“Women bonding together is the most fun thing [to do] and I have to say I miss it and we don’t get to do it that often, our lives are busy, we got our husbands, we’re always obligated to something, but when you get us together, there’s nothing more fun, nothing”, Goldie Hawn.
10. The Color Purple (1985)
Cast: Whoopi Goldberg, Danny Glover, Oprah Winfrey and Margaret Avery as “Shug Avery”. This all-time Steven Spielberg’s classic, based on the novel by Alice Walker, portrays the life of Celie Harris (Whoopi Goldberg) as she endures four decades of abuse, starting with a sexual abuse from her stepfather that produced two children, and later from her owner/husband Albert Johnson (Danny Glover) whom she calls “Mister”. The historical setting of this movie is the beginning of the 20th century, an era marked by lynching, Ku Klux Klan and self-imposed bigotry in which black women were not even considered worthy of occupying space. “Celie” is the victim/hero that finally she triumphs spitting in a glass of water. Trivia: Food scenes are a symbol of Celie’s transformation throughout the movie. Of course, one can’t ignore the powerful performance given by Oprah Winfrey as “Sophia”, especially the scene where she refuses upfront to become a maid; but nothing compared to the “God is trying to tell you something” scene where libertine “Shug” finally reconciles with the reverend, her father. Margaret Avery was herself a member of Freedom Riders, a civil-rights activist group. Vocal talent for “Shug” is credited to gospel singer Carmen Rosa “Tata” Vega.
9. The Witches of Eastwick (1987)
Cast: Jack Nicholson, Susan Sarandon, Michelle Pfeiffer and Cher. The special effects alone make this movie a worthwhile experience, yet it is the topic of women as a nuisance what earned the production eleven nominations and six awards. Released on the full moon of June 12, 1987, the wickedly comedy shamelessly dares to explore man’s perception of women as expressed by Jack Nicholson’s interpretation of horny little devil Darryl Van Horne: “Women, a mistake? Or did [God] do it to us [men] on purpose?” The movie, based on the novel written by John Updike, portrays a sexually repressed town in which single middle-aged women are bound to stay put. These women, unbeknownst to them, unleashed their powers in a simple but magical ceremony where they summon their ideal man. Quick trivia: Both Susan and Michelle were cigarette smokers at the time of the film, now they claim healthier lifestyles. Susan Sarandon is a strong marihuana advocate. Although they played witches in the film, Cher is a Buddhist, Susan is a Catholic and Michelle is a Protestant. Jack Nicholson, born and raised a Catholic, claims to be an atheist, yet he envies “those who still have faith”.
8. What’s Love Got To Do With It? (1993)
Cast: Angela Basset, Laurence Fishburn and Tina Turner as her own mother. Anna Mae Bullock’s biography in film could not have a better cast. Although Angela Bassett, by her own admission could not sing, she gives an all-time extraordinary performance that draws audiences into believing she is “the” Tina Turner, earning her a Golden Globe in 1994 and an Image Award in 1995. Laurence Fishburn as “Ike” truly epitomizes the abusive partner that pushes women to the point of slavery and servitude. “What’s Love Got To Do With It?” brought the spousal abuse subject to public discussion. This film is as empowering as they come. Tina, born in 1939, broke up from Ike in 1976, after enduring 18 years of exploitation. Nothing has stopped her since the eighties. The movie embodies not only her suffering but her indisputable success as an artist and a powerful woman. The movie is based on the book “I, Tina” written by Tina Turner and Kurt Loder. Directed by Brian Gibson, the R-rated film exhibits some brutal scenes detailing the physical, emotional and financial abuse Tina endured from good-riddance Ike Turner.
Ike Turner Opens His Mouth
7. The First Wives Club (1996)
Cast: Bette Midler, Goldie Hawn and Diane Keaton. Olivia Goldsmith wrote this best-selling novel 1992 depicting three middle-aged women trying to get back at their ex-husbands for betraying them with younger females. “The First Wives Club” delivers delicious comedy scenes and non-stop puns to the delight of females and open-minded men. Maggie Smith as “Gunilla Garson Goldberg” and Sarah Jessica Parker as “Shelly Stewart” offer a marvelous performance with their “fork” scene. Sarah is the ultimate anti-hero in this movie. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey, Midler, Hawn and Keaton confessed how much fun they had in the making of this film, particularly the gondola scene, in which the ladies use this prop to escape from a building to avoid been caught spying. Ironically, even when the author denounces youth as a “home-wrecking” tool, she died in her efforts of keeping herself young after having a fatal facelift surgery in 2004.
The First Wives Club on Oprah!
6. The Magdalene Sisters (2002)
Cast: Anne Marie Duff, Nora Jane Noone and Dorothy Duffy. This award-winning film is inspired in a 1998 documentary produced by Steve Humphries entitled “Sex in A Cold Climate: The Magdalene Asylums”. The movie encompasses the Irish Catholic Church laundry asylums established from 1964 to 1969, around the same time Tina Turner faced spousal abuse. About 30,000 women were reported to have been secluded in these monasteries. Although the Catholic Church categorizes these reports as fictional and mythical, the “Magdalenes” detailed testimonies can’t be dismissed lightly. The film presents three girls sentenced to life in the monastery, one for accusing her cousin of rape, another for talking to boys while being pretty and the third for letting herself get pregnant. Unapologetic scenes in the movie should not be watched by children without adult supervision. Movie director Peter Mullan faced harsh criticism from the Church. Disney owns Miramax since 1993, so religious groups like US-based Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights threatened to boycott Disney if the movie was ever distributed in the United States. As of this writing, “The Magdalene Sisters” is available through Netflix.
5. Chicago (2002)
Cast: Catherine Zeta-Jones “Velma Kelly”, Richard Gere and, sorry for her face surgery, Renée Zellweger, as “Roxy Hart”; also worth mentioning of a long list of talented and award-winning artists are: Queen Latifah, John C. Reilly, Taye Diggs (as the pianist) and Christine Baranski. This movie directed by Rob Marshall won six academy awards. The plot is about women taking the law in their own hands after being betrayed by their lovers, one by one “they had it coming”. Small parts, like “Nickie”, are played by legends like Chita Rivera, the “Velma Kelly” in the 1975 original Broadway production and its soundtrack is worth collecting. Numbers like “Mr. Cellophane”, interpreted by John C. Reilly, cannot be compared to original interpretations like the one done by Ben Vereen, but it sure does the honors in compelling the sense of despair and lack of recognition. Richard Gere, as the greedy lawyer, took three months of tap lessons for half a day of filming. “Chicago” seeps with sweet revenge, fascinating “tit for tats” and glamorous injustice. The original play was written in 1926 by court reporter Maurine Dallas Martin.
4. The Stepford Wives (2004)
Cast: Bette Midler, Nicole Kidman, Roger Bart, and Matthew Broderick, also Glenn Close and Christopher Walken as her husband. Based on the novel published by Ira Levin in 1972, “The Stepford Wives” settles in an unreal suburb where women are happy complying with each of their husbands’ request. They even dispense money out of their mouths like an ATM! Something is not right in this landscape and the heroes (Midler, Kidman and Bart) are set to find out how everyone can be so jolly and complacent while women are so submissive. The answer opens a Pandora box of male chauvinism and short mindedness that is a painful delight to watch. This black humor comedy makes fun of a sad reality: there are indeed women out there that will surrender everything they are in order to please their husbands. What will they become? This Paramount/DreamWorks production is written by Paul Rudnik and directed by Frank Oz won the 2004 Golden Trailer award.
3. The Prize Winner From Defiance, Ohio (2005)
Cast: Woody Harrelson and Julianne Moore. This true story depicts the life of Evelyn Ryan, a woman that responded to her secluded life as a full-time mother of ten and wife of a tender/raging alcoholic, by participating in as many contests she could get her hands on in order to supplement the family income. Woody Harrelson “Kelly Ryan”, as the lovingly-aggressive-alcoholic husband, is just the guy you’d love to hate, inasmuch even his children turn against him. The screenplay and direction from Jane Anderson is based on the 2001 book of the same title written by Terry Ryan, child number six of Evelyn and Kelly. “The Prize Winner From Defiance, Ohio” did not make it big in the box office, since it did not show outside Los Angeles and New York for its debut. It is available through Netflix, Amazon and Vulcan at the time of this writing. The film based in the 50s is distributed by Go Fish!
2. Changeling (2008)
Male-dominated Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) once again hits the fan in this movie starred by supermother Angelina Jolie and award-winning actor John Malkovich. Her son suddenly disappears and after more than a year and a lot of media attention, Los Angeles police claims to have found her son but when she goes to get him, she is shocked when she realizes that boy is not her son. The commissioner persists in his version of positive identification closing her case and declaring her a lunatic for refusing to recognize her own child. Her persistence in finding her true son leads to one of the most gruesome crimes of the century. Based on a true story, “Changeling” is directed by Clint Eastwood and written by Joseph Michael Straczynski. The movie has some strong scenes and lines not suitable for minors. John Malkovich gives an all-time powerful performance as the activist Reverend Gustav Briegleb who uses his voice and church to denounce the injustices and corruption of the LAPD.
1. Big Eyes (2014)
Cast: Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz. Painter Margaret Keane did not see much of a future in her career as a single mother in the 70s, but when she found gallant Walter Keane coming to her rescue, offering her instant marriage, all of her prayers were answered. This apparent fairy tale soon turned into a lifetime of servitude in which her husband became the most successful commercial graphic artists of his time by exploiting his wife’s talents. “Big Eyes” details the humiliation Margaret had to suffer before she resolved to come out clean and tell the world that she was the artist. The authentic characterization of “Margaret” earned Amy Adams a coveted Golden Globe. Margaret Keane admired how Amy Adams truly projected her feelings of impotence, fear and frustration in this movie. Christoph Waltz as the systematically abusive, lying and terrifyingly psychotic husband, deserved another for his best villain performance. Only life can create such a horror story. Directed by Tim Burton and written by Scott Alexander and Larry Karaszewski
- MYTHS OF THE MAGDALENE LAUNDRIES - Catholic League
- New York Times Movie Review
- Bryanna Brady - Review of What's Love Got To Do With It - JCJPC - Volume 3, Issue 3
- The Witches of Eastwick Movie Review (1987) | Roger Ebert
- Margaret Avery - Biography - IMDb
Slender, attractive actress Margaret Avery, spellbinding in her role of Shug in Steven Spielberg's The Color Purple (1985), is certainly no "one-hit ...