Derik Badman's Journal

2020-11-25 08:20

Kitty Green's The Assistant is, like Never Rarely Sometimes Always, a realist quiet movie about systematic sexism. Inspired, I assume, by Harvey Weinstein, the movie follows Jane, a young woman who works as an assistent to a big movie producer, through one of her days. She's the first into the office in the morning, we see her turning on the lights, and she doesn't leave until late in the evening, we see her turning off the lights. In between she does a lot of normal secretarial duties like handling scheduling and phonecalls and printing documents and fetching lunch, and entertaining the boss's children while the nanny is in his office. We see her cleaning up after him in his office. The whole movie is a quiet affair, very focused on her labor. She interacts with a bunch of people but we see very few (no?) moments of any sort of warmth or friendship with anyone. One of her jobs is escorting a young woman, said to be hired as a new assistant, just in from Idaho, to a fancy hotel where the company is putting her up, and then back at the office other executives are laughing about how the boss is at that same hotel. And Jane knows what is going on, just as later she knows what the boss and an aspiring actress are up to in his office when she leaves work. But the boss is powerful and no one wants to risk their jobs. She goes to HR about the new assistant, and the HR guy acts naive, then passive agressively bullies her, casually threatens her career, and as a kicker, when she is headed out the door says "Don't worry, you're not his type." Later, one of the female executives, of the aspiring actress says "She'll get more out of it than him." They all know what is going on; they all look the other way; and Jane has no power to do anything except either quit her job (she wants to produce films, it's not just a day job to her) or live with the threat that hangs in the air and the harrassment that is clearing happening.

The whole film is shot with little that calls attention to itself. It is quiet and lacking in drama, but it's also not filled with long takes, this is not slow cinema by any means, though it is slow plotwise. Julia Garner, the lead, does an amazing job acting with her body to convey her emotion, her posture, her gestures, her expressions. She doesn't get to outwardly emote much, she doesn't get to talk much, but you can see and feel her emotions. Another powerful but depressing movie.

Even as I focus so much on the media I consume, I realize how much I leave out from day to day or week to week. I never mentioned the book on Symbolist painting I got from the library. The writing was pretty boring, the images were interesting, but nothing new that really caught my attention. I think I've given up on the new season Fargo despite having watched almost all the episodes. I was watching the latest one and just didn't care and wasn't paying attention.

It's the day before Thanksgiving in what will no doubt be an unusual holiday. No family gathering this year, we've hosted for the past... 7 or more years I think. This year, Lianne is making some dishes and Ian is making some dishes and then we're going to split it all up and have dinner with them via video chat. It has always been one of the rare times we had a lot of guests in the house at once. Excepting my D&D group, we almost never have people over, or more than 2 at a time. There's something different about the house when there are a lot of people in it and the oven is on and it's cold out. On the other hand, less anxiety about having people over and getting all the food done on time and tons of dishes to deal with and cleaning up before and after.