For readers in the Toronto area: my alma mater U of T is hosting a free Leonardo Dicaprio film festival tonight at Hart House. Inception airs at 5 pm and if that’s too early for you, catch Shutter Island at 7:30. Martin Scorsese and Leo Dicaprio together = cinematic heaven. Enough said, right? However, there’s another reason to attend besides your love of film and Leo: your donation of $5 or more goes to aid acid survivors in Bangladesh. Click on the poster image above for details on how you RSVP and help victims of these heinous crimes of abuse.
“For those of you who don’t know, acid violence is burning, deformation, and destruction of the face and other parts of the body, often causing disability and even death. It occurs mostly due to revenge for resisting sexual harassment, refusing a marriage proposal, and failure to pay dowry. It is still common in parts of South Asia especially in India and Bangladesh. Your donations will help victims with medical care before, during and after operations, psychological care, legal issues, and raising awareness.”
I’ve pledged to give $50 a week to charity this year, and I’ll be visiting my old school to donate tonight. Maybe I’ll see you there.
Friends With Kids is a movie set in New York about how having children ruins marriages and turns cool Manhattanites into hateful Brooklyn-ites. Parents who dare to bring children to restaurants are called “crazy” and demonized by the childless couples and singles surrounding them. As soon as a couple has a child the family relocates to Brooklyn. I do remember visiting Brooklyn and thinking “so this is where they keep all the children!” I read a post yesterday by a woman who experienced the torment of a vacation in Manhattan with an infant. When she wondered aloud how anyone in Manhattan has children, a well-meaning woman confirmed that when she had children she would be moving to Brooklyn.
It seems Toronto is following Manhattan’s child-hating lead and banning children in certain spots. This may sound cool and wonderful to childless couples and singletons, but it is not a progressive move. The greatness of a society lies in how well it treats the least of its members and if you hate and ostracize children…well you’re not doing that great. I have travelled to many European cities with my children who were treated like royalty by the owners of upscale eating establishments. As a result of feeling so special, they lived up to the expectation of behaving like the little ladies they are. If ignored, shot dirty looks and made to feel as if their presence was an affront to everyone there…guess what? They’d act up!
“IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD,” wrote Hillary Clinton in 1996.
To which Republican Bob Dole responded, “It does not take a village to raise a child. It takes a family to raise a child.”
Whose side are you on?
I told my friend I went to see Titanic in 3D to which she replied, “Why?” I said, “because I have a 12-year-old”. My 12-year-old had been asking to see Titanic for years and I’d held back because of the intensity of the content and the nude scene. Lucky for her, just as she’s old enough to see it, the film gets released in 3D. My heart sank when she told me the movie is 3 hours and 14 minutes (she looked it up on IMDB!) When I first saw the film 15 years ago, 3 and a half hours out of my life wasn’t that big of a deal but now it’s an eternity that I’ll never get back! How could I possibly sit for that long through a movie and not get at least a little fidgety? Well, Titanic is still so spellbinding I was captivated every second of the entire film and although Kate Winslet is remembered most for her nude scene in the film, her costumes took my breath away, too:
I didn’t want to comment on the New York Times review of the Hunger Games which criticized Jennifer Lawrence’s body for being “too big” for the part of Katniss in the The Hunger Games. I found the idea so depressing I wanted to put it out of my mind. And part of me thought that if the character is supposed to be starving then the critic might have a point….then it occurred to me how many actresses who look like they are starving play the parts of women who in real life would be a size 12 (that’s the average). The critics never say anything about THAT.
Allow me to illustrate: I watched The Descendants on DVD the other night and was alarmed at the size of the actress who played George Clooney’s 17-year-old daughter. She was noticeably underweight and if she were my daughter I would be fraught with worry that she might have an eating disorder. Of course, nothing was mentioned about her weight and the audience was expected to accept this girl as a representation of a well-fed adolescent. Indeed, we see her eating ice cream in the final scene of the movie. Where was the New York Times critic then? Why was she not speaking up about this girl being too THIN to represent a teenage girl who is not starving? You could apply this question to the majority of mainstream movies today.
Media: please stop the war on girls’ bodies. The images are bad enough. Now there are words, too? SHAME.
Oh, the Hunger Games! I actually heard someone ask today, “The Hunger Games? What’s that?” He was serious! It’s pretty cool that the three most popular movie adaptations of the past decade were all from books written by women: J.K. Rowling, Stephanie Meyer, and now Suzanne Collins. In March, Amazon announced that Collins had become the best-selling Kindle author of all time. My daughter saw the movie tonight with her dad and when she returned she told me I would have LOVED Effie Trinket’s costumes. “Who?” I wondered. So I looked it up and here they are:
Will you be seeing the Hunger Games?
Courtney at Those Graces wrote about her Top 3 movies today (only 3 and they remain the same). She chose The Godfather, The Royal Tenenbaums and The Departed and she challenged us to choose 3 of our own. Here are mine:
Y Tu Mama Tambien
Terms of Endearment
City of God
Could you narrow your favourite films down to 3?
Yesterday I posted 5 Christmas Songs to Warm Your Heart; now it’s time for the film version!
1. A Charlie Brown Christmas
2. It’s a Wonderful Life
3. A Christmas Story
4. Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
5. How the Grinch Stole Christmas
And one I plan to watch is Four Christmases: Reese Witherspoon and Vince Vaughan, how can you go wrong?
What’s your favourite Christmas film?
Commodification of the body is the topic of the documentary The Illusionists which is filming right now and acknowledges that men’s bodies are becoming objectified almost as much as women’s in popular media. On my Facebook page yesterday I found a People Magazine List counting down “25 Sexy Chests to be Thankful For” including those of Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Zac Efron. It seems as though being rated according to one’s body parts is no longer restricted to women.
After viewing the teaser for the film I see it is a documentary on the tyranny of beauty that I can get behind, unlike the trailer for Miss Representation which left me disappointed to see women yet again put in a depressing victim role. Miss Representation supports the misguided notion that women are better off when treated exactly like men and valued for their material achievements. Viewing the trailer created feelings of hopelessness in its relentless and overwhelming re-hashing of the ways in which women’s bodies are objectified in media and our under-representation in mainstream political positions. Valuing women according to their career success, however, is not much better than valuing them according to their appearance. It’s a 1980s liberal feminist approach that has been essentially de-bunked.
In contrast, The Illusionists takes a world-wide, historical and even anthropological view of beauty ideals which include those thrust upon men and the new trend which Fashionista has been covering of late – the sexualization of pre-adolescent girls – making the documentary far more relevant to a contemporary audience in it’s unique, fresh approach and perspective. The Illusionists is saying something new:
The beauty industry is constantly expanding and has now found two new targets: little girls and men. A revolution is under way in the perception that these two groups have of themselves.
And it’s not positive. A body image counsellor told me that many boys and men have turned to the appearance of a strong, muscular body as the last bastion of masculinity available to them, since women have attained “equality” in every other arena. There’s nowhere left for them to assert their masculinity in a socially acceptable way except by being “pumped”. In the case of little girls, we see advertisers creating a new market for their products by shelling make-up and lingerie to children encouraging them to grow up way too fast. One of the primary predictors of early sexual activity and resulting teen pregnancy is a girl who looks older than her age. So, there are consequences for society at large here.
Below is a short video by the filmmaker, Eleni Rossini, which was commissioned by the Louvre Museum in Paris: it juxtaposes beauty ideals in classical art with those of contemporary mass media. Following that is the teaser for The Illusionists documentary whose ultimate goal is to “become an educational tool making consumers more empowered viewers of media.” (That’s more like it.)
Will you see the film? What are your thoughts on the topic?
Looking for something to do this Friday night, I stumbled upon the news that the exhibit Grace Kelly: From Movie Star to Princess is making its only North American stop in Toronto at the TIFF Lightbox downtown. Toronto is the only North American stop? That never happens!
The exhibit is divided into three sections: Kelly’s life as a movie star, as a bride, and as a princess. Highlights include an exact replica of her Helen Rose-designed lace wedding gown (which many say inspired Kate Middleton’s dress when she married Prince William), several original dresses, her signature Hermes “Kelly bag,” her Academy Award for The Country Girl, and the diamond tiara she wore when she became Princess of Monaco in 1956.
I read a review of the exhibit when it showed in Europe and was struck by Grace Kelly’s innate environmentalism which came through in her habit of wearing the same outfits over and over. She also declared publicly her sadness over the end of her acting career – her husband, Prince Rainier of Monaco, banned the screening of her previous movies and she was forced to turn down the lead in Alfred Hitchcock’s Marnie after public outcry in her adoptive country over the idea of her playing a kleptomaniac.(I saw The Country Girl on Broadway with two of my favourites, Morgan Freeman and Frances McDormand, playing the leads. What a cool experience!)
Are you a fan of Grace Kelly’s work?
Yes I know you’ve heard Thriller 10,000 times today but have you seen the dance routine?
If you’re old enough to remember the release of the video in 1983 you’ll recall all the fuss over a feature film director (John Landis) directing a music video and that the dance routine above was considered highly sexualized for a music video of its time (really!) Thriller is one of the most influential music videos ever produced and in 2009 was inducted into the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress for being “culturally, historically, aesthetically” significant. Halloween will always give us an opportunity to remember the massive influence Michael Jackson had on music, dance, and popular culture.