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A Fantastic Woman (1 Viewer)

Jake Lipson

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I'm surprised there isn't already a thread for this movie, so I thought I should start it. This is Chile's current reigning winner of the Best Foreign Language Film Academy Award and is now expanding its theatrical release in light of its victory. It opened here for this weekend and I saw it tonight.

Daniela Vega stars as Mariana, a transgender woman coping with the unexpected death of her lover, who was older, divorced and just asked her to move into his apartment. The movie is about her experiences in the aftermath dealing with his judgemental family, as well as the investigation into his death, and the bigotry she faces on all fronts during her time of grief. (This isn't a spoiler, as his death is the inciting incident of the movie and is clearly shown in the trailer above.)

It's a great part, and Daniela Vega gives a performance equal to anybody in the recently-concluded Best Actress race, which she should/would have been in if foreign films were usually treated with the same weight as English ones. It's entirely from her point of view and she's in every scene of it, so it's a really massive undertaking and she did it beautifully. It's really quite extraordinary. Of course, it's worth noting that she actually is transgender, if only because, if this were a Hollywood production, these types of roles normally get given to non-trans movie star actors to help sell the movie.

But it makes more sense for Ms. Vega to just do it, because representation. Also, more importantly, she's simply awesome in the role. I also really liked the fact that it wasn't about the process of her transition, but instead that that had already happened and she was just living her life. Now that I pause and think about it, the vast majority of Hollywood stories about trans people seem to start with the transition and build an arc around that process. This isn't that, and the shift in focus felt new and was refreshing.

I don't really want to say much more about it and get into spoilers, but if the film opens near you, it is very much worth seeing, and I look forward to discussing it once more people here have seen it. It lives up to its titular adjective.

Our crowd tonight was full, but it was also the free monthly screening for members of our arthouse, so those are usually full no matter what the film is, so I can't tell if that means it will be popular outside of the free screening or if it was an isolated incident due to the heavily-comped nature of this screening. The movie continues in a normal run here this weekend, and I hope it does well. The audience seemed to like it and gave it a loud round of applause at the end, which doesn't always happen at the free screenings.

Anyway, highly recommended.
 
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bujaki

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And her lovely singing voice is not dubbed! I saw this movie the week before the AAs, and it was a toss up between this and Lebanon's The Insult, a very strong contender. (I saw all 5 nominees.)
 

Jake Lipson

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The Best Foreign Film Oscar belonged to BPM.

Seeing as BPM wasn't nominated, that's a bit hard to get behind. I'm glad that this fantastic film was recognized. It is possible to think that something was snubbed and also like the winner.
 

Jake Lipson

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it was a toss up between this and Lebanon's The Insult, a very strong contender. (I saw all 5 nominees.)

I saw The Insult a couple weeks ago and liked it, but I liked this one more since it felt more intimate and personal. The Insult was a good movie, but was basically a courtroom drama, and the political bent of it was interesting, but not quite as emotional as the arc Mariana goes through in this film, which gave it the edge for me, although they are both great films.

Seeing as BPM is a better film, the nomination process needs to change.

Great films are snubbed every year, particularly when there are only five nominees and these films are not often regarded as serious contend for Oscars outside this single category, which is unfortunate.

BPM played here briefly in January, but it was a busy time and unfortunately I was unable to make it to the theater before it closed. However, I don't understand the hostility toward Fantastic Woman just because BPM was snubbed. Your posts have very little to do with the content of Fantastic Woman itself in its own thread, and while it is perfectly natural to wish that your movie got nominated, it is possible to appreciate both films.
 

Jake Lipson

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In that case, would you care to elaborate on your opinion of A Fantastic Woman? I'm getting that it is different from mine, but threads like this are, of course, for such discourse. It's perfectly fine not to like it, but I'm not sure why you're interested in being part of the discussion merely to complain about BPM being snubbed. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the movie that I actually started this thread to discuss.

Although your belief that BPM is better would suggest that one should see both in order to make that determination, I'm not even sure from the content of your posts that you have seen A Fantastic Woman. I am interested in discussing the film with people who have seen it, which is why I started the thread. If you're not, that's completely fine, but I'm not sure what other purpose you would have for entering this discussion. If you just want to discuss BPM, why not create a separate thread for it?
 
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Jake Lipson

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And her lovely singing voice is not dubbed!

I agree that Ms. Vega's singing voice is terrific. I almost wish there was more of it in the movie -- not necessarily because the film needed more but because it would have been a treat to hear more.
 

MatthewA

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In that case, would you care to elaborate on your opinion of A Fantastic Woman?

That might cost me my membership. This year's Oscars was Crash times three.

Let me put it this way: I would feel the same way about a movie that advocated ex-gay therapy.
 

Mike Frezon

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The purpose of this thread is to discuss the Oscar winning film A Fantastic Woman.

The purpose of the thread is NOT to talk about other films (unless there is some clear reason to talk about their connectivity).

Any further attempts to sidetrack this thread will be dealt with by the moderating team.

MatthewA: You're a smart enough dude to know better...and to explain your opinion of A Fantastic Woman in a way that wouldn't jeopardize your membership. You're putting your membership more at risk by sidetracking threads onto irrelevant topics.
 

Jake Lipson

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Has anyone else here on HTF, other than Jose and myself, seen A Fantastic Woman yet? I'd love to discuss it if so. If not, hopefully it will expand out to more of you in the coming weeks now that it has won the Oscar.

Box Office Mojo says it is currently playing in 166 theaters this weekend, which is an add of 77 locations over its theater count last week. I'm a little surprised we got it here this soon, since films oftentimes have to be significantly wider than that in order to reach us. For point of comparison with another recent Oscar winner, The Shape of Water slowly expanded throughout December but didn't reach me until it hit 726 screens on Christmas weekend.

Anyway, I loved A Fantastic Woman and hope that more of you will be able to find it near you soon. I'm pretty sure a further expansion will take place next weekend, although I don't have any idea how wide.
 
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MatthewA

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The purpose of this thread is to discuss the Oscar winning film A Fantastic Woman.

The purpose of the thread is NOT to talk about other films (unless there is some clear reason to talk about their connectivity).

Any further attempts to sidetrack this thread will be dealt with by the moderating team.

MatthewA: You're a smart enough dude to know better...and to explain your opinion of A Fantastic Woman in a way that wouldn't jeopardize your membership. You're putting your membership more at risk by sidetracking threads onto irrelevant topics.

Considering who else wasn't nominated, for the AMPAS to honor a trans-themed film while not even nominating a superior gay-themed film is something I, personally, consider enough of an insult to constitute an act of anti-gay bigotry, in my opinion. Even if you disagree, then hopefully you can at least agree that it still represents, at minimum, a huge blind spot on the part of voters.

Yes, I am a dude. The things that make me so are embedded in every cell in my body. And so is the magnificent "woman" of this film. The title confuses femininity, a social construct, and womanhood, a scientific reality. I've talked to several women who consider it sexist to call trans-identified males women, and I cannot disagree with them. I do not believe men have the right to steal the mantle of womanhood from biological women. In or out of drag. And I have come to this opinion after actually having met trans-identified people in real life.* Don't get me wrong: I'm not knocking drag at all. But let's ask ourselves this: what makes men's clothes men's clothes and women's clothes women's clothes, who they are made for or who is wearing them?

G*nd*r is not real. Sex is. No one should have to have an operation because of their taste in clothes. Progress is when men and women can dress as we want without operations or name changes. Men should not have to lose our genitals in order to get a man. It's not bigoted to say that. As a gay man, I consider any piece of media that sends that message to be inherently homophobic. Especially when the dead partner in this movie, the one the thread is about, was a man.

Is that good enough of a connection?

*I also believe there was one on HTF in some of the 1980s sitcom threads years ago, but that person died while having the operations.
 
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Mike Frezon

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Is that good enough of a connection?

Actually, no.

It's just a lot of bluster. And much to do about nothing.

You're discussing the fact that the film involves a transgender character and how that disturbs you. And you say that because of that another film about a gay character is better. Not once have you discussed the film at all.

Your entire last post is about your thoughts on transgenderness and gayness and how you feel about those things.

Have you even seen A Fantastic Woman?
 

MatthewA

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Actually, no.

It's just a lot of bluster. And much to do about nothing.

You're discussing the fact that the film involves a transgender character and how that disturbs you. And you say that because of that another film about a gay character is better. Not once have you discussed the film at all.

Your entire last post is about your thoughts on transgenderness and gayness and how you feel about those things.

Have you even seen A Fantastic Woman?

Have you seen BPM? Even so, Jake said to make a thread about that movie, so I did.

The plot of the movie this thread is about revolves around an inherently sexist, homophobic, and anti-woman concept. No, I will never, ever, ever see this film, either, and what has been said to me in this thread makes me want to see it less and less. Thanks to the Internet, I can read about it without actually seeing it. Jake's description told me enough about it to make up my mind about it. When the basic premise is so homophobic in concept and execution, why should I give these people any of my money? I'm not paying money to slit my own throat, so to speak. I normally do not condemn films sight unseen, but I am tired of seeing inferior films with problematic subject matter put on a pedestal and given awards at the expense of superior ones with non-problematic subject matter.

Don't you realize that by defending this film or any film like it, never mind giving it an Oscar which will undoubtedly ensure greater exposure in the United States, you are cheering on gay erasure?

I will not be posting in this particular thread anymore. I tried to make as direct a connection as possible. If that's not good enough, then I will limit my comments to the rest of the site from now on.
 
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Mike Frezon

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I will not be posting in this particular thread anymore.

No. You won't. You've been banned from participating in this thread.

Have you seen BPM?

A pointless question as I am not participating in a thread on BPM ranting about various societal ills which will keep me from watching the movie under discussion.

What you need to do is find other forums in which your strong concerns about societal issues is appropriate. A forum devoted to the home presentation of movies (and the movies themselves) is not the proper forum.
 

Jake Lipson

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I would just like to clear up for anyone who has been reading this thread thus far, but who has not seen the film, that I personally find nothing homophobic about the arc of the film A Fantastic Woman. A few characters who dislike the main character for her transgender status make homophobic remarks to her, but it is treated by the film in a way that makes their intolerance and bigotry clear as part of their storyline. Otherwise, the film is dealing with Mariana's identity as a woman and what her interactions with these people means for her self-image.

I do not think the film can be fairly labeled as homophobic simply for the fact that it deals with a transgender character. While Matthew's opinions are his own, I hope that they do not discourage any interested parties from seeking out this film and forming your own opinion on it. I happened to like it very much and hope to discuss it here at length once more people have seen it.
 

Jake Lipson

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Good news! A Fantastic Woman increased its box office receipts by 130% this weekend vs. last weekend in light of its Oscar win and expansion. Box Office Mojo reports that it ranked 19th at the box office with an estimated weekend gross of $287,277 from 166 theaters for a per-theater average of $1,731. In the process, its total U.S. gross passed the $1 million threshold.

Hopefully this bodes well for Sony Pictures Classics continuing to expand the film in the coming weeks so that more of the HTF community can find it nearby and see it and come to discuss it.

http://www.boxofficemojo.com/movies/?id=afantasticwoman.htm
 
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