I am reposting this entry from the very early days of Journal Jane. The film PENELOPE is still my favorite film and favorite go-to re-set button. If you haven't seen it, enjoy.
There are times... when I hit a wall, the well runs dry, the ink runs out, I'm outta gas and even the cliches aren't flowing. And then there are times when simply hanging out with the wrong sort of people can splinter me into so many fragments I can't think straight let alone work.
Luckily, I have a cure and it's name is PENELOPE. I have viewed this film (filmed in 2006, released in 2008) so many times my family threatened to hide it. Never fear. I foiled them. I bought a back-up DVD and they don't know where it is.
So what is it about PENELOPE that sets me straight and gets me all inspired to write and paint once again? Watching PENELOPE is like taking a walk inside my head when I'm in full-on creative mode.
Penelope's room looks exactly like my interior mindscape, full of paint, art, puppets, birds, bell-jar terrariums, butterflies, a swing, a tricycle, and a fake red tree. I should know, I spend a lot of time in here.
I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin that boasts stately old houses filled with dark wood, attics, and endless mysterious potential. Penelope's room reminds of the way I felt when inside these old homes.
This film is chock full of goodness that makes me squeal with delight. Let's start with the cast:
James McAvoy - 'nuff said.
Christina Ricci - always wonderful. And it's worth noting she can play a house-bound, virginal, pig-faced girl and then switch to a nymphomaniac in Black Snake Moan. Now that's versatility.
Catherine O'Hara and Richard E. Grant - LOVE them both.
And this was the first film I saw Peter Dinklage in, and he makes this movie. Ronni Ancona and Simon Woods are also great.
This is the film that introduced me to funny man Russell Brand. He has a cameo that prompted me to look up his work. The man is hilarious and intelligent.
Mark Palansky directed, and I adore his attention to detail. Leslie Caveny wrote the screenplay for this delicious Beauty and the Beast reversal. Amanda McArthur is the production designer who re-created the inside of my brain on film. I thank her. And I am grateful to Reese Witherspoon for producing this movie-of-her-heart, even though it didn't do that well at the box office.
I'm in earnest, folks. All I need do is watch PENELOPE and I am myself again. What did I do before PENELOPE? I can't remember, but I have a vague notion it wasn't pretty. So I shall share with you images of things I adore from this wondrous film.
Mark Ryden is one of my favorite artists and his work appears in the film. As an interesting aside, he had previously used Christina Ricci as artistic inspiration.
Image copyright Mark Ryden.
Sigur Ros! Their song Hoppipolla provides a perfect transcendant ending.
Other great tunes in the film come from Devotchka, Schuyler Fisk, and The Little Ones. (Cha-Cha-Cha was used in the scene with the incredible copper bath-tub. I am a big fan of baths and bathtubs, especially in relation to creativity and giving birth to new ideas.)
If you haven't yet seen PENELOPE, it's wonderful, and holds up to, ahem, multiple viewings.
Do you have a creative re-set button? Let me know!
All movie images are copyright Summit Entertainment