Tag Archives: Reese Witherspoon

Beauty in the Movies: Pleasantville

This week’s film passes the Bechdel test, but features both prominent female and male characters. Although I usually focus on strong female leads, it’s important to note the real goal is equal presence and development of both sexes on film. While Pleasantville does have strong female characters, it is really a story about liberation for all.

Jennifer and David are teenage twins from a broken home. Jennifer (Reese Witherspoon) is popular and promiscuous (FYI: singer Jenny Lewis makes a brief appearance as one of her friends), while her brother David (Tobey Maguire) is shy and geeky. He’s also obsessed with a black & white Leave It To Beaver-esque TV show called Pleasantville which he sees as a perfect world, unlike the one he is living in.

David and Jennifer don’t get along, and after fighting for control of the TV and breaking the remote, Don Knotts appears at their door as a mysteriously chipper TV repairman. He gives them a new remote which transports them into the sterile, black & white world of Pleasantville, where they have two happily married parents (Joan Allen and William H. Macy), and nothing bad ever happens.

There are no fires or death in Pleasantville, there’s also no need for toilets and no such thing as sex. David wants to play their parts while they figure out how to get home, but free-spirited ’90s woman Jennifer proves unable to assimilate so easily. When she seduces her chaste TV boyfriend, Skip (Paul Walker), she unwittingly brings about a revolution.

David sets change in motion as well when he accidentally introduces the idea of free will to Mr. Johnson (Jeff Daniels), his boss at the soda shop. As creativity and curiosity begin to blossom throughout Pleasantville, so do hatred and ignorance, turning this “perfect” world completely on its head.

The metaphor in this film is obvious but also effective. Not only as an illustration of the absurdity of racism, but also that the price we pay for perfection is imagination. Pleasantville is the garden of Eden and woman is once again the cause for its downfall, but in this reality the expulsion is actually an emancipation.

Gary Ross, the writer and director, has said his intention wasn’t to make a feminist statement, especially in regard to Joan Allen’s character. However, since equality and repression are both major themes of the film and Joan Allen is a fantastic actress, intentional or not, her story arc is the most compelling and does convey a feminist message.

Pleasantville received Academy Award nominations for Best art direction, best costume design, and best original score (by Randy Newman), all of which were well deserved.  The film was shot in color, mostly on digital, and then selectively desaturated, which makes for striking visuals.

Pleasantville drops us into a society that is still longed for by many Americans, a world without sin or emotion, and then shows us how stifling it would be to live there. It’s a simple idea with complex repercussions and overall it’s beautiful and magical to watch—what more could you want?

Beauty in the Movies: Pleasantville
Beauty in the Movies: Pleasantville by justinez featuring a yellow cardigan

Dress
99 GBP – vivienofholloway.com

Vintage dress
150 GBP – lovemissdaisy.com

Knit cardigan
$75 – topshop.com

Dorothy Perkins short cardigan
22 GBP – dorothyperkins.com

River Island peter pan collar blouse
25 GBP – riverisland.com

Cardigan
95 GBP – lkbennett.com

Oasis summer tee
45 GBP – johnlewis.com

Eastex yellow cardigan
60 GBP – houseoffraser.co.uk

Dorothy Perkins short sleeve top
17 GBP – dorothyperkins.com

Bennett
75 GBP – lkbennett.com

Giambattista Valli tweed pencil skirt
441 GBP – net-a-porter.com

Alice by Temperley pleated skirt
$126 – theoutnet.com

La Perla bullet bra
$86 – journelle.com

Pleaser halloween costume shoes
$28 – endless.com

Rupert Sanderson high heel shoes
$575 – boutique1.com

Vintage leather handbag
$35 – modcloth.com

Vintage handbag
$40 – modcloth.com

Vintage clutch
$35 – modcloth.com

Double strand pearl necklace
$99 – myjewelrybox.com

Monet pearl earring
25 GBP – houseoffraser.co.uk

Vintage glove
$20 – modcloth.com

Vintage hat
$40 – modcloth.com

American apparel
$8 – americanapparel.net

Marc by Marc Jacobs gold hair accessory
$22 – couture.zappos.com

Old Navy hair accessory
$3.50 – oldnavy.gap.com

Poodle Skirt
69 GBP – irregularchoice.com

Estee Lauder Radiant Bloom Powder Compact
$175 – bergdorfgoodman.com

Pride and Prejudice
$20 – modcloth.com

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Filed under Beauty in the movies

Oscar Beauties

I, like many, watch the Oscars for the clothes. If everyone was wearing jeans and sneakers it just wouldn’t be such a big deal. It’s the gowns, the hair, and the insanely expensive jewelry that make it worth watching. Those displays of glamour that most of us will never get to touch in our lifetimes so we live them vicariously through celebrities instead.

The whole idea of the Oscars is way overblown, it’s great that celebrities have awards ceremonies just like many other professions do, but the seriousness with which the show is presented makes the event seem a touch too self-congratulatory. For a show that is celebrating entertainment it never comes off as light and fun, it’s aggrandized and phony, plus there’s something incredibly dated about it. Obviously the Academy knows this and therefore chose “young and hip” actors Anne Hathaway and James Franco to host this year. Unfortunately it didn’t really work so well.

The result was Hathaway and Franco appearing uncomfortable with the grandness of the show—Anne Hathaway literally seemed like she was playing dress up and trying a bit too hard (though who could blame her?), and Franco’s way of dealing with the pressure was to act totally bored. The set, the overly dramatic music, and the cheesy writing all seem to stay the same year after year. You would think this time around with the push to appeal to younger viewers they would have changed things up aside from just the hosts. It’s weird because if the Oscars are really just an award show to celebrate achievements in the field of cinema, why do they need to appeal to anyone?

Anyway, like I said, I tune in for the clothes. The show itself drags on forever and always seems disappointing because nothing all that interesting happens. As awards shows go, it’s the biggest, but it’s also the most stuck-up which means all the stars are nervous and on their best behavior, which makes things boring. Pretty dresses however, are always fun to look at. This year my favorite by far was Mila Kunis in Elie Saab, I’m a sucker for purple. I like it when people take risks so I might be in the minority of people who loved Cate Balnchett’s Givenchy gown as well. Here are some other things I liked:

Michelle Williams and her simple but pretty hair, makeup, and earrings. She always gets it right, but also manages to keep things interesting at the same time.

Hailee Steinfeld’s youthful makeup, and her eyebrows which were thankfully left alone rather than plucked into oblivion leaving her looking as beautiful and happy as any 14-year-old at the Oscars should be.

I think it’s so funny when people on E! or other red carpet fashion round-ups make fun of Helena Bonham Carter because obviously she doesn’t give two shits what any of them think and she just wears what she wants. How can you not love that? I love her hair, her fan, her husband, and the way she sticks to her personal style no matter what.

I didn’t love Nicole Kidman’s dress, but I did love her big diamond necklace from Fred Leighton.
Also wasn’t a fan of Reese Witherspoon’s 90s prom looking black-and-white dress, but I did quite like her big sixties hair.
Anne Hathaway showed once again that she is at heart a (sometimes awkward) musical theater geek, but her Lanvin tuxedo was cute, and I especially like her custom Swarovski crystal covered heels.
Let’s hear it, who wore your favorite gowns, hair, or accessories?

9 Comments

Filed under celebrity, fashion