About the Little Women Movie

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  • The casting was so on point! Though self was initially skeptical, she eventually fell in love with Timothée Chalamet as perpetually lost rich boy Laurie. A scene towards the end, with the youngest sister, Amy, was one of the best in the movie.
  • Amy was always her favorite sister. Why? Who knows. Was it the fact that she always felt left out, that she had artistic ambitions, that no one ever seemed to take her seriously? The actress who plays her has a doll-like appearance BUT (and this is a good thing) a surprisingly deep voice. Also, she has a sharp practicality. Kudos to the screenplay for highlighting this aspect of her character.
  • Loved Laura Dern as Marmee, who has to utter the film’s treacliest lines, but who always brings a dash of spice to her delivery. Even when she says, Girls, we are offering up our Christmas breakfast to a needy family who has nothing, self never thought of saying, You cannot be serious! Dern just brings it.
  • Also loved the merging of timelines — Self has read the book many, many times (at least 10 times) so she was waiting for particular scenes. All the scenes she loved most were in the movie. And she did not think this merging of timelines made the film in the least bit choppy. In fact, everything seemed to work better this way.

Self’s only quibble was that Beth the consumptive did not look consumptive, her face was too round.

But the cinematography, the framing of shots, the way the camera would linger on the actors’ faces and then pull back, all the wide angle shots of houses and fields — lovely.

Details of absolutely no importance: Saoirse Ronan has the longest, slenderest fingers self has ever seen. Timothée Chalamet has the longest eyelashes. The actor who plays John Brooke is gorgeous. Emma Watson looked a little mouse-y (perhaps it was the hair color?). A short clip where Laurie does an exuberant dance (while out on a porch with Jo) looked very 2000-modern and was the only jarring thing in the entire movie.

Self never felt the slightest temptation to nod off (which is happening to her more often, even while she is watching the best movies)

Overall: an enthusiastic 5 stars!

Stay tuned.

Lens Artists Challenge # 65: PICK A PLACE

  • “Each of us at some point has visited a place that holds special memories.” — Lens-Artists Photo Challenge # 65

This was an easy post for self to write. She just got back from attending Cal Shakes’ Macbeth. The Grove Talk by Philippa Kelly, Cal Shakes Resident Dramaturg is a Don’t-Miss.

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Philippa Kelly Giving Her Grove Talk, Before MACBETH

Have been watching plays here every summer since 2001 (Romeo and Juliet: Adam Scott played Romeo).

Tonight’s Macbeth and Lady Macbeth were played by a couple who suddenly put everything into a new light. All hail, Rey Lucas and Liz Sklar, for bringing the sexy back to a play first performed in 1606. These two are the youngest actors self has ever seen play Mr. and Mrs. Spot-on, the casting! For the first time, self understood the heat between the two;  she could see the similarities to film noir. In addition, because self and her party were seated third row from the stage, she could see every change of expression on the actors’ faces; it felt so intimate.

Also, for the first time ever, self heard Macbeth call someone a “whey-face.” lol lol lol

Her one complaint might be that The Weird Sisters were not witchy. Or not witchy enough. Of course self got very excited at hearing the immortal lines: Double double, toil and trouble. She just wishes there were an actual cauldron.

She wonders if there was ever a production where The Weird Sisters were replaced by giant hand puppets. During intermission, she eavesdropped on the people behind her who were describing a performance of Macbeth at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. “There was a big pool of blood right in the center of the stage. And whenever a character did something bloody, they would supply themselves from the pool.”

That, in self’s humble opinion, sounds gimmicky to the extreme.

Philippa Kelly’s pre-show Grove Talk was fascinating — self wished she took notes. It revolved around the unmasking of identity, and how paradoxical it is that when people remark that “someone has changed” it usually means that the person’s true identity is finally being unmasked and undone.

Gregory also made self aware of the fact that the first actor to play Lady Macbeth was a boy, because back then women were banned from taking roles in the theater.  Women’s parts were played by boys whose voices hadn’t yet broken. Has there even been a modern staging of Macbeth where they use a boy for Lady Macbeth? She thinks not, but it would certainly give the play a whole new spin.

P.S. The Bruns Amphitheater was FREEZING and self needed to rent blankets. Her lips got totally chapped and her hands were frozen. For some reason, all self had on was a denim jacket and a scarf.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Fans Deserved Better. The Characters Deserved Better.

It’s only been a few days, but already self wants to forget.

She agrees with what USA Today’s Kelly Lawler says below:

‘Game of Thrones’ Ends with a Whimper

This isn’t what we signed up for.

When Game of Thrones premiered eight years ago, it was instantly clear that the series was something different. It was a story that broke the conventions of the fantasy genre, not one that was a slave to them. Tragedy and injustice were as baked into the series’ identity as dragons and battles.

But that’s not the show that aired its finale Sunday night. In the final episode, The Iron Throne, the show was unrecognizable. It was hacky; it was cliched. Every character left standing received a saccharine coda. Closure is one thing, but pandering is entirely another.

The Iron Throne would have been a fine ending for a different kind of TV show. It would have been a satisfying landing for a series that had long warmed hearts.

Self still can’t bring herself to watch the last three episodes in their entirety. She only watched the last half of the finale, just before Jon sticks a sword into Dany and she dies with nary a WHY? Or a look of wounded betrayal. Come on! Jon didn’t look anguished when he did it. The whole scene was so by-the-numbers. Empty, empty, empty. And for a series that dominated self’s life for at least eight years, that is a huge disappointment.

Stay tuned.

Snark: Game of Thrones S8: E4

How much did self hate this episode? She couldn’t even get beyond the first 10 minutes.

Spectacle and ‘big’ scenes that make no sense make for very poor storytelling.

At least, in Episode 3, Melisandre was there to lend some gravitas to the proceedings. Even then, Arya killing the Night King was a bit — too easy. There was so much footage of her stuck in a library and dodging the wights (good extended sequence). Suddenly, Melisandre shows, reminds Arya to say “Not today” and Arya mysteriously runs away. Only to re-appear at the exact moment the Night King reaches for his sword to behead (?) Bran. (Oh, that was super-tops of Bran to remain so still — even, abject — in his wheelchair. Self has not liked Bran for a few seasons, but in this season he is positively shining)

Self cannot believe the last two episodes EVER of Game of Thrones are going to have so much Euron. He’s like the Iron Man of the series and he does not deserve it. Go away, Euron. Instead of more Euron chewing the scenery, we could have had small, quiet moments of connection between Brienne/Jaime (not sex) and Arya and Gendry and Jon and Ghost.

Oh, and after all the angst of Tormund/Brienne/Jamie, Tormund sees the writing on the wall and basically goes, Oh well! I’ll just lose myself with two whores. What? Not even a tear shed for what-might-have-been? Oh well. Guess he wasn’t as hung up on Brienne as the show led us to believe.

The happiest ending for the show would be for Sansa to take everything — have her stomping over Danaery’s corpse with some really kickass Dominatrix boots.

Arya is not a character anymore. She’s just a stone-cold assassin. Without Gendry, her character has no depth. Her interactions with Gendry in Episodes 1 and 2 were the most unforced interactions we’ve had on Game of Thrones for quite a while. These two just have a natural chemistry (See: Forge scene, Episode 2). It’s a crime to have her utter nonsense to Gendry like: “Anyone would be happy to be your lady” blah blah. It’s even more of a crime that Gendry goes down on one knee to propose. And what fool told Gendry to make his eyes super-big and round for that scene? Joe Dempsie is one of the most natural actors on the show. Here he obediently followed directions instead of going with his instincts. If you want to know what should have been on camera but got left out, go read the New York Times interview with Dempsie.

So, Gendry is tied to Dany now whereas before he was tied to Jon. So in the big battle, Gendry will be against the Starks. This truly, truly sucks. Will Arya have to kill him? Oooh!

Stay tuned.

Reading Francisco Cantu’s “Boundary Conditions” (The New Yorker, 11 March 2019)

The militarization of the borderlands has become so commonplace that one often grows numb to its manifestations. — Francisco Cantu

In his article, a review of Greg Grandin’s The End of the Myth: From the Frontier to the Border Wall in the Mind of America, Cantu shows how the words border and frontier co-exist in the American mind.

The review begins:

On Election Day 2018, residents of Nogales, Arizona began to notice a single row of coiled razor wire growing across the top of the city’s border wall.

Riveting.

Currently Reading: The Economist, 2 March 2019

Catching up with The Economist this morning.

Interesting review in the Books section, 2 March 2019:

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Tuesday Reads: A. O. Scott Film Review

Excerpt from A. O. Scott review of Adina Pintilie’s semi-documentary Touch Me Not (The New York Times, Friday, 11 January 2019), which self really wants to see:

Bodies Are a Wonderland (Entry Restricted)

Propelled by intuition, emotion and philosophical inquiry rather than by plot, Pintile’s debut feature is a semidocumentary essay exploring what it means — how it feels, why it matters — to dwell inside a body. You could say that what the film is about lies just beyond the reach of images or words. It’s a necessarily cerebral meditation on the nature of physicality.

The director’s initial verbal reticence contrasts with both the eloquence of some of her characters and subjects and the explicitness of the images she captures. Nakedness and intimacy — the first almost too easy to achieve, the second almost impossibly difficult — are the basic themes of Touch Me Not.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

 

 

On the Basis of Sex

Self didn’t expect much from this movie, the line was a surprise:

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Palo Alto Square, the day after Christmas 2018

The film is so, so good. The whole gender conflict thing is dynamic, not just “a cause.” It becomes real because of the relationship between Ginsburg and her husband. And the two leads definitely get it. They sell the male domination thing Ginsburg rails against, again and again. There is rage, but it’s never a polemic, it’s rooted in the experience of the marriage. We feel the injustice precisely because of the tenderness between Marty and Ruth.

Honestly, self doesn’t know if any other pair of actors could pull off what these two do here. It’s fine, fine work. And she did not expect it from Armie Hammer and Felicity Jones.

She thinks she finally understands the reason for Armie’s recent string of successful movies: it’s his irony. His awareness that yes, he’s good-looking, but there’s a wryness, a core affability, about him. Can you imagine someone else playing Mr. Mom? It could have been super-cheesy. She likes his willingness to not just pretend he’s an entitled white male, but to BE that entitled white male (which we all know he is, in real life, anyway: The Armand Hammer Museum in UCLA is named after his grandfather or great-grandfather), and here he is wearing an apron, feeding the baby, cooking and chopping. Droll.

Self thinks he’s going to be perfect playing that smug prick Maxim de Winter, in the re-make of Rebecca.

What a smart film On the Basis of Sex is. Self liked it better than the documentary she saw earlier this year, The Real RBG. A documentary gives us the facts. But this movie allows us to watch the relationship and see how it actually went down, in everyday life.

BTW, Sam Waterston gets only a few scenes, but each one of them is key.

Kudos, Director Mimi Leder. Self hopes this movie is nominated for a Best Picture Oscar. She hopes Felicity Jones gets nominated for her performance. Armie, too.

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Directly in front of me, lots of people: Wednesday, 26 December 2018

Stay tuned.

 

 

My Cousin Rachel, The Door

Almost to the end of Jenny Allen’s Would Everybody Please Stop?

It’s been a very enjoyable read. Humor — don’t we all need it?

Self was supposed to read My Cousin Rachel right after she finished Jamaica Inn but Jamaica Inn left her nerves in tatters, so she decided to go for light reading, then return to My Cousin Rachel.

After My Cousin Rachel is The Door, by Magda Szabo. Self knows almost nothing about this book, so she decided to look up some reviews on goodreads. And here’s a sentence about what The Door is about:

  • A stylishly told tale which recounts a strange relationship built up over 20 years between a writer and her housekeeper.

My goodness! Magda Szabo got away with writing about that? It could almost be a du Maurier, except that The Door doesn’t sound as if there are any men in it.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

2018 is SO 1461

  • In Renaissance Florence, a number of designated boxes placed throughout the city allowed citizens to make anonymous denunciations of various moral crimes — in 1461, for example, the artist-monk Filippo Lipi was accused of fathering a child with a nun.

— Claudia Roth Pierpoint, “Angels and Men” in The New Yorker (16 October 2017)

The article is a review of the Walter Isaacson biography of Leonardo da Vinci, called Leonardo da Vinci. One of the biggest surprises in the piece is the discovery that “one of the last remaining complete notebooks, the Codex Leicester,” is in the possession of Microsoft founder Bill Gates. Also: “Leonardo was illegitimate, gay, vegetarian, left-handed, easily distracted . . . ”

Dear blog readers, last year self saw the Mona Lisa. It was May or June. A Spanish woman asked self whether she knew where the famous painting was located. Then she asked a museum guard, and the two of us went looking together. And we found it. And she asked self to take pictures of her standing in front of it. And insisted on taking a few of self.

And here’s a wide-angle shot of the gallery housing the Mona Lisa and then self making a horrible face because, honestly, she dislikes having her picture taken (not when the humidity has done things to her hair) and the crowded gallery full of people aiming their cell phones in one direction was so disorienting.

 

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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