Shag: mystic pizza slash dirty dancing but less exciting

 

The story is of 4 wealthy southern girls in the early 1960s in their summer before college. Well two of them are going but the other two are not. They are prim proper Luanne (Page Hannah) a senator’s daughter and blonde, sexy Melania (Bridget Fonda). They are also Pudge real name Caroline (Annabeth Gish) a formerly plump, slightly nerdy but cute girl who suffers from low self- esteem. Finally beautiful Carson (Phoebe Cates) who is having doubts about her engagement to tobacconist’s son Harley. They go to Myrtle Beach to celebrate Carson’s last summer of freedom before her marriage. They also go there because they want to have fun, meet boys and dance the shag. The dance shag is actually rather unexciting even though it is supposedly a major part of the film. However the dance competition is quite entertaining to watch.

Shag (1989)

They soon meet some boys in the form of a 1 dimensional bad boy Buzz (Robert Ruzzler) and his nerdy looking friend Chip( Scott Coffey). Chip and Pudge soon form a connection and she persuades him to dance the shag with her and they decide to enter the shag contest together. There is also a mutual attraction growing between them. However it is stilled by his awkward declaration that he wants to write to her when at college in friendly and not romantic terms. This makes her reject him and she also refuses to do the shag contest with him even though they are clearly crazy about one another. Meanwhile Melania enters a local beauty pageant trying to impress the celeb Jimmy Valentine so she can get to Hollywood. This angers local mean girls Suette and Nadine who try to thwart her attempts. She does not win the contest but decides to impress his agent instead. Will she be able to do this? Meanwhile Carson and Buzz have a growing a mutual attraction which forms into a romance. However things get really awkward when Harley turns up and becomes close to Luanne. What will Carson and Luanne do? Will Chip and Pudge get back together for the dance contest and realise their mutual feelings?

The film is cute and is clearly influenced by Dirty Dancing although the characters are much less fleshed out in this film and the dancing is much less sexy or well- choreographed. Even though the 4 women are stereotyped I liked them. In particular Carson and Pudge as I felt I could identify with them most and they had real and sympathetic issues you could sympathise with. I also really liked Luanne who was very funny with her prim proper act and nerdy peculiar glasses. Also with her fussy bun which make her look years older than she actually is. It is interesting to see how she realised her old fashioned southern values are outdated and that it is ok to not to behave like a lady. Melania was also quite entertaining but I hated the beauty contest as it was so cringey and embarrassing although Melania’s speech was quite well performed. The men were however less well rounded with Buzz being a sort of bad boy but being rather flat in personality. Chip was also rather flat but I quite liked his romance with Pudge and I wanted things to work out for them.

The plot was quite good as I liked the theme of them wanting to dance and flirt with men in their last summer before college. It was clearly quite nostalgic in looking back to 60s and lost youth. There was however a serious side with the values of free love and sexual liberation being included in the story.

The other bit I liked was the clash of old fashioned traditional southern values with more liberal modern northern values. This is with the premise being the girls are going to supposedly visit Fort Sumter well this is the lie they tell their parents. Also there is the recurring theme of behaving like a southern lady and gentlemen with the younger ones trying to throw this off. However still being pulled back by their southern roots to behave in this way. This comes across well with Carson being reluctant to have sex before marriage and Luanne thinking having wild parties and wearing bikinis is outrageous. However both women realise having sex, flirting with boys and having a good time are fun and are good things to do.

The music in this film was great actually for me the best part of the movie. The script was quite well written although a little silly at times but it captured the mood of the period well. Also the lines were quite funny at times and also captured the southern image quite well too. I particularly like the ones where Pudge joked about her mother although her quotes were not that memorable. The accents were also quite well done and not too cringey.

The costumes are also well done. They captured the different personalities of the characters very well and they each fit the different characters’ personalities perfectly. For example from Pudge’s school girlish outfits to Luanne’s hilarious glasses and pearl necklaces.

Overall I would give this film 3.5 stars as it was cute and captured the mood of the period well. It was a little contrived and full of stereotypes but is entreating to watch.

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3 Colours White

In this film the polish protagonist Karol Karol’s(Zbigniew Zamachowski) French wife Dominique(Julie Delpy) divorces him because he could not consummate their marriage. Soon after this he loses his business and all his money through a series of mishaps. He soon becomes a beggar but is rescued by a fellow pole called Mikolaj who helps him get back to Poland. However this involves going in his suitcase which Mikolaj is meant to pick up when he reaches Poland. Unfortunately the suitcase gets stolen and Karol after a bad encounter with the robbers manages to get to his hometown. Soon he ends up working with his brother as a hairdresser again.

 

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3 Colours White Poster

However he become bored with his work and soon gets another job as a bodyguard for a supposedly innocent looking cash exchange company. He soon discovers that it is not as innocent as it looks and hears his bosses trying to do illegal land dealings. He outwits them and ends up selling the land that he gained from this to them. Meanwhile he meets up with Mikolaj again who had offered him a job of killing a man who wanted to kill himself but could not bring himself to do it. This turns out to be Mikolaj himself. Karol shoots him with a blank and manages to persuade him to not to end his life. After this he and Mikolaj go into a partnership in an undefined dodgy business together and become wealthy. Karol however is restless and wants win his ex-wife back but later decides to ruin her life instead. He does this through a complex scheme involving faking his own death and having her imprisoned for his supposed death but is this enough for him ? Will he be happy with what he has done and will she ever respect him?

This film is intriguing and apparently is meant to represent equality in contrast with the first film blue representing freedom and the third red fraternity. I would say that however these 2 other themes are present in this one. Equality is clear in this film with Karol trying become his wife’s equal. Fraternity is interestingly also there with Karol finding brotherhood with Mikolaj. Finally freedom is there with his wife divorcing him and wanting to be rid of him. You also get the impression that Karol finds his new illegal role liberating.

Now what I also liked about this film is the theme of the colour white as with the first film blue and what it means. It seems to have multiple meanings such as the snow and statue Karol takes around with him. The theme with the snow seemed for me to show the deadness and coldness of his country but also perhaps what Karol himself feels. White also has a recurring flashback to Karol’s wedding with Dominique’s wedding dress. White is meant to symbolise purity and innocence but I think this was meant to be deeply ironic here as Dominique is far with pure and innocent. White finally represents new beginnings and this could show Karol’s transformation from the pitiful figure at the beginning to the ruthless criminal at the end.

The acting in this film was very good in particular Zamachowski as Karol who you at first pity with the scenes of him in court not understanding French. Also being a huge contrast to his confident glamorous wife. His transformation into the ruthless criminal businessman he becomes was excellent. However like Juliette Binoche who also makes a brief cameo in this film he cried at the end. I think in his case it is suggested he perhaps regretted what he had done and that there was still some of his old self in his new self. Or perhaps he had realised he could never win Dominique back and had finally accepted this. In Blue it showed Binoche’s character finally acknowledging her grief for her husband and child or perhaps finally being at one with herself. Or accepting like Karol her past and present. Delpy was very good as difficult Dominique. Difficult and bonkers characters are a recurring theme with Delpy’s roles in other films I have seen her in. Therefore it was no surprise that she played a difficult character in this movie.

I would overall give this film 4 stars as I loved the meaning of it but did not fully understand it.

 

Room with a Kiri

O mio babbino caro from Gianni Schicchi by Puccini is used in the Merchant Ivory 1985 production of Room with a View starring Helena Bonham Carter and Julian Sands as the two lovers Lucy and George. It is sung in the film soundtrack by Kiri te Kanawa. It is used at the beginning of the film in the title credits and when Lucy and George first see each other. It is also used at the end when they are married and back in Florence again. Below I will discuss why I think it was used in this production and what it could mean.

 

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In this aria Lauretta is pleading with her father Gianni Schicchi to read her lovers uncle’s will so he can have enough money for them to get married. She then threatens that if he does not do this that she will drown herself in the Arno. Now I generally think this song is used in the film because like Lauretta and her lover Rinuccio Lucy and George are held back by class but not by money. In Room with a View George is not poor but is lower middle class, from a socialist background and behaves unconventionally. This is in that he is not emotionally restrained and believes in equality between men and women and therefore is not seen as appropriate husband material for Lucy.

Kiri Te Kanawa 2013 (cropped).jpg

Instead Lucy’s snooty, culture obsessed and wealthy fiancé Cecil is seen as more suitable for Lucy even though he is a pompous bore. However George adores her and she clearly feels the same way even though she denies her feelings for him for most of the film. I also think this song is used as both the opera and film are set in Florence.

I think the music is placed at the beginning when she first sees George to show that they will be lovers. However with the lyrics meaning this shows how there will be obstacles to their union. Also perhaps that they will have to fight to be together like Lauretta and Rinuccio. I think the use of the aria at the end of the film creates a bittersweet feeling. It shows Lucy and George happy together. In contrast her cousin Charlotte who helped them get together is alone in bed reading a letter from Lucy. Then she turns out her light. Therefore thus this could show how Charlotte threw away love which Lucy almost did because of class and of society’s expectations. This connecting to Lauretta threatening to throw herself into the Arno. However unlike Lucy and Lauretta she will always be alone and regretting her past but happy with her actions towards George and Lucy. This is because she originally opposed their relationship but saw Lucy behaving like she did and did not want the same thing to happen to her.

Scully’s shoes

One thing I will never understand about the character of Dana Scully is her shoes. For me they are a total contradiction to her character. Below I will write why I think that as a character she would not wear them.

Kill Switch
Scully fighting in heels

As an FBI agent she is always on her feet and chasing after criminals. Or in her case supernatural or alien ones. She does not always wear heels thank goodness at least she has the sense to wear walking boots for hiking through woods. Nonetheless there are constant images of her and Mulder chasing people with her in heels. She even scales fences in them. Now as a doctor she would know that heels are bad for her feet. She would also know as she is a sensible and intelligent woman that she would most likely fall over in them when chasing criminals. Now I am not saying there is anything wrong with wearing heels but seriously if you were on your feet all day they would be really uncomfortable. Also you would probably injure yourself if you were doing the activities she does.

See the source image
Her in heels again

Now onto my second reason why I do not believe she would wear heels. Scully dresses very seriously mostly in double breasted suits for the earlier seasons and later single breasted. This shows her personality as a serious nerdy professional. In contrast to Mulder’s floppy gelled hair and silly ties which show his spooky, emotional conspiracy theorist personality. However on her feet are high heels which for me are a little at odds with her serious image. I mean Mulder is more likely to wear them than she is as they would go well with his personality. I have also seen real female police officers wearing flat but smart shoes why can they not do that with her?

Another thing is also why is there such a focus on Scully’s wardrobe? I never got the impression that she was that interested in fashion and definitely not shoes. Excepting in wearing her hair neatly styled and occasionally dressing up nicely for going out. She is not Carrie Bradshaw with her huge collection of expensive shoes. I suppose the change in her costume is probably that they wanted to show her changes from a sceptic to a believer.

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Now she’s wearing stilettos

It could perhaps be that the show’s creators feel that to appeal to men sexually she has to wear silly shoes and be transformed in appearance. This is as the ones in the show who are sexualised are the men. However I mean is it not possible to find a woman attractive without her wearing heels and changing her wardrobe constantly. Another theory is that if they had more female writers that they would be far less focus on her costume. I think I would be more ok with it if Mulder’s costume was changed a little through the series. The only thing that seems to change is that his hair is either jelled or scuffed up at the front or at other times worn naturally.

Here is a clip of her fighting in heels from the episode the Kill Switch

Also here below is a link I found to a blog devoted to Scully’s shoes:http://scullyshoes.tumblr.com/

The Suffragette who knew Jujitsu

Cartoon of Edith Garrud from Wikipedia.org

Edith Margaret Garrud was a martial arts instructor and suffragette who was born in 1872 in Bath. 5 years later she moved with her family to Wales. In the 1890s she married the physical culture instructor William Garrud. They moved to London where he worked in several universities teaching physical culture. She and William in 1899 met the first Jujitsu teacher in Europe Edward Barton Wright who introduced them to it. A few years later they both became pupils at a jujitsu school in Soho.  When the owner of the school left England in 1908 William became the new owner and manager of it. Edith also took over teaching the women’s and children’s classes.

It was about the same time she became involved with the campaign for women’s suffrage. The Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) booked her and her husband in for a jujitsu demonstration. However he became ill and so she went to the meeting alone. Emmeline Pankhurst encouraged her to speak about jujitsu instead of just doing a demonstration. This was because normally it was her did the demonstration and William who spoke about it. This led to her teaching self-defence classes to the suffragettes.  

In 1913 the Cat and Mouse Act became law. This was where suffragettes who had been force fed were released from prison but when they had recovered were captured again so they could finish their sentence. The WSPU responded by creating a thirty member all female protection unit called the Bodyguard. They were established to protect fugitive suffragettes from re-arrest. Edith trained them to use Indian clubs to fight back against the police’s truncheons and also to use jujitsu on them. These lessons took place in secret locations so they could avoid attention from the police.

In 1914 the suffrage campaign was called off so women could help with the war effort. After this Edith and her husband continued to work teaching self-defence and jujitsu classes. In 1925 they retired and sold their school. After this Edith’s life was quite quiet but on her 94th birthday there was an article about her in the Woman Magazine. Edith died 5 years later at the age of 99 in 1971.

Bibliography

Edith Margaret Garrud(18th October 2018),retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edith_Margaret_Garrud

Williams Rachel, (25th June 2012), Edith Garrud, Women, the Guardian, retrieved from https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2012/jun/25/edith-garrud-suffragette-martial-arts

Edith Garrud, (3.5.18), retrieved from http://badassoftheweek.com/index.cgi?id=808628531966

The Enchanted April: Room with View but with 4 women

The story is of 4 very different women who go on holiday together in the 1920s to escape their lives in England. They are the downtrodden Lotty Wilkins and Rose Arbuthnot a sweet faced but sad woman who has buried her grief for her baby in religion. There is also the beautiful Lady Caroline Dester who is angry with the way her beauty makes her be treated like an object. Finally there is the much elder Mrs Fisher who is trapped in the past of her dead literary friends. They all stay in a castle in Mezzago and are overwhelmed by the beauty of the place. It changes all 4 women for the better and becomes something they will never forget.

See the source image
Elizabeth Von Arnim

The story was both sad and funny. For example it poked fun at the women such as Mrs Fisher who keeps thinking about being friends with the dead Ruskin. I like the mix of sad and funny as I do not like books that are really sad and where everyone dies. However I do not like ones where everything is taken very seriously all the time either.

The characters in the story were also very interesting. I also like how different they were and the exploring of their different personal problems. From Mrs Wilkins who escaped London to run away from her boorish husband who is obsessed with thrift. However when he actually appeared he was not nearly as bad as she said. Well he was actually rather silly really although obsessed with making money. However on to Lady Caroline who for me was really sad. She is 28 but her parents infantilise her because she is very beautiful. People even women forget because of her beauty that she has inner thoughts and feelings of her own.  I did not like the book ending for her where it was implied she would marry the castle’s owner Mr Briggs who started worshipping her as beautiful object. I personally hope they did not get married as I think she would hate it.

The men although minor are also interesting particularly Frederick Arbuthnot or Mr Arundel. I liked in particular the bit where the reader realises he and Mr Arundel are one and the same person. It was also interesting to see him come to see Lady Caroline. However after seeing the castle like the women he was transformed and went back to his wife. Not in a sad way but in a soppy romantic way. It is strongly suggested at the end of the book that they were having sex which was quite entertaining.  I bet there would be a baby on the way after the book’s ending.

Interestingly there is also a film of this book which since I enjoyed it so much I will have to watch.

 

 

Emily Faithfull

Emily Faithfull was a publisher, women’s rights activist and writer who was born in Headley Rectory in Surrey on 27th May 1835 but spent most of her adult life in London.  Her parents were the vicar Ferdinand Faithfull and his wife Elizabeth. She was educated both at home and at a school in Kensington.

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Emily Faithfull

She first became involved with campaigning for women’s rights in the 1850s as a member of the Langham Place Circle. This featured other women’s rights activists such as Emily Davies the founder of Girton College. Langham Place supported women’s suffrage, improvement of women’s education and furthering women’s employment. Emily’s main interest however was in improving women’s employment. Her interest in this grew out of her role as the secretary and as a committee member of the Society for Promoting the Employment of Women. This society was set up by the Langham Place Circle. She was introduced to the printing press by a fellow committee member Bessie Rayner Parkes. This led to Emily setting up the Victoria Press in 1860.

In the Victoria Press Emily employed women as compositors and a few men to do manual labour. She employed women as compositors because she believed that publishing was a suitable occupation for them.  Emily treated her staff very well for the time period. Emily noticed that the average age printers and publishers died was at 48 partly to due to lung problems because of the lack of ventilation systems where they worked. Therefore she introduced proper ventilations systems and stools and chairs for her employees to sit on. Her workers also had a staff kitchen and worked in good lighting. Her employment of women was attacked however by the all-male Printer’s Union who even tried to sabotage the Victoria Press. For example they dirtied her employee’s stools with ink. Nonetheless her press was actually quite successful. For example Emily was awarded the position of a printer and publisher to Queen Victoria in 1862.

Emily was also a keen writer. In 1868 her only novel Change Upon Change was published. It is the tragic love story of a young man who falls in love with his coquettish cousin. It also called for improvements to women’s education.

Emily also established her own journal the Victoria Magazine which was published monthly. She continued the journal for 18 years and called for improvements in women’s employment in it.

At about same time when she was involved in the much publicised divorce case of Admiral Henry Codrington and his wife Helen. She had worked in their house as a companion to Helen but was dismissed from the position by Helen’s husband under mysterious circumstances. In Henry and Helen’s much publicised divorce case he was accused of raping Emily by Helen. Emily was however accused of being Helen’s lover. At first Emily gave evidence on behalf of Helen but later refused to. This was in order to protect her reputation as it was already at risk by being associated with a divorce case. It would have been completely ruined if she had carried on standing as a witness. These events have been written about by Emma Donoghue in her novel the Sealed Letter.

Despite this her reputation was clearly not badly affected as she toured England and the USA giving lectures in the 1870s and 1880s. In these talks she lectured about women’s rights. For example she argued in New York for marriage to be based on love and not money.  She published her account of her tour in her book Three Visits to America in 1884. In this book she wrote chapters about women’s roles in America in particular she devoted a whole chapter to how Mormon Women were treated in Utah.

In the 1880s she started the organisation the International Music, Dramatic and Literary Association to help protect the rights of artists and composers. In 1888 she received a civil pension and was presented with an engraved portrait of Queen Victoria for her 30 years work for women’s rights. There was no title of Dame at the time so this was the Victorian Equivalent.

7 years later she died at the age of 61 in Plymouth Grove in Manchester of a Bronchial Disorder as she was a heavy smoker.

 

Bibliography

Newspaper Articles

Emily Faithfull Obituary, (June 3rd 1865), Issue 34593, The Times, London, https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/The_Times/1895/Obituary/Emily_Faithfull

Websites

Emily Faithfull, (24 May 2018), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Emily_Faithfull

Massey Gerald, Faithfull Emily, http://gerald-massey.org.uk/faithfull/

Simkin John(January 2015), Emily Faithfull, Spartacus Educational, Spartacus Education Publishers ltd, https://spartacus-educational.com/Wfaithfull.htm

Wojtczak Helena, (2009), Emily Faithfull and the Victoria Press, British Women’s Emancipation since the Renaissance, http://historyofwomen.org/faithfull.html