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From the Desk Of: Kimberley Jones–Cinematic Rebels

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The Austin Chronicle’s Editor-in-Chief, Kimberley Jones, recommends five films featuring women stirring up revolutionary trouble.

By Madelyn Geyer, Photo courtesy of Kimberley Jones

Kimberley Jones, editor in chief of The Austin Chronicle, ruminates daily on the state of things. “There’s a lot of ugliness in the world. It can be easy to get cynical and beaten down, especially now during a pandemic. I have an editor’s column where I speak directly to our readers and I feel that responsibility. Not to be sunshiny when things are gloomy. But to be a force of good and try to help where we can,” she remarks.

Jones landed a job as a proofreader at the Chronicle right out of college. After a brief screenwriting adventure in Los Angeles, she returned to Austin and moved between positions at the Chronicle until becoming editor in chief

in 2016. She’s always found her passion in alternative media, which “was founded explicitly to question authority, demand transparency and to stir up trouble,” she says. Jones astutely knows that “sometimes being able to be a force of good is to shine a light on terrible things happening in our community. That’s often how change happens.”

Before becoming editor in chief, she oversaw the film section as screens editor. Jones believes critics and film reviews can be a force for good as well. “It’s our job to point people in the direction of great work.”

Jones does just that with her list of five recommended films about women stirring up trouble.

austin-woman-ftdo-kimberley-jones

Born in Flames

This rousing vision of radical feminism filtered through alternative history imagines a revolution brewing among women who are fed up with being second-class citizens. Emphatically rough-edged and low-budget—and all the more potent for it—Born in Flames broke ground when it was first released. Few ’80s films were foregrounding Black and queer lives. Forty years later, its depiction of mass protest against systemic oppression feels more relevant than ever.

Raise Hell: The Life and Times of Molly Ivins

The shadow of former Texas Observer editor, nationally syndicated columnist and professional rabble-rouser Molly Ivins looms large in Texas, especially for those of us working in progressive media. This affectionate 2019 documentary by Janice Engel does a fine job summarizing Ivins’ extraordinary career and that famously cutting tongue.

Easy A

This 2010 comedic riff on The Scarlet A, starring Emma Stone in her breakout role, has some surprisingly nuanced ideas about gender expectations, sexual stigmatization and the way misinformation moves on social media. The ’80s and ’90s teen sex comedies I grew up with were fairly crude and, well, almost always about dudes. I’m jealous the generations after me have Easy A’s Olive to relate to.

Knock Down the House

This documentary’s look at the grassroots campaigns of four progressive female Democrats trying to win congressional seats in the 2018 midterm election is seriously inspiring, even when you know going in that three out of the four failed in their bids. Spoiler: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez pulled off the win. It’s a treat to have a front-row seat to her perseverance and monster charisma.

The Lady Eve

The screwball comedy is my very favorite genre, maybe because screwballs are so often about mouthy women stirring up trouble and tweaking traditional gender roles. Think Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne, Claudette Colbert or, in the case of this sterling 1941 picture, Barbara Stanwyck, who plays a card sharp who cons Henry Fonda into falling in love with her…twice. Even when he breaks up with her, there’s no question who’s in charge when she growls, “I need him like the ax needs the turkey.”


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