The Art of Getting By – A Review Full of Spoilers

Yesterday was a day of existence, I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. A day of not living so much as staying in your pajamas (or a black cami and matching palazzo pants in my case,) watching TV, and idly watching facebook, waiting for one of your “friends” to post something mildly interesting. Or, on second thought, maybe not, for if they post an album of pictures they took at the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival or a status about the crazy thing another friend said while they were out on the town, it might remind you of the mundane nature of your own life, or should I say, existence.

Yes, yesterday was one of those days, and as much as I felt the obligation to do something about it, I just could not bring myself to get off the couch. I could not until my brother had the idea of taking my mother, himself, and me to see the movie The Art of Getting By.

 

Judging from the trailer, (the songs on the trailer are, in order, Peter, Bjorn, and John- Second Chance, Win Win- Victim, and French Kicks- Trial of the Century, by the way. They’re great songs, check them out,) I figured that I wouldn’t be astounded by the movie itself. The story is not an original one. Artistic, fatalist boy meets quirky girl who doesn’t play by the rules. They skip school together, he falls for her, are they just friends, or something more? Certainly haven’t heard that question before. Neither have we seen the plot twister of the girl, Sally, falling briefly for the boy, George’s, best friend, or in this case, mentor, Dustin, an older artist. And as all of this is going on, both Sally and George’s families are facing struggles and drifting apart, and George is on the bad side of the school he goes to. Once again, a burst of creative originality on the writer’s part. However will the story end? You guessed it: George and Sally end up together, George’s mother divorces the evil stepfather, and through a miraculous burst of focus, George completes a year’s worth of homework in three weeks and graduates. All in all, the happy ending all of us were expecting.

Despite my sarcasm, you all might be surprised to hear that I actual enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Yes, the storyline is not a new one, and it has the potential to be full of clichés, but the beauty of Getting By is its simplicity and realism, in all aspects of the film. It was shot in a simplistic style with little music to fill the background, which to be sure are redeeming qualities to a film nerd such as myself, but the realism really starts to tie in with the simplicity when it comes to the characters.

As a teen growing up in the city, the most apparent way in which I can relate to the characters in this film is how they smoke and drink. Not that they smoke and drink, but how. As I enter my sophomore year of high school (very much sober, I’ll add), hearing a story of a party unremembered is common, and I hardly react when my friend tries to bum a cigarette off a passerby. It’s not a tragic loss of innocence, it’s life. Especially in the city, I think, these vices are present in the lives of most teens as well as adults. Getting By portrays this very well. Never is there a moment of devil-like peers beckoning the angelic protagonist to take his first shot. Instead, Sally and George meet when he takes the rap for smoking on campus, even though they were both lighting up. This type of moment happens just frequently enough in Getting By to make it real, even if it isn’t always “pretty”.

At the beginning of the film, George is approached by his trigonometry teacher, her hand outstretched, expecting his homework to be placed in it. In all honesty, he tells her that although he tried doing it, he was experiencing a time where he found everything meaningless, including the assignment, unfortunately. She interprets this response, possibly aided by the giggles of his peers, as a form of disrespect, and she reprimands him and tells him he must go to the principal’s office and finish his work by the end of the period.  It’s moments like this that display how beautifully Getting By approaches teen angst.

Teen angst is Hollywood’s favorite seasoning, it’s secret ingredient for making the perfect teen film. Remember John Bender, from the Breakfast Club? Or, more recently, fantasy’s favorite couple, Edward and Bella? Tortured teens pop up in lots of movies, but how many of them are relatable? While Bender garners admiration and attention for his sheer bad-assery, how many of us have one at our school? His angst is dramatic, angry, and rebellious, the type of angst few teens have the courage to act on, if nothing else. After disregarding the fact that they are vampires (a quality that NO teen possesses, however much they want to), Edward, with his brooding, somewhat narcissistic self-deprecation and Bella, who is insecure as well as angty, despite the fact that she is being fought over by two beautiful men and being protected by a family of human ideals, garner the response of GET OVER YOURSELF. Very few teenagers are angsty enough to just flat out not talk to people.

So what makes Getting By special? I think it’s the understated doubt and the worries that remain in the back of the mind, shared with few, that so many teenagers can really relate to that are the central point of the film. It’s the two individuals that find a kindred spirit in the other because they feel out of place at their school, and feel comfortable enough to confide in one another because they feel understood. That’s real angst, and it has nothing to do with sneaking out of Saturday detention.

In conclusion (FINALLY, I’m sure some of you are thinking), go see this movie, especially if you know and/or love a teen. It’s not going to win an Oscar, it will probably be washed away into the seas of forgotten films, but only because it’s not so much a story as a portrait of teenage life today, a snapshot of life in the city for us. That’s my opinion, anyway.

A Tid Bit

First order of business: update. I spent the past week out of town on a class trip, and I literally wore athletic flip flops at some point every day I was there. They are great, whoever invented the athletic flip flop should be given a medal and a hug. This Wednesday, I will be attending the Cage the Elephant concert, where I will not only flail about with great delight in time to the music, but also experiment photographically and perhaps even sartorially. Either way, it’ll be a killer night, so stay tuned readers.

Second order of business: a little reminder. I just wanted to remind you all that optimism is a great institution, and life is just too short to forgo it. Just something to tickle your taste-buds.

Graceful Deaths

A beautiful cemetery is a place to be treasured. I am lucky enough to live within walking distance of a beautiful historic cemetery which not only has graves dating back to the Civil war, but also has a gate that is forever left open, even through the night and during construction (which was the case for this shoot). A friend of mine and I went roaming around town a while ago and landed here, in the cemetery, to take some pictures and enjoy the quiet.

The colors of this day were plain, save for the vivid greens in the trees and grass. The grace of these muted colors coincidentally carried over into my dress, which is a treasure I found in my Grandma’s discards. The subtle pattern and the soft color palette offset the beautiful shape of the dress. It is 100% silk, which allows it to drape so exquisitely in all the right spots and float lightly through the breeze.  It’s a piece that carries from season to season and is fit for so many events that it is quickly becoming a go-to in my wardrobe.

Another treasure from this trip was the photographer. Don’t let the picture fool you, she takes herself extremely seriously is devoted to honing her craft, especially the alternative modeling technique she embraces so fully here. This is her flickr <http://www.flickr.com/photos/ahmannphotography/&gt; , and in all seriousness, do check it out. She has a true eye for imagery.

I’M BACK!

Did you miss me? Good, I was hoping you did. During the past three weeks I’ve been away, I’ve been a not so busy bee (not good for blogging), and then a very busy bee (not ideal blogging conditions either). During my time as a busy buzzer, however, I was roaming the streets of San Francisco, which has provided ample blogging material. As my first of two San Francisco posts, here’s what I wore on a quest for Haight- Ashbury’s finest vintage attire.

Urban Outfitters Hat, Trousers, and Boots, Nordstroms T-Shirt, Thrifted Bag, Miscellaneous Jewelry

I believe the best order to go about describing this outfit in is from head- to-toe. In the head department, I’ll have to tell you the story about the feather in my hat. There are a few of them, but notice the black one standing at attention away from the others. It was a recent addition when these photos were taken. It had been given to me by a homeless man outside of a little shop called Shoe Biz, and he was very keen on the idea that I should have it. He gave me an explanation I couldn’t entirely make out, but I’m pretty sure it had something to do with karma. I hope the universe has rewarded him for his good deed, because the feather is just what this hat needed.

As for the toes, don’t these boots speak for themselves? They’re quite a remarkable pair, I get complemented on them most anywhere I wear them now. They are just the type of shoes that make one smile. Shoes do that, it’s strange.

Speaking of shoes, here’s a picture of me and my brother (he likes shoes, so it’s not really a complete non-sequitor [but he likes those too]). Anyway, he’s a good three years younger than me believe it or not. It pains me to see how pint-sized I look in comparison.

 

Beverly Hillbillie

Yesterday I took a walk in the park with a good friend of mine, and she obliged me by taking a few quick shots before we parted. Not too shabby I must say… but that’s no surprise.

Hollister Flannel, Home-made Cut-offs from Chico’s jeans, Urban Outfitters oxfords and Cat Eye sunglasses

This outfit is the result of a dysfunctional alarm clock that has stopped going off in the morning, a fact I’m not sure how i feel about. While of course it’s a pain in the neck for one to be scrambling together a top and bottom and swiping on some lipstick while whipping out the door in some effort to redeem one’s self visually,  when it did go off I always had the feeling that if I heard the call of an artificial Ruby-throated Hummingbird ever again, I would punch an innocent bystander in the face. Not that there are usually any to be had, but if one shows up, don’t quote me on that statement. You’ll never be able to prove it.

Moving on… the Cat Eyes definitely add some chic to this outfit. They have been completely worth the $15 I bummed off my friend for them, along with a beautiful pair of orange sandals that will appear on the blog at some point in the warm weather. In case you’re wondering, I paid for those myself.

 

Japanese Real Estate

Today’s outfit, along with its events, was a bit of a surprise. The eye starts out seeing something very neat, polished, and professional, with a black blazer and solid navy top underneath. And then… BAM, the eye landed on the hippy-dippy-trippy skirt, full of flow and colors. As great as this contradiction of an outfit was, it was not fit for the yard working project my school had planned for the day (which nobody told me anything about of course). Instead of bringing me a change of clothes however, my mother decided to whisk me away so I could witness my very first real estate closing. Good thing I wore a blazer… surprise!

Now, speaking of real estate, let’s talk  about Japan (if you’re wondering how I made that transition, I can only tell you it was a writer’s version of trail-blazing). I’m sure all of you have at least heard about the terrible earthquake that just struck, and many of you have seen photos and videos of buildings rocking back and forth before finally crumbling. You’ve also probably heard that it’s now snowing, and many people are out in that snow with no place to go. Like you, I’ve seen the pictures and heard the stories. But when I saw this picture it made me think about things a little differently.

Usually when we think about natural disasters, or any kind of disaster really, we usually imagine a Haiti-like situation, where the disaster occurs in a third-world country whose government is too corrupt to do very much to help. Because of this, some of us, at first, might imagine that the situation in Japan is similar to this. We might think that since places like Japan and Haiti are so far away from us geographically, or that because we are stable in our jobs, homes, and families, something so tragic could never happen to us. But look at these women. They are well dressed, put together, most likely very successful women, who were not bereaved until their world was shaken. They probably never thought this would happen to them either, but it did.

I don’t mean to sound pessimistic or apocalyptic, but I think that the earthquake in Japan should serve as a wake up to us. We have our homes, our families are safe, we have computers to waste time and blog on, shouldn’t we appreciate that? We should remember what we have, and enjoy it! Today, I went on a walk unplugged from the iPod that usually disconnects me from the world around me, and I got to enjoy the sights and sounds of my city with a new awareness. Take opportunities to be aware and thankful of what you have.

I urge you all to send positive energy to Japan in any way you can, whether it be through prayer, a donation, or just thinking of the people there and sending them light and love.

Sorry for the long post, but i felt this was important to say.

Tutu Alternatives

I love costume parties. A lot. I jump at any excuse to dress outlandishly anyway, but costume parties combine loud and outrageous attire with loud and outrageous behavior. What could be a better combination? My friend recently threw an 80’s themed birthday bash, which not only gave me an excuse to teach my un-enlightened friend how to do the Creep (my favorite dance at the moment), but also gave me the excuse to buy a tutu.
Vintage Sweater, Rag-o-Rama tutu, Urban Outfitters boots
One of my favorite things about living in the city is that usually there is some type of artsy-hipster neighborhood where you can find a shop that sells tutus hanging from the ceiling. Such was my luck, and I bought this beauty for a handsome price. Because of this, I figured that I needed to get some milage out of it, and came up with this ensemble to wear to school, as a way to end my already excellent week with a small bang. Unfortunately, my tyrannical mother squashed my attempts at creative self-expression with a phrase she hadn’t uttered in about eleven years: “No, you may not wear your tutu to school.”
With a hanging head, heavy heart, and much grumbling, I went back up to my room to change.
Vintage skirt
As an alternative to my tutu, I chose to wear my tried-and-true favorite red skirt.
I was deeply disappointed to hit this roadblock with my parents. We obviously have different opinions on modern fashion. They deemed my tutu as a costume, to which I said (or thought to myself, more accurately,) “You think this is out-there, you should see the street style during fashion week!” But even if they don’t think my beautiful piece of tulle is appropriate to wear while being educated, it was still an excellent investment. It brightens up room-cleaning and essay-writing, that’s for sure.