retsuko: watanuki freaking out with a pig in his hands (omgwtfbbq!)
In the Love It category of Oscar nonsense:

~Ang Lee has just made right to the top of my "Super Awesome and All Around Must-See Filmmaker" List. Granted, he was on the there before, but last night, he muscled his way straight to the top. Further, he was one of the few filmmakers who thanked the author of the book their movie is based on! Seriously, what the what, Hollywood.

~FASHIONS: TEH SHINY! There were a lot of looks there were just plain pretty this year. I hope a lot of stylists and publicists were well compensated for their efforts! (My favorites were Jessica Chastain, Octavia Spencer, Olivia Munn, and Adele.)

~Adele and Shirley Bassey were amazing! And Christopher Plummer's speech about the Best Actress category was both funny and classy.

As for the Shove It category:

~OMG, WTF and BBQ. The first link is Buzzfeed, so perhaps avoid the comments, and the second is a much more reasoned critique from The New Yorker, but for sanity, possibly avoid the comments there, too. Anyway, I guess I should start out by saying that I am definitely not a Seth MacFarlance fan, so I was likely predisposed to be critical; that said, I'm still flabbergasted that some of the jokes were allowed to air. Seriously: domestic violence is funny how/why? Actresses taking risks for their roles is... worthy of making an entire song about how you can see their boobs? I feel like much of MacFarlane's material was an extended monologue based on a montage of The Soup's "Chicks, Man" segment.

~ This year's ceremony felt particularly long, and by the end of it, I was glad it was over.

So, next year... Amy and Tina, yes? Yes? Please?
retsuko: (spoilers!)
General notes:

* Can someone please tell the people who win awards for movies based on books to thank the author who wrote the original work? Only Alexander Payne remembered to do this. I do want to see "Hugo", but I loved the book long before the movie came along, and someone needs to thank Brian Selznick for his work.

* I enjoyed The Artist, but I don't think it's half as clever as everyone thought it was. Still, nice to see a black and white, silent film garner so much attention.

* Billy Crystal turned out to be a much better host than I thought he'd be. I enjoyed his running insistence that he enjoyed the jokes that were falling flat, and I liked his delivery of most of his lines. He has some great timing and an amazing poker face.

* Why does any/every clip from Bridesmaids have to be the bathroom one? I mean, yeah, it was horrible/funny, but there were many other scenes in that movie that were funnier and showed off the actresses' talents much more effectively.

* Speaking of clips, when it came time for George Clooney's nod in The Descendants, the editors didn't pick the clip I thought they'd go with, which was a nice surprise. The more I think about that movie, the more I like it, and I'm glad that it did get a few awards. Compared to the other films it was up against, it wasn't gimicky or overly forced.

General fashion blah-blah:

* I thought there were a lot of pretty, pretty dresses tonight. I liked Ellie Kemper, Tina Fey, Penelope Cruz, and Octavia Spencer; all of them looked glamorous without looking too unlike themselves.

* One trend I'm not too keen on is the "help, two dresses are fighting on me!" look, as exemplified by Viola Davis. The color on her was gorgeous, and the top half of the dress with the beads was beautiful, but the bottom half was all ruffles and tears and I couldn't tell what the hell was going on down there.

* I do wish that Tilda Swinton or Cher had been there and wearing something utterly crazy--it's nice to have one outfit that's completely over the top! (And Tilda always brings the awesome, no matter what she's wearing.)
retsuko: (love this show)
Last night was the 'Work of Art' finale! ... and I almost forgot about it, which is saying something. As much as I enjoy this show, I don't have the raw, visceral need to follow it that other shows (reality and otherwise) have elicited. Perhaps it's because the drama (especially in the final episode) feels so manufactured, and as such, my contrary nature says, "Ho hum, not real, why not go to bed early?" But I'm still glad I caught the finale, which had a semi-surprising, but very satisfying result. Spoilers ahead! )

In non-spoilery talk, I do want to say that China's fashion choices last night were crazier than anything she'd previously worn on the whole season, and both of them were overdone and extremely terrible. For the first half of the show, she wore an outfit that made her look like a blueberry (a *plastic* blue beret and a rounded blue dress with matching heels), and for the second half, at the gallery show, she was wearing a black and white number that looked as if she'd been walking past a palette factory that exploded, covering her Victorian nightgown in large black and white disks. With her crazy Bjork hairstyle, the whole concept for her clothing appeared to be something like "Uptight Nanny Secretly Wants to Party With Self-Absorbed Art Critics and Runny Mascara." All season long, her stylist apparently decided that China should look like Carrie Bradshaw, since the real life Sarah Jessica Parker is an executive producer on the show. The problem is that Carrie Bradshaw had more personality than China and even with all that personality, half the outfits she wore looked insane and terrible anyway. The resulting look for China was Lady without the Gaga, Tea with Carrie Bradshaw, a distracting and bizarre mix.

Speaking of distracting and bizarre, I've seen two superhero movies in the past two weeks, and they were both only mildly engaging. "Captain America" and "Green Lantern" were supposed to be all kinds of thrilling, but both ended up being mildly diverting at best.

I was more entertained by Captain America, and this largely had to do with Hugo Weaving's presence. My Dad's assessment of Weaving's villainous character, Red Skull, in the comics is, "Man, that guy never goes away!" Weaving made me believe this villain would never go away, either--he had too many plans up his military, mutated sleeves for that. And, really, his mockery of Captain America was spot on: here's a guy in a ridiculous costume, running bravely towards the mortal peril with apparently little else to fight with than his gumption and gosh-darn-it-American-ness! If I were the Red Skull, I'd roll my eyes at that, too. Captain America himself came off as 2.5 dimensional. I liked his motivation, succinctly stated as, "I don't want to kill anyone. But I don't like bullies." But Chris Evans was weirdly flat in some places, and the script shied away from giving him true character. There's a great moment about three quarters of the way through where Captain is mourning the loss of a friend, and he reveals to the love interest that because of his increased metabolism, he can no longer get drunk. I would have loved for this quiet scene to go on just a little bit longer, because it made him a lot more relatable. But instead, we were back to the action moments later. Whee, Tommy Lee Jones! Don't drive that car off a cliff! OMG! etc.

Far less successful to me was "Green Lantern", and this mainly had to do with Hal Jordan himself. I have to ask: was he really that much of a self-absorbed douchebag in the comics? He came off like an overgrown frat-bound teenager, and it bothered me quite a bit that everything and everyone in the movie hero-worshipped him. (That scene with Blake Lively in the bar was... well, turn off the visuals, and just listen to the dialogue alone. It sounds like something else that involves dubious consent.) I was excited to see non-humanoid aliens, but they were only in the movie for a very short time. Anyway, I got heartily sick of the whole affair about halfway through and spent the rest of the movie playing Thread Words on my Kindle. The next time I looked up, the bad guy was attacking a generic city and causing lots of property damage. Pretty much par for superhero movies.
retsuko: (fabulous jack!)
Fashion, in all of its expensive, inscrutable glory is at the heart of the wonderful and insightful documentary "The September Issue" which chronicles the amount of effort, time, and money that went into producing the September 2007 issue of Vogue magazine. (The issue which went on to sell 14 million copies, weighed about 5 pounds, and was 840 pages long.) The film also attempts to let the viewers into the lives and motivations of some of the principle people involved in the magazine, notably Features editor Grace Coddington (who opens up and has a very interesting life story) and the notorious editor-in-chief Anna Wintour (who is so controlled, it's impossible to tell what she's thinking at any given moment, with only a few exceptions.) Wintour was rumored to be the inspiration for the boss from hell in The Devil Wears Prada, and it was impossible not to watch this film and wonder how true the novel was. The overall impression of the film is of a collective of people, who are passionate about what they do, but all of whom are somewhat cowed by their commander-in-chief, no matter how much they insist that it's not true.

Since Wintour's character is at the center of the film, it's fair to start with her as the basis of the entire story. I've seldom seen such an outward presentation of tatemae (public face, as opposed to one's true feelings/demeanor, honne) in a U.S. citizen, but Wintour has polished her tatemae until it fits and shines and sparkles and she never lets it come off. The moments when it slips (commenting on a gorgeous orange Oscar de la Renta evening dress, or when she admits that her children are her weakness) are so rare that's a little unnerving to remember to see them and think, "oh, she's a person under there." Is she the boss from hell? It's tough to say: it's clear that she's got a bigger picture in mind than just the issue of the magazine, and when she makes cuts to photo shoots or demands further work, it's difficult not to admire her decisiveness and certainty. But it's also clear that she expects the world of her workers, and a great many of them live somewhat in fear of her judgments because there's no going back from what she says.

In some ways, it's the unnamed workers in this film who are the most interesting--they're the ones who bear the brunt of the organizational work for the clothes in the magazine, and they work feverishly at it throughout the film, in little cut-away scenes. (Wrapping up hats in tissue paper here, maneuvering racks of amazing clothes down a hall there, etc. etc.) The flamboyant personalities of the fashion world are definitely in this movie as well; the most sympathetic is the new designer Thakoon, who confesses how nervous he was the first time he met Wintour to show her his collection. (His hands shook the entire time, he says sheepishly, he couldn't make them stop.)

And the FASHION. So many gorgeous clothes, and so many truly awful, hideous pieces that make me wonder what drugs the designers were on. Everything comes and goes on the runway, on and off racks, so dizzyingly. There's a funny moment at the beginning of the film where Editor-at-Large Andre bemoans that there's "lack of beauty in America" this fall! (He pauses for a high-five with Vera Wang.) There's no lack of beauty in this movie, but it's all so fast, rushing by too quickly to assess its true value or worth. For example, there's a cutaway shot of an amazing dress by Jean Paul Gautier--he points at the model and says "wrought iron" and that's what the dress looks like, the most stunningly detailed, form-fitting artistic thing you've ever seen, except that it's on screen for less than 30 seconds and that's it. So frustrating! The other frustrating thing about this myriad frenzy of clothing is my usual problem with the fashion world: there's the "high art" end of things which are great to look at, but I can't imagine any person in their right mind wearing on a regular basis; and then there's the clothing that Wintour calls "more wearable". It's clear that there's a dichotomy between these two categories, and the fashion world is going to have come down on one side or the other of high art or commerce. (Interestingly enough, the L.A. Times posits the same questions in today's feature story.) It's a dichotomy that I experienced yet again this year, as I paged through the September issue of both Vogue and In Style. With In Style, I folded down quite a few pages of interesting clothes that matched my body type and weren't so expensive as to be insane. But in this year's Vogue, everything was too dark-looking, did not favor my body type, and, in general, was just so crazy-expensive that I marked no pages whatsoever. In the battle of expensive/ugly/Brand Name vs. figure-flattering/bright-colored/reasonably-priced, I know which side I'm on every time.

All in all, this is an incredibly engrossing movie, about an industry that may see some dramatic shifts in the next generation or so. Anyone with an interest in fashion or publishing should definitely check this out. There's also some great advice from Grace Coddington, about the nature of creativity: never close your eyes in the car, always look out the window, always look around. You never know what you'll see that will inspire you.
retsuko: (spork!)
In preparation for the all-terrible, all-shallow Job Hunt, I've been trying to spruce up my wardrobe. Even with the teaching job in the recent past, I still feel like my closet is mired in what I would choose to identify as "college casual". My biggest source of annoyance is the navy cloth hobo bag I'm using as my purse on a day-to-day basis. I was taught that you weren't supposed to mix black and navy, and invariably, when I come out to grab my purse, I've got black somewhere in my outfit. (I despise switching handbags to suit my outfit--too fussy!) And I started thinking, is this an outmoded fashion rule? And do other people ignore certain fashion rules that I've pretty much written off?

[Poll #1158279]

I don't understand the no-white-shoes-after-Labor-Day rule. Maybe it's because I'm a relaxed Californian who wears bright colors all year 'round, but why put away your snazzy white sandals just because summer's over?

May 2016

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