Tag Archives: movies

Beauty in the Movies: The Devil Wears Prada

I had a job interview this week, and on my way I couldn’t help thinking of The Devil Wears Prada. That might sound silly, but it was reassuring to know that even if the interview went badly, it couldn’t possibly be as bad as finding Miranda Priestly (or Anna Wintour) sitting at that desk across from you.

The Devil Wears Prada is the story of Andy Sachs (Anne Hathaway), a Midwesterner in New York, fresh out of college and desperate for experience. Andy wants to be a journalist, but she finds herself at the world’s top fashion magazine, Runway, interviewing to be the assistant of Miranda Priestly (Meryl Streep), a job a thousand girls would kill for. Miranda isn’t just an editor at a fashion magazine, she is the voice of fashion. Her word is the last word, and all other opinions be damned. She is cold, brutal, and unsympathetic, but also elegant, successful and respected beyond compare.

Miranda hires Andy despite her “frumpy” (ahem, I have the j. crew coat she wears in the opening sequence—it’s cute, ok?) appearance in the hopes that she is different from the fashion obsessed girls who usually land the job. While Andy is up for the challenge, the demands of her new position put her relationship with her family, best friend (Tracie Thoms), and boyfriend (Adrian Grenier) into jeopardy. Andy has to choose what’s important to her, but in the process of self discovery there’s also a bunch of montages, a few Madonna songs, a makeover, and some great designer clothes.

This is not the most unpredictable film, but it certainly has its charms, most specifically Meryl Streep’s perfectly frightening portrayal of Miranda. It’s hard to take your eyes off her, everything from the way she enunciates her words, to the cruel flicker in her eyes while torturing Andy with impossible tasks, further propels the believability of her character. Miranda Priestly makes Working Girl‘s Catherine Parker look like a whiny, disheveled brat. Rumor has it the character was based on Anna Wintour, the notoriously steely editor-in-chief of American Vogue, but Streep creates her own Miranda and delivers a woman who is both vicious and awe-inspiring in her approach to life and business.

Emily Blunt is fantastic and funny as Miranda’s other assistant (the 1st assistant), she is the stand-out among the supporting cast and steals all her scenes right out from under Anne Hathaway. Stanley Tucci is also charming, while stereotypical as Nigel Runway’s Art director who is adored by both Miranda and Andy. Simon Baker plays a roguish writer and Valentino and Giselle (proving she shouldn’t quit her day job) make appearances as well.


Most people have had a boss or supervisor whom they’ve found less than pleasing, but this film takes it to new levels. Miranda’s treatment of Andy could be seen as character building—a tough love of sorts, after all she does learn a lot and come out on top in many ways. Unfortunately the ugly side of that coin is that her sadistic treatment virtually ruins Andy’s life, and as we learn, Miranda’s personal life isn’t all roses and sunshine either, leading the viewer to believe that great success comes only with great sacrifice. It’s an issue I wish the movie explored a bit more, because it feels like we’re meant to believe Miranda must be evil in order to be respected, which forgives her cruelty just a tad too much. There is too much of a shine put on everything in this film and the minute you think you might get to look deeper, you’re placated by pretty clothes, which is fine and can be really enjoyable, but it doesn’t make you think too hard either.

The Devil Wear Prada is a fun, entertaining, possibly unrealistic look at the fashion world. It’s also a coming of age film, and a film about figuring out who you want to be as a professional and as a person—but most of all it’s about really pretty clothes, Chanel and Dolce & Gabbana and Patricia Field’s beautiful styling. I’d take a film like this over a bland rom-com with Jennifer Aniston or Katherine Heigl any day, because while it might not be groundbreaking, it’s about something other than just men and cliches. Don’t expect to be surprised by the twisting plot or unconventional characters, just get lost in the brilliance of Meryl Streep and the beauty of Chanel while you sit back and wish you could afford designer clothes.

The Devil Wears Prada

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Celebrating 100 Darts

Ok, so I guess it might not be all that exciting for anyone but me, but I was pretty surprised to see this was my 100th post. I thought a little celebration was in order—which really means taking a look back at some highlights from the last 100 posts. I’m sorry if this is like when TV shows have a “new” episode, which is really just clips from old episodes, but I always secretly kind of liked those shows.

My Lovable Lipsticks post still reminds me that I should wear lipstick more often, it can be a great way to change-up your everyday look and try something new. I’ve been planning a blush post for a while, so you can expect that somewhere in the next 100 posts.

My nail polish ode is one of my favorites, it was so much fun to do, and my collection has since been weeded out and replenished, so there will probably be another one of these in the future!

What else happened in the last 100 posts?

I got angry about fashion magazines calling me a fruit:

I talked about popstars:

…and body image/acceptance:

I admitted my deep fear of dressing rooms:

…and my frustration with finding an exercise routine I could stick to:

I got married and talked about it a lot:

I wondered what the hell a “conventional beauty” was:

…and what “good hair” was:

And in June I started the feature ‘Beauty in the Movies’ as a way to explore films that showcase prominent, interesting, female characters (since there unfortunately aren’t too many out there). Since it started, ‘Beauty in the Movies’ (and sometimes on Television) has featured some pretty great films, and I hope to feature many, many more. Check out the 25 ‘Beauty in the Movies’ posts by clicking on the thumbnails below!

 

 

 

I’m really looking forward to the next 100 posts, and I want YOU to help me! Send me your suggestions for posts, or movies, or questions that need answering (I am compiling a Q&A post and hope to do an eyeshadow tutorial once I reformat my persnickety Flip camera) remember—there are no stupid questions!


More than anything I want to thank all of you for reading, without you I don’t think I would have had the motivated to keep writing, so I bestow on all you readers the most magical and wholehearted of thanks and good wishes. This blog has introduced me to some awesome, beautiful, intelligent, amazing people and I can’t wait to hear from more of you! Here’s to all you readers!

Kisses!!

xo

Justine

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Beauty in the movies: Hocus Pocus

I’m sorry to say this is a sort of budget Beauty in the Movies post. I thought it would be fun to celebrate Halloween with one of the best Halloween movies ever—Hocus Pocus, but there is a “long wait” for the film on Netflix so I wasn’t able to take my own screen-shots, thankfully I kind of have it memorized and it was on the ABC Family channel so I was able to watch it again.

Hocus Pocus is the story of Max Denison (Omri Katz) the new kid in Salem, Massachusetts who loves wearing tie dyed T-shirts and doesn’t believe in witches, especially not the local tale of the three Sanderson sisters Winifred ‘Winnie’ Sanderson, (Bette Midler) Sarah Sanderson, (Sarah Jessica Parker) and Mary Sanderson (Kathy Najimy) who were put to their deaths on Halloween night in 1693 for sucking the lives out of little children.

In his effort to woo the cute girl in his class with “big yabos”, Allison (Vinessa Shaw), Max drags his little sister, Dani (Thora Birch), along to check out the Sanderson house on Halloween night. Once there, he foolishly lights the ‘black flamed candle’ which legend tells will bring the witches back from the dead if lit by a virgin on Halloween night—can you guess what happens? Yeah, Max brilliantly not only brings three evil witches back from the dead, but also outs himself as a virgin to the girl he is trying to impress, smooth move Hollywood.

Max also really pisses off Thackery Binx, a 300 year old cat who is really a teenage boy (Sean Murray) who was turned into a feline by the witches after they killed his sister Emily. Wild Hi-jinx ensue, and Binx, Dani, Max, and Allison must figure out a way to stop the witches before they suck the life from all the kids in town.

Some kids are obsessed by pop-stars or fairy tales, but for some reason I was obsessed with the Salem Witch Hunts, I’m not sure why, but this movie probably played a part in it. I made my parents take me to Salem, I read the crucible more than five times, gave my Barbies the water test in my old fish bowl, and I actually learned a lot about history and the screwed up things people do to one another—so thanks Disney for representing history so badly I had to go learn it for myself!

Hocus Pocus is what I would call a delightful romp, Bette Midler is fantastic as usual, and I personally think it’s a perfect Halloween movie. There’s singing, zombies, and a freaking talking cat! Plus, look at these 90s bullies, that’s “Ice” (Larry Bagby) on the left, he would later appear on lots of TV shows including Buffy the Vampire Slayer, but he has never had more awesome duds than the ones he sports in this film.

If you want to get mushy about it, this movie sets a good model for kids in terms of being nice to your siblings too. When the movie opens Max is a total jerk to his little sister and whines about being too cool to take her trick-or-treating, but after hearing how Binx lost his sister, he realizes just how precious younger siblings can be.

And also, when you’re a virgin who lights a black-flamed-candle bringing three evil witches back from the dead and they’ve put your parents under a spell in song, you really need to learn to stick together, because you’re kind of all you’ve got—now isn’t that an important lesson for siblings to learn?

I have to say I was super annoyed when they showed this on TV the other night and cut out the ending with all the parents walking out of the Halloween party dazed and crazy from being under the witches spell—bad form ABC family, bad form.

Somehow I managed to lose the polyvore collage I made for this post, which really sucks and I have no idea how it happened, so I apologize for that. One week from today I will be getting married, so Beauty in the Movies will be taking a break and returning in November with more beauty and more movies!

Happy Halloween kiddies!!!!!!!!!!!


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Beauty in the Movies: Heathers

This week I present to you one of the best teen comedies ever, and by far one of the darkest. Heathers is one of those movies that just keeps getting better as the years go by, and you discover something new each time you watch it.

There are four girls who rule Westerberg High, Heather Chandler (Kim Walker), Heather Duke (Shannen Doherty), Heather McNamara (Lisanne Falk) and Veronica Sawyer (Winona Ryder). They spend their days torturing geeks like Martha Dunnstock (Carrie Lynn), who they call Martha Dump-truck, doling out witty dialogue, and playing croquet. When new guy JD (Christian Slater) arrives at school, he shakes up Veronica’s world and forces her to confront how awful the Heathers really are.

When we first meet JD, he’s the epitome of the cool, mysterious new kid, he comes on the scene to save Veronica from a world of Heathers and expose the popular crowd as the self-centered assholes they are. It’s set up like other teen movies; two characters meet and seem to be a perfect match, but things go off in a very different direction from there. It’s Veronica’s story, but instead of spending the film mooning over a crush, she spends it frantically scribbling in her diary while wearing her monocle and cursing the idiocy of her peers.

The American high school is a nasty place, and Heathers was the first movie that exposed it as such. In high school everyone is labeled, every dark secret is fair game, and even death is a way to up your social standing.

Heathers came out in 1989, at the end of an era dominated by John Hughes movies where teenagers are fun, sweet, and adorable—the most bad-ass things they do involve dancing at parades and skipping out on their detention homework. The Heathers teens range from vapid to down right evil, a sharp contrast to the charming geeks and lovable jocks of the Hughes Cannon. In Heathers, house parties are replaced by funerals, and instead of the cute male lead turning out to be surprisingly sensitive, he turns out to be a murderous psychopath. Sadly, in some ways it’s a much more realistic portrayal of what high school is really like.

Heathers established its own vernacular, it gave us phrases you still hear in modern high schools, even if those kids have no idea where they came from—like “what’s your damage?”, “I gotta motor”, or “How very”. Virtually every other line is a memorable quote, who could forget “F*ck me gently with a chainsaw” or “I love my dead gay son!”?

Teen suicide has been making headlines again recently, which means it’s time to start re-running Heathers on cable, because this film actually makes a great case against suicide. It demonstrates how killing yourself just makes your hateful classmates pretend they liked you, and that they will use your death as a means to garner attention for themselves. High school is a war zone, and sometimes it spills over into college, but life does get better. There are still jerks in the world after high school, but you get to choose if you want to be around them or not. Sure, offices can sometimes recall a bit too much of that old high school cruelty, but for the most part people mature and realize life is too short to be so worried what everyone else thinks.

Heathers held up the mirror and forced us to look at the way we treat tragedy, the sensationalized accounts of death and suicide have only grown with the internet age. Teen suicides provoked (at least in part) by bullying are in the news every other week these days. The cavalier attitude and lack of responsibility from peers is always a major focus of disgust—more than twenty years later and Heathers is truer than ever, yet we still act surprised by the actions of empathy-free teens and their victims, showing that we would rather run a “shocking” news story than try to solve the problem. All I can say is, in the words of Big Fun, “Teenage suicide—don’t do it”.

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Beauty in the Movies: Working Girl

When I first decided to start Beauty in the Movies, one of the films I had in mind was Working Girl, it’s one of the most iconic examples of female empowerment in cinema, and it’s got an awesome 80’s wardrobe to go with it.

(click to enlarge)

When we were little (way too little to understand most of it) my sister and I watched this movie over and over again. I think mostly it had to do with Joan Cusack’s insanely fabulous hair and make-up, seeing Han Solo as a business man, and also the song “Let the River Run” by Carly Simon which we sang loudly and repeatedly to the intense annoyance of my mother.

Working Girl is the story of Tess McGill, a Wall Street secretary from Staten Island with the brains of a high-powered executive, and as she puts it—”a bod for sin”. Unfortunately, since she is lacking the breeding and ivy league education, all she gets out of her bosses is sexual harassment in the form of set-ups with jerks (including Kevin Spacey) who treat her like a prostitute. Tess thinks it’s a blessing when she ends up the secretary to powerful businesswoman Catherine Parker (Sigourney Weaver) who promises to help her and listen to her ideas, but as many of us with office experience have learned, for some awful reason female bosses can sometimes be far crueler than their male counterparts. When Catherine breaks her leg during a ski trip, Tess discovers that Catherine has been so impressed with her ideas that she is planning to pass them off as her own. In her mentoring of Tess, Catherine gave her secretary the excellent advice that only you alone can make things happen for yourself—and that’s exactly what Tess resolves to do.

Since Catherine already started the ball rolling on Tess’s business proposition, all Tess has to do is contact Jack Trainer (Harrison Ford), the broker Catherine was planning to work with, and give herself a makeover in time for their meeting. I won’t go farther than that, you’ll just have to see it for yourself if you haven’t already. Some other reasons to see this film; Joan Cusack as Tess’s best friend Cyn, a brief appearance by Ricki Lake, and even better—David Duchovny as an extra, or as he is referred to in the credits a “Party Friend”, the slicked back hair is not a good look for him.

Working Girl is a Cinderella story of sorts, and though Harrison Ford does make a particularly charming prince, Tess is really the one who saves herself. She could have just accepted her place, she could have been discouraged by listening to her bosses, or her sleazy boyfriend (Alec Baldwin), or even the other secretaries, but she doesn’t, she goes after what she wants.

This movie is loaded with great performances, all three ladies scored Oscar noms for their performances—Melanie, Sigourney and Joan, and Mike Nichols was nominated for best director as well. It’s a rare film that manages to fall into the category of romantic comedy while also being taken quite seriously. It’s Melanie Griffith’s performance that keeps this film from being a typical rom-com, she portrays a mix of vulnerability, ambition, and pride that make her character both believable and sympathetic. While Harrison Ford is adorable and captivating (there is a great scene where he changes his shirt in the office to the delight of the secretarial pool), it’s the ladies that give the film depth. Even the villainous Catherine, played so impeccably by Ms.Weaver, manages to avoid being one-dimensional. Catherine doesn’t purposely want to hurt Tess—but she doesn’t believe it’s her fault if she has to step on people to get to the top.

As I was watching this last night I couldn’t help but think of Mad Men, one of my (and everyone’s) favorite shows. Just as Mad Men is a peek into office life in the 1960’s, Working Girl is the 1980’s equivalent. Obviously Mad Men is far more serious and stylized, but the hierarchy and the struggle for women remains the same. A major issue on Mad Men is whether women are better off trying to behave like men in the office, or if they should embrace their sexuality rather than stifle it. Catherine Parker is a perfect example of a businesswoman who refuses to dress in boxy suits and dull shades to put the men at ease. Besides, if a confident women puts her male colleagues on guard, and draws attention to the fact that she is something different—all the better. For Mad Men fans it’s easy to draw parallels between Tess McGill and Peggy Olson, too bad we don’t get to see the way Tess’s career plays out over the years as we get to see with Peggy. 

Tess McGill has become an icon for working women, she represents the struggle to be taken seriously, to go after your goals, and to achieve anything you put your mind to (even in an unconventional way). This film still resonates because women are still second-rate citizens in the business world. As of 2009 only 1.5% of the 2,000 top performing companies worldwide were women. Sadly, that is a huge jump from the 1980’s when there were virtually no female heads of major companies. There is still a huge pay gap for women both in and out of the business world. Even as CEOs of major companies women tend to make less than half the pay of their male counterparts. I wish this film could be looked at as a lighthearted romantic comedy, but the issues that made it powerful at the time still remain more than twenty years later. Sorry to bum you out, but it’s the truth, and a very important one to remember. The gender wage gap exists, and the only way we can ever change that is by admitting that it’s there, I don’t think Tess McGill would have stood for it, so why the hell should we right?

When my sister and I watched Working Girl as kids, I think we both related to it because it’s New York, and as strange as the big hair and blue eyeshadow seem now, at the time that felt familiar, it was what my babysitters and my aunts were wearing. I think my sister took away more from the film than rainbow eyeshadow and shoulder padded suits. We were raised in an apartment in Queens and never had much money, but what we did have was parents who told us we could be absolutely anything we put our mind to (and who let us watch this movie!), so she ended up a high-powered attorney in Manhattan, I consider her a Tess McGill of her own making, and we’re very proud of her. I hope this film continues to inspire young women for a long time to come and I hope it teaches them that they truly are the ones who make it happen, male or female, nobody is going to achieve your goals for you, and that’s a fact.

Have a great weekend everyone!

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Beauty in the Movies: Whip It

I wasn’t expecting to like this movie as much as I did. I’ve had moments where I’ve found Drew Barrymore incredibly annoying, but recently I’ve been liking her. It could be that she is one of the few people in Hollywood who has the pull, and the desire, to make more films about women.

Whip It is the story of Bliss Cavendar (Ellen Page), a high school outcast in her Texas town of Bodeen. Her beauty pageant obsessed mother (Marcia Gay Harden) keeps Bliss on a tight leash and is mortified when Bliss seems less than thrilled about the world of pageants. Bliss and her best friend Pash (Alia Shawkat) dream of escaping their “hick town” while working at local eatery—”The Oink Joint” where they wear aprons with pigs on them. After discovering a Roller Derby flier while shopping with her mom in Austin, Bliss and Pash trick their parents into letting them attend. By the end of the night Bliss has a new dream, and despite being only 17 (the league’s only requirement is that you be 21) she sneaks out to the auditions for the team and makes the cut.

Bliss joins the Hurl Scouts, the league’s underdog team who have never won a game. The team also includes Smashley Simpson (Drew Barrymore), Maggie Mayhem (Kristen Wiig), Rosa Sparks (Eve), and Bloody Holly (Zoe Bell), their frustrated coach is played by Andrew Wilson (he’s the third Wilson Brother, as in Luke and Owen). As you can imagine there are some great sports montages and team bonding. There is also a boy, (Landon Pigg) and a great soundtrack. Juliette Lewis captains the league champions, and the Scouts biggest competition, the Holy Rollers, she is pitch perfect as the bitchy, mean, cool-girl you love to hate, but can’t actually hate at all because it’s Juliette Lewis and she’s awesome. There is also a charming performance by Daniel Stern, looking much changed from his Home Alone days, as Bliss’s dopey, but sweet dad.

What’s really freaking great about this movie is that it portrays female relationships with honesty, in a completely un-sappy way. Pash and Bliss have a relationship that reminded me of the ones I had with my close friends in high school. You do stupid things to each other, and then it hurts really bad, but you know you messed up—and then you cry a lot. In this film you understand the characters motivations, you care about them and they feel convincing too, which is a triumph because Ellen Page as a Rolly Derby girl could easily be hard to believe.

This film handles the mother daughter relationship in a way I haven’t seen in too many movies. In a lot of films there are moments where a mother and daughter who fail to see eye to eye have a moment of understanding, but you never really believe they love and care about each other in a profound way. Often, the mother especially, is a cardboard cut-out of an overbearing mother. In this film, you feel the pain on both ends of the conflict, and you see how a mother and daughter can be completely different, and yet need and love one another even when it’s hard to. This isn’t Gordon Bombay dealing with his daddy issues as it relates to the sports competition at hand (I had to get a Mighty Ducks reference in there). This isn’t just a sports movie, it’s also a coming of age story, and it’s about family, friends, and the search to find what you love.

There is also a pretty cool underwater make-out scene.

While my Fiancé and I were watching this movie he turned to me and said “You know, Drew Barrymore makes movies about girls having fun”, and as Cyndi Lauper taught us, that’s really all we want isn’t it? There are a lot of movies where women are trying to find love, or trying to be sexy, but there aren’t too many where they’re trying to find themselves and having a whole lot of fun while doing it. You can tell everyone involved in this movie had a good time, and it really shows through and gives it a great energy. I hope Drew Barrymore continues to make films like this, whether she produces them or directs them, because there is a sad lack of fun female movies available, and us girls really do just want to have fun don’t we?

Put this film on your Netflix queue people, it’s a good time—if you don’t like it, I give you full permission to send me angry e-mails.

Have a GREAT Labor day weekend everyone!! Have some fun, hang out with good people and eat some tasty food, and I’ll see you back here next week!

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Beauty in the Movies: A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Sadly summer is coming to a close. This is the last Friday in August, so I thought (although it’s long since midsummer) featuring A Midsummer Night’s Dream would be a nice way to close out the past few months.

(click any image to enlarge)

I’m not going to get into the specific plot, because as with most Shakespeare, it’s complicated. Basically four mortals and a band of actors end up in the woods on a summer evening and have their loves lives unknowingly played with by fairies. If you want to know more specifics about it, read the play, or go here.

The two couples are played by Calista Flockhart (Helena), Anna Friel (Hermia), Christian Bale (Demetrius), and Dominic West (Lysander). The queen of Fairies, Titania, is played by Michelle Pfeiffer, and the king, Oberon, by Rupert Everett.  I personally think Oberon should be a bit more masculine and intimidating despite the title “king of fairies”, but Mr. Everett certainly doesn’t achieve either of those things in this role, so to each his own.  Playing his tricksy sidekick, Puck, is Stanley Tucci. And rounding out the cast supremely well as Bottom the ass, is Kevin Kline. Oh and if all those actors aren’t enough, the dad from Alf (Max Wright) is also in it.

All the performances are decent, some stand-out more than others, but honestly, I saw a production of this by Gorilla Shakespeare in Washington Square park in the 90s and those actors blew all these guys out of the water. Maybe seeing Shakespeare live is just always better. I don’t love this movie for the outstanding performances though, I love it because it’s effing gorgeous and I never get sick of the beautiful sets, costumes, lighting, and music. This is one of those movies I put on just for background noise, because it’s makes me happy and it’s beautiful.

This adaptation is set in Edwardian Tuscany, a bit strange, but it works in its own way. Some die-hard Shakespeare devotees were surely annoyed by it, but it actually suits the story pretty well. The plot involves escaping into the woods, outside the rules of the city, where there are no laws and no propriety, just nature and mischief. The Edwardian and Victorian eras were incredibly repressed and obsessed with decency and modesty, so juxtaposing the refined life of the characters with the wild world of the fairies works nicely. Why Tuscany? I guess because it’s pretty. The original play is set in Athens, Greece.

This adaptation also works because the play itself was incredibly popular during this era. The play was acted out as a major spectacle and the music, written by Mendelssohn, became wildly popular as well. In fact The Wedding March, used in most western weddings is from Mendelssohn’s overture for A Midsummer Night’s Dream. It makes sense, because Shakespeare wrote this play as a wedding gift for a close friend of Queen Elizabeth I, and it was during the turn of the century that much of what we consider western wedding traditions came into practice, like the white dress.

I know this movie only kinda sorta passes the Bechdel test—but whatever. The test has flaws, and when a movie is completely about relationships and all anyone talks about is love, the whole test falls apart. There are many movies that should pass the test in spirit, but don’t technically pass it. The real purpose for the test is to get us thinking, not to limit the movies we watch and enjoy. It’s god-damn Shakespeare for cripes-sakes, even if the parts were originally played by men impersonating women, they still stand up as good female characters, far better spoken and developed then some of the cardboard cutouts we see in romantic comedies today.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream, like most of Shakespeare’s plays, is overflowing with beautiful quotations, but I’ll just choose one and leave you with that. May you all have weekends (and lives) filled with fairy magic!

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Beauty in the Movies: Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains

I am in love with this movie, but not too many people are familiar with it because it got a raw deal, and that’s a huge shame. There are so many reasons to appreciate this film, the iconic fashion, the kick-ass make-up, the power and angst of these girls, amazing punk music, and much more.

Ladies and Gentlemen, the Fabulous Stains stars a 15-year-old Diane Lane as Corinne Burns, a frustrated recently orphaned teenage girl who in an effort to get the hell out of her small town, enlists her cousin (Laura Dern) and younger sister (Marin Kanter) to start a punk band. The three join a tour run by “Lawn boy” (Reggae artist Barry Ford) a Rastafarian with a mission to make enough money to save a musician friend of his who was wrongly imprisoned. The tour consists of two other bands; aging rockers The Metal Corpses who wear Kiss-like stage makeup and rest on the laurels of their one hit, and The Looters, a group of young cockneys, three of which are played by legendary punk musicians—Paul Simonon bassist for The Clash, and ex-Sex Pistols Steve Jones and Paul Cook. The Stains are put on the tour to ease tensions between the two other bands, but Corinne has bigger plans. She shows up for their first gig in tights, boots, a see-through blouse, and awesome hair and makeup, despite her band-mates leaving the stage and the audience heckling her, she makes an impression when she reveals herself to the audience shouting “I’m perfect! But nobody in this shithole gets me, because I don’t put out!”.

After grabbing the attention of local newswoman Alicia Meeker with her message of “don’t put out” which Corinne describes as meaning “Don’t get screwed, don’t be a jerk, don’t get had”, The Stains start to gain a following. Their fans call themselves “skunks” and put white streaks in their hair like Corinne. They range from adolescent girls to their original fan Ms. Meeker, who trades her 80s power suits for bright colors and red eyeliner. The lead singer of the Looters, Billy (Ray Winstone), is also taken with Corinne, and after rejecting his advances, she finally gives in to him. The rest of the film features a lot of angst, revenge, teen girls, and of course more punk music, but you should really just see it for yourself, because despite the plot holes, this movie is iconic and damn awesome in so many ways. Unfortunately, the studio didn’t agree—it wasn’t commercial enough, so they held the release, re-titled it (the original title was “All Washed Up”), and tacked on an MTV music video ending in which the punk-rock Stains have turned peppy and look more like the Go-gos, bouncy, fluffy hair and all.

This film was made in 1980, that’s before Spinal Tap, before Cyndi Lauper or Joan Jett were mainstream, and before there were any all-female rock bands prevalent in the United States. This movie was ahead of its time. Lady Gaga and Corinne have virtually the same everyday attire—black tights, black underwear, heels and maybe a sweater. It’s still rare to see a character like Corinne in a movie, watching her gain and quickly lose—the upper hand with her love interest is pretty amazing. She can be a pouty brat, but she also has incredible ambition and knows how to take care of herself—even though she’s just a girl.

It’s obvious that the movie industry has changed. We attack Miley Cyrus for doing a sexy lap dance off-screen, meanwhile in 1980, at barely 15, Diane Lane has shower sex scenes, shows her boobs and ass, and plays a character who openly showcases her sex-appeal. Let’s look what happened to Diane Lane—she’s a successful, Oscar-nominated actress with an amazing career under her belt, and she seems pretty damn well-adjusted. Then there is Laura Dern who, despite towering over all the girls in the film, was just 12 (TWELVE!) when this movie started filming, she had to be emancipated from her mother, but she seems to have turned out pretty well too. This film showcases how different teenage girls are from their male peers. At 15, you’re a woman, you may be awkward and have no idea what you’re doing, but the world sees you as a woman and it makes you mature pretty fast. We like to pretend in this country that until you’re 18 you are a child, and that’s simply not true, teens and adolescents are equally engrossed in our world, love, hate, sex, drugs—they know all about it, whether some people want to believe it or not.

This film is about commercialism, gimmicks, and obviously the music industry too. Corinne has a good message, and it appeals to young, angry girls and grown women as well. Sadly, to the men around her who don’t understand the appeal, it just comes off as a shtick, and well that might be part of it, it’s not everything. Corinne is a pissed off 15-year-old girl, and she uses her body and her angst to rally other women who feel the same as her. The character of Corinne is a multi-faceted one, Diane Lane works perfectly, because if she weren’t vulnerable she would come off as too angry and bitter, it’s the moments where she seems like a scared girl that you really feel for her character. By the end of the film, Corinne has bought into her own image, and later she lets herself believe it was the only thing she had going for her, at 15 she’s already been eaten up and spit back out by the industry. But it wasn’t just the make-up, the hair, and the outfits, there was something else, something that appealed to women, something strong, maybe the men around her just couldn’t see it, or maybe they were threatened by it, either way, it was much, much more than just hair.

I feel kind of out of practice with my makeup artistry recently, but while I was watching this movie I decided I just had to try out the look. I used MAC blush in frankly scarlet with a MAC angled brush to do the points on the eyes. I used Maybelline Line Stylist Eyeliner in Black Sparkle eyeliner to get the fine under eye line, and I finished off the eyes with Covergirl Lash Blast Mascara in very black. On my lips is MAC lipstick in Russian Red. It’s not my best work, but it was fun and it was 1:00AM.  I also read that they used a stencil in the movie and I did this freehand—so HA!

I’m trying to look angsty here, it’s not working out too well.

I’m a skunk!

My Fiancé did this one, yes we’re PhotoShop nerds.

Try the look out for yourself, and then send me pictures! You know you want to!

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The Twilight Saga: Hate It, Love It, Deal With It

Let me start by saying that I love vampires. I started reading Anne Rice novels at age eleven (even though I didn’t understand half of them, especially the dirty parts) and I might be the biggest Buffy fan you’ll ever meet. I’ve always loved stories about vampires, fantasy, and supernatural stuff, so I had to read Twilight. I tore through those books in about a week, and I enjoyed them, they’re great escapist fantasy, and the real pull (as with a lot of good fiction) is finding out what happens next. They’re predictable, but if you’re like me, sometimes you can’t help but want to see if you’re right about your predictions.


On Friday my fiance and I were supposed to go see Inception, but he surprised me and bought tickets for Twilight Eclipse instead. I’ve made him sit through the last two movies with me, and I really wasn’t going to ask him to see the third because upon re-watching, the second film New Moon is incredibly slow-moving and at times painful in its awkwardness. Eclipse is better, and it has prompted me to write a Twilight post, because it just had to happen. I’m not going to say I think Twilight is brilliant, but I’m also not going to say it’s total crap, because I really don’t believe either of those things are true. It is however, no matter what you think of it, an undeniable phenomenon, and although I know it has been talked about, and talked about, I’m going to talk about it some more. There are spoilers below, but only if you haven’t seen the first two films, or if you care to see the films at all.

The Twilight Saga is a series of four books written by Stephenie Meyer, the novels are world-wide bestsellers with over 100 million copies sold. If you have managed to avoid the news stories, the tabloid coverage of the film’s stars, or the television in general, let me give you a brief summary of Twilight giving as little away as possible.

A boring, typical, teenage girl, Bella Swan, moves to Forks Washington (the rainiest town in America) to live with her father, Charlie, who is the sheriff.

Bella likes headbands and Romeo and Juliet, and I’m not sure what else because what she really likes, more than anything is Edward Cullen, a boy she meets on her first day at Forks High School. Edward is a vampire, he is beautiful, and brooding, and he can read people’s thoughts, everyone’s—except Bella’s. Oh, and he sparkles in the sunlight, making him not so much a scary vampire.

After lots of intense staring, some lip-biting, and heavy breathing, they fall deeply in love and he introduces her to his vampire family. They like to dress in color coordinating outfits, specifically in shades of blue and gray.

The Cullens love Bella, they don’t eat her (or anyone else) because they subsist on large animals, which makes them friendly vampires. There are vampires who kill humans though, the leaders of these vampires are called the Volturi, they also like to dress in matching outfits.

While Bella is dealing with loving a vampire, she finds out her best friend Jacob Black is a werewolf, as are some of his peers in the Quileute tribe of which he is a member. Jacob also loves Bella and can’t wear shirts because they make him itchy.

There is a love triangle, more intense staring, and loads of teenage yearning while Bella gets herself into trouble over and over, constantly needing to be rescued. Werewolves hate vampires, and Bella is caught between, and that’s pretty much what you need to know.

So, now that we’ve covered that, let me get down to it. Bella is often called an anti-feminist character, she shows little if no strength, she is constantly being saved by, or in need of saving by, a handsome dominating male. The only real thing we know about Bella is how much she loves Edward. Of all the characters in Twilight she is given the least dimension. Everything she does is motivated by her love for Edward, she is willing to give up anything for him, her body, her life, and her soul. In the process she is knocked around and fought over like, for lack of a better word, an object. It’s obvious why she isn’t a great role model for young girls. The story isn’t really about Bella anyway, it’s about the fantasy of being “special”.

I truly believe that Twilight is a teenage girl’s fantasy. The daydreams I had as a teenager, and I think were shared by many, of meeting someone who plucked you out of the masses, who was interesting themselves, and declared you different and interesting too. Really the whole idea of Bella is that she is somehow special, despite being completely ordinary and otherwise uninteresting. There is no other evidence or reason for Bella’s specialness aside from Edward’s interest in her.

We know that Edward plays piano, we know that Jacob is an amateur mechanic, but Bella doesn’t seem to have a hobby. She cooks for her dad and she does her homework. On the HBO series True Blood, which is based on the Sookie Stackhouse novels by Charlaine Harris, Sookie finds herself in a very similar situation to Bella—but she fights, she’s tough, and she learns how to take care of herself, in other words, she has a personality. She is driven by far more than her love of her suitors, and the love triangle she is stuck in is partially because she gets pissed that both men treat her like an object, so she’s conflicted about both of them. The character of Bella is like a void, she is a blank slate that any girl can project herself onto, and I think that is part of what has made Twilight the phenomenon it has become.

I don’t think it’s that Sookie is braver than Bella, or that she is saved any less than Bella, but she is fully flesh to us. It’s that Sookie talks about her life, all the little details of it, in a very personal and realistic way. Of course she is supposed to be about seven years older, but there are plenty of teenage characters who manage to feel real to us on paper. For a story that is told in a first person narrative, Bella’s decisions and inner dialogue seem to repeat a loop of “Edward, Edward, Edward“. Bella loves Edward so deeply that she is fully prepared to give up her life and family—fake her own death essentially, in order to be with him.

In the film Eclipse there is a scene where Bella, who at this point is expecting to be bestowed eternal life by Edward, says her last goodbye to her mother (although her mother has no idea). While watching the scene I was surprised by the ease of it, It touched me only because I was thinking how difficult it would be for myself in that situation. The scene isn’t an error in translation from book to film, the treatment of Bella’s determination to be made vampire is almost glossed over with just a few—”oh, I’ll miss my parents” thrown in there. I’ve read a lot of fantasy, and usually when a similar choice comes about (which it so often does) the protagonist chooses against it, because it’s just too painful and wrong somehow, or they have their hand forced and live to regret it, but Stephenie Meyer gives the teenage girl inside of us that forbidden choice, and barely even takes note of the hardship that truly comes with it.

It’s lovely to live in a fantasy where you can give yourself over completely to another world, forgetting those you leave behind, or better yet, managing to have it all at once without consequence, but there is something about it that just rings false. Life is painful, and the decisions we make when we’re young can sometimes be so damaging that we spend the rest of our lives regretting them. There is so little real threat in the Twilight saga, the werewolves and the vampires warm up to each other almost too quickly (too bad Capulet and Montague didn’t have to battle an army of vampires) and it’s nice that they work things out, but it’s just too easy.

Feminism is all about choice, so I can’t call Bella an anti-feminist character, I may not agree with the choices she makes, but she (and Stephenie Meyer) have the right to make them, and that right should be protected rather than condemned. I still couldn’t feature Twilight in my weekly Beauty in the Movies post, because although though the films can generally pass the Bedchel test, I can’t get behind Bella as a role model, I’m a child of the Buffy generation, and I think there is more to being a woman than just choosing who to love, even if it can be fun to read about it.

I tried for a long time to justify Twilight as a valid piece of literature with a real message, just because I wanted to believe that a story that resonates so deeply with so many people must be more than just a happy accident. But here’s the thing, I really think that’s all it is. I think Stephenie Meyer stumbled on something, and though she is obviously talented in that she could  sit down and write four novels (all her haters, where are your bestselling novels, huh?) I don’t think the real message of Twilight is useful for anyone. As much as I’ve heard fans of the series try to justify the message as meaningful—the vampires and werewolves show tolerance for each other, or Bella finds acceptance in a world where she feels like an outsider, the message that really, undeniably jumps off the page, is that when you love someone you sacrifice everything, even if it changes who you are—just because you love them, no matter the consequence. We all love happy endings, but the stories that resonate deeply are the ones where something was gained and lost, or at least learned. I can’t say that Twilight gives you any of those things, but that doesn’t make it crap.

Twilight taps into a part of our collective unconscious, or at least mine and loads of teenage girls. It seems to resonate in some way, it’s deeply escapist and obviously romantic. It’s a love triangle, a battle of fire and ice, vampire vs. werewolf, chastity vs. sin, and of course Edward vs. Jacob. More than anything it’s a good story, but it’s not Romeo and Juliet, or Harry Potter, or Buffy, all those stories involve complex sacrifices, growth, pain that can’t be mended, and choices that are so hard it’s almost unbearable—and that’s what makes them transcend the realm of fantasy, what makes them human, and what makes us feel a part of them.

Oh my gosh I could go on about this forever, but I’m not sure if people are interested. So let me know if you are—hate Twilight so much you’re pissed I even brought it up? Let me know! Love Twilight so much you hate me for saying anything bad about it? Let me know too!

Also, why is it that the werewolf has a waxed chest and the vampire who is supposedly made of stone, has very visible chest fuzz? Thoughts? Anyone?

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Beauty in the Movies: Chocolat

In Honor of Bastille day this past Wednesday July 14th, this week’s featured film for Beauty in the movies is Chocolat. It’s also very appropriate that this article in the New York Times came out yesterday about the beauty of french women and aging gracefully. Coincidentally the article featured two of the actresses in the film, Juliette Binoche and Leslie Caron who was made famous for playing the title role in the film Gigi. We Americans seem to have a particular obsession with the French Je ne sais quoi, with books like French Women Don’t Get Fat, and the multiple other french diet books, it seems we are constantly trying to capture that same easy elegance that radiates off certain french women. Bridgitte Bardot, Catherine Deneuve, Julie Delpy, Eva Green, they all seem to embody a certain standard, it makes me wonder if French women feel as pressured to meet that standard as we feel to meet the skinny, tan, all-American standard. That’s food for another post, this one is about a fabulous movie called Chocolat, haven’t seen it? You should, let’s check out why.

Even the must curmudgeonly, sarcastic, angry, person couldn’t sit down to watch 121 minutes of the enchanting Juliette Binoche changing the lives of residents in a small town with chocolate and not crack a smile or two. It’s one of those films that explores the extent of human emotion while spinning magic and keeping things lighthearted. In the movie I Love You Man, it’s a running joke that the male characters can’t help but love Chocolat. I think that serves as an example of how films like this get written off as being for women because they have a majority of strong female characters, but when given a chance they’re equally enjoyed by men, just ask my fiancé!

Chocolat is the story of Vianne, a woman whose Mayan ancestors followed where the north wind carried them from village to village for generations, dispensing the medicinal and magical properties of cocoa. Vianne was raised this way by her mother, and continues the tradition with her daughter, but she would never imagine that a sleepy little town in France may finally break the nomadic cycle of her people.

Vianne Rocher and her young daughter Anouk arrive in the french town of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes on a stormy night during the holy time of lent in 1959. Vianne rents a patisserie from the cranky, elderly Armande (Judi Dench) and sets about turning the small shop into something far better than anything the town has seen before—a chocolaterie. Vianne’s shop is conveniently located across the square from the large cathedral where nearly every resident attends church, except for Vianne and Anouk. The town is presided over by the deeply devout Comte de Reynaud (Alfred Molina), who instantly sees the threat Vianne poses to the tranquility of the small town, and sets out to prevent the chocolaterie from doing business. The Comte is in a prolonged fast in which he deprives himself even bread, the man views smelling a jar of jam as sinful. The Comte is the epitome of self-denial not just with food, but also in that he cannot admit his wife has left him when the entire town knows it to be true. While the Comte may try to suppress the desires of the townspeople, Vianne’s magical sweets are so intoxicating that slowly each of them is drawn into the shop, and once she has guessed their “favorite” as she has a knack for doing, they are sure to return again and again. I’ll save the rest for you to see yourself, but Johnny Depp is in it if that encourages any of you to check it out, and he and Juliette Binoche have lovely chemistry together.

Chocolat is really a story about deprivation, and how allowing yourself even the smallest pleasure can set you free and bring people together. The Comte, though loathsome in his efforts to defeat Vianne, is also a sympathetic character. He is a man of tradition, and as the modern world has begun to creep into his small town he tries harder and harder to stave off the corruption that he imagines it will bring. There is no doubt he believes what he is doing is the will of god, but he cannot see past the unconventional actions of Vianne and realize that she is a compassionate and generous woman despite her eccentricities. Both characters are bound by tradition, and they each find the will to break their bonds in the most unlikely of places.

There are some great performances in this film, both Binoche and Dench were nominated for Oscars, but it is truly an ensemble cast. The supporting characters are all played by fantastic actors who bring a real sense of depth to the film, including the ever gorgeous Leslie Caron as a widow still grieving her husband’s death in WWI, Lena Olin as an abused wife who is taken in by Vianne, and Johnny Depp as the Irish traveler Roux, in whom Vianne finally meets her match.

The sets, the costumes, and the art direction of this film are absolutely exceptional. I want everything that Vianne wears, and I want her to come decorate my house for me (and make me chocolate too). The set for this film could easily be reused for an Anthropologie photo-shoot if it hasn’t already. The rich colors and costumes reflect the sensuality and the delight of chocolate, and one of my favorite lines in the movie is when Anouk asks “Why can’t you wear black shoes like the other mothers?” since all of Vianne’s gorgeous outfits are accompanied by a vibrant pair of red or coral pumps.

This film brings to mind the idea of the magical female. Another Beauty in the Movies featured film The Butcher’s Wife, features a similar effect. A women comes into a new place and with her colorful and lively spirit changes the lives of all those around her. I’m also reminded of The Secret Garden (even though she is a girl rather than a woman) and Cold Comfort Farm (which is one of my favorites and will be featured on here soon!) or even The Sound of Music or Mary Poppins. I think there must be some collective unconsciousness that appeals to all of us in the stories that unfold in this way, the women act as generous mother figures who breeze in and fix what is wrong with the world around them through their love and clarity. What is nice about Chocolat is that the character of Vianne is fully developed, she is effected by the town, and in the end it has a profound effect on her too.

In his sermon to the congregation Pere Henri, the young rock n’ roll loving priest in the film, delivers a beautiful message, he says “I think that we can’t go around measuring our goodness by what we don’t do. By what we deny ourselves, what we resist, and who we exclude. I think we’ve got to measure goodness by what we embrace, what we create and who we include.” This film asks how exclusion can ever be a good thing, and how goodness can be something that’s won by denial and pain. Tolerance seems intuitive, yet humans forget over and over how exclusion breeds hatred, and how denial breeds resentment. Chocolat may be a small story about candy, celebration, and friends, but it’s in the small moments in life that we find the divine, that we see the beauty of humanity. With just a bit of kindness, a touch of generosity, and a piece of chocolate, we can all learn to understand each other better, or we can at least try.

And that’s that. Have a great weekend everyone, and please if you like this blog please pass it along to people who you think might enjoy it, and let me thank you in advance for it!

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