Welcome to my new series of cool things I have recently found/seen/read on the internet. I don’t suppose we need anymore introduction than that, do we? Continue reading Cool Things on the Internet #1
Week one in our long-awaited Feminist Film Month (if you don’t count last week’s Tootsie) and Jillian chose this quirky tale of Polly, an ‘organisationally pared’ temporary secretary and full time kook.
I’ve personally been looking forward to starting February off right for lots of reasons, not least because January sucked full arse. I know my blog wife feels the same way.
So let’s all put our hands together in a slow clap for this new month and keep that momentum going until at least the Spring, yes?
But to our film, which is Canadian and, incidentally, voted 9th in 1993’s Top 10 Canadian Films of All Time (thanks Wiki!).
As always *Spoilers Ahead*
IMDB Synopsis: Scatterbrained Polly gets a job as a secretary in Gabrielle’s art gallery.
I identify with Polly in many ways, not least because she loves people watching and seems not to have any real direction. That’s so me! We begin this film with Polly speaking directly into the camera, telling us about the job interview she has at Gabrielle’s gallery which leads to an ‘incident’. She doesn’t use that wording but alludes to something that’s happened to her, or because of her.
It’s not really said but I get the impression that Polly is recording herself rather than talking to somebody else and is a little reminiscent of Miranda July in one of my favourite films, You and Me and Everyone We Know (2005) – although I think that’s just in my head.
At the interview, Polly meets Gabrielle, a rather serious French woman who takes Polly on to work in her gallery. During her introduction Polly admits that she isn’t very good at temping and has been described as ‘organisationally pared’. Gabrielle’s gallery is rather small but she definitely knows her stuff and Polly is quickly enamoured.
Polly FYI lives alone in a great little apartment and tells us that she has done so since the age of 21, when both her parents died. She is now 31. She enjoys taking photos and riding around the city on her bicycle. She is also prone to fantasy and often drifts off while waiting for her photographs to develop in her home dark room.
I love her for these flights of fancy which see her in a variety of scenarios that made me LOL for the most part.
Polly is a great character and has an immensely likeable face. It’s so expressive that if the entire film were just of her enormous eyes and face, I’d still have come out satisfied.
One afternoon at the gallery, shortly after Gabrielle has offered Polly a full-time job, despite the fact that several past employers have criticised her work and she herself admits typing isn’t her strong point, Mary turns up.
Mary is a leather jacket wearing painter who clearly shares a history with Gabrielle. When the women go off to talk in one of the gallery rooms, Polly listens and watches them on CCTV, which may or may not be a video camera planted inside a sculpture.
She is intrigued to learn that the women are former lovers and that Mary is still very much into Gabrielle, even though Gabrielle proclaims herself too old for her. They kiss, even though Gabrielle is currently seeing a man.
Polly admits in her video diary that she is falling in love with Gabrielle, hence her fascination but doesn’t really want all the kissing and stuff. Her admiration for her boss seems chaste and it’s not clear what Polly’s own agenda is. She doesn’t even seem particularly jealous of Mary, just curious about the whole relationship.
One of my favourite scenes occurs shortly after Polly discovers this new facet to her boss, as Gabrielle is walking a potential (male) buyer around the gallery. The two are discussing a collection of paintings by the same artist, and Gabrielle’s enthusiasm and obvious knowledge on the subject manages to sway his opinion, which is very strong (of course it is, he’s a man). Gabrielle does this in such an impressive way that by the end of scene I was nodding my head triumphantly, along with adoring Polly.
Things begin to develop when Polly is invited to Gabrielle’s home for her birthday party. She arrives really late, carrying a big box and all the other guests have already scattered, leaving just Gabrielle and Mary. Mary takes herself to bed while Polly and Gabrielle stay up. Gabrielle is sad and confesses that she’s upset because the one thing she wants she will never have. That thing is talent.
Polly is surprised to learn that her boss is a secret painter and asks to see her work. Gabrielle is hesitant but shows her anyway. Polly is absolutely blown away by the paintings (which are displayed to the viewer as blank glowing canvasses, thus allowing us to visualise this art as we see fit). And as Gabrielle passes out on the couch, she makes the decision to take a piece.
Back home with the painting, Polly is inspired by Gabrielle’s secret talent and selects some of her own photographs to send into the gallery under a pseudonym. She hopes that they’ll impress Gabrielle as much as Gabrielle has impressed Polly.
Gabrielle’s painting, meanwhile, is taken into the gallery without her permission by an encouraging Polly. Polly tells Gabrielle she shouldn’t be so shy as she’s clearly brilliant and that one of her associates has already been in and gushed about it.
Quickly, Gabrielle’s names gets out there and she becomes an instant hit on the art scene. She’s delighted, and quickly sheds her humble demeanor.
Polly, unfortunately feels rejected when her photos come into the office and Gabrielle dismisses them halfheartedly as “simple minded”. She calls in sick and stays home burning every one of her photographs.
I’m going to leave this here as all is not as it seems and if you watch I want to leave some things sacred. But to the questions section!
Will Polly gain her artistic confidence back? Will she continue to love Gabrielle? Is Gabrielle all she seems?
As I wrote those questions I remembered that the ending was quite harsh but definitely proved that Polly is no doormat, despite her sweet and quirky outer appearance. Gabrielle quickly turns in Polly’s eyes (and therefore ours) from the be all and end all, to something hope-crushing and it’s all there displayed on Polly’s trusting face.
I thought this film was really something special, not least because of Sheila McCarthy (who I swear I know from more films). She plays Polly in an wide-eyed way that doesn’t grate and that’s an achievement in itself. Her daydreams could easily begin to irritate but don’t, even when she’s conducting an orchestra at just the wrong moment.
It’s okay that Polly doesn’t have a plan for life, or any friends or family because she’s something else. Otherworldly? I don’t know what it is, but there’s something about Polly.
Gabrielle too is a pleasure to watch, and I like that she wears her age well (whatever that actually means). This being the eighties there are lots of giant leather belts, big earrings and arm cuffs – and she rocks them all. As an ageing woman, her lines are clear to see but she’s stunning and interesting, so much more for those things. She also casts quite the shadow as an idol fallen from grace but maybe doesn’t deserve the comeuppance that she receives.
I really liked Mary, and particularly in a scene she shares with Polly, after Polly has given up on her photography dreams. Mary finds a discarded picture taken by Polly and Polly dismisses it, using Gabrielle’s exact words to put it down. Mary accuses her of being harsh, and what does any of that matter if she likes the picture? It’s a wonderful way to look at art.
All those comments synonymous with the art set, what do they matter unless you like the piece? And what if you like a piece nobody else does? It’s still art to you. They don’t explore this much and I would have like Polly to be bolstered by their conversation.
It is all very female-centric of course, which is why it was chosen and hardly any men appear. Or if they do they are only there to illustrate the points of the women. Polly admonishes one in particular when he patronises Gabrielle, labeling her lucky to have got where she has when she first starts becoming famous. That was a triumphant scene.
All in all, I would recommend this film quite highly. I just really like the tone. Plus, the scene where Polly follows the kissing couple around and almost gets busted for peeping on them in the woods made me DIE. Why does this scene remind me so much of The Foxy Merkins, Jill?
My Rating: 4/5.
Did my honey Jillian hear the mermaids singing or was it more of a damp squib to her? Find out here.
I love doing these posts and I feel I should do them more often, since there are so many great things to think about, even in low key February while it’s frosty out and there’s not much going on.
As I’ve previously mentioned, I’m in hibernation mode and it’s been a really fun time to reflect on my blog and reading list, to watch some great (and shit) TV and films. Not enough films mind.
So, inspired by my lead up to Christmas edition of Things & Inc, here’s part 2. A few of the things I’ve been thinking about/digging in February.
This artist blows me away in general and I have seen a few of her piece pop up over the years, and always been impressed. But I have a very special place in my heart for the Painted Ladies. They are magnificent!
Since it is unlikely I would ever be able to afford one of the original figurines, I have been looking at the photographic prints instead. Still a little bit of a hefty price tag, but maybe one for a birthday wish list.
Yet another US TV show that has sucked me in and won’t spit me out until I’ve devoured all five seasons.
PLL is actually pretty good. It’s no Gossip Girl, of course, but nothing is. It’s very twisty and turny; and feels like a continual teen horror movie.
The gist: When pretty (and bitchy) Alison DiLaurentis goes missing, her clique are left to wonder what the eff went on and who would want to harm her. While the girls had been drifting apart before the disappearance, they’re thrown back together by a common enemy, the sinister A; who is threatening to tell all their secrets, and worse.
Honestly, it’s been quite gripping. Thanks as always, Netflix.
NB: I should say here that I’m trying hard to cut down on my television watching during the week. Left to my own devices, I will just sit dribbling in front of the box for four hours straight every night without gaining anything from it. I know it’s no good for me, so I’ve been coming home and reading, blogging and pottering instead. It feels good.
This is such a material thing to include, but never mind. It’s a total game changer! You know I love ASOS anyway and lust after a lot of items on the site (too much), but upgrading to the Premier account has just been amazing.
Basically: Unlimited next day delivery, courier pick up if you don’t like something; the ASOS magazine to your door and preview emails about upcoming sales, all for just £9.95 a year. £9.95! I know I’m no longer shopping, but when I am… this will change everything.
Girls Season 4
So happy that this show is back again. I love it, even though I dislike at least 75% of the main characters. The writing is fantastic, the characters are flawed and frustrating; and I’m very interested to see where it goes.
I like Lena Dunham and will always be into what she brings to the table, even if she doesn’t always present it a way I agree with. I read Not That Kind of Girl and enjoyed it. I might come back to that in a separate post soon.
Ah, other bloggers. Such a massive part of why I’m enjoying blogging so much right now.
Again, my current favourites will fill their own future post in the next few weeks but this week I have had some great interaction, when I really needed it, and I am starting to feel very excited about my blogging future.
I have some fun things coming up, including a collaboration with a fellow film lover that really peaks my creative interest!
So that’s what I’m about this month! What are you digging?
All images via Google.
When I was a teenager I wasn’t sure of anything really, but I did have a slightly rebellious streak (that I cultivated to push against an imaginary enemy). My lovely mum was pretty cool with most things so I was fighting myself, mostly.
When I was around 14 (in my anecdote I am 14, but I suspect I was actually 16), I convinced my uncle to take me to get a tattoo. We chose a tiny little shop in an alleyway in Hastings Old Town one Saturday and I had absolutely no plans for a design.
I am from a family that you wouldn’t exactly call ‘tattoo friendly’ and before this had never had an older family member with a secret tattoo. If my own grandfather has a fuzzy blue mermaid anywhere about his person then I have never heard of it, much less seen it.
So it was brave of me I think to walk into the buzzing atmosphere of my first tattoo parlour that afternoon. In those days it was easy to fake a birth date on a flimsy piece of paper, no ID was requested and to be fair I don’t think anyone cared all that much.
I pointed to a tiny pink butterfly on the wall and before I knew it I was in the chair, a huge man with a ring through his nose looming towards me with a needle.
I took it well, marvelling at a feeling I had never had before. I know it now to be a flush of adrenaline but my childish heart was just delighted to be doing something so unauthorised. So free.
While he waited, my uncle fell in love with a dream catcher design (or was it a mushroom?) and went back a few weeks later for his own ink. And I’ve been in love with tattoos ever since.
If I didn’t know anything else, I knew right there that one day I would be covered in them if I only had my way.
Today I have quite a few. The artwork on my body varies from very very bad to really great and there are some oddballs in between. People talk about tattoos being a map of events in your life and that is true for me to a certain extent. There’s the 18th birthday present from my high school BFF (shooting stars, ankle), the ill-advised travel tattoos (tiger cub, hip/multiple lotus flowers), the great big Fuck You.
There’s the love token (letter ‘g’, back of neck), the BFF that is no more tattoo (tiny star, behind ear) – and then there are the ones that I just had to have because I like stuff (sugar donut/nail polish bottle/hula hoop). What I have is for me and nobody else, although I do run it past Mr Bee first. It’s not a request for permission per se, just checking in.
In the end, it doesn’t matter what other people say, how many times they ponder when I will stop or if it will affect my ability to get a job in the future. A big oaf in the Co-op asked me if they were real and then proceeded to tell me how much he hates tattoos. Great customer service, my friend!
It is my body and if I’ve thought it through and want to do it, I will. I’m not as heavily covered as some friends, but have quite a bit more than others. Some of my friends have nothing at all and always make me think of what Ozzy Osbourne once said:
If you want to be —-ing individual, don’t get a tattoo. Every —-er’s got one these days.”
This week, today actually, I am popping in to hang out with my friend and tattooist, Alex, who is going to draw me up an epic piece. I’m at the stage where slapping things on empty space isn’t an option anymore, they have to fit in with existing pieces so that the overall ‘sleeve’ knits together.
I like colour and I love the traditional style, and I’m also a massive girl so everything I have has to have a feminine edge, even my lumberjack is drinking from a fine bone china cup and saucer. I don’t really know what I’m doing but I do know what I like so that’s half the plan sorted, right?
As for my family, well my Mum at least, she came round eventually, electing to have a tattoo to celebrate her 65th birthday. Her son-in-law paid and every time I see it I get a glimpse of the bad ass within. She gets complimented by hipster waitresses and I admire her for doing it because she wanted to.
She’s still not sold on the idea of me being covered but that’s just because I’ll always be her baby girl. She loves them on other people.
So what are your views on tattoos? Do you have them/want them/abhor them?