Tuesday, January 20, 2015

5 Things I Know For Sure

In November, I reviewed Oprah's book, "What I Know For Sure," where she recounts, well, stuff she is sure of.  Because, hey, she is Oprah.

And there is a lot of it.  She weighs in on "Joy," "Resilience," "Connection," "Gratitude," "Possibility," "Awe," "Clarity" and "Power."



Here are some of Oprah's things she knows for sure:

"It's up to each of us to get very still and say, 'This is who I am.' No one else defines your life.  Only you do."

"Failure is just a way for our lives to show us we're moving in the wrong direction, that we should try something different."

"If you make a choice that doesn't please your mate, friends, or whoever, the world will not fall apart."

"This is the body you've been given -- love what you've got."

"The same questions follow every woman through girlhood and adolescence: Can I really do this?  Will I get it right?  Am I okay?"



And, like I said, she has a lot more of these -- 228 pages worth to be exact.

I, on the other hand, not being Oprah, only have five things I know for sure, but it's a start -- and here they are.

 

1. Meditation can remove the "bitch factor" from your life.

Meditation has many benefits (and I wrote about them in a post called "A Little Meditation on a Little Meditation by an Unlikely Meditator"), but the one that is most powerful is the capacity meditation has to shut down any tendency you might have to be a bitch (and that goes for you guys out there too). 

When you are still with yourself, you connect to the source of love within you, your soul, that silent witness within that is always there sending you messages of love, joy and inspiration.  When you listen you feel the love that is your true nature.  Buddha said, "You can search the entire universe and will not find another person more worthy of love than you."  When you realize that, when you love yourself first, you become conscious of your existence and the existence of others and can love them too. You realize that at the soul level we are all inextricably connected. And that's called compassion. And it's really difficult to be a bitch when you have all of that compassion and love shining through.  But I know, it takes practice. 

I know that for sure.

 

2. Libraries change lives.

I know I talk about libraries all of the time, but I think that's what it takes for people to understand the true power of libraries.  I also think it takes just one meaningful encounter for you to understand it. 

Here is an example:

When I was a librarian in a public library, I was teaching a very basic computer class on how to set up a personal Yahoo email account.  The class consisted of about six people who had few computer or typing skills, a few seniors and a couple of people where English was not their first language.  One of the latter was a lady from Korea.  After the class, I gave them all a bit of homework:  sometime during the week send me an email so I can see that you can do that. A few days later, I received an email from the lady from Korea.  In it she thanked me for the class and said that she had just sent an email to her son in Korea who she hadn't seen or spoken to in over a year. So that one encounter, that one class, brought together two people separated by space and time.  Not to mention the lump in my throat.

That is just one such life changing encounter I can relate.

Libraries are not just about books, though books are certainly worthwhile and life changing on their own.  Libraries protect our right to information, provide training and classes to better ourselves, teach our children skills to make them successful in school and provide a place for the community to gather.

If you have a need, have you gone to your local library or checked out your local library's webpage lately?  I think you will be amazed at what you will find.
Trust me. 

And I am going to keep talking about libraries until you do! 

I know that for sure.


 

3. Television is not evil.

It is no secret that I like to watch television.  My flirtation with it goes way back and I have poked fun about myself and TV in other posts.  And I have no problem with people who don't watch.  What I DO have a problem with is people giving television more power than it really has and ranting about how it is destroying civilization.  I can think of a lot more things that have destroyed civilization than an episode of  "Modern Family."  (Now if you are talking about Fox News, you might have a point, but that's a whole different post). 

I had a husband once who wouldn't have a TV in the house because he believed if he had one, he would somehow be forced to watch it.  Not sure how that works (the evil little TV fairy attacks him and makes his finger press the "on" button?), but needless to say the marriage didn't last.

Likewise, there is what I call the "snooty factor." When I am enthusiastically talking about the latest episode of "So You Think You Can Dance," and someone says to me something snooty like, "I don't watch TV, which in a conversational setting is a conversation stopper if ever there was on, I think I will not let that stop the conversation and say, "No need to apologize" as in "Bless your heart, you poor thing (I can be snooty too)." Because it's one thing to not watch, which is fine.  What am I, the TV police? But it's another thing to feel you need to say that to someone who obviously does and somehow imply you are better than. 

And there is a certain hypocrisy attached to that.  OK, you don't watch TV but are you playing video games and reading comic books instead?

Another idea is to recommend meditation to this person because clearly the "Bitch factor" is an issue (see above).

If we are talking about evil, let's talk about war, racism, mass murder, child abuse, those things are evil.  Television isn't even close.

I know that for sure.


 

4. Retirement isn't for sissies.

For those of you who have been following this blog since the beginning, you know that I shared my retirement fears and woes since I started this blog.  It's been a year and a half since I retired and like Bette Davis said about aging, "Old age ain't no place for sissies," retirement ain't no place for them either.

No matter how much you have looked forward to not having to get up early and go to work at a job you might not like for a boss you hate, the adjustment to not having that job anymore is HUGE.  What do you say when someone asks you, "What do you do?"  Then you realize just how much you have defined yourself by your job. 

I never liked getting up early, but I had a job I liked and never hated my bosses, which made it even more difficult to say sayonara.  Suddenly you have all of that time you always wished you had.  What are you going to do with it? Where you once derived meaning by merely going to work, now you must find it somewhere else. You need to start redefining yourself, your life, your dreams, what's left of the your future... You are staring your mortality in the face.  What are you going to do with the rest of your life?

So just as starting out in life is a scary adventure, so too is the endgame.  Sissies need not apply.

I know that for sure.


 

5. Skinny jeans don't make you look skinny.

I thought since this blog is not just about retirement, books and libraries, it's also about movies, fashion and fun, that I should add something about fashion, so here it is.

"Skinny jeans don't make you look skinny."

But who cares?  I'm going to wear them anyway!

 


I know that for sure.



What do YOU know for sure?



Thanks for Reading!


 
See you Friday 
 


for my review of the new movie

"American Sniper,"

 

The Week in Reviews,
 
as well as my progress on
 
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."

If you enjoyed this post, feel free to click on the share buttons to share it on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn, email it to your friends and LIKE me on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rosythereviewer






 


 

Friday, January 16, 2015

"Big Eyes" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "Big Eyes," the DVDs "The Trip to Italy," "Dawn of the Planet of the Apes," and the documentary on Roger Ebert, "Life Itself."  The Book of the Week is "On the Road with Janis Joplin," and I report on how I am doing with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project" by reviewing "Ariel" and "The World of Apu"]

Before I get into this week's reviews, I must weigh in on Sunday's Golden Globes and the Oscar nominations that were announced yesterday.

If you read my blog post last week on my "Early Oscar Picks," and if you watched the Golden Globes, you will know that the Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Picture I had slated for getting Oscar nominations and for winning, did win Golden Globes.

However, I missed a few when it came to the Oscar nominations. 

For Best Picture, I missed "Grand Budapest Hotel," "Whiplash (which to me, came out of nowhere)," and "American Sniper." "Gone Girl," "Unbroken" and "Nightcrawler" were snubbed, but they only nominated eight films this year instead of ten, so let's just pretend I didn't list those. As for those I didn't have on my list, I loved "Grand Budapest Hotel," but thought it was released too early in the year and would be forgotten, and I haven't seen the other two.  I predicted the Best Actress nominations correctly except for Marion Cotillard.  I thought Jennifer Aniston would get a Best Actress nomination for "Cake," and for Best Actor, I went with Jake Gyllenhaal for "Nightcrawler" and Bill Murray for "St. Vincent" but they were snubbed for Bradley Cooper ("American Sniper") and Steve Carell ("Foxcatcher").

I have to add, that worst of all, the women directors were snubbed:  Angelina's movie "Unbroken" was completely snubbed and, though "Selma" was nominated, the WOMAN director (Ava DuVernay) was not.  What's THAT all about?  I would imagine Oprah is fuming about that.

Oh, and one more thing - the Roger Ebert documentary, "Life Itself," was not nominated in the documentary category at all.  A TRAVESTY!  See my review below.

On my part, not too bad for a stab in the dark, but I am still going with who and what I think will win the Oscar: 

Best Picture -    "Boyhood." 
Best Actor -       Eddie Redmayne. 
Best Actress:     Julianne Moore

We shall see.

Now on to the Week in Reviews.



Big Eyes


The true story of Margaret and Walter Keane and the art empire they built during the 1960's with those big-eyed waifs with Walter taking credit for Margaret's work.

Walter (Christoph Waltz) and Margaret (Amy Adams) meet just after Margaret has left an abusive marriage.  She is living in San Francisco with her young daughter trying to make ends meet painting furniture in a furniture factory and selling her paintings on the side, when she meets Walter at an art fair where Walter is also selling his paintings. Margaret paints children with huge, pleading eyes and Walter paints Parisian street scenes.  Walter charms Margaret and they marry. Walter is a master at sales and marketing and negotiates a deal with the owner of the nightclub, the hungry I, to hang his paintings there, but it is Margaret's paintings that finally take off and Walter manages to take credit for them.  Walter is high energy and domineering; Margaret is quiet and insecure.  She agrees to let Walter take credit for her work ("No one is going to buy a painting from a lady painter," he tells her) and for years hides away in her studio, putting out painting after painting until finally she has had enough and seeks to take her name back.

One may wonder how Margaret Keane could put up with letting her husband take all of the credit for her work, because these days it's difficult to remember that women in the 50's and 60's often believed their husbands were the head of the household and leaving them wasn't usually an option.  Even today it's not difficult for domineering husbands to control their wives.  For Margaret to finally take control of her own legacy was quite a feat. Realizing that, Burton has made a feminist film, of sorts.

The film opens with a quote from Andy Warhol:  "I think what Keane has done is terrific!  If it were bad, so many people wouldn't like it!" 

That quote was in response to the fact that though Keane's paintings and posters were wildly popular during the 60's and 70's, the art world was aghast, thinking them commercial and vulgar.  And this film and Warhol's quote (despite sounding like one of Yogi Berra's head scratchers), does bring up the issue of what is "art?"  Is it art if we like it or do we have to be told by the experts that it's art?  I certainly fell for the fad.  I even had a Keane doll complete with tear drop.



This drama is a departure for director Tim Burton, who we have come to associate with quirky films like "Edward Scissorhands" and "Beetlejuice."   Here he beautifully evokes the San Francisco of the 50's and 60's (the cinematography is gorgeous) in telling the story of a woman's talent subjugated by her husband's arrogance.  Amy Adams gives a bravura performance as Margaret.  It's a quiet but powerful one, whereas Waltz plays Walter as loud and high energy. Walter wasn't an evil man, just a typical know-it-all man who figured out how to control his wife. Waltz played that well, though a bit over the top in the courtroom scenes.

Rosy the Reviewer says...a fascinating true tale of a woman's talent subverted by a domineering husband beautifully mounted by Burton and played by Adams and Waltz.



***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)



The Trip to Italy (2014)



Steve Coogan and Rob Brydon play themselves while taking a road trip around Italy, driving and dining.

Rob has been commissioned by a newspaper to go on a road trip in Italy following in the footsteps of Shelley and Byron and eating scrumptious food in gorgeous restaurants.  He invites his old friend Steve to go with him. Who could say no?

This is the sequel to director Michael Winterbottom's "The Trip," where Brydon and Coogan toured the Lake District.   Here Coogan and Brydon drive a Mini Cooper around Italy (Rome, the Amalfi Coast, Capri) listening to Alanis Morisette, riffing on any topic that comes into their heads, visiting sites of importance to poets Shelley and Byron and dining at fabulous restaurants. They amuse us and each other by trying to best each other with imitations of Michael Caine, Tom Hardy and Christian Bale in Batman, Woody Allen, Hugh Grant and others.  Their enjoyment of each other and cracking each other up is infectious.

There is no drama and not a lot happens, but the scenery is spectacular, the food is mouth-watering and these two guys are having a great time.  It's a story of friendship and we are lucky to be able to join in. This kind of movie is an acquired taste but it's a taste I savor.  It feeds my love of documentaries while at the same time my love of travel and witty repartee.

They eat gorgeous food and stay in beautiful hotels.  The film is part travelogue, part food show, part comedy stand-up, part road movie.

Steve Coogan is well known in the UK for his alter ego, Alan Partridge.  He is lesser known in the U.S. but starred along side Judy Dench in "Philomena."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a funny and literary road trip showcasing some of Italy's most beautiful spots.




Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)



After a deadly disease, some apes have survived and a small group of humans.

Ten years after a simian flu epidemic kills most of civilization, the human survivors living in what's left of San Francisco must get to a dam in order to get power for their outpost and to see if there are any other survivors.  Apes are now the dominant species and those living across the Golden Gate Bridge haven't seen humans in years and are not thrilled when they suddenly show up.

This film takes place ten years after the film "Rise of the Planet of the Apes."

Jason Clarke, our hero, Malcolm, ventures into the ape's world to get permission to work on the dam.  He gains their trust by giving them his guns. Gary Oldman stars as Dreyfus, the leader of the human stronghold who is trying to rebuild civiliation and Keri Russell as Malcolm's wife.

Caesar (Andy Serkis who seems to have a lock on CGI characters - he was Gollum) is still the leader of the apes, but he has hardened and is mistrustful of the humans but gives his permission.  He trusts Malcolm but the other apes are suspicious especially Caesar's second in command, Koba (Toby Kebbell).  Things start out OK but like many cultures that don't understand each other, misunderstandings lead to fights and eventually war.  But it's the infighting among the apes that is the biggest problem for Caesar. He utters the fateful line, "Caesar always thought apes better.  We apes no better than humans."

The film hints at issues of race and the Middle East as well as embracing human issues such as family, loyalty and betrayal, issues that both the humans and the apes must deal with.

Lots of holes:

How have the humans survived for ten years with what appears to be no way of raising food?

After ten years, how come the humans don't know if there are other survivors and that apes are living just across the Golden Gate Bridge?

How did Malcolm know Caesar's name?

Where did the apes get so many guns?

I like San Francisco, I like thrillers, I liked "Planet of the Apes (the original one)," but I had to suspend too much disbelief here for this to be a satisfying experience.

But director Matt Reeves ("Cloverfield," which I really loved) gives us plenty of action, plenty of impressive CGI, visual effects and loud sound.

Rosy the Reviewer says...If you liked "Rise of the Planet of the Apes," this is a worthy sequel and you can expect more to come, but if you don't like subtitles, beware.  The Apes speak "Ape" so need to be subtitled.


Life Itself (2014)



The life and career of movie critic, Roger Ebert, based on his memoir of the same name.

Ebert had a persistent need to write and publish even as a young boy.  He worked full-time at a newspaper when he was 15.  He became editor of his college newspaper and started his career as a reporter and journalist.  He started part-time at the Chicago Sun Times and six months later the resident film critic quit and Roger was given that job without even asking for it.

Gene Siskel was the film critic for the Chicago Tribune and they were professional enemies, even when they started working together on their television show which started as "Opening Soon," and morphed into "Sneak Previews" on PBS and eventually in syndication as "At the Movies."  Siskel and Ebert were probably the most widely-recognized film critics in the world with rock star status and brought the art of film criticism to the masses, but they also fought prodigiously both on the show and off, which for the viewers was half the fun!  Film critics having hissy fits was great television!

We learned things about Ebert we didn't know:  he was an alcoholic and proponent of AA, why the show was called "Siskel and Ebert" instead of "Ebert and Siskel" and his bouts of depression and loneliness.

A strange dichotomy was Ebert's job as a film critic where he might criticize some of the most serious films and his Pulitzer (at the time, he was the only film critic to ever win one) versus his writing the campy, VERY over-the-top "Beyond the Valley of the Dolls" and collaborating with cult and soft porn director Russ Meyer.  The story goes that Ebert liked boobs.

Roger won a Pulitzer, but he was a populist.  He thought everyone should be able to understand the film.  He was never mean and never talked down to his readers.

In the film, it is startling to see how ravaged Ebert was from his thyroid cancer. In addition to the physical disfigurement of his face, he couldn't talk, drink or eat, but his will to be alive kept him writing and blogging.

This is also a love story.  Ebert found love late in life with wife Chaz who lovingly cared for him to the end.

The title of this film reminds me of my son and the first time he told me he loved me more than "life itself."  He was only about three or four and I was overcome with emotion that he would say something like that.  It wasn't until much later I realized he had gotten that from the Disney animated film, "Robin Hood (Robin says that to Maid Marian)."  But in the end, that did not diminish the power those words had for me, even if my little son was repeating the words of an animated fox.  Likewise, the power of those words override Ebert's condition during this film. Despite it all, he still wanted to live because he loved life and he loved writing about films more than "life itself."

Rosy the Reviewer says...a beautiful heart-wrenching, touching and inspiring tribute to an exceptional human being and probably the most popular film critic of all time.  A MUST SEE!  



***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

 
 
 
286 To Go!
 
Have YOU Seen these?
 


Ariel  (1988)
 
 

A Finnish mine closes and everyone loses their job.  When his father commits suicide, Taisto Kasurinen (Turo Pajala) makes his way to the city where things don't go so well for him.

In the dead of winter, Taisto heads for the city in his father's classic Cadillac with the top down because he doesn't know how to put it up.  He gets robbed and is basically homeless.  He meets Irmili (Susanna Haavisto), a meter maid who quits her job on the spot to go off with Taisto.  Taisto sees the man who robs him and when he tries to get his money back, he is arrested and imprisoned for murder.  Things aren't going so well for our Taisto.

Pajala reminds one of a young Dirk Bogarde and the film is reminiscent of "Stranger than Paradise," Jim Jarmusch's little masterpiece, in its tongue in cheek tone as these characters go through problem after problem with an "Oh,well..." attitude. 

 Why it's a Must See:  "If anyone has perfected the cinematic language to express drollness, it is Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki.  His films have a sardonic, deadpan, couldn't-care-less air that belies the real depth of their commitment to society's marginals...[this] makes for hypnotic viewing, forecasting he greatness that Kaurismaki would achieve in his 2002 film Man Without a Past."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"

Rosy the Reviewer says...Droll and slow, but mesmerizing (subtitles).






World of Apu (Apur Sansar) (1959)

 
The third installment of Satyajit Ray's "Apu Trilogy" which made Ray's name and introduced Indian cinema to the world. 
 
We followed Apu from his youth in his country village and the death of his father ("Pather Pachali" 1955) to the beginning of his schooling and the death of his mother ("Aparajito" 1956) to the last film where we find Apu (Soumitra Chatterjee) living in poverty in Calcutta, trying to make a name for himself as a writer.  He is invited to a wedding in a small Bengali village but when the bridegroom goes mad on the way to the wedding, Apu is pressed to marry the bride (Aparna played by Sharmila Tagore) because if she doesn't marry at the appointed hour, she will be disgraced.  Amazingly, the marriage is a happy one but when Aparna goes home to have a baby, she dies in childbirth.  Apu is so devastated he wants nothing to do with his son but when the boy is five, Apu goes to see him and is rejected.  Eventually, though, they reunite in a wonderfully poignant scene as they go off  together, Apu with his son riding on his shoulders.
 
Why it's a Must See:  At the heart of [this film] lies teh brief marriage of  Apu and Aparna...Chatterjee and Tagore, making their screen debuts, [showed] astonishing depth and conviction; no wonder that both went on to become major stars of Indian cinema...Thanks to their performances and the encompassing warmth and subtlety of Ray's direction, this rates as one of the most ouching and intimate depictions of married love in all cinema."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a beautiful ending to a masterful trilogy.



***Book of the Week***
 
 
 
On the Road with Janis Joplin by John Byrne Cooke (2014)
 
 
 
Cooke was on the film crew for the documentary "Monterey Pop" and became the road manager for Big Brother and the Holding Company and Janis Joplin's subsequent bands.
 
Cooke takes us up close and personal at the Monterey Pop Festival as he was on D.A Pennebaker's film crew as he documented the Festival which became the film "Monterey Pop."  He was enlisted to be the road manager for Big Brother and the Holding Company and followed Janis when she made the decision to leave Big Brother and go off on her own.  He was there at Janis'  infamous 10th high school reunion and he discovered her body when she died of an overdose.
 
Surprisingly, despite his proximity to Janis, this book does not have the intimate feel of someone who was there.  I didn't really learn anything new about Janis.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...disappointing.
 
 

 
 
Thanks for Reading!
 
That's it for this week!
 
See you Tuesday for
 
"Five Things I Know For Sure"
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Check your local library for DVDs and books mentioned.

 Note:  Next time you are wondering whether or not to watch a particular film, check out my reviews on IMDB (The International Movie Database). 

Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."
 

Or you can go directly to IMDB.  

 Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Librarian Fashion

The title of this blog post may seem like an oxymoron because the librarian stereotype seems to belie what we think of when we think of fashion.  The stereotype is a woman, hair in a bun with a pencil in it, glasses on her face or dangling from a chain around her neck and double tread floor gripper shoes. High fashion and librarians don't seem to mix.

But then I saw this piece in Elle Magazine.

I kept it in my office as a reminder that no matter how times have changed, no matter how eclectic librarians really are as they toil in libraries, librarians do have a perceived stereotype, even when perceived from the echelons of high fashion in a seemingly flattering light.



Yes, the above "seems" flattering, but at second glance...

The Stereotype:

"Bookish accessories"...check

"Proper polka dots"...check

"Smart cover-ups"...check

Glasses...check.

Cardigan...check.

Flat, sensible shoes...check.

Name tag that says "Librarian."  Maybe, check.

Yep, it's all there...and then...

Dress with thigh high slit?...Yikes! 

Despite that one little thing, which I will get to in a minute, even now, even when the article is actually trying to be flattering, this stereotype surrounds librarians.

When I started out in the profession, I can't tell you how many times someone would say, "But you don't look like a librarian."  And that's because I was young, I dressed in the current styles and was outgoing, something that belies that old librarian stereotype.

That really bothered me.  Why?

Because a stereotype, even when it involves fashion, somehow belittles and diminishes.  It detracts from the important work that librarians do. 

I wanted to look like a librarian because I WAS a librarian.  But I didn't want to perpetuate that stereotype of the homely, anti-social librarian, so I worked to change that stereotype through how I looked and how I performed my job.

People who become librarians are as diverse as any other profession.  The stereotype of the quiet, bookish woman librarian persists mostly from people who haven't set foot in a library in years. Because if they had, they would know that libraries are so much more than books, and librarians don't have time to be "bookish," because they are too busy dealing with the issues that come up in any public place and putting out the fires that are part of a busy job.

Proper?  Not sure what that means.  I know male librarians who wear kilts and play in rock bands and women librarians who are tattooed from head to toe and dance in strip clubs at night.  Well, not really, the strip club thing, but they could.

Smart.  Well, yeah.  I will go along with that one.

Glasses.  I haven't worn glasses in public for over 40 years.  Most of us have heard of contacts, OK?  We are smart people.  But what if we WANT to wear glasses, huh?  What do you think about that?  What if we think really cool glasses are fashion statements?  What about that?  Huh?

Cardigan?  Ok, but with a classy belt.

Flat, sensible shoes?  I was never good about the sensible part.

Name tag...OK, I'll give you that one.

Dress with thigh high slit?  Well, no.  But I don't think you could get away with that in a law office or bank either. Though I like the idea of Elle Magazine adding that little twist and some sex appeal to librarians, I have a feeling it's harking back to that other librarian stereotype...the pent-up sexually frustrated librarian-type who keeps all of the dirty books behind the desk and who is just waiting for a hunky guy to come along so she can doff the glasses, pull her hair out of the bun and let him ravage her on the desk.  It's a guy thing.

I don't like that stereotype either.

The truth is, libraries are dynamic places that are helping people find jobs, helping children prepare for school, helping students with their homework, providing tax assistance and English as Second Language programs...I could go on and on.

And the library staff providing those services are dynamic people who may or may not be fashionistas, but that bun-wearing old lady shushing everyone who dares breathe too heavily are few and far between.

But despite that, the stereotype persists, so I have some advice for librarians who want to smash that stereotype while maintaining a professional attitude.

If you want to be taken seriously, dress seriously.
People go to librarians for assistance and they want to know that the people who are helping them know what they are doing.  So it's probably not a good idea to wear a T-Shirt that says something like "Librarian by day, Zombie Slayer by night" or "I like BIG BOOKS and I cannot lie."  Likewise, political statements or rude sayings, such as "I'd tell you to go to hell but I work there and then I would have to see you every day" probably won't inspire confidence.  That also might get you fired.

If you want to be treated like the professional person you are, dress like a professional person.
You don't need to "Dress for Success," like we did in the 70's, but jeans, a t-shirt and sandals are too casual if you want to be treated like a professional person, especially if you are a library manager.

Keep up with trends.
If you dress with some indication you know what's in fashion, it will also indicate you are aware of what's going on in the world.  Even women of a certain age can wear a trend of some kind.  I think it's a psychological thing.  People associate looking current with being current, that you know what's going on.  And looking like you know what's going on is a must for a librarian.

As for "Looking like a librarian?"

Here's what a librarian looks like.



1970's


1980's
 (what can I say?  It was the 80's)



1990's

2000's 



Today 


I am now retired after 40 years as a librarian.  I have weathered (and tried) every fashion trend.  Even in retirement, I still try to stay current with and write about fashion, (here's my post about "Retirement Chic,"), though more and more I seem to wear my jammies until late in the day if I don't have to go out.  But that's one of the perks of retirement.

I still keep that Elle Magazine article in my office to remind myself that even in retirement, I look like a librarian.

Why?

Because I AM a librarian and this is what she looks like!



Thanks for Reading!



See you Friday 
for my review of the new movie

"Big Eyes,"


The Week in Reviews,
as well as my progress on
"My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project."

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Friday, January 9, 2015

"The Imitation Game" and The Week in Reviews

[I review the new movie "The Imitation Game," the DVDs "Good
 People" and "Snowpiercer," and the new HBO documentary "Regarding Susan Sontag," as well as the book "Mermaids in Paradise."  I also get you caught up on how I am doing with "My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project: "Lawrence of Arabia" and "Akira."] 



 
 
 
 


Mostly true story of mathematician Alan Turing who worked with the British government during WWII to break the Nazi's Enigma Code.

Alan, played wonderfully by BenedictCumberbatch, who has one of the greatest actor names ever (don't you think?), is a tortured genius.  He is socially inept, was bullied in school, is a homosexual (a criminal offense in Britain at the time), but he is brilliant.  When he begins working on the top secret mission to crack the Enigma Code, he so infuriates his commanding office (Charles Dance), that he is ignored and almost fired until he writes a letter to Winston Churchill himself and is given full reign over the project, much to his superiors' and colleagues' dismay. 

The Enigma Code is impossible for the human mind to comprehend because as soon as the code might be cracked one day, the Nazis change it another.  Each day poses a new code to crack.  So Turing comes up with the idea of a machine that can do the work for them.  His work is maddening, however, to everyone around him as he single-handedly builds "Christopher," his machine (named after his sad boyhood crush), in effect, one of the first computers as we know them today.

The story begins after the War, in 1951, with a mysterious break-in at Turing's house where nothing is taken. The investigating officer (Rory Kinnear) is intrigued by Turing and feels something is amiss and sets out to find out just who he is.  Flashbacks tell Turing's story, jumping all around from his childhood to WWII to the present creating a sort of choppy narrative. Much dramatic license was used to tell Turing's story and more could have been said about the meaning of "the imitation game," but as a film, it is sad and riveting.  Turing was as much an enigma as a man as the code he was trying to break.

Cumberbatch does as amazing piece of work here as he plays a person who takes everything everyone says literally, says what he thinks without caring for how it will be received, and basically doesn't give a damn about anything except cracking the code. Let's just say he is socially inept. That's putting it kindly. He is tortured by his homosexuality and loneliness. It's an exceptional performance that will no doubt we rewarded with an Academy Award nomination.  Keira Knightly plays Joan Clarke, one of the code breakers and Turing's intellectual equal, a single woman trying to make something of herself in a 1940's man's world.  She is good, but I don't see this performance as Academy Award material.  Other recognizable British actors abound.

Rosy the Reviewer says...The British really know how to make movies!  One of the best of the year!

 
 
 
 

***DVDS***
You Might Have Missed
(And Some You Will Be Glad You Did)




Snowpiercer (2013)
 
 

It's the future where an experiment to solve global warming has frozen the world and now the lucky few survivors (if you can call them lucky) are aboard a train that travels continuously, hoping the world will eventually thaw.

In 2014, global warming was a threat, so a chemical was sent into the sky to cool down the planet.  Oops.  It didn't work and everything froze.  Now it's 2031 and the only survivors are on a train, divided into those in the front (First Class), middle (Economy or your Middle Class) and those in the back, the "Freeloaders."  Sort of like our present economy.

 Like "The Hunger Games," the people in power are vibrantly dressed, crazy with power and with over-the-top personalities. The claustrophobic setting of an endlessly running train creates a dark tension.

Chris Evans ("CaptainAmerica") stars as Curtis, the leader of the Freeloaders, those in the back of the train, the poorest of the poor.  They are planning an uprising. They plot to take over the "sacred engine" that rules all, piloted by the mysterious "Wilfred."  They free a prisoner, Namgoong Minsoo (Kang-ho Song) who designed the security system for the train and his daughter, Yona (Ah-sung Ko), who is clairvoyant.  Both are addicted to drugs so Curtis offers them drugs to help get them up front where they can take over the engine run by the enigmatic "Wilfred."  Who is he?  Will he turn out be just a man behind a curtain, like "The Wizard of Oz?"

Ed Harris, Tilda Swinton (in garish make-up, looking terrible as usual and playing yet another weird character), John Hurt, Jamie Bell and Octavia Spencer also star. The film is directed by South Korean director Bong Joon-ho in his English language debut. 

It's an interesting premise and that is what drives the viewer until the last half hour when the film falls into melodrama and we get beaten up by the message: that for things to run properly, we must all know our place.

 
Curtis says, "You know what I hate about myself?  I know what people taste like and babies taste best."  Ew.  Where are we?  "SoylentGreen?" 

And if the 17-year-old girl and the little boy are the only survivors of the world...double ew.
 
That and some other lumps and thumps as this train goes round and round the world crop up and are nagging, such as where did all of their supplies come from if they had been on the train for 17 years?
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...but I'm a cheap date.  I actually liked this film, and you will too, if you like stylish, intelligent, though grim, scifi.
 
 


Good People (2014)
 


A young American couple, a couple of "good people," with money troubles living in London find a bag of cash in their dead tenants' apartment and decide to keep it.  But there are some bad guys out there who don't want them to have it.
 
The movie opens with the bad guys engaged in a robbery with one bad guy, Ben, killing another bad guy and running off with the money.  Next we are introduced to Tom (James Franco) and Anna (Kate Hudson), an American couple living in London who are looking for a fresh start.  They have money problems - and, hey, who wouldn't?  London is EXPENSIVE!  And right away, I go, wait a minute.  How does an American couple with money problems end up in London, the most expensive city in the world?  How did Anne get a work permit so she could work as a teacher? I couldn't stop thinking about that.
 
Anyway...
 
So when their tenant (turns out it's our bad guy, Ben, who we "met" at the beginning of the film) dies of an overdose in the apartment Tom and Anna are subletting, Tom and Anna are gobsmacked (I am really into the London thing) to find a bag containing 220,000 pounds stashed up in the ceiling, especially since Anna also wants to get fertility treatments.  It's not hard to rationalize keeping a windfall like that, even if Tom and Anna are "good people."
 
Enter John Halden (Tom Wilkinson), a police detective who suspects something's up, and those bad guys I mentioned earlier?  They also come knocking and terrorize the hell out of Tom and Anne, until they are forced to fight back. Here is the thing about English bad guys, by the way.  They are B-A-D.  Not your cultured English gents, these.  They are BADASS and scary as hell.  You watch enough British films starring "hard men," you will know what I mean.
 
Cliches abound: the father whose daughter died of a drug overdose intent on revenge on those who sold her the drugs; infighting among the bad guys; double-crossing; the terrorized becoming the terrorizers. The film reminded me of "Straw Dogs" where Dustin Hoffman and Susan George were terrorized in their home by thugs, except this one isn't as good.
 
I like James Franco here, though, in a straight role where he isn't mugging with that huge smile of his. Likewise, Kate Hudson is an appealing actress. But it's not much of a role.  I wonder when she will get her own "Private Benjamin" and really break out as an actress like her mother did.  Ironically, the screenplay was written by Kelly Masterson, the same person who wrote the screenplay for "Snowpiercer (see review above)" and one of my favorite films, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," but this one doesn't have the intensity or the depth of either of those.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...a disappointing thriller.
 
 
 



Susan Sontag was an American writer, a cultural critic, a political activist, filmmaker and feminist and this documentary reveals the woman behind the career.
 
She graduated from high school at 15, went to college and married at 17.  The marriage didn't last but it produced a son, whom she abandoned for a time to continue her studies at Harvard and Oxford.  She was a driven personality who divided her time between Paris and New York.  She was a feminist, a lesbian, a "woman of the fifties" trying to live a literary academic life.
 
Her most famous books include "On Photography," where she worried that through photography people would remember only the photograph, not the people or events, and "Illness as Metaphor," where she debunked the notion that people are somehow responsible for their own illnesses.  She put forth the idea that there is such a thing as unmerited catastrophe and you don't need to feel guilty about it. She was an intellectual, but one of the first writers to write about and defend pop culture (thank you, Susan).
 
Despite all of her acclaim and awards, she was always worried about what her younger self would think, that she hadn't accomplished enough, that she would be transient, a thing of the past.  In that, she reminded me of Sylvia Plath, but the difference between the two was Sontag's will to live.
 
Sontag fought three different bouts of cancer, each one a death sentence that she would not accept.  She said, "While I was busy zapping the world with my mind, my body fell down" and "Death is the opposite of everything."  She beat the first two, but succumbed to the third.
 
Patricia Clarkson reads from Sontag's books, and Sontag comes off as very self-centered and didactic, but perhaps that is what one needs to be to live such a life, dedicated to art and thought.
 
"My idea of a writer:  someone interested in everything."
 
Directed with sensitive skill and perception by Nancy Kates, this is an engrossing portrait of an important 20th century writer.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...If you like documentaries about interesting people, you will like this film...and you need to know who she is.


***My 1001 Movies I Must See Before I Die Project***

 


288 To Go! 

Have you seen these?



 

The epic story of T.E. Lawrence and his contribution to the Arab Revolt against the Turkish Empire during W.W. I.
 
I know...you don't have to say it. I can't believe it either, that I didn't see this film when it came out in 1962 nor since, considering it won Best Picture, David Lean won Best Director, Peter O'Toole won Best Actor and Omar Shariff won Best Supporting Actor at the Academy Awards along with a slew of other awards and that I consider myself a moodie (I made that up.  It's like a foodie except about movies.)
 
Well, folks, I was 14 and not drawn to a film that had no women in it, no cute clothes, took place in the desert, was about war and was four hours long.  I was kind of a shallow teen-ager, I guess.
 
But I can appreciate this film now, especially in light of our current relations with the Middle East and what it took to make a film like this in the early 1960's - no CGI, people!  Epic is indeed the word. Admirer Steven Spielberg estimates that if this film were made today it would cost $285 million.

Lawrence was a bit of a nutter, but his contributions to the Arab Revolt made him a media king which went to his head a bit until he was cut down to size in battle and discovered "that bloodlust has replaced honor and arrogance has replaced courage."
 
Seeing it now is interesting considering the IMDB description of Lawrence - "a flamboyant and controversial military figure," "flamboyant" being an early euphemism for "gay?"  There was speculation about Lawrence's sexuality and it appears in the film that O'Toole is playing him that way, though in 1962, heaven forbid, we would come right out and say such a thing.  But like I said, there were no women to be seen.
 
Why it's a Must See:  "One of the greatest epics of all time, Lawrence of Arabia epitomizes all that motion pictures can be.  Ambitious in every sense of the word, David Lean's Oscar-grabbing masterpiece...makes most movies pale in comparison and has served as an inspiration for countless filmmakers, most notably technical masters like George Lucas and Steven Spielberg...and fellow enthusiast Martin Scorsese."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die."
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...they don't make 'em like this anymore.  And whether or not you like the subject matter, this is one of those films you have to be able to say you have seen.
 
 
 


Akira (1988)
 
 

Hyped as the most expensive anime movie ever made, this film tells the story of a post-apocalyptic Tokyo in 2019 and Keneda, a punk biker and his friend Tetsuo, who has psychic powers.  The government finds out about Tetsuo. Worried that he will be more powerful than Akira, a now imprisoned psychic who caused Tokyo's destruction, they plot to kill him. 
 
I have never been an anime fan, but was moved by "The Grave of the Fireflies."  For me, this one doesn't even come close to that one.  This one seems to be aimed at teenaged boys.

Why it's a Must See: "Katsuhiro Otomo's animated masterpiece...is the pinnacle of Japanese apocalyptic science fiction...Otomo's genius lies in linking the apocalypse with the rage of disaffected teenagers...imagine if a teenager had telekinetic powers that increase exponentially with his emotions, and imagine that this teenager were the most angry, resentful little bastard you've ever met.  Think about that and then think about the most epic scenes of devastation you could possibly imagine and you have this film...this is adolescence causing destruction on an epic scale, drawing on memories of the atom bombs dropped on Japan...and our continuing collective fears of annihilation."
---"1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die"
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...I didn't get it, but then I'm not a disaffected teenaged boy either.
 
 
 
 
***Book of the Week***

 

Mermaids in Paradise by Lydia Millett (2014)
 
 
 
Deb and Chip are on their honeymoon in the Caribbean and while out scuba diving discover mermaids!
 
Deb is an opinionated smart-alek and Chip likes everyone.  When they meet up with scientist Nancy, they discover mermaids. But they aren't the only ones.  The resort knows the mermaids are there too and plan on starting a theme park to capitalize on them.  And then there is a murder!
 
It's time for another novel!  I am expanding my horizons this year to include more fiction but if this one is any indication of what lies ahead for me, I am not looking forward to it.
 
Not a fan of smart ass narrators and this is a flimsy story.  I am shocked that Millet has been up for a Pulitzer.  Well not for this one anyway.
 
Rosy the Reviewer says...didn't like it.  Back to some nonfiction for awhile.
 
 
 
Thanks for Reading!
 
That's it for this week!
 
See you Tuesday for
 
"Librarian Fashion"
(And, no, that's not an oxymoron)
 
 
 
 

 

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Here is a quick link to get to all of them.  Choose the film you are interested in and then scroll down the list of reviewers to find "Rosy the Reviewer."
 


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Find the page for the movie, click on "Explore More" on the right side panel and then scroll down to "External Reviews."  Look for "Rosy the Reviewer" on the list. Or if you are using a mobile device, look for "Critics Reviews." Click on that and you will find me alphabetically under "Rosy the Reviewer."