Monday, December 11, 2006

By George this circle skirt slays me. Dragons of every sort make this skirt mythical. As with most surviving circle skirts, it’s super small (W 26). I like the parchment-colored background and the variety of dragon species, but am hard- pressed to determine the other elements of this repeat pattern. Are they rocks, or clocks? You tell me.

I’d pair this skirt with a closefitting jacket of purple, ideally with leg of mutton sleeves. I’d be tempted to add an 80’s gold charm of a unicorn to this magical mélange. I’d absolutely wear it to confront my personal demons like back taxes, clutter, and commitment phobia. Maybe this skirt would have the power to march me straight into the office of the nearest cognitive behavioral therapist. I don’t know what ails you, but if you’ve got 16 bucks, go bid on it. Maybe the dragon is your totem animal and this skirt will help you contact it. Probably not, though. But it would look awful cute on you.

Because I’m an avid second run movie-goer, I saw “Little Miss Sunshine” with my dear friend Modesty Blaise last week. I had avoided it previously since it looked like one of those we’re-quirky-but-still-a-family narratives that just serve to bolster the status quo. Though that’s a good summation of the story’s trajectory, what I actually found was a meditation on winning and losing in North American culture. Since the faded art deco second run movie house was virtually empty, Modesty Blaise and I were able to cackle as loudly as we wanted.

Self-help rhetoric is introduced right away as the father of the family, played with bow-legged earnestness by Greg Kinnear, attempts to sell a 9 Step Plan that is equal parts Anthony Robins, common sense and utter nonsense. That his own career is failing underscores the fallacy of capitalism’s spiritual axioms: that you create your own reality, that if you want something badly enough you will succeed. And I just love to see the wind taken out of those sails, boy howdy. New age gurus as the worst sort of parasites who prey on people most desperate to change their circumstances. They take the focus away from the political problems that have put the middle class lifestyle out of reach. If we only think of changing ourselves rather than our government, will we ever have universal health care? I think not. Or even representative democracy? How’s that for a laugh?

Why not try out the you-create-your-own-reality slogan at the barricades in Oaxaca? I don’t think it would endear you to anyone. Fight on, Oaxaca!

Okay, now for the spoilers: everyone else’s dreams go down the toilet too. And the film doesn’t offer solutions, it just watches them wash down the drain. The characters confront the demise of their dearest hopes, understandably, without aplomb. When the teen-aged son Dwayne, played with marvelously passive-aggressive body-language by Paul Dano, finally comes uncapped, he emits truths so painful everyone needs to deny them. Even Dwayne himself. The fact is, in a society that only values the victors, we are all losers just deluding ourselves as we train for some future greatness that’s always out of reach.

Alan Arkin transforms the one-note bit-part of the sleazy old grandfather into a hoot, though I didn’t miss him when he checked out. Steve Carrell as jilted Proust scholar, gets some good Proustian zingers in there. But they got more screen time than the two women, Toni Collette and child actor Abigail Breslin.

But perhaps the greatest delight came from the soundtrack: whistling solos! Yes, western-themed whistling solos by composer Mychael Danna.

I am still compiling the grand list of whistling solos so stay tuned.

More whistling solo sightings. I recently saw Lage Raho Munna Bhai, a Bollywood tale , sequel to Munna Bhai MBBS, in which a gangster impersonates a history professor in order to win the heart of a radio personality and is aided by the spirit of Gandhi. Really. I couldn’t make that up. Played by Sanjay Dutt, the gangster is convincingly rough around the edges, though Mr. Dutt is getting a bit long in the tooth to play a romantic lead. This is schlock, yes, but the infusion of Gandhian principles is well-done and adds some gravitas. But the best part: whistling solos. The soundtrack is full of them. The composer, Shantanu Moitra, said he used them to convey a carefree feeling of youth and friendship. In this soundtrack the whistling solo is even combined with that great Bollywood mainstay, the drinking song. That’s my next list for sure.

I can see the compilation now. I’ll call it “Drunken Bollywood”


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