Category Archives: Inspiration

To inspire creativity and expression

Tender is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald

My readers will know that I have an undying love for F Scott Fitzgerald, his literature and the era he penned to perfection. The flappers,  the Charleston, Art Deco design and ‘the whole shebang’! It came to my attention recently that I have none of the Fitzgerald quotes that have been charming me for so long on Charms of a Dandizette…so I though I should share some.

It was my attempt to reread my Fitzgerald collection before the release of The Great Gatsby film starring Leonardo Di Caprio and Carey Mulligan. However, since finishing Tender is the Night I have been drawn to another book, the same book that possibly every other woman at present has been drawn to – E. L James’ Fifty Shades of Grey – there’s plenty to say about that but I shan’t digress. So, I began my Fitzgerald journey with Tender is the Night.

Tender is the Night is yet another of Fitzgerald’s devastating and gentle tales about the fall from grace, the wonders of falling in love quickly and uncontrollably – without reason, whilst falling out of it slowly and painfully with complete clarity.

I love to read Fitzgerald because I adore his capacity to write the human condition so well – regardless of whether he or any of his characters were ever able outsmart it.  Tender is the the Night paints the perfect picture or illusion for destruction.

I had to share my favourite quotes! x

 Tender is the Night Quotes

“Often a man can play the helpless child in front of a woman, but he can almost never bring it off when he feels most like a helpless child.”

“The strongest guard is placed at the gateway to nothing. Maybe because the condition of emptiness is too shameful to be divulged.”

“Well, you never knew exactly how much space you occupied in people’s lives. Yet from this fog his affection emerged–the best contacts are when one knows the obstacles and still wants to preserve a relation.”

“When I see a beautiful shell like that I can’t help feeling a regret about what’s inside it.”

“New friends can often have a better time together than old friends.”

“It is not necessarily poverty of spirit that makes a woman surround herself with life—it can be a superabundance of interest…”

“…The delight on Nicole’s face–to be a feather again instead of a plummet, to float and not to drag.”

“…To be included in Dick Diver’s world for a while was a remarkable experience: people believed he made special reservations about them, recognizing the proud uniqueness of their destinies, buried under the compromises of how many years. He won everyone quickly with an exquisite consideration and a politeness that moved so fast and intuitively that it could be examined only in its effect. Then, without caution, lest the first bloom of the relation wither, he opened the gate to his amusing world. So long as they subscribed to it completely, their happiness was his preoccupation, but at the first flicker of doubt as to its all-inclusiveness he evaporated before their eyes, leaving little communicable memory of what he had said or done.”

Tender is the Night by F Scott Fitzgerald, 1934

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Google Chrome: Dear Sophie

Google Chrome: Dear Sophie, an Advert by Google 2011.

Because I love this advert just as much as I love Google Chrome!

You almost can’t help but shed a tear.

Be charmed, stay inspired. x

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Analyze This

Analyze This 1999, starring Robert De Niro, directed by Harold Ramis….

I have spent the day recovering from my New Years Eve celebration watching films back to back. It started with Mr Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, Richie Rich, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Ratatouille and now, one of the films I can never watch too many times, with the actor who never tires, Robert De Niro in Analyze This. Because I absolutely adore this film, and am always amused by De Niro’s right hand man Jelly, I just had to make a note of this quote.

Analyze This

Jelly: I’m gonna get a bite to eat. You wanna sandwich or somethin’?

Guard: What kind of sandwich ain’t too fattening?

Jelly: A half a sandwich.

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The Help 2011

Tate Taylor’s film adaptation of Katherine Stockett’s novel, The Help

Tate Taylor's The Help Movie

The Help UK Release 26/10/2011

Yesterday, West India Quay’s Cineworld had a special screening of Tate Taylor’s film adaptation of Katherine Stockett’s novel, The Help. Queues backed out of the door and spilled onto the, now freezing, London streets. Thankfully I had already seen The Help and was, in fact, queuing to see Drive. However, considering I enjoyed The Help so much, I thought I should dedicate some time to write about it.

Set in 1960’s Mississippi, Emma Stone, who plays aspiring journalist Skeeter, has returned from University, where she studied a degree in Journalism. She’s inspired to write a piece that explores the relationships between white families and their black maids from the perspective of the maids, for the Jackson Journal. Skeeter, decides she wants to interview one of her friend’s maids, Abileen, played by Viola Davis.  A number of events occur, mainly stimulated by the callous behaviour of Hilly, played by    Bryce Dallas Howard, towards her maid Minny, Octavia Spencer,  that causes a cautious and dubious Abileen to speak out. It’s not long before Minny follows in Abileen footsteps.

The film takes an emotive angle, as opposed to a racial one, and reveals the relationships and love that develops between the maids and the children they care for. It’s ironic that these women and mothers trust their maids to feed their families and nurture their children, but refuse to share a bathroom with them. We are shown the struggle, the trials and tribulations the maids experience and endure in order to have the means to support their own families.

Abileen and Minny meet with Skeeter discreetly and divulge their stories working as maids. Soon enough, a troop of  local maids from Jackson Mississippi , get wind of this opportunity, which ultimately offers a chance for them to break free from their oppression, to vocalise their thoughts and express their humanity.

Skeeter’s desire to speak with the maids is of course threatening and dangerous, but the maids soon realise that this column offers hope and the possibility of change. These courageous women come together to risk their social status, their livelihood and the well being of their families to be heard and consequently to make a difference. 

The film deals with some sad and serious issues, but miraculously, unlike many other films that even remotely face racial issues, The Help doesn’t feel heavy nor weigh you down. In fact, never have I laughed so much during a film with racial concerns. It’s inspiring and uplifting.

Minny Jackson: Fried chicken just tend to make you feel better about life…

Minny: Eat my shit.
Hilly: Excuse me!
Minny: I said eat… my… shit.
Hilly: Have you lost your mind?
Minny: No, ma’am but you is about to. ‘Cause you just did.

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Inspired by Leon: The Professional

Is life always this hard or is it just when you’re a kidLeon: The Professional 1994, written and directed by Luc Besson. Starring Jean Reno, Natalie Portman and Gary Oldman.

After returning from dinner last night, slipping into PJ’s and hanging out in the bedroom,  my boyfriend asked me, ‘What film do you want to watch tonight?’ This is the habitual question that one of us asks the other each night we spend at home. The other always answers,  ‘I don’t know – do you fancy something old? Something funny or…?’ It can go on like this for a while, till eventually one of us loses interest. Last night my answer was, ‘I want to watch something that moves me.’ 

And, well, I most certainly was.

‘Allora, come stai Leone?’ ‘Bene’ The opening line said.

Yes! Last night I watched Leon:The Professional and yes, ashamedly, it was the first time I’d seen it. Leon, starring Jean Reno and Natalie Portman was made in 1994, written and directed by Luc Besson. Those very first few lines hooked me instantly, but the second I saw a tiny Natalie Portman, sitting in a hallway smoking a cigarette, I was completely enthralled.

There’s something I’ve always found truly bewitching about Natalie Portman – I love to watch her. But this performance completely and utterly astounded me. She was a mere thirteen when she made this film, but her acting is absolute perfection. She appears to have mastered her talent, yet she seems so natural and believable. In comparison to someone such as Dakota Fanning, who I can appreciate may have honed her talent and be a brilliant actress – but in my opinion, doesn’t seem to possess that naturalness that Portman does at this age.

In Leon: The Professional Natalie Portman plays Mathilda, a daring, loving and intense twelve year old girl, and Jean Reno plays Leon. When I asked my boyfriend what the film was about, he described it as a story of a professional hitman, but this does it no justice. Ultimately it’s a love story. Albeit, it’s hard to decipher what kind of love grows between Leon and Mathilda. Initially it appears to be a fatherly daughterly love, but their relationship evolves and at times I thought the film may have been gravitating towards something more sordid, like Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita.

However, regardless of the age difference between Leon and Mathilda, strangely their relationship never seems quite as tawdry as Humbert and Dolores. In fact, I’d be lying if I said there weren’t moments in the film where I found myself wanting Leon to admit his love for Mathilda and, admittedly, for their love to manifest. Whereas in Lolita, I detested Humbert and the entire ordeal – as you’re supposed to.

The beauty of Leon is that you’re not quite sure what you’re supposed to feel. Throughout the film I longed for Leon to address their age difference, for him to tell Mathilda that they couldn’t love each other because it was wrong. Even when Mathilda has decided that she’s ready to make love to him, his only reason for not doing so is because he won’t make a good lover. This would have been the expected juncture in the film for Leon to express any form of concern he may have had about their age – but he doesn’t. 

I’m not quite sure if Leon ever officially confirms what kind of love he has developed for Mathilda. But this is what makes the film so beautiful and powerful. We all know that Leon loves Mathilda in the same way she is ‘in love’ with him, but we just want to hear it – so we can understand and decide how we, as the audience, should feel about the situation (‘should’ being the operative word). The fact that Luc Besson never gives us that satisfaction is sheer genius. Even as I write about the film this very minute, my unanswered questions still linger and I am still very much haunted by the fact that I wanted Leon and Mathilda to fall in love and ultimately – I shouldn’t have.

All the wonderful and beautiful moments from Leon

There are so many wonderful and tender moments in this film – and a lot of them take place with very little dialogue at all. It’s definitely the small details, such as the way Mathilda takes on the habbit of pouring Leon’s glass of milk for him or the way she tucks him into bed –  the only night they share a bed, that makes this film an absolute masterpiece. I’m tempted to say it’s the best I’ve ever seen.

The Trailer

“Please open the door…” Mathilda

Mathilda: I was more of a mother to him than that goddam pig ever was.

Leon: Hey don’t talk  like that about pigs. They’re usually much nicer than people.

Mathilda: They smell like shit.

“If you don’t help me I’ll die tonight. I can feel it.I don’t wanna die tonight.” Mathilda

“Let’s play a game.” Mathilda

” Leon, I think I’m kinda falling in love with you…” Mathilda

“I want love or death – that’s it…” Mathilda

“A girl’s first time is very important…it determines the rest of our lives actually…” Mathilda

 12 minutes in: “I’m sick of watching you sleep in your chair. We’re gonna share the bed.” Mathilda

You can’t love a film till you’ve seen Leon.

Leon: The Professional 1994

 

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Steve Jobs: Be Inspired

Today the world lost a creative genius…

Steve Jobs shows off iPhone 4 at the 2010 Worl...
Image via Wikipedia

R.I.P Steve Jobs – Paul Steven Jobs (February 24, 1955 – October 5, 2011)

No words required. Just watch, take note and saty inspired.

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F.Scott Fitzgerald – A Love Story

I watch the infamous party scene from The Great Gatsby with the exact same intensity I watch a Lanvin show. With that bottled up combustible excitement. Each and every time I am completely bowled over. The amount of fabulousness all in one place is overwhelming and deliciously tempting. Oh how I would still do anything to be at that party, amongst all that glitz and glamour. To wear those dresses and pile them up with the fanciest of accessories, drink those cocktails, smoke from those cigarette holders (even if I think smoking is ghastly) and dance the Charleston in the Roaring Twenties.

I learned and fell in love with the roaring twenties; the flappers, the slickers, the slang, the excess and the scepticism that came along with it through reading the literature of the man who wrote it to perfection. I can’t imagine this glittering era without my mind instantly painting a picture that has been conjured up by language as evocative as a John Held illustration. It is indeed the astounding Francis Scott Key Fitzgerald that I have fallen in love with. I liked him in Jelly Bean, Bernice Bobs her Hair and A Diamond as Big as the Ritz. I was infatuated by him in This Side of Paradise and Tender is the Night and by the time I read The Beautiful and Damned I had decided it was a full blown wondrous affair- as exciting and passionate as any flapper romance or cocktail party.

The books of my Fitzgerald collection are like indexes, with self adhesive tabs that I use to indicate all the reasons I love the twenties, literature and Fitzgerald. How I had read myself around the world, Roberto Bolano and Paulo Coelho of Spain, Melissa Panarello of Sicily, Gabriel Garcia Marques of Colombia, Carlos Fuentes of Mexico and Isabelle Allende of Chile, before reading the man that would change the way I read literature forever is a wonder. He is to me, the great novelist that puts into context all the other great novels of the world.

F. Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul Minnesota, in 1896.  His debut novel, This Side of Paradise, was published in 1920. It was the first novel that would delineate the younger generation and possibly even helped to shape it. The 1920s was the earliest era in which children were relieved the duties of adults. Teenagers had the luxury of their adolescence and youth began to form its own culture.

The impact of this debut novel could not have been predicted, it became a bestseller in just two weeks. He became the man that was on the tips of everyone’s tongues, the media celebrated him, the debutantes formed their lives around him and parents winced, with the hope that this new flapper was just a fictitious character. She attended petting parties, she enjoyed flirting, she was at her best when the centre of a man’s attention and took great pleasure in watching herself being admired. This was a completely different mindset to the Victorian parents of these children and their reaction may explain why Fitzgerald’s novels were rejected in the outset.

Fitzgerald wrote continuously throughout his childhood and managed to have plays, short stories and musicals published in school publications, staged in school productions and eventually in his local theatre. But it wasn’t until 1917 that Fitzgerald he would begin to pen the novel that has made him the famous literary that he is today. Fitzgerald wrote one hundred and twenty thousand words in just three months. The novel was titled The Romantic Egotist and like many of his novels was a semi-autobiographical tale. Unfortunately the novel was rejected, with a letter accompanying the manuscript stating that, ‘It was too crude and too incoherent.’ B. F Wilson for the Smart Set wrote in 1924. Desperate for money and keen to write, Fitzgerald applied to work as a News reporter, but was unsuccessful in finding work. Eventually he found a day job as a Copywriter for Barron Collier and wrote short stories in the evening. Fitzgerald collected over one hundred and twenty two rejections of his short stories from editors.  He tried his hand at writing advertising concepts, poems, songs and movies but this was with no avail. Still determined to be published Fitzgerald quit his copywriting job and put his heart and soul into rewriting The Romantic Egotist, which soon became published as This Side of Paradise. Two months after Fitzgerald found himself the literary celebrity all nine of his short stories were printed in magazines.

He made his sweetheart, Zelda Sayre his wife the same year his novel was published.  The couple began to live out the material which would be the life line of his novels. They had a great hunger for life and lived it with an enthusiasm that was almost limitless. They were icons in New York, became part of the literary expat crowd in Paris and the Riviera, where they socialised with the likes of Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein and John Dos Passos, and flocked to Italy where Fitzgerald wrote. Just two years after Fitzgerald’s claim to fame he published his second novel, The Beautiful and Damned. The novel documents the romantic and tragic story of his life and love for his wife, the flapper he made iconic.

Fitzgerald was crowned the chronicler of the flapper, renowned for his sensationalism of this young girl. He wrote them with a faultless and astute observation. Although at times this new modern girl may have exasperated him, he was undeniably intrigued by her and all that she thought she was afforded. With the power of literature, the press and publicity Fitzgerald had created the flapper that every girl wanted to be and every man wanted to marry. The most enviable and coveted flapper was indeed a Fitzgerald flapper – she was Mrs Zelda Fitzgerald (Grace Patch), the woman he marries in The Beautiful and Damned. Between the artistic couple they have documented the flapper’s readings, her dancing, her fashion and her makeup. They critiqued her morals, made observations on her love life, debated her ambitions and made her one of the most fascinating women in literature and history today. It would appear that the fast life caught up with Fitzgerald, died in 1940 of a heart attack at just forty years old, leaving his novel The Last Tycoon unfinished.

 

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