04 October 2016

"Stranger Things" Review by Emily Nussbaum, The New Yorker

Illustration by Emiliano Ponzi

""Stranger Things,” the new sci-fi horror series on Netflix, is a cool summer treat. It’s spooky but not scary, escapist but not empty. It’s a genre throwback to simpler times, with heroes, villains, and monsters. Yet it’s also haunting, and has a rare respect for both adult grief and childhood suffering. It’s an original. 
This may seem like peculiar praise for a show that is explicitly a pastiche of eighties pop culture, a TV box made of movie memories. The show’s creators, the brothers Matt and Ross Duffer, who are in their thirties, are like baby Tarantinos, but, rather than pulp thrillers or spaghetti Westerns, they’re obsessed with Steven Spielberg and Stephen King. The neon-red title sequence could be ripped from a paperback of “Cujo.” The story, about a little boy who gets tugged into an alternate reality, includes visual references to “E.T.,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “Altered States.” There’s a superpowered girl, straight out of “Firestarter.” Goo pours down walls, as in “The Amityville Horror.” A gang of kids fights evil, just like in “Stand by Me.” I even got a “Breakfast Club” whiff from a montage of a weird girl who gets a makeover, in a scene with a Tangerine Dream-like soundtrack out of “Risky Business.” The show has a bifocal demographic appeal: it’s designed to charm both nostalgic Gen-X’ers and younger viewers who are drawn to a prelapsarian world of walkie-talkies, landlines, and suburban kids left free to roam wherever they want on their bicycles. 
Yet the story itself feels organic and immersive, not like a gimmicky trick—and, like some of the best recent TV dramas, it’s uncynical. Three threads follow the search for that lost boy, Will. Mike, Lucas, and the very funny Dustin (Gaten Matarazzo) are Dungeons & Dragons buddies who stumble upon a girl with a mysterious past. There’s a heroic dirtbag cop, Hop (the fabulous David Harbour, hardly recognizable from his time as one of the few bearable characters on “The Newsroom”), who teams up with a single mom, played by Winona Ryder. And there’s Nancy (Natalia Dyer), a pretty, suburban teen-age virgin who, in a slightly different version of the story, would surely be stabbed to death and/or attending a prom with two dates. Nancy’s best friend is Barb, an echo of nineteen-eighties First Ladies that is typical of the show’s layer of in-jokes. 
These three plots collide with an “X-Files” scenario involving a scary monster (“Alien”-sticky) and a scarier governmental-scientific conspiracy (creepily clean). With so much going on, “Stranger Things” could easily have become structurally lazy, exploiting the Netflix viewer’s bad habit of hitting “Next Episode” no matter what we’re offered, like the experimental squirrels we are. It never does. I could nitpick a few choices: Does the “friends don’t lie” theme need to be so heavily underlined? Should the best character die so early on? But this is astoundingly efficient storytelling, eight hours that pass in a blink, with even minor characters getting sharp dialogue, dark humor, or moments of pathos. 
Still, “Stranger Things” might feel like a mere retro roller coaster were it not for that slow drip of sorrow and trauma, the residue of Reagan-era anxiety about the nuclear family. As the old P.S.A. used to put it, “Do you know where your children are?” This melancholy wells up most effectively during a set of beautifully constructed flashbacks, which appear whenever our heroes are under high stress. Without spoiling any plot points, some involve sweet memories of lost children, like the one of a boy, seen from behind, sharing a favorite song with his younger brother, as his parents fight in the next room; others sketch out disturbing scientific experiments. These flashbacks could easily be mawkish or cheesy, cheap shortcuts to establish motive and to jerk tears—it’s happened on some of the greatest shows, like “Mad Men.” But “Stranger Things” has the confidence not to show already awful things as being even worse than they are. The main plot is a swift-moving caper with jokes and jolts. The flashbacks are about vulnerability, how people are bruised in places that no one can see. The combination of those two tones is almost musical, with a sincerity that feels liberating. 
It’s a special pleasure to see the nineties star Winona Ryder—so solid in recent cameos in “Black Swan” and “Show Me a Hero”—get a starring role, as Joyce Byers, a frayed divorcée whose neighbors view her with suspicion, even when she’s crushed by tragedy. When Byers loses her marbles in her ramshackle home, or hacks Christmas lights into a communication device, Ryder turns a character who could be needy or shrieky into someone whose obsessive intensity is entirely sympathetic. Using the movie math of “Stranger Things,” Byers is on a Venn diagram of JoBeth Williams, in “Poltergeist,” and Richard Dreyfuss, in “Close Encounters.” But Ryder’s performance is much deeper, whether she’s furiously chain-smoking or glaring down doubters in a local store. In her early movies, beginning with “Lucas,” Ryder had a thorny, “Lost Boys” charisma; as an adult, she shrank, receding like the Cheshire cat into those huge brown eyes. Here, Ryder’s original eccentricity feels fully revived in adult form. She balances the show’s middle-school drama with a portrayal of a more unusual kind of outsider, the grieving mom as action hero. 
Ryder’s mirror is Millie Bobby Brown, who gives a career-launching performance as Eleven, the girl with something special—and who is, like Ryder’s tomboy character in “Lucas,” mistaken for a boy. Her head shaved, her face grave, she’s silent for much of the series, but she bends the story toward her, through fearless emotional transparency. In one scene, she tiptoes into an older girl’s bedroom, then opens a ballerina music box. Her eyes widen, and she takes shallow breaths, as if the music box were a bomb. It feels like no mistake that her nickname, El, is a soundalike for Elle. There’s a risk, a very eighties one, that the character could become a contrivance, the exotic among the boys: E.T. in a skirt; she-Yoda. But Brown lends her an air of refugee devastation that makes her much more than the subject of someone else’s fantasy, even when the dialogue threatens, once or twice, to lock her in a symbolic box."

Source: The New Yorker

28 September 2016

Who would make the perfect director for an adaptation of 'Dusty Answer'?

For a long time I've been waiting for someone to take up Rosamond Lehmann's highly underrated and obscure, interwar novel Dusty Answer (1927) and adapt it into a film. However, no one so far has seemed to grasp the chance to convey 26-year old Lehmann's first novel onto the screen. I hope someone will, but until then, here are some of my suggestions of some of the directors I would like to see adapting it:

After having watched Todd Haynes' wonderful Carol (2015) - adapted from Patricia Highsmith's groundbreaking book of the time, The Price of Salt (1952) - I think he would be a perfect director for the job. Having an utterly brilliant insight and grasp of period pieces and handling certain tabooed topics with great sensitivity, Haynes would certainly master an adaptation of Lehmann's work in my mind.

But also Joe Wright with his great sense of detail and observant (camera) eye would be able to catch the tone and mood of the novel - as he did so beautifully with the 2007 adaptation of Ian McEwan's Atonement (2001) (which actually references Dusty Answer at some point).

Andrea Arnold is another favorite director of mine and in films such as Fish Tank (2009) and Wuthering Heights (2011) she conveys the troubles and ponderings of the youth in a very tactile, sensual and curious way that would mirror Lehmann's language extremely well.

I would also love to see James Kent give it a try - especially following his success of patiently adapting Vera Brittain's memoir Testament of Youth (1933) onto the screen in 2014. I am already a big fan!

27 September 2016

'Bad' Movies that I Enjoy

We all have those movies that we just enjoy despite they're not exactly well-produced, critically acclaimed or even well-liked in public in general. They're not necessarily bad ... they're just not that good either. Sometimes they're so bad they're good. They are the guilty pleasures we put on every now and then just because we are entertained by their obvious campiness or bad production but still find we cannot bring our hearts to actually dislike. Right? I don't even have an explanation why for most of my own choices. 

I guess they are mainly feel-good films, cheesy rom-coms and silly fantasy/action/adventure flicks that play on all the clichés you could expect and with loads of campy acting. There may be little grains of golden moments in-between that you can learn to appreciate, but the overall picture isn't mind-blowing or groundbreaking. Just a bit silly. Still I find myself rewatching them from time to time. To relax, get a nostalgic kick and a laugh - at an ironic stance.

I think it's okay to have these guilty pleasures as long as you manage to be critical of them, not take them too seriously and appreciate the films of a somewhat higher quality as well. I find that you can actually be entertained AND think while watching movies, contrary to some of the opinions I have met which display a rather obstinate snobbery that honestly baffles me, but I guess every man to his taste.

Well, here are some of my favorite 'bad'/campy films, in no particular order. Feel free to laugh at me or with me at the end of the list. Anyways, I'll say we should embrace our campy side more often.

  • The Sheik (1921)
  • The Son of the Sheik (1926)
  • High Road to China (1983)
  • Jumanji (1995)
  • Six Days Seven Nights (1998)
  • The Saint (1997)
  • The Italian Job (2003)
  • French Kiss (1995)
  • Medicine Man (1992)
  • Casper (1995)
  • That Old Feeling (1997)
  • Life as a House (2001)
  • Domino (2005)
  • The Phantom (1996)
  • Death Becomes Her (1992)
  • The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003)
  • It's a Boy Girl Thing (2006)
  • Constantine (2005)
  • The Loss of a Teardrop Diamond (2008)
  • Heartbreakers (2001)
  • Sliding Doors (1998)
  • The Man With The Iron Mask (1998)
  • Anna and the King (1999)
  • Just the Ticket (1999)
  • Practical Magic (1998)

13 June 2016

Smilin' Through Because of Norma and Fredric

Smilin' Through (1932) is a great little gem of a movie, but that might be because the relationship between Fredric March and Norma Shearer outshines everything else; their chemistry is so very warm and at ease. I always loved them together in The Barretts of Wimpole Street (1934) and this one only amplifies how well they respond to one another. Not only do they both excel as actors on their own but together - as a screen couple - they just click! Like William and Myrna! Or Spence and Kate!

In my opinion, it’s rare to find a movie from the 1930s that has such believable romantic interaction as this one has. All those cute little gestures (as illuminated by the above GIFs). In general, both actors balanced the comic and dramatic timing with equal ease and managed to stay away from many of the - in my opinion - exaggerated acting theatrics that were typical for the 1930s' Hollywood.  

Besides, given that it’s a Pre-Code, they don’t have to skirt around certain 'racy' subjects nor make a big deal out of them either in the film. At one point Norma's character makes it more than clear that she wants him in every way (and unapologetically so), that is, physically not just spiritually through the union of marriage (the latter will become awefully idealized after the Pre-Code era) and Fred's character reacts appropriately (see seventh GIF in bottom-left corner) by looking skywards in frustration from being torn between his sense of moral honour and equal desire for her. (Take's too long to explain the context so go watch it instead.)

It’s a freedom that makes them seem more human, believable and relatable, and somehow relaxes them as well as the (modern) viewer.

Their relationship in the movie seems almost genuine - Fredric and Norma look like they truly enjoy each other’s company - so it’s hard to believe Norma didn’t like making this movie (something about her role). But honestly, how can she complain when she gets to smooch Freddie all the time..?!

I particularly enjoyed Fredric’s rather modern acting in this one. Actually, I always do because he never seizes to surprise me in the sublest of ways. Is there anything that man can’t do?? I always found him to have the dry-witted, boyish charm and at the same time masculine groundedness reminiscent of that of Spencer Tracy. March and Tracy were rather similar in many ways in fact; they were the always reliable, sympathetic and yet extremely versatile and multifacetted actor type. I think it's no coincidence that they were friends in real-life, both famously played the title character in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 and 1941, respectively, which were much debated and compared) and played together in Inherit the Wind (1960). They could blend in and stand out at the same time. They had that down-to-earth and instinctive ease in their scenes and smooth, beguiling interaction with their co-players as well as the slightly rugged and characteristic handsomeness of the every-day man. Both so subtle, so good at acting that it didn't seem they were acting at all.

Too bad Fredric is so underrated nowadays. I easily regard him as one of the finest actors who has ever lived! And I think Norma would have continued to dominate the Oscars had she not cut her promising career off so early.

Oh well.

The film comes highly recommended (by me) simply because of the treat of watching the sweet interaction between Norma and Fredric. (And you get a couple of gracious scenes with Leslie Howard as well).

26 December 2015

Dramione: The Problematic Ship?

It's the guilty pleasure we all somewhat recognize to have had in our lives: Despite everything, we can't help feeling the whole 'opposites attract'-vibe at times. Even more so, perhaps when we tend to ship two, polar characters not paired - romantically or otherwise - within the canonization(s); i.e. the original material. To make matters 'worse' and thus all the more better tension-wise: These two are practically enemies and at each other's throats most of the time! Of course, we've seen this relationship trope played out before, in real-life as well as in fiction; from old mythology to Shakespeare's The Taming of the Shrew to Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor's on-off romance (who both, ironically, played the respective roles of Petruchio and Katherina in the 1967 film version).

Well, what I'm all about this time is the interesting, but nonetheless problematic - or shall we say complex - non-canon shipping of Hermione Granger and Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter universe.

And a highly controversial one at that. After all, we're talking about two main characters, 'the good girl' and 'the bad boy', from one of the biggest, most beloved and influential canons in modern history! Many grew up with these books and feel a close - almost protective - kinship to them; such as battling with bullies, school, hormones, etc. in well-known as well as fantastical settings. Of course, because the books and films hit a curve made for extravagent and passionate fandoms - hardly seen before - around the world, and with such dedicated numbers, there will always be a hoard of protesting voices, whatever one proclaims about the canon. An universal human condition, I guess, but perhaps now more than ever thanks to the Internet and the growth of various fandoms. However, in stead of quickly dismissing and villifying the feelings certain people have regarding controversial fandoms and 'ships', such as the case of Dramione, one should rather discuss these matters critically. Maddy Myers (via The Mary Sue) makes some very good and critical points on the whole 'woobification' of villainous characters as well as the condemning of such fandoms.

This post is not so much a specific defense nor a disapproval of the Dramione ship, but should rather be understood as a critical defense of the importance of discussing and examing such controversial matters as certain fandoms.

This particular ship is also highly controversial because of the biggest elephant in the room: The racism and prejudice against Hermione's blood status as a Muggle-born witch. Pure-blood Draco is, to put it mildly, a cruel, cowardly, little brat. Raised into believing in Blood Purity, he is verbally abusive towards Hermione basically all the time we witness them interact. There's nothing likable about him in the canon. One only finds pity for him. One could venture to say, it's problematic to say the least to form a relationship between a racist and his victim; no matter the level of love. It will always be formed on something wrong and likely self-destructive. To love and change is one thing, but to unlearn racism on both sides is another. Not to mention, Draco almost killed Katie Bell and Ron Weasley, as well as Albus Dumbledore.

It's also an entire question of allowing 'the bad boy', in this case Draco, to be allowed the chance of love from 'the good side', in this case, 'the good girl'... in this case Hermione. Sure, it's a redemption story in its trope, at its core, in its morale arc, etc., but also a chance of giving the POV to Draco. 'Bad boys/girls' are always interesting in some aspect or another, simply because they are not good. Well, not always. Not entirely. They're shady; anti-heroes.

And concerning the argument why Hermione should even be paired with someone like Draco..? Well, after Rowling recently stated - to much controversy - that she regretted having Hermione end up with Ron rather than Harry, one cannot help following those trails of thought and suggest other options than those two (rather awkward ones) ... or none at all, for that matter. Because is it really that important who she ends up with? In the end, Hermione gets one helluva brilliant career in the Ministry of Magic (she'd also make a terrific Minster of Magic!) and makes the world a better place and that's really all that matters, isn't it?

I must confess, I'm partly biased - or rather ambivalent - about this matter.
First of all, I find Draco a very interesting character to explore since much about him was left unresolved and in the open at the end, I feel. Not so much redemption-wise or in regards of an anti-hero (or in Draco's case anti-villain) potential, but just because he was given far too little space to really unfold, in my opinion, and it would be pretty interesting to see how he would fare if he had run into Hermione, 'his polar opposite', of all people, more often and in more complex situations. Thus potential for a ship and expansive fan universe.
Secondly, I have a soft spot for the Tom Felton-Draco.. or simply Tom Felton (who hasn't?) - which I blame too many behind the scenes marathons - where Tom's just all smiles and seems like an absolute sweetheart (which JK herself has confirmed as well as Jason Isaacs and everybody else, I think). Not to mention, he was basically born for that role. Creds to a kid that can exude that much spite just by sheer force of pronounciation! And definitely should have won the Most Smug-Faced of the Year Award. Although Draco's depiction in the first parts of the series could hardly be called three-dimensional, he's given a bit more depth in the sixth part and onwards - and Felton played it magnificently. Seriously, he should have won a BAFTA for the bathroom scene alone! I think it's the first time you feel something else than mere hate towards him.

And that leads us to the problem of separating the actor from the character - which is difficult, to say the least, in every fandom, but with the Harry Potter series in particular. Even if you read the books first, you still see the actors' goddamn faces every time you think of one of the characters..! Though that certainly doesn't have to be a bad thing, it does make matters more complex in regards of romantizising a fictional character one really shouldn't romantizise. Then again, it's possible to be drawn to fictional 'baddies' who have not yet been visualized in a pretty face. Hmm.

What clouds our judgement when it comes to liking 'bad boys'? It is something that we shouldn't do, so, on the one hand, it is perhaps our moral sense; something sinful and forbidden we are either/ simultaneously repelled from and/or pulled towards. On the other hand, it can be mere attraction of looks and charm. Or the simple altruistic need to 'fix something broken'; redeem a 'bad character' whom we believe has a heart of gold beneath the cold exterior (the naive version) or whom we simply believe in (the human, basic version). You could ask yourself if you tend to fall for the 'bad guys' in general; in real-life as well as in fiction? If there's a theme, this is probably a problematic ship. You're hardly the only one, though. I tend towards it as well (again with the ambivalence). It's an acknowledged, occurring theme regarding any anti-heroic matter called the White Knight syndrome or Florence Nightingale syndrome/effect.

And in Draco's case: Maybe it just was what Rowling intended it to be: An example of one of those 'bad boys' who was bad for a reason; a coward and nothing more, who learned his lesson the good old-fashioned way:
Rowling explains that although "girls are very apt to romanticise" the "dark glamour of the anti-hero", she writes that she has had to tell fans, "rather severely, that Draco was not concealing a heart of gold under all that sneering and prejudice and that no, he and Harry were not destined to end up best friends."*
It amuses me. It honestly amuses me. People have been waxing lyrical [in letters] about Draco Malfoy, and I think that's the only time when it stopped amusing me and started almost worrying me. I'm trying to clearly distinguish between Tom Felton, who is a good looking young boy, and Draco, who, whatever he looks like, is not a nice man. It’s a romantic, but unhealthy, and unfortunately all too common delusion of — delusion, there you go — of girls, and you [nods to Melissa] will know this, that they are going to change someone. And that persists through many women's lives, till their death bed, and it is uncomfortable and unhealthy and it actually worried me a little bit, to see young girls swearing undying devotion to this really imperfect character, because there must be an element in there, that "I'd be the one who [changes him]." I mean, I understand the psychology of it, but it is pretty unhealthy. So, a couple of times I have written back, possibly quite sharply, saying [Laughter], "You want to rethink your priorities here."*
However, I've experienced Hermione-like situations myself (though not racist) and seen how boys growing up with a harsh upbringing and being cruel, little bastards in the end come out on the other side because someone close guided them in the right direction. If real-life throws you such examples, why not Draco? It may not have been too late to change in his case. Doesn't everyone deserve a second chance, one could ask?

And if he was a coward through and through, why didn't he tell on Harry, Hermione and Ron when they were caught in the Malfoy Mansion? Someone like Peter Pettigrew certainly would - and that would be a Gryffindor doing it to his closest of friends even! Draco despised the Golden Trio and didn't even owe his life to them at that point. He was maybe just scared, sure, but wouldn't the coward's way just be to give into the higher power and let it be over with so that he could save himself? Yet, Draco didn't do what would have been easiest. It's an interesting aspect of Draco's character, at least.
Tom Felton himself gave an interesting view on his character:
I’m really sorry for him. All of what he believed in is gone. It’s just like somebody pulled the rug away under his feet, he totally lost his balance. But at least you’re able to see what he had to go through in his childhood and so one is inevitably touched. Draco was bullied and one understands better why he let out so much of his frustration in Hogwarts. Even if he tries to get away from the bad influence of his parents, he can’t escape the surroundings in which he grew up. 
I'm not so stupid to think that these boys have totally changed, or that there aren't boys who don't come out on the other side; who have no one to guide them. Of course, there are. It's never that easy or black-and-white. Maybe it's just my naive mind, but I can't help believing in - perhaps not a golden heart but a golden chance in Draco's case. With or without Hermione.

The question also remains: Isn't Draco also just a kid? A frightened, little kid? Is he really to blame for his harsh upbringing and inherited prejudices when he has known little else? When the only attitude he has learned to meet people with is one of arrogance and disgust, inevitably pushing everything good away? Isn't he really only trying to imitate his father and make him proud as well as fearing him and Voldemort? The fine line between cowardice and fear is drawn where one choose to act, but in the end, doesn't Draco just act in order to save himself and his family, one could ask? Don't his parents as well? In a cowardly, yes, but also very human way. With nothing but fear and hate, one has little left to support oneself to; little left to make the choices for you, let alone a will to do it yourself. And when you're afraid all the time, you deal with everything by cowering and/or putting up a hard attitude to guard yourself. Love is blinding but so is fear, and when those two come together - especially in times of war - you'll never know what you're going to get.

Dramione inhabit the somewhat 'romantic' notion that boys mostly pick on girls because they like them and do not know how to go about it otherwise ('you always hurt the one you love'-idiom), though it's far from healthy to use bullying as a way to show emotion. However, Draco was hardly in a position to be allowed or able to openly admire Hermione (if that was the case); then the easiest way is to tease, at least to show something else than mere indifference. The love/hate scale is once again blurred and impossible for us to make out exactly in this case. Only our own personal feelings and convictions can make that call; thus making hardly objective conclusions. A psychologist would probably say differently.

And the big questions (with no definite answers): Aren't we to always see the good in other people and give them a second chance? Especially the young ones, since they still have the chance to change? And when is it too late to change?
Everything depends on context, I guess. Again, you cannot conclude generalized answers that account for all and sundry to such big questions. Whether you read Draco as a unchangable, unredeemable little shit and invested a lot of emotions (often your own projections) in Hermione and see no possible outcome between them, then that may resonate with many others' opinions - but mind, not everyone sees it exactly the same way. Some are all aboard the Draco or Dramione train, while others are more ambivalent or just curious. All feelings are valid, just remember to discuss and view all of them with constructive criticism. And since they are fictive characters, why not seek to explore their character arcs a bit more? It seems like the perfect opportunity! Yeah, you could just gush out terrible and unrealistic romance stories about them, but you could also take the hard road and make it entirely difficult for them.. but not unrealistic.

And, in regards of Dramione, maybe we're also undermining both Hermione and Draco a bit? They are smart kids/teens thrown into war on opposite sides. Either way, it's interesting to see them both deal with this matter and surpass it.
One argument is that despite their polar positions and personalities, Draco is highly intelligent and able to match Hermione more than the more prosaic Ron Weasley. And while I agree that Draco and Hermione would be compatible intellectually, I'm not so sure that also would be the case regarding their values. Of course, if Draco did change, he would inevitably have to take his set of values up to revision and compromise according to Hermione, more so than her. The generic theme in this ship often being that of Draco being the broken one and Hermione the unbroken one who leads him to the path of Light, with no small amount of electric bickering and (eventually) fierce protectiveness inbetween, often added a dash of Ron bashing (probably in order to make someone like Draco seem a better choice for Hermione).
Also, if one - as a 'shipper' - has a weakness for the snarky/sarcastic wit and cocky attitude in a guy, Draco is an obvious candidate (again more so than the more slow-witted Ron), despite his arrogance and malice clearly dominate this particular trait.

The Mudblood and Death Eater markings on their respective arms have made people draw further parallels between the characters as well. They both share different aspects of pain and shame coined to these 'opposite' markings that have been forced upon them against their will (more or less in Draco's case, given his situation). Besides Harry, none of their peers have had these disturbing markings so painfully forced upon them or carried them around, etched forever into their skin. And to each the other's symbol is equally disturbing as representative symbols of their 'given' enemy; their polar oppositions in about everything in life, despite the irony that if you stripped them of blood status, racism and all the rest of it, they'd probably be more than compatible. It's certainly an interesting yin-yang dichotomy, visually, symbolically and emotionally, to explore in a more expansive universe.

Another argument is that the Death Eater/Muggle relationship actually happened before, in the canon, between Severus Snape and Lily Evans. Initially friends, it's unclear, however, where Lily exactly stood regarding Severus, romantically or otherwise, and though he definitely ruined any chance by calling her 'Mudblood' in that fatal incident, they might actually have had a chance. And he was even in a somewhat reverse situation than Draco!

The best argument for this ship, however, would be the fact that Dramione may help make amends between the two Hogwarts Houses, Gryffindor and Slytherin, and their notoriously bad relations. For future generations as well. Not immediately, of course, but in time and perhaps more effectively than one could presume Hogwarts fared right after the war in the canon. If one look beyond how Hermione, The Muggle-born Gryffindor Princess, may redeem Draco, The Pure-blood Slytherin Prince, for his wrong doings, they could both be examples for each House of how to overcome stigmatization, petty hatred and superficial differences between the Houses (mostly inherited through previous generations) as well as overcome racism and the ideals of Plood Purity and elitism. 

That is, of course, a lot of responsibility to put on one couple; a couple who may or may not stay together for the rest of their lives, but at least it will show how they are willing to try, though it may not be easy. But that's exactly it: Why should it be easy? Life isn't easy, and just because fiction can be there to satisfy and entertain it shouldn't always be easy either. Can't it reflect real-life and bring to light some of the things we wouldn't otherwise want to see or examine? If anything, a little confrontation will do you good, I always say. I've read a couple of good fanfics out there which realistically and patiently try to deal with such a complex, hypothetical relationship between the two of them during and/or after the Hogwarts years. It's not such an outrageous thought, if you're willing to push your feelings aside somewhat and give it a chance for exploration.
I'll rest my case with a great (if slightly melodramatic) Dramione-GIF set:

Do you disagree and find my arguments invalid or are you ambivalent as well regarding 'ships' like this? Please leave a comment if so :)

23 November 2015

Classic Stars Dealing with Spaghetti

We all know the craving of pasta, right? Where it comes to the state where we don't really give a rat's ass of how it is served or how messy it may look when we eat..? Well, when it comes to the art of making and eating the iconic Italian dish, trust me, the classic stars felt the instant craving, too, and didn't give a damn otherwise! Here's the proof! Bon appetit! :D

Jack Lemmon, The Apartment, 1960

Marcello Mastroianni

Sophia Loren
Sean Connery, Rome, 1963.

Still Sean trying..

Audrey Hepburn

Audrey Hepburn

Ingrid Bergman

Buster Keaton, The Cook, 1918

Alberto Sordi, Un Americano a Roma, 1954

Kirk Douglas and Sophia Loren, 1954

Jerry Lewis

Dean Martin

Frank Sinatra

Alfred Hitchcock

Jane Fonda

Louis Armstrong

Lous trying again

Lucille Ball, I Love Lucy (4x16), 1955.

Montgomery Clift and Marilyn Monroe

Jayne Mansfield

Charlie Chaplin, City Lights, 1931
Charlie in The Goldrush, 1925.
Well, almost...


22 November 2015

Realistic and Alternative Messages that Fairy Tales Really Tell You

When I get bored this is the result... Call me a pessimist.

Cinderella: Just because the shoe fits doesn't mean the man does.
Snow White: Don't accept food from strangers. Especially creepy-looking ones. Not even free food.
Rapunzel: Don't pull your hair out if someone orders you about and no one comes to your rescue. Pull yourself together and rescue yourself.
Rumpelstiltskin: Don't go around promising your firstborn child away. NEVER a good idea.
The Frog Prince: Don't go around kissing random animals. You'll most likely get a disease rather than a prince.
Sleeping Beauty: Don't touch pointy things.
Beauty and the Beast: Don't expect to always be able to change the beast in the man.
The Little Mermaid: Don't expect to get what you wish for in the end.
The Swan Princess: Fine feathers don't always make fine birds.
The Snow Queen: Don't freeze people out or yourself in.
Puss in Boots: These boots are made for walking. Own it.
The Ugly Duckling: Don't let others' opinions dominate your life.
Hansel and Gretel: Don't expect eating a house made out of sugar won't give you an awful stomach ache (and one crappy house owner).
One Thousand and One Nights: Don't expect to get away with anything just because you have the gift of the gab.
The Princess and the Pea: Sensitivity is good ... in small doses.
Little Red Riding Hood: Don't talk to strangers in the middle of the  woods. Especially not those with an animal magnetism.
Goldilocks and the Three Bears: Don't break and enter, poke around people's stuff, sleep in their beds or eat their food. Just don't.
The Nightingale: When you cage in the free, expect a change of tune.
The Emperor's New Clothes: You'll hear the truth from children and drunks.
Thumbelina: Small people can kick butt and get the prince, too (duh).
The Swineherd: Don't be mean girls.
Pinocchio: If you read this, you're likely not made out of wood, so your nose probably won't grow when you lie. If it does, seek a doctor.
The Boy Who Cried Wolf: Don't expect people to give a s*** when you need help after having pulled their legs for the umpteenth time. Not even if shit just got real.
Humpty Dumpty: Don't be too self-assertive. On the other hand, you can't make an omelette without breaking a few eggs.
Jack and the Beanstalk: Don't steal from (giant) people and think you can get away with it every time.

Photography: Dina Goldstein