Saturday, January 28, 2012

Monkey Magic

Probably the most satisfying meal I've had for a long time. Every time a dish was gobbled up I had this really inappropriate urge to lick the plates clean. Yes, I'm classy. And no I did not.

 I've also been experimenting with editing techniques on Photoshop to give my photos have a certain mood. Mood. I feel like I use this word a lot here.

All images are owned by me

Friday, January 20, 2012

50 Books // Jane Eyre // # 3

Reading Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre makes me yearn for a time when people spoke to each other with such grace and elegance coupled with an intensity of passion that is intermittently laced with the words they speak. It doesn't matter whether they are being cruel or nice or loving. Their utterance between one another never fail to express a potent emotion. Romantic passages like this:

"I sometimes have a queer
feeling with regard to you
- especially when you are near
me, as now: it is as if I
had a string somewhere under
my left ribs, tightly and
inextricably knotted to a
similar string situated in the
corresponding quarter of your
little frame. And if that
boisterous channel, and two
hundred miles or so of land
come broad between us, I am
afraid that cord of communion
will be snapt and then I've
a nervous notion I should take
to bleeding inwardly."


I really like how it's in equal parts violent, romantic and dark. The entire novel feels like this with its gothic, romantic mood. It was perfectly balanced. Less gothic and dark and it would have been too sickly sweet to me.

The other thing I love most about this novel is the central heart, brain, soul and lung of this story: Jane Eyre herself, of course. Right after I finished the book, I posted this on my Tumblr:

"Just finished this last night, or rather, early morning at 4am.
I am in love with Jane Eyre. Not just the book itself but also the character. She is fiercely independent, burning with passion, highly intelligent, unpretentiously artistic and utters some of the sharpest, wittiest lines in literary history. 
The final half of the book gave me multiple heart aches from pure excitement, heartbreak and overwhelming happiness. 
This goes on my list of books I would recommend to anyone.
There are multiple film adaptations of this book. Please don’t use those as excuses to not read this. The book will always be better. Always."
I'll just leave it at that. 
I write on the books I read and I revisit those notes to write these posts. But for this one, every single time I open the book, as if by magic, I find myself re-reading parts of the novel. And I end up getting nothing done. That really shows how powerful Ms. Bronte's novel is. How it can just draw you in, and ask you to bring its story and its characters back to life. This is the kind of book when it is inappropriate to put the words 'The End' at the end because it just doesn't. Its traces will linger with you long after that final page is read and the book shut.

Image was edited by me from this original source.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Gentlemen // 3 favourite looks from Menswear Fall/Winter 2012

The gentleman with an air of mystery
and reserved quietness.

Favourite pieces: headscarves and shawls.

The gentleman who is polite
and with character.

Favourite pieces: cropped jackets over the suit and spiked gloves.

Costume National
The young gentleman with
grown-up taste.

Favourite pieces: textured sweaters and jackets

Dolce and Gabbana
The gentleman artist who
works at home and isn't
afraid of extravagance.

Favourite pieces: drop crotch pants and embroidered shirts and jackets

The free-spirited gentleman who is
also sartorially inclined.

Favourite pieces: patterned ties and feathered cardigans

Jil Sander
The gentleman with a sharp
attitude who is hiding
a softer, quirkier side.

Favourite pieces: animal sweaters and leather jackets

The thinking gentleman with
impeccable taste.

Favourite pieces: leather gloves and tote.

The gentleman.

Favourite pieces: striped trench coats and tailored jackets.
(Yes, that's Gary Oldman)

All images are from

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Inner apocalypse and preteniousness // Melancholia

Melancholia is split into two parts titled with the names of the two protagonists, 'Justine' and 'Claire'. Justine is played by Kirsten Dunst, Claire by Charlotte Gainsbourg. Justine is depression, Claire is anxiety.

When the threat of Melancholia (an approaching planet that once hid behind the sun and may or may not collide with Earth) heightens, Justine reacts to the situation with interminable indifference while Claire responds with suffocating anxiety. 

Von Trier uses an impending apocalypse as a way to explain what depression and an anxiety disorder really feels like. Personally, I've had bouts of anxiety attacks and moments of depression and still continue to experience these. Despite referrals to therapists, I've put off seeing them (yes, I'm in THAT stage). I haven't come across a film that accurately portrays what anxiety and depression does to a person's internal and emotional state.

That intense suffocating feeling that Claire experiences during Melancholia's approach towards Earth, as if gravity itself is trying to wring the air out of your lungs, is a mental and emotional trauma that is painfully familiar for me.

Justine's persistent and frightening indifference towards the end of the world, as well as her own wedding is depicted by Kirsten Dunst in the most powerful and believable way. The hollowness of the eyes that seem to be staring at nothing and everything. The darkness that can cloud over you at any moment and the recklessness and impulsive behaviours that come about in a desperate search to keep the dark clouds at bay. The frank cruelty towards other people that seem to come out of nowhere. The mood swings. The excessive introspection that leads you to the point of self-loathing and the consequent detachment from friends and loved ones. All of these are conveyed so brilliantly and accurately in this film. 

Some found the film to be too lengthy and others deemed it as dull arthouse trash. I can see why some people would perceive it this way. If the film was constructed in the same way but instead focused on a different subject matter altogether and if the characters did not have depression or anxiety I would have probably found it very dull as well. But since the film deeply affected me in a very personal way, I did not mind its length or its slow pacing. In fact I much preferred it that way since it gave me time to assess what I just saw. 

Some found some scenes gratuitous, like an ultra slow motion shot of a horse collapsing to the ground, but I argue that these seemingly random images are not just there because of their visual beauty but are there to reinforce a certain kind of mood. Von Trier created an atmosphere to represent what it would probably feel like if the entire planet knew and are restlessly waiting for the end of everything - a combination of hushed hopelessness and violent tremors of our defeated planet. The ground shaking music of Wagner as the tremors and the isolated country house as the collective hush of our planet. 

Again, I can fully understand why people would dislike this film because of the mood, or its length or because of its dreary subject matter. What I don't understand are the people who call the film pretentious.

Pretentious is a word used to describe this film in many reviews I've read. In all honesty, I'm quite irritated having this adjective used as a go-to word to sneer at creative works that strive to be ambitious, daring or beautiful. I find it sad when writers, specifically critics, use this word. It is cop-out criticism. It is lazy because it is too definitive and delimits the opportunity for further discussion which is what art, and subsequently, criticism is really there to do - promote discussion. 

Any work of art that is brave, unconventional and new can be called pretentious and those that who do can get away with it. This is because films like Melancholia require a certain degree of pretentiousness. Any work that takes a risk need to be christened with self-importance that it initially does not deserve. If this wasn't so then the artist will never have the impetus that eventually leads to the art's creation.

What is creativity but considering what is in one's head important enough that the artist indulges himself by bringing it into the world. If artists did not give their work greater importance than what it deserves then we will only be left with art that is subpar, lacklustre and dangerously unambitious. 

I'm just grateful that von Trier was pretentious enough that he was able to make this film. 

Images are edited by me from various screenshots from the film. Note: The film is not black and white.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

200 Movies Challenge

So, since I'm already doing the 50 books challenge this year, I thought hmm...might as well throw my entire social life away and also ambitiously undertake a movies challenge as well. 

Picking a number was hard but since I already see over a hundred movies in a given year, I thought I'll go with the number 200. That's 3.8 movies a week, so I would have to see about 3 to 4 movies a week. 

I'm going to be upgrading my Quickflix account and renewing my cinema club memberships so hurray! 

For every ten movies I see I will write up a post with thoughts and a mini review about each film along with a black and white film strip that I'll make for each movie. Because black and white film strips are cool.

Image was edited by me. Original image here.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

50 Books // The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle // # 2

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, Murakami's masterpiece (I seem to always say this about every Murakami I read) is about a young married man named Toru. Toru loses a number of things. First his cat, then his wife and then slowly his sense of reality. In search of these things he encounters characters both bizarre and amusing ranging from war veterans, a politician, an introspective sixteen-year-old girl and even mind prostitutes. Yes, prostitutes who pleasure you in your dreams. 

To describe the plot of the novel is near impossible. At more than 600 pages this is an epic that crosses various time periods, various character viewpoints while managing to weave in and out (and sometimes in between) the real and the imagined. It sounds confusing and complex but it's actually deceptively simple. The way Murakami writes allows the surreal nature of the narrative as well as the layered plot to be as digestible as a children's fairytale. There are so many things going on but somehow Murakami never leaves you behind. This is probably because he never embellishes his sentences more than he needs to. At one point there is even a story within a story within another story. As one character tells Toru one of her stories Toru observes:

"Without explanation, she would
reverse chronological order or suddenly
introduces as a major character
someone she had never mentioned 
to me before...
She would narrate events she had
witnessed with her own eyes, as 
well as events that she had never

 Upon reading this I realised Murakami was describing how he tells his own stories.

I would read this before I go to bed and I remember how strange my own dreams end up becoming. It was as if Murakami's prose somehow rearranged my brain to allow it to gaze at the world in a distorted, convoluted and even a perverse kind of way.

I tend to read fast and usually whizz through books but this one made me slow down and cherish every sentence, every moment and every chapter. I gave it time and it deserved it without question.


Image was edited by me from this original image.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

City Extra for Day One

Spent the first day of the year with the family at City Extra, right across the Bridge when only several hours prior, it was virtually on fire from the New Year's fireworks display.

Their menu was in a cool newspaper format and I chose
the 'journo burger' which is the perfect way to end
my journalism 'career' (I transferred away from my journalism degree and starting my design degree this year).

We also got a last glimpse of the never-ending rainbow which
was the centrepiece on the Harbour Bridge for this year.

Hope everyone had an amazing New Year celebration. 

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

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

A belated Christmas post

All images are owned by me and cannot be reused without permission or crediting the original source

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Instagram Film Memories #4

Instagram: Film Memories are a series of posts showcasing great films I saw during a certain time period. Includes a screenshot of the film taken via Instagram.

Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives
Dir. Apicatpong Weerasethakul

Meek's Cutoff
Dir. Kelly Reichardt

Kiki's Delivery Sevice
Dir. Hayao Miyazaki

The Thin Red Line
Dir. Terrence Malick

Wendy and Lucy
Dir. Kelly Reichardt

Two-Lane Blacktop
Dir. Monte Hellman

Dir. Steven Soderbergh

Scream 4
Dir. Wes Craven

Monday, January 2, 2012

50 Books // Bonjour Tristesse // #1

Hurray for the first book I completed for the 2012 Fifty Books Challenge! It wasn't that difficult since Bonjour Tristesse is only over a hundred pages long.

I'm thankful that it was very brief because I found the main character, Cecile, extremely irritating, selfish and arrogant. If I wanted to witness the lives of privileged people living colourless lives then I would have turned on an episode of a Kardashian TV show.

This was written by an eighteen-year old about a seventeen-year old and you can pretty much sniff out the teenage angst and boredom right from the very first page.

Although she does provide small glimpses of introspection and an occasional acute observance of a character's behaviour, most of the time her words aren't very penetrating and lacks a bit of depth.

This was set in the South of France, arguably the country's most glamourous area, during the most elegant of all decades but Sagan never really took me there. Again, I had brief glimpses of it but the language is so restrained I felt like I was witnessing the story with a cloak thrown over me. I was reading a Murakami and Bronte novel at the same time I was reading this and every lacklustre sentence I read in Bonjour Tristesse made me long for the rich, vibrant and complex storytelling from those accomplished writers.

However, I don't really regret reading this. It was a quick and easy read and I actually had fun mocking and despising the characters in the novel.


Images are owned by me and cannot be reused without permission or crediting the original source.


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