Thursday, May 24, 2007

Contest Announcement!!!

I’m sinking lower into in bad blogger (uh – try terrible) territory, and this mere DAYS BEFORE THE LAUNCH OF FASHIONABLY LATE!!!

This is ridiculous.

I think I may just have to give away a copy of FL just to redeem myself. And I will make it as easy as humanly possible. Just leave me a comment, write down anything you want, anything in the world, like say, AAARRRRGGGHHHHH!!! and I’ll put your name in a hat and have one of my friends pick one. And you have until Monday morning to leave your comment, too.

Before I move on to a completely unrelated topic, I would like to sneak in the tiniest little bit of shameless self promotion and remind you of my reading/signing at Books & Books in Coral Gables, Miami, Sunday June 3rd. I will bring goodies from the launch party, but I won’t say what just yet…

I’ll also be dropping by a bunch of Miami-area Barnes & Noble stores to do some stock signings, so if you’d like your very own autographed copy of FL and happen to live near a B&N (or Books & Books), here’s your chance!

In other exciting news, the launch party is in a mere SIX DAYS, and the source of my nervousness and excitement for the past month and a half will finally come to pass… lots of pics will be up on the blog in the ensuing days, as promised.

And finally, I’m being interviewed for June’s Chick Chat, and, time permitting, I’ll be contributing an article about promotion in there as well. If you’re not a member of the online Chick Lit Writers of the World RWA chapter, then watch this space – I’ll try to get the interview posted here as well.

Now do you see why I haven’t been blogging?

Okay – time for the rant of the day.

I’ve been seeing previews on TV for an upcoming movie with Catherine Zeta-Jones and Aaron Eckhart called No Reservations and thinking about the original German version, Mostly Marta, which has led me to wonder if perhaps the different stylistic approaches to what is essentially the exact same story, explain something about the way we North Americans see the world.

For those of you who haven’t heard of Mostly Marta (and I don’t blame you if you haven’t – if I didn’t haunt the foreign films section of my local Blockbusters, I wouldn’t have either), it’s the story of a brilliant yet borderline bipolar, loner chef (Marta) working at a swanky restaurant. Calamity strikes when Marta’s only connection to the world outside her kitchen, her single-mom sister, dies in a car crash leaving Marta as sole guardian to her young niece. Marta has no clue what to do with her niece – enter hot, sensual, rival chef who tries to bring out the humanity in Marta.

From my brief description above, this sounds like a typical, predictable romantic comedy with its only twist that it’s set against kitchen politics – cute sounding, but probably forgettable. And hinging mostly on the theater-packing power of the lead actors.

The original Mostly Marta though, caught my attention with its DVD cover depicting a spread of gourmet food, and, being a cooking show addict, I had to check it out. And then the characters charmed me despite (or is it because of?) their utter banality. Marta could have been my neighbor - no airbrushing of her midsection, no flashy wardrobe, no score to give me cues when to laugh or cry - in other words, nothing to distract me from the acting and basic story itself. German Marta did not need to be Catherine-Zeta-Jones-grade stunning to captivate me (in fact, I have a hard time seeing how someone who looks like Catherine will pull off the cold, bitter, no-love-life loner role…) and the leading man, while sexy, isn’t your typical heartthrob. And since the entire movie is German with English subtitles, I can’t say it was a scriptwriter’s tour de force either.

So what was it? That elusive je ne sais quoi that happens when you do your best to de-glamorize life and write real characters going through perfectly believable emotions and life experiences? Besides the mother dying right at the beginning, I can’t say there were any slap-in-the-face type turning points – it was all very subtle. I think it was mostly about connecting, in the most subtle, basic way.

And then I saw the previews for No Reservations, complete with clichéd pretty boy hero, stunning-yet-bafflingly-reluctant damsel in psychological distress, and the gag-inducing sentimental music cue.

My question is: why must we North Americans Disney-fy life? What is our brand of happiness (or the brand that has taken over our pop culture, at least) all pomp and fireworks not to mention replete with shiny, beautiful, and just about perfect people?

Maybe that’s why we’re constantly feeling like we can’t measure up…

You could argue the studios have to do that to make sure the lowest denominator of taste is catered to but that sort of begs the question: what came first, movies that don't trust audiences will identify to what's real as opposed to what's glossy and idealized, or do most people prefer more Disney-fication and less realism in their lives?

… in completely unrelated news, IMDB has listed “Rachel’s Holiday” as being under negotiation, with Catherine Zeta-Jones the only star on board so far. Can you see Catherine as Rachel Walsh, a coke addict who suffers from seriously low self-esteem? Me neither, but I’m thrilled to see (fingers crossed!) one of Marian Keyes’s fantastic novels adapted for the silver screen.

13 comments:

Quinto Sol said...

Cool! Did I win? :o)

Aryn Kennedy said...

Humph! I posted a comment and then it went away!

Anyway, I can't believe I've known for nearly three years and didn't know you're a cooking show addict. Me too! I love Alton Brown on the Food Network and I just love him and his gadgets.

I so wish I could come to your launch party! Darn it all that I didn't hit it big at the slots (I was very, very close).

Anonymous said...

Nadine, I loved that movie Mostly Marta - it was great and I really enjoyed your blog (as usual!). I can't believe they are ruining that movie by remaking it and I agree, this version will in no way live up to the original. Launch party less than a week away? Good luck!!!! Christine

Anonymous said...

I can't wait to read your book Nadine. Hope I win the contest, but don't worry, if I don't, I'll buy a copy anyway!
Rustin

Anonymous said...

Since I won't be at the Launch Party or the Book Singing, I'm entering the constest.
Elizabeth Smith

Nadine Dajani said...

Christine - You mean to tell me I'm not the only person who's seen Mostly Marta? It looked so lonely on that Blockbusters shelf, I really didn't think anyone but me would pick it up. Maybe this blog will drum up some much needed PR for this highly underrated foreign film!

Nadine Dajani said...

Aryn - I wish I had more time for those cooking shows! There are so many cooking stars out there I hear about and don't have a chance to watch. Boy does that day job cut down on time better spent : )

Reel Fanatic said...

You're dead right about this one ... I loved this movie when I saw it, and have no idea why the felt the need to remake it, apart from the fact that we, as Americans, just seem to believe we can do anything in the world better than everyone in the world .. sheesh

Dona Sarkar-Mishra said...

Hey, I want to win a copy. Then I'll buy two more for my mom and sis, I swear! THey have been *so* excited for this book...French-Canadian-Muslim girl finds herself? Bring it on!!!

I also, have to agree, we northamericans tend to Disney-fy life. How many movies w/o happy endings exist nowadays?

Give me a MILLION DOLLAR BABY any day:)

Where are you moving, BTW?

Shannon McKelden said...

I can't wait for your book, Nadine! And you couldn't possibly be a worse blogger than ME! :-)

Shannon

CrystalG said...

I would love to read your book.

Maureen McGowan said...

Missed the contest, but just wanted to wish you a huge congratulations on your book launch. Can't wait to read it.

Nadine Dajani said...

Thanks Maureen!