{can’t repeat the past? why, of course you can!}

Of course I saw Baz Luhrmann’s The Great Gatsby on the opening night, because it is one of my favorite books and I read it like six times in high school and I wrote my college application writing sample on it and also I like seeing Leo DiCaprio in roles he might be good at. Here is what I thought about it. I am too lazy to hide spoilers behind a cut, so if you haven’t seen the movie yet and would like to, probably stop reading now.

I reread TGG last weekend and avoided all movie gossip prior to the showing, so I went into the theater both prepared and ignorant. With F. Scott Fitzgerald’s prose fresh in my mind, I was constantly picking out direct lines from the book. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a movie adaption that stayed so true plot-wise to the original book, with two exceptions. One was the absence of Gatsby’s funeral. Not crucial, but added a nice wrap-up to the novel. The other and larger change was that Nick Carraway is apparently now in a sanitarium for morbid alcoholism??? Luhrmann used it as a nice little device to explain Nick’s ongoing narrative of events past, but it seemed a bit of a desperate gimmick. As the setting of the movie’s very first scene, it also began a portrayal of Nick that, while complete and complex in its own right, was not entirely who I had found Fitzgerald’s original narrator to be.

I think it’s pretty standard that, when done well, movies are generally more emotionally charged than books—you can’t ignore the visual aspect when reacting to plot developments. I liked that diCaprio’s Gatsby was emotional and sometimes fragile; I sympathized more with him and his blind optimism than I did with Fitzgerald’s Gatsby, whose essence is, after all, built on a façade. That was true with diCaprio as well, but seeing his clear agony when planning his reunion with Daisy really drove home his desperation to repeat the past.

Nick Carraway’s increased sentimentality I did not appreciate. Fitzgerald’s Nick is, to me at least, a deliberately understated character. He’s an observer, but not necessarily a passive or tender-hearted one. Tobey Maguire’s Nick, by contrast, was drawn to Gatsby to the point of besottedness. Interesting in its own right, I suppose, but often drew the focus of the film from Gatsby, the undisputed hero of the book, to Nick and his own reactions and emotions. He was a weaker observer, asexual at the very least, at one point even lewdly taunted by Tom Buchanan for “always liking to watch.” His affair with Jordan, implied so strongly in the book as to make it obvious, never really materializes (although Jordan herself, one of my favorite characters in the book for her extreme disinterest, was far too giddy in the film for my tastes).

The true scene stealer here, and the primary reason I would watch this movie again, was Joel Edgerton as Tom. I suspected from the trailer that he could be great, and he was fantastic. Tom—brutish, bigoted, and abusive—is a bit of a one-note character in the book. Edgerton kept these key traits, but also underlined how vindictive and truly dangerous he was. In one of the plot’s most pivotal scenes, the confrontation in the hotel room between Gatsby, Tom, and Daisy, you could clearly see the emotional duality in Tom’s actions: rage at what he has just discovered between Gatsby and his wife, and a controlled confidence that he will emerge on top. The tension in the audience was palpable as Tom goaded an increasingly excitable Gatsby, giving real substance to Daisy’s doubts about her future with a bootlegger of questionable dealings. (The tension was there, at least, until any one of Carey Mulligan’s lines. The true disappointment in this movie, all her lines were stiffly delivered and reminded me instantly that I was sitting in a movie theater watching career actors and that I had a sugar headache from eating too many watermelon Sour Patch Kids.)

I’ve read a few reviews of the movie since Friday night, almost all negative (except for a seemingly universal awe for Edgerton’s performance). Yes, it wasn’t the greatest movie ever made, but please, reviewers, get off your high horse. You are not God, you are not F. Scott Fitzgerald, you do not know the one true meaning of TGGI found the movie to be enjoyable, entertaining, and, for the most part, well done, and I’m perfectly satisfied with that.


{dear infinite friend}

Anyone who knows me even a little bit knows that Emma Watson is my soul mate. Having somehow missed this opportunity when I was actually coming of age, I’ve been attempting to read The Perks of Being a Wallflower for the past year to prep for Emma’s role as Sam in the movie version out this month (and written/directed by Stephen Chbosky himself!). Faced with a total dearth of cheap/free copies at used bookstores/libraries, I finally downloaded the audio book and happily spreadsheeted my way through work this week.

I have many things to say about the book, but I won’t. Sadly, I’m pretty sure that my enjoyment of it was strongly effected (both positively and negatively) by the fact that I listened to it instead of reading it, so I’ll just skip over my impressions there and go straight into the movie.

(spoilerz behind cut)

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{feminist armor}

Yesterday, after two sold-out shut-downs, I finally saw Snow White and the Huntsman. At our pre-screening dinner and drinks, my friend and I discussed what we’d heard about the movie so far: unexpectedly good, Charlize Theron is brilliant, an empowering feminist slant. Though neither of us had read it, we discussed an apparently well-known review of SWatH as the beginning of a new genre of feminist film, led (really??) by Kristen Stewart.


After the movie, our collective response was: That constantly oscillated between expected and surprising! Daring ending! Strong female characters! Entirely unsubtle female Jesus figure!

At home this morning, I attempted to find the review we had discussed through a brief Google search. I was resoundingly unsuccessful—instead, Googling “snow white and the huntsman feminism” results in a barrage of reviews bashing the movie for its misplaced feminist interpretation of the classic fairytale.

In some scruffy, unbathed, unshaven, older-alcoholic way, the huntsman is supposed to make sense as Snow White’s true love. . . [I]t is his lesson about a knife to the heart that ultimately saves her. So, even though Snow White kills the Queen, he gave her the knowledge to do so. Her moment in armor? That was just a brief blip in drag. By film’s end, she is wrapped nicely back in a flouncy blood-red dress and will seemingly soon trip down the aisle with Sir Skirt Ripper. Gag.

Alright, Ms. Magazine blog. While I may devour “No Comment” like there’s no tomorrow (favorite), imma have to disagree with a lot of what you’re putting out there right now. Namely, the huntsman did not make sense to me as Snow White’s true love—rather, I came away from the film with the impression of a conscious effort to point out that they were not going to be tripping down the aisle soon, or at all. And that’s a bold move—flying in the face of the biggest mainstay of both Hollywood and fairytales. Did the huntsman teach Snow White to fight? Yes. Did that make sense, given the gender roles of their society (and the fact that she had been locked in a tower for a decade, and so had had no other opportunity to learn to fight)? Also yes. (Did K-Stew look like a total bad ass leaping through a wall of fire in full sword-wielding armor? Yes.)

To my understanding, a feminist revamping of a fairytale does not (and probably should not) completely ignore the admittedly chauvinist lean of the original. Let’s face it—if I was running for my life through the Dark Forest, I would probably want someone with me. You say that you know a man who can wield a battleaxe, which straight-up physical fact makes a difficulty for me? Fine, male companion it is. Even Katniss—whom this blogger seems to regard as the paragon of feminist hero, an opinion I partially agree with but also find a little questionable—had almost constant male companionship or protection, especially in the second and third Hunger Games books.

In any case. I am likely getting in over my head here. Suffice it to say that sometimes it is just pretty cool to watch a girl leap through a wall of fire in full sword-wielding armor.

{cliché cliché}

I’ve been really lazy lately. The result is that even though I just finished Kate Morton’s The Distant Hours, I’m not blogging on it today—because I am way overdue for a post about something else.

The Hunger Games movie. 

My enthusiasm didn’t quite get me to a midnight showing—for the first time in my life, I actually have a job that I wouldn’t risk sleeping through to crowd a theater full of preteens. I did, however, catch an opening evening viewing with the roomates last Friday, after spending a day at my cubicle listening to the soundtrack and failing to drown my huge adrenaline rush in Excel spreadsheets. (Sidebar: SPOTIFY THAT SHEESH. Trust me—you will not regret. I have it saved in a playlist called ADRENALINE.)

While waiting through three previews featuring vampires (Abraham Lincoln? C’mon, son… I refuse to believe that is more than just a Party Down joke), I realized that, despite being a die-hard Harry Potter fan (Emma Watson is my iPod screensaver), I was actually more excited about THG, precisely because I didn’t love the book as much. Approaching THG movie, I wasn’t bracing myself for inaccuracies, misinterpretations, or disappointments—I was ready to freely embrace the movie because I knew going into it that it would satisfy me. And it did.

I’m not going to touch on the nitpicking and detail mongering that has been sweeping the web over the past week: the unrelenting pace of action, the skimming over of the mockingjay, or, more disturbingly, Jennifer Lawrence’s “curviness” and the implication that Rue’s dark skin made her death less meaningful. Suffice it to say that when Katniss and Peeta raised their clasped hands and swept flames across the the Capitol on their chariot ride, I gasped and stuffed my knuckles in my mouth. And never took them out.

On a lighter and more embarrassing note, I also had a haircut appointment the next day—and took in my roomate’s Entertainment Weekly with Jennifer Lawrence on the cover. “She has hair just like mine!” I gabbled to my friendly stylist. “Do you know how rare that is?” (She didn’t. No one does. Except maybe Jennifer Lawrence.)

So now I proudly sport the Katniss cut, aka curly bangs. I haven’t yet fully embraced it—braids and all—but don’t worry. It’s coming.

{free at last}

It’s gotten to the point where I’m more or less completely off crutches, giving me a certain amount of freedom (staying home alone! carrying things! racing dust mites up and down stairs!). Unfortunately, I was NOT ALLOWED to go to the beach yesterday with my parents and our three German visitors, which was très bummer. Not to worry—I spent a productive day lying on my bedroom rug and watching Seinfeld. I also finished The Maltese Falcon, but my post on that is reserved for the Book Blob and will appear this Friday.

In the immediate aftermath of surgery, I had decided that freedom from crutches would be my cut-off for postponing a job search, so, technically, I should be tracking down references right about now. Instead, I’ve continued my practice of finding jobs online that I COULD apply to, bookmarking them on my laptop, and leaving it at that. I’m currently operating under the philosophy that I can’t be rejected from jobs I don’t apply to. It’s working well so far—my self-esteem is still fairly intact. We’ll see how much longer it’ll remain so.

In other exciting book news, I ran across this little gem the other day: A Photographic History of Bromance, 1840-1918. I devoted a large amount of time and energy into verifying that yes, this is in fact a real book. Now all that remains is to wait until it appears in my local library, which likely won’t happen unless I move to a town bigger than 200,000.

During a brief respite in my current employment as chauffeur (chauffeuse?) for our three German visitors, I watched the Keira Knightley Pride and Prejudice and crafted last night. Despite being a die-hard fan for the 5-hour BBC P&P, I did enjoy enjoy the KK version in theaters and, later, when I procured it on DVD. Prior to last night, I hadn’t seen it for about three years, and I found myself slightly irked at various interpretations of the Austen classic. At first, I couldn’t figure out why, but I gradually came to realize that I just didn’t care for Knightley’s Lizzie. Now, I am a moderate fan of Keira (I’m planning a Pirates of the Caribbean marathon for the next time my parents go out of town), but her Lizzie seemed a tad too… je ne sais quoi. Giggly? Snide? Impetuous? My high-school memory of the novel tells me that Lizzie is to some extent all those things, but this Lizzie seemed just a little too-too. Flightly, I guess, might be the most accurate. Or immature. Something. Clearly, I’ve gotten too old and cynical to still be amused by Hollywood’s 19th-century witticisms.

What do you think? Which Austen film adaptation does the most justice? (Don’t even bother posting anything about the zombies/sea monsters parodies—I’m telling you right now I will delete it and, probably, block you from any future comments.)

{i want to go to a nostalgia shop}

Two things of moment occurred yesterday.

First of all, I decided to grow out my hair. This is huge. I haven’t had hair past my chest since I was four years old. I have huge amounts of thick, wavy/curly, uncontrollable, bionic hair that I have been wrestling with since I was old enough to care what I look like (although my mother would argue that that day still hasn’t arrived). I even had it chemically straightened almost two years ago, with the understanding that it was so egregiously expensive that I would never do it again, and chopped it all off and added bangs. Even though I have gradually come to accept and even enjoy my curls, I am frequently quite sad that I cannot have bangs.

But this is all beside the point. Before straightening my hair, I had had the same mid-length layered haircut for approximately three years, since I had decided (after some unfortunate styles freshman year of high school) that it was the only safe choice. After straightening, I briefly went on a short-hair stint, being of the opinion that the less work I have to do to style it, the better a haircut is.

Now, however, I have decided to grow it out. This is almost entirely due to photos I’ve been finding on Pinterest of truly gorgeous long curly hair. Also, I believe that post-straightening, my hair has become slightly more obedient. I may even become super ambitious and invest in this. (An eBook? Shock upon shock!)

Also of interest yesterday was Midnight in Paris, the newest Woody Allen film. Having seen nothing by Woody save Sleeper and Matchpoint, both of which I rather disliked, I went into the viewing with some trepidation. My mother, who took me to see it, made swear months beforehand that I would not read any reviews about it or Google it or learn anything about it in any way before seeing it. My mother does this with all movies, and while I hardly ever agree with her, I will humor all those who share her beliefs by hiding my thoughts on the film behind a cut.

In other news, I walked to the bank today—about half an hour round trip. I wasn’t going to, but then I realized that I’m having knee surgery tomorrow and that trip is probably the longest one I’ll have for a good month or two. Ha.

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