Saturday, August 17, 2019 -
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‘Wonder Woman,’ what the pull is

My taste in movies has always been very eclectic. I adore charming black and white vintage films. Well crafted war films. Foreign films. The rare sweet but not fluffy rom-com with good dialogue. Deep, stirring and powerful drama — both fictionalized but especially ones inspired by moving real-life events. And, of course, a good comedy.

But I am picky. So much so that I am not much of a movie goer. One genre, however, has never struck my fancy (well, I suppose more than one genre, as I have an aversion to horror films too, although I admit my definition of “horror” might not meet everyone else’s, which I learned when I once arrived at a friend’s place and her TV was on playing what to my mind was gratuitous creepy violence, so I nicely asked her if she wouldn’t mind switching channels, reminding her how I can’t deal with horror films, when she mirthfully responded with, “Tehilla, that’s a commercial!”) — and that is the genre of action movies. The frenetic pace is overwhelming to me, and they strike me as artificial and meaningless.

So, why am I excited to go see “Wonder Woman?”

I understand there is the feminist angle; a movie starring a female superhero, directed by a woman. This is a benchmark, and I can appreciate that. But it wouldn’t be enough to get me to see the movie. Plus, it also makes me wonder, why does the definition of a strong feminist character have to be so narrowly and unrealistically defined, as a superhero or warrior princess? Can’t a feminist also be a soft-spoken, feminine woman? The stereotyping does bother me a bit, but fine, I get why it’s exciting and a benchmark to have a star alpha female feminist superhero who is invincible and compassionate. But that’s not the reason I will go see “Wonder Woman.”

Although I can understand the fascination with trying to understand layers of war and its tragedy, as well as trying to capture and depict the horror of war and its life-altering brutality and destruction, it doesn’t sound like that’s quite what this movie accomplishes. Most war movies usually don’t succeed, because the very act of cinema, of creating a movie about war, by definition, at least on some level, romanticizes it. So it’s very difficult to produce a truly excellent war movie.

This movie in particular doesn’t sound like it achieves that. Although it sounds like there is a moving and poignant component to it, depicting good overcoming evil, it is a pretty clichéd theme. Plus, the Hollywood special effects sound like they are in full force here. Subtle, sophisticated or thoughtful, does not sound like what “Wonder Woman” delivers. “Full Metal Jacket or “All Quiet On The Western Front” it is not.

As a kid, I did enjoy reading comics from time to time. But I never followed a series so closely or was really “holding” in comics. I did love reading the brief comic strips in the newspaper. When it came to actual comic books, I enjoyed Archie’s. And Calvin and Hobbes. And yes, I was kind of aware of Wonder Woman, but all in all I was pretty clueless about DC or Marvel Comics. So that’s not the pull here.

But, Gal Gadot! I’ve joined the bandwagon! She is Jewish and she is Israeli and she is representing her country and people with class and good taste! It is nice to see. In her interviews, she is adorable. I’m proud! When the Azrieli Towers in Tel Aviv lit up on opening night, it was cool. Twistedly, so often Israel is in the news in a negative light, so it was nice to have something light and factual in the news that linked positively to Israel.

The humor has been fun as well. Just one example: a friend who served in the IDF posted a picture of himself in IDF fatigues, next to Gal Gadot, joking, “who wore it best,” while tongue in cheek declaring himself the fashion winner. Young Israelis are proud and want to identify with her.

So, with every boycott of the movie due to Gal Gadot’s Israeliness, I want to buy one more ticket each time.

Gadot seems absolutely lovely, and seems to take all the attention in stride, even with some degree of humility. In all that I’ve read about her she is, indeed, impressive. As a role model, who Gal Gadot really and truly is as a person (and I don’t know), is irrelevant.

She’s become a symbol.

She is beautiful, she served in the IDF and, at a time when, sadly, it takes guts to do so, she has represented Israel with pride.

Kol Hakavod.

Action film or not, I can’t wait to meet her onscreen.

Copyright © 2017 by the Intermountain Jewish News

Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park

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