Thursday, October 28, 2010

Trick or Treat ;-)

I'm actually doing a Notre Dame de Paris inspired Gypsy look this time a la Esmeralda. I have candy-distributing duty, so nothing too sexy/scary/both for me this year. My basset hound has a little angel costume she's wearing, so I doubt anyone will be looking at me anyway (we don't normally dress her up, but she seems to like being the center of attention) XD
Next Monday at the Movies will feature a spooky film classic from the silent film era!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Monday at the Movies: "Ballet Shoes"

"We three Fossils vow to put our name in the history books because it is uniquely ours and ours alone, and no one can say it's because of our grandfathers."

Marmie and I found a copy of this excellent film at our local library. Based on the book of the same name by Noel Streatfeild, it follows the lives of three young adopted sisters known as the Fossils in 1930s England. Each of the sisters is different in their pursuits--Petrova wants to fly planes, Pauline (Emma Watson of HP fame) wants to be a serious actress, and Polly wants to dance like the mother she never knew who left her a pair of ballet shoes.

There are differences from the book (I've not read it, but I've heard many fans say so), but the story is still very rich and vibrant. Not to mention visually stunning--the director and art team really delved into the theatrical stylings of the 1930s. I won't give any of the plot away, but I will bait the lolitas out there with these clippings of Pauline doing Alice and Wonderland:

I should also mention that the combined cast (not just the girls) of this movie is pretty awesome. Their quirkiness really brought out the extended family quality this movie portrayed, with different people outside one's biological family becoming one's family by sharing spaces and memories. A very beautiful film.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


I went through some things in my room the other day and found my old collection of Bruce Coville unicorn stories, and then several unicorn statues in another box. As I looked them over, I got to thinking about how many happy childhood memories I had with those beautiful images and magical tales. Of the Peter S. Beagle novel The Last Unicorn and its subsequent film, and of recent stories with unicorns in them (like Harry Potter, Legend, and since it fresh in my mind from a recent film viewing, Peter's mount in Lion, Witch and the Wardrobe). Another of my favorites is Elizabeth Goudge's Little White Horse. In most unicorn-centric tales (even Sailor Moon!), I distinctly remember a young girl being the one the creature connects with.

The maiden and the unicorn is a noted historical pairing in many works of art, and in medieval times the unicorn had allegorical significance related to the relationship of Christ and the Virgin Mary. Unicorns could only be seen or tamed by virtuous young maidens so the legend says. Scholars and historians have fought over whether or not unicorns even exist for centuries. They say every girl goes through her "horse" phase, but I guess I'm not quite over mine, since I find myself still wanting to believe :-)

Monday, October 18, 2010

Monday at the Movies: Disney's "Secretariat"

I had to deal with some crazy medical billing stuff this week that took over my life for a little while. My heart goes out to you other recent college grads who are dealing with the same crap. Anyway,sorry for the delay and review under the cut More...
Some people aren't Disney fans, but I've always loved Disney movies. Not HSM or recent stuff, but classic Disney. I grew up when the Lion King went on Broadway and Beauty and the Beast was nominated for an Oscar, so I suppose I'm a bit biased toward Disney films. But I come from a Louisville,KY family, so the Triple Crown is also a big deal to me. I won't sit through a football game, but it's serious sportswatching time when those magnificent 3 year olds start down the track. Horseracing is also a very glamourous sport: You wear a fancy dress and hat to the races, not a jersey or warpaint. It's one of the oldest sports in the world, reminiscent of medieval pageantry (which is why I thought this might be a good period film to review for the blog).
But how does this sports film stand up in terms of cast, art style, etc.? Here's my breakdown:

Historical Accuracy: I'm happy to say that--despite some embellishments (no doubt to create tension)--the film is mostly true to history. Penny Chenery's father had already won the coin toss and Secretariat wasn't an underdog at all. Although, I think the point was that Penny was an underdog--a woman in a field dominated by men, who had double expectations on her (raise a winning horse, take care of your family). Some reviewers have complained the coverage of Vietnam and other issues was lax, but I think that the whole point of this horse was how his victory united Americans in something positive, a break from the cultural tumult of the 70s.

Casting: This film was very much carried by cast--Diane Lane was amazing of course, but John Malkovich's sassy portrayal of trainer Lucien took the cake for me. With films where you know the outcome (Titanic or Elizabeth for example), the relationships between the people is key and the cast did an amazing job.

Art Direction: So here's the controversy--one (in my op) slightly crazy reviewer has compared the art direction of the horse races and images of Secretariat in the film to Nazi director Leni Riefenstahl's fascist art style. Before you let this freak you out, let me enlighten you: Every American sports film is filmed this way--you know, dynamic angles and panning to celebrate the almost superhuman nature of the athletes? So I think that reviewer's comments were more directed at a hatred for Disney based on their perception of Disney's values (besides, there are more dangerously political films shot in this style to complain about). This film captured the excitement of the races for me, and I was able to feel about the same level of excitement I do when I watch the real thing, and so was my mother. Which is saying something, since she was around to watch Secretariat's real Triple Crown victory! My favorite shot was the river of hats streaming into Churchill Downs, then cut to the hippies also there to share in the excitement of the sport. My mother turned and said, "That's how it was--me and my flower child friends and our mother's generation in the same place on the same team for once."

Equity: Yes, this something I am going to mention. I felt this movie didn't take enough time with the character of Eddie Sweat, Secretariat's African-American groom. I don't feel that his portrayal was too rough or stereotyped, but he kind of came off as a "magical negro" because we don't see enough of his character.

Wardrobe: I love 70s fashion, and this film showcased the full range from hippie bohemian to Neo-Grecian fluted elegance. If you're interested in the period from a fashion perspective, you should see this costumes and sets for this movie.

What I Liked Most: Penny's relationship with more liberal daughter Kate (AJ Michalka), and how taking on the responsibilities she did ended up bringing her closer to her kids. I actually thought this was more of a mother-daughter movie than a family values stockpic, especially with the message of tolerance Lane's depiction of Penny gives to her daughter's antiwar efforts. Sure this movie has Christian overtones, but lots of my favorite films have religious messages and having them does not a bad picture make in my opinion.

Overall, I give this film 4/5. I definitely recommend this as an inter-generational movie, so take your kids or your mother/grandmother and enjoy. There's been so many mixed reviews that you really have to make up your own mind in the end, but I can say that I enjoyed it and my mother loved it as her bday present.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Cool Wall Decorating Idea for Super Cheap: Doily Flowers

I saw this on the Nate Berkus show and thought it was a really neat idea: take different sized doilies and decorative thumbtacks and make a flower tree on your wall. This is an especially great idea for dorms or apartments where you can't really do much with the color of your walls or don't have a lot of time or money to interior decorate.

"Try decorating your walls with different sized and shaped doilies. Affix your doilies to the wall using colorful thumb tacks and create whimsical wall art with a long string of thumb tack doily flowers. You can also try assembling an array of doilies in a frame. If you’re weary of decorating with paper doilies, vintage, lace doilies can also add a beautiful, elegant touch to your home."- text from NATE, image from DG Style.

Here's another cool Valentine's Day wall look with recycled paper from music sheets. Happy Decorating!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Monday at the Movies: Postponed til Oct 8 for "Secretariat"

I'm postponing my weekly movie review until Friday because I'm going to see Secretariat in theatres this Friday, so I'll be posting a review of it then. My family is from Louisville, Kentucky and thus the story relates directly to events my mother witnessed when she was my age in the 70s. Friday is also her birthday and I'm taking her out to celebrate--since we can't go to Louisville, I'm bringing Churchill Downs to her so-to-speak :-)

In the mean time, I'm posting the trailer here. It looks fantastic, so I hope I'm impressed: