Thursday, 30 August 2012

The Review - MicMacs

I love the film Amelie. I mean, how could you not? And if you don’t like it then we might not be able to be friends. However, if you call yourself an arthouse or foreign movie fan you will have undoubtedly already seen Amelie (and if you haven’t, then I suggest you quickly go out and rent it, or better yet buy it before anyone finds out!). Therefore I thought I would do a post on MicMacs, which is a lesser-known film by the same director, Jean-Pierre Jeunet.

MicMacs, which premiered in 2009, was billed as a “satire on the world arms trade”. Doesn’t sound like your cup of tea? I didn’t think it would be mine either. But Jeunet is so innovative that it’s quite hard not to fall in love with this movie, and its unique storyline makes it even more lovable. Jeunet describes the movie as a mix between Amelie and Delicatessen. He originally came up with the idea for the movie when visiting a local restaurant where some of the regulars were known arms dealers. Jeunet was intrigued by their "nice-looking faces".
When Bazil is just a child, his father is killed while attempting to defuse a land mine. 30 years later Bazil is hit in the head by a stray bullet (I told you it was weird). Luckily he survives, but on the flip of a coin the surgeons decide not to operate but rather leave the bullet in his body. This means that although he will be healthy, he also runs the risk of dying at any moment. 

Bazil becomes homeless and ends up making friends with a group of mismatched scavengers who live in a trash dump: Elastic Girl, a contortionist; Mama Chowis, cook and leader of the crew; Remington, a former ethnographer who speaks in old-fashioned cliches; Buster, a human cannonball; Tiny Pete, an artist who designs moving sculptures from scavenged trash; Slammer, a former convict and guillotine survivor; and Calculator, a young woman who measures and calculates things with a glance. They are so much fun. Apparently Jeunet got inspiration for these characters from the film Toy Story. 
Together, they decide to form a band and take revenge on the arms industry.  What ensues is much hilarity, bizarreness, suspense and plain good entertainment.

Interesting fact 1: Jeunet toured arms manufacturing plants in Belgium for research while producing the film. Some dialogue was taken directly from interviews with arms dealers. The sabotaged machine in De Fenouillet's factory was modelled exactly after an actual machine in a plant which Jeunet visited.

 Interesting fact 2: There are five appearances of the film's poster, usually hidden in quick shots.

 Interesting fact 3: Jeunet also decided to reference his earlier film Amelie in the shot where Bazil first lowers his microphone into a chimney. The planned scene would show Amelie and Nino in a small apartment with several crying children. Amelie star Audrey Tautou was shooting Coco Before Chanel, and was unavailable to act the scene. The shot was replaced by a homage to Jeunet's Delicatessen. In the final scene, Dominique Pinon sits with a woman and plays a musical saw.

Trailer Time!

Until next time :)

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

The Holiday - Our Second Anniversary Part 1

So as previously mentioned, Luke and I went away to celebrate our second anniversary 2 weekends ago. We travelled to Auckland, since I had never really been there apart from the odd business trip. While there we stayed in Devonport, a cute little seaside village just 5 minutes' ferry ride from downtown Auckland. But more about Devonport later. I want to spend this post talking about the wonderful B&B we stayed at, which can best be done through photos. :)

 We stayed at the Peace & Plenty Inn, which is run by the wonderful Judy and her adorable labrador Stanley. Isn't the building just beautiful?

 There are 6 different rooms to choose from, all with a different decor and feel. We chose the Albert room, mainly because it had my favourite decor and Luke liked the bath. 

 Fireplaces add so much elegance to a room, don't you think?

 The room came with teacups. So pretty. 

 Here is the lovely luxurious bath. 

 Bubbles on arrival to assist us in celebrations. ;)

 Judy also does Devonshire teas on Sundays. This has got to be one of the most perfectly set tables I have ever seen. 

 And if you like blue and white china...

 My mum is an avid china collector (thanks mostly to her recent discovery of eBay), so here you go Mum, eat your heart out.

 This is where Luke and I ate the most scrumptious breakfasts two mornings in a row. We had waffles the first morning, and salmon and eggs the next. Also, Judy had made some amazing homemade muesli. I normally find muesli a bit bland, but Judy's was amazing. And when paired with preserved black doris plums and berry yoghurt... yum!

 I love this teacup. After scouring Judy's collection, I decided this was my favourite. I really wish I'd noted down the label and name, as I have decided that when I start collecting china I'd like to start with this cup. It's sooo pretty.


Luke and I with Judy

So guys, if you ever need accommodation in Auckland, look no further. We had such a wonderful time, and we'll definitely be back.

Until next time :)


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

The Verse - Ephesians 3:20

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us...
Ephesians 3:20 ESV

Luke and I pray together every night before we go to sleep. This advice was given to us by a lovely older American couple we met in Taiwan. They said the most important thing for their marriage was to come together before the end of the day and pray. After all, it’s hard to hold a grudge against someone at the foot of the cross, isn’t it?

Being married, we naturally end up praying for the same things, and it’s been really incredible how God has answered these prayers “far more abundantly than we ask or think”. Every time He does, this verse pops into my mind. The second thing that pops into mind is: Gee, I should really write all of these down. So that’s what I’m writing about today: amazingly answered prayers.

1)      The Weather at the Wedding
Okay, I know everyone wants to get married on a nice sunny day, but for us this was more of a need than a want. It was an outdoor wedding with no shelter and no backup plan - oh, and did I mention it was winter? So it was either nice weather or get wet. In the days before the wedding, Luke and I prayed a LOT for nice weather. As time went by and we saw the rain forecasts closing in on our wedding day, our prayers became smaller and smaller. “Okay Lord, overcast is fine, even a bit of drizzle, but no downpour please” or  “Lord, it can rain before and after the ceremony, please just not while it's going.” Well, if you’ve seen my photos from last week, you’ll know it was a gloriously sunny day. Though it had rained for 2 weeks leading up to the wedding, we had blue skies and not a drop of rain on the day. And it was Luke’s dad who quoted Ephesians 3:20 to me.

2)      Finding a Job for Me
The plan after we got married was pretty simple: move to Wellington, Luke would continue postgraduate study, and I would work. We prayed a lot that God would provide for us. Despite the unemployment rates in Wellington, I managed to get a job as a temp within 10 days after arriving in the city. Three months later I was offered a job as an administrator at a company where I still work. Although I had no customer support experience and limited administration skills, I was given the job because it so happened that the lady examining the CVs was from China and found it intriguing that I had studied Chinese in Taiwan.

3)      Finding an Apartment
When Luke and I first moved to Wellington we lived in a bedsit. It was tiny. I mean, on washing day you could barely get into the apartment. So we ate dinner sitting on the bed, and when we had guests around it was hippy-style on the floor. We had signed a three-month agreement which was due to expire in December. Neither of us had rented a proper flat before, so we were quite clueless about things like waiting lists and the fact that December is a particularly difficult time to find accommodation. We also really needed to move. The place we were renting was way too small, and we had friends coming to visit in January and there simply wasn’t room for them to stay.  Due to some "distraction" (deciding 6 weeks before we had to move that we might buy a place instead of renting, then realising the bank wouldn't be thrilled with our income level), we were down to 2 weeks before we had to move or be moved, and we still didn't have a place. We missed out on the only place we had applied for. Suffice to say we prayed a lot. Then, on a whim, we went to look at a place in an inner-city suburb. After deciding it ticked all our boxes, we asked to be put on the shortlist. However, it turned out the tenants were leaving for Mexico in 2 weeks, and it was pretty much first in, first served. In sum, the next day we met the landlady and the documents were signed. 

4) Promotions
I love the company I work for and I can really see that God has blessed me so much in the short time I've been there. However, after I had been there 6 months I found that I wasn't being challenged any more, so Luke and I prayed that God would help me with this. Then, out of the blue, my boss left and I was given half her responsibilities. 6 months later a similar feeling came on, and yet again my job changed. God has been so good to me at work, and I am so thankful to Him for all the opportunities He has provided.

5) Friends
When we first moved to Wellington, Luke and I didn't really know anyone. I was missing my family and friends a lot and feeling quite homesick. Although I'm quite extraverted, I was finding it hard to make friends - even at church, which I found puzzling since you'd think that would be the easiest place to make friends. After praying about this, I met a wonderful girl called Carolyn and another equally wonderful girl named Anna. Both these girls' friendships have been such a joy and blessing to me, and I know they were a direct answer to my prayers. 
6) Church
Although we enjoyed the church we originally attended in New Zealand, Luke and I were always wishing we could go somewhere with a bit more in-depth, challenging teaching. We had also somehow only managed to make 2 good friends in our whole time attending this church (2 very good friends, but all the same). We were craving fellowship in a church that had a strong hunger for the Word and theology. One Sunday we went to visit a new church in an outer suburb of Wellington. The saints there were so welcoming - it was almost like we were family from the moment we walked in the door. There was a deep love for God and an abundance of rich theological teaching at the church. We spent the rest of the day saying "That was so good!" to each other. God has been so good to show us the way to this church.

7) Job for Luke
After Luke finished his degree earlier this year, we were a bit unsure about whether we could stay in Wellington, as it depended where he could find work. However, we really wanted to stay now that we had found this wonderful new church. We accordingly started praying hard for Luke to find a job. Not long after finishing the degree, he was offered one, and now has full-time work. Because of this, we can live in Wellington and attend the church we started going to.

8) The House
Once Luke got a job, we decided that we were in a financial position to look at buying a house in Wellington. The hunt started optimistically, but we soon became a little depressed. There isn't a lot on the real estate market at the moment, and any good houses got snapped up faster than you could blink. We quite liked one place and decided to go for it, only to find that an offer had already been accepted. Not long after that, we recalculated our budget and decided our limit was a bit lower than we'd previously thought. All this meant we were getting a bit tired of the house search and had become somewhat pessimistic about our prospects of finding one. Nevertheless, we kept praying for God to show us the place He wanted us in.
Finally, only about a month ago we decided to go look at a house in Lower Hutt, where prices are lower than in Wellington proper. We liked the place so much that we put in an offer, and got a price within our budget. Only last Friday, it became unconditional (as you may have read in another recent post) and we are now officially home owners! Besides this, all the multitude of paperwork and admin jobs have pretty much fallen into place. On top of it all, our new house is much nicer than any that we looked at or wanted previously. Another great blessing, and another answered prayer.

Why is it that somehow we always tend to shrink our prayers? You know what I’m talking about. We make them more achievable or “realistic”. If we know something is in God’s will, what’s wrong with praying big?

Monday, 27 August 2012

The Dress - Maybe Maroon

So what does my wardrobe have in store today? This outfit is one that I pull out on occasion. Unfortunately, the photo quality is a bit grainy. One day we'll buy a decent camera.

 Cardigan: Mango
Great purchase from Taiwan. I wear this cardigan at least three times a week, and after three years it's still going strong. 
 Skirt: Imagination
I was given this skirt by my good friend Tess, who is also a vintage lover. To tell the truth, it was Tess who inspired me to get more into vintage clothing a few years ago. She also recently won a vintage fashion competition in Melbourne, and oh my goodness - in the photos she looks like a 1920s model straight out of some fashion shoot. A-mazing! She's also in the process of starting up an online business selling vintage sunglasses - very exciting. So stay tuned! I only wish I didn't need prescription lenses in my sunglasses. I think I'll start saving my pennies. 

The surprising thing about this skirt is that although it's possibly vintage inspired, it actually comes from a rather cheap production-line Asian store. However, the quality is amazing - slip and everything. Funny how occasionally even fast fashion can accidentally produce well-made clothing.

 Tights: Glassons
I used to wear black tights with this outfit, but I think it made the whole ensemble a bit too dark. Picking up the maroon in the skirt with matching tights really creates a bit more interest.

Sweater Guard: Virgo's Vintage

I heart my sweater guard. This is such a neat 1950s invention that for whatever reason totally disappeared off the face of the accessory world after a decade.

Until next time :)

Sunday, 26 August 2012

The Review - Mantrap

The weekend before last, Luke and I went to see another (yes another) festival film. I must admit I was looking forward to watching this one most of all, just because I knew it would be a unique cinematic experience. It was Mantrap, a 1926 black-and-white silent movie, starting the 1920s “it” girl Clara Bow. 

Before this film, the only silent movie I had ever seen was The Artist, which I have already posted about in this blog. However, this film was accompanied by a live band, which was super neat. The band, City Oh Sigh, consisted of: Kate Uhe (cello), Catherine Henehan (guitar), Sarah Smythe (Rhodes piano), and Hikurangi Schaverien-Kaa (drums and percussion). I must confess, though, that I was slightly put off by their contemporary music when the movie first started.

But 10 minutes later I was too absorbed in the film to notice. It’s surprising how quickly you adapt to silent movies. Although there is the caricature of silent film actors “overacting”, I personally believe they could run rings around most modern actors.

The storyline is quite simple. A beautiful, liberated, young city gal called Alvera implusively marries a much older tender-hearted hillbilly. When a New York lawyer decides to escape the office to camp in the Canadian wilderness, he meets Alvera, who has not quite learnt that marriage means less flirting. As one critic commented, Clara Bow could have flirted with a grizzly bear. She is really just sensational.

The film was directed by Victor Fleming, whose other movies include the Wizard of Oz and Gone with the Wind. It’s amazing how the humour still resonates 86 years later, although new hilarity stems from the modern audience finding certain things rather “quaint”, such as the reaction of a gentleman to seeing a woman’s ankle.

It really is a wonderful film and worth seeing if you get the opportunity.

Sorry guys, no trailer for this movie. Apparently it was made pre-trailers.
So until next time :)

Saturday, 25 August 2012

The House - Our First Home

It's official. Luke and I have bought our first house. It's hard to believe that the gorgeous little 1940s cottage below is ours. God has blessed us so much. Thank you for all your prayers and positive thoughts. 

Also, thank you for all your kind words on Facebook. For those of you who have requested additional information and pictures, I hope this blog post will be satisfactory. 

Obviously all the furniture in the pictures belongs to the previous tenants, but you get the idea. I can't wait to add personal touches and make it our own. I might have already borrowed a stack of interior design books from the library and am definitely going to make use of my sister-in-law's interior design degree.

Yes, that's right: it even has a porch swing. I'm not willing to admit just how big a selling point that was for me.

Before you ask, the swing set and cubbyhouse are not included. :(

 I know, I know, that's one nice cubbyhouse. 

 The garage for the 2 cars we currently do not have. 

 A cute little back porch. All in all, we have a good outdoor living space.

 No, the trampoline doesn't come with the property either. But look at all that flat grass. You know what that means, right? Croquet! :)

 Master bedroom

 Not only did we get Luke's longed-for bath, but we've also upgraded to a spa bath - fancy schmancy!

 Yes, that is a shower. You'll appreciate how much this means if you've had the pleasure of trying to get wet under our current shower, which consists of a hose attachment hooked up to our bath taps.

 Second bedroom.

 Third bedroom... with all these extra rooms, Luke and I will have to be careful not to get lost!

 This is the lounge room. I love the light fitting. There's a nice amount of space too. 

 The doorway ahead leads straight on to the dining room.

 Dining room.

 Look at that bench space! It's about a mile longer than our current kitchen.

So that's our new place. It'll be humble beginnings at first, as Luke and I don't own much furniture or whiteware. But I'm looking forward to scouring antique shops, Salvation army stores, Trademe (a New Zealand trading website) et cetera, and finding some really nice pieces.
Only 40 days left until this becomes our home. 

Until next time :)