Friday, June 26, 2009

Le Parapluie

Camille Pissarro
This is one of my favorite paintings at the National Gallery in London. This picture does not do it justice - in person it looks like the whole painting is wet with raindrops.
There is something so refreshing and invigorating about unexpected rain. It seems liberating and natural for me to turn my face upwards to create a larger landing strip for the down-poring drops. Also a cliche pleasure of mine is the smell after unexpected rain - the dampness gives a pungency that enhances all the scents around you. Another reason I'm fond of rain is that I have the opportunity to use an umbrella. There are several reasons for my secret fetish with umbrellas.

The idea itself is romantic: an instrument of delicate fabric that shields you from the torrential rainfall

They are elegant.

My favorite French word is le parapluie.

One of my favorite musicals and songs to sing, while in the rain, is Singing in the Rain.

It's romantic to be huddling under an umbrella with someone. My friend Katie has a motto that "good things happen on bridges." I would argue that good things happen under umbrellas.

They are a tool that is functional but also can be interpreted as art. One example is the beautiful and clever opening credits of Les Parapluies de Cherbourg.

They are a distinguished fashion statement that is often overlooked. Forget about leather gloves or jewel necklaces - umbrellas are unpretentious and so innately elegant that they are one of the most impressive accessories in a woman's wardrobe.

I even enjoy that ridiculous pop song "Umbrella" by's quite a catchy tune. Don't judge me for saying that.

"So come on with the rain - I've a smile on my face," because "you can stand under my umbrella...ella, ella, eh, eh, eh."

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Transformers: Living the Male Dream

Yesterday night I attended a GM promotional showing of “Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen.” I have never walked out of a movie, but yesterday tested my will-power to stay in my seat. To give some credence to my argument I must admit that I enjoyed “Transformers” and hoped that this sequel could accomplish what most sequels cannot: being comparable or better than the original. Despite my disposition to be entertained by this movie, I consider it the worst movie of the summer.

This movie “flopped” because…
a. I’m an “elitist” and demand simple things like a coherent plot
b. I lack the right amount of testosterone - a chemical which induces drooling at the sight of mediocre special effects .

It’s a movie conceived by male fantasy and filmed to amplify all masculine pleasure. But by indulging all of these pleasures - constant battle, suggestive shots of Megan Fox, body humor and stock characters – strips the movie of depth and originality. The following are my critiques of the film.

Soft Porn
The most obvious exploitation of male fantasy is Megan Fox. This porn-like idolizing and objectification is established in the first scene as she straddles a motorcycle in tawdry clothing. Sadly…it gets worse as the movie progresses. I’m almost convinced that they partly filmed the second half of the movie in the desert just so they could justify Megan Fox wearing next to nothing. But it also creates a brilliant irony when she wears a traditional hijab for a few moments in an Egyptian town to hide from evil robots.

The Battle that Never Ends
Sam and Mikalea have to run two miles to their destination towards the climax of the movie - the longest two miles of my life. In my opinion it takes them longer to run two miles in the desert than it does for me to run a marathon – keep in mind that my tennis shoes are fraying from want of use.

Stock Characters
The writers wished to improve this sequel by enhancing the personality of the aliens. What they consider personality I deem as lazily falling back on stock characters. While they’re aliens, the writers seem to want these aliens to conform to the stereo-types of our own world - they had the typical brothers who bicker in colloquial lingo and fight with one another and the “humorous” side-kick robot. The writers even included the typical annoying parents. (But if my mother and father were as ridiculous as the parents in the movie, I would shun them.) Another way they avoid having to create original characters is to overwhelm the audience with too many characters.

Body Humor
Every possible sexual innuendo which context allows or does not allow was made in this movie. In particular the testicular jokes is not only a motif but could arguably considered a theme of this movie. Also, there was too much humping. I know that men find Megan Fox attractive, but I fail to understand why an alien robot would procede to hump her leg. Thus, this just proves my point that this movie was conceived and filmed for men.

As a side-note, I found it amusing that to portray the more “primitive” robot Fallen; the movie followed the Modernist sentiment of primitivism by giving Fallen a face similar to an African mask. Picaso anyone?

So if you are a man and enjoy soft-porn, explosions, no character development and no plot...go see "Transformers: The Revenge of the Fallen." It may be your favorite movie of the summer.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

“It’s a truth universally acknowledged that a zombie in possession of brains must be in want of more brains.”

The pop culture phenomenon of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies can best be described in the co-author's own terms: a rather violent and disgusting plague sweeping throughout the land. The unsightly evidence of this disease are found among the pallets at Costco - the second best indicator of a successful seller besides Opera’s magical book club sticker – and it’s place among the New York Times Best Seller list.

But what is it about? The novel’s title sums it up nicely in that it’s 85 percent of the original Pride and Prejudice with a few zombies and ninjas here and there…oh and lot’s of blood. When the copyright on this classic came to an end, Seth Grahame-Smith presented his own horror interpretation of the Regency Period. But Jane Austen fans cannot condemn this novel on account of Seth Grahame-Smith. He is a qualified individual who is capable of rewriting Pride and Prejudice - his biography on the back of this novel tells us that he “once took a class in English literature”. Surely that piece of evidence will keep the critics silent.

I sympathize with my fellow Jane Austen fans that are experiencing mixed feelings. Do we allow ourselves to become one of these mindless brain feeding zombie followers? Unfortunately for me, my sister made the decision for me by sending me a copy for my birthday. With such a guilty conscience I had to read it. So having read the novel, I am going to state my qualms with it.

Jane Austen’s satire is reduced to puns
Elizabeth: “‘I should like balls infinitely better,’ she replied, ‘if they were carried on in a different manner.’”
Darcy: “‘You should like balls infinitely better,’ said Darcy, ‘if you knew the first thing about them.’ Elizabeth blushed and suppressed a smile – slightly shocked by his flirtation with impropriety and slightly impressed that he should endeavor to flirt with it all.”

I’m convinced that “balls” is a bit anachronistic - while I would accept a pun with bollocks because it’s originally an Anglo Saxon word and even was used in John Wycliffe’s Bible to refer to testicles – but even overlooking this it is still a weak and childish pun. I’m sure if Darcy had to make an indecent comment he would possess the brains (no pun intended Seth) to come up with something a bit more clever. I mean, Samuel Johnson referred to puns as the lowest form of humor, and it indisputable the influence of Johnson in Austen’s work. And once is bad enough, but Grahame-Smith uses this pun twice. If Graham-Smith wants to become more than an aspiring script writer, he must understand that you’re audience will become bored with repetition. “Badly done Seth, baldy done.”

“she delivered a viscous blow, penetrating his rib cage and withdrew her hand – with the ninja’s still-beating heart in it…Elizabeth took a bite, letting the blood run down her chin and onto her sparring gown. ‘Curious, I have tasted many a hearts, but I dare say I find the Japanese ones a bit tender’” (132).

What is this, Dances with Wolves? Seriously this is just ridiculous. I’m fine with Lizzie becoming a warrior because it aligns with my feminist sentiments. However, I will NOT allow heart tasting or gorging. In no stretch of the imagination would Lizzie Bennet be a cannibal.

Pretending to be legit novel…too legit to quit
After finishing this read, you can expand the depth of the novel even further by referring to the Reader’s Discussion Guide which provides thought provoking questions like “the strange plague has been the scourge of England for fifty-five years, why do the English stay and fight, rather than retreat to the safety of eastern Europe or Africa?” However, I do have to admit that some of these questions closely align with my own: “does Mrs. Bennet have a single redeeming quality?”

In essence this new interpretation not only interests scholars, but also appeals to young teenage boys. From the ridiculous sexual innuendos, violence, zombies, ninjas and body humor of Mr. Wickham soiling himself - yes, soiling him because Mr. Darcy beats him to the point that he becomes a paraplegic - this is soon to be a classic among high school boys. In fact I’m almost positive my little brother Andrew will find it quite diverting, well…if he knew what that word meant I'm positive he would agree. And these adjective are how to I would like to sum up this analysis of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: diverting and amusing.

Friday, June 5, 2009

My Philosophy of Birthdays

Birthdays are exciting at the beginning and end of your life - everything in between is monotonous and easy to forget. When you're young, every year seems like a momentous step, like you are making progress. When you get older everyone celebrates your birthday because it's a feat that you're still around - the parties get better because you managed to evade death for another year.
The middle is just a blur. (Exception: Every decade birthday)
For me, twenty three is when I begin to forget the ages of my siblings and friends. I don't know how many times people have asked me how old my siblings are and I make up an answer. I think my sister Rebekah has been twenty five for the past two or so years.
So yesterday marked my last exciting birthday for the next few decades: twenty one. It's exciting solely for the legal implications for Americans: the age to consume alcohol legally and to gamble. Ironically, all those reasons that make this birthday so brilliant do not apply to me. However, twenty one does mark the fulfillment of a goal of mine: making it to my twenty first birthday without a wedding ring on my finger.