Friday, July 22, 2011

Read Forever



This makes me want to make myself a cup of hot cocoa and snuggle with a book (or my iPad).

I don't like the assumption that e-readers are killing off physical books. Unless someone discovers that paper is poisonous and are a danger to our health, books are never going to go away. Sure, we may buy less hard copies of books if we opt to purchase a digital copy instead but I don't see anything wrong with that. I'm sure there's enough room for all formats. I can already hear the trees breathe a sigh of relief. Think of the paper we save!

After purchasing my iPad and using it to read books I've actually found myself purchasing more physical books because the iPad has instilled inside me this intense hunger for reading. Now I can call myself a voracious reader - I've always wanted to say that!

Currently reading at the moment:
A Pale View of Hills by Kazuo Ishiguro
Safe Haven by Nicholas Sparks
Various university textbooks and academic readings.





Thursday, July 21, 2011

The New Lachowski?


Meet Simone Nobili.

What intrigued me the most about this newcomer is his personality. Completely unexpected. It's surprising to see an introvert, contemplative and calm person doing so well in an industry usually known for its ostentatiousness and fast-paced lifestyles.

He's worked for Givenchy, Mugler and D&G among many others. At first, I thought he was Romanian but he's actually Italian. 

The Dolce and Gabbana channel recently posted a video interview of him. Take a look.




Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Paris, Death, Spirits, Marilyn

This is always an exciting time for film lovers.

First there's the 50% off sale of all Criterion DVDs and Blu-Ray at Barnes and Noble. I already ordered several DVDs including a box set of five Cassavetes films which I'm really excited about. 

Then there's the announcement of new releases from Criterion. Here are the covers, screenshots and synopsis of new and upcoming releases from the Criterion Collection that I'll probably pick up during the next 50% off sale in November:


Four unnamed people who look and sound a lot like Albert Einstein, Marilyn Monroe, Joe DiMaggio, and Joseph McCarthy converge in one New York City hotel room in this compelling, visually inventive adaptation of Terry Johnson’s play, from director Nicolas Roeg.


Ralph Meeker stars as snarling private dick Mike Hammer, whose decision one dark, lonely night to pick up a hitchhiking woman sends him down some terrifying byways. Brazen and bleak, Kiss Me Deadly is a film noir masterwork as well as an essential piece of cold war paranoia, and it features as nervy an ending as has ever been seen in American cinema.


 A brash and precocious ten-year-old (Catherine Demongeot) comes to Paris for a whirlwind weekend with her rakish uncle (Philippe Noiret); he and the viewer get more than they bargained for, however, in this anarchic comedy from Louis Malle, which rides roughshod over the City of Light.


With The Music Room (Jalsaghar), Satyajit Ray brilliantly evokes the crumbling opulence of the world of a fallen aristocrat (the beloved actor Chhabi Biswas) desperately clinging to a fading way of life. His greatest joy is the music room in which he has hosted lavish concerts over the years—now a shadow of its former vivid self.


The last person to die on New Year’s Eve before the clock strikes twelve is doomed to take the reins of Death’s chariot and work tirelessly collecting fresh souls for the next year. So says the legend that drives The Phantom Carriage (Körkarlen), directed by the father of Swedish cinema, Victor Sjöström. 


This spectacular Technicolor epic, directed by Zoltán Korda, is considered the finest of the many adaptations of A.E.W. Mason’s classic 1902 adventure novel about the British Empire’s exploits in Africa, and a crowning achievement of Alexander Korda’s legendary production company, London Films.


 In this poetic and atmospheric horror fable, set in a village in war-torn medieval Japan, a malevolent spirit has been ripping out the throats of itinerant samurai. When a military hero is sent to dispatch the unseen force, he finds that he must struggle with his own personal demons as well. 


This spellbinding anti-romance was a late-career coup for the legendary Italian filmmaker, and is renowned for its sexual explicitness and an extended scene on a fog- enshrouded highway that stands with the director’s greatest set pieces.


 A twisted treasure from Hollywood’s pre-Code horror heyday,Island of Lost Souls is a cautionary tale of science run amok adapted from H. G. Wells’s novel The Island of Dr. Moreau. Erle C. Kenton’s touchstone of movie terror is elegantly shot by Karl Struss, features groundbreaking makeup effects that inspired generations of monster-movie artists, and costars Bela Lugosi in one his most gruesome roles.


I'm going to be completely honest. Apart from Kuroneko, I've never heard of the other films. But these covers got me excited. Reading the synopsis left me feeling even more intrigued. I bought Hausu from Criterion and it should accompany Kuroneko really well (I sense a double feature coming up!). I've never seen an Indian or Bollywood film before, it's one of my many filmic blind spots, so I really want to see Satyajit Ray's The Music Room. Zazie Dans Le Metro looks really fun and I love anything set in Paris.




Covers and Synopsis from Criterion.com


Thank you, J.K. Rowling



Okay, this is going to be a personal post. 

I freaking love Harry Potter.
I was that 11 year old who checked the mailbox several times a day to see if I received a letter to attend Hogwarts.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban was the very first novel I ever read and finished. Don't ask me why I started with the third book, I don't really remember why but I just did. Even though I only understood small parts of it due to my limited understanding of English because I only just moved to New Zealand from the Philippines. I remember falling in love with books after that and spent so much time with my nose buried in a book, Harry Potter or otherwise. Apart from that TV show Arthur and that library card song they sang, I could only attribute my love for reading and writing to J.K. Rowling and her magical creations.

Not only did the Potter series inspire me to read and write, it also nourished my expanding sense of imagination. It also punctuated my childhood and reminiscing back, I realised most of my fondest memories involved Harry Potter. 

I remember reading too much books in dim light and sitting too close in front of the television so that my vision would worsen and I would get to wear glasses like Harry. This was when pretentious, non-prescription spectacles did not exist like they do today.

I remember playing faux-Quidditch using mops and brooms found in the garage and I ran around with my brother and neighbours in the backyard throwing around a Quaffle (which was just a basketball) and chasing a pretend Snitch.

Those Harry Potter rumours sections of K-Zone, Disney Adventures and other kids' magazines were my tabloids (Dumbledore's Animagus is Hedwig?!?!).

I remember trying to make Butterbeer using butterscotch and goodness knows what. It ended up tasting gross by the way.

I got into trouble after making a mess staining my notebooks with tea and breaking pens in half to extract the ink so I can use the feather I found on the street as a quill.

I used to have a journal and I called it Jesue's Standard Book of Spells, like the textbook Hogwarts students were prescribed with. I wrote spells in there, some taken from the books and some I made up on my own, complete with details such as wand movements, (Wingardium Leviosa is with a swish and flick) the incantation and how to pronounce it and instructions on how to fully master the spell (one must find their happiest memory in order to conjure up their Patronus Charm).

Those are just some of the memories I have growing up with the series. I'm sure there's lots more.
What are your Potter memories?


Image from SiixDream

Friday, July 15, 2011

Three Reasons: Zodiac

Directed by David Fincher


It's amazing how Fincher can turn the most beautiful setting and turn it into something truly terrifying.

If Mad Men was a murder mystery, it would probably look something like this, especially during the 60s-70s murders. 


A large portion of the story is set in the newspaper office of the San Francisco chronicle where two of our main protagonists work. Known for his exceptional attention to detail, Fincher creates a convincing look of what a newspaper office would have looked like during that time, from the lights right down to the smallest of props.

As a journalism student, it excites me to see a newsroom like this. Set during a time when newspapers really mattered. I don't want to get into the 'is the newspaper dying?' debate but I can't help but want to time travel back to that era. Obviously, not exactly in San Francisco when the Zodiac murders were taking place because, well, I would be scared out of my mind (I can't even get into a taxi anymore without having suspicions towards the driver).


The first half of the film is a murder mystery. The second half is a character study. Men involved in solving the defiantly unsolvable case become obsessive and create a tunnel vision in their lives - with only the Zodiac at the end of that tunnel and everyone else, including family, friends and their lives are blackened away.

What are your reasons?


Please do not reproduce images without permission.




Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A weekend away at Tokyo



My new perfume purchases: Tokyo by Kenzo and Weekend by Burberry.

Tokyo has a very peppery, urban and dark scent. Works well for night but I'm pretty sure I've smelt something very similar from another brand before. Nevertheless, it still packs quite a punch in the beginning but then settles down to a more subtle smell as it dries down.

Weekend on the other hand is less urban and more...um...rural. Think weekend road-trip in the British countryside. It's a very easy scent to carry and very casual. It smells citrusy and a bit green. Extremely fresh and good for every day.




All images are owned by me and cannot be reused without permission



Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Stay Creative

I agree with most, but not all of this. Drink coffee? To be creative? I love to drink coffee and drink it everyday but I don't think it gets my creative juices flowing.

29 WAYS TO STAY CREATIVE from TO-FU on Vimeo.

New religion in Rick Owens S/S 2012


Rick Owens’ menswear collection is always exciting to watch because he creates clothes - when they race out into the runway – that look like they cater for a very specific type of man, but actually if you look at each one closer and break the ensemble apart you can extract pieces that anyone can wear.



From the textured jackets in neutral colours to the long graphic robes that look like they can be turned into more wearable loose t-shirts, Owens’ skill as a designer is to turn unorthodox ideas and turn them concrete.



It’s not easy to describe his 2012 collection but for me, they look pagan while appearing biblical and Catholic at the same time - like a new religion.



There is some form of symbolism there with the graphic shapes and the subtle duo-toned colours but it’s restrained in a way that you can’t quite make a clear and defined reference.



Owens gives the three-piece suit a twist by adding a fourth garment, the skirt. Now I’m seeing quite a lot of skirts for menswear recently, though I don’t really know what to feel about this trend, for me, Owens created the most convincing ones for men to wear. I think it’s because of the length and the colours they come in.



The skirts are paired with pants (or leggings?) of the same colour so it doesn’t draw too much attention to itself and instead plays a part of the whole outfit.

The most exciting aspect of the show for me was how it portrayed such intelligence. This collection was thought about carefully, as Owens always does, but not too much that the clothes become over complicated and become a victim of its own intelligence. It’s simple and precise but you know there’s a lot more to obtain from it beneath the surface.


Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Let's be serious


This is the bag I use for university. I got it from etsy.com and it fits everything I need: notebooks, Macbook Pro, iPad, DSLR and of course, snacks. I really like the pattern and the colours and because it's from etsy, it's handmade and made with love :)

P.S. It's winter where I live so excuse my unshaven legs.

Shirt from Jack London, Long Sleeve from Gap, Shorts 1 from Saba, Shorts 2 from Wrangler, Shoes from Unknown



All images are owned by me





Monday, July 4, 2011

Cold Comfort Cult

martha marcy may marlene film poster design with elizabeth olsen





The film's ending is a stroke of genius. Not because of its ambiguous nature but because for the first time in so long, a filmmaker finally knew when to stop. Many films that have come out in recent years begin to ruin itself because it keeps on running long after its legs start to wear out. Sean Durkin's debut feature film Martha Marcy May Marlene has perfect pacing. It unravels in such a slow, ponderous way that gives enough time for its audience to think about what they have just seen while never extending a scene's running time long enough to invite boredom. When the film finally ends, it is unanticipated but doesn't feel abrupt. This is the kind of story that will feel less powerful and make less of an impact if given a conclusion. Sometimes you just have to deny satisfaction to give satisfaction. If you haven't seen this, you'll know what I mean when you see the ending.

Martha, played by the exciting new talent Elizabeth Olsen (yes, the sister of those twins) escapes what seems to be a cult in the Catskill. She is picked up by her sister, Lucy, and taken back to her lake house she shares with her husband in Connecticut. Both sisters have not seen each other for a while, but there are noticeable tensions and differences between them. Scenes in the lake house are intercut with various experiences Martha had in the cult, including a very heavy scene involving a shooting practice and baby kittens.

This intercutting is one of the film’s great strengths and it’s a smart directorial decision because it lets us compare the two time periods of Martha’s life. Ultimately at the end however, we find that the scenes in the cult and the scenes with Lucy are not that different from one another. She doesn’t necessarily heal or assimilate back to ‘normal’ society because the bourgeois setting Martha’s sister inhabits is just as cold and abusive as the cult. There is violence and sexual abuse in the cult but there is emotional abuse in the lake house. Lucy truly cares for Martha but she ends up hurting her anyway. When Martha talks with her brother-in-law about how he wants to start a family with Lucy, Martha simply laughs: “I just can’t imagine her holding a baby”.

This relationship brings out the interesting question of why people end up in cults in the first place. Was Martha’s family and sister so cold that they ended up pushing her away and forcing her to seek comfort and refuge with another kind of family. The cult is one that works off the land and they work to be able to sustain themselves and shut themselves off the world. This contrast highlights the divide between the materialistic and status-obsessed bourgeoisie and the self-reliant, alternative lifestyle the cult offers. The film explores this in a dinner scene when Lucy and her husband ask Martha what she wants to do with her life, her career and how she’s going to look after herself. She brushes off this suggestion asking why she can’t just live - or exist – without having to think about those capitalist concerns.

The cinematography is one of the best I’ve seen. Shadowy and darkness abound to match the dark and somber mood. But it’s never really pitch black. It’s shot in a way so what is meant to be black looks more dark grey – a kind of illusory feeling that mocks reality so that it looks more like memories, or dreams. Like you’ve just woken up from a nightmare early in the morning when the sun is just about to come up. There is still darkness but the light is there if you look hard enough.

The film leaves out much of the details – what the cult really stands for, the past history of Martha and her older sister and the reasons behind why she joined and left the cult. Always implying and never being overt, the film’s sinister tones turn more sinister and disquieting moments turn into moments of dread. It also leaves room for viewers to fill in the gaps and come to their own conclusions.

Elizabeth Olsen’s performance reminds me of Jennifer Lawrence’s performance in Winter’s Bone. Both have quiet yet intense performances and their faces tell you everything the character is feeling. Both also have a hardened quality to them, one that evokes experience and hardship, a quality that feels bizarre and quietly creepy when seen from a young, beautiful face.


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