Monday, July 20, 2009

The lingerie shortage in this country...


I am really looking forward to the third season of Mad Men. The first episode will air on August 16 and it seems that this will be the best way to end summer. If you've seen the first two seasons, and only if you've seen them, I strongly recommend watching this video, the 10 most shocking moments of the show so far (and god knows there have been many).It's not just a succession of clips since Matthew Weiner, who created the show, comments on each one of them, along with the actors.

Have you ever heard of Adventureland? It was released this year and it seems only Twilight fangirls have heard of the movie, because it stars Kristen Stewart, of Twilight fame. It's a shame, really, because it's a very sweet, real and smart movie taking place in the 80s. Several teenagers work at an amusement park during the summer and develop relationships in a way that's honest and beautiful. I was really moved by this movie and thought the two leads (Kristen and Jesse Eisenberg) acted really well.

July 2009 for me will be remembered as Potter Madness. The plan was this: read the first six books, then watch the adaptation of Half-Blood Prince, then read Deathly Hallows. That was the challenge and I completed it. Rereading a series that's so close to my heart felt like coming home after a very long day. It felt perfect, right, familiar in the best way. I reminisced on where I was when they were published and the thing is, my reactions are exactly the same as when I read them first. I cried buckets at the end of Half-Blood Prince, laughed at the same jokes, longed to be part of this world, cried in The Forest Again, was anxious for the fate of several characters even though I knew what was going to happen, marvelled at Jo's genius. Being completely immersed in this world for 10 days was just what I needed and this has been the best decision I made all year. The movie adaptation of Half-Blood Prince was beautiful. There's no other word. I finished rereading the book on the 14 and went to see a screening on the 15 at 9:45 and it was the best way to do it. The cinematography is gorgeous, the acting impeccable (the trio has evolved and learnt so much, they're actually good now, so is Tom Felton. The adults are impeccable except for Gambon who's never been my Dumbledore). I missed a few things, no Rufus Scrimgeour meant no "Dumbledore's man through and through" which is, in my opinion, one of the best lines of the entire saga, no "Don't call me coward!" which would have dropped a great hint for the next movie, no battle between Dumbledore's Army, the Order and the Death Eaters,(but they added a scene at the Burrow that was really well acted and chilling), not much explained about where to find the Horcruxes, but the good points were excellent so that's easily forgiven. The score is to die for. You can listen to it for free here. I personally have it on repeat and should buy the CD soon. There is a whole chapter at the end that's not adapted but for me a little gesture said it all and I realised I didn't need this chapter, that was a very smart move. The movie is deeply emotional but also incredibly amusing in the right places and effortlessly so, just like the book. The amount of romance (I for one thought Harry/Ginny in the Room of Requirement was really beautiful and I'm not much of a shipper) and comedy counterbalances nicely with the deeply disturbing plot, this movie's a riot in places. I just couldn't believe how outrageously funny it was, and everything taken directly from the book. The whole thing is so deeply tied up with the fifth and seventh adaptations that I think it would have been smarter to shoot them all after the whole series had been released. The actor who plays Tom Riddle is incredible and has nothing to do with the two-dimensional character we had in Chamber of Secrets. Shame they didn't wait. Bottom line is, this adaptation is beautiful and it's not even just a good adaptation, it's a very, very good movie by itself.

I managed to squeeze in the reading of a book after my Potter Madness this month, and what a book that was! Flapper: a Madcap Story of Sex, Style and Celebrity and the Women Who Made America Modern by Joshua Zeitz is delightful and delicious. I heart the 20s, I want to read more about this decade of absolute freedom and "unaffordable excess" (that's the title of one of the chapters) that came before the Great Depression that ended it all. Zeitz's prose is crystal clear and the book super interesting. It's divided into three parts, and even though it's not explicitly put that way, the first part is about how literature influenced and was influenced by the flapper lifestyle (focusing on the Fitzgeralds, what a life they had, but also Lois Long who wrote articles about her flapper lifestyle), the second about fashion (focusing on Coco Chanel) and the third about cinema (focusing on Clara Bow and Louise Brooks). So now all of Francis Scott Fitzgerald's books are on my list (Zelda was pretty much the quintessential flapper, her yearbook read "Why should all life be work, when we can all borrow. Let's only think of today, and not worry about tomorrow."), along with an impressive number of silent movies. Zeitz made so many good points: how flappers thought only white priviledged women could be like them (when African-Americans invented the dances they all danced and the songs they all sung in the Jazz Age), how it all relates to first-wave feminism (feminists despised this carefree attitude to life because flappers pushed limits but never politically, which would have benefited all women if they did), how the twenties and the flapper lifestyle was an incredibly good era for consumerism. About that, and because I've been obsessing over Mad Men, I found a pretty spot-on description of what advertising was about: "Sell them their dreams. Sell them what they hoped for and longed for and almost despaired of having. Sell them hats by splashing sunlight across them. Sell them dreams - dreams of country clubs and proms and visions of what might happen if only. After all, people don't buy things to have them... They buy hope - hope of what your merchandise might do for them." The San Francisco Chronicle said about the book that it "engagingly blends solid academic research with a pop culture sensibility." Truly excellent book, I learnt so much about a whole era and it has left me hungry for more, which is what the best books do, in my opinion.

What should I leave you with? Ooo, I know! How about The Drifters? I listen to them all year long but they're particularly good during the summer. It's so hard to find a compilation of their songs that's not been remixed but I managed to dig something up.

In the park you hear
The happy sound of the carousel
You can almost taste the hot dogs
French fries they sell
Under the boardwalk
Down by the sea, yeah
On a blanket with my baby
Is where I'll be

Have an extravagant summer!