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So, the Oscars start in 20 minutes.  I saw all but one of the movies nominated.  I have not seen Beast of the Southern Dawn, which I am disappointed about.  I really wanted to see that.  So, real quick, here are my predictions for the top 6.

Best Movie: Silver Linings Playbook

Best Female Actor in a Leading Role: Jennifer Lawrence

Best Male Actor in a Leading Role: Daniel Day Lewis

Best Female Actor in a Supporting Role:  Anne Hathaway

Best Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Robert Di Nero

Best Director: Ben Affleck David O Russell

I saw Les Mis today.  Spectacular movie, but way to freaking long.  It’s not their fault entirely.  Victor Hugo’s original work was over 1600 pages.  But Silver Linings Playbook has just stuck with me.

Anyway, enjoy the show!  Hopefully, I can get some tweets in!  🙂

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As I have mentioned several times in the previous posts, I am in favor of reading the book before seeing the movie.  That said, I did see the 1974 version of The Great Gatsby many years ago before ever reading the book.

I know.  I’m so ashamed.  

In my defense, I was still in high school I think, and I really only watched it because I totally love Robert Redford.  I was just a little girl when the movie was made, but by the time I was in high school, he was already way too old for me.  Nonetheless, I had total teen fan-girl crush on him.  Now, I know that is no reason to watch a movie based on a book that critiques the social mores of the 1920s, but hey, I was a shallow teenage girl once upon a time ago.

I have to admit that I do not remember much about the 1974 film, except that I did not like Mia Farrow.  I thought her portrayal of Daisy Buchanan was just terrible.  She was flighty and flakey and no depth whatsoever.  I felt she just flitted about, dancing and singing whenever someone talked to her and basically acted like an airhead.  Not to mention that she totally broke Robert Redf…er I mean Jay Gatsby’s heart twice.  Oh, and yeah, I do intend to completely ruin the plot, so if you have not read the book or seen the 1974 version of the movie and know nothing of the story, you might want to stop reading this until after December.

Having read the book, my opinion of Daisy Buchanan has not improved at all, but I am even more unhappy about Mia Farrow’s performance.  Daisy Buchanan is an utterly shallow person.  She is selfish, unaccountable, obtuse, and dishonest, traits which are hidden by her beauty and overwhelming wealth.  To play her as a flighty airhead who is just too confused by love and trapped in an unhappy marriage and  just doesn’t really know what to do about it, I think unfairly downplays the complexity of her character.

Now, I can understand why she married Tom Buchanan instead of Gatsby.  In the movie, it is clear she did not marry Gatsby because he was poor.  In the book, it is unclear what she knew of his financial standings.  He tried everything he could to cover up his poverty and let her think he was wealthy.  Then he left town and went to Europe, leaving Daisy alone and broken-hearted.  Granted, he went to war, but when the war was over, he did not return to the US, but instead went to Oxford where he apparently did not attend the college.  Jay had not made his fortune yet and did not want to return to Daisy a pauper.  In his absence, Daisy met Tom Buchanan and probably any number of endless suitors.  Tom was handsome, rugged, confident, rich, and most importantly, present.  While he may have been a bit of a brute, a racist, and an all around jerk, he did love Daisy.

Daisy was a young girl, probably just out of her teens, naive, anxious to fall in love and get married.  Tom Buchanan, in his youth, was everything a young girl in her situation could hope for.  Gatsby was, quite frankly, not around to marry.

As an adult, Daisy was rash, careless, shallow, and above all, rich.  She carries on an affair with Gatsby leading him to believe she never loved Tom.  She always loved Gatsby.  And though she promises to leave Tom for Gatsby, I don’t think it’s clear whether she would actually follow through with that promise.

Tom in turn, treats Daisy like she is a child, is a bit of a brute, carries on lurid affairs not even trying to conceal his infidelities from his wife.  Yet, when he finds out about Daisy’s affair, he sort of loses his mind.    In addition, he’s a small-minded bigot who is callously indifferent to the suffering of other people and the problems he creates for them.

The story is told through the eyes of one of Daisy’s distant relatives, Nick Carraway.  He is obviously from a family of means.  He’s a Yale graduate, a veteran of The Great War, and is a bond salesman.  He does not live the life of a wealthy man, but as a somewhat  above average working man.  He lives in West Egg New York and is Gatsby’s next door neighbor.  He is pulled into Gatsby’s world through his friendship with Gatsby and his relation to Daisy.

At the beginning of the book, there is a lot of mystery around Gatsby.  He throws lavish parties that all the best people attend, but he almost never makes an appearance himself.  There is no shortage rumors about who he is and how he made his wealth.  The rich and important people who attend his parties and enjoy the fruits of his supposed ill-gotten gains have no qualms about disparaging him at every turn.  Tom Buchanan is no exception.  In fact, as the story progresses, Tom makes it his goal to expose Gatsby for a fraud, probably because he rightly suspects his wife of having an affair with Gatsby.

Nonetheless, it becomes clear through the course of the novel that no matter how wealthy, Gatsby will never be able to really touch the inner circle of acceptability among the truly wealthy.  At one point in the novel, Nick refers to Gatsby as a Trimalchio.  This is a term I actually had to look up.  It is from the Satyricon by Petronius.  I read the Satyricon on college and one would think I know this word. Sadly, I did not recognize it.  The word means a freedman who has worked his way to wealth and success by the fruit of his own labor.  Among the truly wealthy, this means Jay will really never fit in with them.  This is fine with Gatsby for the most part because the only person he cares about reaching is Daisy.  But the distinction is important to Daisy.  Tom may be a brute.  She may be trapped in an unhappy marriage.  She may even really love Jay Gatsby.  She may really want to leave Tom.  She does not, however, want to leave the comfortable trappings of a respectably wealthy society.  Regardless of what happens at the end of the book, it is my belief that she never would have left Tom for Gatsby.

The real story in the book is not the love affair with Jay and Daisy.  The real story is the excesses of the super rich; their careless indifference to the world around them; the exclusivity of their inner circles that cannot be penetrated by the newly rich and other impostors; and their unaccountability to their crimes and the lives they destroy in the wake of their fun and drama.  The romance between Gatsby and Daisy and Tom’s affair with Myrtle are merely the best example of this.

The two victims in this book are Jay Gatsby and Myrtle Wilson.  They were both trying to enter this exclusive world by two different paths.  Both failed miserably.  The hero, if one can be found here, is Nick Carraway.   The story is told from his perspective.  He illuminates this crazy lopsided world for us and tries to make some sort of sense of it while offering his own sort of commentary.

I am really looking forward to Baz Lurhmann’s version of this story.  The novel is lax in lavish description of Gatsby’s parties and the rest of the world the wealthy embody.  This lack of description can leave a director a great deal of latitude to make things as wild and as crazy as they like.  After watching his version of Romeo and Juliette and Moulin Rouge, I know Lurhmann is up to the task. I just hope he does no just turn the movie into just a tragic romance, but can also capture the social critique that comes through in the novel.  We shall see.

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I have been thinking about doing a blog post about some of my guilty pleasures in the form of books I could read over and over again or movies I could watch ad nauseum.  I have a small list in my head of comfort books and movies I could use to make up that blogpost.  I was formulating the post in my head when the greatest movie of all time came on TV tonight.

The movie is Stage Door made in 1937 and stars Katharine Hepburn, Lucille Ball, Ginger Rogers, and Eve Arden just to name a few.  This is a great movie and it is filled with the top female actresses of the time.

My mother made me watch this movie when I was a little girl.  I used to watch old movies from the 40s, 50s, and 60s on Sunday mornings when I was a kid.  Katharine Hepburn was quickly becoming one of my favorite actresses.  I was familiar with movies such as Desk Set, A Lion in Winter, and Bringing Up Baby.  Not to mention the groundbreaking films Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner.

My only knowledge of Lucille Ball came from the re-runs of the Lucille Ball Show.  And I didn’t know that Ginger Rogers even existed. without Fred Estaire.

Oh, and this is where I give away the plot of the movie, so if you’d rather be surprised, stop reading now.

This movie is exquisite.  With a primarily female cast, it takes place in the 1930s NYC in a boarding house for actresses called The Footlights Club.   The house is filled with young, hardworking, penniless, aspiring actresses fighting and scraping for the chance to be discovered.  In walks Terry Randall (Hepburn) a socialite who is set on trying her hand at acting.  She is certain that by applying her intellect to the trade, she could be a great actress.  The truth is, she’s a terrible actress as her wealthy father suspects.  He agrees to allow her the time to “find herself” while behind the scenes, he buys a part for her to give her the vehicle to fail and thus return home.

The part he buys could have gone to one of the other girls in the house.   A young actress named Kay Hamilton, played by Andrea Leeds, hoped for the part that was handed to Randall, who of course has no idea.  Opening night of the play, Randall’s big night, Kay commits suicide in her grief.  Ginger Roger’s character, Jean Maitland, spills the beans to Randall just before the play begins, letting Randall know in no uncertain terms that it’s her fault.  Randall is forced to go on stage with all her shock and grief and gives an unbelievably touching performance where she utters the famed line, “The calla lilies are in bloom again…” and she’s a huge hit.

 

In death, Kay Hamilton makes Terry Randall the actress they all hope to be.

 

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100 Years Ago this week, the Titanic hit an iceberg and sank to the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean on it’s maiden voyage. 

The Titanic was the largest, most luxurious ship built by man to date.  The Titanic was said to be unsinkable.  The builders were so confident in their belief that the ship was safe that they did not even provide enough lifeboats for all of its passengers.  As a result, 1514 passengers died on April 15, 1912.  Among the dead were some of the wealthiest socialites and businessmen of the early 20th century and many more poor, working class people emigrating from Ireland, England, and other European countries.

I have been fascinated by the sinking of the Titanic my entire life.  When James Cameron released his movie in 1997, I must have watched it in the theatre at least 6 or 7 times.  I was not there for the romance between Leo’s and Kate’s characters.  I was there for one reason and one reason only.  To watch the ship sink into the ocean.

I know that sounds horrible, but I have never understood why more people did not leave the ship sooner.  The first few lifeboats that launched had maybe a dozen or so women in them.  People were so confident that the ship would not sink that they did not take evacuation seriously enough until it was too late.  At best, only about half of the occupants would have been saved by the lifeboats.  As it was, only about 30% of the passengers were saved.

The fact that James Cameron was able to recreate a semi-realistic representation of what may have happened during the evacuation and subsequent sinking of the Titanic held my imagination captive for a long time. 

Unlike the books, movies, and literature that I love to escape to, the sinking of the Titanic was an historic event and each person had a real life story to tell.  The sinking affected real lives and is now synonymous with hubris, arrogance, classism, a failure to plan, and the human cost that.  

I do not know if I will see Titanic 3D, but I will take the time to remember the Titanic and all of the lives that were lost that fateful night.  It may have been 100 years ago, but I think we can all agree, the sinking of the Titanic still has a lot to teach us.

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I know I promised an update of my Oscar picks and I did not.  I know.  I suck.

I am sitting here watching the red carpet with the Oscar about to begin and I feel I must make some comment.  I have not seen any more of the movies that are nominated, so I feel unqualified to hazard an intelligent guess.

So let me just say, good luck to all of the nominees.  Some things I would like to see:

Meryl Streep should win an oscar by now.  I know Octavia Spencer is the favorite, and I would also like for her to win if there was a way both could.  But realistically, Glen Close should probably get it for Albert Nobbs.

Christopher Plummer is a superlative actor and is my favorite to win.

As for best picture I will defer to my brother.  He said his favorite of the ones nominated was Midnight in Paris, but the one he thinks should win is Tree of Life.  My prediction, The Artist will win.

Well, the show is getting ready to start.  Enjoy everyone!  I will probably be tweeting @twitlit1000.

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I’m not so much an anglophile as I am someone who appreciates British movies, TV shows, and especially their understated wry wit.

**On a side note, I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this post and a giant hamburger and fries just walked by.  Only in America.  Maybe I should switch to decaf.**

Maybe I’m just jealous.  Anyone who knows me knows that my sense of humor is more silly than witty and I’m loud as opposed to understated.  That doesn’t mean I cannot whip out a sarcastic funny remark from time to time, but that just makes me a smartass, not necessarily witty.  I simply do not have the fortitude to maintain the stoic exterior required for wit.

The stoic exterior personified by British characters is what makes their movies and TV shows so appealing in my opinion.  They stereotypically “keep a stiff upper lip” and “soldier on” in the face of adversity.  And they can let a witty comeback rip without flinching.

I love it.

With that in mind, I have a confession to make.  I have been sick for the last week and holed up in my apartment..thus why I’m at starbucks today btw.  During that time, I have become absolutely and thoroughly addicted to Downton Abbey.  It is so good.  How have I missed this???  (<—see? notably lacking in subtly or stoicism.  How many question marks did that really require?)

I watched the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix in one day.  I was up until midnight watching episode after episode.

Now I have a dilemma.  Season 2 is on dvd only on Netflix.  I do not have the Netflix subscription that will send me dvds.  I can upgrade, but then they will only send me one dvd at a time.  I can watch the last episode using the On Demand feature on my cable box, but I do not really want to skip over the other 6 episodes.  Or I can go to iTunes and download episodes from season 2 for $2.99 each.  Not bad I know, but it’s cheaper to just download all of season 2 at once.  And it really doesn’t make any sense to buy just season 2.  If I’m going to buy season 2, I might as well and just go ahead and get season 1 as well to make the set complete.

Now I’m sure to be out $50.00 I can ill afford to part with to satisfy this addiction.  Not too bad as far as additions go, I suppose, but still.  I guess I can take solace in the knowledge that my purchase will support PBS, which is a good cause.

I know that Downton Abbey has been all the rage for a little while now, especially since their big win at the Golden Globes.  Sometimes though, the fuss is warranted when a show is as good as this one.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.

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I’m not so much an anglophile as I am someone who appreciates British movies, TV shows, and especially their understated wry wit.  

**On a side note, I’m sitting here at Starbucks writing this post and a giant hamburger and fries just walked by.  Only in America.  Maybe I should switch to decaf.**

Maybe I’m just jealous.  Anyone who knows me knows that my sense of humor is more silly than witty and I’m loud as opposed to understated.  That doesn’t mean I cannot whip out a sarcastic funny remark from time to time, but that just makes me a smartass, not necessarily witty.  I simply do not have the fortitude to maintain the stoic exterior required for wit.

The stoic exterior personified by British characters is what makes their movies and TV shows so appealing in my opinion.  They stereotypically “keep a stiff upper lip” and “soldier on” in the face of adversity.  And they can let a witty comeback rip without flinching.  

I love it.  

With that in mind, I have a confession to make.  I have been sick for the last week a holed up in my apartment..thus why I’m at starbucks today btw.  During that time, I have become absolutely and thoroughly addicted to Downton Abbey.  It is so good.  How have I missed this???  (<—see? notably lacking in subtly or stoicism.  How many question marks did that really require?)

I watched the first season of Downton Abbey on Netflix in one day.  I was up until midnight watching episode after episode.  

Now I have a dilemma.  Season 2 is on dvd only on Netflix.  I do not have the Netflix subscription that will send me dvds.  I can upgrade, but then they will only send me one dvd at a time.  I can watch the last episode using the On Demand feature on my cable box, but I do not really want to skip over the other 6 episodes.  Or I can go to iTunes and download episodes from season 2 for $2.99 each.  Not bad I know, but it’s cheaper to just download all of season 2 at once.  And it really doesn’t make any sense to buy just season 2.  If I’m going to buy season 2, I might as well and just go ahead and get season 1 as well to make the set complete. 

Now I’m sure to be out $50.00 I can ill afford to part with to satisfy this addiction.  Not too bad as far as additions go, I suppose, but still.  I guess I can take solace in the knowledge that my purchase will support PBS, which is a good cause.

I know that Downton Abbey has been all the rage for a little while now, especially since their big win at the Golden Globes.  Sometimes though, the fuss is warranted when a show is as good as this one.  I recommend it to anyone and everyone.  

 

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