haunting, with an occasional dramatic gut-punch. I'll admit to a certain degree of randomness in my ordering of the other films, but Moonlight kind of asserted its place quietly at the top of my list. This is an important piece of film-making, and a sublime one.

Well that's done. Lists like this are for disagreeing with, so please, get stuck in. I've heard strong negative comments about most of the titles from various quarters, Get Out and Paddington 2 being notable exceptions. These are not necessarily the 'best' films of the year. The title at number one may very possibly underwhelm you. You may be astonished at both inclusions and omissions. However as of this moment these are my favourites, and I stand by every one.  

Now let me go check what 2018 has to offer...

Sunday, 24 December 2017

Film Review - The Disaster Artist (15)

I wish we could just make our own movie.
The Disaster Artist recounts one of the most bizarre true stories in modern film-making. James Franco directs, while starring as maverick wannabee actor/film-maker Tommy Wiseau. In 2003 Wiseau made and promoted a film called The Room, which has achieved notoriety as one of the most deliriously bad movies ever screened. This is the story of that movie's creation, and also an insight into its weird, enigmatic and lavishly untalented creator.
To explain the film-within-the-film is virtually impossible, as the The Room is a work of rambling absurdity. Basically it's about an 'American hero' called Johnny (played by Wiseau), whose girlfriend Lisa is cheating on him with his best friend Mark. There's a lot of other really random and incoherent stuff going on around them, which defies explanation. To get the film made Wiseau delved into his mysteriously vast personal fortune, so that he could at least surround himself with a competent crew. Their efforts, however, could do nothing to mask the staggering ineptitude of both screenplay and directing, or the '70s porno standard of the acting. And no one could contain the flamboyantly ridiculous performance of the leading man - an actor whose claim to originate from New Orleans was belied by his decidedly odd Eastern European accent.
Franco's film is most clearly comparable to Tim Burton's Ed Wood, in that it's a very good movie about the making of a stunningly bad one. The narrative centres on the developing friendship between Wiseau and acting student Greg Sestero, who went on to play Mark in The Room, and from whose movie-set memoir The Disaster Artist was adapted. Sestero (played by James Franco's younger brother Dave) is mesmerised by Wiseau's unorthodox acting at a class in San Fransisco, interpreting it as genius. Hoping to channel the raw performance style of Marlon Brando or James Dean, the pair of them travel to LA, on the hunt for Hollywood glory. It's there that Wiseau conceives his screenplay, and sets about bringing it to inglorious life.
Key to The Disaster Artist's success is James Franco's performance, easily the high-point of his career to date. He portrays Wiseau as a shambling yeti of an man, semi-coherent and possessed by a narcissistic belief in his own genius. The self-styled auteur is a hilariously crazed extrovert and occasional bully, with a core of gnawing insecurity. As Sestero, the younger Franco is nerve-ridden and callow, easily drawn into Wiseau's insane orbit. Their relationship is touching at points and uncomfortably co-dependent at others. 
This is also a very funny film, not least on the set of The Room, a sequence of extended comedic joy. Wiseau's questionable film-making technique tests the cast and crew's patience to its limit, with Seth Rogen particularly amusing as the wry assistant director. Nor does it all become so in-jokey as to alienate those who have never seen The Room. If you have, that's a bonus. If not, you'll probably want to afterwards.
Ultimately Franco's movie resembles Ed Wood in spirit as well as subject-matter. While Tommy Wiseau's less attractive qualities are never ignored, there's a heroism to his doomed artistic strivings; this is a celebration of magnificent failure rather than a cheap exercise in mockery. I giggled my way through The Room a few nights back and came away with a strange affection for everyone involved, something that only increased on viewing The Disaster Artist. See the latter movie on its own, or view them as companion pieces. Either way you'll be wonderfully entertained.
Gut Reaction: Laughter and cringing - lots of both.

Ed's Verdict: Franco's passion project is as smartly written and produced as Wiseau's is disastrous. And his performance as Wiseau is both monstrous and moving. Great stuff.

Friday, 22 December 2017

Film Review - Wonder (PG)

You can't blend in, when you were born to stand out.
R J Palacio's 2012 novel about a boy with a facial anomaly became a young-adult-lit phenomenon. Small wonder (pun inevitable), because it's a damn good read, wrestling with a powerful subject. All this film adaptation had to do was tell the story in the same forthright way, finding truth in its characters and steering clear of mawkishness. Thankfully, that's exactly what it does for a good 99% of the time. Which makes the other 1% totally forgivable. 
August Pullman (Auggie) is a ten-year-old boy whose face, due to a fluke of genetics, has required numerous surgeries. He still looks markedly different from other kids and shields himself with both a spaceman costume and a headful of Star Wars references. In the galaxy far far away, after all, there's no such thing as 'normal-looking'. Home-schooled up till now, Auggie has agreed to enter the fifth-grade at a New York public school. But for all the encouragement of his family and a benevolent school principal (The Princess Bride's Mandy Patinkin), he can expect no easy ride. Childhood can be a land of cruelty - both targeted and casual.
Several factors raise Wonder well above the level of a Hallmark TV movie. For starters it holds close to the informal tone of Palacio's book, Auggie's quirky but knowing worldview informing all we initially see. The movie embraces the novel's structure as well, drawing on the narrative viewpoints of other young characters. Auggie's sister Via, for example - loved and loving, but inadvertently neglected due to the attention given to her younger brother. Or Jack Will, the young lad drawn to Auggie in friendship, but compromised by peer pressure. Or Miranda, Via's one-time best friend, neglecting Auggie's family due to teen struggles of her own. The result is a patchwork of school and home life representing the myriad struggles of growing up, not least when you're facially different.
The direction is inventive and colourful, the script playful and wise. However it's the performances, more than all else, that sell this story. Jacob Tremblay, who memorably portrayed Brie Larson's son in domestic captivity drama Room, delivers a deeply authentic performance as Auggie. The lad's depth of personality - his quirky humour, his sensitivity, his moments of despair - are conveyed with a conviction that is absolute. You don't simply feel sympathy for this boy, you get to know him as a fully-fledged character.
Julia Roberts and Owen Wilson provide nuanced, empathetic turns as Auggie's parents (Wilson adding welcome humour to the domestic scenes), with Izabela Vidovic's mature portrayal of Via rounding out the family dynamic. And among the other child performances Noah Jupe excels as well-meaning, fallible Jack Will, a boy seeking the courage to act on his better instincts. His recent role as the put-upon son in Suburbicon marks him out as yet another young actor to watch. 
In a film that captures the novel's emotional intelligence, there are a few (and only a few) clunky moments. Overall the drama is natural, the message unforced, with significantly more light and laughter than you might expect. There's pain in Auggie's story - well of course there is. But it's chiefly a story of hope, inspiration and yes, wonder - none of it easily earned, but all of it real.
Gut Reaction: It grabbed me by the tear-ducts from the start - not by being manipulative, just by being human. And it sent me out of the cinema feeling uplifted.

Ed's Verdict: The novel Wonder deserved a good, sensitively handled filmic retelling. I'm glad to say it got one.

Wednesday, 20 December 2017

Film Review - Star Wars: The Last Jedi (12A)

Let the past die. Kill it, if you have to.
Just take a look at that film poster. The dark reds. The grimness of Luke Skywalker's cowled visage. Rey and Kylo Ren's visual balancing act. The dynamism of those Resistance members. And Leia - more poignancy in her expression than we could have imagined a year ago. It adds up to a thrilling montage - even for a recent Star Wars convert like myself - suggesting that one hell of a film was on the way. 

Welcome to Star Wars: The Last Jedi - one hell of a film. 
Is it perfect? I'm not sure I can say that. Will it please all fans? Of course not - it'll divide them like every Star Wars movie has done, since ewoks showed up in Return of the Jedi. But it's imaginative and brave, funny and stirring, technically assured and emotionally resonant. It's made with love and delivered with finesse - and it's worth your time, even if you wouldn't recognise a wookie should one step on your foot. Sometimes craft simply has to be acknowledged.
2015's The Force Awakens had no easy task - to reboot a beloved franchise with new characters sufficiently engaging to share screen time with the classic crew. The mission entrusted to new Star Wars writer-director Rian Johnson was at once easier and much more complex. Easier in that the franchise was re-established and its new characters neatly introduced. Complex in that he had to take all of those characters somewhere fresh, expand the mythology and set up everything for a concluding episode in two years' time. No pressure, mate. Well for my money (and a proportion of the fan-base would disagree with me vehemently here for reasons I could never address in a spoiler-free review) he succeeded magnificently.
Plotwise I'll go no further than this... The film picks up right where The Force Awakens left off. Rey (Daisy Ridley) is face-to-face with Luke Skywalker, beseeching him for Jedi training. Her opposite number Kylo Ren (Adam Driver) is still trying to prove to his superiors that he is worthy of his Grandad Vadar. And the Resistance, having completed their sabotage mission from the previous movie, find themselves outchased and outgunned by the First Order. What follows is action-packed, character-driven and full of the unpredictable. All the familiar elements are there, but they constantly refuse to react how you might expect. 
Johnson has given us Star Wars, but not quite as we know it. His screenplay suggests that he's a genuine franchise fan, but one who has the courage to take beloved characters and well-worn themes to challenging new places. The script is also very funny at points, but never at the expense of the poignancy or drama. This isn't Thor: Ragnarok. His action sequences are crisp and dynamic and the storytelling has urgency, aside from one rather baggy-seeming stretch in the middle. (Maybe a second viewing will help me integrate that bit into the broader picture.) 
The visuals have genuine beauty throughout. Ireland's Skellig Michael is a craggy backdrop to Luke's hermit existence, while one intense battle plays out on a salt planet that bleeds the colour of blood orange any time a spacecraft scuffs its surface. The space sequences have never been more convincing, or more breathtakingly gorgeous. And the light-sabres fry the air more fiercely than ever, bathing whole scenes in their glow. 
As for the performances, those are a joyous combination of old-guard charisma with newbie energy. Kelly Marie Tran as Rose is a feisty addition to the youngsters, while Rey, Finn (John Boyega) and Poe (Oscar Isaac) all exhibit greater depth than first time around. And Kylo proves the most fascinating, complex villain in the Star Wars universe. (Andy Serkis scores points for sheer loathsomeness as Snoke, no small feat following his heroic turn as Caesar in War for the Planet of the Apes.) 
Then we have the Skywalker siblings. Mark Hamill has never been this good; his turn as Luke is one of the film's greatest achievements. And Carrie Fisher delivers what turned out to be her swansong like one bad-ass General-Princess. She's tough, compassionate, wise - and like a supernova blazed brightest at the end. Pass the hankies.
The Last Jedi is a superb film-making achievement and a ground-breaking addition to the Star Wars canon. With greater moral complexity, gripping character arcs and the type of female empowerment I was looking for in last week's feature, it's a space opera event to be relished. And if it rocks some cherished fan preconceptions, maybe not a bad thing that is. 
Gut Reaction: Laughter, adrenaline, a bit of impatience during the mid-section and ultimate awe. Plus several gobsmacking 'What just happened?' moments along the way. Oh, and BB8 is the best droid in the galaxy. Incontrovertible fact.

Ed's Verdict: Rian Johnson cuts his own groove with this movie, and is right to do so. The Last Jedi embraces both sides of the Force, while taking much-needed risks with the franchise. To my mind, Star Wars has never been better.

Thursday, 14 December 2017

Feature - Women and Hollywood (and yes, the Weinstein thing)

I have experienced sexism in that I have been directed by male directors 17 times and only twice by women. Emma Watson.
Okay, let's get the Harvey Weinstein business out of the way right at the top, as it's distasteful and you've already been rendered apoplectic by an avalanche of articles on the topic. I have little to add about movie producer's seedy antics or the slew of harassment allegations from which Hollywood is currently reeling. Let me simply say this. The most appalling aspect of the revelations wasn't the details of Weinstien's actions themselves, grisly though those were. It was the culture of silence and fear that allowed those actions to go unchecked for so long. And that leads into a whole other source issue.
The US movie business, as with many industries, has remained a seedbed of misogyny due to the fact that so few women work within it in positions of influence. Yes the behaviour of predatory men should be condemned, but let's face it - such behaviour wouldn't have any wiggle-room (and that conjures up some really unpleasant images), if more women were involved as producers, along with every other job on the way down. No boys' club mentality, no more acting like creepy little boys (or not for long at any rate).
It's didn't occur to me, when my cinema-going habit was established back in the '80s, how few meaningful roles there were for women in Hollywood movies. I think the first time it sank in was when checking the Oscar nominations one year for Best Actor and Actress. The Actors were drawn from the highest profile films of the previous year and there was a huge pool, it seemed, from which to choose. The Actresses, however, had often appeared in more obscure pictures, like it had been a bit of job scraping up enough leading performances of substance to fill the category. 
Outside of romantic comedies and John Hughes teen dramas women were most often set-dressing, occupying support roles to Harrison Ford or Michael Douglas or Tom Cruise. Every batch of fresh pretty faces would stick around for a few movies, until they were replaced by a newer younger batch. If, as happened in the early '90s, a film like Thelma and Louise came along, it caused a furore. Wow - two leading women, in a movie where all the male characters were eye candy (Brad Pitt) or hapless support players. Quite the radical notion, and one which seemed to upset some male film fans. The Ridley Scott movie, along with films like Sleepless in Seattle, earned the tag 'chick flick', a monumentally patronising phrase in retrospect, in an industry that had finally recognised there was an audience of women out there and had decided to toss them a few projects with 'female appeal'. 
I remember Meryl Streep's response in the early '90s to a question regarding how she selected her jobs. The notion that she was so spoilt for choice that she had to reject quality material made her laugh with barely concealed scorn. Well if there were scarcely enough well-written female roles to occupy screen royalty like the Meryl, that provided scant hope for any actress further down the ladder.
How much has changed in the twenty-five years since then? I glanced through the cinema releases I've reviewed since January of this year and out of fifty-three titles around twenty have either female leads or shared female/male duties in the key roles. That suggests some kind of move in the right direction, however slow. High-profile actresses like Jessica Chastain, Amy Adams and Emma Stone are carving out brilliant careers for themselves and studios seem to want to make room for them. It's also a source of delight to me that the reinvented Star Wars franchise does a strong line in gutsy female leads. More depressing though is the dearth of female screenwriters and directors. There's a scattering - Kathryn Bigelow's riveting Detroit leaps to mind, and Jane Goldman's well-judged screenplay for The Limehouse Golem - but it's still a meagre representation overall, in mainstream cinema at any rate. 
'Women,' Streep insisted recently, 'are graduating from film school in equal number to men... but are shut out when they get to the leadership positions'. The reason, she suggests, is chiefly financial - all to do with which film projects receive enough funding to hit the multiplex cinemas. For all the '90s 'chick-flick' sops that were thrown to female cinema-goers, woman-led movies are still seen as less likely to sell tickets. 
It's dinosaur thinking - that women can't write or direct a film in which men would possibly take interest, or that there's such a thing as a definitive 'man's' or 'woman's picture' in the first place. With Hollywood studios so often scratching around for original ideas, they might actually consider that there's a whole other vast pool of talent and imagination on which to draw. That if men and women truly worked in partnership in the movie business, something revolutionary might happen. Not only would it shut down the creepy extra-curricular activities of the industry Weinsteins, it might blow out the boundaries of what is deemed a successful movie formula. It might double the types of story on offer. Hey, it might reinvent film as we know it. 
It's not likely to happen easily or soon, but maybe 2017 with all its nasty revelations will act as a watershed. Maybe it's riled enough people to start righting a messed-up situation. Maybe the Meryls and Jessicas and Emmas and Jennifers will get listened to at last, along with all their less starry Hollywood sisters. I'll be looking for the signs in 2018...