Monday, December 8, 2008

House of Mirth Review

The House of Mirth The House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

My review

rating: 5 of 5 stars
I was absolutely fascinated by the heroine, Lily Bart. This is by far my favorite of Wharton's novels. Maybe it's because I relate to a female protagonist moreso than a male, but I don't think that's all. Wharton's descriptions are poetic, but never get in the way of the storytelling, in fact they add a great depth. When you summarize the plot, it sounds like the most boring thing you can think of (an impoverished but beautiful socialite's fall from New York high society), but the characterization and the completely alien rules of that society are engrossing. You feel such empathy for Lily, but at the same time, you don't necessarily have a great respect for her. If you haven't read any Wharton, I would suggest this as a sampling of her writing. It's about 370 pages, but it feels like a quick read. My only complaint is that the viewpoint switches sometimes, which can be confusing if Lily's meeting a female, and you aren't sure who's impression you're reading.

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Friday, December 5, 2008

more movies of late

So, it's pretty pathetic that, loving musicals as I do, I had never seen "The Bandwagon" or "Silk Stockings". So, I decided to rent those, being as I'm a big fan of Cyd Charisse, and boy! wow, I'm so glad I did. These are now up there with "Singing in the Rain" for favorite old-time musicals...

This was the first pairing of Fred Astaire and Cyd Charisse and they put into the movie a lot of Fred's fears about dancing with Cyd (that she was mostly ballet, and above all, that she was too tall for him to dance with). Michael Kidd's choreography in this is wonderfully new to the time it was made. Man alive, I miss choreography that's subtle sexy. This musical is a great blend of the requisite cheesiness, but also, some really great dancing and fantastic performances all around. The Girl Hunt Ballet is so jazzy, I love it!

Cole Porter music, Fred Astaire, and Cyd Charisse equals fantastic fun! I've loved Porter's music ever since I was involved in my high school's production of "Anything Goes". It's so catchy. His lyrics are kinda dirty sometimes, but you know, in a very classy way ;) I love love love "Stereophonic sound", a song about how you have to have gimmicks in order to get an audience to go to a movie. Astaire was 57 when he did this movie, but he was still a ladies' man through and through. Great great stuff!

Rogers and Hammerstein may be very very famous for their musicals, but I didn't like this one at all. Maybe I wasn't expecting such a jerk of a lead character. Some of the music was fun, but the way they sang it in the movie, I'm not a fan of trying to be operatic and being more worried about sounding good than getting the emotion of the song across. I'm sure this is heresy, but I just didn't like it.