March Madness & the cinematic soul mate

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Film Festival recap time! No time like the present am I right my friends? Why, yes, thank you for noticing, it is April, and the film festival closed March…11th. Seriously though. What happened to the other half of March? Is this what everyone means by March Madness? Talk about a time warp. It’s like I came home that Saturday night, kicked off my shoes, took a jump to the left, step to the right, and then suddenly it’s April Fools Day. What is this, a joke?

Now that I look back, I really should have taken better notes in order to appropriately capture the immediate responses to the films and events. As per usual it’s a whirlwind of wine, films, cheese and conversation. And so, I present my disjointed, disordered recollection of events.

KFF red carpet

Perhaps for you, the thrill of those ten days are long gone. Just dim memories of dark theatres. Or maybe you found a film or two or ten that was like a finding long-time friend or a cinematic soul mate.  Running the gamut of emotion. Feeling all the feels. Welcome to my happy place. Losing yourself in a story and finding your way back by  the film’s end. Witnessing stories unfold, watching characters develop. Love blossoming, bonds breaking. Reunions and departures. Sacrifices and losses. Successes and victories; all the things that lift us up and tear us down. Some films were based on true stories, and while others were works of fiction, the tales still tend to hold a mirror up to our faces. What a privilege to be a part of that shared experience;  to grateful and ashamed for the human condition in it’s entirety. All that empathy, community, catharsis and buttery popcorn…what else in life does anyone need? 

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Over ten days, I caught 15 movies. I ugly cried four times, napped three times, abandoned one movie (ahem, Toni Erdmann) and–more times than I could count–laughed until nearly crying and vice versa. I lost sleep, danced, drank wine. I wore sequins, high heels and red lipstick. Each night I’d nestle in my standard seat with my Frida Kahlo bag filled with blankets, tissues, and other goodies and necessities. Each night I’d feel like all was well with the world.  

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My dear friend and Events co-chair Tanya and I spent a little  quality time at Hotel 540’s Blue. We enjoyed a lot of Privato Pinot Noir, (doing our part for the Flavors & Flicks initiative). We had a glorious brunch and a multitude of mimosas on a snowy Sunday.  Champagne buzzed and hollandaise high, we watched Window Horses, a trippy little cartoon about a young Canadian poet who travels to Iran to perform at a poetry festival.

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That same day, before I, Daniel Blake, we wandered over to PDK café for lattes and donuts with Kirsten Carthew, the filmmaker of The Sun at Midnight. 

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Quick note: congratulations to I, Daniel Blake—for being the first movie of the #KFF2017 lineup to make me ugly cry. It was a real face contorting, heart breaking kind of film.  Following that film, we strolled over to the Noble Pig for ciders and comfort food.

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Though KFF 2017 was drama heavy, there were moments of levity; The Space Between was incredibly heartfelt and good-humored, as was The Grand Unified Theory.

Nothing made me squirm in my seat more than Mean Dreams.  In fact, the Mean Dreams/Land of Mine double feature was a rather intense evening all in all. The Brewing Discussion at Red Collar was cozy, and I was laughing hysterically with my friend Sam on the way back to the Paramount. Suddenly it was young men dismantling landmines in a post-World War II landscape. Within the first few minutes the Commander head-butts someone in the face, which really takes the edge off the hilarity from the walk over.

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After that double feature, the most emotionally impactful evening was Angry Indian Goddesses and Maudie. That was a back-to-back sob-fest. Goddesses‘ preview really leads you to believe that it’s a buddy comedy, and while it is….it really isn’t. Regardless, it was the kind of unexpectedly devastating movies that requires you to just hang out in your seat until the theatre clears up a little. Maudie was equally as dehydrating, a sweet little love story about a most unlikely couple. A despite-the-odds tale about artistic expression. (And the #KFF2017 Audience Favorite!) 

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Weirdos was very nostalgic and sweet. Paterson, while so lovely, it was also like a shot morphine.  Admittedly, I took a little snooze during that one. All those scenes of sleeping and beds only served to augment my exhaustion. I j’adored Ville-Marie. The film within a film was an emotional intersection of humanity at it’s most raw and vulnerable. Monica Belluci’s emotional undoing is a revelation.

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Note, all these years I’ve been said “Monica Bella-lucci” and when filming videos for the festival, Sam, friend and videographer, said “Um no. It’s Bell-uci.” “Oh. Really?” “Yes, really.”  “Well…I prefer Bellalucci.”

After the film ended, I wandered out into the streets, feeling like a chic yet maudlin Montrealer in my green peacoat. Over a solo lunch, sighing deeply while staring out the window of a sushi restaurant watching the snow fall, feeling beautifully blue.

Once the last film credits had rolled, I got a little lump in my throat. It was partly related to 20th Century Women, but as always, it’s that end of an era feeling. The closing of another festival year. There’s so much time spent preparing for it, and suddenly it’s just like popcorn  and discarded ticket stubs on the floor.

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Then, of course, is the party, so you just shirk off your sentimentally for the moment. Chatting all things films, events, and special guests with other partygoers; gin and red carpet photos and shaking it like a polaroid picture on the dance floor. What a way to celebrate another season with all the fabulous film festival folk that helped make such a magical time happen.

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For more information about Kamloops Film Festival refer to the website or follow the link for a detailed account of the #KFF2017 

Photos courtesy of Alicia Ashcroft, Jen Randall Dustin, Robin Phelan & Chris Warner.

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Pinot Noir, Popcorn & Piles of Laundry

The 2016 Kamloops Film Festival has come and gone. Le sigh. There’s so much work and momentum leading up to these all-consuming cluster of events–it’s a whirlwind of film, food and friends–full on red carpet and red wine. So. many. outfits.  Suddenly it’s two weeks later, and you’re alone in your office,  wearing a battered old pink bathrobe on Easter Monday, trying to remember every detail for the #KFF2016 review.

For me, the festival is such a fabulous time of year. I tend to immerse myself in all social aspects of the KFF. I clear my schedule, I rearrange my life, I forsake sleep.  I wind up at the Commodore at 1am, dancing like nobody is watching.  It’s like a holiday in my hometown; a fantastic social explosion. Drinking wine and grabbing meals with other committee members and festival goers. The awesome conversations that transpire in between all those film–the tears, the laughter, loads of red lipstick–pure bliss.

This year being my third, I was able to truly organize myself in a way that made the rest of my life seem perfectly manageable. I had learned a thing or two since the first year.  (See: White Girl Wasted– https://pinuppickspenup.com/2014/03/21/white-girl-wasted/). The morning of A Night with Oscar, I spent some quality time in my closet, selecting a variety of outfits to be worn throughout the entire festival. That’s a highly recommended KFF survival tip, put together ten to fifteen fabulous, and that’s one less thing to worry about. Time is tight, life is short, and you never want to be left wondering what to wear at the last minute.

In fact, I received a impromptu invitation to grab a quick Pinot before watching Holocaust drama Son of Saul. Fugitives running from the law have not moved as fast as I; out of my dog walking clothes, and into a preplanned ensemble, out the door, and drinking wine at Blue with my good buddy Tanya within twenty minutes. That was a real proud moment for me. Organization is key to drinking fabulously!

How those carefully selected pieces gathered height and momentum as they began to pile up over the edge of the bathtub as the festival progressed. Like fabric clockwork expressing the passing of time. Laundry can wait-life is happening right now! Although, the whole devil- may-care approach is super charming when you live alone, but if one has to be a considerate human being to spouses and flatmates. It’s nice to take a quick second to do something considerate and helpful before buggering off…again. Another fun life hack, do a whole bunch of nice things before the film festival begins, and then, make it up to them on the other side of those ten days. Better yet, bring them to a movie, and make it rain at the concession stand that’ll also do the trick.

The first order of business following the festival; besides sleeping, slothing and sorting through enormous piles of laundry–was to sit down for a lengthy lunch with Dušan Magdolen, the KFF Chair and long time friend. I adore Mr. Magdolen, we met a million years ago and our first conversation was about movies.  I saw him after years away overseas, and we talked about movies. His invitation to participate in the planning of the film festival was a total no-brainer. Naturally, it’s completely necessary to discuss all the films together over hot cups of tea.

In the end, I saw sixteen out of the twenty films. As promised, I ditched Darkfest, but did feel a teeny bit of frightful FOMO–especially The Witch, which is ridiculous, in no way do I cope well with scary films.  Due to such high numbers on opening night–they had to open another theatre!-members of the Events team skipped Haida Gwaii: On the Edge of the World to prepare for the Q&A and the Mingle & Jazz that followed the documentary.  This film was eventually voted ‘favorite’ out of the twenty;  it was a shame to have missed it. Ultimately, it was the best call for the committee members to check on everything one last time, before tucking into delicious appetizers and Pinot Noir at Hotel 540 with our lovely entertainer Cathi Marshall.

The first film I saw wound up being my favorite.  Mustang was a truly powerful story. The last twenty minutes was agonizing. Stressful, thrilling, and perfectly gripping. I sobbed out of sheer relief for the characters by the end.  In fact, I kind of had to lurk in my seat as the credits rolled and audience members milled out of the Paramount. Once feeling composed, I made an attempt to leave, and then wound up jabbering incoherently and tearfully in front of another committee member. Sheesh. Maybe just sit this one out–and avoid eye contact as you hustle off to the car.

I powered through all four films on the first Saturday; which wound up being a day of catharsis. Three out of four films made me cry–including the children’s film Snowtime, which wound up being a total anti-war film.  The child I brought leaned over, “I think something bad is going to happen”–I consoled her, “everything is going to be just fine”, and then something bad happens–to a dog no less. Introducing crying jag #1. Sushi at Sanbiki, and the next movie with my parents.  I love me some Maggie Smith, as did my folks and the rest of Kamloops.  The Lady in the Van had the most audience members, which was perfect, as it was also our Film for a Cause–with the Kamloops Food Bank collecting items at the door.

Following dinner at the Noble Pig; (one of my #KFF2016 haunts) I returned to the Paramount for James White and Youth.  James White was a truly devastating film–and won the Ugly Cry Award for me this year.

Other committee members were quite drained after that film, and decided to call it a night. I felt I had to cleanse the palate a wee bit, end the day on any other note. Youth was beautiful, sensual, life affirming, and quite touching. Jane Fonda shows up at the end and devours her scene. A main character commits suicide, and it’s completely unexpected,  and once again I blubber like a baby in the darkness.

Nothing like a Sunday matinee, except I found Victoria to be a bit of a challenge, and gave me motion sickness. It was a really fantastic production, nearly two and a half hours in one continuous shot, but all the jerky camera movements made me rather queasy.  I briefly entertained the thought of leaving, but managed to hang in there for the length of the movie.

No Men Beyond this Point was my favorite comedy of the season; the actors Patrick Gilmore, Kristine Cofsky and Tara Pratt were delightful during their Q&A. Gilmore and Pratt joined committee members at the Noble Pig, and more Pinot was enjoyed. Who needs sleep??

Born to be Blue and wine with my friend Trish, and My Good Man’s Gone with members of the KFF team. A Q&A with actor Robert Baker, and writer Nick Citton. More wine at the Noble Pig.

A Royal Night Out was another favorite; light, frothy, historically grounded. A simply delightful cinematic experience –Brewing Discussion at Red Collar to follow.

Before Macbeth, Mittz Kitchen with Benjamin for lamb and risotto. Met my brother and his girlfriend for the film.

Macbeth was a really beautiful yet severe picture. Made worse by the man sitting a row ahead of us, shaking a mammoth cup of ice before munching on it during the quietist parts of the movie. It was infuriating to the point of hilarious, and being overtired, it gave me the giggles, and I had to leave the cinema. I came back and Lady Macbeth was dead. Perhaps she died from all that infernal ice crunching, who’s to say?  Wine-ing Discussion at Hotel 540 afterwards, made the humbling mistake of approaching former TRU professor Connie Brim, and exposing just how long ago I studied Shakespeare. The table collectively exchanged notes about acts and scenes that were cut or altered, speeches that were shortened, changes to classic characterization. And me, like a deer in the headlights–totally not remembering much about the play, and thusly having little to contribute. When in doubt just say…”Does…everyone like…wine?”, and then back away slowly, and read the Macbeth synopsis on your phone.

(This is the actual moment being captured by photographer Jen Randall Dustin, this guy is on a hilarious rampage about the adaptation, and he is slaying Connie Brim–brilliant Shakespeare expert–with his witty repartee. And I’m all……”I like the Fassbender when he comes out of the water”.

Thursday Double Feature, Oscar winner Son of Saul, a grim and heartbreaking Holocaust drama and Ben’s At Home, a light independent comedy of little consequence. Donuts and warm beverages at PDK afterwards.

A note about the food: there was so much delectable numminess throughout the festival; and I was smack dab in the middle of a clean-eating, weight loss program.  Beyond the Pinot Noir, my official #KFF2016 beverage, I was not participating in the snacking at any of the events…with the exception of a partial sugar -coated donut that I had in my purse for my husband. Walking back to the car, I reached into my bag and took one big massive bite out of the pastry, a la a Black Widow chomping off the head of her mate. Without missing a step, the donut was out of my bag, chomped into a sugary horseshoe and was thrust back in my bag, my pace quickening as I licked sugar off my lips. No regrets!

Final Friday of the festival, Kamloops Art Gallery for samples of Eadweard Muybridge’s photographs, before seeing a film about his life. Followed Eadweard with Pinot Noir and Green curry at Mittz Kitchen and gin and Karaoke at the Central with special guest Meisha Lowe, photographer Jen Randall Dustin, and ladies of the Events Committee, Tanya and Nathalie. We took Bohemian Rhapsody to a whole other level, and it was glorious.

I came home at midnight and then proceeded to reorganize my whole life. Drunkenly cleaning one’s home is a highly recommended activity. It makes the act of cleaning popcorn kernels out of every purse you’ve ever owned a real hoot and a holler. Pump up some sweet jams, and take on at least a dozen tasks at the same time. It’s also an unbelievable delight to wake up to. This is a legitimate #KFF2016 life hack. #Cleanwhiledrunk.

I caught the first Saturday matinee, Anomalisa; the Charlie Kaufman penned animated feature. I didn’t love it as much as I expected to…and there was a very thorough sex scene that had some…ahem, audible qualities, that was cringe worthy at best.

I skipped Embrace the Serpent and the Painted Pony Steeping Discussion to spend some time with my dog Bluebear–(a shout out to my husband, who was in Vancouver for closing, who had taken care of so much during the festival).

Saturday night: sushi at Oriental Gardens and Forsaken with my mother and two aunts.

After the movie, I scuttled over to Hotel 540 for the Closing Night party. More Pinot to be had! The James Welsh Band was a seriously groovy musical group. All in all, a perfect celebration with the marvellous #KFF2016 committee.

Once all duties were over, and the crowd gave way to the late evening, I danced the rest of the night away; finishing the festival as I tend to do–at the Commodore.

Falling asleep at 4am, another festival finished;  a head full of cinematic stories, a belly full of wine, and a pile of laundry higher than the Himalayas.

For more information of the Kamloops Film Festival, check out the website: http://www.kamloopsfilmfest.ca/

 

Photos Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin , Chris Warner & the  fine folks behind the Internet.

 

 

 

 

 

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The King’s Speech

Though I’ve been a rather absent landlord to my beloved blog, there is still plenty growing on the plantation. Readers are still working their way through the backlog and I’m grateful that I haven’t been completely forgotten. This got a bit of play today and I wanted to share the love #anoldiebutagoodie

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When the deadly 6.3 magnitude earthquake happened in Christchurch in 2011, my husband and I were in a downtown cinema watching “The King’s Speech“.  This film, which went on to win many accolades, including Best Picture and Best Actor, was the last thing I ever saw before the world tried to end.

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Deeply engrossed in the death of the King George V, abdication of his successor for his twice divorced lover, and the stammering Duke who was choking on self doubt and fear;  I did not think about the outside world. Throughout the film, Colin Firth‘s Bertie is angry, frustrated, and in need of a friend, whom he finds in Geoffrey Rush‘s speech therapist Lionel Logue.  We are on the cusp of World War Two, the country needs a strong voice of reason and Bertie needs to sort his shit out.  I am…

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Put a Ring on It: Collective Regrets from the George Clooney Women’s Guild

Winter has worn away at my soul.  I desire a luxurious getaway as one longs for a conjugal visit after years of imprisonment.  I am afraid of what I would do for a plane ticket to a hot far-off destination.  I would sprint towards a holiday like Whitney Houston did to Kevin Costner at the end The Bodyguard.  Mashing my face all over it’s face and while belting I Will Always Love You in the background.

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The later-years Beach Boys classic Kokomo recently came up in conversation, when I was expressing to a friend just how badly I wanted to be nursing a solid buzz on a beach with a trashy magazine in my hand.  One simply cannot discuss Kokomo, but must live it, sing it,  harmonize with it.  Hot skin and wet hair. Toes in the sand. Sounds of crashing waves. Salty kisses from island lovers.

{insert sensuous eye rolling here}

I proclaimed that the Beach Boys song said everything about my current state of mind. And I think a really good solution to all of my problems.

As follows: my personal top ten list of why I would like this song to be about my life.

  1. Now if you want to go and get away from it all (which I do, I really do)
  2. Off the Florida Keys, there’s a place called Kokomo. (There’s not apparently, but let’s move forward anyhow)
  3. That’s where you want to go to get away from it all
  4. We’ll get there fast and then we’ll take it slow
  5. We’ll be falling in love to the rhythm of a steel drum band (I usually fall in love to the sounds of banjos so this would be a welcomed change).
  6. Afternoon delight, cocktails and moonlit nights
  7. That dreamy look in your eye
  8. tropical contact high
  9. Aruba, Jamaica, Bermuda, Bahama, Key Largo, Montego, Jamaica
  10. Bodies in the sand, tropical drink melting in your hand

When I Googled the lyrics of Kokomo, I realized that the line was be “tropical drink melting in your hand”…when all these years I thought that it was “tropical cake melting in your hand”.  I had even remarked that the other day: “I don’t even know what it is…but I want it”.  I imagine golden yellow slice, glistening with coconutty goodness, a thick slab in the palm of your sun-screened hand. Still…a gooey piece of cake is hardly beach food.  And why are they no plates at this resort? Could a sister get a wet-nap up in here?  Stand down guys.  It’s tropical drink, which when you come to think about it…that really does make more sense.  Perhaps this is because my first introduction to this super timeless track is when the Beach Boys appeared on Full House.  I would have been about six, and a stiff cocktail would have been no good to me.

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Wow. What kind of deal with the devil did these guys make in the 60’s to make an appearance on this saccharine-sweet sitcom in the 80’s? Look at the guy in the dead center wearing those ridiculous mom jeans…I really don’t know who was driving that style choice there.  His fly is longer than Mary Kate/Ashley Olsen’s leg. And ole pointy fingers on the end…leather jacket+ball hat+those sweatpants =my favorite person in this picture. Nonetheless.  The song grown had  with me, and now I would like to feel like the human equivalent to the saxophone solo in this sexy, ooey-gooey cheesy beach jam.  Haven’t heard it recently? Allow me to remind you.

 It’s one of my favorite things about YouTube: that some guy in Peru loved Kokomo, and the film in which it was written for (Cocktail) so much that he just plays full scenes of the movie. Not a montage in sight, just whole chunks of muted dialogue with the Beach Boys crooning away.  But what an ending to the video.  Ugh, when have you ever woken up and thought: “I really hope I don’t have sex in a waterfall today” or “Jeez I hope that a hunky bartender doesn’t try to get into my black one piece bathing suit”.  Cocktail is actually loosely based on a relationship I had.  Watching the footage actually makes me feel very emotional….in light of the current news.

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Whoa, looks like somebody’s gotten their priorities all out of whack at the Daily Express.  Hayfever hell? Boohoo.  My Georgey-Porgey is getting married–and I am having a difficult time coping.  When I first got word I…had a rather strong reaction.

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The Vicodin I took couldn’t touch my grief.  The three martinis I threw down my throat didn’t dull the ache. George, George, not you.  That’s when I starting smashing everything in sight.

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He said he never wanted to get married, only because I didn’t want to marry him.  It’s not that I didn’t want to be “Mrs George Clooney”. It’s just that he wanted to be “Mr Alicia Ashcroft” a bit too desperately.  George loved me so deeply, that it really was all-consuming.  We were young, met on holiday, and let’s just say he got ‘under the waterfall’.  He adored me.  Worshipped me.  Said I was perfect mix of Jackie Kennedy and the Pillsbury Dough Boy.  I loved him in return. We were the Golden Couple.

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Some of the greatest moments in pop culture were inspired by George’s romantic gestures to me. John Cusack in Say Anything? That has George all over it.  He actually had Peter Gabriel write In Your Eyes about me.

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In later years, he had inspired Beyonce’s Single Ladies (Put a Ring On It), because he was trying to get a message to me.   I was hesitating and he was slipping through my fingers.  George actually said that to me one night, after a dinner party at our home in Lake Como.  He hissed it, so that the waitstaff couldn’t hear.  All the other couples were married and engaged, nannies holding gorgeous babies who are named after exotic locations and expensive cheese.  George was humiliated after Beyonce and Jay-Z pressed us about our single status.  Why couldn’t I give him those things? Why didn’t we have a little Camembert Dubai Clooney? Why couldn’t I put a ring on it?

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Not this again.  George, baby, things are so good why complicate it with things like marriage and children?  What if dating is like the first half of Cocktail, hot sex in a Jamaican waterfall and marriage is like the second half, when it gets all serious with unwanted pregnancies, angry parents and suicide notes?  A friend and I had both lamented that brief and glorious time when love is new and your lover doesn’t know you yet.  “Just dating” George Clooney was my life support.  Marriage was quicksand.  I pressed myself up against George, and swore my allegiance.  I knew his heart was breaking.

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Eventually we fell apart…around the”In your Eyes” era.  He needed to get married, and by the time I offered to throw him a bone and marry him just to shut him up…it was too late.  His heart had hardened to the whole institution of marriage.  I broke George Clooney. I regret everyday since that I couldn’t repair the damage I had caused.

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I don’t see him around much.  I hear things like the rest of the world does now….in the news, on the internet.  Do I get jealous? Well, sometimes I miss the Italian air, our housemaid Lupe, and the smell of George’s musk.  He had good musk.  When I see pictures of George trying to aptly describe just how enormous his Clooney is, and people like Sandra Bullock aren’t even paying attention to him, I get a little peeved.  That could have been me. 

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News of Clooney’s engagement has shaken the world through and through, inspiring bios on his new fiance Amal Alamuddin, and lists of “Clooney’s former flames”…or as I like to call it, “Clooney-Bear and the luckiest Bitches on Earth”.

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Don’t look for me, I’m not on the list.  I don’t know if this is TMZ’s mistake, or that George has worked so hard to forget me, that the press has forgotten me as well.  That’s fine…the paparazzi know me by name, but whatever leave me off the list.  I know what I had with George.  I don’t need to prove it with pictures of me on George’s yacht.

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Please…that’s obvi me…I would recognize those legs from anywhere.

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Oh this? Just George and I leaving after a nice meal out.  The photogs were really there to catch a glimpse of me, but snaps of George would do too.

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The other women knew about me as well. I was famous amongst the other Cloonists as having made his hair go salt and pepper from all the heart ache I caused him.  Many tried and failed to slay the dragon as only I and his ex wife Talia Balsam had done before.

ABC Annual Fall Affiliates Dinner - June 14, 1990

So…after all the replacements that George has tried to tried to fill the gap with…all the vivacious, intelligent brunettes he’s known–and all he could see was me.  And now…it seems that someone has finally ‘put a ring on it’ : Beirut born, London based human rights Lawyer Amal Alamuddin.

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Well let’s just acknowledge the elephant in the room.  That’s my doppelganger.  I’ve got piercing eyes and endless locks of shiny ravine hair.  The similarities do not end there. Amal Alamuddin? Alicia Ashcroft? Uh George, this is a little embarrassing for you, chasing the dream as you tend to do. At the last Clooney Guild meeting, the others offered scant details–just that George chases versions of me the same way a nerdy Asian teen tracks ever-evolving technology.  Amal Alamuddin is just a new i-Phone..a shiny distraction.  When news of the engagement spread, I caught a ride to the secret compound on Kelly Preston’s helicopter along with Stacey Keibler and the gal with the awful arm band tattoo circa Pamela Anderson in Barb Wire, who now dates the guy from Jack Ass.  We pooled together about what we knew of her:

  • She’s provided legal council to Wikileaks founder Julian Assange and former Ukrainian prime minister Yulia Tymoshenko.
  • She served as council into the United Nations.
  • Legal advisor to the King of Bahrain…
  • She speaks fluent French and Arabic…
  • She’s a published author.  Apparently has written several  articles about international criminal law.
  • She was voted “hottest barrister in London” by a particularly sexist and ethically dubious legal blog called Your Barrister Boyfriend…for achieving “the seemingly unattainable ideal of contemporary femininity: she is both breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful.”

Breathtakingly beautiful and formidably successful? That’s how most people describe me.  Frankly, it’s like looking in a mirror.  Although, according to this photo she’s like a little pocket-sized lawyer.  That’s never going to work. What is this? A bride for ants?

Amal Alamuddin dresses up on her way to dinner in New York City

Maybe watching Clooney up and marry my evil twin is my equivalent of The Beach Boys on Full House:  karmic payback for not appreciating the glory days.  I had him, and I lost him, and now I have to live with it.  All because of my foolish pride.  So there it is.  Goodbye George Clooney.  I will grieve this loss in only the most glamorous of ways.   One of the things he loved most about me.

charade-1963-720p-bluray-x264-cinefile01-13-28   Images Courtesy of Google

 

The Last Supper Club

Happy Easter to my lovely readers. A revamped #oldiebutagoodie.

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I always intended to see “The Passion of the Christ”, if only to see what the fuss is about.  But, if ever faced with the option of actually renting it–the thought of choosing it over a a light romantic comedy, taking it home, putting on your comfy pants and curling up on the couch to watch the Romans soldiers beat the crap out of Jesus.  Just never felt right.  And listen, I am sure that if you can trust anyone with the sensitive issue of Jesus’ crucifixion and Resurrection, it’s Mel Gibson.  But it’s just never happened…so there that is.  I’m more a “Jesus of Nazareth” girl, or as my mother always called it, “the one with the good looking Jesus”.

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I personally struggled with the Easter story. Poor Jesus, I personally the part of the story where he’s a sweet little baby.  But then, I would get depressed in…

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Crossed Lines at the Cal-Neva

This has been the most delicious holiday of my life.  I’m rested, I’m relaxed, I’m at peace. If the time came that I was to supply a “How I spent my Christmas holiday” essay, I could boil it down rather easily.Eat. Sleep. Family. Gift Giving/Receiving. Drink. Walk. Cuddle. Research. Blog. Tidy. Organize. Putter. Pinterest

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It started innocently enough. I had a Pinterest account, but with very few pins.  My computer does happen to be teeming to various images. I search, click and save pictures in the hope that one day I might need them.  To this day, I can not find this adorable picture of a young Bill Murray with a scarf, so now I save everything.  Occasionally, I’d cast off an unused image to Pinterest, not yet understanding the wealth of imagery in store.

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My husband got a new video game for Christmas.  Once home from my parents place, Benjamin really wanted to clock some hours.  I was happily scouring the internet for the last blog entry, “Vintage Grudge Match”.  Between researching biographies, taking notes, writing and searching for photographs, afternoon passed into evening, which then passed into night, then into the darkest side of the following morning.  This may not sound productive, but it really was. Creating a palatable aesthetic for the blog takes time.  And in this recent period I have hit pay-dirt, finding some pretty exceptional snapshots.

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I received some nice compliments about the last post; people were into the rehashing of Old Hollywood feuds and dusty bits of gossip.  That thrills me to no end, because I had the most fun delving into these lives.  There are other lives I’d like to look into. If that suits the reader, that suits me.  After all, I’ve been lounging around in yoga pants, drinking coffee and Baileys and mucking around on Pinterest for the last week, nothing’s happening to me that’s worth mentioning.  Finding these vintage paparazzi shots, those wonderful glimpses into the personal lives of others, have led to endless fascination, too many hours of obsessive reading, which suits my husband just fine, there’s a war going on inside the television, and he’s busy fighting in it.

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Nancy Reagan and Mr T? ….what? How have I gone my whole life and not seen this picture? I like how Mr T takes on the Santa Claus look, but brings in his own flavor to the ensemble with the sleevelessness and the gold chains.  Feels perfectly normal for Nancy to cop a squat on your lap as you hand out action figures molded to your likeness.

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Jack Nicholson…meet The Monkees.  Got to wonder how this meeting came to be.  Did Jack burst in on The Monkees all like “Here’s Johnny!…but seriously, could you play “Last Train to Clarksville?”

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The Monkees look uncomfortable here.  And if you’ve ever seen the opening credits to their television program, you know that the boys could get downright wacky.  Micky gets into a bathtub on wheels for cripes sake! And then Jack Nicholson bursts into their green room for a little jam sesh and all the guys look like they just got caught masturbating by their wives.  It doesn’t get anymore uncomfortable than this…until two hours and approximately thirty years later.

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This looks like the waiting room in hell. Sure, Trent Reznor and Marilyn Manson, totally conceivable to see them in a room together, the creepy clown entourage…that comes with the territory.  Just kicking back with Jon Stewart over a few beers? How does that even happen?  Speaking of how the hell do things happen…who talked Meryl Streep into this catty one piece?  But that’s the power of the Streep, give her a stool and a broken cigarette and she’ll still get Oscar buzz.

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Social activist Martin Luther King having a laugh with Rat Pack entertainer Sammy Davis Jr.  In 1960  Davis married May Britt, a white woman.  Interracial marriages were illegal in 31 states, but it was perfectly legal in the state of New York.  Regardless, Frank Sinatra (a major supporter of Kennedy) was concerned that it would the future presidents chances at the polls; he insisted that Davis hold his wedding after the election took place.  And even afterwards, he was stricken from the list of performers for Kennedy’s inaugural ball. He was also bombarded with hate mail for years to come.  Years later, Davis caught a lot of criticism for hugging President Nixon, startling him during a live television broadcast.  Yes you can, Sammy Davis Jr? No actually you can’t.

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I can’t decide what I like most about this picture: that Roy Orbison is being pampered and fed by the Beatles, or the little kid at the bottom of this photo who at that present time is having a stroke from all the awesome going around in his living room.

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What I love about this picture in that you just know Cher has told Val Kilmer is to keep his mullet long and his trap shut.   She’s looking so engaged with this unseen individual, and Kilmer looks like he’s just bursting with fruit flavour with something over there.  A carefully constructed comment, an intelligent insight,  but more likely “Cher and I had sex and now we are in love!”

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Marilyn and Frank.  While these two never officially dated, they were old-school ‘friends with benefits’.  After Monroe and DiMaggio split, she came to stay with Frank (around the same time Sinatra was breaking up with dancer Juliet Prowse).  According to biographers they were strictly platonic until one morning when Sinatra came into the kitchen where Monroe was standing naked in from of the fridge looking for juice.  She said something along the lines of “Frankie–I didn’t think you’d be up so early”, and he responded by giving her a good rogering up against said refrigerator.  (He doesn’t usually get up that early, but can be easily encouraged).

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Frank was a good friend, but he’d never commit to being her full-time partner.  Monroe had wanted him to marry her, in a way to keep her safe, but Sinatra had his limits.  Monroe was not a low-maintenance gal, and famously needy. Just a week before Monroe died, she spent a weekend at the Cal-Neva Lodge, a casino that Frank Sinatra allegedly co-owned with mobster Sam Giancana. Amongst historians, this time is often known as “The Lost Weekend”.

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Marilyn was in a bad place. She had been fired from “Something’s Got to Give”, and had been dumped by Bobby Kennedy after being cast aside by John F. Kennedy.  She had sung her infamous “Happy Birthday Mr President”, in May of that year, and it was such a blatant insult to Jackie Kennedy that she refused to attend her husband’s birthday celebration.   (Bonus fun fact: Audrey Hepburn, who dated him briefly in the early 1950’s sang to JFK the following year).  By that weekend in July of 1962, both men had stopped returning Marilyn’s calls.  She had legitimately believed that one of those fine Catholic husbands intended to leave their wives and children for her.  She saw herself as the first lady; as a political wife.

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Marilyn had allegedly called Jackie to confess to the affair, and of her intentions. Jackie replied “Marilyn, you’ll marry Jack, that’s great. And you’ll move into the White House and you’ll assume the responsibility of the first lady, and I’ll move out and you’ll have all the problems”.  Only Jackie could be that cool under those circumstances.  Then again, she was more than aware of JFK’s rampant infidelity, and of Marilyn’s reputation. But out of all the President’s lovers, his relationship with this famous sex symbol was nearly too much to bear.  Even though Jackie herself was unimpressed with JFK’s sexual bravado, telling a longtime confidant: “he goes too fast and falls asleep”.  There were rumors that Monroe had fallen pregnant, but didn’t know which brother was responsible.  According to FBI documents, she was encouraged by Bobby to have an abortion, which she did on July 20, 1962.  Monroe was unraveling, and those involved with the Kennedy’s were deeply concerned that a rejected and unhinged Monroe would hold a press conference and reveal all.

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On July 28, 1962, Monroe arrived at the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino, a grand getaway that straddled the state lines of Nevada and California.

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She arrived with Peter Lawford, whom she was not speaking to due to his Kennedy affiliations (though ironically, he was one of the last people she ever spoke to, he called to invite her to a party the night she died). They used Sinatra’s private plane but by the end of the weekend she was sent home in the same fashion.  Though she started off in good spirits, Monroe was like a water main fixing to burst, especially as the champagne and prescription cocktail began its toxic tailspin.  She was getting sloppy, making scenes, spilling secrets, she even overdosed in her famed Cabin 3. Apparently Sinatra had given photographers strict instructions to not snap them together;  Marilyn kept trying to…well photo-bomb him, which really ticked off Old Blue Eyes. As the weekend went on, she became increasingly intoxicated, obnoxious and indiscreet. Sinatra had to get rid of her.

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Like her death, the details about this weekend is shrouded in mystery.  This was her last public appearance, these are the last pictures of Monroe alive.  Depending on who you ask, Marilyn died at the Cal-Neva, in the famous round bed that was tossed in a dumpster after Sinatra sold the establishment.   Conspiracy theorists think it would have been easy enough.  With the combined forces of Sinatra, the Mafia and the Kennedy’s, moving a body would be easier than a quick game of golf, or a scotch and a cig whilst crooning with Dean and the crew.

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The Cal-Neva had once burned down, and all that remained of the previous structure was tunnels that ran under the buildings.  Many secrets passed along those passageways, mistresses, booze…why not a body?  With Sinatra at the helm, with his heli-pad and mafia connections, anything was possible.  His lodge and casino was made to be a secret celebrity playground where the press would never get wind of the kinky hi-jinks.

What the agents couldn’t see was what went on inside the Cal-Neva’s secluded bungalows after the opening night party had ended. Momo Giancana reportedly told his brother that he had been present at a Kennedy brothers slumber party that night at the Cal-Neva Casino. “The men,” he said, “had sex with prostitutes, sometimes two or more at a time, in bath-tubs, hallways, closets, on floors,almost everywhere but the bed.”(Quoted from the FBI Frank Sinatra files).

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Wow, you could really count on Sinatra being the best-ever host. Except if Frank gets even a hint that you are going to die on his premises, in his presence, he will have you removed.  And apparently Frank had no tolerance for narcotics, which was a problem for Marilyn as she carried a pharmacy at the bottom of her purse.

According to an article in the Daily Mail:

The list of drugs she was using by 1961 was staggering. She was taking the antipsychotic Thorazine for the borderline paranoid schizophrenia diagnosed by Dr Greenson, as well as the narcotic painkiller Demerol and barbiturates Phenobarbital, HMC and Amytal, along with large quantities of Nembutal, to which she was addicted, to help her sleep.  There were 15 bottles of pills on Marilyn’s night table when she died. She’d also developed the alarming habit of giving herself injections. A source who was very close to her recalls the concoction was of Phenobarbital, Nembutal and Seconal. ‘Marilyn referred to it as a vitamin shot,’ said the source. ‘Afterwards she would be gone, no longer able to function.’

mm sinatraIt was these ‘vitamin shots’ that drove Sinatra over the edge.  The President taking on two prostitutes at a time in the hall closet, that’s one thing…to stick a pin in your pills so it will get into your blood stream faster–that’s worth firing up the chopper over.  But in fairness, Sinatra had his allies to protect, and at the end of her life Marilyn was a danger to herself and those around her.

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Of course, there’s many theories about Monroe’s death, the many powerhouse players: The Kennedy’s, the Mafia, Peter Lawford, Frank Sinatra, right down to her housekeeper Eunice, her publicist Pat Newcomb, (who went on to work for the Kennedy’s), and Dr Ralph Greenson, her psychiatrist.  Eunice called Greenson before she called the police. Another detail to fuel the conspiracy fire; Eunice had been fired once by Monroe, and Dr Greenson told her to rehire her.  Eunice had asked for holiday time for that August, and Monroe paid her for her time and asked her not to return after that holiday.  Marilyn paid her for her time, and Eunice’s  last day of employment was the last day of Monroe’s life.  Eunice tried to cash this cheque, written the day of Monroe’s passing, days after the death, but to no avail.

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Greenson, arguably one of the last people to see Monroe alive, claimed to have broken a bedroom window in her Brentwood Hacienda because he saw her body through the glass.   Apparently Marilyn’s bedroom had  heavy curtains that were closed, and that the doctor couldn’t have possibly seen her past the thick fabric.  There were rumors that she died in hospital, but was brought back home by ambulance.  A former Monroe lover claimed to have spoken with her on the phone; but she put the phone down to check on a disturbance, and never came back.  This was around 9pm, and coroner’s reports claim that she died somewhere between 9 and 11pm.  On that night, there was a significant buzz of concern around Monroe; someone had called her lawyer, who then called Monroe’s house. He spoke with Eunice who claimed that Marilyn was fine without actually checking on her.

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Eunice was the keeper of information who couldn’t keep a story straight if her life depended on it.  She said the door was locked, and then later said there was no lock on the door, she said she saw a light on in the middle of the night, which was also impossible as the carpeting was thick and imposing.  She first said no one was there, then later said Bobby Kennedy arrived on the scene with two mysterious men.  Then when police did show up, Marilyn was face-down in the pillow, her body straight as an arrow, as if she had been placed there. And there’s Eunice, doing a load of laundry in the middle of the night, which is the queerest thing: (Hey lady, your boss is dead, you don’t have to clean anymore).  Over the years, she changed her story a number of times, wrote a book, was interviewed for a documentary and was overheard making a remark about ‘still having to cover things up’.  Nobody followed up on that, and she died in 1994, taking the truth to her grave.

mm bedroomThere are holes in stories, dangerous affiliates, an incorrectly done autopsy, sloppy police work…there’s reason to believe that Marilyn was murdered, or that there was a cover up.  Then again, this was a woman with a history of overdoses and suicide attempts who gave herself barbiturate enemas based on advice from Mae West.  Not to say she was suicidal either.  She had just signed a multi-million dollar contract, and was rehired to complete “Something’s Got to Give”–which was a rather appropriate title, given her condition.

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Joe DiMaggio claimed her body and took great pains to exclude Sinatra and the rest of Hollywood from the funeral services.  While Sinatra took equal measures to distance himself from Monroe, he arrived at the Westwood Village Mortuary Chapel on August 8 in an $800 black suit, but was turned away by security.  In the years that followed, Sinatra was heavily criticized, that he had the means to save her life but he turned her away, as had everyone else. But the thing about Marilyn is that girlfriend couldn’t even help herself. And you can’t help someone who can’t help themselves. She was doomed long before the Lost Weekend.  Said George Jacobs, valet at Cal-Neva:

Frank Sinatra didn’t know what to think about any of it. He was upset, though. He loved Marilyn, yes. But for her to maybe die at Cal-Neva while he was there? That would have been terrible. So he said: ‘Get her out of here and get her out of here now.’ And that was it. We had to do what he said. I mean, the woman was sick. But as compassionate as Sinatra was, he had a line and she crossed it.”

Marilyn-and-Frank-Sinatra-marilyn-monroe-15189170-875-700All Images Courtesy of Google

Foam Finger Crazy & the Lime Green Tomatoes

The last time I blogged, I created a rather Himalayan-esque pile of tissues throughout the writing process.  Then I watched “Fried Green Tomatoes“, which was literally dehydrating.

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That movie is comfort food for the soul; it’s engrossing, well-acted, set in Alabama in this romantic time (not counting the KKK whipping the help and throwing rocks through window). Still there’s a whole lot of tragedy mixed in with all the fried chicken and biscuits.  And for me, by the time Jessica Tandy tells Kathy Bates that “best friends” are the greatest thing in life, tears shoot out of my eyes like vomit out of the mouth of a teenage girl after a ride on the Tilt-A-Whirl.

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I’d really like to come to the table with something light and jokey–maybe discuss Miley Cyrus, and how my only issue with her controversial VMA twerking, was use and abuse of that god-damned foam finger.

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Listen, Miley is a little bat-shit, I’ll grant you that.  But she has been employed since she was 5, working hours that would break a grown adult, her father is Billy Ray Cyrus…plus she’s got a rocking figure, and if I looked like that, I’d rock beige latex and rub my foam finger all over Robin Thicke‘s wang.  You only live once right?

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When I came home from work last night, Ben was on the phone looking rather serious.  He was listening intently, but being equal measures of concerned and nosy, we had a brief game of “Is everything okay?”  “Is everyone okay” “Is someone dead?” “Is it your Nana?” .  It’s possibly the worst game show idea ever, but I really excelled at the task at hand.  But it’s not really a fist pumping, couch jumping, ‘in your face’ kind of moment.  It’s just sad.  And when things like this happen, you feel so very far away.  Like you wished you could hop in the car and pop down the street to comfort the ones you love.  Or just have a cup of tea and a chat.  But we’ve all scattered to the winds, and really the glue that holds us together is the internet.  I immediately send some messages, make connections with Ben’s family, who are so much more than in-laws to me.  I say to Ben that we should write a little something so someone can read it.  Ben shakes his head, “That’ll never make it in time”.  Uh, well there’s this new invention called the ‘interweb‘, and apparently you can just send things and people get them instantly.  But that’s fine, grief does strange things to us all, forgetting the internet is a symptom of loss.

I kid, but of course, it breaks my heart.  Especially when Ben starts reminiscing.  We go for a walk, and after a moment of quiet Ben starts talking.  His oft-mentioned memory was visiting their Auckland home, one with a grand pool and a hot tub.  His Nana would always put on quite a spread.  His eyes really light up at the mention of the food, and he always called it a ‘spread’.  Apparently at Nana’s house, you’d just eat and swim and soak up the rays. Then you’d eat an amazing roast dinner with these amazing potatoes that you couldn’t even cut.  They were that crispy.  And she wore delicious perfume and gave excellent hugs.  “She was a good Nana”, he said, his voice husky and soft.  I couldn’t get that picture out of my mind, the thought of my husband as a child, lounging poolside, a full tummy, a face smiling.  I always imagine him smiling.  He has mentioned this often enough for it to make me believe that that was a childhood happy place.  When we were last in Auckland, we went to visit his grandparents at their home.  We had champagne in the same kind of glasses they used in “Casablanca”, and the whole thing was very civilized.

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Their home looked dusty, rough around the edges, the pool was empty and the shrubbery had grown over.  Ben saw small repairs to be done anywhere, and it bothered him deeply that he was leaving the country soon and couldn’t do much.  We were days away from leaving for Canada, and this was our last visit with them.  Last night, lying on the air mattress, talking about his grandmother, an invisible thread was spun between this blissful boyhood experience, with the disrepair of their home, the weathering of time, to this moment when she was gone, and we were so far away, and all we could do was remember quietly in the dark.  Ben, feeling bereft and homesick this morning, took a personal day.  I started later, so I could sit with him longer, nestled on the couch, coffee in hand.  I wanted to be with him all day, but didn’t want to miss work, so I thought about getting home for a bit of lunch, and trying to nip out a few minutes early.  All day my mind was stuck on my husband.  How was he feeling? What was he thinking?  Was he coping?  Of course, of all days, fate intervened and I got so busy at work, and traffic was thick, and once I burst in the door and I had all but ten minutes to see my lover.  On the radio was a very soulful rendition of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water”, which was a real steering wheel gripper.  Gulping back emotion, I park the van in the loading zone and sprint up the stairs and burst into the front door.  Ben is playing X-Box, and pauses momentarily to acknowledge my presence.  Clearly this is a man who did not just hear “Bridge Over Troubled Water” while playing online.  He also feel asleep before “Fried Green Tomatoes” ended, so I don’t think he’s as emotionally amped as I, even though it’s technically his loss that we’re dealing with.

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Now I’m bugged, and really regretting having sprinted up the stairs.  I could have gone to Starbucks and had a latte, but instead came home to be ignored by you.  But…wouldn’t you like to sob into my bosom while I hold you like a baby?  Wouldn’t that be a nice use of time? “Is this how you are reflecting today?”  I make that squinty face that many women make, when they are trying to appear hip and ‘with it’, when really we want you to change that shirt.  He’s fragile, I know, he’s dealing with a loss, so he should pass the time as he likes.   Ben makes a squinting face back at me, in the same way most men do when trying to assess whether his Mrs is being serious, kidding, or just fucking crazy.  Not quite Miley Cyrus foam finger crazy, but somewhere in that neighborhood.  “What do you want me to do? Wear a black veil?”.  Well, yes, I know that life goes on and all, but there’s protocol.  But it’s difficult when you are far from home, absent from the planning, the service, exempt from collective grieving.  I remember when my Welsh-Grandpa died, the next morning I wore florescent lime green socks.  I was a young, rather conservative kid dealing with a first brush with death, it was a real ‘what the hell, live a little’ moment.  Some bully made a point of joking about my socks but I was indigent.  You don’t understand, I’ve suffered a loss; these socks are my way of cutting loose.  So, I suppose we take our losses, and bury them somewhere under a bright color, or in whatever gets over those waves of bereavement: talking, working, reading, writing, blogging or gaming.  A good movie, a yoga class, a warm blanket and a lingering hug.  You still got to have a little fun.  After all, you only live once.

tumblr_lsyficrco21qeut50o1_400-horzttImages Courtesy of Google

Loyal Tenenbaums

While poking around the library I happened upon “The Royal Tenenbaums”.

The_Royal_Tenenbaums 7I had been thinking about this movie, but had difficulty finding it.  I love this movie.  I’m going to toss a declaration out there and say that this is my most favorite ever.  More than “Annie Hall”.  More than “Amelie”. More than “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”.

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I vividly remember seeing this movie at the cinema.  Everyone I was with hated it, but for me, it was a revelation.  I loved the style, the detail, the melancholic mood, the music, the actors, the characterizations, the story…shall I go on?  It’s so sad and funny, cynical and nostalgic, hopeful and pessimistic and most importantly, is deeply romantic.  After the film ended, I had stars in my eyes, swooning over the whole damn thing.  But it was the clandestine love between Margot and Richie that appealed to my romantic sentiment.

margot-and-ritchie-2-686I was twenty years old when this film came out in 2001; my love for this film never wavers, it simply grows old with me.  In fact, I notice different things every time I view it.

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And this evening, after a long hot work day, my husband and I tucked in with pizza, ice-cold pear cider and this movie.  And then I got a little bit drunk.  And it was wonderful.

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And so, if I may, I’ll finish with my favorite scene from the movie.  This gets me in my heart every time.

Images Courtesy of Google, YouTube

The Perks of Being a Cry Baby

Just come back from a walk around the block. That has to happen sometimes, especially after a particular emotional movie.  And I wasn’t expecting this from “The Perks of Being a Wallflower“, I just wasn’t. Then again, as my husband says, the list of movies that make me cry is far longer than movies that haven’t made me cry.  And he’s gotten kind of used to it, my sniveling, the ever mounting structure of soaking wet tissues, and worse, my pretending that I’m not crying, which is just embarrassing for everyone.  And eyes don’t bleed water, you can’t butch it up either.

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Anyhow, Ben had to sort of pack me up like a baby, and get me out walking, like getting fresh air after mild carbon monoxide, I have to cleanse my cinematic palette.  Something about trees and traffic that wrench you from the agony of fiction.  Once, in Australia, we had to do this after I brought home “A Single Man“.

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Designer Tom Ford directed this movie, and got a bit of mention in fashion magazines.   This movie is so stylish, so elegant, apparently shots were filmed with a silk stocking over the camera to create this dreamy, filmy look.  This movie also snapped me like a twig. It certainly falls in the category of ‘once is enough’ category.  I would highly recommend this heartbreaker, but for me, it’s too emotional to repeat.

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That is pretty rare, as I usually prefer a film the second time around.  But when it’s so upsetting that you have to literally come to terms with just happened,  Once is more than enough.   I feel this way about “Life is Beautiful“, I couldn’t even talk about that movie after I saw.  It won a bunch of Oscars, and then Roberto Benigni went out and remade Pinocchio, which wasn’t the thing to follow a stunning Holocaust-themed picture.

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I would absolutely watch “The Perks of Being A Wallflower” again…eventually.  This film it got me right in the heart.  I won’t even venture into the plot, as its a relatively recent film, and I won’t want to spoil it.  But it’s really special.  There was such vulnerability it choked me up a couple of times.

hankySo, maybe it was a really touching movie, or I am slowly descending into some kind of premenstrual madness.  Perhaps a little of Column A and a little of Column B.  That’s the point of a good story, either it’s amusing, educational or cathartic.  Sometimes it’s a little mixed bag of all three.  “Wallflower” does a good job of mixing light with dark, humor blended with serious issues.  And you want so badly for the protagonist to be well, find that place to belong, and be safe there.

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I’m such a sucker for a well told  tale, my little heart will absorb it, and hold on it, and I will carry it along with my own memories.  And I will mourn the losses and failures of characters who were created by other writers who might just feel the same way I do: ” Happy and sad all at the same time [and] still trying to figure out how that could be”.

perksImages Courtesy of Google

Before Sunshine

Once, I was sitting in a sauna at the YMCA when I overheard a woman vehemently criticizing one of my all time favorite films, “Before Sunrise“.

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“They just walk around…talking…the whole movie! Nothing happens”.

Nothing happens? Everything happens! Two people meet on a train and wander around Vienna, and talking about magic and memories, about spirituality, travel, life, death and metaphysical energy, and they fall in love in the process.  That’s the greatest night ever.  That’s everyone’s travel fantasy.  I was obsessed with this film in high school. What I would have given to meet a man like mid-90’s Ethan Hawke.  How I wanted to be ethereal and mysterious like a young Julie Delpy.   How I wanted to explore a European city– to go places, to have been places.  To have something to say and to truly be heard.

Still, I can appreciate the woman’s complaint.  The movie is hardly action packed, it is very much a conversation based piece.  There are no bad-guys or major obstacles, it’s extremely mellow.  It’s walking and talking.  But it’s impossibly romantic, and mildly philosophical slice of life picture.  Also, the photography is excellent and the actors have serious chemistry.  Ordinarily I would say something, I like to defend the things I love, but she didn’t deserve to understand how special this film was.

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Before Sunset” followed a few years later, and I also love that film.  The original has an ambiguous ending, and so the follow-up was completely necessary and totally satisfying, like catching up with old friends.  Most recently a third film was released.  Sadly it was not released in my city, but I wait with bated breath the day I get to experience “Before Midnight“.

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As for today, my husband and I, worn down from the week, had downgraded a planned night out for dinner and a movie, to nachos and rented DVD‘s.  At the Movie Mart, I spotted the series on a shelf.  Four dollars for both films, I’d be a fool not to snap them up.  And so, while my husband played a bit of X-Box, I tucked into the office, a place I have not spent much time, and half-watched the film as I puttered about.  What I love about this movie, now almost twenty years old, is that within the scenes and dialogue are my own memories and aspirations: what I wanted for my life, where I wanted to go, who I wanted to meet.  How this film reflected a romantic version of the life I craved.   I grew up in a small town, and had a perfectly dark and difficult youth.  This movie was so light and lovely that it genuinely brought joy into my claustrophobic existence.   To watch it now, many years since the last time– having traveled, having found love, having grown up–it’s interesting to compare the then to the now.  And it’s the strangest feeling, how you can suddenly feel like a teenaged girl and a grown woman at the exact same time, like this cinematic quantum leap; like being able to tell your younger self: You will go somewhere. You will meet someone.  You will be alright.

Images Courtesy of Google