I think I’d be a pretty badass old lady.

I was sat in the library the other day on a break from revision, when I turned to my boyfriend (who was not on a break from revision) and asked which old lady hairstyle I could pull off. Like, when I’m old. He looked very confused, and asked me where this had come from and why I was worrying about it. His response was to be expected but not the answer I was looking for, so if we eventually become ‘that old couple with really bad hair’ I’m blaming him.

I know I’m planning pretty far ahead here, but you need to think about this kind of stuff. Because I really like the idea that I could pull off Judi Dench’s amazing pixie cut but I’m fairly sure you’d need thicker hair for it to work. I mean, I don’t want to get my long hair lopped off and then ‘Oh no, people can see my scalp! I look bald! Get me a hat stat’.

THAT HAIR.

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The Great Pretender

So I was watching this Blank on Blank interview with Heath Ledger, and something he said caught my ear.

“It’s a pattern for me, going into any job, carrying a certain level of anxieties and doubts, self-doubt. Fears about my inabilities, y’know. ‘I fooled them. I can’t do this. I’m not an actor. I shouldn’t be here.’ I think everyone goes through that. I certainly do. But I recognise it as necessary and without it I wouldn’t try as hard to overcome.”

Anyone who has seen Brokeback Mountain should be left in no doubt that Heath Ledger was a very talented actor. I found it really interesting that someone as brilliant and seemingly chilled as Heath had all these insecurities underneath. It reminded me of an article I read a few weeks ago, describing a psychological phenomenon called ‘Imposter Syndrome’. It’s essentially a label given to a constant feeling of inferiority and failure to acknowledge ones own accomplishments. Known to be especially prevalent among female academics, people with the syndrome admit feeling that their achievements have been built in large part through luck, and any minute now everyone is going to realise that they’re just not good enough, despite evidence of their success.

And imposterism has real consequences. Many intelligent women will turn down more ambitious projects or careers simply because they feel a fake. Is it partially responsible for the relatively small proportion of women in STEM subjects? Perhaps.

All this felt familiar to me. It was something I kept to myself for a long time, but I’ve never really felt comfortable academically. I find it very difficult to get to grips with (and then retain) certain ideas and my memory is just awful. I often feel out of my depth and have doubts about whether I’ve picked the right subject. My attention span is virtually non-existent, making revision a constant struggle. Combining these insecurities with my tendency to hang around gorgeous, funny, intelligent people, means that a lurking feeling of inferiority is never far away. By comparing my insides to others’ outsides, I will always come up short.

But something clicked when I watched Heath’s interview. He said that without his doubts ‘I wouldn’t try as hard to overcome.’ I listened to it again. I guess that’s true for me too. Of course, I could do without the stress that accompanies them (and I’m working on that), but I can’t deny the motivation they’ve given me to keep at what I’m doing and struggle on.

If you’re still in any doubt that these insecurities are more common than you thought, here are a few other talentless low-achievers who have spoken in public about feeling like an imposter: Tina Fey, Emma Watson, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, Jodie Foster, Don Cheadle, Kate Winslet, Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. I don’t know about you, but that seems like pretty good company to me. And these people all managed to push through those feelings and get to where they are today.

Forgive me if you feel I’m airing my dirty laundry. That wasn’t my intention. Generally I use my blog as more of an escape and keep things light; I won’t report on my neuroses and anxieties unless they have wider significance (because hey, that’s what diaries and boyfriends are for!). But I think it’s important to see behind the facade every now and then.

To anyone reading who feels that they may have a streak of imposterism running through them (and you can find out here): you’re not alone. All around you, other people are struggling with exactly the same thing, to a greater or lesser extent. You are not the only person that feels inadequate. You do not need to constantly compare yourself to the people around you because you are your own person with your own strengths and weaknesses; if you feel you don’t measure up to someone else in one way, you more than make up for it in others, whether you realise it or not. Have more confidence, extend yourself, be brave. I’m rooting for you.

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So I got out the watercolours. Hmm.

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Doodling in my sketchbook can be so therapeutic. I don’t do it often (work stuff!) but I really should put the effort in to get better. Flicking back through there’s a lot of unfinished stuff- I’m too lazy to do something over 2 or more days… Posting some earlier stuff as I feel I’m not currently living up to my ‘ponderings, nuisances and doodles’ tagline.

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The doodle that began the book, 2D from Gorillaz

The doodle that began the book, 2D from Gorillaz

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Lemmy the pick

I was recently reminded of a cute little stop-still I did a few years back over a couple of days, telling the tale of Lemmy the magical guitar pick. It was made on a budget of zero, requiring just a marker pen, some paper, my crappy digital camera (the colour variations are to do with the automatic colour correction) and a few bits & bobs I had lying around the house. I only showed it to a couple of people at the time so thought it might be nice to post it up here.

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goodbye 2013.

New Years Eve! Which means I can finally link back to the most adorable duet of all time:

Anyway. 2013 has been pretty good to me. It’s been pretty good for film too, as evidenced by Gen Ip’s (possibly last!) annual filmography (though she does have an amazing knack for showing the beauty in even the most generic Hollywood films). Joining the student cinema has meant I can pick out a lot more this year. I loved The Place Beyond the Pines and The Way Way Back despite their flaws. Sequels Catching Fire and The Desolation of Smaug managed to better their predecessors, while Avengers follow-ups Thor 2 and Iron Man 3 lived up to expectations. Working behind the scenes has been interesting and I have mixed opinions about the gradual move into digital (on the plus side, it means film is more accessible and easier to show. But somehow it does lose a little of that old movie magic). But change is coming, so we can only embrace it.

Hope you have a lovely 2014.

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Why Clooney is on top (and Depp needs to get a grip).

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This was something I wrote for the Student Cinema blog at my uni (for those of you that don’t know, I’m learning to be a projectionist). As it’s been a while since I’ve put anything up here, I thought I’d transfer it over if you fancy giving it a read. It’s something I’m oddly passionate about.

George Clooney has never been one to sit back and kick his feet up. Not content with being one of Hollywood’s most bankable stars, in recent years he’s also taken a step back into the less showy realms of writing, production and direction, to much acclaim. He’s the only person to have been nominated for Academy Awards in six different categories; Argo, the film he co-produced with Grant Heslov and friend Ben Affleck, won Best Picture in 2013. He has also been known to take pay cuts to get smaller films made, most notably for The Descendants, the Hawaii-set family drama for which he got a Best Actor nomination (and he’s rumoured to keep a picture of himself as Batman on his office wall as a sorry reminder of what can happen when he makes a film purely for the money).

I could say more. I could tell you that George is an advocate of gay rights, and refuses to dispel rumours about his sexuality: “I think it’s funny, but the last thing you’ll ever see me do is jump up and down, saying, ‘These are lies!’ That would be unfair and unkind to my good friends in the gay community”. I could add that he had a punch-up with David O Russell (of Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter fame) after getting fed up with the celebrated director mistreating and talking down to his crew. Or that he was arrested for taking part in a demonstration outside the Sudanese embassy to raise awareness of the escalating tensions between north and south Sudan. I could. But that would just be gilding the lily.

General loveliness aside, let’s compare his recent career trajectory to that of one of his few superstar contemporaries, Johnny Depp. While Clooney has been soaking up praise after starring in what has unanimously been described as one of the best and most technically innovative films of the year, Gravity, Depp’s wannabe-blockbuster The Lone Ranger dramatically flopped. Not only that, but when critics declared it a stinker he was arrogant enough to put it down to lazy journalism. Johnny, I love you but you’re not above criticism.

Can we get back the fearless J. Depp of Donnie Brasco, Edward Scissorhands, Benny & Joon? Heck, I’ll even take Chocolat! Instead, a quick flick through his upcoming film roster throws up some vaguely uninspiring stuff including additions to both the Alice in Wonderland and Pirates of the Caribbean franchises. I’m as big a fan of Cap’n Jack as the next person, but he really needs to step up his game before people get fed up with his big-budget kooky schtick.

Clooney could easily have fallen into the same trap. He could rely on his old ER fanbase, effortlessly coasting on his famous charm and good looks, snapping up the jobs with the biggest pay packet and refusing to step outside his comfort zone. To the contrary, it seems that he has one very simple ambition: to make good films. And he does. A man with passion, talent and drive? I know who I’d want to be stranded with in space.