Monday, February 25, 2013

Oscar's Red Carpet

Best dressed belongs to Naomi Watts in Armani Prive....





Close runner-up Halle Berry




And Nicole Kidman
 



Loved Jennifer Aniston in this little red number
 



Oscar winner Ben Afleck's wife, aka the very talented Jennifer Garner, looked great in this purple gown



Kerry Washington looked lovely in this red sparkler



And of course Charlize Theron would look amazing in anything




As far as the rest of the actresses were concerned, they did look lovely except I am not partial to this pale look that many wore last night. Whether it was Amy Adams, Jessica Chastain or even Oscar winner Jennifer Lawrence,  the dresses faded into the background. You could see the wonderful craftsmanship in each and every dress but rather than making these ladies stand out (OK winning did do something for JL) they seemed to just fade into the background. Red carpet needs a pop and not simply from a pair of red lips ala JC. 

The cut and beadwork on this dress looks exquisite. Yes its old Hollywood glamour but loses something. There is no  pizzazz.




This looked a little too much like a wedding gown and too old for her. She's 24. She needed something more youthful and exciting.


Do love the feathered skirt.





And sorry but Anne Hathaway known for her fashion sense wore a pink hotmess. Her performance dress during the Les Mis presentation was great, but not her red carpet frock.

Seriously bad and the side-boob not good. But everyone's allowed a miss now and again. Lets blame it on newlywed brain.






Don't get me started on Melissa McCarthy's sack.  What was she thinking? Big women do not have to dress like that just look at Olivia Spencer who was very elegant.










So as you can tell I am very partial to color and the metallic look is wonderful. When you dress to the nines, you need to make a statement not disappear into the red carpet.



Who do you think wore the best dress and the worst?


Qi en Pace,


Elise







Monday, February 18, 2013

Downton Abbey...Oh No They Didn'

For those who watched the finale of season 3 of Downton Abbey last night let me say...that was not necessary. OK, in truth when an actor that is irreplaceable wants to leave a series there is very little that the writers can do about it except kill them off. And  no the character of Mathew Crawley could not be replaced by another actor and expect people to just accept him as "Mathew." This series could not survive as an English Bewitched with it's two Darrens.

But I have to say that the story of Downton Abbey is changing and I am not certain what will happen in series 4. The draw of Downton was its upstairs downstairs quality but with humanity invoked. It is the dichotomy of stories and how rich and poor alike have the same problems, issues and go through the same trials and tribulations.  It was less a soap opera and more a story of life. OK, yes somewhat of a soap opera but not with so much negativity involved.


Was it not enough that lady Sybil died from eclampsia mid-season? Yes childbirth was and still is dangerous and in many cases deadly. Funny how during the scene before she died when they were discussing the dangers of infection from a cesarean I though give her and the baby antibiotics. But then I remembered it would be decades before antibiotics or blood-pressure pills would be invented. Amazing what we take for granted in today's world. So there truly was little hope for Sybil all along.

Like many others I wish that Julian Fellowes could have found another way of getting rid of Mathew but then again one of the great stories of Downton was the love between Mathew and Mary. To destroy that in some way would have been worse than killing off Mathew. Now we can return next year and know that no matter what happens in Mary's life she shared a great love. Is that enough to satisfy a young woman in the prime of her life? For some perhaps, but in this case I doubt it, especially where Downton is concerned. I foresee escapades and some self-destructive actions on Mary's part, but then again she has the new heir to Downton to think about as well. I also foresee a leeching Isobel, trying to interfere with the raising of her grandchild since he is the only part of Mathew she has left. Watch for fireworks, tears and trauma.

As for the rest, Edith is headed for heartbreak and trouble. The idea that her editor could not divorce an insane person during that time is unconscionable. But perhaps Fellowes will allow the wife to die ala Jane Eyre and there can be some happiness for one of the girls of the Crawley family. Sad though how so much happiness in this series ends up being based on another's sadness. Perhaps it is a writer's issue or a British issue for that matter, but in life people can actually be happy without it causing someone else pain. Promise. Sad too that after WWI, when an entire generation of youngmen were killed off in war, that women like Edith didn't really have much in the way of suitable, uncomplicated and appropriate companions.

Another side effect of Downton and a good one at that, is that the social impediments and social ignorance of the time reminds people of the "good old days" and how they weren't necessarily so good afterall. Thankfully, social mores and norms have come along way in one hundred years. We can remind ourselves to be thankful that we live now in a time of acceptance and actionable tolerance, well for the most part at least.

Branson has turned out to be quite an interesting character. As the agent of Downton he has a new handle on his future and an interesting attachment to the family. I found it obnoxious how he wasn't invited to the relative's hunting party even though he is the son-in-law living in their home. I found it interesting that the Crawleys went happily without him. It seems that he may be family but he is not "of the family." We shall see what happens next, for eventually a  youngman is going to find a new love. Not with one of the maids of course (that was a nice scene when Mrs. Hughes explained his new place to him and that he was entitled to it), but there is something on the horizon for Tom and no I don't think it is Rose,

Ah Rose, Rose, Rose and children today think that issues between them and their parents is something new. Now she wouldn't even be considered a wild child. She would be just a teenager. Many people don't like her character. I find her interesting. She is a young-woman of the roaring twenties. A new breed of female. One learning how to enter the "modern era" but constrained by Victorian mores. It will be very interesting to see how this rambunctious teenager gets along at Downton with all the sadness to come. She is definitely going to be a challenge for them beyond anything they have ever dealt with. Another plot twist to bring to fruition the changing and developing times in Britain and the rest of Europe before the advent of depression and war.

As for Lord and Lady Grantham and the Dowager they will be back and up to snuff. Cora will help Mary in the raising of the Downton heir and run interference with Isobel (I actually had hoped Isobel would have married the doctor. That would have been a lovely story.)  Robert will retake charge of Downton and work with Branson to continue to modernize. It was nice in the last episode that he realized just how right Mathew had been all along. The Dowager will continue to be herself, supportive of her granddaughter, unsure what to do with Tom and clinging to traditions that are passing her by but something also tells me that the Dowager is going to take charge of Rose no matter how it aggravates Rose. Rose may have just wished she had gone off to India with her mother in the end.

Yes the production values and film making is exquisite in Downton Abbey. But the magic of Downton is that it brings us back in time to an era that we all fantasize about. It transports us. We become invested in the lives of the characters as with any good story. We, who have been raised on Jane Austen and the Brontes, always wondered what life in a great house was like. We even wonder about life in these great houses today, or else why would tabloids and gossip columnists be so highly listened to or people fantasize about winning the lottery and owning a Downton Abbey themselves.

I don't know what 1922 will hold for Downton. Let's just agree that we will be waiting for the next chapter and hoping in series 4 they stop killing off characters. Someone needs to tell Julian Fellowes that people are allowed to be happy for decades. It happened back then as it happens today and it can happen at Downton too.

Qi en Pace,


Elise

Update: I realized that I had forgotten to discuss the downstairs family of Downton Abbey. Truth be told there was nothing to conjecture about. Everything really seems fine. Bates and Anna are very happy (I hope they have a child in series 4), Even Barrow and Jimmy decided that they could be friends after Thomas saved jimmy from muggers. Alfred is still being silly about not cooking, sad that it is not considered manly enough for the times. O'Brien is still her nasty self but it seems that since Bates can always say "soap" it will keep her away from them at least or anyone else she decides to hurt. I think all in all the downstairs lot is in a happier place no doubt than the privileged class right now at Downton. Probably why there wasn't much to write about. Apologies.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

The Cousin's War-Philippa Gregory

Anyone familiar with the book The Other Boleyn Girl has heard of Philippa Gregory. Her engaging look at the role that women played in the court of Henry VIII coupled with the power and legacy of the Boleyn family brings into history that one important element that always seems to be left out by recognized historians...women.

In her new series of books Gregory regales her readers once again with the interplay between destiny and survival during the War of the Roses. This period of English history is the civil war between the houses of York and Lancaster. York being symbolized by the white rose and Lancaster the red rose.  It is called the cousins war, because these two houses were blood descended from the same monarch, hence cousins. It is a war of greed, of holding on to power and in the end as is usual with things so personal simply revenge.

In the first book of the series The Lady of the Rivers we are greeted with the legacy of Jacquette Woodville. Her story begins in France, the daughter of the Duke of Luxembourg. She learns the fate of women of intelligence and strength when she witness the price paid by the maid of Orleans, Joan of Arc. From her eyes we see the machinations of the ruling English class, we see how politics turns to war and what civil war meant for the countryside. While men of power fought, died and destroyed, it was the unrecognized, the unknown and the average citizen that carried the greatest burden of this war. Yet though all the troubles and trials, the bartered marriages and the danger of a marriage that defied a king, with triumph and spirit Jacquette begins a dynasty that will end up sitting on the throne of England.

These books bring to light an interesting period in English history. It is the era that ended the Plantagenets and made way for the Tudors. It is the period of Richard III, hunchback, possible murderer and monarch killed at Bosworth field. It is the period that shaped a future power and made way for much of the modern world. As an aside, that Richard's bones have finally been identified 500 years after his death makes this history all the more real.

If you are drawn to stories of strong women then The Cousin's War series is definitely a must read.

The White Queen


The Red Queen


The Kingmaker's Daughter


The actual history of the Women of The Cousin's War


The interesting issue that tends to rattle around in my head when I read these books, is what would these women have been if they lived today? Would they have been as strong? Would they have accomplished so much? Would they be captains of industry, politicians or warriors? Or were they merely a product of a more brutal age age, just as their men were? We will never truly know, for there is no way to know. But it is fun to speculate what might have been had these women been given their due rewards and deserved respect during their lifetimes.

Qi en Pace,


Elise