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"Culture is the heritage of us all. some may be more interested than others in the treasures of the past, but no one can fail to take a pride in his country's participation in the story of mankind, as represented in carvings, sculpture, music, paintings and the other arts. And there is a personal commitment to this, for no man can really say he is alone: we are all joined through our identity, with the cultures which are part of the mainstream of life"
- Simon Kapwepwe, Zambian Independence Freedom Fighter

"Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm" - Winston Churchill

"Try to be the rainbow in someone else's cloud" - Maya Angelou

"Your time is limited so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma - which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinion drown out your inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition" - Steve Jobs

Tuesday, 3 August 2010

Salt: A Spy Movie Full Of Women's Issues

After Inception, I do not expect to be wowed by what Hollywood is offering, and I haven't.  I'm expecting to be entertained and I was watching Salt.  However, there was something lacking in the movie.  Was excited to see Angelina Jolie in a role originally intended for a dude, in a Mission Impossible-esque fashion.  Kind of like when back in the day Will Smith getting the lead role of in Enemy of the State was a big deal as it was originally written for Tom Cruise and everyone was wondering: Could a black person carry such a film and be believable?  Well as they say art imitates life and vice versa ala Barack Obama becoming the first black president.  Now that we have proved that a black man can do what a white man can do in America, it is only a matter of time before the same is done for women.I love how Hollywood underestimates the audience and our intelligence and always finds ways to perpetuate stupid and discriminatory conventions.   Craziness that this sort of thing still goes on in our world....

The film was good. It has the twists and turns to keep you intrigued, although the beginning is a little slow, but purposefully so, though you only become aware after the fact that it makes sense to be  like that.  The action is great. Enough plausible moves to make the implausible believable.  The script however needed to give us a bit more exposition and the little that was there was disjunctive and/ or inadequate. I was unable to really emotionally attach and really root for Salt.  Instead of thinking about being clever, all the way down to the spy being name being Salt, a wink at the SALT, the acronym for Strategic Arms Limitations Talks between the US and Russian during the Cold War, they should have been thinking about how to beef up the dialogue and story. At least the movie has served a higher purpose - go to school, study International Relations, and you'll be able to spot random stuff like that like my little ones! ;}

Chiwetel Ejiofor, a Naija-Brit actor, also features. LOVE HIM!  I don't think I have ever seen him act badly, even if the film was suspect like, ahem, Four Brothers. He is so talented and his roles are so diverse and intriguing.  Such a chameleon.  He makes me happy.  His role was limited in this installment, but if sequels are on the cards, it is clear that he is going to have more screen time and that is absolutely fine with me he he he.

Speaking of African connections, in the funeral scene how did I know there were Africans? This is the third film this summer, after STC2 and The A-Team, that I have seen that has some sort of African clothing in them with the big head wrap and the hat on the guys head and things and looking very Nigerian to show Africans are about.  Not hard to spot amongst the people who they are sitting with due to the fact that everyone else is wearing black and they are situated right bang centre in the middle of the shot! These guys need to take a lesson from Inception, or forget about us all together. It's ok, we are quite happy to be invisible if you are going to keep making us caricatures of ourselves.

After the movie, had a very intense conversation with my movie buddy for the night, a "proud" Canadian with whom I see eye-to-eye on a lot of things in the world, especially the illusions and the nonsense.  Having read an article about Salt in Entertainment Weekly, I was aware that they had the scene where her husband saves her at the beginning so as not to emasculate him.  The man has bigger problems if he is not able to relinquish power to his significant other when they are the more qualified in the situation.  Perpetuating these archaic beliefs that a woman has to temper herself so that lesser men can feel they are more is nonsense.  Or that even if the guy is all together you still have to.  If men's egos are so fragile then something needs to be done about it.  It is stifling always having to be around 60-80% of yourself for fear of hurting some dudes feelings or making him feel less of a man.  A real man assesses the situation and allows the right actions to take place for a positive outcome. Even if that means letting a woman take the lead. Jeez!

This movie also brought up the issue of women being "men" - as in doing a job as well as a man can.  Emotions are not the devil, they are part of human nature.  Men are forced to bury theirs and most of the time they feel caged and unable to express themselves for fear of being a pansy.  Being in control does not mean acting like a robot - that is what robots are for. It is about being aware of oneself, the good and the bad - and emotion can be both.  To their credit, they did a couple of laudable things to show that women can do spy work and gave it a womans touch.  They didn't thankfully make Salt ugly and unfashionable because those are the only kind of women that are smart and can act like men as they have nothing better to do.  She used feminine items to help herself out in tricky situations. The fact that they show that she has a deep love for her husband and will do anything to save him shows that emotion in a woman can propel her to do amazing things rather than being self destructive or debilitated when men and/ or love are in the mix.

However, after certain things occur in the movie, Salt is not allowed to grieve.  When we are first presented with the situation, it is clear why she cannot.  But in the aftermath, I'm sorry, if she really feels the way we are led to be believe before embarking on her revenge, she would have taken a moment in the bathroom to cry and regroup.  I know a lot of strong women whom many believe never cry, but they find their moments where no one can see to let go.  This sort of twisting of how a woman should act if she is going strong is erroneous and perpetuates the myth that strong women are not women and/ or have no feelings. We always either have to be overly-emotional or completely stone cold.  But is ok for Maximus in Gladiator to take a moment to cry when he finds his family slain and for him to cherish their wooden figures and use his emotion to avenge the emperor.  Because that kind of love and honour and sense of justice is only for men.  Women are just there to bring it about.  DRUGS I TELL YOU DRUGS!!!!

This made me think of my love of Jane Austen, and how I really relate to her characters need to fight to be a woman free to be who she is, love as she pleases and pursue her goals without stereotype.  Most of her heroines were fighting to be able to marry for love, without monetary considerations usurping the choice to marry freely.  Now it seems we are fighting to be able to have a head and a heart.  It seems right now we are being forced to chose between one and the other.  Salt was set up to be a sequel, this is evident from the ending. They have a good enough base to build on. I hope that Angelina Jolie takes the opportunity to use her clout further to really make sure that the script is the shiznit and that Salt has an emotional core that doesn't hinder, but enhances her abilities.

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