Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Some thoughts on movies, 2013

Much like I did last year, I gave myself the goal of seeing 52 movies released this year by December 31st. We've already way passed the halfway mark, and once again I am running behind. I'm in better shape than I was at this time last year, but will have to average two new movies a week for a few weeks before the year ends in order to reach my goal.

The good thing about where I am so far this year, is that I've been pretty picky about the movies I've paid to see in a theater. I haven't hated anything I shelled out my money to see. I have been to some free screenings that I'm glad were free though, because I probably would have been wanting my money back if I'd paid anything to see them. Specifically, The Internship was a very long form commercial for Google, and The Lone Ranger was kind of a mess - better than my waaaaaaaaaaaay lowered expectations, but still a mess.

It's too early to declare my favorites of the year, but I have enjoyed several of the movies I've seen so far, for different reasons. But you know what I've noticed? I don't know if age has jaded me or perhaps I've become even more observant/obsessive as I've gotten older, but it's become harder to enjoy movies unconditionally. Nearly always, there is one thing than ends up kind of bugging me while watching the movie, and that one thing often times bugs me even more after I've had time to think about it. Like the fact that in 2013, the majority of movies still fail the Bechdel test. Or that despite the changing demographics of the U.S., it still feels like most movies are still about and for young white men. I fear I may be becoming a curmudgeon!

One of my favorite movies so far this year was The Spectacular Now, which feeds into my above comment, since it is focused around a young white man. I think I really like it because it reminded me of the teen movies I loved when I actually was an adolescent. It is heartfelt and earnest but still funny and relatable. I've seen a lot of positive reviews for The Spectacular Now, and I agree that it's well acted, with great performances by the leads and a small but powerful part by Kyle Chandler, that is quite a departure from my beloved Coach Taylor from Friday Night Lights. I really liked the movie, and if I had seen it for the first time in my late teens or early 20s, I'm pretty sure it would sit right alongside Say Anything in my list of favorite teen romances - even without the strength of Peter Gabriel's In Your Eyes on the soundtrack.

But here is the thing - maybe because I am watching it with the eyes of someone who is closer in age to the parents than the kids who are the leads, maybe because I can imagine seeing this movie as a teen and loving it, maybe because I have very personal reasons for being super sensitive to the subject  - but I had a really big problem with all the drinking and driving in the movie. The lead character, Sutter, is fun and popular and outgoing - and has a flask on him at all times. There are several scenes of him spiking his big cup of soda, and drinking from said cup while driving around town. He's basically a functioning alcoholic, who happens to be senior in high school. I also wished we'd gotten more of the backstory/development of the female characters in the movie, since I found myself wanting to know more about them than about Sutter. His mother, his sister, his love interests...I would have loved a peek into their lives separate and apart from their relationship to him.

I don't want to be spoilery about what happens in the movie, (which is based on a book) because I did really like it, and I want to encourage others to see it. Particularly if you, like me, have a soft spot for John Hughes 80s teen movies, or the aforementioned Say Anything. I'm glad that the movie didn't get all after school special with an over-the-top lesson regarding drinking and driving, but I also wish it didn't make it seem like it was mostly OK either. I guess what I'm saying is - it really bugged me, but it was true to that character, and it's not like he wins a race while drunk or anything, there are some consequences to his actions. But I hope kids don't see it and start to think that driving around town while buzzed would be a fun time. But bottom line: see it, and then tell me if I'm being overly sensitive.

Thankfully fall is around the corner, and there are a ton of movies coming out in the next couple of months I want to see - some I didn't even know about until reading my Entertainment Weekly Fall Movie Preview issue this week. Like the fact that one of my favorite YA books, The Book Thief, has been made into a movie that comes out this year. Why had I not been made aware of that sooner? If it is anywhere near as powerful as the book was, I'm going to have to go into the theater with a whole box of tissues.

But you know what I feel woefully ill-informed of? Good foreign language movies to keep my eye out for. Anyone have any recommendations? I do enjoy reading my way through a movie, and I haven't in a quite awhile. I need to be prepared for awards season - so I can blab on and on about who and what got snubbed, like the movie fan/snob and curmudgeon-in-training I am. :)

Saturday, August 10, 2013

Rainbow collection

My rainbow collection of beauty is not limited to nail polish. I own A LOT of makeup, skin care, and beauty related products. Like, an embarrassingly absurd amount for someone who does not earn a living doing anything that is beauty related. I'm a VIP member of several "beauty clubs" - meaning I spend way too much of my hard-earned money at various beauty retailers.

I feel the need to disclose this, even though if you've read some of my past posts on this blog, you may already suspect I have a problem. If you're a good friend of mine reading this, you know I'm an addict, and you've probably seen me walk into a beauty supply store, beauty aisle in a drugstore, or department store beauty counter like a junkie about to get her fix.

The thing is, my collection is currently too big for my comfort, so I've put myself on a "no buy" zone from now until November. (Because I am a junkie, and the withdrawal if I don't let myself buy one holiday blockbuster set will be ugly for everyone.) This means I have pledged to just use what I currently own, buy nothing new, and hopefully use up some products, so I will have a legitimate reason to buy new ones in a few months. And if I do run out of a couple of things, it shouldn't be a real issue, since I have backups of backups and tons of alternate choices for just about everything. Now a couple of months may not seem like much to you, but please keep in mind that I'm a junkie. Rarely a month goes by without me buying a new lipstick or eyeliner or nail polish. Seriously, I think I currently own 10 different black eyeliners alone, in pencil, gel, and liquid form. (Not to mention blue, purple, green, gold, silver, grey, white, copper, bronze, brown, pewter, turquoise....and things in between.) Of the colors of the rainbow, only red isn't represented in my eyeshadow collection. And lipsticks....um, lipsticks are my biggest weakness.

This spending moratorium is going to be tough. I get emails pretty much daily with tempting offers of sales or new limited edition products that are so pretty and shiny....but I must say no! I need to stay off the smack! So in order to honor my current collection, and keep my "no buy" pledge to myself, I decided that a good way to curb temptation was to shop my own stash. It's not quite the same high, but rediscovering an old favorite may calm the withdrawal systems. Plus I might finally get around to trying the dozens and dozens of samples I've been collecting over the past year.

In the process of shopping my existing collection, I came up with a Roy G Biv rainbow selection of some favorites that maybe others might be interested in trying - and spending money instead of me, to support the industry in my stead. :)

Red - So, technically the mascara is black, but the packaging is red so go with me here. I am currently slightly obsessed with the new Mega Effects mascara from Avon. It was my last purchase before my moratorium began. The product is fine, but it's the novelty of the brush that has me playing with it all the time. Like I said, I own a lot of makeup, so getting a product that is really unique is like a super premium rush for me. It's like a new drug, if we're sticking with my junkie analogy (which we have to, because I am an addict.) So this product, with it's new design and shape completely unlike anything else on the market, had me at hello. It's taken me a couple of tries to get the hang of it - I kept ending up with mascara all over my eyelid at first. The mascara came with instructions for how to get the applicator out of its case, but not for actual application - that took some trial and error. I have to say, it's cool and different, and once you get the hang of the wand it's quite effective, but it hasn't made me want to toss my other mascaras with traditional wands. (Full disclosure: I sell Avon. I'm like, the worse salesperson on the planet though, since I talk up other brands more often than not. I think I'm really in it for the product discounts, since I am my #1 client.)

Orange - I have a real soft spot for the color orange - it's just such a happy color! I own many lipsticks, blushes, and nail polishes in shades of orange: coral, burnt sienna, salmon....it goes on. Two favorites in my collection are the Revlon Just Bitten Kissable balm stain in Rendezvous and the L'Oreal Infallible eyeshadow in Cherie Merie. I tone down the shadow a bit by pairing it with a taupe-y brown, but I find them both to be quite flattering....plus so pretty to look at. :) I've even had a couple of friends buy the balm stain after seeing me wear it - surprised at how flattering orange could be. Unfortunately, the eye shadow was limited edition this year - though it may still be available in some stores.

Yellow - I don't own a lot of beauty related products that are yellow (shocking!) but of what I do have, I'd say BY FAR my favorite is Trader Joe's Jojoba oil. It's a just an all-around solid multi-purpose product to have on hand. It is great to use as a cleanser to dissolve even waterproof makeup, it is fantastic as treatment for my dry/course hair, and it's the perfect ingredient in all kinds of DIY home beauty concoctions, like salt scrubs. It's relatively inexpensive, plus a little goes a long way - I've had the same bottle for months, and I use it pretty much daily.

Green - Green is one of my favorite colors, but it's not that heavily represented in my makeup collection, other than in my nail polishes. (But let's face it, every color in the rainbow and then some is well represented in my nail polish collection.) I do own a green eyeliner, and some green eyeshadow, but in terms of my favorite products in shades of green in my collection - they're more like beauty related products rather than makeup. First off is the oldie but goodie staple: Queen Helene's Mint Julep Masque. It's an inexpensive, effective tool in my arsenal - it can help dry out pimples, clear out blackheads - I just love it. I also love the Macadamia healing oil treatment - a lightweight but effective serum that helps tame my frizzies and soften my course hair. The packaging is green, the oil is not. Unfortunately the hair treatment is pricey - but I think I get my money's worth.

Blue - I love a pop of blue on the eye, have since high school. What can I say, I'm a product of the 80s. To keep it more subtle, I like applying blue mascara on my lower lashes (love the Sephora brand one) and some blue eyeliner on the lower lash line as well. The Sephora brand waterproof eye pencil in My Boyfriend's Jeans is my favorite - it's a beautiful bright blue that wears well, and doesn't break the bank. The CoverGirl Liquiline Blast Eyeliner in Blue Boom is quite nice as well.

Indigo - can someone please explain to me what color indigo is? Is it blue? Purple? Burple? I probably have something indigo in my collection, and I probably love it - but I just can't currently identify it.

Violet - I love love love purple eyeshadow. The thing is, I think finding a good purple shadow is one of the hardest things for a beauty junkie, because most purples will look beautiful in the pan, but then apply sheer or unevenly, and look more like your eye is bruised rather than carefully made up. Loving purple eyeshadow can be constantly disappointing. So I really value purples that deliver. My favorite is the Tarina Tarantino jewel shadow palette in Fantastical. I'm sorry it took me until the products were on sale at Sephora to try them out, because the sale meant they wouldn't be sold there anymore. It's fantastic. Also pretty great and pretty darn cheap: the Wet N Wild Color Icon palette in Petal Pusher. It lacks the beautiful violet purple shade in the TT palette that I love, but I still like it a lot. Plus, paired over the Milani Shadow Eyez shadow pencil in Royal Purple, which is superb, you can get a nice violet look that will stay put for hours.
Me, eyeing my collection. ;)
Hope this gives you some ideas for building your own rainbow collection.