film

The Best and Worst Disney Princess Role Models

I have now seen the latest Cinderella film and have admit that I was a little bit hesitant of watching it. While I like the original, I think Cinderella is one of the more annoying of the Disney princesses. She doesn’t really have that much about her and seems to just cry and languish, while letting others deal with everything. That might have been ok in the fifties, but for more modern-day audiences, she just doesn’t have that much too her.

And don’t even get me started on her prince! He spends the night dancing with her and then apparently doesn’t remember what she looks like the next day. She was blonde – at least go with that for a start!

Thankfully the newest Cinderella manages to iron out the kinks from the animation. They give Ella more depth while still retaining the underlying fact that it is her kindness and hope that sees her through. And it’s a nice touch that she and the prince can have a conversation before the ball, making their relationship seem more believable and they initially begin to fall in love because of an intellectual attraction, as well as a physical one.

This got me thinking about the rest of the Disney princesses. While I’m a massive fan of Disney films, there a few of the princesses that are rather irritating when you think about it. Obviously, some of the problems are due to the time period they we released, when the depiction of women wasn’t quite the priority.

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                So here is my take on the best and worst Disney princess role models:-

The Best:-

Mulan – She disguises herself as a man to join the army and save her father, gets a Rocky-style montage and becomes the best soldier in the unit. Even when she gets found out (after saving everyone) she still goes on to save the whole of China.

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Merida – A Disney princess who refuses to marry and is still unmarried at the end of the film. And she’s handier with a bow and arrow than Katniss Everdeen.

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Elsa/Anna – A nice sign of Disney moving into the 21st century. We can have a queen without her having to have a king and both Elsa and Anna have a complete personality. There’s a nice inside joke that the idea of want to marry someone after only having just met them and the central love story is about sisterly love.

Jasmine – Nicely feisty and stands up for herself. And she’s more than happy to marry for love, even if he is a penniless orphan, instead of just choosing any old prince.

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The Worst:-

Aurora – Sleeping Beauty meets a stranger in the woods, doesn’t even know his name and then throws a strop when she won’t get the chance to see him when he turns up at her house, even though she’s just discovered she’s a princess. She’d rather entertain a stranger than finally get to meet her real parents after sixteen years. In the whole film, she only sings, dances, throws a hissy fit, sleeps and has awesome hair. That’s it really.

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Cinderella – Original Disney Cinderella doesn’t seem to have that much depth to her. While it follows the idea of being good and believing in magic so everything will work out ok in the end, Cinderella seems to just put up with her station in life, cries a few times, lets other people sort things out for her (a fairy godmother or pet mice) then falls in love with a man who can’t even remember what she looks like after a night of dancing with her.

Ariel – The Little Mermaid is probably one of my favourite Disney films but Ariel is a complete drip – although she is only sixteen, so maybe she can be forgiven for that. She willing trades her voice for legs, changing everything about her, all for a bloke she’s laid eyes on once and she’s supposed to rely simply on her looks to win him over. Not the greatest message for young girls.

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Obviously there’s a few more princesses who I haven’t included, mainly because I feel they’re kind of down the middle. While Rapunzel and Belle are better role models than some of the older Disney princesses, I don’t find Snow White that bad, if you take all things into consideration.

What do you think? Who would you include in the best and the worst?

Megan

xoxo

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Oscars 2015

The Awards Season is now done and dusted for another year and it’s been a great ride.

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With Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony bringing things to an end, I didn’t think I did too badly with the predictions I laid out in my previous post. I got four out of four in the acting categories (ok, so all the favourites won, which meant it wasn’t actually that difficult.) I slipped up on picking Boyhood over Birdman, but it’s not the end of the world.

What I quite enjoyed about this year’s Oscars was how political it became in places. Some of these A-Listers know the platform Oscar night gives them and used the opportunity to voice some issues that needed a voice, which I admired greatly. From Reese Witherspoon pushing along the Ask Her More campaign message to Patricia Arquette’s empowering speech, it turned out to be a night for the girls.

NPH even managed to get a joke in right at the beginning about the lack of diversity this year, which is a bit of shame considering 2014’s ceremony was a veritable smorgasbord of diversity and talent. Where 2014 had big winners in 12 Years A Slave and Dallas Buyer’s Club, which were powerful stories, highlighting important issues, I felt a little let down that Birdman was at the forefront of everything year – especially when a film like Selma was in contention as well.

So, here are my top five moments from the 2015 Oscar ceremony, in no particular order:-

  • The Opening Number

I’m a big fan of musical numbers to open Oscar ceremonies (Hugh Jackman’s in 2009 is still my favourite) and this didn’t disappoint, giving NPH a chance to do what he does best. A wonderfully written and performed song, it was the perfect homage to the history of cinema, reminding us why we love it. And Anna Kendrick’s cameo only helped make it more amazing – although I don’t think I can condone her throwing a Jimmy Choo across a stage.

  • Everything is Awesome

When The Lego Movie is involved, everything indeed is awesome. It just may have been the happiest thing I’ve ever witness and was probably worth going to the Oscars just to be able to watch it live. Or at least pick up a Lego Oscar (think Oprah loved hers!).

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  • Lady Gaga’s Performance

I’m not going to lie, I was completely blown away, and a tad surprised, the second she opened her mouth for her Sound of Music medley. I’ve got some of her songs on my iPod and know that she has a good voice, but just, wow. She definitely gave Julie Andrews a run for her money. It was truly beautiful.

  • Patricia Arquette’s Acceptance Speech

She got her thank-yous out of the way, then moved into a powerful, moving speech that felt like she was addressing the UN rather than Hollywood. Total Girl Power. And she had Meryl Streep and J-Lo fully in her corner the whole time.

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  • John Legend’s Glory Performance

Most of the Oscar top moments seem to be music based, but this Best Song nominee had a very different reaction to The Lego Movie or the opening number. Seeing the audience become so moved by a song they have tears in their eyes is wonderful. It was powerful stuff.

So those are my top five moments. A couple of notable mentions go to Eddie Redmayne’s excitable acceptance speech and Clint Eastwood not getting NPH’s Kanye West joke at all.

The Oscars may be over for another year, but that doesn’t mean we can’t get excited about next year’s already. There are some fantastic films coming out over the course of 2015 and a lot to look forward to. There’s already buzz surrounding certain films that, on-paper, seem awards worthy. Will Eddie Redmayne pick up another nomination for The Danish Girl? Can Bradley Cooper get nominated for a fourth year in a row? Will Meryl Streep be able add another award to what already must be a mansion full of statues? She’s playing Emmeline Pankhurst in a film about the suffragette movement, so they might as well just engrave her name on the Best Actress award now!

There’ll be no dress critique this section though. After saying how much I admired the #AskHerMore campaign, it seems a bit hypocritical to write about the designer dresses. I love a good couture dress as much as the next person, but when they are doing red carpet interviews, I’m equally as interested in hearing about the career and opinions of the woman being interviewed.

How did you feel about the 2015 Oscars and do you agree with my top moments?

Are there any films coming out this year you’re already excited about?

xoxo

The Bechdel Test

There’s a lot being discussed at the moment regarding the diversity, or lack thereof, in cinema these days. With the most recent Oscar nominations, there was a bit of an uproar at how it seems to be a white boys club.

Despite some amazing talent out there, women still don’t seem be able to access the same heights as their male counterparts. The highest paid actress in 2014 (Angelina Jolie at $33million) was 10th in the list if you combined males and females. While that amount of money seems very good, if you take a look at the bigger picture, you see some very big female names earning a lot less than the men.

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One of the ways of assessing how female-friendly a film is these days is by using the Bechdel Test. The criteria for it is relatively straightforward. It consists of three rules which must all be met for it to pass the test:-

  1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it…
  2. …Who talk to each other…
  3. …About something besides a man.

You’d be surprised how many films you think would fit this criteria actually don’t.

Obviously, the rules need to be taken with a pinch of salt. You need to consider the context of a film before completely judging it. If it’s a biopic based in a man’s prison, then it’s pretty good odds there won’t be a woman involved. However, if it’s a film where there are plenty of female characters milling around, but not being utilised properly and stereotyped, that’s where we’re going to hit a problem and I think it’s the issues in these sorts of films that need to be addressed.

I’ve taken a look at my own top five films to see if they would pass or fail the Bechdel Test…

  1. The Princess Bride – FAILED

There are only two named female characters in the whole film (Buttercup and Valerie) and they don’t get the chance to interact. I don’t really mind the character of Buttercup, but I do find her a little bit too helpless. And that scene with the ROUS always annoys me because she just stands there while Westley is getting attacked, when she could at least try to help.

2. Some Like it Hot – PASSED

Even if you’re not classing Tony Curtis and Jack Lemmon as women in this, it still passes the test thanks to the scenes on the train. If you are, then it passes with flying colours!

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3. Life is Beautiful – FAILED

Again, very few named female characters in this. Though the heart of the story comes from the father-son relationship and Guido trying to protect his son in the concentration camp.

4. Lord of the Rings – FAILED

It fails over all three films. Granted, they were working off the original text and Tolkien doesn’t have a great number of female characters (in The Hobbit, Peter Jackson had to create a female character since there were none included in the book). Even though it fails the test, its redeeming factor is that the few named female characters are pretty bad-ass. Case and point, Eowyn’s battle with the Witch King.

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 5. Pan’s Labyrinth – PASSED

A lot of interaction between two female characters here (mother and daughter). Plus it’s a real plus that the central protagonist, Ofelia, is a very strong character, despite being so young.

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How do your own favourite films measure up against the test?

xoxo

The SAG Awards 2015

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So the second big event in the Awards Season calendar is done and dusted. Here is my opinion on the winners and the dresses.

I like the SAG awards because it’s actors voting for their peers, which makes things a bit more interesting and there’s the chance of a few surprises creeping in every year.

Again, for the awards, I’m only covering film because I don’t watch enough TV to be able to fairly offer a view on the winners for that.

Right, first stop, the winners:-

Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture – Birdman

Birdman hasn’t been my favourite film of all the big Awards Season nominees, but the one thing that I thought when I came out of the screening was that it was a well-performed piece, so I can live with this award. Although, I would have liked to have seen The Great Budapest Hotel pick this one up.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role – Eddie Redmayne (The Theory of Everything)

Eddie FTW! Fully deserved. That is all!

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Leading Role – Julianne Moore (Still Alice)

Still Alice still hasn’t been released in the UK, so I’m reserving judgement, although I think this was to be expected. Julianne Moore is pretty much the favourite for every award going.

Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role – J.K. Simmons (Whiplash)

Caught a showing of Whiplash last night and I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed it. It was interesting and intense. Most of the intensity came from J.K. Simmons’ performance, which was just amazing. I’m still trying to work out the character and if I should hate him or not. Although when he’s throwing chairs in an attempt to decapitate a drummer, you should probably hate him.

Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role – Patricia Arquette (Boyhood)

Boyhood is the one I haven’t caught up with (it’s on my LoveFilm list, so stop judging me!). What I’ve picked up on, is that twelve years of work for Patricia Arquette is going to pay off this awards season.

Now, the second critique of the awards season is going to be the looks. I think there was some stunning dresses on this red carpet and the make-up and hair was a step up from what we saw at the Golden Globes. Although Rosamund Pike has disappointed me again. Come on Rosamund, I know you can do better than that.

In no particular order, here are my top five looks from the SAG Awards 2015.

  1. Claire Danes in Marc Jacobs

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Very few people could pull off this dress and perhaps even this colour, but she makes it work. And the hair is just stunning.

  1. Sofia Vergara in Donna Karen Atelier

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She’s just a general all-round stunner, so it would be hard to look anything except amazing, but Sofia Vergara looks fierce in red.

  1. Camilla Alves in Donna Karen Atelier

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Absolutely love this dress, probably because it’s something I like to think I could pull off but know I never could in my wildest dreams. She’s just rocking it and it helps she has a rocking body to put the dress on.

4. Keira Knightley in Erdem

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We can move on from that questionable Chanel butterfly dress at the Golden Globes. Keira Knightley looks stunning in purple and the pregnancy glow is only accentuating her beauty.

  1. Reese Witherspoon in Giorgio Armarni

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Simple yet stunning.

Next stop is the BAFTAs! See you then.

xoxo

The Golden Globes – Part 2: The Dresses

So I’m a little late in the uptake of ranking the dresses from Sunday’s Golden Globe ceremony and 48 hours is a long time in show business (I think there’s been another five awards shows since?), but I finally got around to it.

I think I was a little disappointed with the red-carpet viewing for Sunday. There didn’t seem to be the usual number of dresses that made me go “wow” and there were quite a few awful ones (Keira Knightly and Rosamund Pike – I had such high hopes. Why?). I also didn’t think there was a great amount going on with hair and make-up this year either.

The ten I’ve picked are for looks that I feel were well-rounded. The ones who got everything right. So, in no particular order…

Amy Adams

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I love Amy and think she always looks gorgeous. Dressed in Versace, she’s got everything right and ended up looking like a Greek goddess.

Anna Kendrick

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Nailed it in Monique Lhullier. She looks like a princess.

Jessica Chastain

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The first thing I saw when I saw her wearing this Atelier Versace gown was Marilyn Monroe. And if anyone oozes Hollywood glamour and sex appeal, it’s Jessica Chastain.

Salma Hayek

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I’m not going to lie, I love the dress but it’s the clutch that does it for me here. A signature Alexander McQueen clutch to match the bag.

Felicity Jones

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I think she pulls the Dior gown off well. It’s simple, yet dramatic at the same time and she’s got the hair and make-up perfect.

Helen Mirren

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She always gets it right. Dressed in Dolce and Gabbana, she proves you can have great style at any age. What’s more is, she knows how great she looks.

Kate Beckinsale

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She always looks beautiful and has hit the mark in Elie Saab. The pulled back hair just helps show off her incredibly, flawless face.

Katie Cassidy

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Ok, so the dress does look like it’s gone a few rounds with Freddy Kruger, but I like it. It’s daring and Katie is owning it, which is what makes it work. She worked to cutaway trend better than some of the others on the night.

Greer Grammer

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Pretty and feminine, it’s a lovely dress from Lorena Sarb for Miss Golden Globe. The up-do adds the perfect finishing touches, taking nothing away from the dress.

Tina Fey 

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Funny, beautiful and stylish – she can do it all. And she completely pulls the tux off.

And Awards Season Begins…

January may be one of the dreariest months, what with its bad weather and post-Christmas come-down. But there is one thing that brightens up those dark-too-early evenings for me and that is Awards Season. I love it. It combines two of my favourite things – cinema and designer dresses. When it kicks all off, I intently follow the updates – who’s nominated for what, who’s likely to win what and who wears what. BAFTA_award

With the BAFTA nominations announced yesterday and the Golden Globes ceremony tomorrow, I’m in my element. With Tina Fey and Amy Poelher hosing again this year, I’m even more excited (I’m a massive Amy fan-girl). So, until February 22nd, when the Oscars have been dished out (NPH hosting? Cue even more excitement!), I’ll be throwing my maybe-not-so-valued opinions in on the season.

To start with, I’m going to weigh in on the BAFTA noms. I think I may prefer the BAFTAs to the Oscars, mainly because they’re just so, well, British. It’s usually raining on the red carpet, Stephen Fry hosts with wonderful dry-wit and it’s never over-the-top. Plus, I’m watching it in the same time zone and every year, a small group of us order in take-away while we watch it, making an evening out of the whole thing. I can already taste my Mizu now.

But I digress. Back to my original point. My general feelings towards the nominations this year is that they are pretty spot-on. The big disappointment seems to have been a lack of interest in Mr Turner, which I’m ashamed to say, I never got around to seeing, so I can’t really offer my opinion on this. But I have seen almost all of the nominated films in the big categories, save for the ones that haven’t been released in the UK yet.

Best Actor

I have now seen all the films which these men are nominated for. I’m really glad Jake Gyllenhaal was nominated for Nightcrawler because it was a terrific, unhinged performance. Equally as glad about the recognition Ralph Fiennes nomination because that was a wonderful and surprising comedic turn.

Apparently the smart money for awards season is supposed to be on Michael Keaton for Birdman. While this was a well-delivered performance, I would much rather see either Benedict Cumberbatch or Eddie Redmayne walk away with that golden mask. Personally, I think they both have the edge – popular British actors in biopics about important, British men. I found both performances captivating and brilliant. But if I had to pick between the two, I think it should be Eddie Redmayne who wins it and he’s got a serious chance too.

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Best Actress

With this category, I’ve only seen two of the nominated actresses – Rosamund Pike in Gone Girl and Felicity Jones in The Theory of Everything (Wild is being viewed on Monday, Still Alice hasn’t been released here yet and Big Eyes was shown at our local cinema for a week and that was it!).

Between the two I actually have seen, I would be happy if either of them won. Felicity Jones delivers a beautiful and real performance whereas Rosamund Pike is completely different to anything I have seen her in before. She’s about as far away from Jane Bennett as you could possibly get. After watching Gone Girl, I walked out of the cinema thinking she deserves as many awards as she can get for that role because she was incredible. I still feel like that.

Best Film/Best British Film

The good thing about the BAFTAs is there’s two chances for some films to win an award. This really was a great year for British cinema and I think it’s going to be a tight race to call. If I was voting (which sadly I’m not, so this point is kind of mute) I’d go for The Imitation Game for Best Film then Pride for the Best British Film. They were two of the films I enjoyed most in 2014 and both of them deserve to be honoured.

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The Imitation Game was just a wonderfully well-rounded film with fantastic performances. Even though I knew what was going to happen eventually, it still didn’t stop me from getting nervous for the characters when they were trying to crack the code. Pride was equally as well-rounded and the performances equally as good. It was heart-warming and feel-good, yet still made you tense whilst watching certain scenes.

The most important aspect of these films for me though, was the fact they both portrayed people and a time in our history we should know more about. In the case of The Imitation Game, I knew of Bletchley Park and succeeding in breaking the code, but I didn’t know many of the details. Most of my World War Two knowledge is based around its origins and then the combat, rather than what was being done behind the scenes to win the war. I certainly didn’t know how abysmally Alan Turing was treated once the war was over. Pride showed me a side of Britain in the 80s I didn’t know too much about either. Not having been born until 1989, I only knew of the state of the country in the 80s from things I had read or from what people had told me. What I didn’t realised was that there was a lot of intolerance and homophobia. After all, it really wasn’t that long ago. Maybe I was just being naïve? The film itself has a very strong message which I think is important for all.

So, I’ve covered the big three categories that people have the most interest in. I could rabbit on for days if I covered all the nominees and you certainly have better things to do! But I shall be back after the Golden Globes with my thoughts and opinions on the awards and the best dresses. So, until then…

xoxo