Adulthood is boring and dumb

A Guide to Oscar Prep

As a committed Oscar movie viewer, I’m happy to say that the chore of seeing every nominated movie this year has actually left me deeply satisfied. Most of my favorite movies of the last year (plus the last two months) have been nominated. I want to mention the one movie that has zero nominations and encourage you to go see it as part of this movie frenzy: Patterson (Adam Driver, bus driver, poetry, Jim Jarmusch).

The Oscars are going to break my heart and award La La Land everything, but the speeches will be great this year. A preview:

  1. Hidden Figures– it’s entertaining and political. I was surprised to find it is not secretly conservative on racial issues (it is not at all like The Help). It also presents you with the most vivid and counterintuitive encapsulation of racialized labor: the “colored computer.”
  2. Lion– I am shocked at how much I love this movie. Like Hidden Figures I thought it would be schlock designed to make old people feel uplifted. Instead it kind of breaks you open so far that you can’t ever fully repair the rupture. So even in the moment of resolution (that you know is coming, because this is a true story), I felt so raw and the aware of all the pain that led up to that moment, that I couldn’t neatly fold it away in my brain. Also INDIA. Any movie that makes you think about how big India is for two hours is doing important work.
  3. Manchester By the Sea–See this even if you are concerned about Casey Affleck’s crimes. For those of you who have read A Little Life, I think there is a very similar kind of aesthetic project going on here, and I want to talk to you about it. As with A Little Life, critics are concerned with the similarity to melodrama. I think there is something about our moment that is cultivating “excess emotion” masterpieces. It freaks people out because there is something unapologetically satisfying about the proxy-pain, but that’s the thing, it is deeply satisfying. It rejects the boring emotional minimalism associated with high art.
  4. Captain Fantastic–I also want to talk to you about this movie. Like the others it is fun and tragic, and Viggo is very worthy. But it is hitting on a fantasy we are all flirting with these days: retreating from the fascist dumbness of the world. Its reflections on the ethics of this kind of retreat are fascinating.
  5. Moonlight–JUST GO SEE IT ALREADY. If you feel like it is going to traumatize you, it won’t.
  6. I’ve already suggested it, so this is redundant, but I’m so excited that Hell or Highwater  was nominated because now people might see it!
  7. Arrival–Lucky you! This is on your homework list and it’s not homework. It has so many interesting things to say about communication and its soundscape of weird sounds deserves all the Oscars. I would happily see this movie again. I’m also really sad that Amy wasn’t nominated. I’d take her performance over Natalie Portman’s Jackie any day.
  8. Jackie–This is the exception to my general thesis about this year’s movies. Not just bad aesthetically, but potentially morally suspect.
  9. I’m pretending I’ve seen Fences–can I just keep pretending?
  10. I am also pretending that Hacksaw Ridge is not nominated.
  11. Nocturnal Animals, Elle, Florence Foster Jenkins, and Loving are left on my list. If you would like to coerce me into watching any of them, let me know!

-D

Blah Blah Land

What is great about a musical? La La Land seems to think that the most important thing to learn from Singing in the Rain is that things were better in the past. Please remember, however, that the whole point of Singing in the Rain was: “embrace innovation.” La La Land, a movie I’m practically alone in disliking, is about to win a bunch of awards and its director/writer Damien Chazelle will be congratulated for bringing back the movie musical. This is a shame and a misunderstanding of musicals. (I want to recognize Richard Brody’s perfect take down of the film, for which most of this will merely be an extended illustration, plus more references to Crazy Ex-Girlfriend).

La La Land is a musical in form but not in spirit. The tragedy is that we are living in a moment when many excellent things are being made in the spirit of a musical, but not in its classical form.

Here are some things that are actually great about musicals:

  1. They allow the bravado of GREAT singing and dancing to overwhelm narrative. A superlative voice or body breaks up the momentum of a story and transports you through its sheer excellence.

  1. Musicals, made often by those outside the mainstream, perform a kind of pathos that is too much for the normal world. In their essence, musicals make space for difference through their weirdness.

 

  1. Musicals comment on the world around them (usually with stinging comedy). Singing and dancing are not trans-historical universal art forms, they are the perfect crystallization of what a particular moment feels like.

 

I’m reverent of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend’s commitment to the essence of musical theater and its bravery in getting rid of the all the stuff that old people feel nostalgic about when they think of musicals (or when they think they are thinking of musicals). Hey, what if everyone’s not white? What if the music is in the vernacular of the era? What if we use the ability to have fantasy set pieces to emphasize the actual mental illness and unhealthiness of romantic constructs? La La Land’s doubling down on the nostalgia of musicals is not only regressive, it’s not in the spirit of musicals.

-D

Top 7

These are not the best things (Moonlight, Fates and Furies, Better Call Saul). These are the things I enjoyed the most; the things that I had so much pleasure consuming I wish I could experience them again for the first time.

  1. Hands to Myself-Selena Gomez. This is probably the song I listened to the most, the song I secretly choreographed a dance to, the song that I wish every cardio dance class used. And for albums: it’s a close tie between Maren Morris and Miranda Lambert’s 2016 albums. Miranda Lambert’s album is almost too substantive for this list, inching towards “best” instead of most enjoyable.
  2. John Mulaney’s special The Comeback Kid.
  3. Keep in mind that I have not yet seen La La Land or Edge of Seventeen, but the movie that filled me with the most delight was Hunt for the Wilderpeople. Close second was Hell or High Water. Also this movie is not officially from 2o16, but 2016 is the year that it finally came to Netflix where you can STILL watch it (as an “indie” movie it’s release date might as well be the year it comes to streaming anyway). Lucky Them starring Toni Colette and Thomas Hayden Church was my favorite romantic comedy of the year. These two actors are currently being misused in a variety of movies and tv dramas so it is a great reminder of their charisma and smolder.
  4. Re-watching Working Girl, which I actually re-watched twice this year. Once in desolate Erie, PA then again after moving to a fancy new city where I have a fancy new job. Coincidence? Basically I started the year as Joan Cusack and ended as Melanie Griffith spinning in her swivel chair. Also Let the River Run is the official song of every professional success.

5. I really got back into romance novels this year, but realized that romance novels are universally terrible at plotting. You know who is great at plots? Young adult writers! Thus the perfect combination is romance + YA. I give you Sarah J. Maas’s second series A Court of Thorns and Roses. The other great thing about Maas is that she heralds the end of Hunger Games/Twilight mimicry in YA. Maas is not interested in metaphors that knock you over the head with their social relevancy or toying with our repressed desires. No, Maas trusts that you are a nerd who is deeply interested in elfish political systems that have no parallels to our own world. And she is a truly sex positive author who assumes you’ve already worked out your desire for elf ears.

6. The Everlane Street Shoe-best purchase I made this year. They make me feel fresh like Ellen.

7. It’s a tie! The Durrells of Corfu and Poldark. I have, as of now, still not convinced anyone to watch the Durrells. It is only six episodes people! Please get on it, I desperately need to discuss the finale with someone. I also have to apologize to friend of the blog Liz, who has been telling me to watch Poldark for the last six months. An eighteenth century mining operation, a love triangle, class intrigue: why did I resist this show?! This is also a reminder to you all to just give in and watch whatever people tell you to watch.

-D.

Boyfriend Update

If my logic is sound, meet your future Star Wars star: Juan Diego Botto

 

I say this because no sooner do I gain a new boyfriend, than George Lucas casts him for a Star Wars movie. Ask anyone who has known me for 10 years, Dirty Dancing Havana nights IS and WILL ALWAYS BE my favorite movie. Did you know that dancing caused the Cuban Revolution? Look it up. Anyways, Diego Luna is long overdue for another starring role. Riz Ahmed and I got together just this year. And of course MAAADDDSSS.

Juan Diego Botto is starring with Lady Mary in the Lady Mary Breaks Bad Show on TNT (real name: Good Behavior). This show is unexpectedly great. And by great I mean (following Willa Paskin) that the show is genuinely committed to romance.

-D

How to look Younger

The most important decision that the showrunners of Younger made was to cast Sutton Foster. I think she plausibly passes for 26. But aside from her natural features the makeover within the show provides crucial lessons about how to look younger.

  1. STOP CUTTING YOUR HAIR
  2. Get highlights

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This realization has caused me to reflect on my twenty plus years of pro-short hair experience. When I was in third grade my mom cut all my hair off because what person in their right mind wants to brush a little girl’s hair?

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Since then I have always embraced haircuts as a way to radically transform myself. Mostly this has been unsuccessful.

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Giving up on cutting my hair is giving up on the possibility of finally achieving the dream that Meg Ryan embedded in all our hearts in 1998: a haircut for the female gaze.

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The one truth that I never seemed to accept about the Meg Ryan-dream is that you have to get your hair cut and colored every three weeks. My parents have very chic short cuts, and they get highlights and LOWLIGHTS. I’m not even sure what a lowlight is.

Now that I have entered the point in my life where I seem to disappear into the background, merging into the mass of neutered older ladies in their boring work attire, I guess I have to say goodbye to the dream of being cool and unfussy and acquire some more hair. Also, I made an appointment for some balayage. That hair is not going to sun-kiss itself.

Also for no reason, here is the greatest tribute to Sutton Foster:

The State of TV

If you are wondering how to prepare for your Gilmore Girls binge, please review’s C.’s guide from many years past.

Fall premiere season has come and gone. What remains?

PBS is trying so hard to keep us in the post-Downton Abby era, and they are doing a great job. The Durrells of Corfu is perfection. Also my friend Liz wants you to watch Poldark. And my mom wants you to watch Indian Summer. So watch them all! The seasons are short. But I’ll say this for the Durrells: it has PUPPIES. Also, Call the Midwife has been renewed for three more seasons!

Jane the Virgin and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend are going strong on the CW. To watch the current seasons you need to go to CW.com or their app to stream them for free. All previous seasons are on Netflix. Jane in particular has found a groove it could stay in forever (less crime lords, more lost cousins and mistaken identity).

Insecure on HBO was the best of the premium dramedy crop this fall. Better Things and Atlanta also maintained a very high quality throughout their seasons.

I think Westworld is boring. If it’s all fake, what are the stakes?! Other people seem to like it a lot though, so whatever. It’s on the list of shows that I have to watch in order to discuss with other people. Why can’t I get people to watch better tv?

Pitch is still dumb, and I LOVE IT.

Younger is the show I’m most excited to watch every week.

Speechless is probably the best new show of the season. Also in this time of darkness, you need its optimism. The Good Place has also turned out to be more Parks and Recs and less 30 Rock. So give it a try if you want to see Ted Danson as the Leslie Knope of Heaven (and why wouldn’t you?).

Queen Sugar only gets better every episode. Have you ever wondered how long it takes sugar to crystalize between harvest and milling? This show has answers.

The Disappointment Pile: Westworld, Masters of Sex, Luke Cage, The Crown, This is Us, and Divorce.

On the horizon: Top Chef is back this week and I’ve never needed it more. Can you imagine anything more soothing than Tom Collichio’s take on a crudo?

Also, PLAYING HOUSE WILL RETURN IN 2017! Reason enough to keep living.  Every episode is streaming on USA btw.

-D

Moisturizer round up

I address you directly, my five readers:

Christiane – as we test run this Indigo Balm together, I like to think that we are both cringing at the same moment as the smell of a hippie’s compost pile hits our face. Report: I have not broken out and it feels very moisturizing, but the smell is so intense I can’t imagine another human being will ever sleep in the same bed with me.

Mom – Continue using the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery moisturizer and retinol serum.

Kerry and Liz- DON’T WORRY. Paula’s Choice has brought back the Moisture Boost due to popular demand! We complained and they heard us. I’m so relieved.

Kerry has also taught us about Dermalogica Active Moist, maybe the most disgusting name for a moisturizer ever. It’s great, but it costs $40 😦

For those of us who can’t be bothered to buy things on the internet, please remember that Cerave PM moisturizer is not only good, it is so lightweight and moisturizing that you can put it on a finicky man and he won’t complain that there is goop on his face. I also encourage said man to use the AM version of this because it has a good SPF and I don’t want him to die.

Finally, for those of you who are not afraid of internet shopping and like cheap stuff (I’m assuming this is you Julie) this amazing moisturizer is under $6 and is super good.

Jennifer, I remember that you are also an oil lady (I always pat some oil on before or after my moisturizer), and you might really appreciate the high quality and cheapness of this rose hip seed oil.

And let us remember there is no substitute for air moisture. Let us all invest in humidifiers.

-Dana

Nashville, the good version

All us educated elites have become okay with country music ever since 1) Connie Britton warbled into our living rooms on Nashville 2) Kacey Musgraves openly critiqued the limitations of white, small-town America 3) Cam and Maron Morris gave us Beyonce-like girl anthems. We all graduated to Miranda Lambert, Chris Stapleton, and Jason Eady, and now identify as “country music” supporters (also quick shout out to Stapleton and Eady for providing my go to crying soundtrack).

If you, like me, have ever tried to channel that love by turning on the country music radio station, it is shocking to be confronted by the incredibly dumb and retrograde music of Luke Bryan and the many many other terrible male country singers who are actually popular in the real (as opposed to our adopted) country music demographic. I bet Luke Bryan is voting for Trump.

But, I have found one guy who seems to exist comfortably between both worlds: Jon Pardi. His songs are clever and funny and the themes are very grown up: work is boring, romancing his wife, and Nashville as a company town. If Nashville the show just made him a character I’d probably start watching again (don’t forget, it has not really died and will continue on the cable channel CMT, sigh).

In related news: I think I’m going to start wearing cowboy boots again. But don’t worry, I’m not going to wear them with my white leather jacket.

-D

Update

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People who can appropriately wear this jacket:

Jem of Jem and the Holograms

Nashville up and comer

Rock and Roll vow renewer

A person with tenure

Also I had to ask my neighbor to take this photo.

-D.

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