Wednesday, March 30, 2011

F-in' Tea! : Youtube Funny

The ladylike world of tea is taken on by some EXTREME MANLINESS in this hilarious send-up of fanciness, etiquette and macho culture. TIIIME!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Brief Hiatus this Week, Bonus: Cool Japanese Home Design Magazines

Hi everybody, I'm taking a break from posting this week to start the process of relocating to a different state. There will be posts on and off probably until late April while I'm going through this transition, but probably not a Monday Movie every week or long editorials. I'm excited about moving into my own apartment and starting graduate studies, but it's also a big (necessary) change--new location, new people, new work (on and off-campus I hope), and it's all a lot to take in. But all seriousness aside, I finally get to decorate my own home--not a room in my parent's house or half a dorm room, but my own home. I only ever had summer apartments before, so a more permanent locale will--I hope--lift my morale and support my career ambition.

Love the rose garlands, the colors and the drapery (I'm making my own, they are super easy to sew, being rectangles and all lol).

I'm looking at a lot of the home design Japanese girl's magazines right now for decorating inspiration. These girls for the most part live in tiny, tiny apartments (like I'll probably have to), but they really make the most of the space with drapery, lighting, and little touches here and there. I promise when all is said and decorated, there will be photos and tutorials! ♥

Monday, March 21, 2011

Monday at the Movies: Jean Cocteau's "Beauty and the Beast" (1946)

The trailer so you get a better idea of the moving visuals. Truly a work of art.

In keeping with the popularity of fairytale films for adult audiences (read: Red Riding Hood, Beastly), I thought it fitting to look at the definitive fairytale film and one of my personal faves, Jean Cocteau's 1946 art house classic, La Belle et la Bête (Beauty and the Beast). There are so many reasons to see his movie I can hardly find where to begin. I suppose I should start by saying that everyone--seriously--every version of this story in film has copied Cocteau's version: Fairytale Theater, Cannon Movie Tales, and of course, Disney (though the Disney version does this the least and is far more subtle, in my pov). This is how far this film's influence has extended over the years.

The Beast gives Belle the Golden Key as a symbol of his love and trust in her.

Perhaps the reason Cocteau's fairytale remains the standard is because it is both hauntingly surreal and perfectly human. Belle as acted by Josette Day is not just a humble, self-effacing peasant girl--she truly is brave and by the end learns the importance of following her own path rather than constantly sacrificing for others. Day's physical acting was also terrific, as much of what needed to be conveyed in the story was done silently through a gesture or a glance. Her Beast, her oafish village suitor Avenant and the Prince Ardent at the end of the film are all played by Jean Marais (brilliantly, might I add). The director wanted to make the Beast so real and pathetically human under all his monstrosity that when the transformation does occur, Belle (and consequently the audience) almost misses his previous form. Avenant is ultimately transformed into a beast himself when Prince Ardent comes back, the latter retaining the former's good looks but not his bad attitude.

Belle mesmerized by the Beast's spellbound castle.

The atmosphere of the film is expressive and surreal--the candles on the wall move by themselves, statues around the castle come to life and all moves on its own as if controlled by some unseen force. This is something best described as "frighteningly beautiful." The final scene wherein Prince Ardent flies through the heavens with Belle to his kingdom is reminiscent of the spiraling paintings of Raphael (current to the period the story is set in). It's almost like the Seventh Seal meets Disney: a charming visualization of the fairytale genre, but done with the intent of making an artistic masterpiece that touches on very grown-up, real-world emotions and ideas. If you haven't seen Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast, I suggest you find a copy, turn out all the lights and let yourself experience this extraordinary film.

Belle and her prince fly through the air to their faraway kingdom.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Happy First Day of Spring (and also Purim) plus a small photo post! ❁

Spring is (calendar-wise) officially here in my hemisphere! Today also happens to be the Jewish feast of Purim (a celebration of the events in the Book of Esther), so a Blessed Purim today to any of my Jewish readers out there. I can't help but feel a little happier on a day like this. I went on a picnic with Marmie and the pooch to take in the flowers that are all starting to bloom.

Still chilly, so long sleeves, but here's some photos! You can't see too clearly, but the headband is covered in little daisies Photos under the cut:

A very happy Spring to you all!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Happy St. Patrick's Day 2011!

Not sure how many of my readers are Catholic or of Irish descent, but I wish you all a Happy St. Patrick's Day today!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Youtube Music Tuesday: Beverly Sills sings "Pigoletto" on The Muppet Show

If you love Beverly Sills and Miss Piggy, you'll love this. "I can sing HIGHer!"
RIP Bubbles. I'll always miss your enchanting voice.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Monday at the Movies: "Peter Pan" (2003)

Sorry for the delay today--our internet was on the fritz. Thankfully it all seems to be working now just in time to bring you today's "Monday" movie, Peter Pan, the 2003 live action version. This is probably my favorite film visitation of J.M. Barrie's classic tale of good versus evil, imagination, and growing up. The main character of the story is not the title character so much as Wendy Darling played by the very talented (and perfectly bright-eyed and boisterous) Rachel Hurd-Wood. Wendy also is revealed to be our narrator at some point. Jeremy Sumpter is extremely believable as Pan (perhaps the first time I felt the character could be real when watching an adaptation), and Ludivine Sagnier is also one of my favorite Tinker Bells ever--her spiteful coquettishness and feisty demeanor are spot-on. Jason Isaacs rounds off the principle cast in the role of a much darker Captain Hook.

The principle characters. I felt the cast totally captured the essence of their roles.

Because this story has been told to death by so many, I wanted to zoom in on the dynamics I felt were unique to this film, particularly the coming-of-age dilemma. Wendy is facing a crisis--grow up and lose her imagination to the demands of a strict Edwardian society, or attempt to remain a kid forever by staying in Neverland with Peter, who represents the wild spirit of childhood wonder that never grows up. She faces two obstacles: one, Captain Hook, the constant reminder of the tribulations of the adult world and two, her father Mr. Darling who has forced Wendy to abandon the nursery and end her girlhood.

Wendy tries abandoning the promise of adulthood for the adventure of eternal youth with Peter.

Captain Hook is a dark "father" himself, luring and manipulating Wendy into feeling she has respect and empathy when she is simply his pawn to destroy Pan. This correlates with the earlier plotline in which her own father forbids from exercising her child mind (of which Pan is the personification). And the director is not subtle at all about this father-daughter dynamic: He casts the same actor to play Hook and Mr. Darling. By casting Jason Isaacs as both Captain Hook and Mr. Darling, the director and his co-screenwriter (P.J. Hogan and Michael Goldenberg) really feed into this almost Freudian coming-of-age-dilemma. Not to mention taking Hook's character and turning him into a truly terrifying force of evil. This is the first time I felt the cruelty in his character.

Jason Isaacs as both Wendy's father and the illustrious Captain James Hook.

Wendy finds some relief at first playing house with Peter and the Lost Boys. But while they pretend to be mother and father, Wendy and Peter begin to recognize their own dreams of a future together and the possibility of being in love and having a real family one day. But Peter rejects the idea of growing up at all costs--even losing Wendy. When Wendy realizes that she wants to grow up and that Peter can not go with her, she becomes angry and winds up sympathizing with Captain Hook. Hook goads her on by inviting her to stay and tell stories to the crew, patronizing her work in a manner that no doubt is feeding her ambition to become a novelist (as stated in the beginning of the film). His efforts come off like courtship, which is why I said it gets a bit Freudian. In the end though, he is only promising her an adult world where she can expect pain and loneliness--a world with no imagination. A world with no Peter Pan.

Captain Hook threatens Wendy.

Wendy realizes that she has to grow up, but if Peter is gone then her grown-up world will be without the eternal spark of childhood wonder--the sole thing that keeps us from being beaten into hardness and cruelty in adulthood (like Captain Hook). As representation of the ills of adulthood, Captain Hook attempts to bring Peter Pan and Wendy down by reminding them what will come of their futures. Wendy will leave Pan forever for a new person, "husband," and Pan will die of a broken heart--lonely, forgotten, unable to fulfill his love and join her in the grown-up world. But Wendy realizes she needs Pan even if she can't be with him forever, for what she must truly conquer is the dark part of adulthood that Hook symbolizes. When Hook is gone, Wendy can return to her life with the knowledge that Peter--the spirit of her youth--will never be threatened even by the trials of the grown-up world. And Wendy leaves Peter with the knowledge that he is loved by her forever--no one can live without love, even a boy who will never grow up.

Wendy and Peter, always and forever.

Now that the awkward psycho-gender-analysis part is done (lol), I want to wrap up by commending the special effects team who worked on this film as well as the soundtrack by James Newton Howard. The surreal, magical quality of the story was perfectly reflected by the visuals and score. Howard's work is remarkably in tune with the feeling of Peter Pan: In fact, if you just played me the soundtrack and never told me what it went with, I would still have seen images of pirate ships and fairies and scenes of magical adventures. As an example of the beauty of the visuals and the score and to finish off this post, here is the "fairy dance" scene from the film:

So that's it for this Monday. But sometimes I wonder, what would Peter Pan have been like if he had chosen to grow up? Hmm...say, maybe there's another movie coming up that will answer that thought ;-)

Friday, March 11, 2011

Pray for Japan

and all affected areas. I haven't been able to sleep knowing how horrible this is.
Live feed:

Organizations providing assistance:
American Red Cross

EDIT: Please refer to this post before donating,etc. It's very thorough and helpful.

I don't know if some of you recall, but when the tsunami in Indonesia hit in 2004, Japan gave the most relief funds out of any country. If you can donate any amount, please do.

To those with loved ones in the affected area, please try Google's Crisis Relief Center if you are trying to make contact. I hope you hear from your loved ones and that everyone stays safe.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Girl's Generation "Hoot" MV: Youtube Music Tuesday

I must confess--K-Pop is a bit of a guilty pleasure of mine (and Korean soaps too XD). But being a huge old school James Bond fan as well, I couldn't resist posting the new music video from Girl's Generation (SNSD), "Hoot!" As usual, their catchy tune and perfectly synced dance moves blew me away, but the retro secret agent/ noir theme is what really hooked me :-)

Monday, March 7, 2011

Monday at the Movies: Marie Antoinette, 2006

Today's Monday at the Movies was inspired by Quaintrelle Life's post on an older Marie Antoinette movie. I wanted to put my own two cents in about a film that pretty much everyone has seen and everyone has something to say about: Writer/Director Sofia Coppola's 2006 film Marie Antoinette starring Kirsten Dunst. This is more of an editorial of my personal thoughts about why I love the movie, and my reason for supporting the director's very controversial and non-traditional telling of the story. The screenshot below says it all:

The dauphine tries on shoes with a pair of modern-day sneakers snuck into the shot.

While it may surprise some, the life and tragedy of Marie Antoinette has been the focus of several Hollywood films. One of the most memorable examples is the classic Norma Shearer version from the late 30s (for which the young actress received an Oscar nod). She is a popular subject of documentaries and even holds the position of being one of the earliest shoujo anime princesses in the beloved Japanese animated drama Rose of Versailles and its Takarazuka theatrical adaptations. While I adore the Marie Antoinettes of all these examples, there is something about them that seems...well, stock character-y. She is a caricature of herself almost, and much attention is given to the dramas ruling her life and not-so-much her own point-of-view. Historical pieces become very caught up in authenticity and chronology, so they often feel old. I mean, their subject matter is old, but there doesn't appear to be relevancy to our lives now in them. They play like museums--interesting, often poignant, but still far away from us, hidden behind the glass.

Candy-coated, eye-popping colors makes the story come alive.

Coppola's Marie is so astounding to me because of its tangibility. I can smell the flowers, taste the decadent pastries and bubbly champagne. I get to be inside the mind of the tragic queen, something that I as a fan of Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser (the biography that inspired the film) really appreciate. Coppola chose a palette for her film of bright hues and bolder shades (hot pink anyone?) uncommon in other historical epics--many films of the ilk have a limited, darker palette. In the making-of featurette included on the film's DVD, Coppola says constantly, "No brown!" and "Looks like candy!" In my opinion, using such a vibrant palette really pulls the viewer into the sumptuousness of Rococo Versailles in ways that come alive--the people and places are no longer shadowy monuments of a past dead and gone. They are real--as stimulating to the senses as candy.

The palette is only one unique and controversial aspect of the movie: The story is missing two important historical events. The first is the Affair of the Necklace, and the second is the Revolution and her execution. Many people were shocked that their was no beheading,or why the film ended seemingly abruptly on a shot of the interior of the royal bedchamber torn to shreds. Here's my interpretation: I think Coppola wanted the focus to be on Marie and her most personal emotions, triumphs and mistakes. The Affair of Necklace takes the focus off Marie and easily slides into the drama of Revolutionary France, a drama which I feel that Coppola never intended to focus on in her version of the story. The suffering of the peasant class--while not out of the queen's mind--was not a major concern (unfortunately for her in the end). Her whims, affairs, and heartbreaks are more concerned with Versailles itself--with the monarchy, fulfilling her mother and the old regime's expectations, and making herself happy despite being in the impossible situation of being a teenage ruler of a country. When Marie says "I'm saying goodbye" at the end of the film, it really signals the final change in her character. Removed from her comfort zone and the dramas of her youth, she rides into a world unknown to her but with wisdom and sense of self. If she can't see the guillotine looming ahead, why should we?

Déjà vu: Marie and her palace buddies play milkmaids (left) and Nicole and Paris play farmgirl (right).

Sofia Coppola's version of the story is, to me, extremely fresh and easy-to-relate to. It is really the story of a young girl thrust into the spotlight before she has the maturity and guidance to make good decisions. She is forced to grow up rapidly (as is her husband Louis XVI played by Jason Schwartzman) and publicly, and because of this, she ends up breaking down into escapism and frivolity until her world falls apart. Is it so strange, her story? Is her playing shepherdess at Petit Trianon so very different from heiresses Paris Hilton and Nicole Richie's playing working class girl on The Simple Life? And how many young women in Hollywood--our own glittering and gilded Versailles--have dealt with outrageous scandals or have broken under the pressure of their environment? I can name so many it would be ridiculous to start--for goodness sake, Lindsay Lohan has had her own "Necklace Affair" to name one! Sofia Coppola's film, and indeed, Marie Antoinette's real-life story resonates today with the same power and pull as it did when it did over 300 years ago.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Strawberry Switchblade: Youtube Music Tuesday

I haven't done a music post for forever now, and I'm always listening to music and being inspired by captivating music videos so there's really no excuse ^0^

This week I thought I'd share one of my favorite "synthopop" 80s girl bands, Strawberry Switchblade. Strawberry Switchblade consists of by Jill Bryson and Rose McDowell, early members of Scotland's strand of the UK punk movement. Strawberry Switchblade are known for their fusion of pop synthesizer, punk rock and new wave sound. The band has only had four official promo music videos to my knowledge, all of which Tim Pope directed. Their style is somewhat neo-historical, goth, punk, and who could forget their signature polkadots and mass amounts of ribbons. Here's the music video for their song "Who knows what love is?" and also their cover of Dolly Parton's "Jolene." Maybe they're too much for some, but I really love their style. If I had been born a decade earlier, I bet I'd be sporting ribbons in my big hair, fun tights and poofy polkadotted frilly clothes too. Gotta love the over-the-top 80s!