I saw “La La Land” with some dear friends earlier this week and have been trying to figure out how I feel about it ever since. The movie was so up and down for me — there were some moments that were pure magic (ahem, when Ryan and Emma nearly kiss in the theatre…AH! I was dying!), and, on the whole, it was an absolutely beautiful movie. So gorgeous to look at. And when Ryan starts tap dancing for the first time, I was literally grinning ear to ear in spite of myself. (No really — I think my eyes turned into hearts, a la the emoji heart eye face.) So charming! But on the other hand, it felt long and over-wrought (intentionally so, I think…but still) and a lot like Hollywood romanticizing itself. On that front, it was interesting that they cast such huge celebrities in the leading roles: it was impossible not to consider the plot on a meta-fictional plane as well. For example, how much did Emma actually relate to the starving-artist-trying-to-make-it plot line? And neither Emma nor Ryan have particularly awe-inspiring voices or dance abilities (in fact, some of the dancing/singing scenes felt almost clumsy/awkward, in my opinion) — so you find yourself thinking about them learning to sing/dance for the movie, or at least, I did.
But (stating the obvious), it’s remarkable how you pick out certain elements of a work of art at certain times in your life, how they take on new meaning within the context of your own experience. For example, my father circulates an epic passage from Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms (a favorite of ours) every year or two, and he just shared it with the family via email a week or two ago. My sister responded: “Love the whole passage. Read several times. Its funny — it has a different meaning at different parts of your life, but I guess that’s good writing.” Not to get overwrought myself here, but one of the reasons why I was particularly drawn to the modernist period while in graduate school was because so much of the art underscored this exact concept: for example, when you look at one of Picasso’s cubist paintings, certain visual elements advance or recede depending on where you are looking on the canvas. A nose on a face might suddenly appear in high relief, while the rest of the painting feels flat and one-dimensional. When you shift your gaze, suddenly you notice the figure’s arm as the center-point of the piece and all of angled forms around it only serve to accentuate the arm. Or a vase might appear as though it’s suddenly about to fall off the edge of a table. Basically, in their very form, these works of art remind you of your active role in their creation and meaning. And also, of how unfixed their “meaning” truly is. (And, to bring us back to contemporary times, this is part of the reason why I love the Harry Potter series, with its constant reminders that art and books are living, breathing things — whether through the “live” paintings on the walls or the disappearing ink on the pages. Very modern books, those Harry Potters!)
AT ANY RATE. La La Land caught me at an interesting moment in my professional career, one where the song praising the dreamer who tries and makes a mess left me feeling reflective, moody, proud, determined. (I can’t imagine the countless thousands of aspiring actors/singers/dancers/performers who will watch the same scene and decide to persist in their challenging pursuits, inspired.) And while some elements of the movie are so cloyingly insular to Hollywood, there is something more broadly applicable to all of us who are just trying to make it, in whatever shapes those aspirations may assume in your own life. And what are we to make of the fact that (spoiler alert, close your eyes if you intend to watch the movie), while the main characters do not make it together, that they both achieve their professional ambitions, shaped by the actions of one another? It does provoke thoughtfulness around the trade-offs for success, the “T+Cs” as our lawyers call them (terms and conditions).
What did you think?
(Also, Ryan Gosling. HOLY smoke show. What a BABE.)
(Also, Ryan Gosling.)
Here are some things that aren’t as exciting as Ryan Gosling, but that may ease you through today:
I’ve seen a lot of fashion bloggers sporting bows in their hair and have been undecided as to whether I would look like a weirdo school girl or not wearing one of these. (Also, I went to an all-girls high school, so I was convinced I was hair-bow-ed out for the rest of my life after being a “bow head” for four long years.) But guys…HOW CHIC?!
This $25 hair accessory makes it easy peasy to give a whirl…
I think this Salvatore Ferragamo Enea flat ($425) might be THE PERFECT FLAT. I want it in both of these colors, please and thank you.
Ina Garten’s new cookbook ($21) was just the cooking inspiration I needed for the new year. PSSST this article in The Atlantic discussing Ina Garten and her devotion to her husband (so evident across her television show and book series!) was super interesting and provocative. (Thanks, Virginia, for the rec!)
This trench cardigan (on sale for $77) is supah chic. Just imagine with skinny jeans, a white blouse, and a statement flat. Timeless, modern, grown-up…love it.
Want to make your food snaps look amazing on Insta? Pick up one of these marble slabs ($26) and style your ingredients/cheese plates to your heart’s content.
People have been freaking out about the beauty line Tatcha. I’m intrigued. This luminous dewy skin mist ($48) is at the top of my list.
Mr. Magpie has destroyed several pairs of Ferragamo loafers and a pair of amazing suede driving mocs in forest green I found for him from the Italian brand CarShoe thanks to the brutal winter weather up here in Chicago. There’s pretty much always snow, slush, or — worst! — salt ruining the bottom of your shoes. I just came across these shoe-cleaning goodies from Jason Markk for him — $18 for shoe wipes, $17 for shoe brush and cleanser set, and $12 for suede shoe cleaning kit. #Fingerscrossed.
This statement top is so fresh and chic for the new year ($82)!!!
These Valextra clutches ($1,290) are AMAZING. So grown-up. So sophisticated. So minimalist. LOVE.
I love the simplicity and slouchiness of this classic sweater ($79), especially in the oatmeal color, and preferably worn with simple jeans, mocs, and a ponytail.
Finally, the sweet Lara of the awesome beauty blog Glossarie sent me her personal Amazon list for her baby – all of the items she loved and could not live without! (Thanks, Lara! You are the BEST.) I especially appreciate the annotations she’s left. I added a ton of her recommended items, especially on the toy side of the list, to my personal shopping list. On a similar note — hope this isn’t TMI — but several moms have recommended this cream for those who plan to breastfeed. One mom also mentioned that she’d heard that putting cabbage leaves (no joke) in your bra can help with some of the pain/hardness associated with the process, and that it worked like a miracle! I’m tucking that home remedy away just in case…
+The happy stripes and retro bow on this sweater need to happen in my wardrobe.
+These finally went on sale. Indulge your inner Cher (from Clueless, not the singer).
+Curious about this book. I do love me a celebrity memoir. Anyone read it yet? I’m nearly done with this, which I think is very honest, fair, and enlightening.
+This is the kind of dress that only works on a few body types, I think (i.e., long legs and minimal curves? Am I wrong?), but it is SO elegant!
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6 thoughts on “La La Land + Other Musings.”
I will also go on record for not *loving* La La Land. It was cute and imaginative, but definitely uneven. I just wanted MORE. Ryan and Emma both seemed a bit flat to me, and it was hard to ignore the fact that neither of them are strong singers. When I see the commercials I still think, oh yeah, those little clips are great! But the whole movie…meh. I will be IRRITATED if it wins the Oscar.
If you’re in the mood for a feel good and unexpectedly fun movie, I suggest Hidden Figures. I took myself on a playing-hooky-movie-date yesterday and I LOVED it. It’s a fascinating story and I felt like I was either laughing or crying the whole time. It handles serious subjects in a sensitive way and is mostly uplifting without ignoring some of the uglier realities of our history. The music was a fun surprise, too — I found myself dancing in my seat more than once.
I think we’re on the same page, Alison, w/r/t LaLa! I will definitely need to check out Hidden Figures!!! Sounds entertaining, but substantive. Let me know what else you’re seeing/reading — I think we have similar taste. xxx
*SQUEAL* you are the absolute sweetest – love chatting babes with you! so excited for yours to arrive. motherhood is (challenging and wonderful and) bliss!
Thanks, Lara!!! You are the best!
For the baby list – I agree with the Wee Gallery Art cards, my kids had 3 different sets and LOVED them. Anything from Aden + Anais is a must, including their crib sheets. Target carries a line from them and the quality is pretty much on par with the full priced line. The Boppy changing pad liners are great and will save you from having to wash the changing pad constantly. Your insurance company should provide you with a breast pump before you leave the hospital, so don’t bother registering for one. You can also have your doctor write you a prescription for a hospital-grade one that you can rent and it’s totally worth it – you yield a ton more milk in half the time.
If you’re buying white onesies, avoid Gerber. They shrink horribly. Carters, Petit Bateau, Spasilk and Polarn O Pyret were my favorite brands and I liked the sleeveless styles best for layering underneath clothes.
This is GREAT, Jen! Thanks so much for sharing. I’ve already noticed shrinkage with some of the newborn pieces from Gerber I have washed (grrr) — looking forward to the rest of these items, too! xoxo