Tuesday, May 25, 2010
I completely forgot to mention two movies that came out recently: Jean-Pierre Jeunet's Micmacs and Don Hahn's Waking Sleeping Beauty. Both well-reviewed by critics and highly admired, and I greatly enjoyed both-- probably because I got to see both of them for free. (Go movie theatre connections and free Columbia screenings!) Micmacs I will discuss in my next entry. First up: Waking Sleeping Beauty, a documentary about the Disney Renaissance-- a 10-year-ish period from the mid-80s to the mid-90s in which Disney produced its most beloved classics, which virtually defined our generation: "Little Mermaid," "Beauty and the Beast," "Aladdin," "The Lion King," and "Pocahontas." These five are undoubtedly some of the best films ever made, animated or not-animated, and especially Lion King-- a Shakespearean tale of epic proportions, a Godfather of the animated children's film genre.
By a fluke of scheduling, I got to go to a after-show Q & A with producer Peter Schneider and director/producer Don Hahn. Peter Schneider, a former Disney employee, was absolutely adorable and very coy about his present affiliation with Disney. The crowd during the Q & A was fascinated and as animation-fanatic as myself; everyone agreed that "Princess and the Frog" was a non-creative flop, and when Pixar was mentioned, more than a few murmurs of "whoop!" were heard in the crowd. It was generally agreed that the Disney-Pixar link was beneficial and produced excellent films that looked forward, while the post-90s Disney films definitely lacked a certain je ne sais quoi.
"Waking Sleeping Beauty" is often criticized for being overly laudatory when it comes to Disney. Stephen Holden of the NYT called it a "sly retrospective exercise in corporate self-congratulation masquerading as an insider’s tell-all." Sure, that might be true, but it personally didn't detract from the fascinating story that is the Disney Renaissance, and the clash of egos that simultaneously produced it and led to its demise. How interesting is it, for example, to know how Sebastian came to be Jamaican! And how each frame of the film is produced! And any twenty-something with a heart will undoubtedly tear up when exposed to his or her favorite childhood scenes-- I for one definitely had an embarrassing sob-moment when I heard Angela Lansbury sing the theme from "Beauty and the Beast," when Belle enters the dance floor in that gorgeous yellow ballgown... ahhh, nostalgia. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED FILM. See it if it's still around! (doubtful, however... these independent documentaries never stay around very long. And I doubt Disney would get any of the revenue anyway).
Micmacs, though visually stunning, is far less obviously pleasing than Waking Sleeping Beauty. Jean-Pierre Jeunet, also the director of much-beloved Amelie and completely confusing other movies such as Delicatessen and City of Lost Children, is an odd bird. The screening I went to was supposed to have a post-film Q & A but I declined to go; my friend Fran told me to beware-- he can be pretty mean. Lo and behold, when introducing the film, he told a bunch of the audience to switch seats-- they were sitting too far away to "appreciate it". He seemed jovial but a little crazy, something that resonated with the tone of his films. Although Amelie has been on my top-5 favorite movies since I was 15, I just couldn't put my heart into any of his other films. I even fell asleep during City of Lost Children-- something I rarely ever do during films (although I was with my high school boyfriend at the time, and watching a movie is always tricky when 18 and in those circumstances). Maybe it's because Amelie is so good that everything else pales in comparison. Maybe I just don't understand his technique... a little grotesque, a little odd, a little... sexist?
Micmacs is severe anti-war political commentary masked as a surrealistic fictional feature film. A man who owns a video store is accidentally shot in the head. He is miraculously saved from dying, except the bullet has remained in his brain and he could pretty much die at any time. Cheerful, no? Returning home from the hospital, he has no job and no belongings, and finds a group of misfits who live in a junkyard and make beautiful things out of trash. The leader of the troupe is played by Dominique Pinon, whose pug-like but generally likeable demeanor is seen in every Jeunet film I can recall. Soon, however, the lead character realizes that the makers of the bullet that shot him and the makers of the bomb that killed his father years ago have their headquarters in Paris, and Micmacs soon becomes a revenge story, with the lead character attempting to get the two companies to destroy each other-- a passive aggressive, but brilliant, tactical strategy.
However, I had serious problems with the film. Its political aspect is quite shallow-- a Fahrenheit 9/11-type banter that seems outdated. There's the sense that Jeunet, although well-intentioned, is out of his intellectual comfort zone; Jeunet is best when confronting personal tragedies, or the little awkward and endearing moments of everyday life, qua Amelie. Taking on such large-scale events seems insincere. Additionally, the film is racist and mysogynist; although masquerading as feminist, the film's female characters are always secondary and only serve to help the protagonist males. They are constantly taken advantage of and slapped on the behind in characteristic French misogynist fashion; as I've constantly reiterated in my travel blog during my study abroad days in Paris, although the French are quite modern politically, their sexual politics are waaaay 20th century, and regardless of intentions their impulsive distaste for Arab cultures runs deep, and shows in Micmacs. To enjoy Micmacs is to revel in political incorrectness, something that is enjoyable for some but just plain uncomfortable to others.
Next up, SATC2 (even though it's currently at 0%... but I'm female, I have to... right?), perhaps Babies or perhaps Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. The summer movie season always lags in quality but I'm determined to see every damn good film there is to see! Chicago cinema, here I come!
Thursday, May 20, 2010
Figure 1: John Stamos, alias Jesse from Full House. I was five. Uncle Jesse was God.
Also proving that my attraction to rebellious musicians with warm hearts is at least 17 years in the making. Also the stubble and hair... even though he had a mullet in at least 70% of the series.
Figure 2: Michael E. Knight, alias Tad Martin from All My Children. I got really into this soap opera mostly as a way of bonding with my mom and grandmother between fourth and sixth grade. I only have very distant memories of this show, but my deep-seated love for smut runs deep. Sometime in 5th grade I also started sneaking into my mom's room and reading her Danielle Steele novels, proving that I've attained 40-something housewife status at the age of 10. Surprisingly, I still did not know that sex led to babies, which is something I'd only discover in 6th grade with "the Miracle of Life," currently tied in 1st place with "Bambi" for movies-that-fucked-me-up-forever.
However, Tad wasn't really particularly attractive... he's just one of the only "good guys" so he most likely has a lot of female fans.
Next up, Figure 3: Mario Lopez, alias A.C. Slater from Saved by the Bell. Former teen actor, current host of a myriad of crappy tv shows, from Dancing with the Stars to... America's Funniest Home Videos.
Figure 4: David Lascher, alias Josh from Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Couldn't find a suitable grainy '90s picture for him, but I promise he looked better in real life, also known as the TV screen. Mostly I included him in the list to point out the fact that for many of my preteen years I was obsessed with Sabrina the Teenage Witch.
Figure 5: (clockwise from top) Jason Segel, Seth Rogen, Linda Cardellini, and James Franco, aliases Nick Andopolis, Ken Miller, Lindsay Weir, and Daniel Desario, from Freaks and Geeks. Come on, people, who didn't love this show?!?!
All four of these appealed to me in different ways. Even Seth Rogen. Don't ask me why. Undoubtedly Dan Desario was hottest, but so, so, stupid...
Well, that's about it until the college years, which could all be summer up by the following pictures:
(I wonder what this all says about my psychological development and the fact that I was never into the blonde pretty boys, a.k.a. JTT et all? and why are these guys mostly older? And why are the bulk of them either poetic musicians or unstable or all of the above?)
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
Schott's Vocab: Novel Wedding Vows
“‘I take thee as my lawfully wedded spouse.’
Please Read Carefully:
I MAKE NO REPRESENTATIONS OR WARRANTIES, EXPRESS OR IMPLIED, REGARDING THIS PROMISE (VOW) (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED TO MY ABILITY TO PERFORM, VULNERABILITY CONTENT, AND INCOME), AND ANY OTHER SERVICE PROVIDED BY ME HEREUNDER, INCLUDING, WITHOUT LIMITATION, ANY IMPLIED WARRANTY OF FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE OR NONINFRINGEMENT AND IMPLIED WARRANTIES ARISING FROM A COURSE OF DEALING OR COURSE OF PERFORMANCE. I EXPRESSLY DISCLAIM ANY REPRESENTATION OR WARRANTY REGARDING THE PERFORMANCE, AVAILABILITY, FUNCTIONALITY, OR ANY OTHER ASPECT OF MYSELF. I will not be liable for any interruptions or errors with regard to my medical condition, family history, or relatives; including any and all children which may be produced as a result of this union.”
“@Rev: @rockrgrrrl u take @RickR1982 2 b ur hub? #wedding
@rockrgrrrl: y# wedding
@Rev: u take @rockrgrrrl 2 b ur wf? #wedding
@RickR1982: y #wedding
@Rev: w00t #wedding
@TXDad: RT @TXMom: <3>
@CoolMom1957: M so happy OMG #wedding
@Freebird: @RickR1982 touch @rockrgrrrl n ur dead lol #wedding”
“I’m really happy for you and I’ma let you finish, but this here is the best wedding of all time! OF ALL TIME!”
“Bride is now friends with Groom on Facebook.”
In other news, am debating getting a twitter. Mindless self-indulgence, but I might get free stuff. If anyone believes to the contrary speak now or forever hold your peace (*snort*)
ALSO thanks to the New York Times' article link, a fascinating article from the National Journal about "red" and "blue" family structures in America. Looks like it's all about "class" after all (told you so! It's all about class. Everything's always about class, even in the US, even now. I am an unapologetic classist).
As Jonathan Rauch states: "To define the divide in a sentence: In red America, families form adults; in blue America, adults form families."
The thing is, however, that "blue" and "red" do not necessarily refer to states, but to personal ideologies. My extremely socioeconomically diverse high school had both types of social norms. There was even disparity in terms of the working class-- it became less a matter of money and more a matter of culture and education level. Usually poorer, Catholic, predominantly Polish or Hispanic recent immigrant neighborhoods showed the family-form-adults trend, while the protestant and Jewish populations reflected the opposite. In terms of the adults-form-families trend, the races are everywhere-- there's no one way of stereotyping or classifying this except in terms of education level. The only reason that the more conservative alternative seems Polish or Hispanic is only with regards to my personal experience, which is pretty reliable but limited at best.
These conservative types live in a different world-- as Rauch continues, "In this very different world, early family formation is often a calamity. It short-circuits skill acquisition by knocking one or both parents out of school. It carries a high penalty for immature marital judgment in the form of likely divorce. It leaves many young mothers, now bearing both the children and the cultural responsibility for pregnancy, without the option of ever marrying at all."
Yet, it's also frightening: "Culturally, economically, and politically, blue and red families drift further apart as their fortunes diverge." Will the red and blue ever see eye to eye? Are they/we destined to be at utter moral and ethical odds?
Sunday, May 9, 2010
In a school spirit mood. Odd! Perhaps something to do with the less than 2 weeks (actually, 10 days) I have remaining on this bizarre, overly-landscaped, unbearably stressful yet lovable ol' campus)...
Also, I'm strange and take pictures of books I use to write essays. But is this really so weird, really?