Category Archives: movies

Crimson Peak – Movie Critique

Starring Mia Wasikowska, Tom Hiddleston & Jessica Chastain
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Rated R
Released October 16, 2015

Overall review  

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SPOILERS LIE AHEAD!!! MANY SPOILERS – ALL OF IT.

Crimson Peak virgins – stop reading if you don’t want me to ruin your October!

I don’t know if I’ve ever written a movie critique on the Thought Pantry before (all these years and not a single critique?!!) Crimson Peak was was one of my most highly anticipated films of 2015, so naturally after I watched it I wanted SO BADLY to talk about its beauties and downfalls with someone…anyone. That someone is you :) As all critiques go, the following are just the personal opinions of a Guillermo-obsessed, Hiddleston-gushing puppy-girl who has an affinity for gothic romance and horror.

I’ll highlight the major “juice” from beginning to end. I promise this next thing I’m bringing up is not a complete tangent, but did you ever watch Kill Bill 2? Remember when Elle Driver is about to buy the Hanzo sword from Budd? She asks him “How does this one compare to that? and Budd replies “If you’re gonna compare a Hanzo sword, you compare it to every other sword ever made… that wasn’t made by Hattori Hanzo.” Well, on the contrary I feel like if I ever need to compare aspects of Crimson Peak with another movie, I only dare compare it to another Guillermo film. That other film will be Pan’s Labyrinth, the best damn thing Guillermo Del Toro has EVER written & directed and hands down my favorite fantasy-horror film of all time. But anyways, back to CP…

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#1 The opening line of Crimson Peak is a ball of cheese (cause it’s cheesy and it stinks). It starts with 20-something year old writer Edith Cushing, daughter of a wealthy self-made industrialist Carter Cushing, saying something like “Ghosts are real.” I chuckled inside and reminded myself “Ang, this is a gothic romance which is bound to have a few frou-frou melodramatic lines. But just a few right? I mean, the whole movie can’t be like this…

#2 The ghosts in this film are so sweepingly conventional, bare-naked rib cage and all, that it’s terrifying. Terrifyingly bad. Edith loses her mother to an illness early in the movie and is immediately visited by her mother’s black, disfigured ghost. The upper half of Guillermo’s ghost reminded me of skeleton decoration that I saw around Value Village but worse because there’s a mist maker hidden somewhere inside ghost-mom’s ribs, blowing whisps of black…smoke?…body odor? Who knows. On the upside, when the ghost wraps its long shiny black talons over young-Edith’s shoulders, we get a glimpse of Guillermo’s genius and wonder….nay HOPE…that he will use more animatronics or complex makeup for his Crimson creatures.

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#3 I’ll tell you what Guillermo got right (one of three main things) and that’s the big C. Costumes. He hit the nail on the head with the late Victorian fashion (late 1800s). What he does best with creatures and monsters he was able to translate onto constructed fabric with big ruffled bustles (big butts yo), intricate lace, black velvet drapery, tailored jackets, BALLOONING sleeves, creepy white nightgowns, etc. The colors in the beginning of the film are bold with mustard yellow and wine red making appearances on Wasikowska and Chastain. I couldn’t stop grinning at the sight of all that satin! Crunch, crunch, swoosh. It was so rich my eyes were having digestive problems.

A lot of attention went into the difference in costumes depending on location (when they’re in the bustling city of Buffalo, the colors are warm and popping…then it sneakily transitions to blacks & blues in haunted Allerdale Hall). I loved reading Kate Hawley’s approach to the costume design:

…we go to the world of Allerdale, we take the glasses off and we see the reality of the world that they’re in…It’s sun and moon, night and day, winter and summer. Polar opposites.

…Edith takes on the gothic qualities of the house. The house really dictated how to approach the costumes, from a sculptural point of view. I didn’t want to get myself caught up in details that didn’t feel like it meant anything, like generic lace or decoration. So all the details we made came from the symbolism of the characters or the house itself. The leaves on Lucille’s dress were constructed by hand, with a single piece of cording. And for Edith, (there were) motifs of flowers, because she blooms. It was about trying to create an atmosphere.

So there’s the two leading ladies with the juxtaposition of good and evil made plainly obvious through their costumes which I didn’t even mind. Edith wearing angelic hues of ivory and yellow with (80’s permed?) feathery blonde hair, prancing around in her diaphanous mumu of a night dress. Then there’s her cold, cryptic sister-in-law, Lucille, who makes her first appearance wearing the bloodiest-red satin dress you’ve ever seen playing the piano like a mofo. Right then and there I realized that THIS dress is what Chastain was meant to wear her whole life and is probably the best thing she will ever wear in her entire movie career.

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Filming of Crimson Peak at Dundurn Castle Tuesday. Charlie Hunnam, centre, waits to walk into a scene. John Rennison The Hamilton Spectator 5/6/14

Filming of Crimson Peak at Dundurn Castle Tuesday.
Charlie Hunnam, centre, waits to walk into a scene.
John Rennison The Hamilton Spectator
5/6/14

Filming of Crimson Peak at Dundurn Castle Tuesday. Jessica Chastain waves at fans as she heads off set for a break. John Rennison The Hamilton Spectator 5/6/14

Filming of Crimson Peak at Dundurn Castle Tuesday.
Jessica Chastain waves at fans as she heads off set for a break.
John Rennison The Hamilton Spectator
5/6/14

Crimson Peak (1)

#4 Now the best thing about this entire film was (no surprise here) the breathtaking SET DESIGN. Sad to say but this really is the film’s saving grace. When Edith walks into her new home (her new husband, Thomas Sharpe’s, family estate and the craziest haunted house ride she’ll ever experience), your heart just flutters. You can almost hear your pupils dilate. Of course it makes sense since Guillermo collaborated with production designer Tom Sanders who did Dracula and Braveheart. Every square inch of this twisted black house is a vision, enough to make Edgar Allan Poe tear up. Sanders explained that “the whole house was designed and built in layers. I felt I could bring the history of the family into each layer and show how each generation changed what the previous one had done.” The interior suddenly reminded me of Harlaxton Manor from the 1999 film The Haunting, full of black darted archways (waiting to drop and impale someone), a winding stair case (where someone could easily take a tumble), occasional chairs (that I could never afford), a fireplace (that probably lights itself up every night), lots of painted portraits (all those eyes judging your every move), geometric floor tiles (don’t take a black light to it), and (no surprise here cause it’s a key ingredient to a gothic living room) a large looming portrait of Lucille and Thomas’s dead mother looking haggard and grumpy as hell next to the grand piano. Guillermo explains:

The house is really a rotting representation of the family that has inhabited it, more than a haunted house in a traditional sense. It’s like a cage, a killing jar that you use to kill insects that you kill butterflies with. That’s the house. The house basically is a sinister, sinister trap.

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Crimson Peak

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#5 Speaking of a killing jar for insects, I will now segue into Guillermo’s use (or should I say super contrived attempts) at using metaphors in this film. I get it. This is a gothic (or “goffic”as I like to say) romance and therefore unapologetically full of common rhetorical devices (no different than Jane Eyre or Rebecca). What’s it gonna be Guillermo? We’ve already got the mansion symbolizing hidden secrets from the past. The house itself is built on a bubbling red clay mine that literally BLEEDS into the snow’s surface all around the estate (kind of like a giant tampon…gross). But metaphorically speaking, this is a sinking crime scene where the red clay can symbolize the sealing, or marriage, between Edith and Thomas which was always, from the start, cursed and built on blood & deceit.

Now I don’t know about you, but I like my metaphors a little less cliche. Why not let the audience bring a little something to the table? Earlier in the movie while they’re still in Buffalo, New York, Edith and Lucille have a conversation about moths and butterflies. Edith points out a bunch of dead and dying butterflies on the ground which prompts Lucille to say “Where I live we only have black moths which are not as pretty but far tougher.” Edith asks her “What do the moths eat?” and Lucille replies “Butterflies.” Ok…so Edith is the butterfly…Lucille is the tough moth…scary mean Lucille is gonna eat Edith alive. Meh, you can do better than this Guillermo. Also his attempts at bringing up moths…lots of them…randomly throughout the house felt very unnecessary. It was like a Burton film…what the hell…just throw in another pumpkin, maybe a bat, a scarecrow.

The metaphors get a tiny better after the characters reach Allerdale when Edith comes across a yappy stray dog – a papillon – and decides to keep it. Lucille seems very displeased because it belonged to one of Thomas’s late wives (yea she murdered all of them, next!) and they apparently tried to get rid of the fluffy thing a while back. But low and behold, it’s still alive after surviving on scraps. Papillon means “butterfly” in French, so tying back to the previous metaphor, Edith and the dog are one and the same. They’re both fragile in appearance but tough cookies on the inside. I think that Guillermo wanted us so badly to view Edith as a strong female survivor rather than a mere damsel (even though the fight scene between her and Lucille at the end was laughable…I just wanted to hand Edith a pistol so we could skip the painful cat-mouse-ghost-ah! chase altogether).

#6 Speaking of the end scene, we return once again to the matter of ghosts in this film and how lamely they were constructed. Seeing Hiddleston’s emo ghost at the end, which ended up distracting Lucille long enough for Edith to bash her head in, reminded me so much of the ghosts in Dickens’ A Christmas Carol or at least all the movie versions that I’ve seen of it. Whispy, grey, and mediocre. Here’s what the ghosts in this film looked like:

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And then we remember the masterful creatures that Guillermo is capable of summoning like in Pan’s Labyrinth:

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Crimson Peak’s CGI-heavy ghosts are simply no match for Pan’s animatronics. And when Guillermo does use special effects, I prefer when he does it sparingly. When I watched Pan’s Labyrinth for the first time about 8 or 9 years ago, I was utterly blown away and left in awe; I could really feel the love that went into the (latex foam) Faun or the forever iconic saggy-skinned Pale Man (inspired by Guillermo’s own weight loss!) and have highly respected Guillermo since then.

#7 While we’re on the topic of comparing, I need to point out that Pan’s Labyrinth had the most beautiful musical score composed by Javier Navarrete which was based entirely around a haunting lullaby (nominated for an academy award) and Crimson Peak…did not. Aside from Lucille’s sporadic (albeit very talented) piano playing scenes, none of the music in this film affected me, got stuck in my head, stood out, or even tempted me to download it. Was there even a musical score? I…don’t remember.

#8 Unlike the music, Guillermo’s pick of actors was, save maybe Charlie Hunnam, golden. Chastain, Hiddleston and Wasikowska are all highly respectable in their own rights – a threesome not to be reckoned with no matter what century they’re in – which gave me every reason to think that this film was gonna be KILLER (pun intended). But that’s where the beauty ends. While I approved of the cast and got the sense that they were giving their all in this film, Chastain and Wasikowska’s performances were (whether intentional or not) flat. The script was flat. It wasn’t AS bad as the lines delivered in Star Wars Episode 2 (when Anakin tries to flirt with Padme but all I wanted to do was swallow a bunch of lit matches) but it reminded me of that. Chastain pulled off the psycho, steely cold sister-in-law from hell pretty well, but something about her delivery felt off…like watching a half-dead fish deliver lines really, really slowly (I’m not even talking about her god-awful accent). Thomas Sharpe (Hiddleston) who plays the dashing gentleman perfectly begins a relationship with Edith at an unrealistic and rushed pace; it was hard to believe that this smart, independently spirited, eff-romance-I’m-gonna-write-ghost-stories! girl really does fall for the first guy who dances the waltz with her. She also manages to ignore all the telltale signs of a messed up marriage by (ignoring? forgetting?) all the ugly red ghosts popping out of nowhere and then dismisses all the blood that she’s coughing up. Why yes I think I WILL have more unbelievably bitter tea that leaves my tongue completely numb…thank you Lucille.

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Probably the worst part of it all was learning that everyone in this film is exactly as they seem, and your suspicions turn out to be dead right about…everything. Oh, does it seem like Lucille is really into her brother because of the way she dolefully looks at him at every turn and hates his new wife? Could they be…involved?! Yes, they’re totally doing it and I’m sorry Guillermo but Game of Thrones beat you to it – incestual brother-sister relationships were so 2011. Finding out that this (and Lucille’s murderous streak, gasp!) were the major secrets and “plot twists” of the film left me feeling…hungry. Does anyone want to watch Pan’s Labyrinth with me?

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All in all, I had a love affair with the film’s set design and felt like it was visually, as someone said on Rotten Tomato, a feast for the eyes. But aside from that, the costumes, and the view of Hiddleston’s butt, I was disappointed and almost wish this was a Spanish film because at least the language barrier would’ve been a distraction from the obvious turn of events. But it’s nothing a new and exciting trailer of Star Wars can’t fix I suppose :)

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Adieu 2011

You know a new year is approaching when you walk into Barnes & Noble and half the bargain shelves are stacked with 2012 calendars featuring cats, astrology, vampires and plant life. But oh boy, what a year we have to look forward to: dragons, the presidential election, The Dark Knight Rises and The Hobbit, London Summer Olympics, the end of the world, a total solar eclipse (visible only from northern Australia and the southern Pacific Ocean), lap tops that are even MORE super-thin than they currently are…

To be honest, I’m a little sad at how much people hated 2011 and how eager they are for it to end. There were definitely some momentous and devastating events like the tsunami in Japan, the Libyan civil war, the formal declaration to end the Iraq war, severe natural disasters and ongoing terrorist attacks around the world, and the still-sagging US economy. But hey…we’re still here! We’re ALIVE and have the privilege to reminisce about 2011. Plus we don’t live in North Korea :)

(The chance of a North Korean reading this? Minimal)

So here’s to surviving 2011 and for a great 2012! *the sound of glass clinking*

As some of you already know from reading my facebook, I actually have a New Years resolution this year…and a hefty one too. My husband proposed just last week that he is going to embark on a vegetarian diet and (I never thought I’d say this) but I will too. How did a carnivorous, meat-loving gal like me come to this conclusion? It happened very gradually yet very quickly (wha?) Gradually because I’ve thought about the issue since last year but didn’t make the decision until just yesterday after watching an eye-opening video called Earthlings. This movie…will absolutely blow your mind and change your world. It sheds light on the very depressing, gruesome and real nature of pet stores, puppy mills, animal shelters, factory farms, leather and fur trades, sports and entertainment industries, and the medical and scientific fields that experiment on animals. Even though I’ve grown up on violent, gory films all my life, I couldn’t watch this entire video with eyes wide open…not without looking away every 20 seconds (but I did finish it). I held my dog the entire time as I bawled and sat on the couch in horror, watching thousands of cows, chickens, pigs, dogs, cats, foxes, sea creatures, etc. being tortured and murdered in unbelievable ways. I feel like I have to explain one particular scene that really got to me because that was the pivotal moment…it’s what made me decide “Okay, I’ve had enough of this…what can I do to help? How can I end their suffering even just a little bit?” This part might be graphic for some readers so don’t read the next two paragraphs.
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It was a scene showing the conditions that mink, fox and raccoons undergo in the leather and fur trade. Hundreds of wild fox are captured and put in wire cages so small that some experience cage madness where they continually pace in circles because they’re not used to extreme confinement. They’re left there to wither away and fester in infections until finally (if they’re not already dead) they’re strangled or bashed in the head and then skinned. But sometimes, the humans carrying it out don’t even have the decency to kill the poor creature. One particular scene showed a fox being skinned alive, kicking and squirming for its life (without any anesthetic of course) as its skin was gradually pealed off of its body. I could not believe what I was seeing. It showed the now-skinned fox tossed on the ground…experiencing so much pain that it didn’t even know what to do with itself. I’ve never seen a skinned animal alive before and I never want to again. Its eyes were wide open and you could still see the eyelashes on the poor creature as it blinked just sitting there…a red, bloody mess with no skin or fur. Unspeakable horror. I will never forget it because it looked right at me.

Of course the other sections were just as abhorrent. Pigs were boiled alive while screaming and thrashing, conscious cows had their heads chopped off, chickens were de-beaked (their beaks cut off with a metal machine) to prevent them from pecking each other, cows were de-horned with rusty pliers (blood squirting out while the cows screamed in pain, no anesthetic), etc. After finishing the film, I couldn’t help but feel disgusted with man. I know that not all farms mistreat their animals and this should NOT represent the entire meat industry. But it DOES happen and it happens to an alarming rate of animals each year. Just to be clear, I am not opposed to eating meat from animals that are raised on free-roaming farms – animals that can eat food natural to their diet before coming to a quick, painless demise. But I am entirely and utterly opposed to torturing and murdering animals even for the sake of “food.”
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SO. How does me being a vegetarian help prevent this madness?

1) By not supporting large factories (discluding local farms that actually follow regulations) I’m making a statement that says I have respect for sentient life. I don’t wish any cow, pig, chicken, whale, dolphin, etc. to suffer on my behalf. If I find a local farm that upholds these values, great! I can eat meat! But I choose to be skeptical of mass-packaged grocery meat because there’s a big chance that an animal suffered.

2) Love of animals. I’m a mother to two dogs and I can’t imagine anything like this happening to them. Their level of intelligence is NOT much different than these animals (especially pigs and dolphins) so how can I be okay with this happening to some animals and not others?

3) By going vegetarian, I save the lives of approximately 50 animals per year. This especially helps large factories because they’re already performing at max capacity (i.e. chickens can not even open their wings in their cages). Freeing up space allows animals to be more comfortable.

4) There are vegetable-based substitutes for every meat product imaginable (beans, nuts, fruits) and instead of eating a hot dog because I’m “bored”, I can now munch on a bag of trail mix and feel MUCH better conscientiously and nutritionally.

So there it is folks. My very long and emotional explanation as to why I’m going vegetarian. Sorry if this post started out all New Years Eve-y and then turned animal rightsy. Let me reiterate that I’m not against eating meat per say and I don’t hate anyone who does eat meat! This is an ethical decision I’m making for myself ;) And just so I can end on a somewhat happy note, here is a photo from thefancy.com showing Lego characters reenacting a scene from Inception. Haha, good night!

Duck, duck…more duck

So the other night I was flipping through movies on Netflix which is my go-to place after 1 am (as a side note, I’d LOVE to watch a horror movie that has more than a 1.5 star rating…that entire category is just embarrassing). Anyways, the cover of a PBS home video called “A Program About Unusual Buildings and Other Roadside Stuff” caught my attention. It was a photo of this:

It’s a building on Long Island, NY called The Big Duck and it’s one of the most irresistibly kitschy things I’ve seen. Back in the 30’s, it was used as a shop to sell ducks and duck eggs and it became a prime example of literalism in advertising.

According to Wiki, “Buildings such as this are classified as novelty architecture. However, in architecture the term ‘duck’ is used specifically to describe buildings that are in the shape of an everyday object they relate to. (It looks like) The Big Duck has influenced the world of architecture (because) any building that is shaped like its product is now called a ‘duck’.”

Pretty awesome. The movie covers other cool buildings like the Clam Box in Ipswich, the World’s Largest Catsup Bottle in Illinois, and the hot-dog-shaped Tail o’ the Pup in West Hollywood (according to the summary since I haven’t actually watched it yet). But I don’t know why that Big Duck is particularly fascinating…

Oh yeah. Cause it’s a huge friggen DUCK.

I just read on someone’s blog that after being inspired by The Big Duck, Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman created a 105-foot-tall, 85-foot-wide “Rubber Duck” for an outdoor art exhibit in France known as the Loire Estuary 2007. This duck free-floats over a 40-mile stretch of the estuary, so visitors are never quite sure where to find it at any given time. It’s hard to miss after a certain point though and “duck hunts” have become popular.

So I guess this is my new favorite art exhibit. The French have it all. Beautiful accents, giant rubber duck, Eiffel Tower, croissants…

Motivational Monday: Minimalism

Lately I’ve been really inspired by Minimalist movie posters. Posters that use just the minimal amount of shapes and color to convey memorable scenes or inside jokes from movies. Of course, you have to see the movie to understand them but when you do there’s an “Aha!” moment where it’s almost like a brain-tickle. Art has a way of playing on our memories and the visual connection can be so strong. The simpler the poster, the better.

Some of my favorites:

top 5 cartoon dads

I’m paying a late homage to Father’s Day by listing here the top 5 animated dads of all time. Now, there were a lot of other contestants like Papa Smurf, Fred Flinstone and even Bible-thumping Ned Flanders who were considered but just didn’t make the cut. But better to be on this boat than the other one – WORST DADS IN ALL OF HISTORY AND FILM! Sorry Jack Torrance, Darth Vader, Homer Simpson, Agamemnon, Victor Frankenstein and the Biblical Abraham. I realize that Father’s Day might’ve been awkward for you after you tried to axe your kid in half or just straight up abandoned him just because he was kind of ugly.

So! In no particular order…

#5 – Marlin from Finding Nemo

My heart really goes out to this dad who’s overly protective of his son for good reason (the rest of his 399 unborn children AND his wife were murdered by a Barracuda so…you can imagine). Marlin proves that he will go to any length to find his lost boy. Not only does he run into sharks, struggles with an Anglerfish in the deep sea and dodges hypnotic, zapping jellyfish…he does this all while dealing with a naïve and chatty Regal Tang with short-term memory loss. THEN he has to deal with the very likely possibility that he will be shaken to death by an overly-excited Darla and makes a traumatic escape out of the sink plug-hole (which in reality might not have worked because of the level of treatment water goes through before leading to the ocean). Wow, all this for a baby clownfish? Some dads won’t even change a diaper (cough…David Bowie…cough).

#4 – The Great Prince of the Forest from Bambi

Here’s a father who reminds me of my own – calm, very quiet and a little bit mysterious. He’s the oldest and most powerful stag in the forest and doesn’t make a real appearance until after Bambi’s mother is shot (a depressing scene we all remember too well that left us doe-eyed and maimed…pretty sure the five year old me was writhing on the floor, foaming at the mouth). There is a short scene before this where Bambi’s father arrives just in time to press Bambi and his mother out of the meadow before a hunter can shoot them (his first patriarchal performance). And even though he wasn’t really there for the first half of Bambi’s life, he was there when Bambi most needed him (telling him that “Your mother can’t be with you anymore”…a very chilling moment that gave me goosebumps as a kid). I imagine the father-son relationship must’ve been solemn but true (where they occasionally butted antlers for fun and told deer-jokes in hushed tones). At the end of the film, Faline (Bambi’s…wife?) gives birth to twin fawns, a boy and a girl. Bambi stands watch on a large hill, all proud and mighty, while the Great Prince silently turns and walks away, signaling the era of a new prince. Oh it’s all very magestic.

#3 – Popeye the Sailor Man

Here’s a fictional hero who you wouldn’t imagine as being the fatherly type, but low and behold Popeye is the foster father of Swee’Pea, an infant foundling left on his doorstep in a 1933 strip. According to Wiki: “Popeye adopts and raises (Swee’Pea) as his son, or, as he puts it “boy-kid.” Initially, Swee’Pea’s speech consisted entirely of the sound “glop”. As the years went on, Swee’Pea apparently aged enough to speak normally and could throw punches if necessary; however, his appearance remained that of a crawling baby. In the strip for August 17, 1933, Popeye christens Swee’Pea as ‘Scooner Seawell Georgia Washenting Christiffer Columbia Daniel Boom’. Although Swee’Pea remains his most common sobriquet, he is occasionally referred to as Scooner by Popeye.” To me, Popeye always seemed like the stereotypical “tough dad” with his grossly beefy forearms, anchor tattoos, mumbled speech and corncob pipe which he toots like a steamship’s whistle (so cool!) But the fact that he’s raising a kid not of his own blood makes him all the more admirable. And you know that when he feeds Swee’Pea a spoonful of spinach, it’s really coming from the heart.

#2 – Ward Cleaver from Leave it to Beaver

Okay, so he isn’t a cartoon character but he might as well be. Mr. Cleaver…you know he’s got a sense of humor for giving his son that nick name. My dad would always watch this show, every night without fail (I think he still does) and I thought the whole thing was very square at first. Set in a period where it’s perfectly normal for Ward and his wife to sleep in separate twin beds, Mr. Cleaver is a good-natured, understanding man who gives his sons moral instructions regarding their choices and behavior in pretty much every episode. Beaver always gets into some kind of a rut, whether it’s hiding a pet alligator in his room or getting a black eye and then getting lessons from his dad on how to defend himself. But now looking back, I really like Ward and June’s unruffled, pleasantly stern method of child rearing which of course reflected the whole iconic postwar American family dream (better than watching that angry mom beat her kids up in the cereal aisle eh?) Mr. Beaver always made a concerted effort to have conversations with his kids, sometimes at the dinner table or off to side, one on one. And we all know…communication is key!

#1 – MUFASA from the Lion King

This father needs no intro. He was so proud with the birth of his son that he had the entire animal kingdom bow down before him while he dangled Simba over the edge of a cliff (after the giant monkey slapped some goo on his forehead). As if to say “Look, me make baby, good work papa lion. Rawr.” And on a personal note, after seeing Mufasa I never thought Simba’s mane matched up to his father’s (it never looked as big and full…don’t you agree?) Mufasa not only teaches his son the delicate balance of all living things, talks to him about the fine line between bravery and arrogance, and warmly teaches Simba that the great kings of the past are always up in the stars, but he lays his life down for the little guy during a wildebeest stampede (does anyone see a trend in cartoon parent deaths? Mufasa, Bambi’s mom, Littlefoot’s mom…) Anyways, Mufasa is pretty much the most macho dad ever, voiced by a not-so-good dad from the space age. I find it impossible to say his name really fast without giggling like a hyena.

hootin’ holidays and the end of an era

I think one word that accurately describes 2010 is….change. There were so many new beginnings this year. Examples!

Ben and I got married on May 22 and for our honeymoon I got to walk the streets of PARIS (oui, oui!) We adopted our first two pets, Curie and Voltaire, on June 4th and September 3rd. Our first niece, Tabetha Ruth Fawson, was born early in the year in January. Thought Pantry had its genesis in April. I started sewing for the first time in July and absolutely LOVE it! My sister Taryn graduated from the College of Business at UHM in December (COB!) There are too many things to list but I think it’s safe to say that 2010 was an era of introductions, advancements, anticipation, hopefulness, blessings in disguise, love and CHEER! I have a plethora of things to be grateful for (I’m learning that “plethora” is a popular word in Utah).

And since I’m a movie buff, here’s a list of my personal favorite movies of 2010. Mehehehe.

Toy Story 3
How to Train Your Dragon
Kick Ass
Paranormal Activity 2
Shutter Island
Easy A
Creation
Inception
The Secret of Kells
The Social Network
La Vie en Rose (this is a 2007 film but I only saw it this year)
Tron

What’s the worst movie of the year, you ask? Probably Splice. Adrien Brody not at his finest :(

On a cheery note, I had a lot of fun buying Christmas gifts this month…but even more fun making them! If you enjoy crafts and wish to save a few Alexander Hamiltons, you can make these too! I got the idea from Cupcake Girls’ Etsy shop which features the most adorable Christmas owl ornaments. But I wasn’t about to pay $11 per owl…not when I could just make them myself. So over a period of 1-2 weeks, I hand-stitched 17 owl ornaments for each of my co-workers and I was kind of on an owl-high by the 15th one. Attach them to some felt stockings, weigh them down with candy and voila!

As for other stuffed animals, I learned how to make a Pointy Kitty doll (free pattern by Wee Wonderfuls) and I ended up making two so far! One for a co-worker who was leaving for bigger/better things and one for my cool & trendy sister-in-law. Here is how Hannah’s kitty turned out:

As for babies, I had so much fun making a teddy bear for my cousin Naomi and a pink rabbit for my little niece Tabby! The patterns for these animals are not hard to make at all and I find hand-stitching to be pretty therapeutic. I think turning them over and stuffing them are the trickiest parts.

And here are some holiday photos to prove how much fun we had with the fams. Three days on Oahu and three and a half days in Sandy, Utah. We went from 3 degrees (Logan) to 75 degrees (tropical island) back to 30 degrees (Sandy). Desert > Island > Desert…boo. My usually-chapped skin is mildly confused.

Curie and Voltaire got spoiled rotten with all those doggy treats and toys. Look at that squeaky blue hamburger!

As for me, I got the most DYNAMITE gift EVER from my sweet, sweet husband. Bless your heart, Mr. Watterson. All I can say is….good bye un-even stitches that take hours and hours to do. Hello luxury.

celebrity look-alikes

Last night something strange happened…

After cuddling with Curie for half an hour on the office chair, I decided to recoil from the rest of the world and embrace laziness entirely while watching Mansfield Park – a British film loosely based on Jane Austen’s novel. As the movie progressed, something started to bug me…something about the actress’s face…

Then it hit me! Frances O’Connor (who plays the female lead) looks EXACTLY like Mary-Louise Parker, the suburban, drug-dealing widow in Weeds! Look here:

Eh, eh?? :D

This uncanny resemblance made me think of all the other actors out there who have mysterious twins unbeknown to them. So of course I had no choice – I conducted a full celebrity-doppelganger chase lasting two nights which resulted in the following comparisons. Please know that I find these entirely creepy and am convinced that the Caucasian race is just as impossible to differentiate as the Asian race (or so people think):


Keira Knightly VS Natalie Portman


Katy Perry VS Zooey Deschanel


Linda Cardellini VS Ellen Page


Ryan Phillippe VS Justin Timberlake


Naomi Campbell VS Tyra Banks


Nelly Furtado VS Courtney Cox



Heath Ledger could pass as Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s older brother imo


Benecio del Toro VS Brad Pitt


Bono VS Robin Williams


Emily Osment VS Carrie Underwood


Bradley Cooper VS Ralph Fiennes (aka VOLDEMORT)


Isabelle Adjani VS Monica Bellucci (imo two of the most beautiful actresses ever to grace this earth…the 80’s and 90’s were good to them)


Chad Smith VS Will Ferrell


Jodie Foster VS Helen Hunt VS Leelee Sobieski (triple kill!)

After this search, I felt a little……empty inside. Where was MY twin? Is there a celebrity in this world who has the misfortune of resembling me? I had to do one last thing. I had to find my very OWN doppelganger. Friends, this was a hard task. You may not realize it, but we Asians do not all look alike. No, not even remotely. Lucy Liu is a beautiful woman but I do not look like her.

So I searched and searched. Googled and googled. I even went on facedouble.com for some guidance but to no avail (they tried tricking me into thinking that I looked like Maggie Q and…..Lucy Liu :( But then it occurred to me….slowly. I figured it out! You see, most Asian actresses have tiny frames with heart-shaped faces and delicate chins. Turns out Gong Li (The Emperor and the Assassin, Memoirs of a Geisha, Farewell My Concubine) actually has a round face just like mine with a more angular jaw structure. She’s of Chinese background but comes closer to looking like me than most Korean actresses. See here:

She is far too beautiful to be compared to that lowly peasant on the left, but that’s as close as it gets. If any of you find my doppelganger, please inform me immediately.