Monthly Archives: March 2018

“The Path to Gay Rights: How Activism and Coming Out Changed Public Opinion” by Jeremiah J. Garretson— How Opinion Has Changed

Garretson, Jeremiah J. “The Path to Gay Rights: How Activism and Coming Out Changed Public Opinion”, NYU Press, 2018.

How Opinion Has Changed

Amos Lassen

I am most definitely not a data person. When I was a graduate student in education, I had to take a statistics course and it was a disaster. However, we live in a country that seems to be obsessed with data and I have learned that it can be fascinating to read every once in a while and that brings me to this new book, “”The Path to Gay Rights” which is an

innovative, data-driven explanation of how public opinion shifted on LGBTQ rights. I am sure that many of you are like me when you think how everything has changed for the LGBTQ community. So much has happened and many of us have to pinch ourselves to realize we are not dreaming. Here we have the data to prove the facts and it is very important to look at it.

“The Path to Gay Rights” is “the first social science analysis of how and why the LGBTQ movement achieved its most unexpected victory—transforming gay people from a despised group of social deviants into a minority worthy of rights and protections in the eyes of most Americans.” Writer and researcher Jeremiah J. Garretson brings together a narrative of LGBTQ history with new findings from the field of political psychology so that we can better understand how social movements affect mass attitudes in the United States and globally. 

Garretson has collected data from as far back as the 1970s to argue that how we understand how social movements change mass opinion (through sympathetic media coverage and endorsements from political leaders) does not and cannot provide an adequate explanation for the success of the LGBTQ movement at changing the public’s views. He confirms what I have always thought and that is that our community’s response the AIDS crisis was an important and major turning point for public support of gay rights. It took the death of many members of our community for things to change and what a price we paid! ACT-UP and other AIDS organizations went after political and media leaders in order to normalize news coverage of LGBTQ issues and AIDS. We were told, as if we did not already know, that our lives are important and valued. From this we saw an increase in the number of LGBTQ people who came out and lived open lives and with increased contact with gay people, public attitudes began to change. But to talk about gay rights, we must go beyond them to develop “an evidence-based argument for how social movements can alter mass opinion on any contentious topic.”

It is important to note that support for gay rights has followed a different path than support for any other minority group’s rights— that support grew slowly but once it began to accelerate, it took off. We see rapidly and markedly lately. Garretson explores the shift in public opinion and follows it back to Americans’ increased contact with gay and lesbian individuals both directly and characters on television. Garretson looks at activism, interest group activity, and political campaigns through careful analyses of survey data, online searches, and Congressional votes. The dynamics of public opinion concerning gays and lesbians and social change are closely examined here. This is a book that is suitable for scholars yet it also belongs in every LGBT person’s library so that we can be reminded of how we got to where we are.

“Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live” by Sacha Lamb— A Fairy Tale

Lamb, Sacha. “Avi Cantor Has Six Months to Live”, Book Smugglers Publishing , 2017.

A Fairy Tale

Amos Lassen

When Avi sees that he has only six months to live written on a bathroom mirror, he is confused. He does not understand what these words could mean and whether this is the work of the bullies at school and meant to be a prediction of what is to come. I hesitate to call this a novel since it is only 70 pages long, yet in those 70 pages are the makings of a novel.

Avi is having a difficult time but things begin to look better with the arrival of Ian, the new guy at school who seems to notice Avi and pay attention to him. All of us either know someone like Avi or actually see ourselves in him. Anyone who has ever been bullied or been depressed will recognize in Avi some of what they also went through. However, there is something else and that is that Avi is transgender. We are very aware of the he feels. Avi does not want us to see the sad side of his life and he comes across as an optimist despite what he has to deal with. He feels these issues inside and sees Ian as the bright side of his days. He is so well adjusted and accepted by all.

To tackle a subject such as this is risky but Sacha Lamb also brings is religion by sharing Avi’s Jewishness and also shows us Ian as a young man raised by two moms. We rarely get stories that include experiences of trans boyhood that are unobtrusive and natural and, for me, that is what makes this such a good read.

Avi Cantor is a high-school student in mid-transition. We read about a new bullying technique that is complicated and difficult to deal with. But this is not a story about bullying but about self-loathing. It’s both heartbreaking and life- affirming. Avi’s relationship with Ian and his family might not fix everything but it gives hope. The prose is beautiful and the story is important.

We see how as class, religion, and society make us who we are and while I cannot share much of the plot with you for fearing of ruining what the story has to say, let me just mention that this is a powerful little book that needs to be read. It is genuine and sincere with likeable characters and gay trans boys in love and choosing life and love when despair and alienation are the alternatives.

“Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro” by Rachel Slade— The Sinking of El Faro


Slade, Rachel. “Into the Raging Sea: Thirty-Three Mariners, One Megastorm, and the Sinking of El Faro”, Ecco Books, 2018.

The Sinking of El Faro

Amos Lassen

On October 1, 2015, Hurricane Joaquin blew into the Bermuda Triangle and El Faro, a container ship disappeared. This was the worst American shipping disaster in thirty-five years and no one could understand how it was that a ship equipped with satellite communications, a sophisticated navigation system, and cutting-edge weather forecasting could suddenly vanish. Rachel Slade decided to find out and began to collect hundreds of exclusive interviews with family members and maritime experts and what she could decipher from crewmembers’ conversations that had been captured by the ship’s data recorder. She was able to put together the last twenty-four hours onboard. We read of the officers’ anguish and fear as they struggled to carry out Captain Michael Davidson’s increasingly bizarre commands, which and they knew this. would steer them straight into the eye of the storm. Upon even deeper investigation we learn a great deal about modern shipping and that it is a dangerous and cutthroat industry with small profits.

Global warming has fueled dangerous storms that put those who work hands-on at great risk. I started to read this at 2 in the afternoon and. I was so totally engrossed in the story that time had completely passed me by. I has never thought about the shipping industry before and if I had not received such a strong recommendation about the book, I would never have known that it has been published. I soon realized that I was not only reading but I was actually experiencing what went on. We forget that the shipping industry has been part of our lives for a hundred years and in that it has employed

hardworking men and women. Those on the El Faro paid the ultimate price in the name of profit. This is a moving and sensitive read especially when we seethe crew’s dedication Reading about the disturbing conditions that led to this tragedy what happened causes the reader to not only become infuriated but reminds us that our leaders do not always make the right decisions. I have not read a thriller in recent times that can compare to the true story that we have here. Thirty-three men and women sailed into Hurricane Joaquin and it was there that their lives ended. This is the story about “the power of nature and the fallibility of human judgment even in our digitized era.” Having been in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina, should have told me this but that portion of my life became part of the things that I stopped thinking about after having lot everything. It is so important that I was reminded of the power that nature wields.

Slade gives us a detailed minute-by-minute account about what happens when nature takes control of men. Not only is this a suspenseful thriller, it shows what happens when industry uses corporate double-speak. There are many surprises here and a lot to be learned. This is a book that you do not want to miss.

“Death’s Echoes” by Penny Micklebury— Book #5 of the Gianna Maglione/Mimi Patterson Mystery Series

Micklebury, Penny. “Death’s Echoes”, Bywater Books, 2018.

Book #5 of the Gianna Maglione/Mimi Patterson Mystery Series

Amos Lassen

As much as we do not like to admit it, we live in a society that is filled with racism, sexism, homophobia, misogyny, and religious intolerance. All of us are aware of how powerful hatred can be and finally in this country, there is punishment for hate crimes but unfortunately not enough. We meet Gianna and Mimi who understand that they must deal with their personal commitments to their jobs and to each other especially as violence comes close to them.

Police Lieutenant Gianna Maglione is the police lieutenant that leads the Washington DC Police Department’s Hate Crimes Unit. It is her job to investigate who are guilty of committing acts of hatred. As she hunts them down, she infiltrates their habitats, finds out where they live and work and who their friends are. In this way, she can learn what they are planning and who they are after. With this information at hand, she then must stop whatever violence they plan. However, things hit a bit too close to home when one of her officers is a victim

And her girlfriend, Mimi, is also scheduled to be hit. Mimi Patterson is the lead investigative reporter for the number one Washington DC newspaper. She is known for digging deep into a story and she asks the questions that need to be asked as she looks for facts and truth and this often comes at quite a price. Now Giianna and Mimi are teamed up to find out who murdered three Muslim women on their way to prayers and bring them to justice. It is not the first time they have done this but this time it is personal.

“DEEP RED”— Limited Blu-ray 2-Disc Limited Edition

“Deep Red”

Limited Blu-ray 2-Disc Limited Edition

Amos Lassen

“Deep Red” is a compelling, challenging, and deeply mysterious horror/thriller from legendary filmmaker, Dario Argento who uses terror as a vehicle towards the deep psychological undercurrents that define his pictures at their most influential but not necessarily most prominent level. In “Deep Red” he uses terror with disturbingly well-crafted and perfectly realized emotional and psychological fears, motives, and consequences. This is more a provocative thriller than a straight Horror picture, but it’s the legitimately frightening scares Argento manages to find from the deepest recesses of his audiences’ psyches that are the real key to the film with its crude and stomach-churning violence only supporting what makes this such a good movie.

Helga Ulmann (Macha Meril) is a perceptive telepath who, while speaking to a captive audience about her abilities, suddenly senses a great pain and sees a blade penetrating her flesh, foretelling her own death. Her prophesy becomes reality soon thereafter when she is murdered by a violent criminal, and as chance would have it, her death is witnessed from afar by Marcus Daly (David Hemmings), a jazz pianist who saw the crime moments after visiting his friend Carlo (Gabriele Lavia). Marcus investigates the scene but arrives too late; Helga is dead, and he sees only a glimpse of a shadowy figure in a trench coat fleeing. Marcus becomes obsessed with identifying the killer; as he tries to piece together what he did and did not see that night. He believes that he saw the killer’s face in one of many strange paintings lining the victim’s hallway. He becomes more involved in the mystery, putting his life at risk with every new discovery he makes. He’s assisted by a determined news reporter named Gianna Brezzi (Daria Nicolodi) who takes a personal liking to Marcus but who is herself becoming emotionally and professionally interested in Marcus’s private investigation.

This is a murder mystery but that is a bit too simple of a label since the characters are motivated by long-since passed events and the film showcases the manifestations of their years, maybe even decades, of personal struggle that has finally become physical with deadly ramifications. The heroes here are shaped by their existences to counter the evil and driven at all costs to see the situation resolved. Everything in “Deep Red” means something; the film is so carefully crafted, so subtly built from both visual and thematic perspectives that even a second viewing, with all of the basics of the plot in focus, may not even be enough to truly appreciate the layered elements and careful preparation that’s evident in every critical scene.

The greatness of the film comes from its vision and attention to detail. It’s not the goriest and its not the best paced, but it is a picture that grabs on tight and holds us captive. Argento keeps the story shrouded in complete mystery; both the killer’s identity and motivations are only slowly pieced together, neither revealed or even pointed towards until Argento wants his audience to know the truth, and even then he has a few surprises in store. The picture is also dependent on the role of art and culture as both a necessary and supportive element; it leans towards a macabre, unsettling tone that’s reinforced by what are often disturbing, disoriented, abnormal, altered, or otherwise irregular paintings, perspectives, and locations. Not only does this give the film a twisted sense of reality but it reinforces the uneasy tone that we feel throughout the movie. Argento’s use of first-person camera is an effective choice especially early in the film as the camera becomes the killer, maneuvering through various locales and once, even, stopping in front of a worn, battered, almost useless mirror that reflects only a shadowy, ghostly outline. This is a perfect visual metaphor for what’s to be revealed later. Strong performances and an wonderful music score define the tone. “Deep Red” is a hallucinatory fever dream of a giallo punctuated by astonishing set pieces.


High Definition Blu-ray (1080p) presentation of two versions of the film

Original Italian soundtrack in lossless DTS-HD MA mono 1.0

Optional surround sound remix of the Italian soundtrack in lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1

Original English soundtrack in lossless DTS-HA MA mono 1.0*

English subtitles for the Italian soundtrack

Optional English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing for the English soundtrack

6 postcard-sized lobby card reproductions

Reversible foldout poster featuring two original artworks

Reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Gilles Vranckx

Limited Edition booklet featuring new writing on the film by Mikel J. Koven, author of La Dolce Morte: Vernacular Cinema and the Italian Giallo Film, and an archival essay by Alan Jones, illustrated with original archive stills


Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative

Audio commentary by filmmaker and Argento expert Thomas Rostock

Introduction to the film by Claudio Simonetti of Goblin

Profondo Giallo, a new visual essay by Michael Mackenzie featuring an in-depth appreciation of Deep Red, its themes and its legacy

Rosso Recollections: Dario Argento s Deep Genius the Deep Red director on the creation of a giallo masterpiece

The Lady in Red: Daria Nicolodi Remembers Profondo Rosso

Music to Murder For! Claudio Simonetti on Deep Red

Profondo Rosso: From Celluloid to Shop a tour of the Profondo Rosso shop in Rome with long time Argento collaborator Luigi Cozzi

Italian theatrical trailer


Brand new restoration from a 4K scan of the original negative

US theatrical trailer

* The English audio track on the original, longer cut has some portions of English audio missing. English audio for these sections was either never recorded or has been lost. As such, these sequences are presented with Italian audio, subtitled in English.

“Given Up for You: A Memoir of Love, Belonging, and Belief” by Erin O. White— Yearnings

White, Erin O. “Given Up for You: A Memoir of Love, Belonging, and Belief”, University of Wisconsin Press, 2018.


Amos Lassen

Erin O. White in her candid memoir this candid and revelatory memoir tells us of her desire for both romantic and divine love, and how this transformed her life. In the late 1990s, she spent Saturday nights with her girlfriend and on Sunday mornings she went to Catholic confirmation classes. Then when the Church closed its doors to her, she faced a serious question— What does a lesbian believer do with her longing for God? She shares her feelings with conviction, as she explores heart and soul. Her memoir is candid and intimate and puts forth

 complex questions about the world and how we fit into it. White’s struggle to reconcile desire and belief reminding us, yet again, the loss we encounter when the church refuses our entry. Her story is the story of denied faith. What really hits us hard is the onus that comes with such carnal and spiritual denial.

She believes that “there may be no act more subversive than surrender, no prayer more devout than desire itself.” As she deals with the competing and rivalries of same-sex denial and Roman Catholicism, she shares very personal thoughts. She attempted to juggle these two desires and as we read we often find ourselves feeling exactly the same yet White decided to put his down on paper. White’s prose here is beautiful and heartbreaking in its honesty.

“The Gunners: A Novel” by Rebecca Kauffman— Struggles

Kauffman, Rebecca. “The Gunners: A Novel”, Counterpoint, 2018.


Amos Lassen

Mikey Callahan, is thirty-years-old and suffering from the clouded vision of macular degeneration. He struggles to establish human connections and even his emotional life is a blur. The novel opens with Mikey reconnecting with “The Gunners,” his group of childhood friends, after, Sally, one of their members has committed suicide. Sally had already taken herself away all of them before taking her own life, and she died holding secrets about the group and its individuals. Mikey especially has had dark secrets that he needs to face about his past and about his father and we wonder how much Mikey’s state of darkness is because of emotions from which he suffers. Now, the members of the Gunners must find their way to live a new day but we wonder why did Sally’s suicide prompt this. Mikey, Lynn, Jimmy, and Sam, begin a search for the core of truth, friendship, and forgiveness and we are with them as they struggle

It has been a long time since I became so attached to characters and I felt, at times, that I was one of the Gunners. I thin that one of the reasons I feel this way is that this is a very quiet book that gets to us where we really feel. I can easily see why this book appears on so many “anticipated book lists”. It seems that one of the popular literary trends now are stories about friendship and I think that many of us have forgotten that a story about friendship is a love story and while the kind of love might be different it s very deep. When we add a chronic illness to the story that love takes on new dimensions just as the addition of an LBGT theme does. Our definitions of love fit the kind we are speaking of yet all of the definitions contain strong emotional feelings. Here we see love and friendship through the eyes of Mikey, a man who is losing his sight yet still can see. The Gunners reunite in order to deal with one of their friend’s suicide and as they come together, their stories move back and forth across time. As I read, I was reminded of a beautiful line of poetry, “Love doesn’t die, people do”. This is a story of friendship and loss yet we must again remember that “friendship doesn’t die, people do”.

Once again, we find ourselves struggling alongside the characters as they try to grow up and we know that this is not easy. Rebecca Kauffman intensely peers at the lessons of youth and truth allowing us to see the satisfaction that comes from long-term friendship even when there is grief and sadness. There are always challenges and they do not all deal with moving into adulthood. Our characters reconciles the responsibilities they carry and the secrets they keep and as they do, so do we.

I found myself in awe of the wonderful detail in the prose and how Kauffman was able to enter each character as she presents them to us. (I was a bit reminded of my college fraternity initiation as I met a whole new group of friends, one by one). The kind of love we experience in friendship is mysterious probably because it is incomplete and by that I mean whether or not we really know our friends. While we may believe we do, it is impossible to know them completely and because we do not, there is always something new to discover.

We meet the Gunners on their home turf in working class Buffalo, New York and we stay with them until their mid-thirties. As I said, they come back together because of the sudden suicide of fellow “Gunner” Sally who, as a teenager, abruptly abandoned the group with little explanation. After the funeral, the group comes together for the fist time in some ten years and spend an evening together dealing with what friends do together as they try to understand what brought Sally to that point. We learn that when Sally left the group, Mikey was left alone with a secret that would stay with him into his later years. It should not have been a secret and we also learn that he is not the only one with a secret. Sally was carrying secrets about the others as well and. Of course, no one knew if the secrets she carried would die with her. This reunion was a time for them all to face reality and the truth and reach for forgiveness.

As I reread what I have written here, I see that either I have not said enough or perhaps have said too much. Only by reading the book will you know. Hopefully you might also know more about yourselves and the nature of friendship.

“A BLAST”— Greece’s Financial Crisis

“A Blast”

Greece’s Financial Crisis

Amos Lassen

Running away on the highway, Maria (Aggeliki Papoulia) is alone in her roaring SUV speeding down the highway. Behind her, there is fire and a case full of money. In front of her is the hopeless vastness of the motorway. Yesterday she was a caring mother, a loving wife and a responsible daughter. Today she has gone rogue. Syllas Tzoumerkas’ striking film looks at Greece’s ongoing financial crisis in “A Blast”. A film in which no one is having a blast. This is the story of a young mother’s manic nervous breakdown in the face of financial ruin and it presents more than enough rough-and-tumble directorial nerve together with a socioeconomic critique..

The national anger over Greece’s ongoing financial crisis has powered many of the country’s most striking auteur works over the last few years. However, filmmakers have tended to address the subject through allegory. This is not the case in “A Blast,” where scarcely any issue or insult goes unspoken, and where the narrative pivots drastically on a family’s ruinous business debts.

The narrative structure makes demands of its viewers’ attention. The proceedings open as an unseen motorist hurtles heedlessly down a darkened rural road, while a radio report describes a severe arson incident in the region. Viewers may guess the context of this scene before it resurfaces.

Following this propulsive opening gambit, we flash back to calmer times on the beach, where bright, college-age Maria is revising for her law-school entry exam and sparring with her less confident younger sister Gogo (Maria Filini). From here on, the film moves swiftly back and forth between multiple time periods. If the actors’ unchanging appearance initially makes it difficult to determine exactly where each scene falls on the timeline, director Tzoumerkas uses that disorientation to amplify a mounting, fevered sense of panic. Gradually, the full picture emerges: Maria has dropped her studies to run the ailing grocery store owned by her wheelchair-bound mother (Themis Bazaka), and married Yannis (Vassilis Doganis), a sailor whose extended absences at sea leave his wife overwhelmed by her obligations to her parents and three children.

We see the end of Maria’s tether well before she discovers its full extent, long concealed by her mother of the family’s catastrophic finances. With marital strain — only briefly allayed by bouts of sex during Yannis’ infrequent visits, Maria is pushed to the brink. She lashes out at those around her in an irrational fashion. Maria’s collapse may stand for that of many a disenfranchised individual against the system, though the “system” in place here is far from a single entity. Papoulia negotiates the character’s colliding moods and impulses with frazzled gusto in a bravura performance. She’s supported by spiky ensemble work. Though the film’s energy may be reckless, its craft is never correspondingly coarse. The film is as clear a visual representation as any of the disconnect between Greece’s tourist-friendly surface and its fractious internal politics.

Always hanging over Maria’s head is her invalid mothers small general store which is losing money and ends up seeing her left with a huge fine after not paying her taxes. Slowly Maria’s world is decimated from the young idealistic days to an existence of constant worry, anger and regret until she finally explodes one day.

“A Blast” keeps the pace brisk and several scenes of happiness are inter cut with moments of real anguish. Syllas Tzoumerkas’ film is an intense work that will leave you bewildered and perhaps angry at the world.

“SO BRIGHT IS THE VIEW”— An Economic Take on Romania

“So Bright Is the View” (“Atât de stralucitoare e vederea”)

An Economic Take on Romania

Amos Lassen

“So Bright is the View” is a serious film from Romania directed by brothers Michaël and Joël Florescu that points to economic disparities and criticizes the illusions that people have had as a new generation, which has grown up under mafia-capitalist rule, is emerging.

Estera (Biana Valea), a middle class Jewish girl in Bucharest, has to make a choice between pursuing a job in Atlanta, working for one of the nouveau riche thugs, or joining her mother in Israel, which the latter initially paints in the most glowing terms in a series of letters. Estera’s father is in prison for unspecified crimes. She is expecting a baby, and trying hard to work out some sort of future with her boyfriend, Vlad (Robi Urs).

The film begins in the present, and then proceeds to explain the events over the course of a few months that have led up to the present. In the opening scene, Estera’s cousin Rivka explains that, in fact, her mother, in Israel, has been experiencing an “emotional decline for a long time.” She doesn’t feel well and she has had trouble with her finances. She hasn’t been making a go of it in a number of jobs, including cleaning buildings, and she’s about to be evicted from her apartment. Estera’s mother has been concealing the truth. A few months before, we learn that Estera had a “friend-interview” with Mike (Ovidiu Niculescu), the Romanian-American, who reveals himself to be an uncouth bully, determined to throw his weight around. When Estera comes to dinner with Mike, he torments his unfortunate wife even more relentlessly, about her aging skin and other infractions. He threatens to trade her in and Estera squirms in embarrassment. We learn that Mike has “problems with clients and creditors,” and that his job offer to Estera seems to dry up.

Then Estera finds out from her female boss that her efforts to educate herself in computer technology have backfired, as she has given the wrong advice to the firm’s clients and she’s fired. As if that is not enough, her boyfriend, Vlad has abandoned her, pushing Estera in her mother’s direction. Her roommate suggests that Israel’s bureaucracy will drown her. However, we know from the first scene what her mother’s Israeli reality is. The movie is filmed with an unmoving camera and one static shot per scene and this self-conscious approach calls attention to itself.

The Florescu brothers have obvious talent, and the ability to present the drama of everyday life but they have not developed it yet. They “use the concept of an unseen, unnamed New Jerusalem, always in the distance like a stubborn mirage, to examine labor precarity among university graduates and the appeal of ethnic nationalism during the aftermath of the economic crisis” in Romania. The film suggests that the allure of both Israel and America has begun to wear off as Romanians become aware of the realities of both those societies. Yet during the pre-crisis years, many fortunes were made in Bucharest, but not all of these fortunes were kept.

“SOLDATE JEANNETTE”— A Punk Adventure Towards Marxist Liberty

“Soldate Jeannette”

A Punk Adventure towards Marxist Liberty

Amos Lassen

Though very little action or conflict occurs on screen, Daniel Hoesl’s modern pseudo-feminist character film, “Soldate Jeannette”, is filled with a quiet rage and a flippant punk attitude making it probably the most subdued film ever made about “anarchic ethos, juxtaposing reductionist roles of the modern woman in town and country and then ripping them apart”.

The camera work is carefully framed and stationary often showing characters from behind or contrasting close-ups with cold, empty urban spaces. It all begins with Fanni (Johanna Orsini-Rosenberg) trying on an expensive red dress and touring around town to various social outings. Early on she is called out for stealing two hundred thousand euro from a communal trust and it becomes very clear that her financial situation is out of control, even though she won’t acknowledge it verbally or respond emotionally to imposing reality of eviction. Her friends have

told her that she should have just married to secure her financial situation and we see this juxtaposed with her eventual preservationist decision to simply go home with a different man every night for a place to stay.

The film is very aware of the superficiality of keeping up appearances and the garish nature of social inclusion as performance of status yet it is not interested in merely making its protagonist a martyr. Instead, Fanni is revealed to be far more calculated and conniving. She travels to the remote countryside through the Alpine mountains where she finds Anna (Christina Reichsthaler), a young woman that works in a slaughterhouse and spends most of her time subjected to standard male misogyny and passive objectification.

While it’s obvious why these two women would find some sort of bond, yet we remain analytical about the on-screen happenings. We’re never invited to engage in their kinship on an emotional level, nor does anything in the film address anything resembling tenderness. Subversion and polemics are of more importance here than emotional realizations, which is a very interesting and counterintuitive choice for a movie that makes fun of the expectations imposed on women from all walks of life.

“Soldate Jeannette” shows the disillusioned failure of materialism. Director Hoesl sets up his own progressive dilemmas and focuses more on visuals than content to explore both urban and pastoral life through the two women moving past each other. The film seems to be looking at two dichotomies— bourgeois and proletariat, and humanity and nature. This binary opposition is also evident in the structure of the film. It is split into two highly postured environments: “dignified urban interiors and in bucolic landscapes during the second half.

We first meet Fanni who is a fashionable woman full of wry, icy expressions in a fancy boutique, trying on shoes and an expensive leopard-print dress which she pays for on a credit card. As she leaves the shop, she drops the newly purchased items in a trashcan. This is an omen of the rebellion to come, yet Fanni floats through her day, visiting an art gallery, napping through a matinee, going to the spa, and dining with rich friends. Soon, she is evicted from her luxurious apartment after failure to pay rent for three months and heads for the Austrian mountains and literally burns any remaining Euros she can get her hands on. After being picked up by a farmer (and soon-to-be-discovered obnoxious chauvinist), she is brought to a farming commune, Fanni and meets Anna (Christina Reichsthaler), who’s anxious to escape her life of hay and hogs. It is here that we get to a dual portrait of two women who are unsatisfied with their lifestyles; Fanni catches Anna trying on one of her dresses, and the two slowly developing a quiet friendship as they transition through opposing ideological statuses. Hoesl gives us compelling observations. The film is a brilliant takedown of materialism.