2012 Golden Globes Results

Some of the major winners at the 69th Golden Globes Awards last night.

  • Best Motion Picture – Drama: The Descendants
  • Best Motion Picture – Comedy or Musical: The Artist
  • Best Actress – Drama: Meryl Streep (Iron Lady)
  • Best Actor – Drama: George Clooney (The Descendants)
  • Best Actress – Comedy or Musical: Michelle Williams (My Week with Marilyn)
  • Best Actor – Comedy or Musical: Jean Dujardin (The Artist)
  • Best Director – Motion Picture: Martin Scorsese (Hugo)
  • Best Screenplay – Motion Picture: Woody Allen, Midnight In Paris

I must say I’m not too excited about this year’s Golden Globes to start with. Main reason: how can they totally snub Terrence Malick’s The Tree of Life? Not even one single nomination for that epic production! I hope the Academy Awards can correct that negligence.

But I’m glad though for The Artist winning Best Picture, Comedy or Musical. It offers me a unique experience: watching a silent movie made in 2011 in the theatre, a successful, nostalgic attempt paying homage to the golden era of Hollywood. Last night, Uggie got a chance to share the spotlight.

Michelle Williams is impressive as Marilyn Monroe. Just a look at her at the Golden Globes and you’ll know how acting and make-up can create a whole world of difference. The transformation of an understated actor into a legendary personality in a dreamscape is what’s so magical about the cinema.

     

George Clooney is good in The Descendants, a showcase for his acting talent. You can actually see a tear welling up in his eye then flow slowly down his cheek to the tip of his nose. That scene is so deeply imprinted in my memory.

Haven’t seen Iron Lady yet, but what I remember from last night Meryl Streep winning Best Actress is her presenter, the inimitable, ever poised (even more so this time… marvellous result of some great workout?): Colin Firth.

And last but not least, excited to see Woody Allen once again getting recognized for his talent, albeit not in directing, still a worthy nod, winning Best Screenplay with Midnight In Paris. And I must mention this: not too long ago I read a book entitled Insanity Defense: The Complete Prose by Woody Allen. In it I read a story called “A Twenties Memory”.  O what a discovery! Of course! This piece of writing dating back to 1971 must be the original spark that later materialized into the script for Midnight In Paris, some forty years later. CLICK HERE to read “A Twenties Memory”. This just shows it’s never too late to bring ingenuity to life.

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For a full list of nominations and winners, CLICK HERE.

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A Moveable Feast (Restored Edition) by Ernest Hemingway

Reading A Moveable Feast is like walking along the sea shore. On the fine sandy beach you see many attractive shells, but you don’t have a bucket with you. You pick the finest ones and put them in your pockets, until they’re full. But every step you take further, you see more that you want to keep. This post is too limited for me to display all the shells I’ve collected, but allow me to just pour them out from my pockets, without sorting, sand and all.

I first read about the term “Moveable Feast” while sitting in an Anglican church in Vancouver, flipping through the The Book of Common Prayer. After some googling later, I got the idea. A feast in the liturgical calendar that you commemorate no matter which date it falls on year after year. In the Foreword of this restored edition, Hemingway’s son Patrick (with second wife Pauline Pfeiffer) writes:

The complexity of a moveable feast lies in the calculation of the calendar date for Easter in a given year, from which it is simple enough then to assign a calendar date to each and every moveable feast for a given year. Palm Sunday is seven days before Easter.

A memorable experience that will follow you all the years of your life. You’ll cherish it whenever and wherever you are. Hemingway’s friend A. E. Hotchner suggested this title. Author of the biography Papa Hemingway, Hotchner recalls Hemingway once said to him:

If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.

Like Rick says to Ilsa in “Casablanca”: “We’ll always have Paris.” Same sentiment.

A Moveable Feast is Hemingway’s memoir written from notes he had forgotten in two steamer trunks stored at the Ritz Hotel in Paris since 1928. In 1956 he repossessed the treasure trove, upon the urging of the hotel management. The book details his experience while living in Paris from 1921 to 1926, when the author was in his early 20’s. The memoir was first published posthumously in 1964. The Paris Years was a period when Hemingway, just married Hadley Richardson, young and care-free, decided to give up journalism to strive at being a novelist.

He would write in a rented room or in a café over café crème,
meet Gertrude Stein for critique of his writing, go back home for lunch with wife Hadley, or have oysters and wine in a restaurant, socialize with Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound, and other expats, borrow piles of books from Sylvia Beach’s library in her bookshop Shakespeare and Company, visit Luxembourg gardens and museum…

Two people, then, could live comfortably and well in Europe on five dollars a day and could travel.

No wonder Gil in “Midnight in Paris” dreams of such a life.

What strikes me initially is Hemingway’s frankness, sometimes blatant description of his opinion about the people he met. Like the first time he saw the artist Wyndham Lewis through Ezra Pound:

I watched Lewis carefully without seeming to look at him, as you do when you are boxing, and I do not think I had ever seen a nastier-looking man… I tried to break his face down and describe it but I could only get the eyes. Under the black hat, when I had first seen them, the eyes had been those of an unsuccessful rapist.

According to grandson Sean Hemingway who edited and wrote the introduction of this restored edition, Hemingway developed his sharp eye and ear during these Paris years. Here’s an account of Scott Fitzgerald when Hemingway first met him in the Dingo bar:

Scott was a man then who looked like a boy with a face between handsome and pretty. He had very fair wavy hair, a high forehead, excited eyes and a delicate long-lipped Irish mouth that, on a girl, would have been the mouth of a beauty. His chin was well built and he had good ears and a handsome, almost beautiful, unmarked nose.

This is only a little excerpt in a two page description of Scott’s appearance. It’s sentences like these that stand out for me. They all point to the writer at work: observing.

I kept on looking at him closely and noticed…”

“I kept on observing Scott.

And putting down in words later:

I wasn’t learning very much from looking at him now except that he had well shaped, capable-looking hands, not too small, and when he sat on one of the bar stools I saw that he had very short legs. With normal legs he would have been perhaps two inches taller.

But it was Scott’s talents despite his eccentricities and alcoholism that formed the building blocks of their friendship.

When I had finished the book [The Great Gatsby] I knew that no matter what Scott did, nor how preposterously he behaved, I must know it was like a sickness and be of any help I could to him and try to be a good friend. …   If he could write a book as fine as The Great Gatsby I was sure that he could write an even better one. I did not know Zelda yet, and so I did not know the terrible odds that were against him.

It is perhaps with such candour and devotion in writing that he constantly sought to “write one true sentence.” Woody Allen has grasped the essence in this juicy line from “Midnight in Paris”:

No subject is terrible if the story is true, if the prose is clean and honest, and if it affirms courage and grace under pressure.

The restored edition brings back sections missing in the earlier 1964 publication which was edited by fourth and last wife Mary. According to Sean Hemingway, this restored work represents the content that Hemingway himself had intended the book to have, with the chapter “Nada y Pues Nada” (Nothing And Then Nothing) written three months before his suicide.

The second last chapter “The Pilot Fish and the Rich” shows he was remorseful over the breakdown of his first marriage to Hadley towards the end of his Paris days. A mutual friend they both knew, journalist Pauline Pfeiffer, came in between them. “You love them both now… Everything is split inside of you and you love two people now instead of one.”

But A Moveable Feast belongs to Earnest and Hadley and their young son Bumby.  “… this is how Paris was in the early days when we were very poor and very happy.” As a reader, I feel a sense of loss as I come to the end, for Earnest and Hadley were so much in love the first few years in Paris:

She: ‘And we’ll never love anyone else but each other.’

He: ‘No. Never.’

Their 2-room rental walk-up with no electricity and no hot water had been a haven of warm meals and intimate talks. It was the time when he was “a young man supporting a wife and child … learning to write prose.” Their short marriage lasted only six years. In 1927 Hemingway married Pauline, four months after divorcing Hadley.

The last section at the end of the book is entitled “Fragments”. These are “false starts”, beginning paragraphs of an introduction Hemingway tried to write for this book. Interestingly, every one of these attempts starts with: “This book is fiction.” Many include this sentence: “I have left out much and changed and eliminated and I hope Hadley understands.” In another fragment he wrote: “No one can write true fact in reminiscences…”

I’m baffled. But maybe unnecessarily. From our very subjective mind, our often hazy view of what did happen and what we wish to have happened and what could have happened, we conjure up a fusion. Should there be a clear line separating them? It’s because the demarkation of fact and fantasy is fluid that we can appreciate the arts, such as the film “Midnight in Paris.” The events that happen to Gil after midnight would remain fondly with him as reality, so real that they change his decision regarding his future. Facts or fiction… or fusion?

~ ~ ~ 1/2 Ripples

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A Moveable Feast: The Restored Edition by Ernest Hemingway, published by Scribner, NY, 2009, 240 pages. Foreword by Patrick Hemingway, introduced and edited by Sean Hemingway.

This post is to participate in the Paris In July blogging event hosted by Karen of BookBath and Tamara of Thyme for Tea. You can also find another review of A Moveable Feast here at Dolce Bellezza.

To read my review of “Midnight In Paris”, CLICK HERE.

Photos: Paris, Shakespeare and Company, Writers’ portraits and The Library in Shakespeare and Company taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, Aug. 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Click on the following links for some insightful interviews:

National Post Interview with Sean Hemingway on the restored edition

Interview with Woody Allen on making “Midnight In Paris”

Midnight In Paris (2011)

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A Woody Allen movie rated G? Yes, and maybe only in B.C. where I saw it in Vancouver yesterday. If you’re offering charming characters, lively performance from some talented actors, Woody Allen’s own clever screenplay inundated with witty dialogues, and have him direct in the backdrop of dreamlike Paris, the result is pure delight. You don’t need too much of anything extra, hence the MPAA PG-13 rating. And maybe because of that, clean and crisp, this is one of the Woody Allen movies I enjoy most for some years. And yes, this is the one with French first lady Carla Bruni in it, where Allen has to direct under the watchful eyes of the French President and his security personnel.

Gil (Owen Wilson) and Inez (Rachel McAdams) are engaged to be married. They take a trip to Paris with Inez’s parents John (Kurt Fuller) and Helen (Mimi Kennedy) for John’s business merger. While Gil and Inez first appear to be a romantic pair, we soon find them to be incompatible. Gil is an underachieved screenwriter from California, aiming to write his first novel. His dream of Paris is one of the golden age, nostalgically inhabited by the modernists, the artists and literati of the 1920’s.

However, his fiancé Inez fails to see his aspiration or potential, and the imagination that the cultural city can unleash in him. Rather, she falls for their American friend Paul (Michael Sheen), the intellectual snob whose self-importance drives him to snub Gil and even counter their museum guide (Carla Bruni) in the accuracy of her information. But Gil is more preoccupied with his midnight encounters, which ultimately transform him and change their individual paths. These experiences after midnight are just wonderful surprises for Gil, and me. Without giving too much of a spoiler, let’s just say it’s Woody Allen’s version of ‘Back to the Future’.

When I first saw the trailer, I had reservation about Owen Wilson being the leading man in a Woody Allen movie set in Paris. Would that be a miscast? Well, I’m proven wrong the moment he appears on screen. Wilson embodies the unassuming and delusional Gil, screenwriter from Pasadena, CA. He casts all of his previous film roles out of my mind and replaces with only this one of the moment, offering a performance that is impressively convincing. He leads a cast of wonderful actors, including the charming Marion Cotillard, veteran Kathy Bates, the versatile Michael Sheen, and a very dramatic Adrien Brody. And I won’t give away who is supposed to be who, I’ll leave that joy of discovery for you.

This is a movie for art and literature lovers, ideal for book bloggers and discussion groups. Allen has cleverly juxtaposed the modernists in the turn of the 20th century with their contemporary admirer Gil. We encounter all these iconic figures in the film: Ernest Hemingway, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertrude Stein, Pablo Picasso, Cole Porter, Salvador Dali, T.S. Eliot and more… it’s so much fun to hear allusion to their works, and some of them utter lines that are their own but in the style and wit of Woody Allen’s.

What makes the movie gratifying of course is not just the visuals, people and places, but how the story leads. The twist towards the end is the pivotal revelation for Gil. While one can bask in nostalgia, one needs to embrace the present in order to fully live. As I watched the movie, I wanted to read the script and capture Allen’s ingenuity. As I left the theatre, I wanted to see it again.

~~~1/2 Ripples

To read my review of Hemingway’s A Moveable Feast CLICK HERE.