Watching Titanic as an adult

Much has been said about this. I know I’m not the only one, but I must have my say. After all, watching Titanic was quite a memorable part of our just-out-of-childhood-early teens years. How could I not want to express myself.

All I remember from watching the movie (on VHS!) is crying at the end and the keyrings with Leonardo DiCaprio that my female classmates were trading afterwards. The frenzy surrounding Leo and the adoration of said classmates were the main topics of that school year. Girls were scratching out “Leonardo” with hearts next to the name on the surface of school desks instead of paying attention in math class and wearing Titanic movie poster T-shirts.

My family and I were slightly overwhelmed by beach towels also bearing the likeness of Rose and Jack flapping from every souvenir shop on our trip to Paris that summer. Titanic the movie was literally everywhere and on what felt like everything. Not to mention, My Heart Will Go On was THE slow dance song at every pre-teen school dance in the vicinity back home. Swaying to lyrics on the weighty subject of a heart beating forever for love, while the slightly sweaty hands of a pre-pubescent boy were resting on your waist? Ah, those were the days.

Sitting down to watch the movie today, I find anticipation running somewhat high. My eyes well up as soon as the first hints of what we know to be the theme song accompany the opening shots of the Titanic wreck. Flute music always makes me teary and as an adult I find my mind grasping the tragedy of the real events behind the film more strongly then when I was a child. Of course, the love story makes for a very approachable movie, especially since more than enough has been documented about the search and ultimate discovery of the Titanic by Robert Ballard in 1985. In fact, I find myself not paying much attention to the technical terms during the “present day” part of the film, as the underwater equipment roams over the forever sleeping shipwreck.

The shipwreck itself draws you in, with the background knowledge and the expectation of the love story yet to unfold mixing together to make one extremely sentimental. Details that didn’t stick in memory before speak differently now, like the chandelier that gives off a slight hint of having once sparkled, or the empty boot lying on the floor – so sad.

Despite remembering the movie fairly well, the joyous music in the beginning still produces the (eerie) feeling that nothing could go wrong. Yet at the same time every line Jack and Rose utter (especially Jack) seems to be double-edged with an ominous meaning. “Somebody’s life’s about to change”, Jack proclaimes before winning tickets to Titanic in a game. His description of just how cold the ocean water feels is practically clairvoyant.

What stands out in the movie is youth straining to live, which is palpable both in the two main characters and the actors themselves. Jack’s first excitement at spotting dolphins in the water, Rose’s incredible 17-year-old sadness, loneliness and despair. “I mean it, I’ll let go!” – “No, you won’t.” The scene where Jack first sees Rose and she looks over to him is simply perfect.

It’s a pile of glorious nostalgia, by now so many classic scenes and quotable quotes. Despite knowing what happened, you still want to believe they might be able to do something. Maybe that’s just the romantic in me talking.

Oh, and while I shed plenty of tears during the scene long after the Titanic sank, it was the sequence at the very end that totally got me. Was it supposed to be cheesy? Somehow it wasn’t.

Just one more thing, though. And the Internet has long since (not always nicely) caught up to this. Ahem: THERE WAS TOTALLY ENOUGH ROOM FOR BOTH OF THEM ON THAT BOARD.

 

Home. A Memoir of My Early Years by Julie Andrews

Next in line for memoirs by inspiring female public figures. To not take away the many tantalizing and surprising bits, it was a filling, eye-opening read from an artist known not only for her unique singing voice, but cheery public image. I grew up with watching The Sound of Music and Mary Poppins, and while I was mesmerized by Julie Andrews’ singing, since I was little I had always noticed, that when she smiled, her smile reached her eyes. Not many people have that quality. That’s what makes it all the more fascinating, as well as grounding, to discover the hardships that she faced throughout her childhood and youth, filled with work. Despite the very real challenges in her life, what stands out is her enjoyment of life and people, her matter-of-fact descriptions of hard times, and the seemingly natural taking on of staggering responsibility for both her family and her career. Never once does she turn away, and when she describes her theater experience, you get the sense that she was simply where she was meant to be. Reading and writing defined her almost as much as singing did, in fact. Whatever life threw her way, and as much as she had to carry on her shoulders even when she was just a girl, she was always capable of having fun.

She also presents valuable insights on the ever current topic of what it’s like for a woman to work in the entertainment industry, and some experiences that she recounts are not that far removed from what we hear about today. One of the passages that I couldn’t stop thinking about after reading it (after the first preview of the US performance of My Fair Lady): “Everyone rushed to Rex’s dressing room to congratulate him. I slumped in my chair, thinking, ‘I don’t believe we did it…’ at which point my door was flung open and Cecil Beaton flew in. The little hat that I wore with the yellow suit was lying on my dressing table. It was an oval shape and flat like a saucer. In he haste of pinning up my hair and the hat going on my head in the quick change, it had been put on back to front. It was the only thing that night that hadn’t been done correctly. Beaton picked up the hat and slammed it on to my had. ‘Not that way, you silly bitch – this way!’ he snapped. I nearly burst into tears.”

If you’re wondering, she doesn’t elaborate any further on this incident, or recount how she felt when she got home, or indeed the next day. But as she says later in the book, “When actors work together there is a tacit understanding that the show and its message are what matters above all else. Personal issues are set aside once the curtain is up.”

Cue massive Sound of Music nostalgia (though she rarely mentions the film in her memoir).

Why It’s Fun to Talk About the Weather

Because if you happen to live in a city with a moody climate, you don’t sound like an old person when you discuss it – EVERYONE notices the weather.

It’s always present, mercifully providing the age-old, tried and tested conversation starter or filler.

It’s also a convenient way to bore someone you don’t want to talk with to death, thus making them go away, but for this to work you can’t be funny – you should be exceedingly negative and drone on about one thing, like the rain or the fog. Hopefully they will get the hint.

If for some reason you’re not jumping directly in to a discussion about clothes or shoes (who doesn’t love those), talking about the weather is a good, albeit slightly roundabout way to do it. “Were you also caught in that downpour the other day? My chinchilla wrap was absolutely ruined. Oh, that’s a divine one you’re wearing, by the way, is it fox?”

Rainy weather may lead to stimulating debates on the merits of raincoats vs. umbrellas and rain gear or protection in general.

And finally, there are all these weather-referencing musical numbers and songs out there.

From the ever quotable classics:

To their mashups with 21rst century chart-toppers:

Or the gloriously ridiculous:

And the plain lovely:

Seriously, I could go on for hours.

Dying for You by Otto Knows (feat. Lindsey Stirling and Alex Aris)

Somebody told me you had given up on your smile

Plenty of very satisfying reviews have been written about this fantastic track, and after listening to it on repeat for a week, I thought I’d contribute my own review of the music video. In my humble, non music critic style.

The excitement I feel every time a new musical release involving Lindsey Stirling comes out is addictive. This video delivers and once again shows that she is a performer to be reckoned with. The fact that she is an instrumental artist, as well as her masterful grasp of numerous genres and unique interpretation with her violin music make it possible to integrate her playing in practically any collaboration. At the same time, she not only showcases herself, but compliments the artists she works with on a given project, bringing out the best in all those involved. Different talent coming together requires good choosing, and happily it looks like “Dying for You” is a result of just that.

A pianist plays inside what looks like a roomy, abandoned church or cathedral, while Alex Aris begins to sing the story, not with hopelessness, but with mounting force. To me you don’t have to keep hiding away who you are/ Remember how we said together we would go far. It could be a love story, it could be about friendship – the lyrics seem comfortingly suitable to multiple interpretations.

When all you have is doubt, know that I’m around/ I will be dying for you, dying for you.

And then Lindsey appears, gathering power with her violin. In those scenes where we don’t see her, we hear her, always, as soon as she starts playing. It’s like straining for something familiar that’s reaching your ears from a distance, and then bam, recognition, this is it! She plays, and oh boy, it’s an explosive, terrifically executed speedy violin frenzy.

The color and light scheme of the music video play up the expected associations with “dying” in the track title – black, grey, beige, brown, switching between what might be a cloudy day outside to darkness, in which Lindsey’s auburn braids dance like flames around her pale, chiselled face while she does her signature twirling.

The theme of an impending mini-apocalypse surrounds the visual aesthetic of the video, but rather than drag the viewer down, it adds a note of raw reality, as well as making you think of destruction clearing the way for creation, like a forest being naturally reborn after a fire.

I will be dying to hear this one again for a long time.

Ten Things You Can’t Help Doing While Standing in Line

Looking at the back of the heads of the two people in front of you and wondering what they would say if they knew what the backs of their heads looked like. Most likely they wouldn’t be impressed either.

Wondering what the back of your own head looks like.

Making eye contact and then wishing you hadn’t.

Noticing the rack of somewhat ugly congratulatory cards near you and trying to decide which one to get if this was the only place you could ever buy cards from.

Getting an itch.

Scratching the itch (getting creative, depending on where the itch is located).

Reliving the embarassing encounter with your former university professor over and over again in your mind. Wondering why that particular stumbling block of a word had to come back as you crossed paths after five years.

Staring at random things like the scarf of the lady in front of you or the stuffed animal in the hands of the kid beside her (stop staring!).

Listening to snatches of conversation that are fascinating only in this point of time and space: “No, it didn’t fit me, but I just pulled it over my stomach as best as I could”, “That dude over there is so ugly”, “People are such pigs“, “Dad, Mom is better at shopping than you are”.

Feeling an elated sense of accomplishment when the wait is OVER.

 

 

 

Maleficent – Not Just Another Villain Movie

This beautiful discovery turned out to be a movie I can watch again and again, so here are a few things that I especially like about it.

While heavily based on the character of Maleficent from Disney’s animated classic Sleeping Beauty (especially in terms of looks and diction), who is an evil, jealous figure through and through, one doesn’t permanently remember that fact. Instead, combined with respectful, measured contributions from the original, a fully-fledged, individual character emerges in Angelina Jolie’s portrayal. This is not just another backstory of a famous villain supported by the “she’s actually good” plotline. She branches off from the animated Maleficent without seeming like a spin-off.

maleficent 1

We feel her pain, oh, we feel it, and we cry with her! We’re horrified. Just give the fairy her damn wings back! For all the trauma, it’s one of the best scenes in the movie, showing the bond of flight to Maleficent’s identity.

maleficent2

Despite this horrible attack, she did not let herself be crippled by it. Instead, she became fetchingly badass (though you are secretly hoping she won’t get murderous urges, since this is a new movie, and there must be some other point to this story then the character giving in to the dark side). She also somehow easily got really cool make-up and a whole outfit made out of black leather – mais oui. And the raven, don’t forget the raven.

maleficent3

She still retained her sense of humour, playing tricks on the bumbling fairies looking after Aurora, instead of frying them all.

maleficent4

And finally, what I like most – she stands up and soars (impressively shattering some glass in the process).

maleficent5

 

How to Make International Guests Uncomfortable at a Party

Or any other social function.

If they have a foreign-sounding name, but say they are from/ live in the town of the country you are currently in, insist on repeatedly asking “Yes, but where are you from originally?” Keep doing this until they start looking confused or find an excuse to move away.

Tell them about your former teacher/ classmate/ neighbor/ the shopkeeper next door who was from there and the strange things they used to do that you “just couldn’t understand”. Then look expectantly at the guest, signalling the need for an explanation.

Insist that they must know some dish or food from their native country, even if they have already denied this knowledge several times.

If they are actually from somewhere else, contradict them about their country in front of everyone. “I went to this two-hour seminar three years ago, and what you say isn’t correct!”

Start a heated monologue about said country’s politics, trying to make it a dialogue. This one is always a winner.

Refuse to accept they don’t like the alcoholic beverage every single member of the population (children excluded) of said country supposedly drinks. Harp on about this for a while and declare it “unbelievable”.

Tell them they can go mingle “over there” with the other people from said country.

Ask them how to pronounce certain words in their language which you think you know and then stubbornly don’t get it.

Ask them how come they know the language of the country they currently live in, even after they said they studied in current country.

Name one person you know, or just pick a name, supposedly from the native country, and ask your guest if they know this person.

Voila, mission accomplished.