Framing Britney Spears

Framing Britney Spears is a full-length documentary from The New York Times Presents series, which focuses on today’s biggest stories. Using interviews with close friends, lawyers, and bystanders and clips from Britney’s personal and public life, the documentary depicts the rise and downfall of Britney Spears and the emergence of the #FreeBritney movement. If you’re not familiar with the movement, fans are seeking to free Britney from a conservatorship run by her father; it was implemented shortly after her public breakdown in 2007. The type of conservatorship that Britney has allows her father to control almost all aspects of her life, including her finances and medical decisions. Britney is currently involved in a court battle to remove her father as conservator and refuses to work until he is no longer in charge of her career. 

What I realized while watching this documentary: this conversation around Britney Spears’ conservatorship is really a conversation about women in the public eye. I watched in horror at some of the blatantly sexist and inappropriate questions Britney has been asked in interviews over the years. She was constantly sexualized and criticized by the media, starting when she was only 17. Then, she was blamed for the end of her relationship with Justin Timberlake. Then, she was accused of being a bad mother. Then, she was relentlessly followed by paparazzi and the media while dealing with a painful divorce and custody battle. Then, she finally snapped and was shamed by the industry that caused her breakdown in the first place. The director Samantha Stark does a fantastic job of building to that moment, making viewers feel increasingly anxious as the paparazzi attention and nasty headlines increase. 

It occurred to me that I grew up with post-breakdown-Womanizer-Vegas Britney. I had no idea that this was a shell of the person Britney used to be. I remember being aware of the breakdown from a young age, even though it happened when I was only four years old. She was always painted as a crazy person; there were no discussions about mental health that accompanied the photos of a bald, umbrella-wielding Britney Spears. However, I didn’t hear about the conservatorship until last year. Why is that? 

This is just one question that Framing Britney asks of its audience. There are so many more themes, thoughts, and questions that can’t fit in one review. Stark successfully sparked a discussion about mental health, fame, sexism, and so much more. I know she was successful because I’ve already seen people having these conversations after watching the documentary. People involved in Britney’s public shaming (Justin Timberlake, journalists, magazines, etc.) are even issuing apologies. I hope Britney can see how her story is impacting everyone and feel the support from her many fans.

I really believe Stark did Britney justice, but, of course, Britney herself can only comment through cryptic Instagram captions at the moment (note: Can we talk about those by the way? I want to analyze them all…). This documentary is genuinely eye-opening, and I truly hope that Britney will enjoy her freedom again soon.

#FreeBritney!!!!!

Rating: 5 out of 5.

-Zoe

Parasite – Director Bong Joon-Ho, 2019

Pressing play to watch this Oscar sweeping movie, I had no idea what to anticipate. Parasite is funny, thrilling, intriguing, but eye opening. The story presents a symbiotic relationship between two families living completely different lifestyles: A rich family who only has to worry about when their meals will be cooked for them opposed to a poor family that gets caught up in a string of lies to get jobs. Deeper into the story, more fascinating plots unfold. Every minute of the movie is captivating, I did not want to miss any parts. The ending is crazy, and something I would not have imagined. Furthermore, the movie leaves a metaphor open to the audience of who the real parasite is. Overall, Parasite is a very creative concept which reveals the complicated relationship between social class and greed. I would recommend this movie to thrill seekers.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

-Georgia

Knives Out

“Until you can’t tell the difference between a stage prop…and a real knife.”

No movie has ever captivated me the way Knives Out did the first, second, third, and fourth times I watched it did. This movie is everything the common movie watcher could want: suspenseful, yet funny; witty at the right moments, shocking at the next; a classic murder mystery with a shocking twist. It is without a doubt one of the best movies I’ve ever seen (and that’s saying a lot—I love every movie I watch).

I am not a picky person when it comes to movies, but I do have a short attention span. Everything about this movie kept my eyes glued to the screen the entire time. I remember the first time I watched it I shouted, “I know who actually did it!”, yet when the reveal came, I was shocked. I had read so many Nancy Drew books as a child, how could I be wrong?

Yet, the full beauty of this movie does not lie solely in its chilling twist, it’s charming and funny character intro, or its star-studded cast (Chris Evans, Jamie Lee Curtis, Ana De Armas, Daniel Craig…shall I go on?) it lies in the underlying message that is prevalent throughout the movie.

The entire movies is centered around the extremely wealthy Thrombey family. They are, as one might say, quite the cast if characters. Yet, they all have one thing in common: they are all ignorant rich white people. Even Meg, who comes across as progressive and young—at her core, she is like the rest of her family. The family talks about where Marta, Harlan’s nurse, in a passive, uncaring way. Someone says she’s from Paraguay, one from Uruguay, another says Ecuador, and someone says Brazil. It is even mentioned in the movie by Richard that she “did it the right way”, a common expression used by ignorant people when referring to immigration.

Marta is a good person, and a good nurse. She cares for Harlan, even after his death, and in the end always does the right thing. That’s why she prevails—another prominent theme in the movie.

I highly recommend this movie to everyone, regardless of what kind of movies you like. This movie has something for everyone.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

-Bella