Sunday, 31 March 2013

Because, you know i have opinions about stuff, like the oscars



   So I am going to talk about the Oscars, well after it has happened, because I am pushing the envelope you guys. To be serious I am going to talk about them because I think there are some interesting discussions to be had about them.

   I thought about a lot of ways I could have started this, I could have said, I know that the Oscars are stupid, annoying, often irrelevant and silly. I could have started by saying that award shows giving very rich privileged people statues. Statues don't matter to most of the world. I could have started off by saying all that, but I think we all know that to be true.

   I don't go to see nominated Oscar films very often. Let's also remember that these are films nominated by the academy, I doubt very much that many people agree with those opinions. I mean among say any ten people I don't not know whether there is going to any agreement about a film to watch, and what film is good  (in my mind what barometer are we using to say what makes a film good?). It is always going to be a compromise.


   I also think that there is a on going discussion to be had about what constitutes a good movie. I think Singin' in the Rain is good, and more than that a lot of people agree with me. I don't think that people who don't are wrong, they just didn't connect with it. To be fair that movie is pretty disjointed, the songs are great, the premise a little strange. There is a whole fashion show in it for seemingly no reason. Also a very long Broadway number in it that lasts a good ten minutes that has nothing to do with the rest of the plot (but I love Cyd Cherisse in that whole sequence, in fact I thought she was super talented in every movie that I saw her in). It's still a great film for me.

   I don't like Tarentino as a director, that doesn't mean I don't like movies, but I don't connect with his movies as others do. I think where the Oscars make me crazy is that you are comparing movies that rarely are same, you are comparing performances that are very different. The Oscars are deciding what art is better over something else, and it feels very unfair. 



   I am not saying that I don't agree with some of the decisions that the Oscars have made, I thought Cher was great in Moonstruck, but did she have to be compared to all the others in that category? To Holly Hunt or Glenn Close? They are all doing different things in very different movies (Broadcast News and Fatal Attraction respectively). I also strongly disagree with some of their decisions like Kevin Costner winning best director for Dances of Wolves (which also won best picture that year) which I find I can't even watch now, or Forest Gump winning best adapted screenplay in 1995 over The Shawshank Redemption. For me that movie is better and did something more interesting with the material that it was adapted from, and for some people it isn't again neither of us is wrong.

   I want to return to this idea of art being compared, I really think it can't. I also feel that people very rarely remember films that even won best picture. Tom Jones (I can hear you saying what was that movie?) won in 1964, and Cleopatra got nominated too that year. Oliver! won in 1969. Rain Man (which I have always hated but never mind) won in 1989, Braveheart won in 1996, I loved Sense and Sensibility that year, but isn't that like comparing apples and engine oil? In the less distant past A Beautiful Mind won in 2002, and I also thought Gosford Park also nominated that year was for me a more ambitious and less forced film. Again though it is like comparing a Monet with a Pollock, or Sylvia Plath with Dorothy Parker, or Alice Walker with Isabel Allende. I think we can all agree that they are artists, and for me at least good artists, but they are trying to do different things and present the world with different art. Why should it, the Oscars, always be a race to be won?



   These awards whether they go to the movies that you like or not like, the saving grace is that for me is that the pop culture world at the time of award season is not talking about Transformers 3 (or I am sure if they keep making money 7), Green Lantern (urgh), Grown Ups (double urgh), or New Year's Eve. The Oscars promote a discussion about people who are trying to say something and have a story to tell. Sure I would have loved Kissing Jessica Stein to be nominated (which I really really liked) or Made In Dagenham which I thought was really good and about something I am totally behind (equal pay). 

   The Oscars exclude a lot of things, movies without good distribution, movies that are not in English, animation (which is a whole other discussion), movies about stuff that isn't easy (I am talking about experimental shit, stuff I don't probably know about but I know one thing it's out there), movies that really challenge patriarchy, comedies, queer films, films that are not white centric. All that and more, but again they are at least talking about films that are not money grabs.

   The Oscars has to it's problems but I very much doubt that it will ever change. It is a great starting point for finding out about movies that you might want to watch again, I loved Casablanca which won best picture, and I absolutely loved Humphrey Bogart in The African Queen which he won best actor for in 1952 (totally wish Katherine Hepburn has also won for her performance but never mind).

   There are some truly dreadful movies out there, I really did see Jack Reacher in the cinema. It did have Rosamund Pike in it who is an actress I really like (also in a really bad James Bond film), but she does her best in both. Though my overwhelming feeling about Jack Reacher was this is the most predictable movie I have ever seen. Including two damsels in distress (one of whom sadly end up dead, but I could also see that coming a mile off). There is a period of time though where those movies are not talked about and the awards do I think shine a light on them.

   I do not think, however it's really constructive to have arguments about who should have won, or what should have been nominated, let's agree that film can transport us, tell stories, make us remember visual moments, give insight into something we had never thought about before. Film as a medium can so amazing things, and the Oscars however hackneyed they are and irrelevant, give people a platform to talk about that fact. That is something that I have to kudos to the Oscars for doing.         

   Good is also a completely subjective term, it is all based in opinion. What might stimulate and amaze one person might completely disconnect to someone else. So I say let us stop playing the comparison game and like what we like.     
       

          

Leggings

   I am a big fan of leggings, I have worn them exclusively for quite a while, a big reason for this is probably because I have not turned up my jeans. Oh well, still leggings are great.



   There are a lot of things to like about leggings, they are versatile. You can wear them on their own, with skirts and dresses. You can wear a whole array of colours. You can also unlike with tights rely on them to stay where you put them on the morning. They don't feel as restrictive as tights so (though I do like the different patterns tights come in).

   Leggings also don't need my legs shaved in order to wear them, which I sort of worry about that with tights, well no more leggings have saved the day!

   Leggings a reliable thing for me, also fit a array of sizes. Leggings don't care if you have big hips, a big waist, or small hips with big thighs, or a tiny waist, or slanted hips, or big thighs, or short, long, medium and everything in between sized legs. Leggings in my experience tend to fit you what ever size you happen to be, and for that I really like them.   

   I think my favourite leggings of that bunch has to be the cartoon sayings.

Friday, 29 March 2013

Teenager

  I have decided to take a break from love letters until I can decided what I want for day 6 and 7. Probably baked beans with the way i am feeling at minute, but I'll think of something.

   I have recently been super obsessed with the series Beautiful People. This is so bad, so very very bad. I have been watching the episodes on youtube, I stopped the obsession at round about episode 11. This is not in the league of being so bad that it's good, no this is just bad.



   I don't know what made me watch it, it's not even that enjoyable, but it was still an addiction. This really is shame based entertainment. It didn't even really hook me that much. I think one of the reasons this is so bad is because the characters are so badly drawn, the actors really don't have much to work with in this series, I mean no wonder it got cancelled.

   They also really messed up the character of Annabelle the goth and alternative girl who was in my opinion the one person in this series that I liked. I mean even disregarding that she was in essence a cipher for other people to feel guilty about, she also was hung up on a loser, but at least she had something interesting and cool about her.

    I also really liked the actor who played her Kathleen Munroe. They also at some point made her not a goth and turned into another cut out, which was what I really liked about her. She was always really pretty but there was something that indicated that there was more to her, which for me none of the other people in this series had.

   I think though this series had the principle of bad story telling all the way through. There are a lot of unlikable people. I don't think being likable has to always be there but there needs to a vulnerability and something that at least connects other than beautiful people running around in New York being clueless. The premise is that a down on her luck mother moves to New York (as that's really cheap?) with her two kids Karen and Sophie. There are a lot of love triangles and dumb behaviour. Karen being the most annoying but the writing makes her really silly. There is also a whole plot about the mother being an old flame of the father of one of the girls love interests. You'd think that would make good conflict but again it's bad writing.

   Really it's super bad (one of the highlights was seeing Karen in chicken costume but I think that's actually funny, one of the only things to make me smile in this show). It got me to thinking about teens on TV. It made me think about the shows that are actually about teens and the stuff they go through without making it bad.

   It also got me to thinking about the stuff that I watched when I was a teenager. I watched Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Jonathan Creek, Quantum Leap (I was a dyed in the wool fan of that show when it was on), Red Dwarf, Friends (I videotaped every episode of that show until series 6 and I think I left home before it had finished but I was absolutely obsessed with it for a long time) and probably Hollyoaks which I remember when that show first started. Not many of these where about actual teens, but some of them were.

   I think when you're a teenager you don't always watch what is about your age group I mean I don't think most of us do either. I was watching The Golden Girls before I was 10, which is a damn good show that totally holds up to the jokes made, and dynamic of the four of them.

   So really there were good shows about teenagers, Buffy is a great example. What I think also makes that show great is it is about that group of people. It is told from their perspective and still holds up, not so much the first series but the rest I really loved. I really liked the third and for me I really liked the fourth. I think looking back all the characters in that show are done well.


   Which leads me the series that I found long after I had my 20th birthday and no longer a teenager. My all time favourite series about teens has to be Skins the original first British series. What I thought was amazing about that show was that they took each character and made an episode about them. This has unlikable people in it but you understand them and really see when they are vulnerable, what makes them tick. It really showed you for me how teens think and how they relate to each other. I thought that whole first series was wonderful and really interesting how they made that great television.

   It does have the tedious for me people in love with other people and it not really working out. The writing within that dynamic was really great. And for me this series is about them and about the writing. I didn't have the same connection to the rest of the series that followed but a great concept and really well done.


   I also think I was one of the few people that liked the US version, but I thought it was well done. I thought that the changes they made, did make sense and I liked the actors of both. So really I'd recommend both versions. I liked some episodes more than others but I thought as a whole both were really good.

   I wanted to talk about Pleasantville which  is one of my favourites again my love of it really is about the focus on the teenagers. They are the people that this story is about, they are the protagonists. I do love the scene with Joan Allen in the soda shop. It made me love Jeff Daniels and William H. Macy. The performances of Toby Maguire and Reese Witherspoon anchor the whole film for me.

   I also wanted to talk about trashy teen stuff. Not all of it is about high art. The O.C. for one is super trashy. That one really should have been called Beautiful People, but there is a charm about it. I think both the male teen leads have something that isn't just pretty people. I also liked how funny it could be, but it's definitely trash tastic. I liked the fourth series a lot, but it was really quite bonkers a lot of the time.

   A quick mention about Gilmore Girls as well as Parenthood (the TV series). Both have Lauren Graham who I like a lot. Both are just as much about the parents as well as the kids in those shows. I loved the dialogue on both and characters work (one of the reasons that I though the first ten or so episodes of Bunheads worked really well, I also loved all the actors that played the dancers on that show) on both of them, but they aren't just about the kids, the adults get a lot of the screen time too. I liked both though (not so much the later seasons, but really does something really get really good on the 6th series? I can't really think of one long running series that improved, and I think it's because the dynamic has changed, it has to change really but not always for the better).


   Lastly I wanted to mention a couple of books that I loved about teenagers. The Divorce Express by Paula Danzinger I really liked. Absolutely Normal Chaos by Sharon Creech I was obsessed by and i still have a copy. I'm not sure whether it's still in print but it was one of my all time favourites. The Book of the Banshee I have mentioned before but it's awesome, by Anne Fine. I absolutely loved Goggle Eyes that she wrote as well. Anne Fine for me makes those towns so real, the worlds that she creates are for me so well written. I love her characters as well. I didn't read much Judy Blume but I wish I had.

   Teenagers deserve good stories, good films and good TV about them that they should be able to enjoy. I am looking forward to reading the Gail Carriger series about young women. There is a wealth of stuff out there (I didn't even get to songs about teens, and there are many that I love) I just wish that the truly bad didn't get the chance, don't get me started on the whole new vampire crap. Or the shitty stuff that happens on something like Gossip Girl or Pretty Little Liars, that both should be titled pretty people being soporific, or people who are completely vapid, sexist and annoying. Enjoy!  

   So I say long live great television and I will try and not dive into the rabbit hole of bad TV. The one thing good about that series though was that it made me remember The Awful Truth with Cary Grant, as one the characters starts to watch it (god Grant's so gorgeous in that movie), and it's really good.


   It also made me want to watch all of his other films that I really loved The Talk of the Town, Bringing up Baby, and The Bachelor and The Bobby-Soxer the female lead Myrna Lynn who is also super foxy, funny and cool is great. The Talk of the Town reminds me of Jean Arthur who is great in that movie. She makes me want to watch The More the Merrier, which is an odd movie but I loved her in it. A great actress. Oh and now I want to watch all the backlog of Katherine Hepburn also super funny, gorgeous and really quick. OK enough, all good movies and good actors and all a thousand times better than Beautiful People. Next time I'm in a obsessive mood I'll watch Pat and Mike, I've never seen it and it's Hepburn and Tracy you can never go wrong. 

  

Novellas

   One of the things that I love about my kindle is that I am able to get with convenience romance novellas, and they rarely cost more than £2. I got Unlocked by Courtney Milan this way (which is great), and I read Winning the Wallflower by Eloisa James. I also read short novels by Katie Fforde as well as Tessa Dare, I love Dare as an author. I can't wait for her next book in the spinster cove series. Diana gets her own book from A Week to be Wicked who I really liked as a character, and it's called Beauty and the Blacksmith. I already wish it was the end of April so I could read it.

   I really like novellas especially in romance because it's short form of a genre I love. In some ways I think they are really hard to pull off, but in a author's voice I really like then it's really good.

   So I really like novellas and I love my kindle for enabling me to read them. I love the covers of the books that I have mentioned. I am going to show Unlocked:


   Now that is a cover done well for me. I love that red dress, and in particular the detail of the key. Yum.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Day 5: A love Letter to the Romance Hero

   I love romances always have. The one and most important thing that has hooked me to them has been the heroine. She is the person that I identify most with. The heroine is the person that pushes the narrative and makes me turn the page.

   Well written romances ensure that I want to carry on reading (there have been a few that I couldn't carry on with but I'm not going to mention them). There is the matter of the hero though, he has to be in my opinion deserving of the heroine, and for me he lovers in romances have to make me believe in their ending.

   This is why I am writing a whole post to the hero, because he does not get enough praise for being done well. Here is my list in alphabetical order.

   Alex from Anyone But You by Jennifer Crusie. One of the reasons why I love this hero is because Nina is such a great heroine. He is deserving of her. I also like that both people in this book have their insecurities. They manifest in different ways but they still have them. Alex is also beta for me, not a growly alpha which makes him great. He's smart, funny, sexy and really nice. I also love the fact that he likes his job in the ER, for me in the end, they pick each other for all the right reasons. I also really like that they enjoy doing things with each other. Couples that grow and spend time with each other are the ones that I go back to reading again and again.



   Blue from Forever Blue by Suzanne Brockmann. Blue is also not a alpha to me, yes he's a seal but he's sensitive. The covers don't do justice to this book in my opinion. The one in the bathtub, looks like they cut off his legs, but I do like some of those vintage Silhouette covers. The other one I do like but his expression feel a little stony and distant. This book, isn't about the covers, and in the romance world they are notoriously hard to get right. 

   Anyway, Blue is the centre of this book, I love the heroine Lucy, but the trouble is with Blue. In the book they are trying to find out who killed his step brother. This is Blue's story through and through, unusually in romance (it is the heroine's story and the heroine's troubles in my experience). Blue is also quiet, but their relationship becomes more solid when they talk. He's also from the south (be still my beating heart). Blue is for me the reason I fell in love with Brockmann's navy seal series, and he's still my favourite. Through and through a decent and honest man. He also belongs with Lucy. That is another part I loved it is that it is her trust, her faith, her strength that gives him everything. It is also her declaring her love that gives him the motivation to truly fight for what he wants. He is definitely a great romance hero, and he deserves Lucy.

   Cal from Bet Me by Jennifer Crusie. This is definately not a surprise entry. Every time I read this book, i get a really big grin and hug the book to me. If I was on a desert Island and I could choose some books, this would be on my list. Cal fights falling in love, as does Min, but Cal tries so hard and fails. This is also a classic trope in that they hate each other at the start but then fall in love.

   There a lot of things that I really like about him. He has flaws but he also loves his nephew, makes Min understand that she's sexy, teaches her how to cook, stands up for her at that dinner with her parents, and understands her snow globes. There is a lot to love about him. What I think always hooks me about this book, is that they fall in love with each other, no one else will do. He's also really fun, always a plus.


   Dante from Singled Out by Trisha Ashley. He is one dark hero, but she is dark too. Dante faces his demons and I like that they are both writers. Also for me they look alike. Dante is perfect for Cass, he challenges her, but these two for me out of this list are the most alike. They are really twin souls in their outlook, and how they deal with adversity. This is my favourite Ashley, and I think made by the fact they both understand guilt, anger, lust and darkness. Really these two are perfect for each other. This book is in first person which I have to really hook into the story to like, and this story was great. That cover I really like, though I am unsure whether it indicates how dark the book is.


   Fen from Tainted Love by Alison Fraser. That cover I love, I am not sure Clare would ever wear something like that, but the posture is perfect. This is Clare's story from the very beginning the trouble that happens is mostly her story. It is Fen though that changes in this book, I think Clare is uncovered, but he becomes someone who trusts in love again, who admits to love first. Fen in the book is strict, uncompromising and conflicted. He is also a father who trying, kind, and honest. 

   I don't think you ever doubt that he loves his son, but it is Clare who really forms a bond with Miles first. Fen really is the person who I think changes the most and is deserving of Clare. This is my favourite Mills and boon, and I think it's because I could never see them with anyone else. Fen might be principled, but as is Clare. They love each other. And fight for their happy ending, and I am always happy that they get it.

   Leo from Married by Morning by Lisa Kleypas. I love Kleypas as an author. I like her contemporaries as well but I think Leo is my favourite hero, running a close second is Christopher from Love in the Afternoon. Leo is definately not my type in real life. Way too much of a rake and hell bent. He is however perfect for Catherine. His sense of humour carries them through. This is another they hate each other, they love each other. This has to be done well, otherwise it comes across as stupid. I think the key to that is that the reason they don't like each other have to be rooted in something believable and real, which is definately the case here.

   Leo is the catalyst for Catherine, in finding pleasure in sex without guilt. I think they also begin to trust each other, it is fragile but there early on. He is also the one that gets her off the roof. The phrase, 'Just let me be yours.' Always makes me sigh. He loves fiercely but as does Catherine. They face their barriers together. I think this is what makes me turn back to this couple, is that they do thing together, it is a partnership.

   Mick from Finding the Dream by Nora Roberts. Mick is dark, mysterious and very sexy (a delicious trope to read about, in real life scary and I would probably run a mile, but fun in fiction). He is also got integrity written all over him. This is a story that for me really incorporates Laura's daughters. It is interesting to see him interact with them I love his descriptions of them as a bullet and a song. He is yes dangerous but eventually a stand up guy. He also really fights falling in love with Laura. In some ways Laura is much braver with her feelings than he, and more honest, but he gets there eventually. They definately earn their happy ending. 

   Ryan from Mistress of the Groom by Susan Napier. This is probably my favourite hero that she has written. This really is a enemies to lovers story. Ryan is definately a good adversary, but then he becomes a great lover to Jane. This book is totally from Jane's point of view, but Ryan is the man that makes her admit she loves him, and they have great sex. I think this another book where they are twin souls, both determined, both deeply honest and both vulnerable. Ryan is very much an alpha for me, but Jane needs all that strength to push against. A great book, with a dark couple at the centre. 


   Sam from I've Got Your Number by Sophie Kinsella. I'm in love with that cover. It is one of the best I've seen. My one objection is that she is super thin, and come to think if it, so is he. That is the only objection that I have, and in covers like that it is more common than not. The rest of it makes up for it, those colours, type face and silhouettes. Just gorgeous.

   This is a story that is written in first person. I loved Poppy from the start. She is flawed, funny, insecure at times but there is such a solid sense of self it comes off the page. Poppy hooked me to the book, and Sam deserves her. 

   He is so straight and so solid. I also love that Poppy falls in love with his smile. I really like that Magnus is practically the opposite of him. Magnus is shiny, really good looking, selfish and really up himself. Even his name makes me think that of him. Sam falls in love with Poppy for herself. She makes mistakes and does sometimes silly things but he does understand them and slowly they get closer. Even though this is a book that takes place over just days, it feels like the connect to each other in slower way, and they do. They also do things together, as partners. 

   Sam is so very much the opposite of smarmy and a real hero for Poppy. I love the way this book is set up as well. Just really good, and Sam is very much part of this book.

   Shane from Agnes and the Hitman by Jennifer Crusie and Bob Mayer. Another scary, intense guy, well he does kill people for a living so that is pretty much as read. I like that he and Agnes really are good people, and similar. He and Agnes work together in a partnership. He also gets her an air conditioner, enough said, they belong with each other.

   So those are some great heroes in romances. I have always liked the heroine, but it takes a special hero to be worthy of her. And these in my list definately are, and they always make me happy.