Women by Lev Levinson
How can any man hope to understand women? By studying them. We can never hope to understand them as well as they understand themselves, but we can become enlightened to a certain extent if we pay attention.
I believe that women are somewhat cautious around men. They don’t speak with us as they speak among themselves. And naturally the reverse is true. Men don’t speak with women as we speak among ourselves.
This morning I watched a great movie which also happened to be quite educational about women, appropriately titled “The Women,” released in 2008 and based loosely on a movie of the same name released in 1939, directed by George Cukor, starring Norma Shearer and Joan Crawford at the peaks their careers.
This newer version isn’t a remake. It’s very different although the plot is roughly similar.
Both films show no men at all, not even walking on sidewalks or appearing in stores. It’s totally a woman’s world, a woman’s movie to the max.
Art both magnifies and condenses life. That’s what this movie does. It describes women’s concerns from their point of view, written and directed by a woman, Diane English.
“The Women” proved yet again that women aren’t like men at all. Compared to women, men are pragmatic, focused on goals, similar to blunt instruments like hammers. Women are subtle creatures, similar to microscopes. Whereas a man might punch another man in the mouth, women are experts at psychological warfare. They will destroy you and put you in an insane asylum, and you won’t even understand what happened. And when they go to war against each other, you don’t hear any gunshots or punchouts, only words and plots producing rips and slashes that go deep psychologically.
Once I asked a girlfriend: “What makes women tick?” She replied: “Men make women tick.”
Although no men appear in this movie, men are discussed constantly. In fact, the movie primarily is about men, secondarily about friendship, and thirdly about careers.
According to this movie, women need and love men, but constantly are being betrayed in large and small ways. That’s what the plot really is about. This evidently is a woman’s reality, how they view their lives. In this movie, women respond by helping each other through their varying crises. Women evidently are very important to other women as support groups, and men become problems to be managed. That’s how they see us and we’d better get used to it because there is no escape from women unless a man enters a monastery, and even in monks’ cells there probably are women dancing through men’s imaginations, which is where they live most intensely.
The cast was absolutely magnificent. Could not have been better. Meg Ryan probably can be considered the star; she was superb. The next most important role was played by Annette Bening, who never gave a bad performance in her life. I won’t list the entire huge cast but everyone was wonderful, especially Candace Bergen as Meg’s mom.
And now I’m gonna get philosophical. Men need women, and women evidently need men. Often we work at cross purposes because we’re not alike. Sometimes we let vanity interfere with our ability to love each other. And sometimes we yield to temptations, because temptations can be difficult to withstand.
This movie proved to me once again that men must be very cautious in dealings with women, because women are very sensitive to slights, neglect and what they consider insults. We must beware of casual remarks that might be misinterpreted by wives, mothers, sisters, daughters, girlfriends, and women colleagues, because they’re always searching for deeper meanings, and apparently expect to be betrayed and abandoned because they see it happening around them all the time.
Above all, we men must always remember that “Girls just want to have fun,” as Cyndi Lauper tried to teach us. That’s the key to getting along with women. They will tolerate a certain amount of bullshit if they’re having fun most of the time.
To my astonishment, this movie received mostly very bad reviews, whereas I thought it brilliant. Perhaps women critics didn’t like their secrets being exposed so mercilessly. Perhaps feminist film critics don’t approve of a movie so focused on men. Perhaps men critics thought the movie too feminine and silly.
According to Wikipedia, Roger Ebert of the “Chicano Sun-Times” was one of the few critics who enjoyed the film. He awarded it three out of four stars and commented, "What a pleasure this movie is, showcasing actresses I've admired for a long time, all at the top of their form ... Diane English ... focuses on story and character, and even in a movie that sometimes plays like an infomercial for Saks Fifth Avenue, we find ourselves intrigued by these women ... `The Women’ isn't a great movie, but how could it be? Too many characters and too much melodrama for that, and the comedy has to be somewhat muted to make the characters semi-believable. But as a well-crafted, well-written and well-acted entertainment, it drew me in and got its job done.”
I disagree with Roger. I though it a great movie just like the original “The Women.” And quite an educational experience which I cannot recommend highly enough.