Saturday, 16 July 2011

The Royal Tenenbaums

So, usually this an area that I use to smash fashion items, fashion trends and anything to do with recent catwalk developments. However lately I thought I'd branch out and write about other areas of the arts that occupy my ever roaming and flitting mind.
This week boys and girls, again, it's a film review. More I'm climbing up the arse of this film and telling you all what it looks like from up there. It's beautiful first off. This film has swiftly become one of my very favourites and I was lucky enough that it came at a perfect time. I've recently returned from italy and whilst there I read J.D Salinger's 'Franny and Zooey', (so I guess this also slightly a book review also). The book's story, in a nut shell, is that of a family of geniuses. At the start of Tenenbaums it features the book written by the mother 'A Family of Geniuses'. The similarities don't end here and i feel I ought to speak a bit about the genius of the book before comparing it to this new found film. Franny and Zooey are brother and sister who have grown up under the wings of their older brothers Buddy and Seymour, spiritual oddballs who have thrived and encouraged their siblings, and their own, genius and isolation from others. Their sheer intelligence has ensured, throughout their lives, that they have felt seperated and, almost, of a seperate kind to the general public. This results in Franny having a breakdown and seeking solace in a book of religion and the book mainly chronicles the conversations about this book and both of their spiritual journeys between Franny and Zooey.
The film is a little different but just as genius. It follows the lives of the Tenenbaum family: Etheline (mother), Chas, Richie, Margot (children) and their estranged father Royal. They have all grown up under the influence of their mother who has always put their education first. This ensures that from an early age they are exposed to the world of literature, sport and business and quickly become pioneers of these areas. Margot is a playwright, Richie a professional tennis player and Chas a mouse breeder and a genius in the area of finance and business.
However with the estrangement of their father they become divided and depressed and they all, much like the book, find it very hard to socialise and become close with other people.
All except for Eli Cash, the neighbour, who they have grown up with and has been the best friend of Richie from a very early age.
There's something beautifully personal about the film and I feel the reason I love it so much is that it seems as though it should have been a book first. The depth in which the idiosyncracies of the characters are developed leave the audience feeling part of the Tenenbaum family. As if we've grown with them throughout the film.
The soundtrack is also something beautiful to be behold. From Nico to Lou reed to The Ramoes 'Judy is a punk'. Throughout the film, and for the subsequent several watches of it, I didn't seem to be able to place the film in a time period. The dated technology in the film, including cameras and televisions, and the fashion sense of the children and mother, seem to suggest that the film is of a previous decade, perhaps the 1970's. This is triggered mainly by Margot. From a purely fashion-self-indulgent point of view it's worth watching the film just for her. Gwyneth Paltrow portrays this character with such delicacy and isolation that she quickly became my favourite. She is depicted, from an early age, sporting Lacoste sports dresses, patent loafers and her famous fur coat which she seems to wear all year round. This has resulted in me never taking off my own loafers and praying for a cold day to wear my faux fur. I've also ordered a lacoste dress off ebay. BUT less of my own chronicles of fashion. Back to the film.
The cinematography is stunning and everything, from the textures of the strange gypsy cabs, to the colours in the beautiful Tenenbaum house, there seems to be a very tactile sense to the film and we're always engaged with the trinkets and symbols of the house and the characters.
Each character seems to have a prop that sums them up or introduces a character trait to the audience. Margot is constantly smoking in private, as she's 'known for her secrecy', Chas a stop watch as he's obsessed with the safety of his children and constantly acts out drills for various disasters and Richie his dark sunglasses and tennis clothing.
Over all, at the risk of ranting about every detail of the film, there's something very touching and heart warming about the film and, also at the risk of giving things away, you'll simply have to watch it for yourself. And here's hoping you desparately want to be a Tenenbaum also, because after all, who wouldn't?
margot tenenbaum Pictures, Images and Photos

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

missing someone

"God this is agony", she whispered as she twisted yarns of wool around each ring adorned finger. The other hand was scratching absentmindedly at her knee, slowly but surely creating, as she was very aware, a red mark that was starting to become irritated. She hated it when he left for the shops down the road never mind a holiday for two weeks.
That year had been strained. When he'd bought her, her Christmas gift, (an Antlers album), she'd waited until he left to listen to it. This is because she knew that at least it would be something to remind her of him.
"You're seriously losing it. If you can't stand to be away from him for 2 weeks when you've been together for this long I'm losing my touch as your, well I like to think of myself as your carer. Sort of guardian angel-" said Lucy will a small pull at the corners of her mouth as she realised how much she liked this idea, "-I like to think part of my duty is to keep you sane and okay when people who's normal job it is, i.e the boyfriend, go away for a bit. He's not died you do realise?" She asked as a look of worry and torment flashed across the irises of her eyes. It was fast but visible enough to Gillian.
"Yes. I am aware that my boyfriend hasn't died. I just feel very alone when I don't have someone around all of the time. He lives here so when there's not someone around I miss the background noise."
This was an understatement. Gillian's heart ached for the moments at three in the morning when she would be awoken by the tap being turned on. Lifting her heavy head of golden hair from the pillow she would hear a muffled grunt and realise that he'd gotten up for a drink. No it wasn't a burglar.
She used to pray in the middle of the night, if she was awake and he wasn't, that the floor would swallow her, only on her side of the bed. Just so she knew what it was like for her to leave him for a while. She used to revel in the sickly feeling she got when imagining this thought. She wondered if she'd feel empowered by her willingness for this to happen. However on contemplation she realised this was unrealistic. She would never let the ground swallow her. She'd refuse to leave.
"What on earth is that tacky ornament?" Asked Lucy breaking her train of thought. Her left hand was poised in a pointing position and a grimace, a look of somebody who'd shockingly been slapped, was draped over her features.
"Oh that. Hamish bought it for me. We both hated it equally," she paused to giggle, covering her grin with her hand, a habit she'd had since childhood, with an unfounded sense of shame about the size of her teeth.
"We both thought though that it was so ugly it was kind of attractive. I mean come on! Look at it, an owl has never looked less wise and at peace. I'm pretty sure-yeah-it's got a wonky set of eyes hasn't it? I guess we felt sorry for it. Like it might have been the bullied owl at school or something".

After Lucy had left she crawled up on the couch and started counting the petals on the flower of the wallpaper. This was also a habit she'd never let go of since the age of around four when she used to do it in bed at her grandparent's house. If she was feeling lonely or isolated she would count petals. Somehow she felt she might catch out the designer. She knew there was little in her life that gave her that specific kind of pleasure, the secret introspective kind, of catching someone out and realising, only very rarely this happened of course, that there was an odd flower with more or less petals than the others. Somehow it made her feel more human. As though everybody makes mistakes. Somebody might decide that, that flower was painted wrong somehow and needed an extra, or one less, petal than the rest. But it wasn't fixed or recognised. It blended in well enough. And it was still allowed to be part of the whole design. When Hamish was away she felt like the odd flower. And sometimes it took her hours to find it but until she did it was a waste going to bed or attempting sleep. Otherwise she didn't feel she was allowed to be on the wallpaper. That the paper was peeling from water damage and slipping away to reveal the cracks in the plaster and ruining the carpet that cost oh so much money. She felt worn.

Monday, 11 July 2011

Novel stuff

There was a plethora of people to engage my thoughts and idiosyncracies seemed to be calcifying on the walls with every glance i took. With every scan of the room i swear i saw thought bubbles bursting and wetting my nose as i walked around.
There was an extremely tall, gangly man who's sheer height forced him to slump forward slightly, his eyes looking upwards in a way that, on anybody else, would have looked menacing. However teamed with his perculiar drooping lip it gave him a look of dopiness. Due to his uniform and the instruments in his hands, i assumed he was the janitor. His hair was grey and wiry like the top of cheap dish washing sponges. His eyes were deep into his face and resembled shells with strips and dots of various colour, enclosed in a rough frame of crows feet and dry skin.
"It's not what it used to be", he'd say slowly with a delayed shake of the head as he mopped and shuffled along, dragging a trail of soap suds behind him. He looked weary and, for some reason, seemed the sanest one in there to me. His hands had a kind look to them, as though they were waiting to cradle a baby.