Hi It’s a Plague

Here’s some reading material

Are Our Prisons and Jails Ready for Covid-19? (ACLU)
(The answer is no)

Trump is Ensuring the Worst Possible Outcome (The Atlantic)
(Don’t worry, it’s okay to blame Trump for our nation’s response to the coronavirus because he fired the entire national pandemic response team in 2018)

Young and Unafraid of the Coronavirus? Good for You. Now Stop Killing People.(Newsweek)
(Murderers.)

Free Movies Online: 100 Fresh Movies to Watch Online For Free (Rotten Tomatoes)
(For your isolated pleasure.)

On the Oscars

I’ve seen a lot of takes mentioning how this is the second year in a row that no women have been nominated for best director, as though this were the exception and not the rule, as though this has been a troubling new trend and not the actual modus operandi of the academy. Because yes, while Greta Gerwig was nominated two years ago for Lady Bird, you have to go back to 2010 to see another female director nominated (Kathryn Bigelow, “The Hurt Locker”). The Oscars have existed for 92 years, and in that time only 7 women have been nominated (and 6 black people, all men).

The Oscar nominees this year are overwhelmingly white and male, despite a number of excellent films featuring/created by women and POC.

It goes without saying that women and POC face challenges breaking into The film industry (and many many other industries) that aren’t present for white men. And even beyond that, the work of these creators is then judged against a conception of art established by the work of an overwhelmingly white and male canon of classics and an overwhelmingly white and male body of critics. So we call it great art when Scorsese does the same thing as usual but for 40 minutes longer (ditto for Tarantino) but struggle to apply the term to the story of a Chinese-American who returns to China with her family to visit her dying (but unaware of it) grandmother (Lulu Wang, “The Farewell”).

I recently watched a review of Little Women in which the reviewer said that he most enjoyed the parts featuring Timothée Chalamet (sad boy extraordinaire) and Tracy Letts, because, having not had sisters, he couldn’t identify with the rest of the film. I’ve never had a sister. And while Little Women maybe ostensibly, on the most superficial of levels, be about sisters, the film itself is about so much more. It’s hard to understand how anyone could fail to see this. How anyone who can readily identify with a race car driver, a hitman, or a superhero would draw the line at ‘sisters’.
I wish it were only a lack of imagination, because the more sinister (and also more likely) option, is that there are a lot of people who (whether consciously or subconsciously) who don’t want to identify with women or POC, who don’t want to put in the effort to interest themselves in their stories.
So is it lack of practice? You can learn empathy. It’s frightening to think of people with more power not wanting to recognize themselves in people “below them”, not wanting to confront evidence of the humanity of people relatively lacking in that power.

Another reviewer called the inciting incident in Queen & Slim (which, full disclosure, I haven’t seen yet, it’s not out here), in which a black couple on a first date are pulled over by a cop (for no discernable reason) and face the threat of police brutality a “contrivance”. That, with The Hate U Give coming out a year before, Queen & Slim was “redundant”. Police brutality, something that threatens the lives of African Americans every single day, a contrivance. A trope. I clearly have a lot of words, but none can describe how this makes me feel. A black story told more than once is more than enough. A white story told more than once is a classic. Forget that there are people fearing for their lives, people dying. If telling these stories isn’t at least part of what art is for, then what good is our art?

So I know I’m not a critic, and I know no one cares, but I’m rooting for Bong Joon-Ho and Parasite. But neither of those are bets I would place. Todd Phillips shouldn’t have been nominated, Lupita Nyong’o being passed over for her dual role in Us is a disappointment, but they would have just kicked out Cynthia Erivo (the only black best actress nominee, “Harriet”). I would have liked to see Eddie Murphy nominated, and would have been happy with another Best Director nomination for Gerwig, although my personal choice would have been Céline Sciamma (“Portrait de la jeune fille en feu/Portrait of a Lady on Fire”).

By all means do some research or do a quick Google, but here’s a short list of films directed by women that I think should have gathered Oscar consideration, that I enjoyed, that told different stories, and/or that I’m hoping to see:
Portrait of a Lady on Fire, The Farewell, Hustlers, Little Women, (and the following which I haven’t seen) Atlantics, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Birds of Passage, Honey Boy, Little Woods, Queen & Slim, The Souvenir, Tigers are Not Afraid.
And I’m sure I’m leaving some off.

The logistics of searching for directors based on race is harder, but the main additions to those listed above are Parasite and Us, as well as a number of the international films. Partial credit to Dolemite is my Name for telling a black story with a lot of input from Eddie Murphy, even with a largely white team.

I understand that focusing on this in a world shared by bushfires in Australia, political assassination in the Middle East, earthquakes in Puerto Rico, late capitalism, etc. is… questionable, but despite my ongoing efforts to educate myself, I still feel more qualified to talk about films than retaliatory violence against student protestors in India (for now). I also feel that if the work of women and POC continues to get less praise and make less money (in any sphere), the fewer opportunities these people will get. People will be less willing to support their work when it does get made. And back to the beginning, ad infinitum.

Mid-week Links

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It seems like every time I’ve been posting recently it’s been prefaced by an apology about my lack of consistency.  I’m here again and again with another excuse- you would think being homebound with a bad ankle would lead to more posting rather than less, but instead I’ve just generally been very off my game for the last week.  Thankfully I’m starting to shape up and am more or less ready to rejoin the land of the living/productive, which is good because we’ve got some family trips lined up which I would never for the life of me be missing.
But that does also mean I’m unlikely to be posting consistently for another week and a half.  The boondocks of PA doesn’t even have phone connection, much less WiFi.
See you on the other side!

In the meantime, I’ve amassed a hideous army of motley links from around the interwebs.

Why so many posts about Instagram?

Peace and Acceptance:

On Films:

  • The trouble with Hollywood’s gender flips: “These reboots require women to relive men’s stories instead of fashioning their own. And they’re subtly expected to fix these old films, to neutralize their sexism and infuse them with feminism, to rebuild them into good movies with good politics, too. They have to do everything the men did, except backwards and with ideals.”
  • The Pop Culture Detective strikes again! The topic: Abduction as Romance.
  • The Hate U Give. This looks pretty great.
  • What is Cinemascore?

Miscellaneous:

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Friday Links 5/18

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Happy Friday! It seems like a pretty good day 9a bit nippy) and I’m looking forward to some exciting doings this weekend.

How about you?

Friday Links 5/11

boop.jpgHappy Friday and Happy Mother’s Day weekend!
Do you have any plans?
In a few hours we (my parents and I) will be going up to Belfast, Maine to spend the weekend with my Aunt Susan and Bill, whose mother owns an alpaca farm.  There will be alpaca shearing, vegan food, and tactful discussions about Infinity War without mentioning to movie fan Bill (it’s so nice to be around other movie fans) that I never plan to see it.

I’ve been reading a lot, falling behind on the films I have checked out from the library, gardening for hours a day, and enjoying the springly weather. I also cooked some interesting pancakes yesterday so that  have foods when I return next week. I will report back.

What’s happening on the worldwide web?

  • Speaking of movie people, this film looks like it could be amazing. Also really excited for The Seagull, an adaptation of one of the few Chekhov pieces I’e actually read.
  • A beautiful essay that I’m at a loss as to how to describe.
  • The Duchess of Northumberland sounds like a fun lady- she created the garden at Alnwick Castle, possible the deadliest garden in the world.
  • How does Deadpool always win the promotion game? This is genius.
  • One of the greatest things about being back in America is the access to SNL’s youtube uploads. I know the main story (DESERVEDLY) is the release of This is America by Donald Glover- but let’s not forget about the Barbie skit.
  • #MeToo and Junot Diaz: Cycles of victimization and victimizing, sexual harassment, celebrity and race.
  • When two celebrity ladies (internet fashion personae?) give birth in close succession and get together to share their experiences with the early days of motherhood.
  • I love this Public Place Meditation Guide– it’s very closely related to some wisdom my mother shared with me years ago: practice seeing the divinity in everyone around you.
  • A mathematical model may explain how two brains agree on the experiential profile of smells.
  • Possibly the most charming interview I’ve ever seen. I think I may have just fallen in love with all three of these men.
  • Have you liked any pages created by Russian bots?Ask Facebook.
  • A complex algorithm predicts the likelihood of final season Game of Thrones deaths. Bye, Daenerys.
  • An amazing photograph. I love whales.

My Weekend and Potential Future Blog Plans

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The most significant piece of news is that there is currently no heat in my house.  Let’s just say it’s not the most ideal of circumstances.
However, with the help of twice as many blankets, two sweaters, and a hot water bottle I spent an adequately comfortable night.  My landlords predict that they will have someone in to fix the heat on Friday morning. Or maybe it was Monday- I may have misunderstood the French.  Suffice it to say, I’m hoping for Monday.

The second most significant piece of news is that it’s 26 days until my flight back to Boston- WOOOO!

And how am I spending the interim, besides being unreasonably cold?

Yesterday:

  • I revisited the Petit Palais for the new exhibition, Les Hollandais a Paris.  It was absolutely gorgeous, well set-up, and interesting. Highly recommend if you’re in Paris.  My only regret is not having waited to see the pastel exhibition until now so I could have gotten the joint ticket and saved a few euros.
    The exhibit is a collection of the work of Dutch artists who have studied and worked in Paris, showcased along with the work of their friends and contemporaries.  It’s arranged chronologically and really demonstrates how artists inspire one another, fads for different subject matter come and go, and styles change over time.  Covering the period from 1789 (French Revolution) to 1914 (WWI), you get to see the procession from very detailed and lifelike floral still lives to realistic landscapes to impressionism to gritty realism to fauvism to cubism and cubist-inspired pieces.  Unfortunately pictures weren’t allowed but I wrote down the names of my favorite works for future reference.
  • Post Petit Palais I went to lunch at Happiz, a completely vegetarian pizza restaurant (with vegan options, including vegan cheese) located in Les Sablons.  I did a build-your-own-pizza thing (the large was 12 euros, a steal for everything I’ve ever wanted in a vegan pizza- vegan mozzarella, peppers, zucchini, eggplant, and vegan chorizo). They also offer gluten free pizzas.  It was an absolute mess (my pizza did try valiantly to stand up to the heaps of toppings I ordered, but did cave under the pressure a few times) but the restaurant (a pretty small place) was quiet when I got there around 2 pm, very casual and very welcoming and personal.
    I’m pondering the right way to post about my favorite restaurants (vegan of course) in Paris, and whether it’s better to do a big lump post (which would probably be overwhelming for both you and me) or to divide it into manageable ‘types of cuisines’ bite -sized chunks (pardon the pun)- like best lunch sandwich places, best pizza places, etc.  And how to handle the places I haven’t gone yet?
  • After pizza, I rounded out my day with yet another activity beginning with the letter P- protest (the theme was unintentional, I assure you).  I visited the March for Our Lives protest, Paris edition, in the Place du Trocadero, just across the river from the Tour Eiffel.  Lots of Americans and lots of French who feel strongly about kids being shot up at institutions of learning. Can’t understand it.
    It was a great way to feel connected to America.  I’ve followed politics fairly closely but it’s hard not to feel pretty impotent from here.
  • My second to last stop was Citypharma, maybe the most famous (and most crowded) pharmacy in Paris. They have pretty much everything (but were unfortunately out of the Sensibiafine baume visage that I was looking for).  I’ll just have to stop back another weekend.
  • Lastly, I swung by another eatery called Brasserie 2eme Art to check out their menu, which isn’t available online.  It’s a bit expensive for me (pretty much everything is still under 20 euros, but a fair amount is over 13, which is my arbitrary cut off).  Still, it looks like there could be some more great vegan pizza there- so maybe that will be in my pizza round up.  Except lord knows I’m more interested in getting the banana split. 😉

Today, Sunday, is a grocery shopping and cooking day, and I also need to do some studying as we have two exams this week. Unfortunately that’s very difficult when your hands are freezing.  Whatever- it’s all bout doing your best, isn’t it?

In terms of future blog plans- not now, but over the summer, I’m considering doing themed weeks to organize my thoughts more around what content I want to be posting.  possible topics include nostalgia, food, films, reading material, perfume, etc.

Links Actually on Friday: 3/23

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I’m getting out a links post actually on Friday, pre-classes, pre-full-day-of-smelling-synthetic-raw-materials.

  • Welcome to space. Meet Steve.
  • Congratulations to John Oliver (and best wishes to Marlon Bundo and Wesley).
    Love is love.
  • …There’s going to be a live-action Lady and the Tramp.  Can someone please explain why CGI counts as live action? And can someone also please explain why, in general?
  • The beauty and power of fandoms. Read it for the first, introductory segment alone.
  • A super interesting read on the ‘brand-influencer power struggle’. An examination of the rise of Instagram influencers and bloggers as fashion personalities, how they’re compensated, what it means, and how it’s changing.
  • Honest Trailers does it again.  On the slate this week: every Wes Anderson movie. One of my pet favorite directors and they get his idiosyncrasies so right.
  • “Visitors are encouraged to create drawings, one of which will be interpreted into a personalized Diptyque scent.” Diptyque is opening an interactive shop in Soho! I’ll have to visit once I’m back in the US (because lord knows there aren’t enough Diptyque shops in Paris).  Don’t want to miss out on the fun? You can also submit online.
  • “I will insist on my grandchildren referring to me as Grandmamá, with extra emphasis on the á.” All the Glamorous Things I Will Do When I AM A Rich Old Lady. Honestly- goals. But also, don’t wait! Get that Burmese python now! Or, you know, perfect your posture).
  • Roland Mouret on his scent preferences and his newish perfume, Une Amourette.
  • Olivia de Havilland, 101, alive, and very much kicking. I watched In This Our Life, featuring her and Bette Davis, this week while studying. Not the best movie ever but watching them was like visiting two old friends of mine.