Thursday, July 27, 2017

Just one look....is all it took....

by Stacey Fearheiley

How long does it take to fall in love?  Some would say there's no such thing.  Others would say long enough to know each other's faults and not care.  And still others would suggest that it can happen in an instant.

One thing I noticed about the movies Eric and I talked about this week...movies from 1967.  50 year olds.  All the couples seemed to jump into relationships very quickly.  Whether it was the rebellious fling of Bonnie and Clyde, the mad lust filled affair of Ben and Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate, or even the sweet but complicated adoration between John and Joey in Guess Who's Coming to Dinner, it happened FAST!  Too fast?




In this day and age of television series that arc across time continuously, we are used to stories and relationships created like old school soap operas...some relationships take YEARS to materialize. And that's ok.  We have the time.  We have 6 to 23 episodes to get there.

Sure, a la GOT, there are "relationships" that happen in an instant, but even there...any emotional bond is a gradual evolution.  Again, we've got time.

But in the movies, before there were sequel upon sequels that were planned from the first line of the first film, you have 90 - 120 minutes to get your story told.



If you were a good film maker, you did so through showing not telling.

For John and Joey, I was convinced, as most of the relationship had happened before the movie started and off screen.  The skill of the actors showing what the emotions were and proving their affection.

For Ben and Mrs. Robinson?  Well, we're bending the definition of "relationship" to call what they had that.  But his "true affection" for Elaine?  Did I believe that?

Bonnie and Clyde had barely any real lines between them before she was hopping into his car and they were off.  In my 21st century vision, it was jarring.



In the end, I suppose, when we look back at movies "of a certain age" we have to view them in the time they were created.  It's not fair to expect films made in the past to take into account the skepticism and snarkiness of future audiences.

How long does it take to fall in love?  You can ask Bonnie and Clyde, you can ask Edward and Vivian from Pretty Woman, you can ask Vianne and Roux from Chocolat, and you can ask Bridget Jones and Mark, and they will all give different answers.    How long does it take to fall in love? Probably the best answer to the question is...as long as it takes.


Bonus:


Thursday, July 20, 2017

That (Thirty) Million Dollar Smile

by Eric Peterson

Thirteen years ago, archeologists in Bulgaria uncovered a female skeleton that turned out to be 9,000 years old. That’s a find under any circumstances, but what made this discovery particularly extraordinary was the skeleton’s perfectly straight, perfectly shiny teeth. The scientists named their discovery “Julia Roberts.”

If right now, someone asked you to close your eyes and picture Julia Roberts, and you followed along (go ahead and try it, right now), she might have blonde hair or auburn, she might be formally or casually dressed, but chances are she’d be sporting her trademark smile – warm, generous, full of joy, existing for no other reason than that its wearer feels authentically, buoyantly happy.

Rumor has it that Julia Roberts has insured her smile for thirty million dollars, and it’s easy to see why. If something – anything – were to happen to those precious chompers, it would greatly inhibit Julia’s ability to work, or at least to get the twenty million dollar paychecks she received for some of her biggest hits.

Stacey and I recently devoted an entire show to Julia Roberts’ career, and of course we talked about the smile – that iconic moment in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere snapped a jewelry box just as she was reaching toward it, causing a spontaneous moment of laughter (you know the one), and what it feels like to be denied the smile, in a serious film like Mary Reilly.

When Owen Gleiberman at Entertainment Weekly reviewed Mary Reilly in 1996, he didn’t much care for it – using EW’s “letter grade” system, the film earned a C-minus. In his review – in the very first paragraph of his review, in fact – he writes, “Anyone eager for a glimpse of the famous Roberts smile — those luscious wax lips come to life — had better look elsewhere. In Mary Reilly, the lips are taut and nervous, drawn into a stoic line of woe. Her eyes gleam with trepidation.”

The moviegoing public didn’t much care for Mary Reilly either, or at least most of them didn’t buy a ticket. It cost $47 million to make the film, and it made only $12.3 million worldwide.

As I mentioned on the show, I remember seeing a line chart in a copy of Entertainment Weekly after the film’s release (I searched online when preparing this blog entry, but couldn’t find it) detailing the correlation between the number of times that Julia Roberts flashed her multi-million dollar smile in some of her more notable films and the amount of money each film made – and there was a direct correlation. More smiles, more money. At least in the eighties and nineties, no one was interested in a Julia Roberts that was somber or scared.

Nearly twenty years later, Julia made August: Osage County with Meryl Streep, Margo Martindale, Julianne Nicholson, Ewan McGregor, Juliette Lewis, Abigail Breslin, Benedict Cumberbatch, and more. In it, Julia doesn’t smile much either. The film didn’t break any box office records, but it did make a profit, and it fared better critically (a 64% score on “Rotten Tomatoes” compared to 26% for Mary Reilly). The world, it seems, is finally ready for a Julia Roberts that is something other than a bundle of joy – her performance as Barbara in August: Osage County is a study in a woman’s anger; in fact, it’s difficult to even call it anger; rather, she’s ROYALLY PISSED OFF in almost every scene.

Perhaps it’s because she’s no longer an ingénue. If I were optimistic, I’d suggest that perhaps our society is becoming less sexist and is finally allowing women to express emotions that might threaten or shock people. And while I’d like that to be true, I somehow doubt it. Whatever the reason, it’s entirely possible that what lies ahead for Julia Roberts the actor might be twice as exciting as what we’ve previously witnessed in the career of Julia Roberts the movie star.

And all the same, if we remember her 9,000 years from now, we’ll probably still be picturing that iconic smile. And maybe that’s okay, too.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sounds of Summer

by Eric Peterson

Stacey and I had a blast creating our Perfect Summer Playlist during this week’s podcast. Admittedly, we spend most of our time on the show talking about movies and TV, so we were itching to talk about pop music and this seemed like a perfect time to do it.



It occurred to me about five or six years ago that “summer music,” like holiday music (aka Christmas Carols) was a thing. But just as the B-52’s remind us that summer has a taste (specifically, “orange popsicles and lemonade”), I’ve become convinced that summer has a sound – or more accurately, lots of sounds … but sounds that particularly belong to this sunny season.

SONGS ABOUT SUMMER (duh)

The obvious place to start is songs that specifically reference summer, or where the word “summer” is right in the title. Other tunes, like Sheryl Crow’s “Soak Up the Sun” don’t quite sound right when the tulips are just beginning to pop in April or when the leaves are falling in mid-October, but couldn’t sound more perfect on a hot, July day.



SONGS ABOUT WARM PLACES

The Whole Wide World” by Wreckless Eric is a favorite summer tune of mine, probably because the first verse casually name drops both the Bahamas and Tahiti. Any song called “California Girls,” whether sung by the Beach Boys or Katy Perry (featuring Snoop Dogg) is bound to sound a little summery. I’m not sure where the Mermaid Café in Joni Mitchell’s “Carey” is supposed to be, but it’s close enough to Africa to get a hot wind, and close enough to the sea to put beach tar on Joni’s feet; it’s a classic summer tune. And even though the band is practically synonymous with Ireland, U2’s “Where TheStreets Have No Name” is so evocative of a hot desert landscape that it seems right at home on a summer playlist. “California Dreamin’” by the Mamas and the Papas is pointedly about a winter’s day, and yet it just sounds like summer.



REGGAE

The syncopated counterpoint to a bass and drum downbeat is really all it takes to send a listener on a direct route to Jamaica, home of Bob Marley, Peter Tosh, and Jimmy Cliff. The lyrics can be about injustice, intoxicants, or three little birds pitched by my doorstep – it’s bound to sound just like sunshine and a sandy beach. On the show, I picked a song by Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers, comprised of four of Bob & Rita Marley’s children – and I like them so much, here’s another one.



LATIN MUSIC

Like reggae, songs either sung in Spanish or featuring a delicate Latin guitar can transport a listener to another land, and to a white kid from the Pacific Northwest, it often feels like the musical equivalent of a frozen margarita. My favorite new song of the summer is “Despacito,” by Luis Fonsi (featuring Daddy Yankee, not featuring Justin Bieber). In it, Fonsi sings, “Despacito/Vamo a hacerlo en una playa en Puerto Rico/Hasta que las olas griten "¡Ay, Bendito!" … which is basically an invitation to get down and dirty with Fonsi on a beach in Puerto Rico until you scream to a higher power. Yeah, I’m just going to let you ponder that for a while ... (translation: hold on a minute; Eric has the vapors).



SUMMERY ARTISTS

Anything by the Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, TheGo-Go’s, or Jimmy Buffett sounds like summer. Period.



ANYTHING FROM THE SUMMERS OF YOUR YOUTH

Music has a strange ability to attach itself to memories in a powerful way. So the perfect soundtrack for your summer, no matter what Stacey and I tell you, are the songs that take you back to the summers you remember, particularly the ones that remind you of long summer vacations, for those of us lucky enough to have enjoyed those. As a child of the 80’s, that can sound like a little Toto, a little Joan Jett, a lot of Madonna, and maybe a splash of Def Leppard.


To listen to POPeration!’s “Perfect Summer Playlist,” go to Spotify or iTunes, fire up the grill, mix up some Piña Colada’s and think of us. And in the meantime, don't forget to subscribe, rate, and review. See you next week!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Here's the playlist ...

Tiniest bloglet ever, but we said we'd share the playlist we put together via our blog. It's on Spotify here, and it's on iTunes here. If you're on Google Play, go here. And to listen to the show itself, ABOUT these songs and why we chose them ... here you go:


Don't forget to subscribe wherever you download your podcasts, and we'd love you if you took a minute to rate and review us while you're there. A longer blog drops on Thursday, as per usual. Watch this space!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

Girrrrrl, You Got it Goin' On...

by Stacey Fearheiley

So,  never to leave a dead horse unkicked*, Eric and I had a little discussion "offline" about the Wonder Woman film after I had a chance to see it and I thought I'd share a few of our takeaways.




So much controversy, so little reason?  


Eric: I say "Get over it."  All the complaining about this film not being “feminist enough” is just evidence, to me, that we only have one female-led superhero movie that was a hit IN THE HISTORY OF FILM. Let’s just enjoy the fact that this was a hit, and hope that this means more superheroine women will follow, and maybe those movies to come will be everything you want them to be. I could say a lot more, but our friend Stefani actually wrote a great essay about the whole thing, so I’ll just point people there.


Stacey:  I agree to a certain extent.  I think that it is a really good movie.  I think it is the best DC Comics movie so far.  I loved Gal Gadot.  Thought the casting was great. BUT.  I think putting this movie forward as the End-All/Be -All for women directed/led films isn't fair to it.  It is an action flick, plain and simple, where the lead happens to be female.  I want more of them, but to throw this up as the best and greatest isn't fair.  No movie can be all things to all people.  I think the expectations were unfair, whether you believe WW met them or not.


What about Chris Pine as the "heroine"?


Stacey:  I could watch Chris Pine dial a phone.  He can do anything he wants and I will watch.  Here's where I am....he's the love interest of the lead.  Since the lead is a straight female, the love interest should be a male.  He is...and he's lovely.  Not only that, he is a good actor and his comic timing is perfect.  Everything you want  in the hero's romantic lead.





Eric: YES!!  Chris Pine is so good in this movie. He probably gets to see more action than most of the Lois Lanes and Pepper Potts – the girls who hang out alongside male superheroes. But to my mind, that’s the fault of those other movies. He looks great, he’s really funny, and is a terrific foil for the very earnest Diana.

Some favorite moments?


Eric:  I loved how subversive this movie is. There’s a whole “shopping sequence” that – on its face – was taken right out of any rom-com where the heroine needs a perfect dress to make all her dreams come true. In this one, she tries on outfit after outfit and is dismayed by them all. Not because they’re not pretty enough, but because she can’t fight in them. Because it’s a funny moment, the social commentary is subtle, but if you’re looking for it, boy it’s there – all about the way that women are literally restrained by societal convention in a container to make them docile, subservient, and unable to bend over, much less go into battle.





I also loved the moment – a tiny, tiny moment – when Diana sees her first baby, and is immediately drawn to this infant, only to be deterred by Steve Trevor. It’s a telling moment, and awfully girly, but it doesn’t diminish her bad-ass self one bit. She can be girly, and she can kick ass, and both of those things can co-exist.

Stacey:  I totally loved the "baby" scene.  I felt it rounded her out a bit.  She'd never seen one, only read about them...and there was a live one right in front of her.  It was female, but also just human. 

One of my truly favorite parts was pure action.  When she steps out of the foxhole into No Man's Land, with her shield up and bullets bouncing all around and still she pushes on.  We've seen boys do this in TONS of movies since the beginning of time.  To see her do it with the guys behind her, kind of shrugging and then following....really fun.  Had a smile on my face the whole time.




Thoughts on the supporting characters?

Stacey: One thing I absolutely loved was the fact that when she finally gets her gang of misfit fighters together, there isn't this long drawn out conflict of "should we really be following a woman? Is she really suited for leading us?"  etc. etc.  Once they see her do her stuff...literally, ONCE, they're on board with it.  Done.  She the boss.  Let's go.  It was so refreshing.

Of course the show stealer/stopper and character there wasn't nearly enough of was...

Eric:   Etta Candy!!  She’s barely in the film, but I just adored Lucy Davis in this role. Because of the World War I setting of this film, she likely won’t be back for the sequel, which will probably step forward in time by at least a few decades – but she’ll be missed. Aside from the horrible “Dr. Poison,” there weren’t many other female characters of note once we left Paradise Island – and even though Etta is not an Amazon, she’s witty and a bit brazen, completely committed to her cause of helping the Allies defeat the bad guys, and – if you blinked, you probably missed it – a suffragette.



Stacey:   Here's my dream:  That in subsequent films with WW as lead, they go back in time and connect the modern story with history some how and we see Etta as Diana's secretary and are able to have fun with that relationship as Etta teaches Diana how the world works, etc.  That's my dream.

Downsides/ Disappointments of the movie?

Eric: Could we not have found a way to include Lynda Carter in a tiny guest spot? As Diana first gets to London, perhaps a gaggle of suffragettes in white being led by Lynda? It would have made the audience cheer, and I bet she would have done it. Oh well, you can still catch her on the CW’s Supergirl as yes, the President of the United States. 




Stacey:  Leave it to you, fanboy, to find a way to get Supergirl into a conversation about Wonder Woman!

For me, I could do without the higher heel on her boots when fighting for right, truth  and the democratic way against Nazis.  I also, sorry actor who played the main villain (trying not to spoil it for those who haven't seen the movie yet), would have liked a stronger foe. Disappointed in who Ares turned out to be and the actor who portrayed that god.

Final thoughts on Wonder Woman, the movie...

Eric: I think it is definitely a feminist movie.  No argument.  I love the fact that throughout the entire film, men keep telling her to either stay put or stay quiet, and she never obeys. 

Stacey: I concur.  Feminist in the truest way.  She was equal (sometimes MORE than equal) to any man she met.   Should this be the big FEMINIST BEACON of HOLLYWOOD?  No. I don't think so.  But, I reiterate that I loved that after initial skepticism, once she proved that she could play the game like the boys, the boys accepted it and moved on.  (Sometimes this was not historically accurate...but I don't care.)

Yes, loved too that she never "did as she was told."  She considered other ideas,  evaluated the situation, made her own decision and did what she wanted.  She kept on going.

Eric: Nevertheless, she persisted.





*No actual horses were harmed in the writing of this blog.









Thursday, June 29, 2017

What's a Little Trans Among Friends?

by Stacey Fearheiley

LGBTQ.  It's a mouthful.  It's the worst stack of letters you could have in a Scrabble game.  And it's everywhere!  What's it stand for?  Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trangender and Queer.

I bring this up because 1.  it's the end of Pride Month. and B.  POPeration!  this week was about the representation of the "T" portion in movies and television.  Our guest, Allyson Robinson, herself a transwoman, discussed how it felt to see some of the portrayals of trans people in media.  It wasn't all good.  But it was informative.

As a white, straight, cisgender woman, I can get all uppity about how women are portrayed in movies and tv.  I'll get up in your grill about how "paternalistic" everything is and how there needs to be more women EVERYWHERE in film and tv.  

I'll whine about how sometimes male writers who write women's roles don't write them believably.  "A woman would NOT say that in that situation.  No girl wants that."  Stuff like that.  That is because I am as I described.  That is my experience.  

Unless it's brought to my attention, I don't see the other inequalities out there. Is it just me, or my generation, or being human?   Dunno.  Not gonna answer that question here. But, NOW, the trans person issues have been brought to my attention with this week's podcast.  And as they say..."once you wake that bear...."

We all have lists of good and bad representations of people like ourselves...and Allyson is no different.  She has some opinions!  We asked her to name some good and bad concepts of the trans community.  So she did.  And I was surprised by some.
Let's go over a few, shall we?

Liked:
Transparent.

Duh.  It's brilliant.  At least I thought so....now I don't feel guilty watching it.

OITNB

If you haven't found this one, you're not paying attention.


The OA.


Sense8.

So many people upset about the cancellation of this one.  UPDATE: Netflix will air a 2-hour finale. http://bit.ly/2sWdFhd


Boys Don't Cry.

Groundbreaking in that it was so highly visible.


TransAmerica


Honorable mention per Allyson:  All About My Mother and Penny Dreadful.


But it wouldn't be as much fun if we didn't have the DISLIKED list.  Here goes:

Crying Game

Was the audience supposed to feel sorry for the guy in love?

Dressed to Kill

Fun fact about this trailer...if you watch it, you've seen the whole plot. (the 80's were great.)

Dallas Buyers Club


Allyson purposely didn't watch this one.  It goes here on principle.


Hit and Miss

Post podcast research:  This was a 6 part British mini series.  They did try to air it in the U.S. but didn't get the traction, so only 1 episode appeared.  Probably for the best.

Honorable mention for those that don't make the "Pro Trans" cut: Danish Girl (Allyson didn't see this, but avoided it on purpose. yes, I was surprised too.) and Basic Instinct (not really surprised at all).

So, what's my point?  My point is actually pretty simple.  1.  Don't be afraid of the acronyms. LGBTQ is  just about inclusion (even though the vowels are probably feeling a bit dissed.) and B. Don't assume that because a show or movie or book or article or blog is ABOUT something that it is also TRUE to that something.  Want to know more?  Meet some people...talk to them...ask them questions.  Find the real answers.  Now I've brought it to YOUR attention.

Our society is ever changing and hopefully ever learning about differences, and about accepting and loving those differences.
To quote this guy I once saw in something, " Love is love is love is love...."*

Happy Pride!

*(Oh Hush...I know it's Lin-Manuel Miranda!)

Friday, June 23, 2017

Eric & Stacey, sobbing in a tree; S-O-B-B-I-N-G.

For those who listened to this week's show, here are some of the moments we mentioned in our conversation. Grab your tissues.

From Terms of Endearment, here's that moment when Debra Winger says goodbye to her sons on her deathbed. Don't say we didn't warn you.


Here's the reunion scene at the end of The Color Purple that never fails to make Eric blubber. Whoopi doesn't say a word, but her reactions are enough to draw tears from a stone.



This is the final scene in David Tennant's run of Doctor Who, which turned Stacey into a blubbering mess.



Here's the moment in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, when Will regains, then just as quickly loses his relationship with his father.


And here's a scene from the saddest episode ever of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, when Buffy is forced to tell her young sister Dawn that their mother is dead -- featuring Sarah Michelle Gellar and Michelle Trachtenberg at their very best.


And finally, here's that Land Rover commercial that turned Stacey into a quivering mass of hormones during her first pregnancy. But honestly, can you blame her?


If you're still functioning, don't forget to hit the "Subscribe" button wherever you listen to podcasts, or maybe stroll on over to iTunes and give us a review. Every little bit of feedback helps. Thanks for listening.