My family and other animals

No, it's not me reflecting on Christmas, it's actually a novel and a 2005 film that caught my attention.
Gerald Durrell, author of thirty-something books, world-famous zoekeeper and naturalist tells the true or semi true (but definitely more possibly authentic than Dalí's autobio) story of his family's life in Corfu, Greece.
I have never been interested in biology but in-the-movie-still-a-kid Gerald is, probably more than most biology teachers. He collects animals, examines and supervises them and makes Greek friends while doing so. Then there are his siblings, the bit too promiscuous Margot, Leslie, whose hobby is shoot anything, anytime, anywhere and Larry, the writer. Their mother tries to raise them as well as she can but with her naive and kind attitude and the children's 'wildness', it is pretty hard.
The film is full of humour and basically anyone can find something in it that resembles the craziness of their own family (especially if named family is relaitvely big). The actors are great, my favourite is Larry's character, Matthew Goode is wonderful (he always is, remember Match Point).

In one word, the movie is sweet and a must-see for everyone who wants to see a witty movie, lack of all the stupid and this-can-only-happen-in-romantic-books/film kind of things. In fact, it is beautiful.


Mixed Nuts.

Well, it's Christmas again. I wish you all a merry Christmas, filled with love, family reunions and, of course, good meals.

And here I am to present my all-time favourite Christmas movie, Mixed Nuts. This is anything but a typical festive film since it's about a lifesaving 'company' with its crazy but adorable employees (and employers). The cast is great, it includes Steve Martin, Anthony LaPaglia, Juliette Lewis, Adam Sandler, Liev Schreiber... and even my beloved Jon Stewart. Of course, most of the actors were relatively unknown when the movie was made (1994) but that does not reduce the quality.
The plot is a bit depressive but believe me, it IS funny (okay, it is entertaining if you, like me, are the fans of ironic, bittersweet humour).
I dislike telling others about the story of the film because it always has the risk of making something accidentally roll out of my mouth that I shouldn't have mentioned (like, the end, or stuff like that) so if you want to, and I can assure you, you better want to unless you intend to miss a Christmas classic, go watch it. Have seen it already? Quite possible... Go watch it - again. It's always fun to watch, especially when it's Christmas since we all know that nothing, including Christmas, is perfect and Mixed Nuts shows this side of the fest in its oh-so-sweet-and-miserable way.

Oh, and here's an example conversation, via IMDb:
[Philip gives Mrs. Munchnik her Christmas gift]
Mrs. Munchnik: A fruitcake?
Philip: Yes.
Mrs. Munchnik: Remarkably like the one I gave you last year.


The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí

According to Salvador Dalí, there comes a moment in everyone's life when... they discover how much they adore Salvador Dalí.
There are many 'egoist' artist in history (think Alfred Hitchcock) but no-one can take over this catalan genius. Named moment arrived in my life a long time ago and since then, I had to realize not only is he a great painter but his writing skills are extraordinary as well.
I am a Picasso fanatic and am always sad to see that out of 10 books on artists in a bookstore at least 7 is about Dalí and only one is about Picasso but I am always thrilled to see that out of that 7 books at least 5 is actually written BY Dalí.
I could write and talk hours about his works and how much I love to have him as my 'private catalan teacher' (he often explains what this or that means in catalan) but this time I would only like to talk about his biography (or pseudo-biography??), The Secret Life of Salvador Dalí.

First of all, this anything but a usual bio but what could one expect from him, after all? It is filled with speeches that kind of glorify him in the loveliest way, for example:
"At the age of 6, I wanted to be a female cook. At 7, Napoleon. After that, my ambition just went on growing. I wanted to be Salvador Dali and nobody else."
Other wise words are also to be found in the book...:
"What is an elegant woman? An elegant woman is a woman who despises you and who has no hair under her arms.
But despite all of his self-adoring life, after (and, as he claims, even before) he had found Gala, his wife, life itself has changed. He remained to be in love with himself but he has stated countless times how much he loved Gala (once he said he loved her more than his parents; than he said he loved her so much, after she dies he'll eat her and so on).
If you want to read (or give a gift to someone, anyone), trust me, this one is a perfect choice. It is entertaining, witty, has great thoughts and introduces the life of one of the most influential and famous artists of the 20th century more authentically (okay, according to some, not really authentically but definitely wonderfully) than anyone else could do so - by Salvador Dalí himself.


Dominique Besson+Vintage Movie Posters=miracle

As we all know, vintage has been 'in' for a while and it really doesn't seem to go out, especially not when it comes to special pop culutral merchandise - think something Beatles or Elvis related, or a mug with the picture of James Dean or Marilyn Monroe (thanks for KIKA for making these two dreams of mine come true for $1,5 per mug).
And if you are also into movies, especially elder ones, you might show some interest in a French gentleman's offer: his website, dominiquebesson.com gives you the opportunity to check out some movie posters from all around the world (along with pre1900 ones!) - believe me, unlike today's movie posters, they are real artpieces. And, of course, of you find your favourite or just want to give the best gift for a real fanatic, you can also buy the posters (there are some under €200 and above €2000, you can refine your search according to era, designer, actor/director, price, etc.) - believe me, they are worth it, just like a contemporary painting.

PS. Oh, and this is exam season that means I can not pay as much attention to fashion as I want to. But today, while I was checking the blog Superfantasticpicturetime, I found the picture of this young lady and thought I'd put it here:

I love the shoes, I love the red details, I love the coat, I love the haircut, I love everything.


Hymne à l'amour

I remember the first movie I saw that 'decided' to make us understand the story by not showing it in a linear way but with confused scene order: 21 Grams. Ever since, I've seen many pieces made this way and have always thought it was better than the regular method since it literally forces the viewer to pya attention and think it over.
I know La M
ôme is not a new film but I happened to see it today and was really impressed. For your information, it's about Édith Piaf, the legendary singer and for this reason, the music is fabulous. Marion Cotillard is wonderful in the movie, her acting skills are definitely the ones if a great talent - the moves, the look, the voice, everything, everything, everything is perfect. The other actors are good as well and I like how the movie manages to bring 'that Parisian feeling' to life.

The story, of course has many sad sides, but I have observed that drama is exactly what I like about movies - life does not has a happy end all the time after all.
What else could I say? The last song of the movie tells it all. If you want to see a not so light but thought-wakening film about love, loss, success and dignity, I recommend it. And last, but not least, all this based upon ture events, true emotions and most of all the life of an extraordinary personality who had all the humour, whimsicality and will to make it happen and bear it all.


The Alchemist

Frankly speaking, in some cases when a book or film becomes extremely famous and everyone knows and reads/watches it, I am a bit reluctant when it comes to reading/watching them. It's not because I am a snob or something, I like many bestsellers and blockbusters, not to mention iconic masterpieces (On the Road, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, Breathless...) but sometimes I just feel like not obeying the 'social rules'. It doesn't make me undereducated since I definitely watch and read these pieces, it just takes time for me to make myself doing it.
The same thing happened with Paulo Coelho's The Alchemist. Coelho is one of the world's most popular writers and he is one of my favourite writers as well but when I decided to read my second book by him (the first one was my all-time favourite 11 minutes), I also decided it would not be the book that actually made him famous. It wasn't really a decision, just a feeling that I sould opt for other novels. But, as I said, I always make these much-anticipated things mine, and now it was time for The Alchemist.

And I must confess, I might have made a mistake. The novels I have read by Coelho were more mature than this, not that this is not mature or something, it's typical Coelho, of course I read it in no time (2 days - when was very busy with other things, too) and was kind of disappointed. I love the story, I even like the usual mythical names (Personal Story, etc.) and tales but while reading it, I kind of seemed to have enough of the fact that in the book, everyone is wise. I understand poor and undergraduate people are most of the time wiser than those who have I don't know how many PhDs but still, come on, not everyone is like that! There are special people out there but the world is not black (e.g. shallow) and white (e.g. wise)!
But, once again, I love Paulo Coelho, I love his novels, his thoughts, his lines and words and everything and since The Alchemist was not my first read novel by him, if it were, I would have loved it more. But having read his later works where not everyone knows essential but not-known-by-everyone things.
So, it's true what the cover says - A magical fable about following your dream - and the point of it is clear. Sometimes we have to go back to the start, to the basics to understand things, to find things we had thought were without value actually valuable (remember the Coldplay video, The Scientist when the whole vid goes backwards. Perfect.).
If you haven't read it already, I absolutely recommend The Alchemist, with every single novel Coelho teaches something else and whenever you read his works again (like I did with 11 minutes), you happen to find something new every single time. Isn't it what makes an artpiece, let it be a book, a film, a song, an opera, a painting, an anything else ART and MEANINGFUL and VALUABLE?


Santa day

I don't know how it is in your country but in mine Christmas gifts are not brought by Santa Claus but by Jesus Christ himself. But, it doesn't mean Santa has no role in our traditions - he has a whole day to bring gifts, too! Named day is today, December 6th - I remember when I was a child, I couldn't sleep I was so excited about the gifts he had put into our boots (literally, we had to clean our boots/shoes, put them in front of the door and by next morning there were gifts and sweets in them and next to them)... But nowadays, when I am officialy adult (obviously, along with my older brother, so no kids in our family anymore), this day is not that exciting but thank God, we still receive sweets (you can never be adult enough to have enough of chocolate, am I right???).
So I was absolutely happy to get a pack of Raffaellos - they are heavenly, as always, this time in the form of a bell; typical Christmas pack, I love it.
But my favourite of the year is my borther's gift - Lindt Santa Claus chocolate. As you probably know, Lindt is the best chocolate on Earth, super delicious, extra quality and their packages are always wonderful as well. Along with Italian company Sorini and Ferrero, they are my favourite sweets company...

(click HERE to see it in full size, it is too wide, Blogspot cannot show it properly)
I know I have already mentioned in a previous post how much I love winter and the sweets that come with it but after Santa Claus day, I am never lack of chocolate and simply can't wait what Christmas brings along. So, just an advice (that you are probably aware of): if you don't know what to buy or just want to sweeten your gifts - think good quality Christmas sweets - Lindt, Milka, Ferrero, Mozart... all the big ones know how to make delicious and extremely good looking gifts.


Gustavo Santaolalla

Entertainment Weekly has chosen the 50 Smartest People in Hollywood and Gustavo Santaolalla is the 48th. For those of you who might not know him (or his name): he is a composer - think Brokeback Mountain, Babel, 21 Grams, Motorcycle Diaries...

I am glad he made the list, being - as far as I can recall - the only composer on it. The reason "why he is smart" is 'He's the anti–John Williams, capable of breaking hearts with a single guitar.' No-one could say it more perfectly. And ever since I've heard his beautiful score for 21 Grams, he's been my favourite contemporary composer.
He is a natural born talent - cannot read music, plays by ear. Now that's what I call miraculous, and, of course, beautifully heartbreaking.


It's never enough of Woody.

I might share my birthday with darling Paul McCartney but I can't stop but envy my cousin who shares his b-day with Woody Allen - my favourite director, ever. Of course I have other favourites as well, but no one else's personality can be more attractive than Woody's - think of his legendary comments and quirky voice and even the fact that he was chosen one of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history, back in 1995. And yes, he is sexy in his right, he has that certain something very few can resist - the archetype of the man who takes it all with his humour.
So, our dear Mr. Allen turns 72 today. Happy Birthday to him, of course, and I can't wait to see his upcoming projects and I hope he'll keep making this life more bearable with his masterpieces for a very-very long time.

And, you know, at least I share one thing with the genious Woody - our love for Venice, Italy.
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