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.

Links 6/4

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Due to a weekend-trip hiatus (NYC was great, thanks), this links post is a bit later than usual.  Coincidentally, many of these links seem to have a bit of an LGBTQ theme.
Happy Pride!

Let’s get the smell stuff out of the way first:

  • Auklets are a bird species in which males demonstrate fitness not only by very fancy and sexy crests, but seemingly also by emitting a strong tangerine scent, research finds.
  • Study finds that activation of a certain smell receptor speeds the progression of prostate cancer, suggesting new treatment methods via blocking of the receptor.
  • Department stores reevaluate traditional beauty and fragrance marketing techniques as the beauty industry changes.

All the feels:

Film thoughts:

Current events:

Odds and Ends:

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.

Links and Things

After a short hiatus that coincided with finals period and stress and projects, I am back in the US of A and home in Boston where there are cats and vegan food and gardens that need working it.

And a smallish backlog of links.

Links 4/07

I hope you had a lovely Saturday. I took a forty minute detour to claim a vegan cinnamon roll, visited the Louvre’s special Delacroix exhibition, and ate a pizza (also vegan).
Keep an eye open for an upcoming ‘best vegan pizzas in Paris’ post. The sequel to the Boston edition- we’ve relocated.

So here’s what’s happening on the interwebs, carefully avoiding the trend for snorting condoms.

  • The city of lights from the sky
  • I’m fantasizing less about these outfits and more about the swoon worthy descriptions of spring weather
  • Body glitter is now the only appropriate use for the Kira Kira filter. I am entranced.
  • What happens when you add illustrations to those random snippets of overheard conversations
  • I would stay here– books and beds are the only things I need in life
  • For it to really be Paris he would have an accordion
  • Infernal Affairs and The Departed– for me The Departed wins because Boston, but I have yet to see Infernal Affairs (it’s been on my list SO LONG) so that’s not worth much. It does look excellent, doesn’t it?
  • If you’re a Royal Wedding fan, maybe you want to enter this social media contest to suggest its defining ice cream flavor?
  • The unstoppable rise of veganism, about which I have mixed feelings (more people want to eat my cinnamon bun but more places sell vegan pizza).
  • The benefits of a plant-based diet for health and the environment.
  • Congrats to Yale and congrats to Nathan Chen.
  • An interview with my favorite makeup artist
  • A follow up on the Orientalism inherent in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs, and in the broader world of American cinema (with a very interesting segment on 2015’s Met Gala theme).
    “It’s Japan purely as an aesthetic — and another piece of art that treats the East not as a living, breathing half of the planet but as a mirror for the Western imagination.” And perhaps the only thing that will lead to a more fair, just, and equal portrayal of Asians in cinema and pop culture is the spending power of that huge sector of the world population.
  • Turkish Rondo in finger snaps
  • Molly Ringwald reflects on the problematic legacy of John Hughes movies in the era of #MeToo

Friday Links: 4/1

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I’m weirdly exhausted by life/final exams/the sporadically broken heating system in this  house. But I have a backlog of links and they’re all exciting so there’s no putting them off any longer.

And because it’s a new month, the picture above is my new desktop background. Set to tile, as per usual. People swimming in a sea of stars.

What else? 19 days. So close yet so far.

  • Reviews of Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs. I’m still pumped because I like Wes Anderson (and dogs), but it sounds like there are some pretty ishy us vs them components.  Won’t be seeing it in the theater. Here’s a review from MovieBob and here is a deeper plunge into the problematic nature of the Japanese setting, the estrangement from the Japanese human characters created by the language barrier,  cultural tourism, and the white savior complex.
  • The movies that influenced Call Me By Your Name. Be right back, adding ALL OF THEM to my list. (Except A Room With A View- I honestly didn’t love that).
  • Other things I’m adding to my film list? These twisted fairy tales (from female directors).
  • A trailer for The House With a Clock in it’s Walls– speaking of twisted fairy tales. Cate Blanchett! Luscious steam-punk-y visuals! Jack Black doing his character actor thing! Creepy! Childlike! I’m kind of tentatively intrigued. Post-Jumanji, is Jack Black due for a resurgence?
  • A discussion of Saoirse Ronan’s costumes for the film Brooklyn, and the deeper meaning behind them. So interesting (and a great film, if you haven’t yet seen it).

Let’s talk about perfume:

  • Five fabulous orange blossom scents, courtesy of Angela at Now Smell This. Of these, the Serge Lutens is my favorite, but I would add Rubj by Vero Profumo to the list if I could. (And on the more gourmand side, Hansa Yellow by DSH and Unknown Pleasures by Kerosene).
  • Carlos Benaim (love) and Frederic Malle on their new lavender-focused fragrance, Music For a While.
  • Hermes releases a new cologne. Unfortunately I missed the Saut Hermes (a jumping tournament at the Grand Palais), but here’s a photo.
  • If you’re feeling science-y (I always am) here’s a study that shows evidence of significant interactions between perfumes and individual body odor.  The takeaway: “The odor mixture of an individual’s body odor and their preferred perfume was perceived as more pleasant than a blend of the same body odor with a randomly-allocated perfume, even when there was no difference in pleasantness between the perfumes. This indicates […] that people choose perfumes that interact well with their own odor. Our results provide an explanation for the highly individual nature of perfume choice.” So cool.

Fashion and celebrity people:

  • Lena Waithe is amazing and I love her style and attitude.
  • Bill Cunningham’s secret memoir. When can I read it?
  • I know I’m late, but in honor of spring (and Easter) some floral looks from Moschino’s S/S 2018 RTW collection: and 2.

Relationships?

  • The maternal grandparent advantage. Rings true for my family (although that also has something to do with geographic proximity). And congratulations Mom and Dad, you are likely to be more involved with my future children than my future parents in law!
  • Your friendship Myers-Briggs. As an INFJ, apparently I’m a bandaid and I’ll take it.
  • For work relationships. I’m living vicariously through the drama of this twitter thread.
  • In old age, shoplifting to find community. Heartbreaking.

Books and other tidbits

  • I saw this adorable kid’s maze book at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. It reminds me of an immense Sesame Street board book I once had. But rather more portable.
  • Mari Andrew’s book is out! Love her illustrations and down to earth wisdom.
  • Another reason to go home for the summer? Archery tag.
  • A French waiter in Canada says firing for rudeness is discrimination against his culture. He’s not wrong.
  • If you’re not a fan of the lack of privacy re: data and personal info online, console yourself with the fact that if you ever disappear in a national park, amateurs can keep looking for you for decades. But it’s actually a very interesting, well-written article.

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