Monday, 14 January 2013

Let's Go to the Movies

I have an unhealthy tendency to base my life off fictional characters. As a child this tended to come from books I read (I tried on all the different Babysitter's Club members personalities), but upon hitting my teens I found myself taking inspiration from characters on the screen. Perhaps this was due to an increased interest in fashion and aesthetics, but I found myself taking cues from films more and more. I've done concrete things like take up roller derby after watching Whip It, and recognised parts of myself in the title character of (500) Days of Summer. I was on a date with a guy last week who shares my cinematic mindset and planned a picnic thinking we could watch passers-by like in Annie Hall, forgetting that it was early January in Ireland, and we were just very cold instead. I tend to view myself as the director of my own life, picking outfits and songs and hobbies that fit into my view of how my world should be. I continuously work on my own character, deciding who I want to be. This may seem odd, but I've also felt that I should never feel trapped into a set personality, that it is entirely possible to turn yourself into the type of person you want to be, and not in the cheesey self-help book kind of way. I constantly take inspiration from everything around me, including fictional characters.  I don't tend to completely steal personalities, but I do feel the following characters in particular are people I'm happy to take inspiration from.
1. Margot Tenenbaum, The Royal Tenenbaums.
This was the first Wes Anderson film I watched, and I fell in love with the world he created immediately. Margot, in particular, was someone fourteen year-old Grace wanted to be. She was everything I wasn't: mysterious, creative, successful. As someone who shared her secretive tendencies, I felt like this character could be a better version of me. Margot's signature fur coat was an image that stayed with me, and led to my  purchase of a (faux) fur coat several years later. And, of course, the elegance she brought to smoking made it appealing to a impressionable teenage girl. Most of all, she made unhappiness seem so mysterious and beautiful in a way. I guess that's everything a teenage girl wants. These days I admire Margot for her elegance, but no longer want to be her. And I curse her for making smoking look so damn cool.
2. Holly Golightly, Breakfast at Tiffany's
This is actually a very recent addition to my list of fictional heroines. I re-watched the film for the first time in years in November, and was struck by this simple fact: Holly is a complete and utter mess. She can't save, she's cut herself off from all her family, she's willing to put financial gains over love and her apartment constantly looks like she's just moved in. Yet she retains a certain charm. To put this into perspective, when I watched the film I was about two months into college, and my friends were constantly trying to gently tell me that I had turned into a bit of a mess. Well, I had always been a bit of a mess, I just think it was more obvious once I didn't have the structure of school anymore. So there were lots of incidents where I stumbled into lectures wearing my party dress from the night before etc. I had an epiphany while watching Breakfast at Tiffany's: it is perfectly okay to be a bit messy. Being perfect is honestly quite boring, so instead of trying to convince people that I was actually fine, I just started joking about my antics and admitted to myself that I have a wild streak and there's no point in trying to bury that. Result: I managed to stop stumbling into lectures in a state, but still have adventures. Basically, I gained a small amount of class and a large amount of self-acceptance. Heartwarming, isn't it?
3. Olive Penderghast, Easy A.
Ah, rumours. Seemingly a part of teenage life. When Olive finds herself hot gossip due to completely untrue fabrications, she decides to make the best of the situation, taking her sexuality into her own hands and enjoying her new notoriety. Words cannot describe how much I love Olive, mostly because I've found myself the centre of made-up gossip many a time (at one point I was apparently pregnant, another time I got whisked off to London by a boy who wished to steal me from someone I was supposedly going out with). Seeing a witty character so completely at ease with herself and giving everyone the middle finger by taking a rumour and using it to her advantage is incredibly refreshing. Plus she wears amazing lingerie as outerwear, always a plus in my book.
4. Charlotte, Lost in Translation.
It was my birthday the other week, and I jumped at the chance to recreate the karaoke scene and dragged my nearest and dearest to a crazy Asian restaurant where we rented a karaoke booth and sang noughties pop songs. Not only does this film appeal to my severe case of wanderlust, I also love Charlotte for being so introverted. Unfortunately I'm not in a swanky hotel room in Japan, but I still spend many a day lounging around my crowded bedroom in Dublin reading, writing and generally contemplating life. It's refreshing to see a character so comfortable with herself, even if she doesn't really know where her life is going. It's also nice to see the fate of an arts student addressed: she doesn't know what to do with herself now. While I doubt I'll have married by the time I graduate, the plight of the arts student is all too close to my own life. I tend to get disparaging comments about my World Religions & Theology/Film Studies choice, but it was either study something I really love, or spend four years studying something I hate and would get a career out of. First world problems.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Restless

Last night I watched Restless, picking it on impulse from Netflix. I tend to despise romantic films unless they have some unique hook, and this movie has one hell of a hook.

On paper it seems like a cliched, sentimental mess: two teenagers in love, one of them still grieving the death of his parents, the other dying of cancer. However, the story is told with such care and tenderness, and the the characters of Enoch and Annabel are in equal measures bizarre and honest that the plot just works.
 If you Google it, you'll find the film received mixed reviews, with the majority of the negative reviews agreeing it was "twee" and such.  Personally, I think you have to let yourself be taken in by the film, and realise that ultimately it is a film about teenagers. Teenagers who find themselves in love tend to fashion a whole world for themselves, and this pair have more reason to than most.

 The cinematography of Restless is truly superb, and I was screengrabbing nearly the entire film. As a film student, the mise en scene made me very happy.
 The film shows countless moments that could be considered cliche: kissing in the rain; playing tennis; bicycle rides. I think this is where it encounters harsh reviews, but I think to criticise it for this means you have missed the point entirely. Annabel and Enoch only have three months together, and they choose to make every moment count.
 There are moments of anger on Enoch's part, which is what saves it from being a trite in my opinion. The characters almost idealise themselves, and it is impossible to fault Annabel as she can only be admired for being so accepting of her illness and choosing to spend her time being happy. The film needs Enoch and his faults, as otherwise his dandy clothing and bad luck would be unbearable.
 All in all, I found it a genuinely touching film. I would highly recommend it, not just because of the carefully told story, but also because it is truly beautiful to watch.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Adventures in Hair Dye

So I was tipsy and decided that with the coming new year, I should have a new hair colour.
 That happened. It looked a bit better once I washed my hair, but blonde was not a good luck for me.
 So then I dyed my hair again, thinking it would come out a nice Emma Stone-esque shade of red. It was orange. Someday I might bring myself to put proper photographic evidence of this stage up, but for now here is a photo in dim lighting.
 It was described as "different" quite a bit. So I decided to return to the world of normal hair colours, resulting in the most natural colour I've had in about two years.