Thursday, January 29, 2009

Responses to Amélie

One's emotional response to a work of art is revealing. More important than the response itself, however, are the reasons why you feel a certain way--and this is particularly true with Amélie. Thus, asking for one's emotional response to the movie, is a very good start to get a sense of who (what kind of person) someone is.

The world that Amélie lives in--and which we as viewers experience--is a stylized one where glasses dance on tables and where every scene just happens to be beautiful, where people's actions are driven by intense likes or dislikes, and where one hears nothing but happy, whimsical, near-magical music.

The emotional response by many people who like the movie for this reason amounts to something like "this is the world as I experience it, or as I would like to." Because they got to experience a world as they think it ought to and should be--they love this film. And they come back to watch it again and again to reconfirm or win back their own sense of the world.

The emotional response of people who don't like this movie, again for the above reason, amounts to something like "this is not the world as I experience it, or would like to." Because their sense of the world is not beautiful, or stylized, or filled with the type of people and colors and sounds that one experiences in Amélie, they criticize it.

"It's not real!" is in fact the dominant cry among the movie's few critical reviews--who then go on to focus on the particular ethnicity of lead characters (of which none are minorities) or the likelihood that Amélie wouldn't be able to live that close to work (at current prices it would be very hard).

Leaving aside the question of whether art should be judged by such standards--which would obliterate the concept of art entirely--I'll just say that in a sense these reviewers are right. The sense of the world that Amélie portrays is not their own, and probably will never be.

The above are two different emotional responses to a sort of implicit philosophical theme--a view of the world. Its happy ending, after Amelie makes the right choice, completes the above (positive) sense of the universe by adding that people can achieve success and be happy in it. Even extremely shy people like Amélie--if they have courage enough.

Again, this usually makes one kind of person greet the ending with a light-heart and a smile, as opposed to the other kind of person who greets it with visible tension and a smirk. Whichever way they greet it, again particularly if you ask and hear why, allows you to know a lot about them.

The movie also deals with philosophic issues, and in judging the film many rank these above all other issues. But, as with any complex work of art, the fact that a person likes it, doesn't mean agreement with its explicit theme or any of the ideas in it at all. (I'm a huge fan at once of Victor Hugo's The Man Who Laughs, Fyoder Dostoevsky's The Brothers Karamazov, and Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged.)

In the case of Amélie, in fact, I think many would disagree with or at least downplay the actual theme--which shows the need to enter reality (rather than live in one's imagination) and to find the courage to pursue one's own deeply held values.

What many do however find fascinating about the movie and agree with is its plot-theme--the decision Amélie makes in particular to fix the lives of those around her--and the imaginative, impish manner in which she carries out this goal.

Again, knowing what someone responds emotionally to is important--and the more reasons you know why they have those feelings the better. This is why art is such a great tool to use to get to know somebody. And especially art that focuses on different values and different choices.


Note: this is the last post in the series on Amélie and Philosophy. For the first post, click here.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Amélie and Philosophy, 5

In the first post of this series I said that the plot-theme of the movie, the specific driver of its events, was the decision by Amélie to "fix other people's lives and perhaps her own as well."

But what is its theme? What is the meaning of all the different events of the film—in other words, what does the progression of events add up to?

I submit that the theme of Amélie is "the need to face reality (or one’s fears) in order to attain happiness."

This theme can be seen as the integrating factor throughout the entire evolution of Amélie. The posts in this series have shown this clearly—at least in the case of the movie’s main character. Let’s look at some of the other characters.

Amélie’s father, towards the beginning of the film, has anti-social tendencies—which only increase after the death of his wife. He becomes obsessed with building a tiny shrine to house his late wife’s ashes. Amélie, who knows of his desire to see the world, takes a gnome from the shrine and has a flight attendant send pictures back of it traveling around. At film’s end, we see her father with two suitcases in hand, heading to the international airport.

Bretodeau is, towards the beginning of the film, estranged from his daughter—who he has heard recently had a baby boy. After Amélie returns an old tin box, containing all his childhood treasures, he realizes how quickly time has gone by—and decides to re-unite with his family "before [he] is in a box" too. At film’s end, we see him sharing one of his favorite pleasures with his happy grandson.

In both of the above cases, the steps these men had to take were difficult ones—especially within their relative contexts. But, like Amélie, they looked at things as they were and as they could be, then found the courage to act appropriately.

The theme is also dramatized in the character of Joseph. From the beginning of the film to the end, Joseph actually doesn’t progress at all. He starts out as a pathologically jealous ex-boyfriend (imagining conspiracies against him at every turn) and he ends the film as such.

So, in what way is his character a dramatization of the theme? Well, if the theme is as I stated—"the need to face reality (or one’s fears) in order to attain happiness"—his character provides an excellent example of it. He does so, in reverse, by showing the unhappy state of a person who doesn’t see or act on things as they are—but rather on some twisted version of them.

In a sense, horrible as it is to even contemplate, had Amélie not made her final decision to go get Nino, the horrible person who is Joseph is the type of person she could have become. (This point isn’t made in the film—though it is approached in Dufayel’s last comments to Amélie.)

Finally, let me state what the theme of the movie is not. It is not, as many reviewers have suggested, that "one achieves happiness by doing good things for others."

It actually amazes me that reviewers have said this at all, given that she does some very mean things (to a person who deserves it) and is actually unhappy for much of the film until she (finally) chooses to worry about her own life—not to mention the very explicit comments by Dufayel advising her to fix her own messy life first.

The proper naming of the theme here is important because it allows one to make sense of the movie as a complete whole.

And it allows one to name the value that it provides to viewers. In this case, the message is that "if you deal with reality as it is, if you face your fears courageously, then—-though success is not guaranteed—-it is definitely achievable."

Stay tuned for the last post in this series, where we show that the art a person likes says a lot about them--and state why, especially with Amelie, it is crucial to ask that person for the reasons a particular work of art moved them so much.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Amélie and Philosophy, 4

Note: This post will contain more plot spoilers (than usual) and in fact re-tells the end of the movie. It’s necessary I think to understand the theme of this movie—and its value to viewers. Given the movie’s popularity, however, I am assuming of course that it’s not a “spoiler” for almost everyone that will read this. If it's not, or if you don't care, read on.


Amélie chooses to face reality, to work on fixing her own life, and to find the courage to talk to Nino. And she, as usual, has decided upon a stratagem.

There is a mystery behind one of Nino's projects, which she has solved, and her plan is to share the secret with him. She will, in effect, create an event that lets him discover it for himself and then meet him immediately after.

As she walks towards Nino, she pauses and turns her back--but for the briefest of moments. He has not yet seen her. Having regained composure, she turns around--but, alas, he's not there! He has left.

Later on, Amélie has retreated into her make-believe world once again. She is in her kitchen, imagining that Nino is coming to meet her, as (in this fantasy) he usually does. It’s a beautiful scene; exactly the life that she wants.

A curtain of beads behind her moves, and she looks back as if the fantasy has become a reality (without her having to do anything). But Nino is not there—there is a cat.

The reality of her situation becomes clear. And Amélie starts crying.

But then, the door rings. And it’s Nino. She can hear his voice! Her lover, the one whose absence has just brought her to tears, is directly behind the door! And yet she can not answer it, can not answer him.

He writes her a note, saying he will come back. She goes to the window and sees him walking away.

The phone rings. Dufayel, her neighbor is there. He tells Amélie to go into the bedroom and then hangs up. There, candles have been lit all around. She presses play on the DVD (or VCR) and Dufayel appears.

“My little Amélie,” he says, “you don’t have bones made of glass. You can take life’s knocks. [But] if you let this chance go, in time, it will be your heart which will become as dry and brittle as my skeleton. So, go get him, for Pete’s sake!”

This message, like Dufayel’s earlier questions, allow Amélie to clearly see what is holding her back—a lack of courage—and what will be the result if she doesn’t pursue her dreams. She decides, there and then, to not let this moment slip by.

She runs to the door, opens it quickly, and begins to dash out—only, there, in the frame, is Nino himself! She pauses, looking him in the eyes. Pulls him in. Shuts the door. Kisses him gently. And then asks, though not with words, for him to do the same.

Finally, at movie’s end, we see Nino sleeping in the arms of a perfectly happy Amélie. She chose to face reality, and it was good. She found the courage to pursue what she loved, and in doing so earned the moment we see.


Do you dare read more? If so, click here for the next post in the "Amelie and Philosophy" series.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The "Shimmy" Song

In We the Living, Kira--an individual struggling to survive in a totalitarian state--attends an operetta by Emmerich Kalman called Die Bajadere.

"It was the most wanton operetta from over there, from abroad. It was like a glance straight through the snow and the flags, through the border, into the heart of the other world.

"There were colored lights, and spangels, and crystal goblets, and a real foreign bar with a dull glass archway where a green light moved slowly upward, preceding every entrance--a real foreign elevator.

"There were women in shimmering satin from a place where fashions existed, and people dancing a funny foreign dance called 'Shimmy,' and a woman who did not sing but barked words out, spitting them contemptuously at the audience, in a flat, hoarse voice that trailed suddenly into a husky moan--and a music that laughed defiantly, panting, gasping, hitting one's throat and breath, an impudent drunken music, like the 'Song of Broken Glass,' a promise that existed somewhere, that was, that could be."

This is a video of that song as it is still performed in Russia today. One can hear in it still those elements that were abstracted away and became, for Kira, the "Song of Broken Glass."

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Amélie and Philosophy, 3

The reason Amélie has such a hard time approaching Nino is not just that Amélie "doesn't relate to other people" and "was always a lonely child"--though that is part of it.

At the beginning of the movie, we learn a deeper reason: "Deprived of playmates, slung between a neurotic and an iceberg, Amelie retreats into her imagination."

She has, since childhood, sought not only solitude but solitude in an imaginary world. As far as other people in particular go, she "would rather imagine herself relating to an absent person than build relationships with those around her." The reason is that it is only in her private, make-believe world that Amélie feels completely at home, and perfectly safe.

To approach Nino directly, to see if they are compatible--this, a narrator explains, would be a reality-check. "The last thing Amélie wants." To pursue a relationship with him would demand that she place primary emphasis on her own life rather than fixing the lives of others. And it would also require of Amélie a virtue she presently lacks: courage.

As the movie nears its intellectual (and actual) climax, we see each of these issues come to the forefront.
Amélie is watching a foreign film on TV, with the subtitles supplied by her imagination (which here, allows us to see inside her mind at a crucial moment).

Dufayel, her house-bound neighbor, has previously pointed out Amélie's own messy life, and asked her who will fix that (while she's out working on the lives of others)--then, right before this scene, he points out that she doesn't approach the man she loves because she is in fact a coward.

On the TV screen, a guy "says" that "Dufayel's attempts to meddle are intolerable!" This gets a nod of agreement from Amélie. But then he goes on: "If Amelie chooses to live in a dream...and remain an introverted young woman...she has an absolute right to mess up her own life!" And to this, Amélie's eyes close, and her head lowers slightly in thought.

At this moment, Amélie has to weigh a handful of profoundly philosophical issues: to deal with reality, as it is, or to attempt to evade it; to place primary emphasis on her own life, or on the lives of others; to have the courage to pursue a relationship with the person she loves, despite being extremely shy, or to remain a coward--and a lonely one at that.

The choice Amélie makes will determine the course of her life--and of the film. Which choice will she make? Read on.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Amélie and Philosophy, 2

Romantic love, the value Amélie has never experienced but desperately longs for, is for her (and for all of us) one that is not as easily achieved as the simple pleasures that she and many of the other characters pursue. It is this that is within her grasp, and yet at that moment seems for Amélie so very far away.

"Love is a response to values. It is with a person’s sense of life that one falls in love—with that essential sum, that fundamental stand or way of facing existence, which is the essence of a personality.

"One falls in love with the embodiment of the values that formed a person’s character, which are reflected in his widest goals or smallest gestures, which create the style of his soul—the individual style of a unique, unrepeatable, irreplaceable consciousness.

"It is one’s own sense of life that acts as the selector, and responds to what it recognizes as one’s own basic values in the person of another. It is not a matter of professed convictions (though these are not irrelevant); it is a matter of much more profound, conscious and subconscious harmony."
The above is not a direct quote from the movie, Amélie. It was in fact written by Ayn Rand, the author of Atlas Shrugged. But notice how the relationship between Amélie and Nino is an almost perfect concretization of the above.

The two of them did not share the same history, nor do they share identical values, but what they do have in common is the same sense of life--a basic view that, as the two of them see it, life is filled with wonderful things and living consists of collecting and enjoying them.

That is what makes them a very believable couple, a compatible one, and a couple that most viewers will want to see together.

There is no way Amélie can know this at once of course. All she sees is a guy collecting photos that others have discarded--and feels "an affinity" with him.

But as time goes on, and she discovers the purpose behind his actions--along with his other projects (which include collecting pictures of footprints in wet cement and recording funny laughs)--her feelings for him respond accordingly, becoming love.

And yet Amélie does not approach him directly. The question is why? What could possibly hold an unhappy person back from the thing that would make them happy? (Read on.)

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Amélie and Philosophy, 1

Not terribly long ago a director made a movie where every shot is comparable to a painting--and a beautiful one at that.

It was a film where everything, from the movement of the camera and the music played to the set design and the use of specific colors, was integrated together in order to tell a story consistently well.

That story is a good one. The director is Jean-Pierre Jeunet. The film? Amélie.

The characters in Amélie are driven by deeply personal (often interesting) values. These values are what distinguishes one person from the next. And more, they are shown in such a way that one can easily see the relationship between the attainment of them and their happiness.

Amélie is shown pursuing all the little things she loves just as we see the others in the story doing (on a less in-depth scale).

She enjoys, for instance, skipping rocks in an especially beautiful spot, cracking creme brulee with a teaspoon, guessing how many people in the city below her are having orgasms at any one point in time, and dipping her hands into sacks of grain at the market.

These pleasures, especially rock-skipping, are shown to be taken seriously. It is not just that she likes doing so when or if the opportunity arises. Throughout the movie, we see her consciously thinking about and picking up special rocks for that purpose. And we can guess the extent of happiness she gets from this activity by her conscious, consistent focus on it.

However much Amélie likes doing these activities, the specific driver of the events for most of the movie is her decision to "fix other people's lives and perhaps her own as well."

We see Amélie playing matchmaker to two of the locals in her restaurant and giving a blind person an exhilarating walk that (to the extent possible) permits him to see the street (through her richly told descriptions) for one glorious moment.

We see her video-taping certain moments on television in order to show a neighbor who hasn't left his house in years some of the interesting things that he could see if he went out.

And, in some of the funnier scenes, we see her switching foot cream for toothpaste, setting an alarm for the middle of the night, and so on, in the cruel, local grocer's house.

In each of the above (and many others besides) Amélie's pleasure is clearly visable. So why, towards the end of the movie, is Amélie in tears? What is it that she is missing? (Read on.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

6 More Quotes from Lee Sandstead's Art Attack

I recently shared five quotes from the amazing first season of Art Attack.

Here are six, count 'em six, more quotes from Lee Sandstead on the oh-so wonderful world of art:

On Houdon's Diana the Huntress:
"So what is it about Diana that caused such a stir? Well, she's naked. Completely naked. Earlier works of Diana portrayed her in a respectable tunic or robe instead of letting it all hang out. 
"Because she was totally naked, some thought she was more Playboy bunny than classical goddess. 
"...That's because, in 18th century France, some considered full-frontal nudity not very lady-like."
On Sargent's Madame X:
"When I see this painting, I'm reminded why I love museums so much. Beautiful women. I want to meet this woman. 
"What was it that caused such a scandal? The better question might be, 'What didn't?' ...It caused such a scandal that he had to move to London to continue his career. It was like Johnny Cash, when he broke all the lights out at the Grand Ole Opry. Sometimes great artists can get carried away."
On Aphrodite of Knidos:
"Allow me to introduce you to Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, lust and beauty. 
"Ancient Greeks on the island of Cos worshipped the goddess Aphrodite--so why would they reject one of the greatest sculptures of her ever made? Well, when it was unveiled, this sculpture (now known as the Aphrodite of Knidos) was considered totally shocking. 
"This was the first, free-standing, female nude sculpture in Ancient Greece. When Praxiteles created this sculpture he was literally creating a revolution. Before this sculpture, most Greeks had seen exactly zero nude women in art. 
"We see male nudity in Greek art for hundreds of years before we see the female nude. But thankfully there were some liberal people in Greece. The folks on the other Greek island, Knidos, were ready for some equal-opportunity nakedness!"
On Rembrandt's Self-Portrait:
"Do I like this painting? Hell yes I like this painting. But does that mean I'm going to buy a poster of it, put it on my wall, invite a women over, and drink wine and eat cheese to the wee hours of the morning looking at it? Hell no! This man is depressed. 
"Now don't get me wrong, I love looking at myself, but this guy redefines the term self-obsessed. Rembrandt painted over 60 self portraits..."
On Beirstadt's Mt. Rosalie:
"When I look at this painting my heart pounds! So why did this painting get people so pumped up?! Because, like TV and film today, it captured the popular consciousness of the time."
On Vermeer's Woman Holding a Balance:
"What makes this next piece so special? It's not what's in the painting...but what isn't. 
"So you might be thinking, 'Who cares if she's weighing pearls or not, why does it even matter?' Well, inside those empty pans is the meaning of the painting. So what is she weighing? It's not something out here, it's something in here--something spiritual not material
"And how can we tell? ...On the wall is a painting called the Last Judgement. It's the biblical day of judgement, where souls are judged good or evil. Maybe she's thinking of her own life and how her soul will be weighed.
Now I'm guessing, if you made it to this point, that you definitely are a fan.

And, if so, you may be delighted to hear that since this post was first published, the star of it has written a book on one interesting aspect of art history.

To read more from Lee Sandstead on the exciting world of the art, then, click on the link in this sentence, sit back in your chair, and enjoy.

5 Quotes from Art Attack's First Season on the Travel Channel

Did you miss the first season of Art Attack with Lee Sandstead?

If so, it sucks for you--because if you're into art it was one of the best on that subject in many years.

Below are five quotes from the show however. See for yourself:

On Judy Chicago’s The Dinner Party:
Now, I know what you’re thinking, “That’s not art, it’s just a triangular dinner table!” 
When you look at it, what is it—what’s that thing that comes out at you the most? It’s vaginas. Many vaginas. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love vaginas. Just not these vaginas. This is shock art, this was meant to shock people, to deliberately shock people.
On Rodin’s The Burghers of Calais:
…But, believe it or not, Rodin created the four statues as part of a French feel-good project in 1876. They don’t exactly make me feel good and I’m a man in touch with my feelings!
On Reni’s Bacchus and Ariadne:
The god of wine looks like he was partying a little too hard the night before. Bacchus is hungover! So, basically, Venus hooked Ariadne up with her drunk friend. Some consolation. 
…[W]e can see that [Ariadne] is nagging by her gestures—and we wonder why she was kicked off the ship in the first place! 
This painting takes that event and makes it humourous. It makes it able for us to deal with. Got dumped? Get drunk.
On Rodin’s The Thinker:
What is this guy thinking about? Is he thinking about a new application for the iPhone? No! He’s seriously contemplating something. In fact, Rodin said his thinker was thinking with every muscle—and man you can see it. 
See how knotted his muscles are, there’s just tension in there. And then, when we get to his toes, look, they’re all bent under—they’re twisted under. Look at his face. That’s Rocky Balboa going 15 rounds with Apollo Creed and losing. That’s one beat up face! 
What could be so gripping as to put this guy in this state?!? To answer that, you need to know how Rodin thought up The Thinker.
On Mazzanti’s The Death of Lucretia:
Painting Lucretia is kind of like a “jazz standard”—a tune that everyone plays and puts their own spin on. 
…It’s meant to inspire us for positive action.
Did you like these quotes? Do you now see what I mean about the show being so great?

I hope so.

And, surprise of all surprises, thanks to yours truly you can click the following link for even more quotes by Lee Sandstead.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Kill Bill Belle

The following is what I think should be the plot for Kill Bill 3, or what I think will be called Kill Belle, the next movie in Tarantino’s Kill Bill series.

As the title suggests, I think Tarantino should (and most likely will) focus more on Nikki Belle and B.B.--the daughter of Black Mamba and Copperhead. That said, and without further ado, here are the basic plot points as I imagine them:

1 The last Kill Bill movie ended where this movie will start: Elle has no eyes, millions of dollars (at least), and is more desirous of revenge than ever. Nikki (who witnessed her mother's brutal death) now lives with her father. And Beatrix is together with the child she fought so hard to get back.

2 Elle kills Nikki Belle’s father, without Nikki’s knowledge, and then comes for her (though not to kill). Elle adopts her instead, training her in the art of killing and teaching her to lust for blood as much as for revenge.

3 Like many scenes and characters in the previous films, the training sequence will be taken from (/inspired by) Lady Snowblood. In particular, Elle will train Nikki by having a rope tied to them both—which compensates for her lack of vision at the same time teaching Nikki that she must fight. There is no running away from her chosen fate in life as a servant of revenge. And Elle does not kick or hit this poor girl softly. So, she must learn, she must do so quickly, and she must become as ruthless and cold-hearted as her master.

4 At around the same time that this is happening, Beatrix and B.B. (who is as one would expect from her name—combining Bill and Beatrix—a natural killer like her parents) are living together somewhere in China. Beatrix reluctantly at first trains B.B. in the arts, and viewers see some of this in their chess games (though the scene will be filmed so that only the back of their heads are seen—-making it easy for viewers to assume that it is Elle talking to Nikki).

5 Beatrix (who viewers think is Elle) teaches Nikki two things in these scenes. One, she notes the importance of choosing the battlefield, and two, the danger in being or showing mercy. As an aside, both will talk with each other in Chinese--again in order to keep their identities hidden from viewers.

6 Nikki Belle’s life as well as her training has molded her into a ruthless, blood-hungry killer. Elle has succeeded in the first part of her quest to get revenge on Beatrix—but she has created a monster. Elle confronts Nikki about her killing of two of the many younger students studying at the academy and is rudely rebuffed. A final confrontation occurs, this time started by Nikki who inquires knowingly about the untimely death of her father. Then Elle, like the teacher she herself killed, meets her death via the hands of a student.

7 With her father’s death avenged, and the lust for blood ever stronger, Nikki decides to make her move against Beatrix—at last avenging the death of her mother. Nikki kills most of the guards with ease but Beatrix told the truth long ago: she was waiting. A (nightingale) floor awakens Beatrix in time to defend herself from the would-be assassin. A fight ensues and though Beatrix does not go easy, go she does.

8 As the camera scans far away from the final death blow delivered by Nikki Belle we see what looks like the curly-haired back of Nikki rushing to the scene. The camera moves around though, and if viewers didn’t make the connection after spotting the chess board in Beatrix’s house, they realize now that the young girl seen {at the movie’s start) learning strategy and being taught the dangers of allowing an iota of mercy to seep into one’s actions, is none other than B.B. herself.

9 B.B. wants to deliver justice, swiftly and brutally, but Nikki Belle is well-armed and B.B. has no weapons on hand. B.B. decides to wait and choose the battlefield so that (however difficult it may be) she can kill Belle.

10 The grounds of the academy are dimly lit when B.B. arrives. A few guards are killed, not with any enjoyment or anger showed towards them, but with a calm, steady approach. As she enters the main courtyard, however, a laugh is heard growing louder and louder. Bright lights suddenly illuminate the courtyard, with B.B. standing (calmly as ever) in the middle.

11 Nikki Belle says she too was waiting for the daughter of a deceased mother, just as Beatrix was, but that she has more than just a few guards. At this point, twelve fierce-looking college age students step out from the main building—and, in front of them, 12 more very-young and thoroughly evil looking students take their places a step or two ahead of their older peers. As they all advance towards B.B,. Nikki (who, like many villains, taunts and counts on the heroine believing mercy is a good thing) warns her not to hurt the kids, for they are young and mean no harm.

12 B.B. however is more bad-@ss than her mother. She is smart enough to know the result of any mercy shown to evil, and she uses the five-finger exploding heart technique to dispose of every last one (just like Pei Mei was said to have done).

13. As Nikki then runs to meet B.B. in combat as the last student is being finished off—letting her emotions overcome what should have been caution—B.B. unleashes a blinding gas (which doesn’t affect her due to the glasses she has had on), pulls out a sword, and decapitates Nikki Belle on the spot. “This is where the cycle of violence ends,” says B.B. slamming her Hattori Hanzo sword into the bloody ground as she calmly walks away.

Update: Vivica A. Fox wants a role in Kill Bill 3--or, in my dreams, Kill Belle--saying in a December 2011 interview that she hopes she can play the part of Nikki's mother in a flashback sequence. IMDb has a tentative release date of the movie as 2014. Won't be long!