I also read two of Philip Pullman's books - The Tin Princess, which is the last book in the Sally Lockhart series, and Count Karlstein, a part novel part graphic novel book. I enjoyed them both, although my favourite book by him will probably forever be The Tiger in the Well, the third book in the Sally Lockhart series. In The Tin Princess, Sally doesn't make more than an appearance as the focus is on a much younger heroine - as usual, the plot is challenging as the political intricacies are very hard to understand but I feel are worth it in the end. The characters are really full of life and colourful even though they're not as developed as the characters from former books are, which does make them look like stereotypes. I thought the end was completely and utterly ridiculous, it reminded me of Edgar Allan Poe, and not in a good way. Still, I found enough to enjoy.
Count Karlstein was a lot better. I was very pleasantly surprised at all the author could do in such few pages. The book was so funny, to begin with. Two girls escape their uncle's castle where a terrible end awaits them and they meet several characters while on the run. It's a parody of Gothic literature, which is always hilarious anyway, and in this the characters are simply wonderful. A woman named Miss Davenport made a lasting impression on me.
Now to moving pictures. I haven't seen a movie I liked in its entirety in a long, long while. The Purchase Price (1932) was a complete mess and yet some scenes were enjoyable on their own if you can forget the general structure and think of it as a series of shorts starring one of my favourite actresses, Barbara Stanwyck. However, I literally fell in love with the first part of Blonde Crazy (1931) starring James Cagney and the fantastic Joan Blondell. I must say I was really impressed with James Cagney's acting, I will definitely watch more movies with him. Bert (Cagney) makes sure Anne (Blondell) gets a job and that's how they meet. Very quickly, though, Bert reveals himself as a con with a heart and he convinces Anne to join him in tricking rich people (some very clever tricks there, my favourite being one in which Bert manages to steal a very expensive bracelet by placing it on a rich man's account and then lying about his identity to retrieve it once he goes to the rich man's place to take the bracelet away from the servants). The first half was so enjoyable - I don't think I have EVER seen that much slapping in a movie in my entire life. Anne doesn't take anything from Bert, when he's going to far, her answer is simple: she makes him think he's tricked her too but then she delivers a witty line, slaps him, and leaves. It must happen more than 10 times in the movie. The sexual innuendo is extremely funny as well as Bert's lines are barely toned down. Some scenes are complete classics: at some point, Bert tries to enter the bathroom when Anne is taking a bath, the audience sees both Anne in her bath and Bert at the door, then Bert leaves and tries to find the money Anne has hidden... in her bra. The moralistic end was a huge disappointment, and I do mean huge because I was enjoying myself until they decided to turn this movie into yet another sentimental "I'll wait for you forever while you go to prison for your crimes" story. It deserved better and I wish the director, Roy del Ruth, would have developed his vision until the very end. Shame for a pre-code.
Glee. Oh dear, Glee. I watched it for quite a few episodes because it was catchy (clearly not my type of music as you may have noticed but still), the actors are obviously very dedicated and also I loved the characters. Rachel is one of the main characters - she gets a lot of criticism for being focused, for knowing what she wants and for going for it because she knows that if she's not the one who's going to audition for a part and been given more solos, nobody's going to do it for her. I personally see nothing wrong with that. Go Rachel. No, she doesn't need your help and she does what she wants. So obviously people hate her. Because she's her own person and she's a girl. Quinn is a cheerleader who knows what she wants and she's mean. People hated her at first, and then loved her because, guess what, Quinn is pregnant and she's lost about it. Quinn needs help, so Quinn is loved.
See where I'm going here?
Another BIG issue for me: Emma. Emma is a woman who works at the school the glee club is at. She's in love with a teacher who's married. He's miserable with his wife. Emma is the kind of person I want to shake and yell at. She longs to be with Will, but Will is married. So what does Emma do? She says yes when a complete ass she doesn't even like proposes to her. Because that's what women do in 2009. Right? WRONG. I can't believe they're actually writing a female character who prefers to be married to a guy she hates than be on her own and make her own happiness.
And then there's Sue. Sue is a witty character. She's funny because she's entirely mean and completely focused on what she wants: to win. Sue gets excellent one-liners and everything that comes out of her mouth is quotable and witty. Right? WRONG. Because Sue is so incredibly over-the-top and delivers deadpan lines like nobody's business, she can get away with racism. I'm going to quote an excellent review I found on a blog:
Here’s the thing: When you are in a position of privilege, you really do need to be reminded of that. You need to see the way in which your privilege can be harmful, can be a tool of oppression. If you don’t, you aren’t going to learn about how to manage your privilege. Glee does not make people uncomfortable (unless they are extremely aware of these issues). It just uses oppression as a humour vehicle. Which, can I say, yuck?"
So I stopped watching Glee. A few catchy songs don't make it okay.
Speaking of catchy songs, I know I've already mentioned Louis Prima here but he's truly one of my favourite singers. Louis, Keely Smith and Sam Butera would probably the three singers I would bring with me on a desert island because if we have to die, at least let's die swinging. Their songs are hysterical. Angelina and There'll Be No Next Time are some of my all-time favourites. I love singers who have so much fun they constantly ad-lib. That's music for me.
Sam: But he took me to see
that little friend of mine
Louis: Oh that little motha'
Sam: hahaha DISTRICT JUDGE
Louis: I remember him
Sam: ROOM 229!!
Louis: Yeah! He was crazy!
Sam: He said sam
Your payments are wayyy behind
I said don't worry judge
It won't happen next time
Louis: What'd he say?
Sam: He said mmmmmmmmmmm Next time
There'll... be no next time
You're going to jail right now.