A former New York socialite, arrives in San Francisco to impose upon her sister. But don’t be fooled… She may look like a million bucks (and know it), but she ain’t bringing anything of value…
A funny thing happened. Initially I was not a huge fan of this movie, this is exactly how I started my first review of this website when I was blogging on another site.
I think it may have something to do with the fact that I have never been a fan of Cate Blanchett. However in this role she really does excel. She would go on to win an Academy Award for her performance here and it is an interesting one for me, because she was up against Sandra Bullock (cue High-School-and-Ever-After Crush admission) and Meryl Streep in August Osage County (a performance which actually left me slack-jawed the first time I watched it, and yes I know it’s Meryl Streep, but…). That said, she did win it (like she pretty much cleaned up the entire awards season), and she earned it… This is more of a performance piece than a movie, I found myself watching just to see the titular character brought to life – Jasmine/Jeannette really is a piece of work.
It should be noted that I am a Woody Allen fan, this is not my favourite movie of his, and it’s movies like this which make people scared of Woody Allen (well this and the child molestation claims), but the brilliance of Woody is his ability to extract powerful performances out of his actors.
The supporting cast is great (except for the always cringe-worthy Alec Baldwin as Jasmine’s philandering, cringe-worthy, crook of a husband – so perfectly suited). A special shout out to Oscar nominated Sally Hawkins in the role of Jasmine’s sister Ginger, but ultimately everything about this movie merely serves as a backdrop to the Character of Jasmine – you know when you meet people who are so self-involved, so self-delusional, so selfish, so rude, so snobbish, so pretentious, so… worthy of a slap – Cate Blanchett in this movie makes me want to slap her, and for that I can only really say – job well done.
I would not recommend this movie to just anyone, it ain’t no slice of fun, this is reserved for serious movie watchers, because you will not get the satisfaction unless you are appreciative of performance pieces. Cate Blanchett is a woman unravelling. On the brink. Again. Her perfect life swept out from under her feet, her anxiety levels pushed over the edge, self-destructive and teetering between the carefully constructed self she has been and most desires to be, and the reality of her reality and actual existence…
Ultimately, and ironically, I was surprised at just how disappointed I was when it ended… It’s the car crash syndrome, you just have to stop and look, I didn’t want to be torn away. I really could have watched some more, Cate Blanchett is just that good.
It has been a really busy week for me personally, and I missed a day of blogging yesterday, but not for nought – it’s hard work being a family man, so I thought I would take the time today to answer yesterdays question on The Blog Tag, as well as the end of week Q&A 🙂 I also didn’t do the tag post from Tuesday as my Monday Book Review was also about my favourite book of all time, Beloved by Toni Morrison, so that was a two for one-er – apparently while missing a day or two I also over-delivered (it’s all about balance 🙂 )!
So without further ado, My list of my Top 5 Favourite Book (Series) of all time
– Wait a minute soztheo.me, it’s your Top 5 Favourite Books of all time?
– Did you not hear me, voice on my screen, I’m over delivering here, so without further ado, soztheo.me’s favourite:
Top 5 Book Series of All Time
1. The Discworld Novels – Terry Pratchett
Over the last two years I have been on a monumental literary journey into a world I have only ever visited briefly before. I read my first Terry Pratchett novel when I was a teenager. Over the years I sporadically revisited his writing. I was always entertained but I never got into the world of Terry Pratchett until I made the decision two years ago to dive into the world whole-heartedly, committing myself to reading the entire series.
Since then I have read nineteen of the forty-one published Discworld novels, tackling them in order, reading them in between (or in conjuction with) my other readings, loving each one as this ever expanding world continues to expand in partnership with the guided realms of my imagination. It is nothing short of completely inspirational to step into the immense world of another man’s hysterically funny and entertaining inspiration.
The Witches, The Wizards, The City Watch, Death… The realisation of all these characters and their melding into the illogical-except-for-in-the-Discworld themed novels, has me absolutely in awe everytime I reach the end, and commence another journey set on a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which in turn stand on the back of a giant turtle, Great A’Tuin…
May he Rest in Peace, and while he rests may his brilliance forever live.
(28 April 1948 – 12 March 2015)
2. The Vampire Chronicles; Lives of the Mayfair Witches Series – Anne Rice
It all started with a movie… The first time I ever went to a movie by myself was when I was a young impressionable 14 year old lad, the movie was Interview with the Vampire and in the viewing I was exposed to a type of story telling I had never experienced before. I loved horror movies from a very young age. As a child I grew up with entertainers for parents. I grew up watching Michael Jackson’s Making of Thriller Beta video. I grew up in a world of stage make-up. I knew that what happened on screen was the work of experts. I watched the classics, Dracula et al. However, I had never seen vampires and villains, anti-heroes, like Louis, Lestat and Claudia. I had never seen horror so grandiosely humanized and humour; so gothic; so macabre.
As soon as the movie ended I went to the bookstore and bought the book. I devoured it, a vampire upon its prey, and the love affair began. Astoundingly intricate and breathtakingly ambitious are the best ways I can think right now to describe the shared universe of the Vampires and the clan of the Mayfair Witches – two worlds from separate series that would later collide as the Vampire chronicles reached an end, from which they would again arise but a year ago. The style of storytelling that flies from the past into the present, from the metaphysical to the real. In one book we are engaging with the devil himself. In another we are re-experiencing mortality. We examine through the studying of ancient records, the lives of an entire family-lineage of witches. My favourite villain of all time, Akasha The Queen of the Damned, explodes out of these pages. Best of all, we bare witness to the creating of an entirely new mythology and rich history of vampirism, and in that we discovery the insanely rich tapestry which has born such pale spawn who will forever pale like Twilight, True Blood and Fifty Shades of Grey…
Fifty Shades of Grey? It’s strangely ironic, that this sad example of literacy, born as fan-fiction from the pale waffle of Twilight, is yet again pale against the erotic literature of Miss Rice… Look that up! The mind that birthed these is one of the most intriguing creations. When we read books or engage with any art form for that fact, it is actually the mind of the artist we engage with. It is really a footnote here, but:
1. The key Vampire Lestat is a literary representation and manifestation of Anne Rice’s husband Stan Rice;
2. Anne Rice wrote Interview With A Vampire while dealing with her daughter’s death from Leukemia – that’s blood cancer. #ArtIsPain
3. The Sandman Series – Neil Gaiman
There are those who would raise an eye at the inclusion of a graphic novel series in any list pertaining to literature… Well poo to you :)! Graphic Novels have a well deserved place in literature, with the best of the best winning major literature awards, including a Pulitzer ( and that would be in 1992; Maus aka Maus: A Survivor’s Tale — My Father Bleeds History by Art Spiegelman). But my personal, most fantastical, most magical, most mythological, most inspiring-al and ambitious of these works which beautifully marry art of picture and art of word has got to The Sandman Series.
Neil Gaiman is the best friend of fantasy and genre breaking storytelling, a man whose love of fantasy has him in the good company of Terry Pratchett (with whom he collaborated on Good Omens). In his masterpiece collection of The Sandman Series, he introduces us to The Endless, anthropomorphic personifications of nature’s most confounding forces, more powerful than even the Gods and as eternal as the universe. They are the siblings, Destiny, Death, Destruction, Desire, Despair, Delirium and our chief protagonist in the tales, Dream aka Morpheus; who upon being released from a 70 year entrapment into a changed world, is reunited with his most dysfunctional of families. A family whose relationships with each other are as complex as the very idea of turning the seven forces they encompass into a dysfunctional family within the pages of a graphic novel collection spanning twelve multi-dimensional, multi-reality, truly-inspired story arcs. From the depths of Hell to the pages of Shakespeare, Neil Gaiman has comprised a collection of such grandiosity that the mind can only but be amazed 🙂
There’s It :)!
4. The Left Behind Series – Jerry B Jenkins and Tim LaHaye
This one is a guilty pleasure and I fully accept that many will argue it’s place on any list, but it’s my guilty pleasure, a series of books I quite literally enjoyed reading.
I am a human who was raised as a christian, spirituality is a deeply personal journey for every human on this planet. It has fed wars and hate, but each individual, at least at some point in their lives, has engaged with their understanding of the world and the amazement of existence. As a christian child I have been raised on Bible stories. The bible is an amazing collection of faith, reason, answers, historical reference and mystery, and the question of my own spirituality is deeply tied into the christian faith in which I was raised. The final book in the Bible is one of great fear and reckoning, Revelations is about the end times, about the wrath of God upon a world that has forsaken him, in which he withdraws himself and his arc-nemesis is allowed to do with the world as he will.
In light of this I am quite disgusted by how much I enjoyed this series (like I said, guilty pleasure). There is not an original thought in these books, and I would not necessarily recommend them to anyone else (although admittedly I have, to a select few). They are a fictional interpretation of the cryptically mystical final chapter of one of the oldest and most powerful of books. They tells the story of those Left Behind, in a dystopian, post-apocalyptic world, as per the bible. It centers on a band of survivors who realise that the mysterious new world is a result of God’s will, and in that they seek to redeem and survive as the Anti-Christ rises to power. The books can get heavy on the christian rhetoric, they are written with a strong agenda, but for me they are engrossingly easy reading, and most probably as well written as Fifty Shades of Grey. In the past in my ruminations I have likened them to a soap opera, once hooked I had to see what would happen to the characters next, I did really enjoy these books, but they are rubbish and yet, like I have reread most books I enjoy, even now as I type, as I take stock of the absurdity that I am publishing a post of books I enjoyed and that these are on the list, I shrug my shoulders in acknowledgement of the fact that I will read them again…
And No! These books do not factor into my continuing journey of spirituality…
5. Harry Potter – JK Rowlings
This one is about respect, for appreciation of the journey, this one is for the ideal of the American Dream (as lived and achieved by a non-american),this one is for Enid Blyton, this one is for Roald Dahl :)!
I have had the same relationship with every Harry Potter movie, except for the last two: I hated every single one of the movies on the first watch and then every time I watched the movie again, I enjoyed it. It’s bizarre! I only picked up the books after the sixth movie was released, so before the last two which I enjoyed, funny that. For me, it’s all about the imagination unleashed within the world of Hogwarts, it’s a beautiful thing, it’s about the legend and legacy created, and as someone who believes in reading the books after watching the movies (because then you are never disappointed), I am a huge fan of the work.
If I am 100% honest, I am enjoying JK Rowling’s new Cormoran Strike series much more (check them out), but it is with the Harry Potter books that JK Rowling earns my respect, and why it owns this spot, on this list, today. What exists within the Harry Potter universe is nothing short of inspiring, the product of a storyteller, and what she has done in curating a massive audience to the literary world is nothing to be sniffed at. Fact: JK Rowling is the reason that an entire generation of reader’s exists.
And there you have a list of my 5 Top Book Series, now while these books really do exist in the fantastical, if you look at my choice of reading for stand alone novels, there is a vast difference in subject matter, but that, I believe, is for another day, for now, lets get to the Q&A for the week.
1. Do you have a specific place to read? Generally I read before I go to sleep, it is not very often that I will read while not in bed (before I go to sleep), when that does happen I must be alone, or on holiday, I enjoy reading when on holiday.
2. What book/s can you re-read without getting tired? As I generally read before I sleep, I do welcome getting tired, the disadvantage (especially at the end of a book) is that I can land up reading and not being able to put the book down – so sometimes reading can take me beyond tired.
3. Who is your favorite author? Toni Morrison
4. What is your favorite non-fiction book? Malika Oufkir and Michèle Fitoussi (2001), La Prisonnière (Stolen Lives: Twenty Years in a Desert Jail) – one of the most astoundingly heart breaking and rewarding reads.
5. What is your most memorable childhood book? Roald Dahl’s The Witches
6. What quote from any book will you never forget? Why is it significant? I cannot tell you the significance, but the first two verses from The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll has been in my head since I first encountered it as a child.
`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.
“Beware the Jabberwock, my son!
The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!
Beware the Jubjub bird, and shun
The frumious Bandersnatch!”
7. What books did you hate reading in school? I am ashamed to admit it, but the most difficult book for me to enjoy, and maybe it’s because it was presented to me as school work, and it has always been one of my favourite books to get halfway through, having tried many times even before it was prescribed reading, I really do love the universe and mythology of J.R.R. Tolkien, was The Hobbit. 8. Do you read before bed? Yep. 9. How many books is on your book shelf? I can’t count, but kindle has changed my life 10. What genre of books do you prefer? Epic Storytelling 11. Can you read while there is noise around, like music or T.V? No 12. Have you wrote any books? The stories are there, the worlds exist, they’ve been constructed and are authored in my brain, but not yet. 13. You walk into a book store, what do you walk out with? Children’s Books – it is now important to grow a love of books in my sons. 14. Worst book you ever read? It has got to be Gone Girl. I hated everything about it, which is the genius of the book really, because I hated all the characters but that is what kept me reading until the end, and I was engrossed, and it shocked me, but i hated it as much as I hated the characters… And it is so terrible I will recommend it to everybody, because that is the brilliance of it. 15. Do you have any collections of books? I collect Graphic Novels and book series like those in my list. 16. Do you have a library card? Yes, but I do not use it. 17. What is the last book you read? The last book i completed was Feet of Clay by Terry Pratchett. 18. How many books do you read per year? It is inconsistent, last year was a great year, i can’t even recall how many books I read, but it was over forty, I was devouring them. 19. If you could write a book what would you title it? Haha! Wouldn’t you like to know! 20. Why is reading important to you? Reading is an excercise of appreciation, it’s about escapism and inspiration, like all art, like movies, it’s about being entertained and evoked emotionally.
Book mark or Anything that can hold your place Trade paper back ?(big book) or Paper back (small book) Novel or Biography Read the book or Watch the movie first Romance (Surprise, Surprise – but not schlockmance) or Science-Fiction
On Saturday I tried to make something out of nothing, quite literally, within 5 minutes (more on that here…)
The ironic thing is that I really (for 5 minutes) struggled, and I layered #TDC1609 with subtext, which I actually bought into for my 5 minutes – there is light I tell you (Look what happens if i optimize the shadows and highlights in the image, there is lots of light at play, this simple work is as abstract as they come!!!)!
And there I go again trying to convince myself…
The point is that I was disappointed with the effort, and yet I wasn’t because the layers of meaning are applied…
Yesterday I didn’t post an update for #TDC1610 (so this will be it, and it will be short) although I did meet my self-imposed Daily Create quota :P…
There was not much thought to this one, but it took a lot of time, and so by the time I finally got it up I just didn’t have the energy to write about it!
Truth be told, there isn’t much to say about the piece itself, it’s a not so tongue in cheek commentary on the most base of subject matter… Except that what I have realised is that the majority of the enjoyment I am deriving from these excercises is in the doing :)! Sometimes they take a lot of time, sometimes they take alot of thought, sometimes they take little of either and sometimes they take much-er!
Today, as a bit of a reprieve in terms of effort from my Saturday entry, I took a hold of the horns of today’s daily create #TDC1611, and went balls to the walls. I studied film when I was 19, at a not so esteemed college, in South Africa, where my skill that I entered the industry with (for all of a couple of months, because I was more inspired with partying, and because the skill I had was not actually related to anything I was actually passionate about when it came to the industry), was editing (in those days, my very expensive Television and Film production textbook, which cost R700, had a chapter on digital editing which was 11 pages long – the world has changed)… and I digress… the point is that I know on some level those projects I worked on back then were at play, even if just a little, here today, because the video editing bit was the easiest bit for me.
FYI – This is not going to be a “How To”, I am unable to adhere to that kind of writing, this is more of a thinking around my approach, as I come to understand it myself – But let me just say now, before I lose you all completely, that I appreciate beyond words the positivity you have given this video on Twitter – It really is encouraging – I really am enjoying these Daily Creates!
I visited the website with the sound effects and from the beginning I had this idea that I would find 5 animals from as far away from each other as I could (the daily create prompt helped there)… Then it was a matter of extracting the sounds, and that wasn’t so easy, but all of us have managed to do that, so we know it is possible and I will just say that I managed to get them all individually. At this point, while I was getting them in mp3, I had decided that I was today going to make a video, Windows Movie Maker would be the tool of choice, having played with it just a little recently, and so it became very much about what the message of it all was going to be…
As I thought on this, and sourced pictures from Wikipedia of the animals I had selected, I decided that silent movie speech cards were going to be the tool of choice, and that there was going to be a poem, but a poem about what? What do 5 animals have to say, that would unite them, and why unity became a theme I do not know, except I think I kinda do…
Today I read an article in which one of South Africa’s greatest satirists Zapiro, has been listed as No2 on a list of the top 10 cartoonists worldwide – it’s a beautiful thing, he has challenged South Africa in his commentary art which has unforgivingly documented our history for the last approximately 30 years – but it’s also a sad event, because the man has fallen, in many eyes, as he compromised his artistic integrity last week when he apologised for a cartoon in which he portrayed a “Black” Minister as a performing Monkey under the control of our shameless President Jacob Zuma (a man who has abused his powers beyond the imaginable, and whose cabinet is a joke – Wiki?). Zapiro has been necessarily scathing of our President for the last 10 years, and sadly the South African climate has deteriorated under his watch, as he has not fostered the necessary progressive environment for this Rainbow Nation to continue upward. It was the depiction of a black man as a monkey which resulted in a racist backlash on social media, as the commentary of the analogy was lost within the remaining anger of a certain Miss Penny Sparrow who in January caused a national crisis when she spewed forth her racist assertions as she compared black beach goers to monkeys – the stigma essentially overwriting the commentary of the piece. Our ruling party loves the racist card, and they milk it for all it’s worth, so that freedom of speech and artistic license are being eroded, even our public broadcaster has made an announcement last week that they will be (without actually using the word) censoring what they show on the news, so as not to incite further anger, and just this week South Africa managed to avoid being downgraded to Junk Status by global ratings agencies… So yeah I kinda think I know how this piece came about…
And there it is, the reason that the animals are speaking so, in various animal languages, for they too have caught wind of what is happening in South Africa, even the most beautiful moments of our day are challenged by the realities of a society which we hope will recover for the second time from what we perceive to be a decline. This was a nation which has had the world’s attention for years, and we rose upon the dreams of a great President Nelson Mandela, only to find ourselves in an arena we are actually not prepared for. It really is a fearful time in South Africa, but hope remains alive, and ultimately I have to believe that every dog has it’s day…
Humour is a powerful device, find the funny to tell the truth, because truth is universally identifiable, especially when expressed through art…
Ever have one of those days, where the world is weighing you down; nothing has been going right for a while and today feels like yet another shade of shade on an ever increasing scale of shade; that there’s a cloud over your head and it’s raining down upon you and only you…
I never had one of those days yesterday, but I know them way to well!
Yesterday’s Daily Create was a last minute piece of creation that commenced 5 minutes before midnight… I was actually quite ashamed, since commencing my current blogging schedule, this would be the first time I missed posting – but it was such a great day (and if all goes according to plan, you will hear about it soon). So at just before midnight, after the excitement of good company and fun had completed its ensue-ment(?), I thought – at the least let me try and get the job done – but now it was a matter of what could I do with the following prompt:
I decided at that moment to embark on a five minute creative excercise… I was thus forced to take stock of my limitations… we are now two minutes down you must understand… So what does this picture say to me? What does it all mean? What is the knock-on effect and impact of not meeting my personal commitments (which mean nothing to anyone but to me alone) actually mean to me in the grand scheme of things? What does 2 minutes (because the clock is ticking) of creativity look like?
And then the moment of revelation arrived, and aligned with the very first entry of my oldest remaining journal, an entry based and inspired on a song from a little know movie by a little known band – Paint it Black by The Rolling Stones as per the end credits of The Devil’s Advocate (a movie which confirmed to this former film student prior to his studies, that Charlize Theron was meant for bigger things). This song was somewhat of an anthem for a gothic rocker youth during his more… sombre (shall we say)… days, before he discovered the joy of house music and the npartied at maybe one to many Rave Party Gathering Things… But I digress… I used to lie awake at night and travel down the hypnotic journey of this songs’ melody and lyrics, eyes closed, painting it all black – much like the eventual outcome of any inanimate (or even animate for that fact) individual being smacked dead by what appears to be the stupidity of invention…
Sound morbid right? But that’s how surprisingly and profoundly brilliant and exciting I think the piece is, because death, is well death, and if you don’t believe in anything (and I do believe inanimate objects do not, unless there is like a Wicker-Deity somewhere) then the emptiness of Black is the inevitable nothingness which exists. And so with a minute and a half left, I tried to capture the abstract representation which would encompass all of the above in a single shot of black, and that took longer than it should have!!! Because there is light frikken everywhere… (which is amazing, particularly in South Africa where having light is a privilege in the late hours)…
Which is fitting because if you look really closely, in the top right corner of the image, there is a hint of a glow coming through – a hint I say – offering a hint of hope to all of us that need to believe that there is light in the darkest of darkness… Even for those of us who are inanimate… apparently…
And that takes me back to the beginning of this full circle post, because even in the darkness, search for the light!
And that is my summation of this piece – Beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder… 🙂
So, Take a photo of mushroom and/or fungus – find the art around you…
Ummm, well had this been a task on Saturday when I actually had a mushrooms which sprung up on my lawn, then I would totally have gone out and taken a photo of the fungal family unit, but woe to me, they are no longer there and so the quest to find a fungus, or to seek the inspiration for this particular shoot and create, is sadly uninspired – or is it?
Because now I feel I need to find meaning in the simplest of deliveries, and so it goes that this image is transformed into a commentary on the computer based generation who seeks interaction with the world by spectating via computer screen, sadly the result thereof well sometimes beautiful can also be not beautiful at times, as there are some gag-able additions to the search which demonstrate the uncertainty of life as well as the danger of a worldview as generated behind a computer screen… It’s deep stuff man… and very much like fungus, not really something I necessarily want to consider or look at, in fact, it might just have been easier to go and admire the beautiful side of it as filtered by a specific rose coloured pair of glasses.
This turns out to be, just as required by the task, very much a fungus in my daily life…
(On the plus side, this here photo is uploaded on my Flickr account, a 1st!)
This was not fun… Then again it was a creative excercise all the same, so that was fun… The laughter induced was fun too, but there was also the realisation that came out that Art Is Pain… (particularly for those on the receiving end in this case)…