Saturday, April 30, 2011


I first read Jane Eyre when I was nine years old. I loved it so much that I read bits of it every day for at least a year. I have since read it at least once a year since that time, which means I have read it a LOT.

When I was nine, I liked it because her life was miserable, she was plain and insignificant and yet she never stopped fighting. (She also never stopped getting in trouble for fighting.) I identified with that. When I was thirteen I loved the florid romance, the Gothic spookiness, the melodrama. Thirteen-year-old girls can't ever get enough of that sort of thing. (see: Twilight.) In high school I appreciated Jane's restraint. I wanted to be like her- controlled, discrete, thoughtful, passionate yet rational. College was all about how much I hated the characters of Mr. Brocklehurst and St. John Rivers, how the educational and moral systems they represented disavowed their original purposes in a bid for total suffocating control. I have at one point or another been fascinated with Jane's work ethic, the way she deals with depression and loneliness, and her ability to release anger and hurt. Most recently I started wondering why
Mr. Rochester has to be such a horrible person. (I didn't use a coarse descriptive right there. You're welcome. ) It probably has something to do with archetypes and the basic human propensity for acting like a screeching poo-flinging monkey while figuring one's crap out, yadda yadda yadda, but it's still really annoying. Well, it is to me anyway. Why can't folks just be nice to people they like? Why can't they just say "Hey, I like you. How about we commence with the being nice to each other business and if it gets nicer we could consider making it permanent?" Wouldn't that be simpler?

Yeah. Apparently that's not how it works. Therein lies the reason I'm still single. Well, either that or I'm just totally unattractive and/or clueless. Whatever works. =)

ANYWAY, every time I read the book it makes me think. I see it from a different light, take something new away from it, use it as food for thought and as a mirror to my own thoughts and desires. Because of that I was interested to see who the filmmakers thought this Jane was. First, she's young. Nineteen seems a lot younger to us, we who expect to live to be 80. Death at 50, which was average for folks in 1847, means 19 is almost half-way through life. The Jane in the book was actually asked if she was a spinster. At nineteen. So, she's younger emotionally and physically in this film to reflect what we believe nineteen to be. Secondly, she's really red-headed, which was surprising. I had always put Jane in the "dishwater blond" spot rather than the "creepy ginger" category but it was interesting to look at. Third, she spent a lot of time rolling around and crying on the moors. That got a bit tedious but they made up for it by showing her looking crabby while sketching in her nightgown. Somehow I forget through all of Jane's words that she's an artist and actually feels better when drawing. So I eventually liked that.

One of the key differences between this film and the book (other than trying to jam an enormous book, Harry Potter style, into a single film) was the character of St. John Rivers. I didn't want to throw him off of a cliff, which is surprising because I ALWAYS want to throw him off of a cliff. This St. John (rhymes with "engine") is just a dude who kinda likes Jane. He's not her cousin, he never speaks of being a missionary, and in general is a pretty likable sort of guy. He's cautious though, and when springing the whole "Hey, I'm moving to India in 6 weeks, why don't you come with?" question he does it all backwards, saying "we're compatible, you are smart, we could do some good work, how 'bout we get hitched? THEN maybe we might start to think about that love business."

We all know this is exactly the wrong thing to say but in this film it's wrong because he's not being honest with himself. (Well, that and it would insult just about every woman I know.) He actually likes her, he just won't admit it to himself. Mr Rochester was honest to himself about his attraction to Jane. He just was dishonest about everything else. And by everything I mean everything else AND the crazy wife in the attic.

Eventually [SPOILER ALERT] Rochester's house burns down and he looses an eye ("It's all fun and games till someone looses and eye!) and then Jane hears Mr. Rochester's monster-truck-rally voice on the wind (he sounds like this: ) and gets on a carriage to see what's up. Dame Judi Dench then pops up out of nowhere to scare the crap out of ya and it's off to see Edward looking just like every other bearded hipster wandering the streets of NYC. And then you know it's real love cause that's the only way anyone would kiss a beard that mangy.

And I may be growing a touch sarcastic. Which means it's time for bed. Watch the movie, read the book, do as you please, just please think. That's what the classics are meant to inspire in whatever form you find them. Or, at least that's what I think.

Tuesday, April 05, 2011

ARTHUR (8) -- by naudy

I've always disliked the name Susan. Not because it's old-fashioned and as a child I couldn't find pre-printed merchandise with my name on it. Not because folks can't seem to spell it. (Suzan, Soozan, Suzin.) Not even because the nicknames one gets as a Susan sound, in Texan, like the sounds one makes to call pigs (SOOOO-ZEE!) Nope, I mainly disliked my name as a child because all the characters in books which had my name were nothing at all like me. In the Ramona Quimby books the Susan is blond, dressed in perfect frilly dresses, and mean. What's worse, in the Narnia series, Susan DOESN'T GET TO GO TO HEAVEN!!

Perfectly awful.

As an adult I have noticed that the Susans in movies and stories are equally crappy. They usually are the "perfect" girl that the hero has to quickly dump so he can hook up with the real perfect girl who has a name like Sam or Jessica or something. Elvis sang a song about a Susan but even the King had to throw a caveat in. ( ) In fact, the only time a Susan in stories ends up with anyone is the Susan in the musical Finnian's Ranbow and that Susan is a mute who does a lot of interpretive dance and hooks up with a flighty overgrown leprechaun. Not ideal.

ARTHUR is a charming movie that takes the Susan-hate to a whole new level. The Susan in this film is so horrible that I don't want to even talk about it. What I will talk about is how funny this movie is and how much I enjoyed it. The original film was painful. This one is delightful. The whole cast does a lovely job, it has a Frog And Toad moment, the costumes are BEAUTIFUL, and Greta Gerwig (the only unknown-to-me actor) is pretty much a blond Zooey Deschanel. (That's a good thing.) Anyway, what I am saying is, in spite of the Susan-hate, I really loved this film and if anyone wants to go see it I will totally pay the $11 to go with you and see it again.. as long as you don't call me "the Susan-woman" after.


So, I was in the Preschool classroom (as opposed to my normal Toddler room) and a 4-year-old asked what my name was. I told her and she immediately said "Oh! Like that really REALLY tall lady with the monsters!" She then raised her arms above her head, held her hands like claws, and in a ghosty Scooby-Doo voice said "Sooooooosaaan. SOOOOOOOOOOsan!"

I rest my case.

Saturday, April 02, 2011

HOP (2) & PAUL (10) - Double Feature Saturday

I am beginning to be afraid of hipsters taking over the world. It's not the big issues that concern me but the little details that sneak in. Why are clothes at the store moving towards muddy prints and tight pants? Why are so many advertisements featuring bearded awkward-looking models? And why is my Ella Fitzgerald Pandora station playing Vampire Weekend??

I know there are a lot of folks who aren't hipsters, and many many more who have never even heard of them, but the signs and symptoms of hipsters are sneaking into popular culture and it troubles me. (The hipsters also shouldn't like this since they will be far less cool if their lifestyle is being marketed to the good people who shop at Wal-Mart.)

I only bring it up because I saw the film HOP yesterday. We had gone to see MARS NEEDS MOMS but that movie was no longer in the theater so we picked the next available children's film and went in. HOP has some lovely people in it. It has beautiful CGI. It even has the pointless plot inconsistencies which are apparently required of children's films. But it also has feet-on-the-ground unglamorous shots of Hollywood neighborhoods which wait breathlessly for someone on a fixed-gear bike to ride through. E.B., the bunny who poos jelly beans and wants to become a drummer, voiced by the charmingly androgynous Russell Brand, wears plaid flannel for no reason at all. And the story is centered around a charmless 30+ slacker who lives at home and who, pointlessly, decides that he wants to become the Easter Bunny.

All of this would have been okay if the leading actor were James Franco. The guy can host the Oscars, do trashy daytime soaps, write, perform, and basically sneer at anyone who questions his impeccable Indy cred. He can pull off slacker-with-a-twinkle-in-his-eye better than anyone and this movie was written for him. Unfortunately, he's not in it. James Marsden is. Yeah. This guy:

James Marsden has no soul. He may or may not be able to act. He's theoretically attractive and has the requisite hipster hair but he rolls a zero on charm. He can't be smugly ironic or whimsically awful or even very interesting. You may recognize him from the X-Men movies where he played the biggest prick in comics, Cyclops. He was adequate in HAIRSPRAY where he was required to look really white when he danced (check!), smile broadly while saying vapid things (check!), and portray a character who has absolutely no soul (check and CHECK!) In HOP, he was terrible.

PAUL, however, was delightful. There was no hipster and a ton of geek! And, let me say that from the beginning I was thrilled because the first stop on their geek tour of all things UFO was the Little A'Le'Inn located conveniently in the middle of nowhere Nevada where my sisters and I have been!! Jane Lynch plays the weird old lady who runs the place and looks just like the lady who ACTUALLY runs the place! We were there for only 15 min or so and she (the real lady not Jane Lynch) treated us to a lecture on how we really needed to invest in long fake nails because "men look at your hands first and they gotta be lady like." We looked at her square nicotine-stained man-hands gesturing around her leathery wrinkled face and teased-out bleach blond hair and agreed that her 2" long fake nails did indeed add something to her look.

Anyway, I bring it up as an example of how tight this movie with with the nerd details. I didn't even get them all and I used to go to Star Trek conventions. (Seriously. I did.) Every detail is so thought out that even the license plates in each scene are different and say different things each time. The writing is tight (Best Worst-Thing-To-Say-To-A-Girl Line: "Remember when you kissed me and I was thinking Ah! get away from me you crazy rapist? Ha ha... eh... oh....) the gags are tight (Ewok fetishes are funny!), and the actors are brilliant.( Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, Seth Rogen, Kristen Wiig, Jason Bateman.. must I go on?)

Basically it is so funny that I'm going to have to get a new job where I can actually repeat some of the things I heard in this film. Preschool is no place for a potty mouth. =)


For those of you interested in getting more information about hipsters, please see this excellent article: