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When a 35-year-old actress is the mother of a 25-year-old: How Hollywood pushes out older women | Culture

“I Iike Emmy Rossum, but why cast a 35-year-old woman to play the mother of a 25-year-old? Why not cast an older actress?” That’s just one of the messages that have been circulating on social media after it was revealed that Rossum would play the mother of Tom Holland, who is just 10 years her junior, in the new Apple TV+ show The Crowded Room. Although Carina Adly Mackenzie, the screenwriter and producer of the show, explained that Rossum’s character would mostly appear in flashbacks, when Holland’s character is a child, the news has reopened the debate about Hollywood’s sexist typecasting of older women. In 2015, a study in Time magazine revealed that while actors reach the peak of their career at age 46, actresses reach this point at age 30.

Sociocultural anthropologist Úrsula Borrega, who is a specialist in gender equality policies, points out that actresses are cast as mothers, despite the impossible age differences, but have fewer career opportunities once they are mothers themselves in real life. “Except for figures with a certain status, such as Helen Mirren or Glenn Close, many actresses are not allowed to be seen aging in movies. The beauty canon that has been imposed on us means that we always have to be beautiful, slim and young. It’s a bane on women’s lives and it’s perfectly reflected in cinema,” she tells EL PAÍS.

This same sexist vision also applies when it comes to onscreen couples. For example, Tom Cruise has only ever had one romantic interest over the age of 35: Cameron Diaz in Knight and Day, who was 38 when the film was released, while Cruise was 48. The Hollywood star is now 59 years old and is set to appear later this year in Top Gun: Maverick. But his romantic interest from the 1986 original movie, Kelly McGillis, 64, said no one contacted her about reprising the role. “Men even gain something with age, they have more authority and confidence. Women, however, are only left with scary roles, such as the grandmother, witches or mothers-in-law,” says Borrego, who adds that the sexual life of older women is also largely taboo in the film industry.

In the selection below, we have looked at how this sexist vision persists in Hollywood, be it with actresses who go from love interests to mothers (sometimes with the very same actor playing the son/boyfriend), to women who are cast as the attractive older lady when they are just a few years older than their male counterparts.

Tom Hanks and Sally Field in the 1988 comedy 'Punch Line'
Tom Hanks and Sally Field in the 1988 comedy ‘Punch Line’IFA Film (United Archives / Cordon Press)

Sally Field and Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump: age difference of 10 years

Sally Field was Tom Hanks’s love interest in Punchline in 1989, but just five years later, she was cast as his mother in Forrest Gump. At the time, she was 47 years old, just 10 years older than Hank. As with the case of Emmy Rossum and Tom Holland, the decision was justified on the basis that she mostly appeared in scenes in which Hanks’s character was still a child. When both actors do appear on screen together, Field is suitably aged to look like an older woman.

Anne Bancroft and Katherine Ross in The Graduate: age difference of eight years

In the 1967 movie The Graduate, Dustin Hoffman plays a character who is seduced by an older woman played by actress Anne Bancroft. But Bancroft is only six years older than Hoffman. What’s more, actress Katherine Ross was cast to play Bancroft’s daughter, even though she was only eight years her junior.

Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell in 'Alexander.'
Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell in ‘Alexander.’

Angelina Jolie and Colin Farrell in Alexander: age difference of one year

One of the most controversial casting decisions of 21st-century cinema was made by director Oliver Stone, who chose a 29-year-old Angelina Jolie to play the mother of Colin Farrell, then 28, in the movie Alexander. “The common belief that one dog year is equal to seven human years could just as easily be applied to female actors as Alsatians. It must be down to the Californian water, but something seems to happen to the women in LA so that they speed through the years at a far swifter rate than that of their male contemporaries,” journalist Hadley Freeman wrote in The Guardian about what she called a “bizarre casting decision.”

Glenn Close and Mel Gibson in Hamlet: age difference of nine years

In the 1990 movie Hamlet, Mel Gibson plays the starring role, while Glenn Close, just nine years his senior, is cast as his mother, Gertrude. Hamlet’s potential wife, Ophelia, meanwhile, is played by Helena Bonham Carter, who is 10 years younger than Gibson.

The Australian actor was embroiled in a similar controversy with his film The Passion of the Christ, which stars Maia Morgenstern as the Virgin Mary, even though she is just six years older than Jim Caviezel, who was cast as Jesus. Incidentally, Gibson’s current partner, Rosalind Ross, is 34 years younger than him.

Christine Baranski, Judy Craymer, Cher, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Lily James at the premiere of 'Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again'
Christine Baranski, Judy Craymer, Cher, Jessica Keenan Wynn, Alexa Davies, Meryl Streep, Amanda Seyfried and Lily James at the premiere of ‘Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again’

Cher and Meryl Streep in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again: age difference of four years

In Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again, singer and actress Cher is cast as the mother of Meryl Streep, who is just four years younger than her. Cher, 79, however, has been able to overcome the typecasting of older women. In the 1987 film Moonstruck, for example, she played the love interest of Nicolas Cage, who is 17 years her junior.

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U2 concert uses stunning visuals to open massive Sphere venue in Las Vegas | Culture

It looked like a typical U2 outdoor concert: Two helicopters zoomed through the starlit sky before producing spotlights over a Las Vegas desert and frontman Bono, who kneeled to ground while singing the band’s 2004 hit “Vertigo.”

This scene may seem customary, but the visuals were created by floor-to-ceiling graphics inside the immersive Sphere. It was one of the several impressive moments during U2′s “UV Achtung Baby” residency launch show at the high-tech, globe-shaped venue, which opened for the first time Friday night.

The legendary rock band, which has won 22 Grammys, performed for two hours inside the massive, state-of-the-art spherical venue with crystal-clear audio. Throughout the night, there were a plethora of attractive visuals — including kaleidoscope images, a burning flag and Las Vegas’ skyline, taking the more than 18,000 attendees on U2′s epic musical journey.

“What a fancy pad,” said Bono, who was accompanied onstage with guitarists The Edge and Adam Clayton along with drummer Bram van den Berg. He then stared at the high-resolution LED screen that projected a larger version of himself along with a few praying hands and bells.

Bono then paid homage to the late Elvis Presley, who was a Las Vegas entertainment staple. The band has rocked in the city as far back as 1987 when they filmed the music video for “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” on the Strip during a tour in 1987.

“Look at all this stuff. … Elvis has definitely not left this building,” he continued. “It’s an Elvis chapel. It’s an Elvis cathedral. Tonight, the entry into this cathedral is a password: flirtation.”

U2 made their presence felt at the $2.3 billion Sphere, which stands 366-feet (111 meters) high and 516-feet (157 meters) wide. With the superb visual effects, the band’s 25-show residency opened with a splash performing a slew of hits including “Mysterious Ways,” “Zoo Station,” “All I Want is You,” “Desire” and new single “Atomic City.”

On many occasions, the U2 band members were so large on screen that it felt like Bono intimately sang to audience on one side while The Edge strummed his guitar to others.

The crowd included many entertainers and athletes: Oprah, LeBron James, Matt Damon, Andre Agassi, Ava DuVernay, Josh Duhamel, Jason Bateman, Jon Hamm, Bryan Crankston, Aaron Paul, Oscar de la Hoya, Henrik Lundqvist, Flava Flav, Diplo, Dakota Fanning, Orlando Bloom and Mario Lopez.

After wrapping up The Beatles’ jam “Love Me Do,” Bono recognized Paul McCartney, who was in attendance, saying “Macca is in the house tonight.” He acknowledged Sphere owner James Dolan’s efforts for spearheading a venue that’s pushing forward the live concert audio landscape with 160,000 thousands of high-quality speakers and 260 million video pixels.

The Sphere is the brainchild of Dolan, the executive chair of Madison Square Garden and owner of the New York Knicks and Rangers. He sketched the first drawing of venue on a notebook paper.

“I’m thinking the that the Sphere may have come into existence because of Jim Dolan trying to solve the problem that The Beatles started when they played Shea Stadium,” he said. “Nobody could hear you. You couldn’t hear yourselves. Well, the Sphere’s here. … Can you hear us?”

Bono pointed into crowd and shouted out Dr. Dre, Snoop Dogg and Jimmy Iovine – who took in the band’s spectacular show. At one point, Bono became emotional when he dedicated a song to the late Jimmy Buffett’s family who attended the concert too.

Afterwards, Bono spoke about performing on stage for the first time without drummer Larry Mullen Jr., who is recovering from back surgery. He acknowledged Dutch drummer Bram van den Berg’s birthday and and filling in for Mullen.

“I would like to introduce you to the only man who could stand, well, sit in his shoes,” said Bono, who walked toward Berg as some in the crowd began to sing “Happy Birthday.” He handed the microphone to Berg, who offered a few words.

“Let there be no mistake, there is only one Larry Mullen Jr,” Berg said.

As U2 wrapped up their show, a bright light shined from the ceiling and the massive screen began to fill with images of birds, insects and reptiles above a lake. The band closed its first Sphere concert with “Beautiful Day,” which one three Grammys in 2001.

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Star Wars: Whiny fans, nostalgia and streaming saturation: ‘Ahsoka’ and the most complicated moment of the ‘Star Wars’ universe | Culture

Satisfying the unrepentant, noisy, veteran fan, has become an insurmountable obstacle for the oldest money-making machine in cinema. Star Wars lives in constant fear of offending them. Their requests are long and obsessive. Don’t change the actors (better to rejuvenate them with artificial intelligence, instead – where will it end?), don’t alter the legacy of what they understand by “Jedi” and, above all, take note, don’t include too many women or racialized people. As everyone knows, there are only white men in this galaxy far, far away. This is ours and nobody else’s, those “true fans” seem to say.

That impossible balance between satisfying children (for whom Star Wars was always intended) as well as the most conservative followers has become a curse for Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and the entire Disney factory. But there is a guy who has known how to ride the wave and make everyone happy. His name is Dave Filoni. In his hands, even the concept of once again passing the force to the proletariat that those followers criticized in Rian Johnson’s magnificent and vilified The Last Jedi is applauded. He does it again in Ahsoka, the epic Disney+ series in which Filoni resorts to the characters of his animated series to delve into a space odyssey that is more fantasy than science fiction. The series appeals to the nostalgia of those prequels with which George Lucas returned to the saga in 1999, but at the same time it rewrites the mythology and its rules.

Disney+ 'Ahsoka'.
A scene from the Disney+ series ‘Ahsoka.’Lucasfilm Ltd.

A quick refresher: Ahsoka Tano is Anakin Skywalker’s padawan (Jedi apprentice) before the ill-fated hero became Darth Vader. This brave, wild teenager was created by Filoni and George Lucas in 2008 as an entry point for kids (especially girls) to the film and animated series The Clone Wars, an anthology of the conflict that overthrew the republic to give way to the empire. Lucas, thinking about his own daughters, wanted to appeal to the female audience whose interest Star Wars had not always caught. In the process, they gave depth and responsibility to Anakin (a Hayden Christensen today redeemed by nostalgia) in his passage to the dark side.

The critics first said that she was nothing but a half-naked girl designed to be adorable without much more depth, but, little by little, Ahsoka became the company’s newest toy (literally), a character that motivated women to join the club. Lucas was always clear that the secret was to convince the children, not so much the veterans. Girls around the world began to replicate her orange hue and alien pigtails, and her rebellious nature won over the fans – new and old – with a stroke of modernity. In the series, she even turned her back on the Jedi religion by throwing away her lightsaber and confronting them directly: you are a bunch of squares, you don’t understand the new times. Ahsoka was those new times, and her message was that the sect of monks was not as good as they thought they were. Thanks to her evolution, the young woman was already a Star Wars classic. Her story kept growing in books and comics.

Disney+ 'Ahsoka'.
A scene from the Disney+ series ‘Ahsoka.’Lucasfilm Ltd.

But how come we knew nothing about her before that moment? Did she die in battle? That was out of the question due to her growing popularity, so Filoni created a strategy for her to join the rebellion, but always in the shadows. Her journey continued in the animated series Star Wars: Rebels as a veteran, less impulsive force, and the plots and relationships that became established there continue in the current live-action series (with the hero embodied by Rosario Dawson) after her encounters with the Mandalorian and Boba Fett. She is a modern-day Princess Mononoke, an unaffiliated Jedi Master. She is the perfect meeting point for the ocean of Disney+ content.

After paying homage to the western genre in The Mandalorian – also created by Filoni with Jon Favreau – Ahsoka’s own series explores the most magical side of the universe: flying whales that teleport, witches, prophecies, dreams of the afterlife and hero’s journeys. Doors that the franchise sometimes has had trouble opening, even if magic was one of the many pulp subgenre elements that Lucas put in the mix of his original idea.

Disney+ 'Ahsoka'.
A scene from the Disney+ series ‘Ahsoka.’ Lucasfilm Ltd.

That layer of fantasy is one of the breaking points within the canons. The other is the concept of the force. What are the Jedi? Are they born or made? That is one of the debates that the repudiated Rian Johnson film put on the table: not only a family can inherit the force, it can also arise in peasants and commoners, in people who learn it. Filoni has always had this in mind with Ahsoka, the most rebellious among those decimated samurai monks, who, as in the classic film Harakiri, hide questionable rules and commands under a veil of honorability. In her new mission, she takes her legacy one step further: we can all learn from the force, giving more power to the people and to learning than to consanguinity, she tells her apprentice, the true protagonist of the series.

This mentoring work will be key in an adventure triggered by something as simple as the search for the missing protagonist of Rebels. A small but crucial discursive break that preserves the spirit of what Lucas started in 1977. And, yes, all the protagonists are women again, just like the president of Lucasfilm. In that sense, it is not far from some of the deepest messages of Andor, the most revolutionary Star Wars series and the best work to come out of this universe in decades, one that was truly groundbreaking and that could not reach all the fans it deserved.

Disney+ 'Ahsoka'.
A ‘Star Wars: Rebels’ mural at the Star Wars Celebration.Suzanne Tenner / Lucasfilm Ltd.

A franchise that lost its way

Meanwhile, Star Wars continues to put filmmakers through the meat grinder. Many creators have recently abandoned their projects, frustrated by the lack of development of their ideas: Guillermo del Toro, Taika Waititi, Damon Lindelof, Rian Johnson, Patty Jenkins, the Game of Thrones showrunners David Benioff and Dan Weiss… they are the creative corpses of a lost franchise that is not sure what its followers want in the theater and is saturated by the excessive costs of the series (it is estimated that Obi-Wan Kenobi cost about $90 million and Ahsoka more than $100), created to fill a streaming offer that does not yield the anticipated benefits. A product that does not convince neither children nor veterans.

Considering that excessiveness, Ahsoka is at least an entertaining, satisfying product (it never stops being a product, one that does not reach the levels of Andor or The Mandalorian). That is more than can be said for contents as emotionally and narratively empty as Obi-Wan Kenobi and Boba Fett, which rely on nostalgia, are structurally rotten and have no soul or entertainment value whatsoever. Unfortunately, the context will not make it easy for Ahsoka to capture anyone outside the die-hard fans. Perhaps the Hollywood strikes will be good for the empire. A much-needed pause to become culturally relevant again.

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Revitalizing Fall Cinema As New York Film Festival Takes Center Stage

By Cindy Porter

The fall film season has been a muted affair, with major festivals in Venice, Telluride, and Toronto lacking their usual fervor.

Hollywood’s luminaries have been notably absent from red carpets, leaving an air of dormancy since the heady days of Barbenheimer.

New York Film Festival Takes Center Stage

New York Film Festival Takes Center Stage

However, as the 61st New York Film Festival kicks off, there’s a palpable sense of awakening.

Labor disputes are inching toward resolution, hinting at a resurgence in the industry. Considering this, the festival promises to deliver an exceptional array of films, showcasing some of the year’s finest cinematic offerings.

The Festival Lineup

Dennis Lim, the festival’s artistic director, expresses optimism despite industry uncertainties, affirming that cinema’s vitality endures.

The opening night feature, Todd Haynes’ “May December” introduces a playful yet poignant narrative led by Natalie Portman, Julianne Moore, and Charles Melton. It sets the stage for a festival packed with noteworthy films.

Highlights at the Festival

Yorgos Lanthimos’ Venice sensation “Poor Things” starring Emma Stone, offers a compelling blend of wit and intrigue.

Sofia Coppola’s “Priscilla” with Cailee Spaeny portraying Priscilla Presley, promises to be a captivating exploration of a legendary figure’s life.

Bradley Cooper’s “Maestro” brings Leonard Bernstein’s story to life, adding another layer of significance to its North American premiere.

“Ferrari”

The festival’s closing feature, Michael Mann’s “Ferrari,” emerges as a masterpiece.

Starring Adam Driver as Enzo Ferrari, the film delves into a pivotal period in the auto maker’s life, culminating in the high-stakes Mille Miglia race.

Mann’s signature intensity permeates every frame, depicting the relentless pursuit of victory against the backdrop of impending peril.

Exploring Depth in Documentaries

The festival also showcases immersive documentaries, including Wang Bing’s “Youth (Spring)” Steve McQueen’s “Occupied City,” and Frederic Wiseman’s “Menus-Plaisirs Les Troisgros”.

These monumental works, clocking over 200 minutes each, delve into diverse realms, offering profound insights into the human experience.

“Youth (Spring)”

Wang Bing’s “Youth (Spring)” unveils the lives of young migrant workers, toiling tirelessly in textile factories near Shanghai.

Their hands move with frenetic speed, a testament to the demands of their low-paying occupations.

Considering this, Wang delicately unravels their personal stories of love, heartbreak, and aspirations, painting a poignant portrait of resilience.

“All of Us Strangers”

Andrew Haigh’s “All of Us Strangers” unfolds within the confines of a near-empty apartment building. Andrew Scott’s portrayal of a screenwriter, Adam, embarks on a journey of self-discovery, triggered by an unexpected encounter with Harry (Paul Mescal). Through intimate dialogues, the film navigates the complexities of memory, companionship, and the power of storytelling.

The New York Film Festival shines a spotlight on films that transcend the boundaries of time and space.

Its dedication to authentic cinematic experiences, unburdened by distractions, reaffirms the enduring power of storytelling.

Films like “Janet Planet” by Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Annie Baker transport audiences to specific moments in history, immersing them in a world where silence and nostalgia take center stage.

As the festival unfolds, it offers a resounding testament to the indomitable spirit of cinema.


We Can’t Thank You Enough For Your Support!

— By Cindy Porter

— For more information & news submissions: info@VoiceOfEU.com

— Anonymous news submissions: press@VoiceOfEU.com


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