Sunday, May 13, 2012

Shopping the Film Stash #5 - I Could Never Be Your Woman

Let's just get one thing out of the way before I continue, a great disservice has been done to the world because Amy Heckerling's I Could Never Be Your Woman was never released in theaters.

Heckerling's film is an ode to the sorry state of 21st century feminism.  Michelle Pfeiffer plays the disillusioned heroine, Rosie Hanson, working as script writer and producer for a TV show that invariably encapsulates the garish influence of commercialism in society.  Her confidence and personal identity is already under threat due to her neurosis, but that further multiples with the onslaught of her daughter Izzie's adolescence and the unexpected presence of a younger lover, the goofy Adam (Paul Rudd).

Rosie is what has been missing from the canon of the romantic comedy, and what, invariably due to how poorly the film was clearly received, will continue to be absent from this canon.  She is an honest depiction of the modern woman, particularly that of the more mature, successful variety.  Sure she's sexy and has a thriving career, but she's also a divorcee, a mother, and a frustrated (read - pissed-off) feminist.  She is pissed at the male-female dynamic, and she's passing her wise philosophies onto her protege.  Saoirse Ronan has often played beyond her years, but this time it's nice to see her play her own age with abandon, if depicting one who is a little precocious.  She is well on her way to becoming a very independent and self-possessed lady.  She teaches us all a lesson worth noting.  See video below.  (These days this message may be more applicable to the likes of Katy Perry or Rihanna, amiright?)

The film is not perfect, the plot's a little thin, the subplots are way too Scooby Doo-ish, Paul Rudd is the anti-love interest, but not in a good way.  But there's something about the message I just find to be rather empowering, as I just don't see it enough in cinema, or in media for that matter, nowadays.  On an aside, the recent backlash targeted towards Girls is just pissing me off....  Which brings us to the best part of the film, Mother Nature.  Tracey Ullman brings life to Heckerling's sardonic pessimist and Rosie's personal conscience/wise-ass.  She's pretty much a personification of everything women, of the realistic and honest variety, would like to say, do, and eat.  She empowers Rosie with her honesty and witticism, but is also there to ground her and call her out for being ridiculous.

This bohemian, rational version of Mother Nature is the antithesis of the Mother Nature that predominates in culture.  Usually we are led to believe women are at the mercy to the whim of the all-ruling mistress of our bodies.  The cliches of the emotionally unstable crying lady, and the hormone-enraged bitch.  Mother Nature is blamed.  We are weak because of the apparent existence of this ruler and our subservience to her.  Women, Rosie in this instance, can in fact live harmoniously with her.  It's a democracy, not a dictatorship.  Rosie and her Mother Nature have a back and forth; a relationship rather than a negotiation.

Sorry for the rant, but this film just magnified for me how women are treated and portrayed.  I'm not exactly one to talk, one of my favourite genres is War film, where women are one of three things usually, the mother, the devoted partner, or a prostitute.  And I couldn't even name a list of fabulous female directors or writers that I respect and yearn to emulate.  If anything this movie has called me out on my own sexism.  My own ignorance is palpable in my preferred tastes.  Rosie struggles to sustain the love of what she does, not because of her own issues, but because there are people like me who are forcing her into to unfulfilling careers because it's convenient for us.

Guys, let's just try to be better to each other.  

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

21 Day Photo Challenge

My sister drew my attention to this the other day, and as I have been dying to expand my creative horizons these days, I'm definitely going to partake.

Elle Moss's blog has a lovely DIY feel to it, and her aesthetic matches my own.  Unfortunately I can't seem to comment or subscribe to her blogger or Tumblr, so, sadface....

Here's the breakdown of the list for those who might be interested.

1 - Favourite Colour(s)
2 - Trees
3 - Little Things
4 - Rainbow
5 - Architecture
6 - Low on the Ground
7 - Signs
8 - Dress
9 - Grass
10 - Favourite Place
11 - Words
12 - Horizon
13 - Favourite Colour    (Hmm is this an intentional repeat?)
14 - Three Things
15 - Travel 
16 - Warmth
17 - Music
18 - Pretty Patterns
19 - What's in your Bag?
20 - Symmetry 
21 - Breakfast

Stay tuned for results!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Mirror Mirror

I wanted to love this movie.  So bad.  It could be my distaste for Kirsten Stewart's acting range that motivated me, but I wanted to adore this film.

Mirror, Mirror as you may, most likely, already know is a retelling of a the Snow White fable, with a few new innovative adjustments to the story.  The reference to Stewart of course refers to the second Snow White film which is to follow later this year, while Stewart's takes on a darker, brooding concept, Mirror Mirror bathes in a mash-up of romance, comedy, and caper.  This will be one of its downfalls, it doesn't know what it wants to be.

There were many elements going for it, the costume and set design is spectacular, fantastical, and whimsical, everything you would crave from a fairytale.  The dresses of the two leads, The Queen and Snow White were particularly impressive, each costume change expressing their character and providing a indicative motif for the viewer.  The Queen was ostentatious, Snow White was innocent, decent, and fair.

It was refreshingly tongue-in-cheek.  The sarcastic pinging gleam of teeth punctuates the smaltz so as to prevent the audience from lapsing into a sugar coma.

The few narrative additions were surely an attempt to give the Snow White tale relatability for those who aren't fans of princess-romances.  The seven dwarves were given motivation in life beyond their lust of Snow White; Prince Charming was given a personality; and to make The Queen really wicked beyond her hatred and neglect of her step-daughter, the film made sure to show the poverty-stricken subjects of the kingdom, whose only hope is, you guessed it, Snow White.

All the elements are there for a successful and enjoyable film, but Mirror, Mirror has spun itself a web too big. It fails to control all these subplots and bring them together as a cohesive entity.

It's disappointing, particularly when the opening is deliciously good.  The Queen is narrating over a brief animated summary of the last sixteen years, and we are led to believe this is going to be her story.  This is a ploy to lure you in to a false sense of intrigue.  Because the apparent focus on Julia Roberts's fantastically wicked Queen bitch is soon overshadowed by Lily Collins's pathetic protagonist.  Talk about casting actresses with no emotional dimension as Snow White.  Sure she looks the part, but it was if she just copied the Snow White from the original Disney animation.  She lacked the endearing passion that is so intrinsic to carrying a film.

Unfortunately for me, this cinema outing lacked the promised fairytale quality.  Had the story stuck with the Queen it may have been saved.

Shopping the Music Stash #1 - Cat's Eyes

I noticed a few weeks ago that I was in a right rut with my music playlist.  I was trapped in the repetitive abyss of seeking solace in the recently-played playlist, which ensured that even songs I love dearly have become over saturated in my under-stimulated mind.

It all began after catching up on the "What's in my Bag?" videos on Amoeba's Youtube channel.  Even if your taste doesn't match the featured artist, it is the passion with which they speak about their chosen albums that made me yearn for a similar emotional connection with music.  I mean we all have it, and when I started thinking about what I would pick out if given the chance to run wild in the Amoeba store, the list and reasons were numerous.  But still, I couldn't shake a feeling that I was occupying a bit of a musical wasteland.

First I hit HMV with abandon, yet bought classic albums that I wanted to catch up on.  You know, the kind that belong on "listen to this or you will die" lists.  Then my mind wandered to a musically fertile time in my life.  Why, it was just last summer.

I wanted new music to join my library in a an effort to help fight the cause of mundanity while the leader, moi, was writing and editing her thesis.  While most albums were listened to, a few fell through the cracks of the expansive back-catalogue.

The first album I'm going to talk about in this little series is going to be Cat's Eyes's eponymous debut.

Ordinarily with a duo such as this, I should give a little background information considering Faris Badwan comes from a background with British band, The Horrors, and Rachel Zeffira is of a classical background, as Wikipedia would suggest.  But because I know nothing about The Horrors's music and nothing about Zeffira, I will just briefly say that I heard about them through Nylon magazine and my interest was piqued.  But then the album was abandoned in the annals of my iTunes, only to resurface a fortnight ago.

Straight off, it comes across to me as spooky sixties pop.  I'm not talking Monster Mash and the like, there is no kitsch here, and rather than merely reference, they have adopted the structure and dreamy, LSD-soaked sound of the late sixties.  Plus, I think Brian Wilson would be impressed with the layers going on throughout these songs.  Thus it came as no surprise that when I finally did my research on these guys, that Cat's Eyes was conceived after Fadwan introduced Zeffira to the girl groups of the sixties.  

Their sound is more mature and muted than that of sixties girl groups, but Zeffira's lyrics and vocals mirror that same complexity of vulnerability, innocence, and strength at the forefront of the girl group oeuvre.  

The closest to a classic ballad you will find on this album, epitomizes the spooky pop feel I spoke of earlier.  

I'm not Stupid

One of the stand-out tracks on the album Over You is something akin to what a James Bond theme would sound like if it was sung by a Bond girl done wrong by Mr. Shaken not Stirred. It is everything that is right about sixties pop, a la Nancy Sinatra.   

Over You

Apologies for not being able to find a better clip, but hey I just figured out they are really good live, good translation of song from album!  So Bandit would have to be the stand out track for me personally, I would describe it as the older sister to Over You.  It's a wise woman speaking about a man who done her wrong, but instead of thrashing him, she's just warning the others.  Simple as.  Perfection.


It is pathetic that I was deliriously pleased with this album.  You know when you take a chance on a record that you know nothing about and then feel bitterly disappointed that it fails to move you in any way?  Luckily I struck gold with this.  The talent is palpable, and after studying postmodernism, I always appreciate a good reference.  This is a slightly askew ode to the sixties, making it personal and unique and leaving me anticipating more from Cat's Eyes in the future.  I'd highly recommend it, especially for those nights with the wind howls outside.  It'll add to the atmosphere.  Maybe accompany it with Wuthering Heights?  I feel like they would go together.