Archive for Month: January 2016

Film Review: ‘Jennifer Lawrence mops up Joy-less Cinderella story’

Photo: imdb
Photo: imdb

The golden quartet from the highly acclaimed “Silver Lining’s Playbook” (2012) and “American Hustle” (2013) – consisting of director David O. Russell, Jennifer Lawrence, Bradley Cooper and Robert De Niro – has done it again. The inspired-by-true-events story, Joy, had the potential of becoming this decade’s “Erin Brockowich” (2000), but despite Lawrence’s outstanding performance, the story gets completely lost in dreamy flashbacks and lengthy soap-opera nightmares.

The action is set to the 1990s Pennsylvania, and is based on Joy Mangano’s story as a working-class single mother who found her way to wealth through the invention of a mop, and who later patented over a hundred products that would make her a matriarch with a multi-million dollar business running all across America. Her journey, however, was filled with all kinds of adversity, mainly caused by her highly dysfunctional family.

Jennifer Lawrence delivers one of her all-time best performances, and had the movie itself matched her incredible feistiness and class, this would have been a hit beyond measures. After her Golden Globe win yesterday, it should come as no surprise if she earns yet another Oscar nomination later this month. However, the other characters seem to fade away in comparison to her ambitious and strong-willed attitude – which is not necessarily a bad thing. Joy’s family appears to lack every inch of structure, discipline, determination and skill that she, herself, possesses. So even if the other actors’ (Cooper, De Niro, Edgar Ramirez, Virginia Madsen et al) performances seem flat, the nature of their characters’ personalities simply doesn’t allow for mind-blowing performances like Lawrence’s. As a side effect, that somewhat magnifies the power of Joy’s actions and makes her shine like a star in her surroundings.

Too see that the female lead is given this much significance and influence is refreshing in an otherwise male-dominated industry. Joy even passes the Bechdel Test with highest honors, and is completely free from any kind of romance and sexual content – which is more rare that one would think. So alongside similar biopics, such as “Erin Brockowich” (2000), “Frida” (2002) and “La Vie en Rose” (2007), this story had loads of potential.

But – even though Joy’s real-life journey probably was incredibly turbulent, lengthy and frustrating – the story is just told in such an unbearably slow-moving way that makes her success in the end seem like a tiny anecdote: “And by the way, she made it. The End.” The triumphant moment where it all comes together was just not a part of the script – or at least not a big enough part of the script.

Russell also incorporates several scenes from a bizarre black and white “Dynasty-like” soap opera throughout the movie. Considering that Joy is, unknowingly at the time, on her way to build a dynasty of her own, it sort of works as a premonition that blends well with the rest of the shots. But it also adds a dreamy, psychedelic David Lynch-effect to the story that feels misplaced and seems to add an extra hour to the already 124-minute long film.

By Maria Lavelle, January 11th 2016

My Vegan Experiment

Hello there!

I sort of promised to give you all a heads up once I finished my vegan experiment. (To any new readers: I decided to try veganism for one week just to see what it was like.) So here it is!

I understand that one single week is not enough time to actually get a real feel for it, and to experience all those health benefits I’ve heard about, I would probably have to keep it up for at least four-five months — which is not gonna happen any time soon… Because my experience was a rather bad one actually.

I did my research beforehand, so I knew what I was getting myself into (gosh, it sounds like I was about to give up eating all together, but you get my point) The cafeteria here at Augie has a pretty great vegan department where you can find everything from hot dishes to salads, beans, lentils an all that jazz, so finding good tasty food wouldn’t be a problem.

The first couple of days went great, and I told myself on multiple occasions that “I think I could make this a lifestyle, seriously!” I didn’t have much of an appetite, but I felt that I ate plenty, loved the food and I left the cafeteria feeling full after every meal, so full I didn’t get hungry again for hours.

However, the problems didn’t really reveal themselves until day three, when my appetite just disappeared completely. I still tried to eat as much as I could, and I felt full, but it’s ridiculous how whole foods fills you up! The caloric density of vegetables, beans, lentils, tofu and grains is pretty low, so you really need to eat lots of it to get enough “fuel” — something I remember struggling with back in my fitness days when I ate loads of lean meat and veggies as well — it kills your appetite.

fitness3
2013 – Yup I used to be a body builder . . .

Anyway, this time around I tried to add more nuts and peanut butter to get those calories in, but as you may know, I usually swim 2-2.5km (1.2-1.6 miles) or run 5km (3 miles) every morning, so the equation didn’t exactly add up.


By the end of the week I was so fatigued I wanted to sit down in the shower after my workout. I also lost almost 2kg (4 lbs) during those days, (most of it was probably water, but still) and I wasn’t feeling well at all.

So I do not recommend veganism to anyone who struggles with eating enough of those low-calorie foods… It sucks, and I’m not going to give it another try in the near future, that’s for sure.

There ya go! That’s all I have to say about veganism for now.

Have a delightful evening,
Maria

Norway, January, Veganism and Movies

Hello and Happy New Year to you all!
It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything, but now that my vacation is over, it’s time for an update!

After two wonderful and utterly relaxing final’s weeks with four big exams and one theatre show, I went back to Norway to celebrate Christmas with my family.

(And oh, no, I’m not being sarcastic about the whole final’s week thing. Those last two weeks before Christmas were fantastic, and probably the two most relaxing weeks of the entire semester. I tried a new study technique this fall which helped me finish up everything three weeks before it was due, so while everyone else were pulling all-nighters and stressing about getting things done, I studied two hours a day and watched movies and went to the pool the rest of the time.)

Christmas in Norway was great! I don’t think I’ve ever looked as much forward to it as I did this time, and even though I only stayed for ten days, I tried to enjoy every second as much as possible.

Sisters

Best sis

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It’s not every day you get to meet two of Steven Spielberg’s creations: E.T and Gizmo (aka Gremlin) <3

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Father & Daughter time <3 Got a new microphone and he’s teaching me how to do audio for film

Naturally, I found it rather unpleasant to leave my family once the break was over — and it took me a couple of days to recover from the homesickness I felt when I first landed here in Sioux Falls. It’s so strange, that after one and a half years of living abroad, I still enter the security control at the airport crying. You would think that by the age of 22, and after six trips across the atlantic, it would get easier… but it doesn’t. However, once I get through the security, wipe my tears away and put in that intense effort to rescue the remaining parts of my mascara, I’m pretending that I’m the independent woman who’s about to travel to America again. Baah, I just love my family so much !!

Lavelle

This January is the so-called “Interim” or “J-term” here at Augustana, which means you only take one single a class, with a full semester’s curriculum, during the course of one month. Pretty intense stuff, but I’m taking “Movie Aesthetics” so I basically spend 90% of my day either watching movies, studying movies, writing about movies or working on my own movie projects, so needless to say — I love it.

As far as new year resolutions, I actually don’t have any, because I think that the other 364 days of the year are just as suited for self-improvement as new years eve. However, I have one announcement to make: I’ve gone vegan!

Which means that I don’t eat any animal products whatsoever: no meat, fish, dairy, eggs, honey and yeah, you name it. However, Brittany and I are only doing this for a week, so just a couple of more days and we’ll probably go eat steak, yum.

But if you as a reader, for some reason, decide to make veganism your lifestyle, please do your homework first. Without meat or dairy, it may be hard to get sufficient amounts of for example vitamin B12, omega 3, protein etc, so make sure you know what you’re doing.

Oh wow, that sentence looks full-bred American, doesn’t it? I don’t wanna get sued for promoting diets that may cause deficiency diseases in my readers you know… And I used to make fun of all the diet and drug commercial disclaimers over here.. Oh gosh, I guess I’ve adapted to the system now, heh.

Bless you all,
Maria

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