U.S. Figure Skating Champs (Ice Dance)

I LOVE to watch ice dancing, BUT I never thought the US would have so MANY strong teams in this discipline!  I’m VERY proud that we have such accomplished dancers going to the Vancouver Olympics.  Can we beat the Russians?  Hmmm… we’ll have to see.  But we can be TOUGH competitors this year!

Part-time University of Michigan students Meryl Davis & Charlie White (pic above) defeated Tanith Belbin & Benjamin Agosto for the 1st time in their careers.  Davis & White had a very creative Original Dance (OD) this year with Bollywood music.  Their style and flair remind me of my fave team, Marinna Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat (FRA).

In their Free Dance, D&W skated to music from Phantom of the Opera.  Though both teams had well-choreographed/difficult/engaging programs, D&W had better music than B&A.  I think the audience was leaning a little more toward D&W also.  I esp. liked D&W’s lifts and how they used the music.  They are BOTH very strong skaters; they were paired up 10 years ago!

Bronze medalists Emily Samuelson & Evan Bates (pic above) had a very fun and fast-paced country-western OD.  The audience LOVED it!  (Evan shares a house on the UMich campus w/ Charlie White.) 

Samuelson & Bates, who I learned about last year, are very strong/athletic skaters.  But they can also be artistic, as they showed in their FD.

http://www.ice-dance.com/davis-white/

http://emily-evan.ice-dance.com/

2009 US Figureskating Championships: Ice Dance

Hey all!

Any figureskating (FS), esp. ice dancing, fans out there in cyberspace?  Pairs and Ice Dance have always been by fave divisions of the sport of FS.  After a few years of not paying much attn, I’ve decided to check back in w/ the world of FS. 

 

My most fave team in ice dance: Marina Anissina & Gwendal Peizerat (A&P) of FRA.  I followed their career for several years, discussed them w/ many online fans, and even made a little web site dedicated to them.  They were very dramatic, creative, and connected very well w/ audiences.  The choreography and lifts they did were awesome! 

 

As I watched the best of the American ice dancers, I saw that one couple in particular has been influenced by A&P- Meryl Davis and Charlie White.  They’ve been a team since 1997, and are ranked #1 in the US.  They both attend the Univ of Michigan, too.  Wow!  Davis and White had good speed and some very cool moves.  They won gold at Nationals this past wk.   (BTW, Belbin & Agosto, one of our best teams, was not in the competition.  I’m not sure why, but hope it’s nothing too serious.)

 

Meryl Davis & Charlie White

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Charlie’s long-ish blonde curls and wide smile immediately reminded me of Gwendal!  This team is coached by Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva.

 

 

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Shades of A&P here…  Charlie is a very strong/powerful skater (he used to compete in Singles), and Meryl is very fluid/light in her movements.

 

 

Madison Hubbell & Keiffer Hubbell

This team was very light, fluid, and elegant over the ice.  They reminded me of the great Russian dance teams of the past.

 

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They are brother and sister, so (of course!) are also very well-matched. 

 

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The Hubbells also train in Ann Arbor, Michigan, and are coached by Russians.  (Hey, to beat them, you sometimes have to join them!) 

 

Related Links:

 

http://www.ice-dance.com/davis-white/

 

http://hubbells.ice-dance.com/

 

 

Thanks for visiting my site,

EMMA.

“Obsession” (1943): Italian Adaptation of “The Postman Always Rings Twice”

In Fascist Italy, Gino Costa (Massimo Girotti), a young/handsome tramp, stops at a humble restaurant (trattoria) run by Giovanna (Clara Calamai) and her husband Bragana (Juan de Landa). Giovanna is unhappy w/ her older/controlling husband, who she married for security/money. Gino does some work around the place and he and Giovanna quickly fall in love. She refuses to run away w/ him and lead the life of a poor wanderer. Gino leaves for another town and becomes friends w/ a street artist, Lo spagnolo (“the Spaniard”); they work together for a few weeks. One day, Gino sees Giovanna and Bragana at a street fair; it is obvious that they haven’t gotten over each other. After a day of fun (w/ plenty of drinking on Bragana’s part), Giovanna comes up w/ a plan to finally be rid of her husband! Gino (though reluctant) goes along w/ the plan.

The film’s negative was destroyed by the fascist government of Benito Mussolini during WWII, but (first-time director) Luchino Visconti managed to save a print. In Italy, some priests sprinkled theaters w/ holy water after this film was shown- LOL! Obsession wasn’t seen in the U.S. until 1976, as James M. Cain’s publishers fought the release. Cain is perhaps best known for Double Indemnity, though The Postman Always Rings Twice was quite a popular work also. I heard about it recently (from a Facebook film noir group); it caused quite a controversy and was way ahead of it’s time.

The original actress cast for Giovanna was the glamorous/diva-like Anna Magnani, but she became pregnant before shooting. Unlike some other femme fatale, Giovanna isn’t glamorous or evil; she is more like a spoiled girl-next-door (too good to cook and clean). Bragana isn’t totally a bad man either, but (like many husbands of his day) has to “wear the pants” in the family. He is short, stout, and unattractive (though he can be jovial at times). Gino is down on his luck, not that educated, but also handsome w/ a strong physical presence. Lo spagnolo (Elio Marcuzo) brings a sense of lightness/fun into the film; I really liked his character. The young dancer/part-time prostitute, Anita (Dhia Christiani), is only in the film for few minutes, but she made a big impression. The director and actress were able to do a lot w/ this character- I thought she was heartbreaking!

Most of the people behind the film were still in their 20s and willing to take risks. Let us compare these two scenes where the (would-be) lovers first see each other. In the ’46 American film noir (starring Lana Turner and John Garfield), we first see Cora (the object of desire) from the POV of Frank. Here we first see Gino’s face from the POV of Giovanna (making the man the object of desire)! While the American version gets more into the world of cops and lawyers, Obsession concentrates more on the psychological effects of the crime on the lovers. If you’d like to know more re: the neo-realism movement, check this film out.

[1] Ossessione is a very complex film with complex characters. It’s always fascinating, but it does go on a bit too long. This is partly due to the neorealist stylistics that Visconti was inventing within this film. It was, after all, the first film that won that label. We see a lot of the action prolonged as it would be in real life, without any hurrying to the next plot point.

[2] The movie is brilliantly filmed, and the acting by the three leads are first rate. You really get a genuine insight into 1940s Italian working class life. The character of The Spaniard adds an interesting touch to the story with a possible homosexual relationship between Gino and himself. It’s very subtle but it’s there if you look. […] The movie is surprisingly frank for the time and period (Mussolini’s Italy), much more realistic and earthy than Hollywood movies of the same period.

[3] …such graceful camera movements, such beautiful composition, such wonderful faces, such terrific characters, such a great story development, the first movie adapted from James M. Cain’s “The Postman Always Rings Twice.”

…I can’t believe this was made in ’43, eight years before Brando was supposed to have introduced realistic acting to the world with A Streetcar Named Desire (1951). The actors in this may not have used the method technique… but they’re some of the best, most genuine and realistic performances up to this date in cinema.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Alice Adams (1935) starring Katharine Hepburn

[1] …it’s a low-key, genteel film about the problems of small-town people who are moving up in the social world and the one family that gets left behind.

[2] If you’ve ever felt (at a job, a party, a family gathering) that there was nothing you could do – no matter how hard you tried – to fit in – yet it was important that you did, you’ll feel so much for this charming girl.

I love how the movie does not show a saintly Alice… Yet her warmth toward her family – her essential sweetness, her strong frustrated yearning – are completely captivating.

[3] The awkwardness of the social situations are exploited–and the high point has to be the warm dinner served on a hot evening, complete with maid service (by Hattie McDaniel) in one of the movie’s most amusing, if uncomfortable, scenes.

[4] Although Hepburn and Fred MacMurray are the stars of this romance-comedy, Fred Stone almost steals the show. Playing Hepburn’s dad in the film, he was both hilarious at times and very sad….and always interesting.

-Excerpts from IMDB reviews

Katharine Hepburn (28 y.o. in this film) who plays the title character, Alice Adams, credited director George Stevens for changing her public image. He helped her portray more warmth and vulnerability than she had ever shown previously onscreen. Alice comes from a working class background (her father is a clerk at a factory), yet she desperately wants to fit in w/ the upper class. Alice’s mother blames her husband (who has fallen ill) for their low social standing, despite his working hard for nearly 30 yrs. However, Alice doesn’t blaming him for anything; she’s a “Daddy’s Girl.”

Alice tries to put on the appearances of wealth and social standing, despite everyone in town knowing who she is, and so mostly ignoring her. At a party at the Palmer house, Alice surprisingly catches the eye of young businessman Arthur Russell (Fred MacMurray). He is rumored to be engaged to Mildred Palmer; even Alice’s unconcerned brother (Walter) says so. After some disappointing moments, Arthur asks Alice to dance, and she is (suddenly) quiet. He is tall, confident, and good dancer- she can’t believe that he could be interested in her!

There was a disagreement among Hepburn and Stevens about the post-party scene. The script called for Alice to fall onto the bed and break into sobs after coming back from the Palmer’s party, but Stevens wanted her to walk to the window and cry, w/ rain falling outside. Hepburn couldn’t cry, so she asked Stevens if she could do the scene as scripted. The director yelled at her and the scene was filmed his way (and Alice’s tears were real).

It turns out that Arthur is interested in courting Alice. He wants to come to her house and meet the family after a few dates. This causes Alice great anxiety- she doesn’t think her home or family will measure up. Also, she wonders if Arthur really likes her for herself (unlike the other men she went out with before). It’s rare to see Hepburn as an insecure woman; many viewers on #TCMParty commented on this (while we were live-tweeting the movie). Check out this movie if you can- it’s quite a treat!

Memorable Lines: Pride & Prejudice (1995)

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Take care that the man you fall in love with is rich.  -Lizzie jokes with Jane as they discuss marriage

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No lace, no lace, I beg you!  -Mr. Bennett to his wife, Mrs, Bennett, when she raves about the finery of Mr. Bingley’s sisters’ clothes

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Any savage can dance.  –Mr. Darcy

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If Jane should die of this fever, it will be comfort to know that it was all in pursuit of Mr Bingley, and under your orders.  -Mr. Bennett to his wife after Jane falls ill after a ride (in the rain) to Netherfield Park, Bingley’s house

My good opinion once lost, is lost forever.  -Mr. Darcy to Lizzie

He must be an oddity, don’t you think?  Can he be a sensible man?  –Lizzie upon hearing Mr. Collins’ letter

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I think a man looks nothing without regimentals.  -Lydia on men’s fashions

There is something very open and artless in his manner.  -Lizzie tells Jane her first impressions of Mr. Wickham

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More to come…