Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Perfect Man is a Vampire, part 2: welcome to the Twilight hour...

Okay, so you got me, I am officially a fan.  A last minute trip to Vancouver cajoled me into buying the first Twilight book.  Thoughts of a chaotic airport, an impersonal plane ride, landing in a city shrouded with rain heavy clouds, moved me to a Twitter free mindset and set up the perfect jumping off point into the world of romantic vampire fiction.  It didn't go exactly as planned though as LAX was sold out of the damn book, but Vancouver international had five copies on a newsstand shelf, in all their cheap paperback glory, so I plunked down the $10 CAD and ended up in my parents' guest room bed (laptop next to me of course) captivated from page one (well not really page one but close enough).  That was three days ago.  Book- read.  Twice.  Movie- watched.  Once- last night- with friend who had already seen it the day before.  Fan...sigh...created.  But in giving over to Stephanie Meyer's rain soaked, angst filled world, I become what every other Twilight fan considers their right- a critic.  Such devoted fanship (and the fact that I am in the biz and have a minor in film criticism) apparently gives me the right to give Summit, Catherine Hardwicke, Karen Rosenfelt, Marty Bowen and all the other Twilight execs a few carefully considered notes, straying from the general consensus of 'stick to the bloody book!' on the next go around...so that Full Moon doesn't run the risk, well, of sucking.  

But first, before donning the jacket of movie critic/ development exec, I honestly have to admit I have not been transported back to my teenage years of boy angst- where I was desperately 'in love' with the same dark-haired chiseled rower for a year and a half- quite as vividly by any other book I have ever read.  I am suddenly, acutely reminded how I was a closet Bella, never feeling like I fit in, but unlike her, never having the strength to actually embrace my loner qualities.  Instead I just wore the same frosted pink lip gloss as every other girl (which, with my Bella-like coloring, is horrific (!) why didn't someone force a berry toned gloss into my hand?) and went out with the boys that my peers thought I should.  Maybe everyone felt that same way as the teenage years are truly a horrific right of passage, but I choose to think that my inner turmoil was special.  But what I now realize is that, during those coming of age years, we all lived for that single, glorious yet painful sensation newly born out of our hormonal change- that feeling of falling in love.  Nothing else really mattered.  Do you remember what that first experience of love (for lack of a better term as it wasn't really love) was?  I know for me I can't truly describe it but it lived in every cell of my body, colored every step I made, from what time I would show up to my locker to how high my school kilt was rolled.  That addiction to my first true crush was all consuming where my imagination would fly away to an imaginary Grad (we didn't call it prom in Canada) where he would leave his flaxen haired girlfriend and find me along the edges of the romantically lit gym (?) and without a word, just take my hand and lead me the dance floor.  So chaste yet so intense.  Eternal foreplay.  Unfortunately though, my creature of choice wasn't a pale, brooding monster who shared my intense nature, he was just an intelligent jock with a wicked smile, but the fact that he was ultimately unattainable and that I still carry those vivid battle scars in my cellular memory makes me a perfect victim for Stephanie Meyer. She, with such ease, reawakened that painfully acute feeling of having your breath taken away...and not knowing if it will ever start again.

So, that's why I (and I'm sure so many other people) love this book.  Walking into the theatre last night was a heady experience as I was acutely aware that I would probably be disappointed. Most, if not all, theatrical adaptations of a book are a let down because they never live up to expectations, if not solely because one's imagination is far more vivid and personal than a film can ever be.  But still, I was giddy with the thought of being thrust into this fictional world of Forks, Washington and seeing two very well cast actors fall in love on screen- and that they did. Catherine Hardwicke shows her true strength as an actor's director and her casting eye (with the help of the incomparable Deb Aquila and Co.) is exquisite (well except for Nikki Reed but I understand why she cast her; you have to support your small coven of in-house actors even if they are a 180 degree turn from the character in the book but sadly Nikki seemed to be aware of her mis-casting).  But what she seems to lack most is the technological expertise to make this supernatural story come to life.  

I have seen all of Ms. Hardwick's films and she has a unique skill at using the camera as an intimate tool of privacy invasion.  Good thing that Kristin Stewart and Robert Pattinson have such perfectly unlined and pore-free faces as the close-ups and tight two shots of their visages are what emotionally sold the film.  It is obvious that Kristen and Robert already have inherent chemistry and Ms. Hardwicke all but confirms that their connection off screen is as intense as it is on-screen but to give her credit, she mines their deep connection with simple, handheld skill that must have taken much restraint and faith in her performers skill and rehearsal.  It's when she gives over to the genre, to the fact that it is a supernatural fantastical story, that has much to do with both internal and external speed and movement, that the film lost me.  

What separates the 'cold ones' most from the mere mortals in this saga is their gracefulness, their sudden inhuman movements and most importantly speed, covering 30 feet in a blink of an eye, racing silently through a dense forest, driving at 120 miles an hour without a thought, hitting a baseball clear out of site; Edward out and out states it, "we like speed".  And that speed adds the much needed element of testosterone and balances out the inherent chick flick nature of this story.  Ironically though, the speed theme is further illuminated within Bella.  She may move with the grace of a newborn calf but her unique, veracious capacity to, at first 'see' Edward unlike any other of her mortal companions, and then fall dangerously in love with him is literally revealed in the book by the speed of her heartbeat.  Just as blood doesn't pump through Edward's veins and he fights his primal urge to consume 'his own version of heroin', the intensity of Bella's physical reaction to him is almost too much for her body to bare, so much so that her body constantly fails her, her heart racing at such an inhuman, unknown speed that it almost gives out.  That allegory for speed, and the visual and aural cinematic details associated with it, were no where to be seen, just as the special effects associated with the Vampire's speed and skills were actually quite unbearable.  In a day and age when the visual effects on a TV shows like 'Heroes' and more importantly 'True Blood' are sophisticated enough to suspend one's disbelief, I was sadly disappointed how often I found myself cringing during the stunt sequences because they just seemed hokey to me, for lack of a more sophisticated term. 

So, 1st note to Summit Execs- get Ms. Hardwicke a better DP and a more cohesive special effects team (I was going to say a 2nd unit director too but Patrick Loungway knows what he is doing!).  This may be a difficult request as Ms. Hardwicke has worked with her cinematographer Elliot David since making 'Thirteen' but she needs someone with more experience in the action fantasy genre if she is going to stay at the healm.  I'd offer up suggestions but I'm not a below the line agent and don't think Janusz Kaminsky would agree to do a vampire flick.  There also seems to be a hodge podge of VFX people involved, some are from Industrial Light and Magic (apparently just for the 'skin' effect of Edward) and from CIS Vancouver with VFX Supervisor credit going to Michael Fink, not associated with either company, who seems to have special skill in oceanic effects- not too helpful here- unless you count rain as oceanic.  I know it wasn't an effects heavy film, not like 'Hancock' or 'Pirates', but that doesn't give anyone an excuse to churn out sloppy and uneven visuals.  (Also, on a side note- bring in a dance coach so that the actors can really learn what graceful movement is and how to properly crouch like a vampire about to attack- I just didn't buy any of it).

2nd note to Summit and seven credited producers, insist that Ms. Hardwicke employ some additional cinematic techniques to reveal her characters' inner life.  Wouldn't it have been captivating to hear and feel Bella's heart race and breathing intensify while trying to maintain composure during her initial, confrontational yet intimate moments with Edward?  Edward, being so acutely aware of her scent and of her blood is constantly described as physically acclimating himself to her essence, by exploring her face and neck with his nose, his cheek and his lips.  Every single time he does that, her heart almost stops and she must fight to maintain composure and consciousness.  If we can hear her inner thoughts via a voice over (ugh usually hate these!) then we should be able to hear her body betray her, that's what is so fascinating about her.  And let's take it a step further and go beyond the intensity of it all.  As Sabrina Weiss on her MTV Movie Blog wisely points out, there is more to Bella and Edward than just deeply felt moments, there is a sly curiosity and a sarcastic nature to their characters' relationship that allows the rest of us mere mortals to identify with them.  I know that Ms. Hardwicke knows all this, it just has to translate on screen.

Lastly, and not previously touched upon, I am noting my strong dissappoinment with the musical score.  I was about to buy it off of iTunes prior to seeing the movie as I am a sucker for great romantic orchestration, but decided to wait...glad I did.  I don't think I have to go into the significant role that music plays in cinematic storytelling, as if a character unto it's own.  You only have to go to the Hollywood Bowl on Movie Music night to feel what the right piece of music brings to a story.  From what I heard, the orchestration was a strange melange of electric guitar riffs and mood music.  No, no, no!  You even had 'Claire De Lune' to work with and that is one of the most heartbreaking impressionist pieces ever!  (You're probably getting that I love my scores right about now- listen to 'The Mission' if you are new to this music genre).  Thank goodness in the pivotal kiss scene (though not in the book as such) there was no music.  Luckily the actors could handle creating the passion on their own and the silence only added to the intensity but you better bring on the great score next time around! 

Actually, I could also delve into my opinions on the omitted, abbreviated or 'new to the story' scenes, but most Twilight fans have already expressed their views and displeasure at the omission of the full meadow scene, the abbreviated Port Angeles attack scene and the constructed 'say it out loud: vampire' scene to add punch to Bella's realization that Edward is indeed a vamp, so I'll leave it at that and really what's the point.  A movie usually tries to adhere to a 3 act structure and those changes were deemed necessary and prudent to move the story along and close it under two hours.  I get it, I probably would have given those notes too if I had stayed on the studio path and was an executive on the project.  (But now I personally would just love to see a 6 hour epic mini-series true to the book, like Pride and Prejudice but who's going to make that in this economy?)  I have to admit that I missed having the human foil for Bella in the Lauren character but Ms. Hardwicke showed her strengths when it came to fleshing out the supporting high school characters, characters who were highly underdeveloped in the book and who sparkled in the film, even if their scenes were cut in half, due to excellent casting (Anna Kendrick, who played Jessica, is flawless in Rocket Science- see it!) and I'm thrilled they'll have the chance to play those characters again in the next film.     

The most important thing that I took away from this film, however and regardless of the sophomoric cinematic visual result and muddled attempts at staying true to the book, was a desire to see it again.  'Ack, really???' you ask.  Yes, I'm unequivocally hooked on this love story, whether on page or on celluloid.  I can't wait to pull out 'New Moon' tomorrow on the plane to New York and get lost in this world again.  I guess Edward best put it best when answering Bella's pivotal question, "how long have you been 17 for?"..."A long time".  Must say that appears to be the case for me as well.  And on that note, back to work in the real world and I'll let this vampire thing rest for a while- promise...Be back soon.

All Things T  

Monday, November 17, 2008

Slayer Central part 1: The perfect man is a vampire

I'm having problems enjoying the "Twilight" trailer.  Is that weird?  People are lining up already to see the movie on opening night and poster signings have been cancelled because of the potential for mob madness.  I think I have seen spreads of Robert Pattinson (Edward) and Kristin Stewart (Bella) in every magazine publication this month, always looking pale, disheveled and sexy; our generations (eek can I say our? maybe my younger cousin's is better) Romeo and Juliet.  What is better than young, forbidden love...especially when one of them is a vampire.  But I'm just kind of put off by the trailer.  It makes me feel unsettled.  'So what' you ask?  'Aren't you a little old for that schmaltzy fare anyway?'  Why yes, I guess...but...well no.  It actually doesn't matter what I am, when what I really am is out of the loop.  Horribly, painfully out of the loop.  I haven't read the books.  I don't know the world and haven't been swept off my feet by Edward yet and that just makes me upset!  And even worse, everywhere on the web that I turn, I see a reminder of my neglect. 'Why does this upset you', you ask?  (starting to worry a little bit about my sanity no doubt). Well, because I am a normal girl (on the exterior at least), with a semi-normal life, who just loves, loves loves her vampires.

Wow- TMI you say!  All my budding credibility as a creative voice just vanished, like a vamp in direct sunlight.  But alas, it's true, I am addicted to the vampire genre and I have been for a long time.  But I had a brilliant idea today (which hopefully will be fleshed out as a new project, sooner rather than later) that made me really look at my fondness for the fare.   And I think I might have discovered the root of it all: It's really, actually, a very simple thought.  The romantic desire for the perfectly flawed man: the male vampire hero.  Think about it...I'll let the thought stew for a minute and reminisce before returning to it.  But just so you know, I'd like to figure out (at least so this piece has a function and isn't completely reflective) a) What does he (it) represent and b) what role does he (it) play in our generation's narrative. (I add 'it' because technically 'he' is not alive of course). 

When I was a child, I had an extremely over active imagination and would have an impossible time trying to fall asleep.  My parents would turn out the light and I would suddenly be plunged into a terrifying, paralyzing darkness where I would tug the sheets above my head, shielding the opening with an army of stuffed animals, and basically mummifying my body (perhaps that explains it all- I was oxygen deprived as a child) so that nothing from the world of the unknown could get at me.  My most vivid fear, besides the clown in the closet from 'Poltergeist' and the worm/parasite thing in the ear from the second 'Star Trek' movie, was of vampires.  My third eye would rise from under the sheets and watch in horror as an evil, wraith of a non-human would glide towards my bed, looking to feed.  I would hold my breath and lie so still so that it would think I was already dead (again the lack of oxygen thing).  It was awful.  But I honestly can't remember where I derived that fear from (and I've wracked my brain on that one) as I was under strict lock down from the parentals when it came to watching horror movies (though obviously I was able to sneak in a few of them) as they had an early inkling that my imagination wasn't exploring worlds of rainbows and unicorns (though "The Last Unicorn" was the best movie!!).  

So how did I go from such paralyzing fear to such unadulterated fanship?  I think I made the transition to tweenhood (I hate the word puberty so couldn't use it in a non-parenthesized sentence) and started liking boys.  I started watching the Canadian TV series "Forever Knight" and seeing the movie "Lost Boys".  Suddenly, vampires were sexy, forbidden, and the cool kids, or they were saving damsels in distress from evil mob bosses.  Did you ever watch "Forever Knight"?  It was a fantastic show that starred Geraint Wyn Davies (born in the same Welsh town as Catherine Zeta Jones btw) as police detective, Nick Knight, an 800 year old vampire.  I didn't quite know at the time why I was so drawn to this show as I was supposed to be watching '90210' and 'Melrose Place', but something about the flashbacks to Nick's adventures in 15th Century Italy, the forbidden budding romance between him and the mortal doctor trying to reverse his 'condition' and his explosions of vampire power during the pinnacle fight scenes where he was saving the day (or night as it had to be) were intoxicating.  He was such a flawed yet engaging hero.  Now that I think about it, it's so obvious.  Two of my favorite TV vampire characters, Mick from 'Moonlight' (passionate fan base) and Angel from, well if you don't know who he is then you probably aren't still reading this post, are just reincarnations of the same character.  They are both private investigators, love a mortal, ass kicking girl, can't act on their feelings, but swoop in and save the day- fangs bared- before retreating back into their solitary, loner world (after giving their love a longing glance).  Yumm!  No need for "Days of Our Lives" here!  I just dig a misunderstood loner who is all sensitive to women's needs as he's been around the block for 600 years and has finally learned from all his mistakes.   So with that thought, throw in Bill from "True Blood", and Louis from "IWTV".  Lots of members of the romantic vampires club.   And not only are they reluctant heroes, but these vamps declare their vulnerabilities and must embrace them- no sunlight for them and don't pass the holy water.   They want to return to the land of the living and give up immortality for their fair haired maiden, but when things get tough, that sentimentality goes straight out the window and mr. bad ass comes out swinging- inhuman strength, speed and stylish mayham on a plate- saving the day in the process.  

OK, now I'm becoming a little self conscious about what I'm writing as it just seems like I've dropped myself into the crazy world usually populated by comic con attendees, airport romance novel fans and those who will indeed stand in line for 5 days in advance of the Twilight release (because I am very different from them, please believe me).  But, my basic discovery serves a point.  The vampire is our generations Mr. Darcy.  Jane Austen had to illuminate Mr. Darcy's dark side by throwing him into fits of...silence.  Silence?  Well, rudeness too, he would be abrupt and rude to Lizzie as he didn't want to show his true feelings for her.  And he was unattainable because he was rich and wasn't supposed to marry beneath his class.  Well, OK. Those reactions to puppy love aren't too exciting in the 21st century and class boundaries don't really hold up anymore, but ancient gypsy curses and the need to feed on human blood certainly do!  Vampires are just a big old manifestation of our need for romance.  Of the unattainable kind.  

I'm going to end this post on that note, but also note that there are lots of vampire movies and shows that I'd love to explore from a digital blogger and writer's perspective (let me know if you have any requests).  I may even go see 'Twilight' and write about it, even if I haven't read the books.  Be back soon.

All Things T

Friday, November 14, 2008

When Nature (and Technology) Attacks...

I keep thinking that I should be writing about the new "Quantum of Solace" Bond pic or trying to explore the realm of WoW (and what the hell is the Lich King??!), even comment on my wacky, pathetic (me not the evening) bowling adventures, anything funny, sci-fi, and/or entertainment related because that's what will entertain...but no...the world dictates a new level of seriousness.  In all seriousness.  There is a big fire going on in Montecito as we speak. The Tea Fire.  That's right, another piece of bad news (though this time it doesn't include the words 'tough' or 'economic').  It has been raging since 6pm last night and I am still confused how I didn't hear about it until this morning (I guess I was off the grid or did no one on twitter care?), no less in an email from my dad, who lives in Vancouver, but understandably in the 'know' as one of our best family friends live in a beautiful house now threatened by fire.  There have been countless devastating fires in California over the past year and a half, it seems like a never ending cycle: Malibu, Canyon Country, San Diego, even a small one beside the Getty and the 405!  I've always been transfixed by the images of the monstrous, angry flames consuming everything in it's path, switching between channels to find out more.  But I now realize how the impact of such an uncontrollable, devastating attack of nature doesn't truly hit you until it touches you or someone close to you.   

It's interesting how we as human beings deal with tragedy.  We seem to protect ourselves from feeling too much by subconsciously filtering the devastating visuals.  We stare at the screen and shake our heads and then we reassure ourselves that we do care by making broad comments like, 'how horrible', 'so sad', 'those poor people', but that's the extent of it. Most of us don't pick up the phone to the local Red Cross and find out how we can help.  Think of all the tough news stories we are exposed to on a daily basis, especially when delivered by those CNN/ AP reporters entrenched in war zones.  If we truly comprehended what they were witnessing, what was truly transpiring, I don't think that we could take it.  So our brains filter...unless it becomes personal.  

Our house in Sun Valley was threatened by a huge fire last summer.  I had been there only the week before and receive a Sunday night message from my mother semi-calmly telling me that we might lose the house.  'The house' is my where I was married, where I spend my family vacations, where I am most happy just curled up on the coach with my golden retrievers.  When I allowed myself the silence to process that 'maybe', my eyes suddenly welled up, my throat tightened and my face became hot, ie. a flood of tears was moments away if I let myself go there.  But I didn't, I mean it's only a house, I told myself.  We have insurance, everything can be replaced, everything will be fine.  But you suddenly realize what it feels like to be held hostage by the direction and force of a gust of wind, by nature.  It feels pretty crazy.  And that's, I believe, what the news media needs us to feel so we stay engaged.  They need to make it personal so we keep watching.  KTLA just did that by having their CyberGuy ask viewers to follow him on twitter and send him personal stories if they are currently affected by the fire. Wow- someone promoting twitter on a mainstream news program as a tool to gather stories, a tool to make things personal- albeit in 140 characters or less.  So, because I watch KTLA every morning and like most of the tech stories Kurt does, I started following him, and a few hours later my email alerted me that he was following me.  My initial instinct was to find out if my family friends wanted to share their story about the Tea Fire but then I quickly chastised myself.  It's personal, and it should stay that way.   

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Window Shopping in Changing Times...

I find myself admitting to my addictions on this blog. As my very tolerant husband will attest to, I am addicted to online shopping, albeit the window kind. He'll peak over my shoulder and sigh "shopping again??'' to which I'll reply "nooo!! I'm just browsing!!". It's one of my favorite things to do, laptop on, well, my lap, in front of the TV while watching "Fringe"; "Fringe" Josh Jackson and cool old guy with perfect comedic timing meet fringe suede hobo bag on Shopbop.com.  I find it strange that I'm still so enamored with fashion, especially as I live in LA (jeans and tank tops in summer, jeans and other tops in the 2 non-summer months). I'm not socialite or a movie star so 'events' aren't often on my iCalendar. But I have loved fashion since I first bought a 400 page Italian Vogue when I was on a family trip to Europe at age ten. I lugged the massive magazine home, pilfering through the pages saturated with images of Linda Evangelista and Christy Turlington draped in Versace (Gianni not Donatella). I found myself responsible for all Christmas shopping for both parents on behalf of both parents and handled myself very nicely at a Chanel boutique, aged fourteen, choosing a purse for my mom's 40th from a very condescending saleswench.  I continue to assist my mom and her check book by helping her plan and pack for various trips and stopping her from making any expensive 'trend based' purchases that the Holt Renfrew salesladies try to push (they generally cringe when they see me) but also fawning over that perfect ivory Fendi coat that I swear she would wear for ten years. I'm not saying I shop personally, well not like I'd like to (mostly due to the choice of career and my talent for doing work that I don't get paid for) but I have to admit- I'm addicted to fashion and the web only feeds my addiction.

November 2008 is not a good time to admit this 'problem'. It's almost taboo to admit that you went shopping and are really in to fashion, especially when the average cost of the seven dresses Jennifer Connelly wears in the new Marie Claire spread is $3100 (not counting the random $100 H&M dress).  Who would dare admit that spending that sort of money on one black dress in this economy is OK so how can we support the inflated industry!?  And anyway, aren't I supposed to be a sci-fi geek? Since embracing the true geek that I am, I've started to worry (regardless of the tough economic times) that my 'passion for fashion' isn't dissipating and being replaced by a World of Warcraft account. I keep thinking that to be truly geek worthy I have to give up my fashion blogs for comics. But I just haven't had the time (I mean with all my online 'browsing' and all) and maybe I don't want to. Fixating on a cluster of magazine tear-outs illuminating the perfect way to mix a vintage floral dress with a rockstar studded belt is heaven to me! It's something about the visuals and the balance of sillouette and style. I know that I should be hooking up the PS3 and checking out the demos but I just haven't gotten there yet. I have lookbooks to create! Maybe I can be the love child of Felicia Day and Julia Allison. They're both web goddesses who are creative, successful and entrepreneurial in spirit but for very different things. I just don't want to lose my geek cred when someone finds out that I went through the entire Paris Fashion Week slide show on the NYTimes site.

Maybe though, I should focus on how my love of fashion (is there another word I can use? I mean 'clothes' sounds so pedestrian) can function in this new world. In today's climate of economic worries, I'm bombarded with emails announcing sales and special offers codes for free shipping and 30% off. A recent Friday trip to Saks (just to pick up my visiting brother's girlfriend, not to shop) yielded a ghostly scene with pre-sale tags on almost everything and desperate salespeople clinging on to the few of us actually in the store. Shopping is just viewed as a heinous thing right now and people are raising their crucifixes at the site of a couture window display! Lord forbid we covet frivolous items like a new Balenciaga bag? I mean people are losing their jobs, so buy the damn bag at Target! But I digress (mostly because I love my B Bag, it makes me happy). The new trends are not about fashion but about simplifying one's life and not over consuming. Actually, people aren't consuming at all. I just got a newsfeed from, yes, a fashion blog (www.fashionista.com) with disconcerting news that General Growth Properties, the second largest mall operator in the country, may have to file for bankruptcy. No growth there- no one is shopping.

So we're at a cross roads: Over-consumption and the encouragement of it were (and yes I meant it in the past tense) integral parts of our way of life and in part responsible for the growth of our economy (and our massive trade deficit) as well as the ultimate downturn of it. $1100 Louboutin booties and $2400 Chanel 2.55 bags, as ridiculous as they sound, were a result of economics- the market could bear it. A sense of entitlement permeated our society where sophomores in high school thought it only reasonable that they should have Marc by Marc Jacobs book totes and all of us adults thought it our right to qualify for $700,000 mortgages. Magazines promoted the 'have it all' lifestyle through their 24/7 coverage of celebrities ('they're just like us!') and people forked over the plastic, confident that their home value had appreciated another 10% just in the time that they had been out at Whole Foods. Now that we are all in recession shell shock, we are compounding the problem by becoming vigilant commerce isolationists. Everyone is cutting back, even the few that don't need to, because it's what the media is now telling us to do. I fear it may take a few years and countless business casualties for us to peak our heads into the consumer world again without shame.

People in retail talk about survival of the fittest, both referring to stores and brands. There was exponential growth in the fashion world- at least 25 different denim lines are selling (or trying to sell) with price points in the $200's. Remember when se7en jeans first came out and they were $130? It was scandalous. And it was only 10 years ago. Now look what we're accustomed too.

Taking all this into account, I was just thinking about the perfect fashion filled day for me: first, I would be home (and not just because I don't want to be pelted with eggs). After an attempt at elliptical exercise, I would catch up on my DVR'd 'Lipstick Jungle' (I know, it's one of the four non sci-fi shows I watch, but it actually kinda is sci-fi when you think of it because those women can't exist in the real world). Then I would go through all my magazines- I have a two foot pile of Vogues, Luckys, Marie Claires and Harper's Bazaars (don't get me started on my decorating mag collection, that's for another day) that are (neatly) piled throughout my living room and office. I would then tear out and arrange the dog eared pages -which means that there is a 'look' that I like- into a Look Book (somehow, I'd have a nifty binder with countless clear sleeves at my disposal that I would use to organize the tear-outs into a cohesive bible of fashion storytelling). And then I would go through my closet and snap pictures of potential outfits inspired by those pages and upload them to my iPhoto, much like like Alicia Silverstone did in 'Clueless' (hello! almost a perfect movie so don't make fun of me). Finally, after re-organizing my closet, I would curl up on my very comfy couch with some form of nourishment and watch the entire 7th Season of 'Buffy' on DVD, periodically thinking about all the non-events that I would be able to showcase my outfits at. My laptop would probably be really close by too, just in case I needed to browse. That would be a perfect day without spending a dime. But that won't satiate my addiction forever and if we all zap ourselves every time we approach the Beverly Center, it may not be there when we're finally ready to return. But maybe that's a good thing. Hmmmmm. I just have a feeling that I'll still find my way to whatever fashion URLS are left when the dust settles. And hopefully the market will be a little more rational in what products and prices it chooses to bear. Until then use the code EARLYGIFT at Shopbop to get 30% off any and every full priced item until midnight tonight!  OK, "Hi, my name is T and I'm a online fashion addict...""Hi T..." Be back soon.

All Things T

Monday, November 10, 2008

It's a Bird! It's An Invisible Plane! It's...wait, you can't see an invisible plane...

Some exciting news this morning on a favorite topic of mine (well the news itself is not really exciting but the fact that there is news is exciting) WONDER WOMAN.  According to IESB.net, McG's name is circulating the halls of Warner Bros. as a possible director, and the trades are already talking about Beyonce's recent push to be the Amazon Princess (and WW fans backlash against her and an internet push for Megan Fox to take the role).  OK-cool I guess- but Wonder Woman you ask?  Why would that be of special interest to you?  Well, let me tell you:

The first time I moved to LA the spring semester of my junior year, a 'fabulous' hair stylist at some chain salon at the now remodeled Santa Monica Mall told me that I looked like Linda Carter.  'Eww', I thought- 'she's old'.  But it was the first time I had ever been told that I looked like someone famous and in LA none the less so I strutted out into the Santa Monica sun with a fresh cut and a killer smile on my face.  Fast forward to actually living in LA, working in the Biz and living for 'Buffy' Tuesdays.  I was obsessed with my flawed, vampire killing heroine and her Scooby gang - and who was the magician behind this fantastical world?  Yup, a Joss devotee was born.  Fast forward to a few years ago, zoom in on me finally pursuing my acting dreams and hearing a lot of 'wow, you look like a young Linda Carter, you should be the next Wonder Woman' from a handful of camera operators and casting directors.  Not that I booked most of these jobs but at least this time it was a 'young' version. Stop the tape now to just over a year ago, well for this story's sake, and I had just left my day job as my commercial work was hopping, and TV stardom seemed just over the horizon, and I read that Joss Whedon was working on the feature adaptation of Wonder Woman.  Freeze frame!  My favorite TV show creator and the character that I supposedly was genetically destined to play were already playing house?  I must get to Joss!  I must make him see that I am the next Princess Diana!!  So I wrote an eloquent but long winded letter (me- long winded?!) and went about trying to put together an audition tape- I rented old episodes (I was always more of a Bionic Woman fan when I was young), tried to nab the script from industry friends but long story short, before I got anything done, Joss' script was dead in the water and he was off the film.  I was crushed. I'm going to save what actually came out of that moment for a different post, as it's pretty weighty and basically explains how I am where I am today with 'After Judgment' and some other exciting projects, but it got me looking at the reasons why it died and the actual plausibility of a Wonder Woman movie.  

FEMALE SUPER HERO MOVIES- have any succeeded?  Barely any have actually been made except for 'Electra' and 'Catwoman' (careful what you shoot in Vancouver- and I can say that because I'm from there) and they were based on secondary characters road tested in previous male-centric comic book movies.  There have been what, five Superman movies and six Batman movies, but the third member of the supposed 'Trinity of DC Comic Characters' has only three seasons of a kitschy 70's TV show to show for?  I'm pretty sure that you are already thinking, 'the invisible plane!, the lasso, the outfit!' how can you adapt those lame elements for modern day audiences but still stay true to the original comic?  Well, that's the question then isn't it and that's perhaps why Joss' script ultimately didn't get off the ground.  People are scared to deviate from the original comic and if they do, how then do they establish a newly defined world in a mere 120 minutes.  You don't.  You can't, unless there are guaranteed two sequels so the mythology can be introduced and in this economy nothing is a guarantee.  In my humble opinion, Wonder Woman might not be destined for the big screen.  But is there a future for in on TV?

Think of all the successful female led TV shows in recent years:  My favorite, 'Buffy', 'Alias', 'Xena: Warrior Princess', 'Sarah Connor Chronicles', 'Dark Angel' and even 'True Blood' if you consider Anna Paquin the lead.  Only 'Bionic Woman' has failed in recent years and I'll chock that up to mis-casting amongst other issues.  Viewers have an easier time connecting with a female lead and seem to create a deeper para-social bond with the character through a longer story-telling process.  Call it the gestation effect.  In my opinion, it's just as powerful to watch Sarah Connor wield massive firepower with a steely glint in her eye as it is to see her walk away from her boyfriend in order to save him.  I loved watching Buffy kick Spike's ass as much as I loved seeing her (literally) fall for him.  Maybe i really am just a chick and need a dose of soap opera in my action but I really do think female action heroes are much more fascinating to follow for the long haul because they are just so, well alive- life and death, love and hate, good and evil- those stories can all live through a female character.  Well, at least these days.          

Wonder Woman was created in 1941 when the word woman meant something very different than it does now. Because of WWII, the world was thrust into a battle of good vs. evil and a fight that only men took up.  That's why Wonder Woman was truly 'a wonder' because Princess Diana of the Amazon Warriors took up a fight against the worst evil that the world had ever seen, the Nazis, and a fight that only men had previously fought.  And as I just touched upon, female (for lack of a better term) bad-asses are pretty much the norm in entertainment today. And we are all wonder women when you look back and see how far we have come since 1941, no superpowers needed.  Thus, in some small way, perhaps this raven- haired comic character helped lay the feminist foundation and usher us along the road to equality and power.

So maybe Wonder Woman has already played her part in our generation's narrative.  Maybe she paved the way for the great female TV characters that we now call our heroes and that is enough?  I'm not saying that there is no future for the Amazon Princess in 'Entertainment' but I don't think that the Hollywood movie machine can make her work in the now, especially with Beyonce wearing the boots and McG wanting to pull the strings (honestly it just makes me nauseous to think about it).  We need the next evolution of woman.  And I personally think that Marston's original character can possibly be the jumping off platform for a new character, but that's it, and you've got to jump (and in some editions WW can fly so that's totally doable).   I think the ties to Greek mythology should still be embraced, especially in a TV watching world recently reintroduced to the multi-deity realm through BSG, as it is a vast resource of story opportunities.  The new 'wondrous' heroine has to be of this time and discover her 'wonder' in the present world so she can save the world of the future.  Maybe these fictional heroines already exist on TV right now so we're cool...or maybe there's room for one more.  Just don't make a movie Warner Bros./ Joel Silver- well unless you're willing to bring Joss back in and let him call the shots- then we can talk.  And since I cut my hair- I've taken myself out of the race so no pressure on that.  Be back soon.

All Things T

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Following the Bird to where it takes me...aka A Balance

Too much to do today with creative work, paid work (sadly very un-creative) and prepping the house and the schedule for my brother (yes the ex-Lehman brother) and his girlfriend's visit to LA but I still wanted to post a few thoughts, actually maybe just simple observations on the digital world and it's ability to foster creativity and change (yay! Obama!!!!).  I'm a huge twitter fan.  It is quickly ensconcing facebook for me (barely any of my 250 odd friends post updates or articles, and the 20 people that do, most of whom I don't know all that well, blanket my newsfeed with political articles day in and day out.  I'm getting tired of it as I'm sure they are tiring of me and my After Judgment plugs!)  Twitter is a new discovery for me, a world I peaked into because of 'After Judgment' and my efforts to spread the word about the show through a new social networking platform.  I definitely had a few weeks of 'huh?' 'who do I follow?' 'will they think I'm stalking them?', 'why are YOU following me strange person from Virginia?', but now I happily venture down the 'twitter hole' and land in new fantastical worlds everyday- so many new people with so many new ideas. This exposure to a new world (no not a brave new world, no soma needed here) is ironic as I have entered a certain point in my life where my group of core friends has pretty much solidified.  I am privileged to have amazing people in my life, both here in LA and in Vancouver, but even though life brings changes, like a new baby or a new job (or loss of one), the true dynamics of the group has almost stopped evolving.  Being a bit of a gypsy myself, I look to move, to change, start afresh, have a new adventure, but I'm a married grown-up now and that sh*t doesn't fly!  I can't very well just pick up and head to San Francisco and intern at Revision 3 because I dig(g) the Totally Rad Show or move to Silver Lake because I want to surround myself with cool artistic types.  Just not an option anymore- not that it ever really was because I had my Hollywood blinders on right after college.  But I have the option to check out new worlds everyday and have my creative brain be shocked into overload because of the sites and sounds (yes a pun on words) that I have stumbled upon.  Maybe this is what porn is for guys?  A forbidden but accessible fantasy life?  You don't have to answer that...but I do feel 'alive' from my digital interactions.  I had a really crazy brilliant idea this morning on how to get a long gestating script idea out there and develop it on the web- it's so thrilling to me to suddenly have this breakthrough and I can't wait to start working on it.  All of two months ago I would have thought that the only way for my story to find an audience would be through the long, drawn out, painful (yet lucrative! don't get me wrong) and probably doomed to ever get greenlit because I'm not J.J. Abrams process that Hollywood offers us writer/ creators.  Network TV would be a nice end game but the growing connectivity of the web and its followers is a game changer.  Hopefully I'll be able to prove that.  Oops- been writing longer than I meant to.  I promise to write more fun and fluffy pieces about style and travel and movies on the web in the future but for now I am happy to write about a lovely balance that I have obtained in my life- full of stability, friendship and inspiration.  w00t!  Be back soon.

All Things T 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

It's Election Day...and I can't vote!

This whole 'being able to write something when the inspiration strikes you' thing is really cool, why didn't I do this blog thing before?  So it's Election Day and as the title indicates, I can't vote.  Yuppers, I'm Canadian, and though I'm blessed by I.C.E. (don't mess with them) with my 10 year permanent residency status (ie. the Green Card and no it isn't green, it's ivory) I have yet to obtain my US citizenship.  So I watch today from the sidelines and what colorful (albeit colorfully divided) sidelines they are.  Two interesting things to point out about myself:  1) I am an actor and as most are, very liberal in my beliefs, 2) I am married to a Republican.  Cue the uncomfortable silence.  Living in LA and taking into account the first point, I am surrounded, no swarmed, with loyal and fervent Obama supporters.  But what I am also surrounded by are fervent Republican haters.  And when I say haters, I mean haters.  Just saw a status update on my Facebook page of someone 'warning Ohio and Florida not to f*ck up the country again'.  Really?  Is that the most constructive and inspiring thing you can write on Election Day?  I am proud to have my liberal views and believe that an Obama led country will offer us our best chance at a bright future, but does that mean that I don't listen to my husband's point of views? Do I paint him as a villain because he is a fiscal conservative and has, let's say, less liberal social views than I do?  We'll kind of, but it's his right to have these views and even though I will continue to argue and even plead with him to see issues through my blue tinted glasses, if he doesn't, that is his choice and right.  So vote your heart, support equality (No on 8!!) and don't hinder the process by being spiteful- that goes for both sides of the bleachers.  Be back soon.

All Things T

Monday, November 3, 2008

Well this is a little unnerving, my first ever blog post.  I guess I will just dive right in as this is more of an introductory, hi, how are you, my name is Taryn, hope you find what I write to be interesting and entertaining but if not please don't add a rude comment as I get enough rejection already being an actress, post anyway.  I actually have to give credit to my brother for motivating me to start this blog.  I know in my 'about me' column I credit all the blogs and vlogs that I've come across because of 'After Judgment' for the inspiration but it was my brother, his newsletter and his lack of a blog that really put the fire in me.  

My brother Tim sends out an email newsletter every morning called 'Confessions of a Lehman Trader:'.  You see he happened to leave his fast paced Wall Street life and ultimately move back to Vancouver on the very day that Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy.  Pretty crazy I know.  So now that he is back in our hometown and weighing his many options, he started writing.  Now I haven't read something of his since high school when my mom would make me look over one of his papers as I was his super smart sister who went to Duke.  Sorry Tim, but those papers weren't very good.  So when I heard that he would be writing a daily newsletter on investing, regardless of how successful he had been at Lehman's on his trading desk or the 4 years he spent at Tufts, I freaked! (in a big sister protective type of way).  What if they were poorly written and were non-sensical?  I feared that his reputation would be sullied before be even launched his financial career in Vancouver.  I held my breath and waited for the 'ting' of my inbox.  How proud I am to now say how wrong I was!  Every morning at around 6am, I receive a well-crafted, engaging and insightful commentary on the world of investing and finance.  And I understand about 20% of it.  But that's OK (well not really as I was an economics major) as I can at least understand the thesis of his piece and gleam a bit more information on what a positions trader at an investment bank actually does.  Why is his newsletter so great in my opinion?  Because he writes what he knows (which is apparently a lot) and he is incredibly passionate about it.  I can only imagine the valuable insights that a junior trader could take away from reading Tim's well-articulated thoughts.  (Just like the amazing ideas I gathered from watching the PRNews Webinar that Brian Solis and Publicity Hound hosted last week on using Online PR to grown your business- I was like a kid in a candy store.)  What is wrong about his newsletter?  Not enough people have the chance to read it!  He doesn't post it anywhere on the web!  The more I think about it from an outreach perspective the more I lose my marbles!  But I will work to change that...his lack of blog that is, not my marbles.

So how does this boomerang back to me?  Well, there are a lot of things that I am passionate about and a lot of things that I consider myself knowledgeable on, they just don't all reside under the same roof.  I have never had the opportunity to merge all the sub sects of my creative work and interests in my life onto one cohesive platform, from my audition tales and acting adventures, to my continuing attempts to write a mythic TV series, to my love for travel and art, to discovering new ideas in media and technology, to my dabblings in the fashion world, and to my musings on life in general, but maybe through this blog I can.  I warn you- I'm a Gemini- so I never know what story or thought will tickle my fancy.  I love to discover and learn new things, call me an aspiring Renaissance woman, and when I discover something new and fantastic I love to share (but don't ask to borrow my clothes I'm very particular about that). So I guess we'll see where this blog takes me!  Lots of exciting (and challenging) things happening in the world, especially with the election tomorrow.  Get out and vote- make your voice be heard- like I'm endeavoring to do as well.

On a side note, I'm thankful to all the people in my life who have been a champion of my big dreams and my unorthodox choice to pursue the 'creative life'.  Here's to them and to my little bro.  Be back soon. 

All things T.