Monday, September 04, 2006

Cut off and pissed off (plus a review of The Devil Wears Prada)

Since last Friday, all the phone lines in our office haven’t been working because some sonofabitch stole the PLDT cables on our street. Apparently, phone cables are made of copper and can be resold at a pretty penny, so some brilliant hoodlum decided to take ours. THIS is why my parents always say there is no hope for this godforsaken country. It’s not just anything that isn’t nailed down that gets stolen— even things that ARE frickin' nailed down get stolen!

Without our phone lines, all crucial day-to-day work functions have come to a standstill: sending and receiving overseas correspondence via email, transmitting faxes, connecting to our stores’ POS systems, and communicating with all our local suppliers, sales people, and other business contacts. It’s an odd and disconcerting sensation, being cut off from the outside world, normally so accessible by pressing just a few buttons or tapping a few keys. And it is just plain eerie being in an office without the intermittent sound of a ringing phone.

It has never occurred to me how dependent our business is on telephones. The past few days, it feels like we’ve been hobbling on one leg, trying our best to get by with what we have, but with the full knowledge that we are severely handicapped. It’s both frustrating and frightening that some thieving delinquent off the street can cripple our operations so easily. If I ever get my hands on the jerk responsible, I’d happily return the favor and break his goddamn leg.

* * *

Watching The Devil Wears Prada is like reading a fashion magazine: you know its content is shallow and superficial, but you can’t tear your eyes away from it, it contains so much sumptuous eye candy. It’s also like watching the red carpet special before the Oscars: there’s really not much point except to check out what everyone is wearing.

There were only two real stars of The Devil Wears Prada, and one of them was not Anne Hathaway (sorry, Princess Mia— your doe-eyed naivete may be charming to some, but it doesn’t work on me). Obviously, Meryl Streep dominated the film as the divinely devilish diva Miranda Priestly, editor-in-chief of Runway magazine. Not only did Meryl bring bitchiness to fabulous new heights, she did so with a truly terrifying restraint that told you she wasn’t even trying very hard. Everything about Meryl’s Miranda was pitch- and picture-perfect: the cool, low voice, the icy, contemptuous facial expressions, and of course, the dazzling, to-die-for wardrobe.

Which brings me to the second star of the show: costume designer Patricia Field (of Sex and the City fame), who did a spectacular job in directing the endless, glorious, gorgeous parade of designer outfits, from the Prada bags to the Jimmy Choo stilettos to the Hermes scarves to the Chanel gowns. Each scene was so liberally littered with high-fashion labels, it was precariously close to being tawdry— but Field kept it all under control and managed to pull off the brand barrage as scintillatingly stylish rather than vulgarly vogue.

But what I enjoyed most about The Devil Wears Prada was how it approximated the level of stress in my line of work. Fashion is a cutthroat industry, and though I do not look half as chic as the “clackers” in the movie, I am intimately familiar with the killer pressure and down-to-the-last-detail drudgery that are disguised by glamour and trendy trappings. The fact that I watched the movie with my boss (i.e. my mom) made it all the more amusing, as I was secretly comparing Miranda’s demanding and domineering character to my mother’s own stringent management style. Granted, she’s not as nasty as Miranda, nor does she constantly ask for the impossible (the unpublished manuscript of the last Harry Potter book? get real!), but her I-want-it-done-yesterday pacing and failure-is-not-an-option attitude are pretty similar to Miranda’s. Not to mention they share a penchant for Prada. :p

Like I said, in terms of its overall quality as a film, The Devil Wears Prada is not exactly Schindler’s List, but then again, no one expects an issue of Vogue to be A Hundred Years of Solitude. The movie is an unabashed and unapologetic display of style reigning supreme over substance, and what a delicious display it is. Besides, everyone knows candy is not good for us, but damn if we can ever get enough.


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