Things I Love Thursday

It’s all about attitude
.

Decluttering! Some serious decluttering happened this week, crappy old furniture went in the skip, massive amounts of recycling are bagged up out the back and I am looking critically at all the junk I’ve accumulated over the years. I sort of wish I didn’t have film festival tickets for this weekend so I could spend it tidying and chucking but ah well…

The International Film Festival. It’s a magical time of year where I go out at night and meet up with certain filmy people, or I go to the movies on my own and watch stuff which may never be available again. I’ve only seen 4 films so far but they’ve all been really really good. I have big hopes for the stuff I’m seeing over the weekend.

New music… I had been floundering a bit, trying to hook into something new (which isn’t My Chemical Romance, because I do love them but they’re not exactly *new*) and then two films in the festival triggered some sweet sounds and I’m hooked on some new stuff. See below.

Honourable Mentions: Anna, making plans to go to America, my Instax camera, belting out songs at karaoke, laughing with friends, excellent food, wonderful friends, new tupperware, my glow in the dark T Rex skeleton of love, shirts, warm feet, writing fiction again, again 😀

Hero ~ Family of the Year

Jubilee Street ~ Nick Cave and the bad seeds

I am alone now
I am beyond recriminations
Curtains are shut
The furniture has gone
I am transforming
I am vibrating
I’m glowing
I’m flying
Look at me now

Film Festival first weekend

Boyhood

Richard Linklater’s newest film was filmed over 12 years, tracking mostly the boy from the title but also his older sister, mother and absentee father. It’s a movie about growing, about parents, about life in all it’s dreary normality. And it is so stunning. I don’t like raving about movies because I hate when people build films up for me and I’m disappointed, but I have to emphasise that if anything about the premise or the trailer intrigues you then you should go and see it.

Glenn and I went after a very satisfying dinner at Uncle Mikes. It was a long movie, but it didn’t once feel it. It was lovely and beautiful and it made me love humans so much.

The Kingdom of Dreams and Madness

This documentary is part character examination of Hayao Miyazaki, part diary of his last film The Wind Rises being produced and part immersion into the world of the offices of Studio Ghibli. The pace of the movie was a bit on the slow side, lots of shots of the pretty scenery and loving sequences of the studio’s cat, but getting to see Hayao so up close and personal was a total joy. He’s a hilarious guy, and he was very open with his stories to the camera. I really enjoyed it.

I especially loved the bit where the radio calisthenics played over the office and Hayao got up to do them and then complained that it was version 2, which he doesn’t know so well. Trying to work out if I can get this happening in my office…

20,000 days on earth

I’ve heard that this movie doesn’t play well if you’re not a Nick Cave fan, and I’d believe that. You sort of have to be invested and thinking he’s cool to start with or he might come off as a self centered tool, but then… most rock stars would. I read somewhere that this was meant to be a doco but Nick Cave ended up helping write a script to show his typical day, the 20,000th day of his life.

I loved this film. It was beautifully shot, just stunning on the big Embassy screen and the conversations Nick had – with his Freudian psychologist, with archivists collecting up bits of Nick Cave memorabilia, with his band mates and with himself in voice over were all interesting to me.

My most treasured bits of the movie where when he spoke about his creative process. He talked about his song writing as being all stories which take place in another world, a dark violent and strange world where there’s a god like figure taking score of what people do, but he doesn’t actually believe in god in the real world. Those ideas are fascinating to me.

The movie also made me fall in love with his latest album Push the Sky Away, which I have since bought, so… there’s that. I’d definitely watch this again, in my head it files in very nicely with the Leonard Cohen doco ‘I’m your man’.

Grease (1978)

Grease
Directed by Randal Kleiser
Written by Bronte Woodward (screenplay) based on the musical by Jim Jacobs and Warren Casey
(number 339)

This movie is one year older than me. It’s another one I’ve seen so many times I can’t tell. In fact I can pretty much recite it and predict exactly which line will happen next. Perhaps for this reason I’m never really in the mood to watch it.

Starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John as little bright faced babies in an all singing all dancing love story about high school and being fake to be cool. It’s a classic for a lot of reasons, the catchy songs and the jokes and the charisma and chemistry of the two leads. There are a lot of interesting secondary characters as well which helps.

Kenickie is probably my favourite character now that I’m grown up – he’s so painfully cool, but as a kid Frenchie was my favourite. Because she was so cute and nice and I liked her pink hair. Of course I feel I have to point out the homoerotic subtext to Kenickie and Danny’s relationship. The best bit is when Kenickie asks Danny to be his second at Thunder Road and they both get super excited and hug and then have a panic.

Not sure how many movies there’d been before this one come out but I feel like this one was the forerunner of so many other high school movies. The ones which have a random singing bit for no apparent reason. Grease also addresses serious issues like teen pregnancy, dropping out and boys who only want one thing. It also has the classic trope of jumping to conclusions rather than communicating and refusing to talk to people instead of sorting things out. See: Cha Cha cutting in on Sandy at the big dance and Sandy running away in a huff.

My favourite songs are Hopelessly Devoted to You and Beauty School Dropout, which coincidentally were both sung by Darren Criss on Glee. He’s flawless I love that he sung those two songs.

One of my favourite moments is the bit where the gossip about Rizzo moves faster up the rank of cars at the drive in than Rizzo can walk. Also she’s wearing awesome pedal pushers.

Does it make me love the people? Yeah it does. Rizzo may be a tough girl who teases Sandy for being too straight edge but she has a soft side too and her soulful song about what other people think of her you can’t help but feel for her.

In terms of the story I’ve always found the Thunder Rd race to be very uninteresting/uninspiring. That could just be me of course, but I never really cared for it. To me the actual climax is the fun fair with Sandy’s transformation. There’s a lot of feminist comment can be made over her make over from good girl to Greaser chick but I think it’s important to remember that Danny tries to change himself several times over the course of the movie, he goes in for sports and tries as hard as he can. He takes Sandy out on a date even though he’s embarrassed that she’s not cool enough and at the end he is wearing a letter sweater over his black duds.

Sandy makes the choice to fit in with Danny and his gang consciously, she realises that it’s a thing she needs to do to be with him and decides on her own to make the change. It might not be an incredible statement, but it is her choice and I think it’s important to remember. Esp when he says he’d do anything for her, right before she appears, he says this to his gang, who have razzed him about how uncool she is so I feel like it has extra weight. Of course in the end he doesn’t have to change because she does, which isn’t awesome but whatever.

Bechdel test: Several times over, because there are so many named woman characters. It passes very early on when Frenchie is bringing Sandy to school on the first day, they talk about the school and how Sandy looks. But many times again after that.

Best line:
Frenchie: Beauty school sure wasn’t what I expected it to be.
Vi: Nothing ever is.

State of Mind: My school didn’t have a graduation carnival. Also… why does the car fly up into the sky at the end? Does anyone know? (Also I think I prefer Grease 2)

Watched movie count

You’re the one that I want.

Things I Love Thursday

Using Social media for good things = such as = being brave, open and honest about your mental health or using it to broadcast what you’re thankful for. Memes which encourage people to not complain or be judgemental are to be encouraged in my opinions.

Weddings. On the weekend I went to Hastings to watch my friends Jay and Sophie get married. It was a small, simple ceremony and they had Lord of the Rings vows which was super cute and appropriate for the couple. I love these two, they went around Japan with me and it was awesome to share the day with them.

Plus photo booth!

jennitalula photo booth

Travel, driving up to Hastings and back was a bit of an adventure. Anna and I had an awesome shopping spree at the Hastings KMart of all places, we had some excellent food at Mister D in Napier and explored the National Aquarium. he sea turtle came out to say hi to us!

sea turtle jennitalula

Talking about love and long distance with Dagger, we just understand each other.

Honourable Mentions: chocolate cookie dough pretzels from Frozen and Hungry, Sailor Moon manga, hot baths, spa baths in the middle of the motel room, Instax camera, ordering things online, packages in the mail, my fancy phone, PJs (PJs forever) and writing.

I just can’t stop listening to My Chem…

The Sharpest Lives ~ My Chemical Romance

The Cat Concerto (1946)

the Cat Concerto
Directed and written by Joseph Barbera and William Hanna
(number 434)

The only time I can embed the movie I’m reviewing in the review, possibly?

I was wondering why this was included in the 500 list, being as it’s less than 10 minutes long and to my mind, just another Tom and Jerry cartoon. But then I read that it won an academy award so I thought I’d better watch it with some focused attention.

It’s a very simple, wordless cartoon about concert pianist Tom disturbing Jerry who apparently lives in the piano. They start to fight, but purely through the music and the instruments available to them (piano, piano keys, stool, etc)

The artistry here, is I guess, the matching of the movement and the story to the music and the eloquent way the mouse scurrying matches the tune and the trills, etc. I’m not that familiar with the piece Tom plays, which is apparently Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody, so I don’t know if there’s any deviation from the original although parts of it did seem rather discordant.

It is elegantly animated for the time, although it’s possible the version I watched has been restored somewhat. Tom looks pretty cute in his tux and he’s very emotive, seeming to enjoy when he’s playing well, getting some artistic evil eyebrows when he’s serious and obviously, anger with Jerry which melts into a professional calmness.

I’m not sure what I should be saying in this review to be honest. This film doesn’t have anything in it for the state of the human condition and it didn’t make me feel very much. I keep thinking ‘it’s just Tom and Jerry’ but then of course, it’s made for pure entertainment purposes. It’s not meant to teach us anything about the human condition right? It’s just a short film about a cat and a mouse with some excellent music. It is entertaining enough and for that I guess it fulfills its purpose.

Does it make me love the people? It’s not designed for that…? I did feel sorry for Tom though. Jerry’s such a freaking annoyance.

Bechdel test: nooo, no lines spoken and just the two male characters.

Best line: No lines.

State of Mind: Yeah, it’s cool and all. But not sure it should be in the top 500 of all time. I mean, there are better short films all over the place. And this being the 29th Tom and Jerry short it’s not important for that, and Disney were doing cartoons which match music from the twenties so I don’t think it’s breakthrough in that way. Unsure though, and I’m happy to be enlightened if anyone can explain the importance of this film?

Watched movie count

Heathers (1988)

Heathers
Directed by Michael Lehmann
Written by Daniel Waters
(number 415)

A Christian Slater/Winona Ryder double header made when they were the big things in Hollywood. The director’s name looked familiar to me and it’s because he’s directed 15 episodes of True Blood and 7 episodes of Californication. Heh.

This is another one of the movies on this list which I have seen countless times. Watching it, my brain was pointing out what was about to happen, and I laughed at almost every joke. I watched this one with two people who had never seen it before, though, so it was interesting to have the other reaction to the movie which seemed to mostly be ‘that was weird’.

The movie is basically an anti-John Hughes. Starting with Veronica getting into the best clique in school, the Heathers, until her eye is drawn to bad boy JD played by a sardonic, Jack Nicholson channeling Christian Slater. I had such a crush on him as a kid/early teen. Oh my. I had posters of him from RTR Countdown magazine. The best one was the one where he was wearing glasses and his hair was flopping forward. Mmm.

Er, where was I?

Right. So it’s a movie which takes the whole high school issue of being in with the popular kids to a whole new level. Teen Queen Heather Chandler commits suicide and seemingly starts a trend. Of course what’s really happening is JD is doing a little low level murder spree with Veronica, or vice versa, she’s doing it with him… but the wider impact on the school is the same. To be cool you have to die and then people will love you so much more. Your past sins are forgotten and you become an angel. The appeal is over stated and, like much of this movie, over the top.

The late 80s fashion is flawless, shoulder pads, suits, ballet flats, coloured tights and scrunchies. Oh the scrunchies.

Does it make me love the people? It does. I love the whacked out devotion Veronica has as she struggles to do the right thing, her nostalgia for her simpler past with her friends who she actually liked. I love her bizarro parents who are always offering pate and homilies and smiles and I of course, love JD. There’s something so very free about a character with zero regard to the rules of social structure, or the laws of society. Besides he’s hilarious and sarcastic and. Okay, so I maybe still have a bit of a crush. Can you blame me?

JD is an agent of chaos in this film. He’s the wild card who gives Veronica ways and means to act out her fantasies of destruction and ultimately she watches him destroy himself so that she can take over as the new source of power in the film. In a way it’s a very empowering statement – he tempts her down the dark side and she uses what he taught her to overcome and emerge victorious from the ashes. The movie also has a lovely message of what true friendship is and not to judge people.

Bechdel test: Yes, instantly. The movie opens with the three Heathers being elegant and refined, drinking tea as the soundtrack sings ‘Que cera cera’ and then they walk right on some flowers and you think maybe things aren’t what they seem. The Heathers then talk to each other about who’s turn it is in croquet.

Best line:

JD: You believed it because you wanted to believe it. Your true feelings were too icky and gross.

JD: If you were happy every day of your life you wouldn’t be human, you’d be a fucking game show host.

State of Mind: Dude. This movie was the Mean Girls of it’s time, and it’s so much darker!

Watched movie count

Things I Love Thursday

jennitalula pandas

Red Pandas. Now, I know I’ve done this encounter before but it wasn’t any less magical the second time! It was rainy and cold but apparently red pandas like that kind of weather, and they knew it was food time and came down in preparation for us. In fact they were climbing all over the log seats and impatiently standing on hind legs while we got ourselves sorted. It was wonderful, made so much more enjoyable because of Anna’s excitement at meeting her favourite animal ever.

Delicious food. It’s wonderful to have someone to share incredible food with. Top pick from this week was dinner at Hummingbird. We shared a fresh bread + smoky butter entree, then I had kedgeree and it was freaking delicious. There’s nothing quite like a perfectly cooked bit of fish and the spiced rice was perfection as well. Although we were full we split the chocolate mousse for dessert and it was divine as well. I think I have a new favourite restaurant.

Midwinter Christmas, especially during the coldest bit of Winter. Lots of shared food, catching up with my family and stuffing myself full. Good times.

Oh look more pandas…

P1090073

Road tripping even if it was dark and sometimes windy and scary, it was fun driving up to Hastings after work last night because Anna and I sang along at the top of our lungs to loud music and made jokes about place names, listened to the new Night Vale and it was awesome.

Honourable Mentions: Having my beautiful, fun and sweet girl staying with me for more than a week. Made going to work a bit harder, but coming home to her was some kind of wonderful…seeing movies at the cinema, massive spa baths, hotel rooms, shopping sprees at Kmart, watching top 40s on MTV, catching up with Luke and Sam and showing them Anna, good whiskey, sleeping in, snuggles and laughing until you cry a bit. Also going to a wedding tomorrow and that’s pretty exciting!

How great is this video?

Also also the audio book version of Baby Teeth is now available for purchase. I did some recording for this, so if you’d like to hear my dulcet tones reading you should totally go and buy it.

Dirty Dancing (1987)

Dirty Dancing
Directed by Emile Ardolino
Written by Eleanor Bergstein
(number 409)

“That was the summer of 1963, the year everybody called me Baby, and it didn’t occur to me to mind.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen this movie. I also read the books and watched the spin off TV show. But it was never my favourite movie, no this movie was my sister’s favourite. Every single time we went to the video shop she’d get this one, and watch it endlessly, rewinding it as soon as the credits started rolling and then starting again. Eventually mum and dad bought her her own copy, same with The Princess Bride because we all loved that one.

As a kid I knew that Dirty Dancing had a main girl who fell in love with a boy and that there was lots of dancing and a very catchy soundtrack (my sister bought it on vinyl), and that there were some boring talky bits but also a neat dancing training montage where they fell in the lake, a girl got sick and the main girl’s dad helped out and then was angry and then there was an awesome big dance at the end with the iconic flying lift thing.

Watching it again as an adult a few years back I remember being legitimately surprised that Penny is ‘sick’ because she has a botched abortion from a guy with a folding table and a rusty knife D: and that the waiters at the holiday resort are encouraged to hit on the daughters of the guests ‘even the dogs’, but the lower class ‘entertainment staff’ are told hands off. That actually, being set in 1963 this movie is about class issues and love overcoming prejudice. Of course Johnny Castle is white, and good looking and a fantastic dancer, so hardly the bad boy type they could have had – like if he was black for example, but these are political things and went right over my head when I was 7 – 12 years old, which was probably roughly the time this movie played a lot in our lounge.

The interesting thing I noticed on this watch through was the portrayal of the sisters. I really like good sister relationships in movies, i.e. ones that aren’t necessarily all smiles and happiness, because family isn’t like that all the time and sister relationships are tough. This one is quite wonderful for the way they look out for each other and snipe as well. Baby is genuinely surprised when Lisa scoffs at her concern over sleeping with Robbie “Oh, come on. You don’t care about me. You wouldn’t care if I humped the entire army… as long as they were on the right side of the Ho Chi Minh Trail.” But of course Baby is totally wrapped up in her own life, and treats her family as mostly discardable, so it shouldn’t be a surprise.

Which of course makes their reconciliation so much more touching, because it comes from love and forgiveness. Lisa offers to help by doing her hair, and offering her compliments on her looks because those are the things Lisa cares about and knows she can help with. Baby accepts this for the genuine offer that it is and they hug. It’s a quiet moment, and one that you could use to scoff at Lisa, as we are so often invited to, for being stupid, or fixated on her looks, or just plain clueless but I think it shows an acceptance of the different kinds of people and can be viewed without judgement.

I also have to give a shout out to the young Emily Gilmore, aka Kelly Bishop, playing Marjorie – the mother who is mostly left out of the story but always present. The moment at the end where Baby is dancing with Johnny for everyone to see and she says ‘I think she gets this from me’ is adorable, because it follows from her telling her husband to sit back and let Baby do what she wants and also shows a huge amount of pride. Plus Kelly is a trained ballet dancer and won a Tony for performing in a Chorus Line on Broadway so I like to think it’s a nod to that.

Does it make me love the people? It does. A deeper understanding of what’s going on helps of course, but Jennifer Grey’s performance is goofy, sincere and utterly fearless throwing herself into the role so completely that it’s easy to forget she’s playing a role. Patrick Swayze gets to show off his dancing skills and he’s a good level of sweet vs angry. He does the right thing almost all the time.

Bechdel test: Many many times. Most of the main characters are women after all, which is rather wonderful. For example, Lisa and Baby talk to each other about covering for each other with their parents, snark at each other and have a night time conversation where Lisa accuses Baby of not caring about her. Also Penny and Baby talk about dancing, Penny wants Baby to know she doesn’t sleep around and that she’s scared about the abortion. There’s lots here, which is wonderful.

Best line:
Baby: I told you I was telling the truth, Daddy. I’m sorry I lied to you, but you lied too. You told me everyone was alike and deserved a fair break. But you meant everyone who was like you. You told me you wanted me to change the world, to make it better. But you meant by becoming a lawyer or an economist and marrying someone from Harvard. I’m not proud of myself, but I’m in this family too. You can’t keep giving me the silent treatment. There are a lot of things about me that aren’t what you thought. But if you love me, you have to love all the things about me, and I love you. I’m sorry I let you down; I’m so sorry, Daddy. But you let me down too.

State of Mind: For how many times I thought I’d seen this movie, and that I was over it, watching it again with full attention opened my eyes some. This is a great film.

Watched movie count

Obviously the big hit from this movie is Time of My Life, but my absolute favourite song is She’s Like The Wind (‘Just a fool to believe I have anything she needs…’)

The Shop Around the Corner (1940)

The Shop Around the Corner
Directed by Ernst Lubitsch
Written by Samson Raphaelson based on a play by Miklós László and Ben Hecht (uncredited)
(number 394)

James Stewart is the main character, not at all pretending to be Austrian, but that’s fine because neither is Margaret Sullavan or Frank Morgan. Frank is better known as the wizard from The Wizard of Oz, which will show up later in the list 🙂

This movie was the 1940 fast talking clever comedy that You’ve Got Mail was based on in 1998. As a fan of the Meg Ryan/Tom Hanks version it was interesting to me to see the differences and also what was used almost carbon copied from the original. Differences: the couple works in the same shop instead of rival companies, the background story is more about the in house politics than the rival businesses and her being put out of a job. But some of my favourite scenes such as her getting sick and him going to visit, the meet up in the cafe where he sends his best friend in to scout out who it is and of course the lovely ‘I hoped it would be you’ ending are all very much the same.

Margaret Sullavan has a beautiful husky voice, I adore it. I sort of think she’s the forerunner to Scarlett Johansen’s dulcet dusky tones. She’s adorably sassy as well, saying what she thinks about things with no hesitation and an excellent poeticism.

James Stewart is very young here, it’s adorable actually and although I’ve always enjoyed his ‘chewing my own face’ accent it doesn’t seem as pronounced in this film.

The interesting thing I wasn’t expecting was for the rather serious storylines running under the surface of the comedy. Mr Matsuchek starts antagonising Alfred who is perplexed, but it turns out it’s because Mrs Matsuchek is cheating on him and he thinks it’s with Alfred. When he finds out he fired the wrong man and that for sure his wife is cheating on him, he attempts to shoot himself. This happens off screen, with errand boy Pepi running in to stop him, but still, it was quite intense for what is essentially a romantic comedy.

Does it make me love the people? Oh yes. From feeling empathy with them for working in retail, laughing at their jokes and being genuinely concerned when bad things happen this made me care. Due to the time period and the based on a play-ness they aren’t exactly portrayed as naturalistic humans, but I don’t think that really gets in the way of enjoyment. It’s a brilliant movie, and I think there’s a lot of double features of this and You’ve Got Mail in my future, especially when I’m feeling down or sick.

Bechdel test: I thought it had passed very early on with Klara doing an excellent sales pitch on a musical cigarette box to a fine lady but the lady wasn’t named. However later Klara talks to fellow shop girl Ilona about her blouse and how lovely it is so it does pass.

Best line: well, there are lots of good ones, but I feel this sums up the experience of working in customer service:

Woman Customer: How much is that belt in the window, the one that says “2.95?”
Alfred Kralik: $2.95
Woman Customer: Oh, no!
[walks away]

State of Mind: Loved this film, can’t wait to watch it again.

Watched movie count

Things I Love Thursday

It’s got really cold. I don’t like having cold toes and waking up hiding under the covers because blankets over my head is the only thing keeping me warm. But heaters, heat pumps, warm socks, slippers, hats, scarves and thick jumpers make me warm and I like them. Also we’ve had some very beautiful still clear days and my desk has a lovely view of that at the moment.

Xoxo! So there’s this convention called xoxo and I was sure there’d be no chance I’d get a ticket since it was by random lottery but within the first couple of hours they sent me an offer of a ticket and I was over the moon! My heart started thumping and I couldn’t stay still and holy crow. I’m going to America in September!

More travel! I’m also very excited about my booked trip to the Gold Coast with my darling Anna, we’re staying a week and chilling out and shopping and going to theme parks! It’ll be so much fun. I haven’t been to the Brisbane area in years and years.

Welcome to Night Vale … the last two episodes have broken me a bit, they’re so intense and so good and clever and yeah. I love this show. ALSO one of the creators is going to be at xoxo SQUEEEEEE

Honourable Mentions: Ice cream, small girl tweets, tacos, Arrested Development, playing King of Tokyo (and winning), cake and chocolate. Comfort eating in the cold, it’s a thing.

Woman led team movies which should be made!