Tuesday, June 22, 2010
Monday, June 21, 2010
I was completely unimpressed with this movie but that isn’t to say I didn’t think it was good. The visuals were spectacular! The acting, wonderful. Having grown up with Julia on TV, her cookbook spattered, pages folded, having I cut my baby teeth on her recipes, and “Julia” being tossed around by my mother – who is worthy of Julia- as though an old friend, I enjoyed her life story. I also enjoyed the story of Julie, who needed to *feel* she accomplished something in her life, and sought to find it through love. The love of her friends, her mother, and her marriage tested and renewed with her husband, all waxed and waned through the trials of life and the kitchen. She wasn’t searching to be loved, or for any of those people. But they were all brought closer to her through her endeavor. When is family is not brought closer by delicious food? What started as a stress relief became a feeling of accomplishment.
Her meals brought them all together. It was successful, and although it ends on a devastating note for Julie, it was nice to see the culmination of the cooking book, a positive sendoff for Julia.
I did not feel as though I wasted an hour or so of my life, but I did not enjoy J&J as much as I thought I would. I just did not feel for the characters. I even watched the directors commentary (not unusual for me). I learned of the detail undertaken to make the food look as it would in real life, and to make the colors pop. I was very much impressed with the fact that all of the actors actually had to eat the gourmet-prepared food in all takes, not just fake nibble, so that the audience would understand just how good it really tasted, or how gross we might think something is according to today’s standards.
Perhaps I built it up in my head too much. Perhaps the book was so much better, as is often the case. My parting thought was, I feel empty. Void of either like or dislike. I don’t know if I would buy it if it was on sale. Maybe, probably. But Julie’s flip outs and tantrums would make me feel better when I burn something or drop it on the floor trying to get the hot pan to the table.
I suggest it as a watch. It wasn’t “wholesome” and gushy, per se, but a nice couple’s date night movie or girls-night-in flick. It is about 20 and 40-something women trying to find a place in life where they just don’t seem to fit but are not necessarily the depressing, total odd ball out.
As I pulled the dvd out of the player I was motivated to cook! Surprisingly, I was not hungry. But maybe I was. Hungry for a new challenge, a new taste. Just something new. And that is why I recommend this for at least one viewing. Well done, excellent color and you really do get a sense for what life was like for each couple.
I thought it was a good remake. As remakes go, it was nothing like the original. Medusa was in there, but how can you save the princess Andromeda without the head of Medusa? I give “mad props” to the writers for explaining her story. For those of you who are unfamiliar, there are actually two stories that involve Medusa. The archaic version describes her as one of three monster sisters, Gorgons, related to maritime lifestyle through their parents, stronger deities. Originally deities in their own right, these girls were demonized as time when on to control female power as the males of the Greek society continued to assert themselves.
I will remind you, should you think this is some sort of feminist drivel, evidence that Greek fortune and kingdoms passed through the female line is found in the Odyssey. Odysseus was fighting to get home and ended up slaying all of his wife’s suitors. Theses suitors did not come from all over because they wanted some middle aged woman for a bedfellow. It was because the kingdom was ruled by whomever her husband was, which is how Odysseus became king. By that time the women could not rule outright any longer, but they still controlled who did. Or their parents did, more to the point.
Take the Iliad for example. Helen of Troy. She may have been beautiful, plain even. But no ruler would put his (or her) forces out just to get back a mate – not when war allowed them to philander as much as they wanted and it was acceptable. For one, Troy was a nice prize and wealthy for tribute to boot. But why build a story around a woman, other than its good to tell around a camp fire of men at war. Why would another prince go after this woman? Maybe they were closer in age, maybe Paris and Helen were both undeniably attractive and attracted to each other. But there was a code of morals and ethics that existed back then, especially among the rulers as they conscripted everyday people to fight in the armies. Rulers went out on to the battle field in those days! They couldn’t screw up or the soldiers would take them down! Helen must have had something else going for her, from her family, state, or bloodline.
Anyway, I digress. The other Medusa story was that she was a beautiful young woman, or at least attractive enough for the god Posiedon to lust for. In order to work in the Virgin Goddess Athena’s temple you had to be a virgin. Long story short she was raped by Posiedon (insert powerful mortal male figure for reality). Medusa asked for forgiveness as it was clearly rape-the myth even states she fought, who would fight a hot god from what was probably the most amazing 15 minutes anyone on earth could dream of??? She was denied and punished.
Evidence of the Vestal Virgins of Rome being buried alive is proof that this truly happened. Accounts include both willful indulgence and proven rape. Unfortunately, at that time girls and woman had no power, rights, or freedoms. So, as was the case with Medusa, she was used, abuse, and ruined. No one wanted to marry a rape victim because of the stigma attached, so unless it could be hidden and her married out of state, the woman would grow old, mostly starving on the fringes of society. Probably living in one of the many caves around the sea. Haggard and warn, her hair might be dreaded, long and matted, looking much much like the snakes that made it into the myth. After all women within society kept their hair up and braided or knotted because of the insufferable heat and sea spray.
So the writers of this remake give her rape story to explain her torture and hate for men, and why Io (a demigoddess herself-though never explained) is immune to Medusa’s punishing wiles. Her snake body is a vestige of the archaic sea monster fears that plagued the Greeks. Personally, I liked Uma from Percy Jackson….
Back to the story. The beginning of the story fits my vague memory from Latin class and 5th grade World History. Perseus, a demigod, loses his kindly adopted parents. Ends up being angry with the gods or at least bringing order back from chaos and maybe saving for a great lay.
My favorite part, the Dragon tooth-sewn army was left out! My favorite part! I was upset. They gave a brief not by having a dragon skin-covered shield. Ok, fine. I got it. Then there was a long sequence of giant scorpions, which was in the original. However, I admit, I do not remember a jinn having such a large part in all of this! I have to go back to the original, as clearly I do not have it as memorized and I thought I did!
The special effects are amazing. And I was tickled pink that Perseus’s hair was so short. Yeah, it could be left over from the actors spot as a Marine in Avatar. I may have been the only one in that theater, or most all over the world, who knew that young men kept the hair cropped short. Longer hair was a rite of passage, hence the older soldiers and the long hair. GO ME! Today I will gladly pay my astronomical student loan because clearly I learned something that will make some of that payment worthwhile. Well, it at least won’t be as painful.
I say watch it. They have a few nods in there to the original movie. Bilbo is left behind, but he is in there! And Pegasus was black. Very stallion like, I said slightly discussed after which L and I preceded to debate the actual color of “wild” stallions. Thank you AP Bio and the Genetics and Gene Splicing unit.
I plan to buy Clash of the Titans (2010) and watch on my amazing, huge, flat screen tv and blu ray player. Thank you, my husband, for wanting it! It was worth every penny and this movie proves it.
Thursday, June 17, 2010
Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
A Novel Review by Christina M. Callisto
May 31, 2010
Let me start out by saying I have been reading children’s literature since I was a freshman in college as a welcome reprieve from the torturous, exhausting life of adulthood. It was a wonderful tradition I lovingly hold on to. The children’s books of today are not what they were when I was that age!
After reading the first few pages, nay, the first long paragraph, I realized why I love kids’ lit… it’s happy. Not all of it. Actually, most is not. Take Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events book series. Living is hard enough; try switching into a new anything, and dealing with your associated adults’ lives and the negative it brings into the mix. Makes for good “angst.” It’s a good word for teenagers, but it crops up much earlier than that.
Which is quite apparent in this book. But with every, OMG I just can’t take how depressing this is, it’s turning my mood sour and making me truly miserable, thought I realize I cannot stop reading it! Honestly, had I researched the farm crisis of the 1980s, or ease and use of drugs by teens in the 80s, or the general development of abandoned children, I might have understood this book a bit more and not taken the plight of the characters so personal.
Every other chapter is told by a different person, a family member or supporting character, and each offers a bit of the story line, detective style, moving the plot along while drawing it further back so there is always the need to continue searching. The need of the reader, not the characters. I am continually impressed that although I would rather refuse this book and drop it back at the library (yay, free book use!) because it deals with a gruesome murder that is revisited the entire time, dissected, turned over, debated, I cannot stop turning the pages. The characters are refreshing, depressing, but you feel for them. And who hasn’t thought in sarcastic italics before? Out it comes in subtle hilarity from our damaged characters.
I went from page 50 to 219 over the course of a day; the amazing transformation of each character over a back-and-forth period of a few decades had me reading outside in the sun, through dinner, and turning the TV off. The fact that Flynn gives characters their own chapter really lets the humanity show through in bold, blazing emotions of each age during the blasé life events most authors forget or can’t seem to grasp.
I finished the novel having staying up late into the night and was thoroughly satisfied. It wasn’t a bubble gum ending but there was closure in many ways. At least, in the way that humans can find, justify, or believe closure. The plot line has scattered shreds of intertwined lives that continue to strengthen and unravel. The interesting thing is to see where the blame goes and how people find or lose strength.
I definitely recommend a trip to the local library for this book. It is not one I would read again, personally. But it was an easy read, easy to understand, no sucker punches. You learn as the main character learns. And I loved the twist and closure at the end. I am glad my friend recommended Dark Places by Gillian Flynn.