All About Eve

USA | 1950 | black and white | 138 minutes

CREDITS

Directors Joseph L. Mankiewicz

Notable cast Bettie Davis, Anne Baxter

Production company 20th Century Fox

The film  All About Eve presents a meaningful look at mentorship, particularly in our growing culture of celebrity worship. Bettie Davis stuns as the distant by kind Margo Channing, an actress whose stardom is on the decline, while Anne Baxter brings a subtleness to her portal of the fanatical Eve Harrington. In the film, Eve’s aims for fame bring her falling to great lengths as she plots, ploys, and schemes her way to the top using Margo’s pedestal as her platform. The film examines the boundary between admiration and obsession, asking viewers what the costs are for crossing that sacred line.

IMDB

Watch the Trailer

note: classic movie trailers are either ridiculously dramatic, painstakingly slow, or completely unrelated to the actual story of the films themselves.

 


Commentary: 

All About Eve has some of the best dialogue I’ve ever heard in a film.  The characters are sharp, smart, and full of wit, and the actors play it off with a mixture of charm, sass, and sincerity that sparks on the screen. While the film doesn’t address (and notably so) the role race plays in its gender and class critique, Eve Harrington is for all intents and purposes, the embodiment of white womanhood in play. With her “good” intentions and quiet ambitions, Eve strikes her way to the top, weaponizing her vulnerable position in society in order to participate in the system (the male dominated film/theater industry in this case) that so shut her out. Eve’s act may have won her fame and accolades, but it’s the audience and Margo Channing that’s left standing once her curtain falls.

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Side note: Marylin Monroe is in this film. If you’ve seen her performance in this film, then you’ve pretty much seen 75% of her movies. The girl has no range, but at least in this film, she’s at her best.

Similar Films:

 

Working Girl (1988)

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Working Girl follows Tess McGill (Melanie Griffith) a receptionist looking to advance her career as she navigates the realm of office politics under her boss Katherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver). When Tess’ idea is stolen by Katherine, she becomes determined to build her own road to success, one that exists  outside of the sterile pathways of the office. Dawning Katherine’s position and prestige, she initiates a major deal with an investment broker (Harrison Ford) that has Tess falling in more ways than one.

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I’ll be honest, the first time I saw Working Girl was exactly three days before I wrote this. I caught a glimpse of it on TV, and I managed to record and watch it on the next showing. After watching the film, I kind of have to say that I’m obsessed. I pretty much loved it, except for that awkward and entirely uncomfortable scene where Tess wakes up in Harrison Ford’s bed unsure of what happened to her the night before. (I’m still not sure what happened there…). Tess’ initial admiration for Katherine as her boss and as a woman, and the disillusionment that occurs after she’s betrayed, addresses an interesting element about mentorship that many of the movies avoid: What happens when the person you admire disappoints you? How do you react, how do you move forward, and most of all, how do you come to terms with relying on yourself?

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Working Girl is funny, cute, but above all sharp in the way the film is structured. In the beginning of the film viewers are discontent with the quiet knowledge that Katherine really isn’t a mentor for Tess, but by the end, they can feel a sense of pride knowing that Tess will be the mentor she always needed, for herself and others.

 

Chicago (2002)

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Roxie Hart is a “STAR”, or at least, she dreams of becoming one. When she’s arrested and charged for the murder of her lover, Roxie finds herself on death row along with stars like Velma Kelly, a Jazz performer who Roxie once worshiped. In Chicago, stars don’t shine as bright behind bars, and the line between fame and infamy is blurred as Roxie and Velma dance and sing circles around the chopping block.

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Chicago is witty, it’s funny, and the musical numbers are a blast. Queen Latifah stuns as Mama, the corrupt prison warden whose kind gestures come at a price, and Renée Zellweger and Catherine Zeta-Jones shine as Roxie and Velma, their snarky banter always keeping viewers on their toes. The film portrays greed, backstabbing, and the antics of the most conniving in society,  in a way that cleverly skirts the line between glamorization and condemnation. The cast is exceptional, and while I could have gone with less Richard Gere and more of Lucy Lu (like really, only a small cameo? How you gonna play Lucy Lu like that Chicago?), the film starts and stops with a bang.

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Strangers on a Train (1951)

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Trading murders sounds like a good idea, until it doesn’t. At least, that’s what tennis player Guy Haines (Farley Granger) realizes when the proposition somehow comes up (like really, when does this happen?) during a conversation with a stranger on a train. When Bruno, the stranger with sinister intentions, actually goes through with the murder plot, Guy finds himself being blackmailed to fulfill his side of the deal.

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Strangers on a Train is chilling. I remembered being entirely engrossed when I first saw the movie way back when. Now, I’m finding myself looking back to the film, questioning the role women played in it as props to men’s ambitions. I don’t know if the film tackled these questions (knowing Hitchcock, I doubt it), but notwithstanding these uncertainties, there is an excitement to Strangers on a Train that never dies down. The film poses the question of whether a crime begins at the conception of the thought and takes it to interesting (if not fully realized) lengths.

Mariah Carey’s Obsessed: not exactly a movie, but I’d consider it the theme songs of all these movies

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For my next post, I’ll look at Beyond the Lights, but if you want to read about Creed, Kitty, and the other films featured in my mentorship series, click the links below!

Creed

Kitty

Mentorship at the Movies Overview

Treading Water

It’s been a few months since I’ve posted. I’ve been working on a lot of things, art, writing, mourning what was lost in the 2016 election, what could have been, but also becoming more driven than ever to make a difference. The following piece is a selection from an artist book I wrote and screen-printed. I made the piece last October, but more than ever, I feel its resonance.

About the piece:

On August 12, 2016, Simone Manuel became the first African American woman to win an Olympic gold medal in swimming. In the Black community, Simone’s triumph is especially significant because of the deep seeded, and often forgotten, history of race in the water. From the journey across the Atlantic, desegregated pools being drained or closed because of African American swimmers, to stereotypes about black people being unable to swim, “water” has never been a safe space. Public pools have been battlegrounds for equality, and navigating the white shores of America has often been a question of treading lightly or drowning.

Within this context, Treading Water is an artist book meant to cope, confront, and address the anxieties I as a black women associate with water and navigating the social climate of America. The book exists in an edition of screen-printed images and text, and mono-printed backgrounds.

Here are a few prints from the work

 

 

Here’s a GIF of the poem.

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My Reading Cave and all the Books I Binge vol. 22

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Unlike most people, I don’t just read books—you know, a chapter a day, two every here and there, maybe a novel finished once a week. Generally, those are probably good reading habits, allowing a person to read consistently and more widely than say someone like a binge reader—someone like me. Yup, I admit it. I’m a binge reader, and I’m having trouble coming to terms with the idea that, well, maybe binge reading isn’t as great as it seems.

My Reading Habits

When I say I’m a binge reader, it’s exactly as it seems. Like people who binge watch TV shows (me), or movies (me), when I see a new book or series I want to read—I devour it. I’m your, “don’t talk to me I’m reading” girl, the “turning the page and eating” person, the “have I been in the bathroom stall for 3 hours? it’s not my bladder, it’s this cliffhanger in the last chapter” kid.

In High school there were weeks when I’d spend more than 12 hours a day just reading—on school days, meaning staying up until late into the night (never later than 1 or 2 am, cus you know, healthy people start their bad habits later in life) finishing not 1 book, but 2 or 3 a day. It was intense, and I kind of miss those wistful days, where time was an infinite sea of possibilities.

As a teen, I read to escape, to discover, to deal with the internal and external issues in my life that I wasn’t strong enough to face in reality. As an adult though, I’m trying to come to terms with what it means to engage with text without simply consuming it.

Let’s be honest, binge reading doesn’t leave a lot of room for reflection. I realize that I’ve internalized and sometimes completely overlooked the most problematic elements of the works I loved, and some I still love to this day. At the time, re-reading books during my binge sprees always helped me address those issues, but now, with even less time on my hands, I find that I’m going back to old favorites less and less.

Binge Reading

The problem with binge reading, isn’t just that you’re not digesting what your taking in, it’s also an issue of consuming the same thing, over, and over, and over again, until you’re sick of it—or maybe even worse, until can’t or won’t broaden your horizons. When I binge read, I read in the same categories, the same genres, the same authors—the same repacked versions of stories I’ve read before.

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kind of like this. Like at that point, can you even taste what your eating?

It’s fine to like what you like, but you won’t know what you don’t know, until you paint with all the colors of the wind…or something like that.

But really,

I say all this, but I still love binge reading, and there are some bright sides to it too like:

I’m more open to exploring new, experimental works in the categories and genres I binge.

If I see a random book, any random book on the YA shelf with a vaguely interesting premise, you better believe I’ll be picking it up. This goes with movies too. At this point, I’m scrapping at the bottom of the barrel just to get my hit of rom coms, and surprisingly, I’m finding some real gems down there too.

I see everything.

Tropes, stereotypes, twin sibling conveniently showing up —I’ve seen it all. There’s no crack that I can’t spot, no table left unturned. I can enjoy a good trope when I see one, but I can also tell when I’m being manipulated. Now more than ever, I willing to move on to something else when I find issues with what I’m consuming.

Maybe this time…

So there you have it, my binge reading post. It was supposed to be a post about all the books in my reading cave, but you can just check out my favorite things page to get a gist of what I’m into.

If there are any other binge readers out there, send me a sign. What are you currently binging, any recommendations? Not for me I mean, just for a friend…

What can I say, a bad habit’s hard to break 😉