Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Penelope (2006)

Directed by Mark Palansky

Cast: Christina Ricci (1), James McAvoy (2), Catherine O'Hara (3), Peter Dinklage (4), Reese Witherspoon (5), Russell Brand (6), and Simon Woods (7)

(Watch the trailer)

My favourite quotes - "I like myself the way I am.", "But I had my own changes to cope with. And while I miss the face that had caused so much trouble, the world had moved on. And I was determined to find my own way, and determined to always follow my own heart, and my conscience.", and "It's not the power of the curse, it's the power you give the curse."

I ushered in the New Year in Athens with the view of the Acropolis from the comforts of my home away from home there. And throughout my holiday in Greece I did a lot of walking, especially on New Year's Eve. That gave me time to do a lot of reflection about 2012 and what I want for 2013. And for some reason, the scene from Penelope when she yells "I like myself the way I am" kept flashing in my mind. Do I like myself the way I am? 

My answer was no. 

I'm on a holiday with a friend I've known since I was 18. He and I spent Christmas and New Year together in Greece. (Yes, we are JUST FRIENDS) And he told me that I haven't changed much, and that he agreed with the assessment of 2 of our mutual friends, that I don't finish what I start, or that what I say I want to do or want to achieve, I never do or take steps to achieve them. We also talked about what perception do we want others to have of ourselves and what kind of person we want to be or work towards being. 

I think I have changed quite a bit. But hey, everyone's entitled to their opinion right. And if that is the perception people have of me, then no, I do not like myself the way I appear to be to others. And in all honesty, I don't like myself the way I am. Well, not entirely. Appearance wise, I would like to go back to being at a healthy weight and size. I want to be more presentable and when I look at the mirror, I want to be able to feel good about how I look. And I'd like people to perceive me as an intelligent, determined and sensible person, not ditzy, clumsy, and unworldly. 

So seeing as this is the first day of 2013, I am going to aim for the following...

1) I am going to live a healthier lifestyle so that I can attain a healthy weight and size.

2) I am going to read at least 1 book a month.
3) I am going to write at least 10 entries a month in this blog or write 120 entries in 2013.
4) I am going to start saving up for retirement.
5) I am going to "like myself the way I am" by 2014.

Yes, I got this all from the quote "I like myself the way I am"

Now about the film Penelope, this is a film that I really love A LOT! Firstly, I love fairytales and the fact that the film has a magical and fairytale feel to it makes it a winner in my book. The story is about a girl named Penelope, who was born with a pig's nose and the only way to break the curse is if "one of (their) own kind claims this daughter as their own till death do they part". Now obviously there's a lot to learn from such a premise already. It's a film about seeing past the outside and loving a person for who he or she is. And this is evident in one of the early scenes in the film when Edward who has just seen Penelope's face runs off to the police to report her. 

Edward: Are you going to arrest her or not?
Policeman: On what grounds? Ugly blind date? If being ugly were a crime I'd have to arrest half the people in the city. 

It's sad isn't it, that some people cannot see past what's outside. However, we shouldn't forget the importance of looking presentable and I realise that how a person dresses and carries himself or herself is important especially since everyone is trying to get me to dress better. I know that while its more important to be a beautiful person on the inside, it doesn't hurt to take care of how you look on the outside because your outside is still a reflection of what kind of person you are on the inside. 

Penelope: Are you a fan of George Rockham?
Max: Who?
Penelope: The book you've got in your jacket.
Max: Right. You caught that huh? Well, yeah. Yeah, it's a great book.
Penelope: So you've read it.
Max: Well yeah.
Penelope: Funny I thought that was the only surviving copy.
Max: Well, you know what, I meant to read it, but the library wasn't always out and er... I saw it was a first edition and I figured it might be worth something.
Penelope: So you were stealing it?
Max: Yeah. I was stealing it.
Penelope: So you're a fan of the money.
Max: I'm a big fan of the money. Although it doesn't much care for me.
Penelope: Well maybe you and the money weren't meant to be...
Max: Hey I wouldn't go that far. Jinx me.
Penelope: There are 326 first editions in that room, of those, 300 are worth over 50 thousand, a dozen or so are worth over 25 thousand and I'm afraid there's only one that's valued under a 100. 
Max: Only one huh?
Penelope: A little novel, written by a little nobody, that never amounted to anything.
Max: You don't say... under a 100...
Penelope: I'm afraid so. And I'm afraid that means that it's time for...
Max: But your favourite just the same.
Penelope: What?
Max: I said your favourite just the same.
Penelope: I heard you... I...

Franklin: Sweetheart, what's wrong?
Penelope: I thought he just knew but it says it right here.
Franklin: Still he chose it. The 2000 books that aren't your favourite, he chose the one that is...

Now this whole exchange brings to mind the fact that some things are maybe meant to be. I don't know about you, but I am a believer of 'things always happen for a reason' and 'if it's meant to be, it's meant to be'. Call me a hopeless romantic, I don't care. So what if I am. This is who I am. But I mean, out of so many books, he picks the book that is worth so little in the monetary sense but worth so much in the eyes of the girl he ends up with. If that's not a sign, what is? (Another film that talks about signs can be found in another film that I really like titled He's Just Not That Into You.)

Max: The park is great. I used to spend every weekend there, just hanging on a bench, writing stupid love songs, people watching.
Penelope: Used to? You don't do that anymore?
Max: No.
Penelope: What are you doing instead?
Max: Well, I'm beating you at chess.
Penelope: I warned you I'd kill her.
Max: Well that's great, cos you know what, as soon as my guy sees what you've done...
Penelope: The game will be over, your Queen will be dead.
Max: Well my King's still pretty active.. you know...
Penelope: Once the Queen's dead, the King's useless.
Max: What's that about?
Penelope: I don't know... Maybe he's too depressed to fight, for he really loved her you know...
Max: Yeah I can see that.
Penelope: My Queen to yours, checkmate.
Max: You got me.

Chess will always have a special place in my heart because I grew up watching my Dad play chess at competitions and even participated in chess competitions myself. And I find myself drawn to chess players, chess sets, and anything to do with chess. It is much like my fascination with archery and bows and arrows. I love Penelope's take on why the King is useless once the Queen's dead. In fact, it shows the romantic side of Penelope and I can see a lot of myself in Penelope. At the end of the day, she wants someone to love her for who she is and to see her for who she really is. 

In the film, she has been sheltered all her life, and while my mother is not as crazy as Penelope's, I feel that like her, I still haven't grown up much. I haven't really stood on my own two feet to face the "big bad world" yet. I still live at home, which really is an Asian thing - the girls live with their parents until they get married, and I still count on my parents for a lot of things and know that I can fall back on them if anything happens. I think my parents are my clutch, through no fault of theirs, I just don't seem to want to grow up. But hey, I'm 30 now, and I think it's time to "man up" and take charge of my life, be more aware of my finances, and to work towards being the best me that I can be. I need to be like Penelope, get out there, make it on my own and carve a name for myself. 

Now the cast of Penelope is excellent! In fact, this is the film that put James McAvoy on my radar. After I watched Penelope for the first time, I went on to watch his other films like Becoming Jane, Atonement, Wanted, and then later X-Men: First Class when it was released. I loved the subtle expressions on his face and the way you can connect with the way his character changes throughout the film, how Penelope changes him and his outlook on life. When he first finds out that she declared her independence and is out on her own, the little smile on his face tells us so much more than words can, and when he tells her that her going out on her own in inspiring, I truly believe he meant it. James McAvoy made Max/Johnny real to me. And someone I would root for. 

I've always liked Christina Ricci, I noticed her since watching her performance in the film Casper and I remember following her later films like Now And Then, and Gold Diggers: The Secret Of Bear Mountain. I've yet to see the film The Addams Family, which I really should soon, but I heard she was really great in that film as Wednesday. I really liked her as the title character Penelope, and I think she managed to pull off the innocence, yearning, and suffering of the character very well.

The knockout performances in the film has to be given to Simon Woods, the man who plays Edward, and Catherine O'Hara who plays Jessica, Penelope's mother. The amount of yelling and comedic expressions they have to pull off really astounds me. Their characters in the film are so annoying, yet they are so well played I find myself torn between disliking their character and sympathizing with them. Also, I must say that I enjoyed the performance of Peter Dinklage and Reese Witherspoon as well!

Now I also must compliment the set, cinematography, the soundtrack, and the costumes of the film. I love the soundtrack of the entire film. Most of the instrumental music is done by Jody Talbot and I love it all! I think the whimsical musical style used in the film is just perfect. In fact, I like that while the storyline is fantasy based, the setting is still modern and looks like a place you can actually find in reality. The half fantasy, half realistic sets allow us to easily connect with the world of the film, to examine and compare it with own lives more easily than if it were all too stylized and unrealistic. 

All in all, Penelope is a fairytale story that has captured my heart like all the other fairytales I love so much. Maybe even more... 

(1) Christina Ricci has acted in films like Mermaids (1990), The Addams Family (1991), Addams Family Values (1993), Casper (1995), Now And Then (1995), Gold Diggers: The Secret Of Bear Mountain (1995), That Darn Cat (1997), The Ice Storm (1997), Fear And Loathing In Las Vegas (1997), Sleepy Hollow (1999), Anything Else (2003), Monster (2003), Speed Racer (2008), New York, I Love You (2008), After.Life (2009), and Bel Ami (2012). She has also guest starred in television series like Ally McBeal, Malcolm In The Middle, Grey's Anatomy, Saving Grace, and The Good Wife. She also played the role of Margaret Ryan in the television series Pan Am (2011-2012). 

(2) James McAvoy has acted in films like Wimbledon (2004), The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe (2005), The Last King Of Scotland (2006), Starter For 10 (2006), Becoming Jane (2007), Atonement (2007), Wanted (2008), The Conspirator (2011), and X-Men: First Class (2011). He also voiced the character of Gnomeo in the animation Gnomeo and Juliet (2011) and the character of Arthur in the animation Arthur Christmas (2011).

(3) Catherine O'Hara has acted in films like Bettlejuice (1998), Dick Tracy (1999), Home Alone (1990), Home Alone 2: Lost In New York (1992), Lemony Snicket's A Series Of Unfortunate Events (2004), and Killers (2010). She also voiced animations films like The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993), Chicken Little (2005), Over The Hedge (2006), Monster House (2006), Where The Wild Things Are (2009), and Frankenweenie (2012). 

(4) Peter Dinklage has acted in films like Elf (2003), Lassie (2005), Death At A Funeral (2007), Underdog (2007), The Chronicles Of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008), Death At A Funeral (2010), and A Little Bit Of Heaven (2011). He currently plays the role of Tyrion Lannister in the television series Game Of Thrones (2011-present), and has also guest starred in television series like Entourage, Nip/Tuck, and 30 Rock.

(5) Reese Witherspoon has acted in films like Pleasantville (1998), Cruel Intentions (1999), Election (1999), American Psycho (2000), Legally Blonde (2001), The Importance Of Being Ernest (2002), Sweet Home Alabama (2002), Legally Blonde 2: Red, White, & Blonde (2003), Vanity Fair (2004), Walk The Line (2005), Just Like Heaven (2005), Rendition (2007), Four Christmases (2008), How Do You Know (2010), Water For Elephants (2011), and This Means War (2012). 

(6) Russell Brand has acted in films like St Trinian's (2007), Forgetting Sarah Marshall (2008), Bedtime Stories (2008), Get Him To The Greek (2010), Arthur (2011), and Rock Of Ages (2012).

(7) Simon Woods has acted in films like Pride & Prejudice (2005), Starter For 10 (2006), and Angel (2007). He also played Gaius Octavian Caesar in the television series Rome (2007). 

The Eclectic Reviewer thinks... Penelope is an awesome film not just because I can watch it over and over again and never get bored of it but also because it reminds me of the importance of finding yourself and loving who you are first before others can love you back. Always follow your heart, break out of your shell and get out there and explore the world around you. It's your life, you only have once chance, so go out there and live! (5 of 5)

* Movie Poster from Wikipedia

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  1. Oh wow, you really should watch the Addams Family movies if you haven't yet. They put Christina Ricci on the map.

    1. Yup! I've heard that Christina Ricci did a really fantastic job in the Addams Family movies and it's on my to-watch list. And I'll definitely write a review of it when I do. =0P

  2. This post made me love Penelope even more. I only realised the brilliance of the film when you highlighted the bit about Max picking The Dreamer. This is such good foreshadowing and at the same time shows Max's perceptiveness. He was able to see Penelope even before he literally saw her.

    I love the way you connect the personal to the analytical in your review. You've definitely got yourself a new follower. I hope you update this blog again someday. :)

    1. Thank you Lor. I'm so glad you liked this post and my blog. I've actually combined this review blog with my own travel blog. If you want more updates, please visit http://the-sia-brat.com/

      Thank you for your support.