!!!HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!, my darling Hanneleh girl! Many happy returns from your wizzums.
Delicious dinner last night: Salmon with pomegranate glaze, brown/wild rice cooked in a (completely totally store-bought) glace di viande, puree of black beans cooked with green pepper and onion, garnished with wedges of lime and thick Greek yoghurt. Served with a grape and acai juice spritzer and for dessert a wedge of homemade brownie with chocolate/caramel chips and ice cream. WOO HOO.
Also. Heaven on earth: slices of thickly-cut rye bread spread with soft salty butter.
I keep gettin called on this, but I JUST DON'T LIKE Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie in P&P. I just don't. I don't like this version that much in some ways. It's not haterism, it's not a pissy never-ending ability to be satisfied, I just think Ehle doesn't exhibit/demonstrate/inhabit/convey that character's intelligence or vivacity or attractiveness. She smiles, she cries, she goes from one to the other at a manageable speed, but I don't ever think she's Lizzie. She's not bad, she's just not right. Flat. Soap opera-y (which is fine) but without the necessary underpinnings. A Lizzie who is too Knowing/modern/winking at us is a problem, and quite a common contemporary danger, but so is a Lizzie (this one) who doesn't really emit any of her smartness and perception as well as her real involvement in the world around her (she's not a "Dear Reader"...she's not a narrator). I think Ehle's face just isn't expressive enough. She does that thing Dave Kehr? described Catherine Deneuve doing--presenting the planes of her face to look at over and over--but without the supermovie-star draw, it comes across as a pretty-girl simper. It's hard not to see the casting problems for this adaptation as looks-based: Lizzie, but also, esp., Bingley and Jane. Flat flat flat--but they'd make great portraits. Only funny ol Julia Sawalha inhabits her character with any life.
Another part of the problem is the direction, which is often ill-thought-out and inappropriate, and repeats itself stylistically a lot. When they don't know what to do they give Lizzie a book (wrong!) or make her walk--this adaptation is full of so much over-ambulating it feels like it should be called a Walking Guide to Hertfordshire. Especially--worst of all--during the ultimate scene twixt Darcy and Lizzie when any intimacy and tension between them is completely siphoned off by the shots of them walking together, with no sense of sudden closeness or nervousness or denouement, their asides or reactions, trailin off into their peripheral vision. Total travesty. (This version even gets rid of their last cozy convo after that.)
It's an awful lot better than the Kiera Knightly P&P (bleaurgh!), but still. What a weird experience. The fact that this version simultaneously contains maybe the best Darcy to ever walk the face of the earth does weird things to one's head. Sometimes it's still exhilarating, sometimes it's so out of whack and clunky that it's the last thing I'd want to watch. Although usually I do.
So I also indulged in more examination of modern American life through stories of Chicago and its suburbs--er, watched Ordinary People--this weekend. Intense! I think Julia Philips called it "more tragedies of the uptight midwestern goyim"--and it is; stylistically it hasn't aged particularly well esp Judd Hirsch's burden as the majickal Jew/psychiatrist--but it's a good story. Was really interesting to see it again. The smartest thing Robert Redford ever did was cast MTM in that movie...fucking brill. And (I'm sure I'm not the only one who's thought this but) will a piece ever be written about Walker's Bros Original Pancake House in the movies? (the diff twixt Ord. People and Mean Girls is intense.) Oh Chicago...you stand in for us all, all of America.
The biggest difference this time through--I've been waiting for this to happen--is that I finally felt the sympathy one might for Beth. Actually felt it, rather than an abstract idea. Once you do, though...it feels like she doesn't get the fair shake everyone else does. Every one else is reacting badly to her son's death, but she doesn't get her chance to undo her own behavior as well. I guess the point is she can't, but I stopped feeling the need to hiss at her, I don't know why. It all changed, once it changed. I could see some of the (sad, misplaced) valor in her trying to just move ahead.
Obviously people don't really make movies about suburban angst like that anymore, that take it so seriously. But should we be? It would have been a blessing to see Mean Girls as a whitesuburban traumatized adolescent--to see all that crap put in any kind of framework with any kind of humor--but I wonder what the Ramis are. I wonder how people really feel. Do Beths ("Everybody loves Beth") still wield that kind of influence?
One of my pet peeves/obsessions is with food escapism advertising directed at women. Biting into a _____ [whatever] = escaping your life!, your little bit of relief from the everyday, your flight, your alone time, blah. International coffees, Dove chocolates, sweets. (Women are never escaping with a nice pork roast.) I'm obsessed with this kind of advertising, I hate it, hate the implications, feh. Anyhow, Betty Crocker Warm Delights has hit a new low, albeit using the same spoon-fellating imagery these ads often use (nobody ever just EATS). This particular ad (click on photo) is missing the rhetoric another one of their ads has about licks needed to get to the center of it all, but it's basically an advertisement for an orgasm. Look at the woman on her back waving her feet in the air, or the pregnant woman (post coitum..apparently eating chocolate can make you pregnant). "You're just 3 minutes from heaven." Yah. Right. Thanks for clearing that up.
(click on porny photo for video link)