Tag Archives: Straight Shooter

Movie Review – Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Cate Blanchett in Blue Jasmine

Last July I saw Cate Blanchett at the movies. That day she was in the audience with her kids and I was there with mine. We approached the cinema at the same time and had to wait a few minutes – just inches from each other – until the doors were opened. And though I tried to be cool, I just couldn’t stop staring – and I wasn’t the only one.  You see even on a day off as she tried to blend in with her kids, star struck patrons approached to remind her ‘Wow! You’re Cate Blanchett!’ Just in case she had forgotten. Because even dressed down in a suburban shopping centre Cate Blanchett was not like all the other parents. She had a natural elegance and striking stature that made her stand out from the crowd. Call it a presence, star quality or X factor, from what I could see Cate Blanchett has plenty of it.

Today I saw Cate Blanchett at the movies, but this time she was onscreen starring in Woody Allen’s latest release Blue Jasmine.  Blanchett plays Jasmine Francis, a stylish New York socialite who is forced to move in with her sister in San Francisco when her life of wealth and privilege suddenly comes crashing down.

We piece together Jasmine’s story, gaining insight into who she has become and why through flashbacks of her former life. Seemly and unseemly behaviour are intertwined with a series of events that are very believable in a post-GFC world. Jasmine is a very practised persona, who really does herself no favours as a selectively naïve wife choosing not to acknowledge all the evidence of deceit as it piles up around her. Yet, even when she is broken and everything seems lost including her sanity, Jasmine maintains a certain grace and mystique that whether genetic or hard-earned, are certainly palpable and compelling both to the audience and many of the characters.

Blue Jasmine is confronting and captivating. It is less whimsical than many of Woody Allen’s films. There is still a good dose of neuroses, but in this story the reasons for their existence are more clearly defined.

Blanchett’s performance and Allen’s screenplay are perfectly matched. I have no doubt that Cate Blanchett did Woody Allen very proud in Blue Jasmine and that she should enjoy all the accolades that I’m sure will come her way for this exceptional performance. There is also little doubt that Allen knew exactly what he was doing in casting Blanchett for this role. Because even in a role that is not always beautiful to watch, Cate Blanchett is not like all the other actresses. She is reliably strong, intelligent and refined which makes her stand out from the rest.

Even though my real life interaction with Cate Blanchett was very short and distant, I suspect she may empathise with her character Jasmine Francis. Because just like enormous wealth, enormous fame must sometimes come at a cost and some days things are just too good to be true.

Have you seen Blue Jasmine? What was your reaction? What is your favourite Woody Allen film?

 

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Making Dreams Come True

What's your dream?

What’s your dream?

I posted a video today on www.straightshooter.com.au. It’s a presentation by Darren Rowse from ProBlogger. Click through to check it out, but careful…it might make your dreams come true.

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Pause and Reset

pauseToday is Monday – the start of another work week. Today is also the day I start my new weekly schedule. I’m half way through Day 1 and everything is on track. Wish me luck as I try to keep up this momentum.

As a Mum and a wife and a business owner and a writer and a friend and a daughter and all the other things I am, it’s very easy for me to get swallowed up with everything that is going on for everyone around me and to forget what I really need to be and to achieve.

So last Friday as I lamented that yet another week had rushed by with little time left for me to progress my plans, I knew I needed to pause and reset.

I used one of my favourite methods of organisation – the blank page technique (click through to read more about this).  Within minutes I could see space on the page. I could visualise how I could fit everything in. I felt relieved that everything was actually possible. I had taken back control of my time.

So this morning it seemed OK to sleep in for 15 minutes more. I completed my morning tasks calmly – you know, with actual time to breathe. I had a healthy, leisurely lunch and a lovely coffee. And now I sit at my computer – right on schedule – writing this post for you all.

Sometimes I just need to pause and reset to find peace and recharge so I can manage my busy life.

What about you? Do you need to pause and reset?

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Movie Review – Before Midnight

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Midnight

Do you love it or loathe it when art imitates life? I love, love, love it and can’t get enough of it. Which is perhaps why I have been so drawn to the story of Jesse (Ethan Hawke) and Celine (Julie Delpy) on their great adventure of coupledom in the three Before movies, directed by Richard Linklater. I’m not going to call them a trilogy, because I hope there will be more.

When Jesse and Celine met for the first time on the train in Before Sunrise in 1995, I was at an age when I was eagerly welcoming chance into my own life. I was 21, had dutifully finished school and university and was old enough to have discovered the hard way that you can only control so much of life and it doesn’t always go to plan. The upside being that I was also learning to recognise and appreciate that it is the random, unplanned events that can have the most lasting impact on life’s path. Every meeting or new person or unfamiliar occurrence was ripe and dripping with possibility. Every fresh day felt like my real life as a grown up was almost about to start. Every week was an intoxicating mix of adventure and misadventure. I had the luxury of saying yes to everything, trying choices on for size, racking up consequences and rationalising mistakes.

I had travelled and loved and dreamed massive dreams. I was unknowingly about to meet my own love of my life. At this time, Jesse and Celine’s rambling musings about life and promise reflected my own thoughts and conversations. We were old enough to sense that life could be enormous, but still too young to make giant decisions that might start narrowing the funnel of ‘what ifs?’. It was definitely still too soon to start answering life’s big questions.

I watched Before Sunset (2004) almost a decade later once huge long term decisions had been made and – like Jesse – I was married with a son. For Jesse, Celine and I, enough time had passed that real grown up experience had either lived up to its promise or not. The scourge of maturity is a growing sense of dissatisfaction – cognitive dissonance of choices made and a sense of confusion that this life you are left with might be as good as it is going to get. Jesse and Celine chose to change course – to re-open a door they once thought was closed. They left their lives behind and chose to be together. This is where our stories differed – but I understood their doubt and admired their willingness to risk it all just when society expected us to be settling down.

And now in 2013 as I watched Before Midnight I was reminded of our shared experiences to date and eager to use their most recent chapter as a barometer for my own life at this time. Jesse and Celine, now parents to twins as well as to Jesse’s son from his previous marriage, take a precious moment to stop and reflect while on a holiday in Greece. But as many of us know, reflection can be dangerous as inevitably both the good and the bad of life are considered. We watch this couple debate their choices and question their sense of satisfaction. How did they get where they are and is it enough?

I now also have three kids and a burgeoning bank of experience about relationships and life. My husband and I have survived and thrived against a series of unstoppable, joyous, challenging and weird instances and incidents each day, week and year that we never could have imagined happening – not even in the movies.

In Before Midnight I felt relieved to see Jesse and Celine having discussions just like I have had with my husband over the past decade. These are the honest and very real discussions between two characters in the midst of very real life situations.

When they are given a kid-free evening, Celine struggles with leaving her children even just for one night, perhaps intuitively sensing that when there is space to challenge the status quo, there are no guarantees of a happy ending for anyone involved.

They wrestle with balancing what is right for their kids without losing a sense of themselves – even with full knowledge that they have frequently made choices that put themselves and their needs ahead of their offspring’s. I have found it is often very easy to rationalise a case either way to justify such decisions and assuage any surrounding guilt. ‘If I am happy my children will also be happy’, sounds very similar to ‘If my children are happy then I am also happy’ but the two ideals are very different indeed, particularly once you try to put them into practice.

Had I been in Greece with Jesse and Celine and joined their lengthy discussion of our place in life at this age and stage, I would hope to have articulated my view that the biggest issue for the middle class masses is having too many choices rather than too few. Should I work full time or stay home to raise the children? Should we stay living where we are or move across the world to be closer to family? Red wine or white? Eat in or out? Such first world problems seem so important in the course of our day to day lives – and worse – each option sounds so tempting that when you choose one over the other, it feels like you are making such a huge sacrifice in forgoing the unchosen one.  It is so easy to focus on that thing you could have had but didn’t, instead of being grateful for the thing you did have that became part of your story.

You see we are really so lucky to have such wonderful options in the first place. The world is smaller and more connected so the avenues for getting what you want are endless. But just don’t hope for enough – because nothing will ever be enough. Just as you are reaching a point of satisfaction, another better option will fill the void and your longing for enough will continue and compound. Enough money, enough time, enough kids, enough things – we need to be comfortable with the fact that maybe there will never be enough. Or perhaps we already have it?

In the end, despite all the emotion and doubt circling the responsibilities of life, sometimes you just need to stop and to forget all the  drama and choices and to live for a moment. To take respite and breathe for a little while to steady yourself before you dive back into your everyday world and continue the next chapter of your story. There are no right answers to legitimise your life. You’ve just got to get in and live it.

In Greece, just before midnight, Jesse and Celine have the chance to do just this and – just like in real life – their story will continue.

I hope Linklater, Hawke and Delpy get busy soon on the next instalment from Jesse and Celine as I look forward to seeing how our paths converge and take the chance to hold a mirror up to my own experience – to remind myself of the power of chance, that it is never too late to change course and that enough needs to be enough. All of this adds up to a memorable and meaningful life story.

Have you seen any of these films? What did you think? Did they help you reflect on your own life?

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A Tribe of Scribes

This post was originally published on my business blog www.straightshooter.com.au but I felt it also had relevance here.

I have a new theory that we are all connected. When I say all, I mean all of us that are compelled to share our story with the world – bloggers, writers, songwriters, dancers, artists and creators of all kinds. Those of us who have an innate inkling that we have something to say that just might be interesting enough for someone else to appreciate. Those who feel and act upon that moment of confidence or nagging curiosity which implores us to test our instinct, to make our work available and to steady ourselves to react to the reactions.

Storytelling is unquestionably the most effective way to teach, to learn and to understand about yourself, about others and about the world. For those of us who are incurable storytellers – those who simply cannot resist the urge to share – we play an important role in history, for our families, for our communities and potentially something much bigger.

You see I believe that at some point, many years from now, sociologists studying this period will refer to it as ‘The Age of Sharing’. An unprecedented time of chronicling, enabled surely by technology, but delivered by an army of storytellers enthusiastically brandishing their thoughts, ideas and experiences. Scientists may dig a little further to uncover a part of the brain that specifically relates to compulsive storytelling. They will trace this genetic link back through the lineage of the great storytellers of our time to hypothesise and prove that we are indeed direct descendants of ancient scribes who chiselled in stone and painted cave walls and gilded castles and churches to document the stories of their generations. They will find that we are all connected as one large, enduring tribe of scribes just trying to make sense of life and do our part to record our history.

So today I want to celebrate storytelling and revel in my place as part of the tribe. To seriously and responsibly fulfil the legacy of all those who have gone before me.  To teach, to learn and to understand.

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