Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Mr and Mrs Smug

I watched Mr & Mrs Smith last night, and it's interesting how the whole Brangelina affair has both boosted it (people are desperate to see where the spark began) and slightly ruined it as a film (there's no getting caught up in the plot - we're looking for every glance, every smile, and every adulterous moment of sexual tension. Well I was.) We get practically every magazine, every month in my office, and a common thought is 'How is that love triangle STILL making covers?' Bearing in mind the Brad-Jen-Angelina situation extends to Ange's weight and mood on set, where the two are living, where Brad's been partying, and whether or not Jen is dating, engaged or moving in with a bevy of Hollywood blokes, there is hardly a week when Look, Grazia and even some of the bigger and glossier mags don't give a nod to the decade's biggest man-steal.

Generally speaking, I am on team 'enough, already' - it really is so four years ago, and you've got to feel bad for Jen for forever being painted as this frail, weeping creature who still sits lovingly sketching charcoal pictures of Brad and sticking pins in a tiny Angelina voodoo doll. But somehow those three faces still sell (Aniston's particularly) and people do keep reading. I had been wondering if the 'story' would go on for the next five years, too - I think people are either waiting for a triumphant Jen marriage, or a horrible karmic split for Brange - but I think, after last night, I know why we just can't get them off of our pages. Films are often successful because they offer us our deepest fantasy or worst nightmare, that's what gets the audience the most. And this has bucketfuls of both - who wouldn't want to be a secret assassin? Who wouldn't want to come home to Brad, a chilled Martini and a big white mansion?

But it is the extra seasoning of the actors' private scandal that taps into our biggest fears. While girls may claim to still love Ange, to covet her voluptuous curves (when she had them) and pillowy lips and kickass strength, most of us have that deep-rooted, irrational fear that someone we love will leave us. And not only leave us, but for someone just... better. However much we adore Jen, with her Hollywood sweetheart image and yoga mats, I'm pretty sure people can acknowledge that Angelina is not only the scarlet woman, but the more talented of the two. I think lots of people feel in awe of her just getting in there and grabbing Brad, as easy as picking out a Cambodian orphan. There's the thought that maybe Jen had admired her work, her style, envied her awards and accolades before she blinked and her husband was shacked up with her. And there's the nightmare - there's always that girl that you thought was prettier, more talented, more his type than you (that he probably said 'Attractive? I suppose you might say that' about) and the whole team Jen vs team Ange thing just showed it can happen, and on a phenomenal scale.

So we'll probably keep on hating, loving or pitying them publicly until we get some closure from this relationship worst-case-scenario - here are my favourite possible outcomes:

- Brad cheats on Ange, she and Jen become unlikely comrades and embark on a roadtrip with all the kids in tow.
- Ange steals another Hollywood hubby (Ashton Kutcher? David Beckham?) and Brad becomes an angry drunk, storming the stage Kanye-style at every awards ceremony, ranting about what a devil woman she is.
- Jen loses it and takes Ange's 'rainbow family' of kids hostage, making them watch old friends episodes and brainwashing them into tiny yoga fanatics.
- Jen and Brad are talked into making a movie together, fall in love all over again, and all three move in together to start an unconventional but beautiful three-way marriage, stopping only to grab some Colombian triplets on the way back to the manse.

Insane chemistry like Brad & Angelina in the film that made them only happens very rarely, but I wonder how sexy the reality was once it settled down to house, nappies, school runs and shooting schedules. I guess I am still following the scarytale, like every other celeb voyeur out there. Bring on option two!

Monday, 21 September 2009

Life is beautiful

I try not to weigh in on too many ethical arguments, I believe everyone is entitled to their beliefs, but organ donation is too close to my heart for me to stay out of completely. I think it’s because it’s such an essentially ‘good’ thing to be in favour of, there really isn’t a downside. Obviously your death might be seen as the downside, but that’s pretty much going to happen anyway. My thoughts on the whole subject are fairly simple: you die (fingers crossed reasonably old, quick & painless), you are cremated/buried/mummified depending on your mortal preferences – and that’s probably it. No more breathing, blood-pumping or toxin-ridding required. Even if you believe you’ll be hanging out with Jesus, Buddha, Allah or all of the above, that’s probably the soul part of you, right? Not the flesh and tissue. This may all seem a bit brutal, but who can argue that you need your physical wholeness to enter the next world, achieve nirvana, or just become part of the earth, Lion King style? I haven’t met anyone with a serious philosophical objection to organ removal once you’re pronounced braindead. Here are the scary facts: you are more likely to need a transplant than to become a donor. And although 90% of the population support organ donation, only 25% are on the Organ Donor Register.

However, who’s to say what my opinion on all this would be without a personal link to organ donation? As I’m sure most of you know, my older sister who I’m very close to was on the brink of death three years ago from progressive lung damage caused by Cystic Fibrosis, and was saved only by the generosity of strangers. A family who bravely rose above all the emotional turmoil of a bereavement and chose to make a difference for several people in dire need of an organ transplant (one person donating can save the life of up to nine people waiting). She received her new lungs in January 2007, and has gone from being a wafer-thin, icy pale thing devoid of energy, barely able to draw breath, to being a rosy-pink, energetic, noisy woman able to get married, get working, move into a new house… the difference is indescribable, all because complete strangers opened their mind to the prospect of giving the gift of life.

My sister made an appearance on GMTV this morning talking about a friend she made through a CF support network online, who is now at the point she was three years ago, the point where doctors sat us down and told us to say our goodbyes, as she had no reserve left to fight another lung collapse. Like Emily, Jessica is miraculously fighting through, but after four years of waiting, it is no longer her responsibility to prolong her life. She has kept her end of the bargain – the transplant waiting list demands staying in the country, not working or going out too much, preserving your health as carefully as possible for the operation – and now the rest of the country needs to chip in and boost her odds of survival. If you do nothing else today, please have a look at the facts , and consider signing up to the NHS donor register. Better still, talk to your family, your partner or your close friends about what they would want for their body if their time was up. If you want to spread the word and help Jess have a shot at the wonderful future my sister has been lucky enough

to experience, please repost Jess’s story in your facebook status, Twitter, blog or email the message to your friends or colleagues. The only way we can stop the amount of people dying per year is to pass this on.

Emily pre-transplant

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Going solo

No matter how hard we try to escape her, the Colester is everywhere. I can't help but love Cheryl. I actually think she's become a bit sanitised and Beckham-bland styling wise lately, but you've got to admit that she always looks flawless. I love her Geordie scrappiness, her genuine judging style on the X Factor and while I still feel the girl could use a cheeseburger once in a while, I do love the combo of big hair and tiny cinched waist.

I think TV is where she seems to make the most sense - I do have a guilty-pleasure love of Girls Aloud but she's got the least va va voom in her vocals by far... so I really didnt expect to like her first real shot at a solo single. But actually, Fight For this Love is not just inoffensive, it's got real playlist potential. You can tell it's had Will.i.am's magic touch (I love that a bigtime US producer is a such a fan of a Geordie girlbander) but she sounds good and someone very smart has told her to stick to what she does best: looking slick and sticking to a fairly mid to low range. It could have been more of a club track, I reckon, but we'll blame Will for that - I think the melody lends itself to bigger beats and more production than this sort of Mariah/Ciara clicky thing going on - but I'm sure there will be loads of great remixes before long. It sounds a bit Fergie actually, but slightly falls short because Fergie's main selling point is that she's got this massive powerhouse voice that cuts through all the background stuff. But nevertheless, she's definitely upped her game since the supremely rubbish Heartbreaker.

The only real puzzle for me is the styling... I know from various news stories and The Passions of Girls Aloud that she claims to love hip-hop dance, and the hoods, baggy trousers and fingerless gloves certainly reflect that, but then what's she been doing every other day of the year? This ghetto-fabulous look seems out of place when we see her papped or on TV constantly in demure shifts, waist belts, floral skirts, vests and peep toes. Either her stylist rules her life (there was a distinct point in Mrs Beckham's career where all originality and personality seemed to depart from her wardrobe too) or she's leading some sort of Beyonce/Sasha double life. I suppose you can't record a sultry r'n'b single and perform it in a twinset, but it just seems a completely different image than she's been carefully putting out there the last couple of years.

My overall thoughts on the new single? Surprisingly good, a definite grower, but probably won't set the world alight. I bet she'll be played (albeit remixed) in many a club over the next few months, and I'm quite looking forward to hearing more. But i'm still hoping for a Cheryl chat show more than anything. She's made for TV.

Friday, 18 September 2009

Pyjama Party

So, apparently, pyjamas are officially cool again. The fact that this made national news this morning makes me feel marginally better about the state of the world anyway, but I was delighted mainly because I LOVE PJs.

Lots of people love PJs, actually. Whitney reportedly spent seven months in hers - although perhaps this was less due to love of the garment than the influence of her crack haze. I'm not talking sexy, short-shorts and vest, La Senza seduction pyjamas here, I'm talking full on, floor length, flannel style, preferably with polka dots, clouds or cartoon animals. Nothing is cosier as we approach the autumn than getting home, donning the jammies and enjoying a nice cup of hot chocolate. I'm well aware that I sound like a pensioner, but if you ask around I'm sure you'll find that more than just a few cosy-PJ-lovers walk among us and are not ashamed to say it.

I remember after years of sitcoms and films where women draped themselves around the house in kimonos, negligees and virginal white nighties, watching Friends for the first time in the mid-nineties and seeing all of these young, hot New Yorkers clad in cosy pyjamas (remember Phoebe's onesie?), fluffy robes and their boyfriend's hoodies. It was fairly liberating even as a young teen to think that girls didn't have to be on the brink of a satiny dangerous liason whilst having a night in, and that giant, snuggly loungewear could be just a sexy in a much less clich├ęd way.

In slightly related news, one of my all-time favourite live-TV gaffes this morning on Breakfast as they attempted to stretch the pyjama revival into something resembling hard news - they invited the style editor of Men's Health (for the first and last time, I'll wager) to comment on the story. When struggling for poignant questions on the subject, the male presenter made the mistake of asking said editor if he recalled any men in movies or TV donning old-school pyjamas - making the point that it wasn't very 007 for blokes to be so cosy - and valiantly trying to prove him wrong, the Men's health guy paused and said 'Well there was that film recently, The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas?' There was a brief, choked silence from which they moved on with admirable swiftness, but I was both tickled and shocked by his cultural example of pyjama chic. Not that shocked - Men's Health isn't exactly competing with The Economist or anything, but come on, we know a bit about The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and that comparison is so, so wrong on so many levels.

Do comment with your favourite pyjamas, gaffes, or pyjama gaffes.