Friday, February 29, 2008

yves saint laurent

One show that I regret not looking at too closely from last season was Stefano Pilati's star-filled and mannish show for Yves Saint Laurent. Bare jewel tones and blazers missing sleeves with strong shoulders offered an interesting and effortless simplicity. Oh, and those YSL logo shoes and star accents that glittered were fun too. The knife sharp cuts and mannish tailoring were present for the fall collection, but it was harder, stronger, and better.

Normally I think it's terribly distracting when a designer sends a slew of models out in matching wigs and makeup. It makes them look less human, and less important because clothes are meant to be worn by people, not plastic looking hangers. However, there was a solidarity, a strength in numbers vibe if you will, in the black, blunt bowl cuts and noir lipstick. They almost looked like an army of Peggy Moffit look-a-like's with '80s wrap around shades. Once your eye moves from that shock, it will only be met with more things to rouse and intrigue. I love a good tweed and here it falls every so sharply in the form of coats, jackets, and pants. The silhouette of a belted waist, structure on top, and a flow of movement on bottom was consistent and very feminine. A charming charcoal coat with flecks of color and a suggestion of a cerulean blue beneath with fingertipless gloves and tall boots is an uncompromising look, but there is comfort in that fabric and texture, and a bit of hopefulness in the color that is more associated with summer and someplace hot. This was a built on collection of coats and outerwear, which is refreshing when it boggles the mind at the wispy nature of some other designer's creations for fall. It does get cold somewhere in the world, despite the effects of global warming, and Yves Saint Laurent will be there to offer you cozy single button coats, '80s toppers , and jackets that flow after the zips stops at the waist. Clean lines and color blocking ruled the dresses, even one going into that territory that's not alway the vulgar but just enough to titillate.

Shape and cut seems to be interesting French fashion more so than the other cities that have presented so far. Too bad for those cities because Pilati is onto something with his '80s-futuristic-everyday-femme-warrior.

get me bodied

Sebastian Tellier
"Sexual Sportswear"
directed by Fleur and Manu

Doesn't this have a bit of a "A Clockwork Orange" vibe?

P.S., Isn't that movie better appreciated very late at night while sipping champagne?

Thursday, February 28, 2008


When looking at a Balenciaga collection there's always a superbly executed high wire act being demonstrated with each seam, cut, and focused idea. The clothes always have such an interesting interplay between ideas, history, and Nicolas Ghesquière's own personal tastes. The balance between something hard/soft, sexy/demure, high/low shot, old/new, fantastical/wearable, becomes a form of fashion that is totally new and unseen. Ghesquière is one of the few tastemakers and true thinkers in fashion that gets us to think differently about what fashion means and what it will look like in the streets. Not everyone can afford the luxury of Balenciaga, but his influence is everywhere in those modish coats you see at Gap or H&M or those knockoff bags available at your local Target or Forever 21. His reach and touch is a sign of someone great. His fall collection did not disappoint. The provocation and freshness was there in a collection that was take on a perversely beautiful idea of bourgeois eroticism. Exposed flesh and a bit of kink made for one of the best collections of the season, if not the very best.

Last season, Nicolas Ghesquière sent out a controversial line up of models with slicked back hair, murderous gladiator heels, and armor like minidresses covered from seam to hemline in exploding flower prints. Fashion followers are still reeling from that show in all of its romantic rigidity. The look was too total for some or too constricting for a variety of body types. Understandable, but the runway is a forum for discussion and mood for Ghesquière. The hemlines, floral prints, and accessories will remain and bare their imprints for the season to come, and that is his genius. His prescient and engaging mind spells out the trends before the language is even created. For fall Ghesquière recreated midcentury looking architectural shapes with little black dresses that looked as if he took a pair of scissors and exposed his favorite parts of the female form. Pants were slim enough for the '80s with velvet tops swirling around the bust like a big paint stroke. Shoulders on jackets and coats were rounded to a slim point just above at the wrist. Delicate diamonds created an interesting frisson against the slick and naughty PVC coats. There were sportier pieces that had a wetsuit effect without looking too harsh. The last few looks consisted of Japanese screen prints but cut with such strong precision it could have been done by a laser.

With a collection with such vigor and vitality, it's almost a challenge for everyone else to catch up. Ghesquière's mind is essential to fashion continuously evolving and shifting us in new directions.

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

junya watanabe

I love when you can see a designer really thinking about how clothes relate to the body. The act of wearing clothes is a tacit agreement, creating a bond that extends to how you feel beneath the clothes and what you project on the outside. Junya Watanabe's fall collection was a very modern take on draping, something when done the right way, or at the very least an exciting way, can look almost couture in that with each fold and fall of the fabric it fits differently on every body. Each look rigorously worked that idea with a focus on the body and never once abandoning it.

The models, or figures rather, in the show were striking with their faces concealed with opaque headwraps and bulbous things poking out from beneath. The trend of veiling the face, a big a few seasons back, immediately connotes something about silencing or beheading women, only to use them their for their bodies, but here it doesn't come across as violent or misogynistic. It appears Watanabe wants us to look at the clothes and not be worried about the big beauty trends of the season. What is there on the body is fantastically draped in a myriad of ways, some that are familiar and others that are not. The smoky grays that were the color basis of the collection looked as if smog breezed up the body. It's an odd effect, which may make the models look like apparitions, but the eye goes immediately to the craftsmanship of clothes that slink and slither around the body. It wasn't all fluid lines and drapery, there were strong and structured peacoats and blazers paired with elongated skirts and pants, all in that urban gray and black. Gray and black are interesting colors because they're not as vibrant as obviously shocking colors in the crayon box, and yet there is a life to them that feels very relevant. The latter part of the collection blossomed with a smattering of flower prints splashed across the draped dresses with the model's faces finally exposed. The narrative and evolution of thought was so strong and evocative in this collection that you wish other designers, especially American designers, pushed the perimeters of fashion so hard and splendidly as Watanabe achieved in this collection.


As any great artist should, Jun Takahashi pondered several questions about the state of fashion in his fall collection for Undercover. Each looked seemed to be a walking question mark in search of the meaning of tailoring, sportswear, American streetwear, and of course, the future. I feel like Paris fashion is the most adept at looking at fashion in the future. Where will it be? Who will buy it? Who will design it? Such abstractions may seem pretentious for fashion, but we are what we wear, and why not ask questions, especially when they are so thoughtfully and oddly dazzling at Undercover.

The hooded sweatshirt, unlike any other article of clothing, has had a tremendous effect on how we define youth in the 21st century. In a world run rampant by man and woman-children, post-collegiates who don't want the responsibility of becoming their parents, and major fashion trends aimed at the tween set, the hooded sweatshirt has become a bit of a symbol for those of us who never want to grow up and want to wear something that comfortably reminds of what we would wear to play on the monkey bars. Ellen Page's entire wardrobe in "Juno" consisted of a variety of hoodies and Michael Cera clamored to his during his would-be first time in "Superbad." Grown up fashion magazines, more so men's magazines, tell us how to incorporate them into our work wardrobe. Michael Kors and Juicy Couture, among many other young, trendy labels, have started offering hoodies in cashmere and other luxe fabrics. Takahashi played with the concept of the hoodie in this collection, but here it was exaggerated to the ankles or done in fabrics you wouldn't expect. Puffer jackets, baggy trousers, and bulky sweaters are normally found on your average tenth grader, but here it was chic and something completely new. There's a certain comfort in those clothes that evoke something traditional, but the Daryl Hannah in "Blade Runner" makeup and coneheads on the models looked as if an alien from the distant future transported to a local high school and co-opted the new styles. The outerwear was especially strong with interestingly and intricately layered looking blazers, coats and a baby blue motorcycle jacket immersed under fur shoulders and straps across the bust. For such a futuristic show it never veered into something too austere or avant garde. Pick apart each look and there's something great and uniquely wearable along the way. If you're going to pay the price, you might as well get the greatest bang for you buck.

The idea of sportswear in relation to youth culture was done to death in New York without much precision or mature thought. Here it looks fresh and as if what we've been wanting to see has finally landed.

does it really matter?

We can finally breathe a sigh of relief now that the Academy Awards are out of our hair until next year. Apparently this was the lowest rated Oscars in twenty years, which is unfortunate because some truly great performances and films were awarded. It's curious that the general public may not be familiar with the winners or the films recognized, when in fact they speak very intelligently and loudly about America right now. "No Country for Old Men", "There Will Be Blood", and "Michael Clayton" propose that we live in a greed obsessed world where consumption and the quest for monopolizing and claiming territory is as essential as brushing one's teeth. The precocious teenager in "Juno" is the everygirl, with her whip crack smarts and woman-child vulnerability, learns how to deal with pregnancy in the face of her peers, parents, pro-lifers, and the baby's daddy. The rise and fall of Edith Piaf, so wonderfully and skillfully rendered by Marion Cotillard, could be the rise and fall of any hard living American rock star. All of these issues and concerns are on the pulse of who and what American has become in this juncture of history, but perhaps that confrontational, vague definition is off putting to most Americans. They would rather see Shia LeBeouf chased by CGI created robots from some popular cartoon in the '80s. (which in a way, says tremendous things about politics, gender, generational divide, and so on) When Chris Rock hosted the show a few years ago, his comic and astute observation that most Americans don't bother to see the prestigious echelon of films nominated, played out in the form of a man on the street style interview with actual moviegoers who all seemed clueless at the mention of a film like "Vera Drake" or "Maria Full of Grace." What does that mean? Are the Oscars irrelevant?

I have faithfully tuned into the big show ever since I can remember and each year as I become more and more film literate and invested in "the best films of the year", it is crushing to watch the films I'm rooting for not win in their respective categories. How is a big, audacious, punch of a movie like "There Will Be Blood" only win two awards? Let's not forget the "Crash" debacle or how films that seem like a thing of the past, such as "Shakespeare in Love", "Gladiator", "Titanic", and "Chicago", have won best picture. Are these the films we'll remember in ten, twenty, fifty years time? I'm still thinking about Clive Owen desperately trying to save the 21st century Madonna in "Children of Men" or Heath Ledger remorsefully clinging to his lover's bloodied shirt in "Brokeback Mountain" or the sensational bathhouse brawl in "Eastern Promises." Whether or not the Oscars are always accurate in who they select as the best actress or best cinematographer, they remain a cornerstone of American entertainment and a bit of a national treasure. It is the last major film awards of the season, and certainly one of the first in the world to acknowledge the achievements of its artistic community of players and craftspeople. To not watch such a prime spectacle is almost unAmerican. I'm sure I'll be tuned in next year and probably gasp loudly when an unexpected winner takes the stage (such as I did when Tilda Swinton's name was called), but hopefully those damn Coen brothers won't hog all of the awards again.

song of the week: paris, tokyo

Lupe Fiasco, "Paris, Tokyo"

Doesn't this song remind you of something from the early '90s? It's one of the few times I mean that as a compliment.

Monday, February 25, 2008

and it has to be said, the buttocks.

The award for best acceptance speech goes to...

suited up

It seems as though half of why most people watch the Academy Awards is for the fashion, namely what will the parade of actresses will wear. I thought Amy Adams in Proenza Schouler, Cate Blanchett in Dries Van Noten, Marion Cotillard in Jean Paul Gaultier, Jessica Alba in Marchesa, and Tilda Swinton in Lanvin, all looked positively resplendent. For the most part the female fashion was safe, if not due to the writers' strike or the lack of award show momentum in the recent months, but I thought some of the most handsomely dressed men looked as classic as any movie star could achieve. Here are the three best dressed men at the 80th Academy Awards:

Sean Combs

I think scalloped vests are making a comeback. There is no "bitch assness" found here.

James McAvoy, with wife Anne-Marie Duff

The button detail and subtle shawl collar combination is striking, and yet his slightly deshelved hair makes it look youthful and relaxed.

George Clooney

And then there's what Time dubbed "The Last Movie Star." How does he do it? It's pure Hollywood glamour and no one does it quite like Mr. Clooney, in a classic Armani tuxedo.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

oscar, oscar

12:16AM The show is over and I'm fading fast. My thoughts on the show will be better formed after a good night's rest. Good night.

11:46PM Yawn. "No Country for Old Men" wins best picture. What's with Denzel's new haircut?

11:42PM UGGGGHHHHH. I'll accept the Coen brothes win, but I want to buy Paul Thomas Anderson a drink.

11:41PM BEST DIRECTOR. OMG. Who's it going to be?

11:34PM I'M FINISHED! The show is not over but Daniel Day-Lewis keeps it short, sincere, and sweet. How such a mild mannered Englishman can transform into an American sociopath is beyond me, but he did it and he deserved that Oscar.

11:31PM Helen Mirren has to share the award with Forest Whitaker for best performance by a presenter.

11:26PM Cheetah print, jeweled neckline, asymmetrical haircut, red lips, thigh high slit--pick one Diablo Cody and stick with it. Was Rachel Zoe too busy with Cameron and Jennifer?

11:10PM As I predicted, "Atonement" takes best original score. Johnny Greenwood is getting drunk somewhere.

11:02PM The dreaded In Memorium tribute. I'm reminded that Antonioni is gone and I'm still not over it. Noticeable absence: Brad Renfro. Wtf?


10:56PM Markéta Irglová gets a second chance to make her speech. A new precedent has been set.

10:54PM Diane Von Furstenberg's American Express commercial is breathtaking. There's something very pretty and calming about DVF wandering around a snowy forest seeking inspiration for her latest collection.

10:52PM Seriously. John Travolta go away.

10:48PM UGGGHHHHH. John Travolta dances. Amazing.

10:46PM UGGGHHHHH. "Enchanted" song again.

10:42PM The token import actor presents best foreign language film. Thank goodness it's Penelope Cruz. Who are the nominees again? Oh yeah, no one has heard of them.

10:30PM Hey Nicole Kidman, you have a diamond necklace circling your right boob. Thought I'd let you know.

10:29PM "Bourne Ultimatum" is killin' 'em. The best action movie of the past decade should have been nominated in more categories. Shoulda, coulda, woulda Academy.

10:27PM Renee Zellweger not wearing something obviously Carolina Herrera? Gasp. EDIT: I was wrong. It was Herrera. Boooooorrrrrring.

10:23PM I'm totally tempted to count how many best picture winners I've seen. I. LOVE. MONTAGES.

10:13PM Radiant in Jean Paul Gaultier couture, Marion Cotillard takes best actress. I love the surprises in the major categories. Once again, I would love a "There Will Be Blood" upset somewhere. Anywhere. Please.

10:10PM Best performance by an actor presenting an Oscar: Forest Whitaker. Did he really have to give the dramatic pauses in between BEST. ACTRESS. IN. A. LEADING. ROLE?

10:00PM The pregnancy award bit was pretty funny. Halle Berry and Dame Judi Dench as presenting partners would have been funnier. I suppose Seth Rogen and Jonah Hill will do.

9:54PM The Kristin Chenoweth anchored performance of the second nominated song from "Enchanted" is...odd. Why did she get so much accompaniment? Why do I always think of Madonna in the early '90s when I see those earpiece microphones? Why didn't Amy Adams perform this one? So many questions.

9:47PM I'm fine with the Coen brothers win for adapted screenplay. I really hope the Academy doesn't give them best picture or director. Spread the love, dammit.

9:39PM Wow. I literally yelped out loud in front of my friends at Tilda Swinton's best supporting actor win. She's not your typical lady, or fashionista for that matter, and that's why we love her. A pleasant surprise and a genuinely surprised acceptance speech. I need to know if she brought her baby's daddy or the other man.

9:24PM Keri Russell: MILF pt. 2.

9:19PM The villain with the bad haircut wins best supporting actor. Javier Bardem is a badass, on and offscreen, but I hate his tuxedo jacket. Penelope, you could have done something about this.

9:09PM CATE BLANCHETT IS A TOTAL MILF. Who cares about the best art direction when a pregnant lady looks that good?

9:02PM Amy Adams wins the award for ballsiest non-nominated actor. If you didn't already love her, she gains extra points for preforming a big song from her film "Enchanted" without backup dancers or an elaborate set piece. She also looked slammin' in a deep emerald gown on the red carpet. Dear Amy, I love you. W.

8:57PM The makeup duo from "La Vie En Rose" deservedly win the makeup achievement award. On a somewhat unrelated note, when did Katherine Heigel's waist get so tiny?

8:50PM Philip Seymour Hoffman and Helen Mirren do not seem excited about Anne Hathaway and Steve Carrell. I guess they don't care for that big rosette thing on Anne Hathaway's dress.


8:42PM The first win is for costume design. "Elizabeth: The Golden Age", duh. The costume designer is quite the aesthete--severe bangs, billowy dress, nerdy glasses. A glowing Cate Blanchett approves.

8:39PM Is Wesley Snipes Spike Lee's date? Isn't the government after him?

8:31PM Am I the only one who hates Reege? The perma-tan, the glow in the dark white teeth, and the hairline that never recedes drives me wild. So much to loathe, especially when his job dictates interviewing Miley Cyrus.

Glass of pinot noir? Check.
Cupcakes? Check.
Famous people winning awards? Check.

It's time for the Oscars. And so it begins...

and i want to thank...


Thursday, February 21, 2008

and the oscar goes to...

The 80th Annual Academy Awards are this Sunday and I could not be more excited. It's three hours of glamour, the recognition of the best of film (although that is never accurate), and lots of self-gratulation. I love it. Here are my picks for who will win, who should win, and who should have been nominated:

Will Win: "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win: "There Will Be Blood"
Should Have Been Nominated: "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Should Have Been Nominated: David Fincher, "Zodiac"

Will Win: Julie Christie, "Away From Her"
Should Win: I'm pretty ambivalent about this category. The actresses nominated gave good, if not great performances, but this was a relatively weak year in film for memorable lead female roles. Ellen Page would be an exciting upset. I hope she wouldn't say "sweet" or thank her cheeseburger phone.
Should Have Been Nominated: Tang Wei, "Lust, Caution"

Will and Should Win: Daniel Day-Lewis, "There Will Be Blood"
Should Have Been Nominated: Brad Pitt, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"

Will Win: Amy Ryan, "Gone Baby Gone"
Should Win: It's a close race, but I'm curious what kind of acceptance speech Tilda Swinton would make. Does Hollywood even know who she is?
Should Have Been Nominated: Emmanuelle Seigner, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"

Will Win: Javier Bardem, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win: Casey Affleck, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Should Have Been Nominated: Irfan Khan, "The Namesake"

Will Win: Diablo Cody, "Juno"
Should Win: Tony Gilroy, "Michael Clayton"
Should Have Been Nominated: Kelly Masterson, "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead"

Will Win: Joel and Ethan Coen, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win: Paul Thomas Anderson, "There Will Be Blood"
Should Have Been Nominated: Aaron Sorkin, "Charlie Wilson's War"

Will Win: Roger Deakins, "No Country for Old Men"
Should Win: Roger Deakins, "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford"
Should Have Been Nominated: Edward Lachman, "I'm Not There"

Will Win: "Elizabeth: Golden Age"
Should Win: "Atonement"
Should Have Been Nominated: "American Gangster"

Will Win and Should Win: "There Will Be Blood"
Should Have Been Nominated: "Eastern Promises"

Will Win: "Sicko"
Should Win: "No End In Sight"
Should Have Been Nominated: "Crazy Love"

Will and Should Win: "Atonement"
Should Have Been Nominated: "There Will Be Blood"

EDIT: Something is brewing for Oscar coverage. Hold your breath. Make a wish. Count to three...


I love it when you can see a designer working through a single idea for a collection. To some that connote a one dimensionality, but there is nothing simple about Miuccia Prada's fall collection. Lace, S&M, death--it was all there and then some. Prada really thinks about women in context to what clothes project about gender, power, and sexuality. This season there was a slight elegiac tone but it was perverse and no way completely sad or dead on arrival. As the summer turns into fall the leaves change and the air gets colder, and in a way, the world around us dies a little bit. For fall, Prada presented clothes fit for a funeral, minus the somber, bloodless sensation one gets at such an occasion. These clothes have a coy, almost grandma-ish flair, but a strong scent of sex, which is always a pleasure for Prada to put on display.

The collection is more about details, if you ask me. What do we immediately think of when we think of black lace: a veil for a funeral, Victoria's Secret, or something that tickles the feverish fetishist in all of us? That was all true to some degree in the inherent transparency of the lacy collection, which was sexy in theory, but the just below knee length that most of the coats and dresses came in, that is typically for older women, didn't come across as a Victoria's Secret commercial. Black, nude, baby blue, and shades of orange were dominate throughout, with the nude and baby blue showing through the lace. These are colors that I think of as being wistful and plain. There was nothing plain about the severe hair and thick eyebrows on the models that made them look as tough as those hard looking boots and cuff bracelets. The shoes had a slight melancholy tone as bits of leather seem to fall away from the shoe, as if to imply that everything dies, even designer heels. The perversity in the shoes existed in stacked collars, lots of buttons, and see through dickies paired over button down blouses. The caged in feeling was present in her menswear collection in January, but at the time she said she was punishing men for the hoops women have to jump through to dress themselves, thus giving the buttons in the back of their shirts and cummerbunds that dipped into pants giving the illusion of a thong protruding. The covered up look for women seemed to be less about punishment than about being a woman in mourning choosing not to show everything, with a slight desire for something lustful to return after the passing of her love.

For a $6 billion business you would think Prada would be concerned about wearability, but it seems more and more that the presentation of her clothes is an open space for the ideas that brew around in her mind. If things progress in this clean, sexy direction, she can keep thinking out loud as much as she wants.

it won't die

Rihanna feat. Klaxons
"Umbrella/Golden Skans"
Live at The Brit Awards

Does this mean I finally like this song? Funny how a laser light show, Klaxons, and a British music award show can change your mind.

bottega veneta

A less is more approach doesn't always signify "minimalism." Tomas Maier has been slowly but surely building the once accessories brand, Bottega Veneta, into a design house that has more to offer than leather goods. His aesthetic has been loyal to those who were fans of the bags years ago, grown-up women with strong taste and a need for something simple and luxurious. That subtle touch reverberated in every look in his fall collection that was all about monochromatic and a long, feminine silhouette.

The first couple of looks promised some unique accouterments on the outerwear. Folds of fabric were constructed to create a coat with texture and a density that resembled those shaggy rugs found in most dorm rooms, but it was chic when belted and paired with matching blueberry boots and purple bag. The muted jewel tones are refreshing in contrast to last season's beige parade that appeared lifeless and would wash out most. The color continued in cocktail dresses in shades of grass, tomato, and grape, each with matching hosiery and accessories. I always thought black and gray were the only colors one could do an entire monochromatic look and not look like a big crayon, but the use of color was so effortless in this collection. Most of the dresses were unadorned and looked as if the soft fabrics had been poured around the body. A leather trench and wool peacoat stood out in all of the after five cocktail dresses. I wouldn't go as far to say they looked like ladies of the night, but the mussed hair and bourgeois beauty of those clothes implied something mysterious beneath those coats. With that in mind it may be odd to say that there is something for every woman in this collection. Its accessibility is its strength, but thankfully the simplicity is not its weakness. How much sexier can Isabeli Fontana get in a form fitting amethyst evening gown that very lightly falls off her shoulders and clings to her curves? Now that's worth cutting through the embellishment.

flashing lights: pt. 3

Nothing is guaranteed at Sundance. You may desperately want to spot a Colin Farrell or a Paris Hilton, but instead you get Bijou Phillips and her friends clad in miles of hair extensions and faux fur. You want to see the next "Donnie Darko", "Reservoir Dogs", or "Clerks, which all debuted at the festival, and instead you get the clunker with so and so and that one guy you saw in that movie last year. What I saw wasn't especially great, nor was it especially memorable or exciting. I should have done my homework before the festival because these are the five films I wish I would have seen:

CHOKE, directed by Clark Gregg
Actor and first time director Clark Gregg adapts Chuck Palahniuk's darkly humorous portrait of a sex addict and his equally flawed and compulsive friends, co-workers, and family. The last Palahniuk adaptation wasn't well received by critics, but every teenage male in the late '90s identified with the pre-millennial alienation of its anti-heroes. Will this film receive this kind of warm reception when it's released?

SMART PEOPLE, directed by Noam Murro
There was a lot of dark material at Sundance and this could have been the welcomed respite to all of that gloom and doom. This well reviewed film from first time filmmaker Noam Murro looks like the title, a funny movie with smart people behind it.

MOMMA'S MAN, directed by Azazel Jacobs
Manohla Dargis of The New York Times hailed, "the film beautifully combines the idioms of independent fiction narrative with the personal expressiveness of the avant-garde for a work of surprising emotional and structural complexity. This is independent cinema defined." Big praise for a movie about a man who abandons his family to move back in with his parents. Perhaps this is the movie that could restored my faith in independent cinema.

SUGAR, directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck
The directing duo Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck's astonishing debut, "Half Nelson", made Ryan Gosling a star and established them as filmmakers with an eye for emotional realism and a love for characters that pierce through the screen. The follow up is the tale of a Dominican baseball player recruited for an American league. Described as a searing and subtle work of masterful achievement this could be one of the films to watch this year.

BALLAST, directed by Lance Hammer
That obnoxious guy on the shuttle hated this movie but critics loved it and compared to a sobering drama as lensed by Terrence Malick. A film that takes its own time to tell the story of a suicide and those affected by it in the delta of Mississippi. IFC picked up the distribution rights and it premiered at the Berlin Film Festival last week. Why didn't I see this movie?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

flashing lights: pt. 2

When we last left off at the epic madness that was Sundance, our heroes were sitting front row at the premiere of Tom Kalin's "Savage Grace." We pick up from there...

10:50PM The lights come up in the cramped theater and it's clear the audience is not sure how to digest this silly, poorly constructed film. The tone was caught somewhere in between uncertain incompetence and a campy Joan Crawford movie. Julianne Moore is sensational in most things, but even she can't save the sinking ship of a movie in which she has to utter lines such as, "He likes to fuck you in the ass!", after she catches her husband running away with his mistress or "You're the best.", after she and her sexually confused son make whoopee at their tony London home. I wasn't bothered by the sex or the nature of their relationship (see "Ma Mere" and see it done better), but it felt too hollow and not sure of how to expertly handle the balance between human pyschodrama and '40s weepie. Sadly Julianne Moore was not there for the Q&A, which would have made up for this mess of a movie. The young actor, Eddie Redmayne, who plays her son looks like a freckle covered Abercrombie & Fitch model (he is in the new Burberry campaign) answered questions plainly and at times with a stammer as if he was trying to convince us it was a good movie. Convince he did not.

11:45PM Scour downtown Salt Lake for a convenient store so Stephanie can get something to feel better. As if we didn't already feel like we were on another planet, we drove for what felt like an eternity in the ghost town of downtown Salt Lake until we finally happened upon a gas station. She got a Sprite and Fiddle Faddle and I got Pringles. We were on vacations, so it makes complete sense.

12:36AM Stephanie and I pass out while watching "Janice Dickinson Modeling Agency." Don't hate. It's kind of fun to watch pretty people get yelled at by the plastic surgery monster that is "America's first supermodel." Hopefully this will cure Stephanie's illness.

9:31AM Open my eyes to the blinding reflection of the snow outside. I wipe the sleep out of my eyes and open the window to a foot of snow that fell while we were asleep. OMG!!!!

10:28AM The rental car is swamped in a big snow bank that we physically dig out with her feet and a small ice scraper. What a cold mess.

11:16AM After a delicious quick lunch at a local cafe we head to Park City and realize Salt Lake City does not shut down after such a massive snow fall, unlike Louisville that when it sees two inches of snow you would think we're on Orange alert.

1:07PM New strategy for the day: Pick a movie we want to see but stand in line for the film or two before it so our chances are greater to get in. Our college degrees are being put to some use.

2:18PM We get our wait list numbers for Mark Pellington's "Henry Poole is Here" and decide to go to the Main St. area to gawk at celebrities.

2:20PM The great thing about Sundance is the immediate reaction the audience has to a film, good or bad. While innocently sitting on the shuttle bus carting us to Main St., some guy in a skull cap and leather bomber jacket jumps on board and shouts to everyone on the bus, "DID ANYONE JUST SEE 'BALLAST'?". The bus is silent and puzzled. "OH MY GOD THAT MOVIE WAS HORRIBLE! IT WAS SO SLOW!!!!" He continues, "I MISSED MY FLIGHT FOR THAT MOVIE! I CAN'T BELIEVE SOMEONE CONVINCED ME TO STAY!!!" Someone finally obliges him and inquires why he chose to see it. He reiterates a friend told him to see and then proceeded to explain the entire movie to the passengers on the bus with total disgust. We got off at Main St. and that guy pays dearly for missing his flight.

2:37PM My lips were expressly dry for the entire trip. I noticed a skin care place that also carried Khiel's, which I need to reup on the face wash as I ran out that morning. While paying for my overpriced, but never underused, face wash and lip balm, an intense conversation about skin care begins between the sales girl, Stephanie, and myself. They talk a lot about methods of exfoliatation, but I'm too enamored with my new lip balm to offer input. I comment on the the Evan Spray Mist and how my lovely friend Bitch, Please swears by it to which she replies with a very funny story about how her and a male friend were driving up and down Main St. in an ice cream truck over the the summer during a music festival spraying anybody and everybody. You meet the darndest people in this city.

2:40PM Our immersion in skin care has caused us to lose track of time and we must be back to the theater at 2:45 to get a ticket. That of course is not going to happen but I assure Stephanie that there were plenty of tardy people at other screenings, I see no reason why we would be turned away. As I'm commenting on how little I paid for the face was as opposed to what I pay for it in Louisville I see a throng of people spilling out of some sponsored lounge. I can't quite tell what is going on. In one swift move a tall paparazzi shoves me to the side where I fall into the side of a pick up truck, to notice about thirty or so paparazzi trailing Matthew Perry. Yes, I said Chanandler Bong. He had film at the festival and looks relatively healthy, albeit totally annoyed at the attention.

2:59PM The line is long and not looking like we have a chance to get in. We were also put at the end of the line for the late people. Dammit.

3:11PM The waiting line is never without its own drama. A rather disgruntled man in front of us is going off about how ridiculous it is to get a wait list number and if you are not back a half an hour before the movie starts, like the rules state, than you have to get in a separate line behind the wait list line. I agree but at Sundance you have to play by the rules, and this man was not having any of it. He switched lines and was asked to get back in his other line. When the announcement is made that they would not be admitting any more people the man throws his number on the ground and storms out of the tent. Bad for him, good for us. When they don't allow anyone else in, the next line starts for the next movie. We got in a new line where our numbers were in the teens, which all but guaranteed us entrance to the next movie.

5:45PM After a quick lunch and another attempt at stargazing, we head back to the Eccles Theater just in time to get in line for the premiere of Terry Kinney's "Diminished Capacity." The Sundance line wrangles begin calling people in and you better believe we got in with plenty of time to scope out the best seats and brace ourselves for the true Sundance experience.

6:12PM The anticipation was building in the massive theater (pictured above). I chose to sit in the middle and toward the back (my general preference in theaters) where we plopped down with relief and excitement. Around this time camera flashes are going off a mile a minute and about fifteen rows ahead of us the film's star Matthew Broderick and his wife, Sarah Jessica Parker, duck into the theater and take their seats. Alan Alda and Virgina Madsen follow, also stars of the film. They are as short as you would expect them to be and for a festival more about the art than the glitz, they looked appropriate but casually put together. The lights go down and the movie begins.

7:55PM I suppose with any movie it's always a crapshoot as to whether it's going to be good or not and at film festival it's especially difficult to pick the movies that will last in the end, and this was a case of a movie not being bad, nor was it very good. "Diminished Capacity" follows these very vanilla movies about dysfunctional, but charmingly eccentric families that are thrown on an uncomfortable but triumphant road trip and along the way we laugh at their predicaments and hope that all will end well. It does here (which is not ruining anything), but what disappoints the most is how these actors who are usually so watchable either chew every scene they have like a cow munching on grass or sleepwalk to collect their indie cred and paychecks. I think last year was a very strong year in American cinema, but it was the studio releases or the films with sizable budgets that stood out. Where are the American filmmakers who really have something to say? An true independence voice (take that for whatever you want it to mean) is in serious need of resuscitation if this festival ever wants to call itself the preeminent independent film festival in the country. The cast was warm and funny at the Q&A, but just like that they were gone and in a way the Sundance experience was ending as well. We attended the after party for the documentary on water scarcity and privatization that our boss Gill produced. The beer was free and the people were nice but what an exhausting day it had been. Skin care, paparazzi, short famous people--it was quite the dizzying cocktail.

10:37AM Woke up just in time for the Oscar nominations. Jason Reitman getting best director, really? "Diving Bell" not getting best picture, really? A technicality preventing Johnny Greenwood from getting a nomination, really? Kathy Bates having nothing better to do on a Tuesday morning, really? Okay, I can believe that one, but more importantly it's a clear showdown between the bad boys and the badder boys. Will it be "There Will Be Blood" or "No Country for Old Men"? I get excited just thinking about it.

12:15PM Our flight is at 2, so after lunch a quick trip to Urban Outfitters was needed followed by the discovery of Forever 21 Man. I've only read about this, never seen in it person. It's as crowded and overwhelming as the women's store, and just as cheap in price and quality, but I see striped sweaters and military inspired jackets and I cannot resist. I make it out alive with a very French-looking striped sweater fit for Albert Finney at the beach in Stanley Donen's "Two for the Road" (that movie keeps coming up again and again for all things style related).

1:04PM I hate waiting for a flight. You're in a small seating area trying not make eye contact with anyone as everyone reads their gossip magazines and munches on the candy they purchased at the nearby magazine shop. Things took a turn for the worst at this point. Stephanie was not feeling well and I received about ten text messages informing me that Heath Ledger had died. I wasn't sure how to handle either situation, so I hoped that my traveling partner would get well soon and the news was untrue. A quick phone call before the flight departed and it was true, Heath Ledger was found dead in his New York apartment by his masseuse. He seemed to be really coming into his stride with films such as "Brokeback Mountain", "I'm Not There", and his last role as The Joker in the upcoming Batman movie. What a terrible loss and Stephanie wasn't doing much better.

6:19PM The plane ride was not an easy one. Stephanie felt terrible the entire time and the turbulence in the last hour stirred up my stomach and made me feel nauseous. We arrive in Nashville where similar to Louisville, the air is dense and dirty but refreshing and not 7,000 feet above sea level. I'm glad to be back home.

The rest of the story is full of bowel movements, vomiting, serious re-hydration, and me taking a Greyhound to get home, but that's of no importance when I think back about my Sundance experience. It was cold, exhausting, and not at all what I expected, which is the charm and allure of Sundance. A weekend of complete privilege and luck, I can't think of any other moment in my life in which my love for film, celebrity obsession, and all things that are wrong and right with those worlds, have collided and given me such an intense feeling of elation and enrichment.

the one

Are we really to believe this? I want Gisele back.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

jil sander

Milanese fashion and minimalism may not seem like an appropriate pairing, but Raf Simons season after season redefinition of what minimalism construes at Jil Sander has shown that in a town of full on fashion, the bare necessities can be just as provocative and chic. There is something so sensual about removing embellishments and things that distract to reveal a blankness. This blankness should not be confused with nothingness because Simons' eye for detail and silhouette entails an infinite range and makes you find all sorts of surprises and interesting things that can drawn you into his designs. For fall it was a minimal palette--black and gray--but there some great pieces along the way that resonate and prove that Simons is successfully evolving Jil Sander.

For his menswear collections, Simons has more so experimented with patterns and varying textures. For this season the looks for women finally had a newness in terms of their texture that is typically found in his menswear. Simons' fluid take on sexuality and his attitude towards androgynous dressing is just as much apart of his menswear tradition as it is for women and it was great to see him use some of his menswear ideas for women. The dresses and coats were so simple and flattering in their shape that almost any woman could wear them. Each look appeared to be something familiar, but each bore the impression of a designer consciously thinking and honing the execution of that familiarity. If he's giving us black and gray, it comes in the form of superb tweeds that look like the silent snow on a television screen. Soft and feminine shift dresses, collars that bloomed around the neckline, and a dark, lithe leg evoke a mute Monica Vitti wafting in her own ennui in some Antonioni film, but there was a slight futuristic austerity in those coats and tucked gowns that reminded me something David Bowie might have worn in "The Man Who Fell to Earth." Simons' thought process is what separates him from most designers. The references are not as obvious as the ones I just named because his genius is his ability to look at color, silhouette, and tailoring that results in something powerful and boldly sexy.

mactown: pt. 2

Remember me fawning over that incredible macintosh some casually stylish urbanite was wearing on the Satorialist? Well, I think I might have found just the right macintosh to incorporate into my spring wardrobe. Gap has featured their European designs the past couple of seasons on their website in this country, but it's been mainly for women. Not so for spring and I couldn't be more excited. This lean, mean macintosh with invisible buttons and a minimalist bent is exactly what I'm looking for. The $168 price tag is exorbitant for Gap, but I can dream, right?

Macintosh jacket, $168

black history month (remix)

February is jam packed with so many things to look forward to:

-The Academy Awards
-New York, London, Milan, and Paris Fashion Weeks
-The Vanity Fair Hollywood Issue
-Abraham Lincoln, George Washington, and Roberta Flack's birthdays
-President's Day
-Groundhog Day
-Valentine's Day
-My birthday

Most important above of all those days is a celebration we can enjoy everyday throughout the month. Yes, I would be referring to Black History month, a whole month (although suspiciously enough, it is the shortest month of the year) devoted to the rich history of black America, and believe me there's quite a bit to acknowledge. In honor of such an occasion I present to you a fantastically astute and humorous blog dedicated to stuff white people like. It may seem obvious at first, but who knew white people loved expensive sandwiches and public radio so much? Currently the blog is conducting a list of 100 things white people like and what an impressive collection of all things white America. Enjoy!

Stuff White People Like

Thanks to one of my favorite white people (the white dude on the right) for recommending this glorious site to me.

Monday, February 18, 2008


Lindsay Lohan photographed by Bert Stern for New York Magazine

Okay. First there was the pathetic attempt at channeling Elizabeth Taylor and Diane Keaton in some other magazine shoot. Miss Lohan doesn't quite have the authentic guts of Taylor nor the intelligently oddball charm of Keaton. And now she's doing her best Marilyn Monroe for New York Magazine's spring fashion issue. La Lohan and the ultimate pin-up in the same breath is a serious mistake. Lohan apparently did 250 crunches the night before the shoot where as in the original Monroe shoot there was something troubled in her eyes and less of a concentration on looking fit or perfect. Monroe wasn't acting for the camera, she was being, which was the essence of her career. Lohan's dress up, or dress down, is emblematic of her career as a celebrity, which she is showing she's much better at than being a reliable actress. She's got years to go before she can touch stuff like this.

For more click here.

first look: the happening

"The Happening"
dir., M. Night Shyamalan
June 13, 2008


I can't tell if it's trying to entice us or tell us everything. From what I can discern it's something about bees, Zooey Deschanel looking extremely distressed, and dead people. And what is that look on Mark Whalberg's face at 1:42 that feels like it lasts forever? When will M. Night ever give me a chance to respect him?

Friday, February 15, 2008

a starter for 10

My list of the ten best films of 2007 is coming...

christopher kane

The overflow of designers and collections at New York Fashion Week can lead to state of fatigue that can result in a week pause until the Milan collections. That's a mistake because London has become an interesting mecca for designers trying to push fashion as far as it can go. At times I find it to be a hipster parade of costumes (see Henry Holland), but Christopher Kane's fall collection was tight, loose, and very focused. The thread of the paillette beading was there in almost every look, or the idea of something circular, but it was a balance between something innately glamorous and utterly modern that made it a standout amidst the fray.

Kane initially broke out on the London fashion scene as an heir to a Versace look--very bright, very body conscious sexy. He even had Donatella's approval, but in recent seasons he's loosened up the shape without forgetting the body. For all rigorous beading and intense leather accents, there was a softness in the English Rose primness of a jacket and skirt set or an exaggerated cable knit turtleneck. The look was tough and sensual when leather pants became the lean steam for the silhouette on the bottom and sheer bits of fabric exposed flashes of flesh here and there. The short beaded shift dresses reminded me of Audrey Hepburn in the final scene of "Two for the Road", but felt new with panels of floaty material falling over the dresses. The neutral color palette was sedated and necessary in a collection where so much emphasis was put on construction and subtle embellishment. A sense of movement in the evening looks were unique and achieved the effect of smoke pluming around the body.

There was something to look at and find more surprising in each look. It's a hard act as a young designer when each collection is more crucial than the next, but Kane's fall collection showed a strength and a point of view worth watching season after season.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

she don't believe in shooting stars: pt. 2

Scarlett Johansson and Natalie Portman
photographed by Steven Klein for the March 2008 issue of W

Heaving bosoms, come hither eyes, tiny dogs! Oh, my!

she don't believe in shooting stars

"Flashing Lights"
Kanye West feat. Dwele
dir., Spike Jonze & Kanye West

Video ho, expensive car, bludgeoning to death! Oh, my!

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

just want your extra time

A kiss is not just a kiss at the movies. It's Valentine's Day tomorrow and I couldn't stop thinking about my favorite screen kisses. I guess my criteria is not far off from what I want in real life: tender, passionate, and surprising. For many of us our first kiss was a movie kiss. I think mine was Vicki Vale and Batman in Tim Burton's "Batman", cheesy I know, but I'll never forget it. Kisses in movies seem more epic, urgent, and most of all, fantastical. We wish we could all be caught in the rain with some impossibly attractive counterpart in which we will say and do the right thing and the music will swell as our lips meet to a resoundingly perfect exclamation of amorous desire. But such is life and it's almost as good as the movies.

Here are my three favorite screen kisses:

"The Thomas Crown Affair"
dir., Norman Jewison
Steve McQueen and Faye Dunaway at the apex of their late '60s sexy cool. A naughty chess game ends with a dizzying passionate embrace. The moment their lips hesitate in close-up (6:34) before they initiate the kiss is undeniably hot.

dir., Alfred Hitchcock
A true master of style and blocking, a kiss seems to last forever between Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman. The slow, almost whisper of kisses ignite the scene and give further proof that Hitchcock is also the master of sly sexiness. (see also Sean Connery and Tippi Hedren in "Marnie" and Cary Grant and Grace Kelly in "To Catch a Thief")

dir., Wong Kar Wai
(please forgive the fan vid nature of this video)
What a crush of a kiss. The kiss itself looks painful, but the sight of a single tear tumbling down Gong Li's cheek beside the smeared lipstick is what sticks with you (or at least me).

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

first look: chicago 10

"Chicago 10"
dir., Brett Morgen
Feb. 29, 2008

"Waking Life" meets documentary?

and so it ends...

How to close New York Fashion Week? Kim Gordon swaying about on stage is a good start. For his fall collection Marc Jacobs continued to redefine what an American fashion show can mean. It's almost at performance art level with college marching bands, the show beginning in reverse, and set designs inspired Bertolucci films all being incorporated into shows past. What does American fashion mean? What does it mean right now? How is it related to celebrity, art, sex, women, men? He's always thinking and is never short on spectacle. Last season's deconstructed boudoir mood was as infamous as its two hour delayed start time. It was polarizing, controversial, and some are still thinking about and talking about it, and isn't that the sign of a great artist? That need for provocation and redefinition continued to his fall presentation that was more somber and straightforward, which can be his way of maintaining his taste for the rebellion.

To understand and embrace Jacobs it's best to look at his aesthetic as a whole. Last season it was flash and sex, this season it's conservatism and punk. In 2007, spring was Ali Baba and fall was "Last Year at Marienbad." The thread throughout lies in the a paradox between the enfant terrible and the prim, which fits the puritanical American sensibility when it comes to sex. Jacobs gets what bubbles beneath and is able to season after season gives us something new and all his own. This season it was bathrobe coats, feathered mohawk hats, wide corduroy trousers, and dropped waists. It's a challenging silhouette, but I suppose last season's shredded dresses with exposed undergarments wasn't exactly for everyone either. Colors drained of their vibrancy to a pallor dominated the collection, but pops of pumpkin, silver, and garnet reared their heads in places. Texture could be found in popcorn sweaters, velvet evening dresses, and cashmere coats. It was devoid of something overtly referential, which can be refreshing when so many other designers go for that. It was "calm" and "casual" according to Jacobs. That they were, but a collection so diametrically opposed to last season is anything more than "uninspired" as Jacobs claimed; it's as gutsy as the last.

In their totality the New York collections were slightly unimpressive. One does have to admit their isn't a dearth of talent, especially when it comes to the emerging designers, but many of the collections were lackluster and without something interesting to say. The shows that were stronger were built on fit, construction, texture, and color--all things that mark any solid collection. Many designers got tripped up when the foundations of their collections were built on "a woman in the countryside", the cool girl as defined by an ex-model, or Kurt Cobain. I'm not a woman, but I think women look their best when they're wearing something comfortable, something with movement, and something that flatters and flounces about their shape. Proenza Schouler, Threeasfour, Costello Tagliapietra and Narciso Rodriguez get the female form and adorn them in such sexy, modern ways. The resurrection of Halston was one of the most unflattering collections of the week with models drowning in fabric or pants that clung too tightly. I love minimalism, but there should be some control in the proportions. (i.e., poor Irina Lazareanu) Michael Kors' Hitchcock heroines were memorable as were Rodarte's blood thirsty fairies.

The menswear collections were varied as well. The man-boy aesthetic seems like it's here to stay and the one collection where it was apparent but done really well was Duckie Brown. Great shades of gray and aubergine and the proportion of long shirt, short jacket are things I will try for fall. Michael Kors sent out a solid menswear collection with his Cary Grant figures in nerdy glasses and incredible turtlenecks. Rag & Bone was an early standout of the week with their dark take on "Blade Runner" meets Victorian hero.

There was so much range personality in the best shows of the week that it gives the fashion conscious faith in American fashion. However, one can't help but wonder what the Europeans have in store.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

the wild party

I managed to survive my birthday weekend, so pardon the loose ends of recent entries that I will tie up this week. Things to look forward to: wrap up of New York Fashion Week, reviews of "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly" and "Southland Tales", part 2 of my Sundance escapades, and how I learned to stop worrying and love the bomb.

Until then, this should hold you over as I catch up on some needed rest..

"Trembled Blossoms"
dir., James Lima

Friday, February 8, 2008

the breakthrough

James McAvoy, Julie Christie, and Josh Brolin
photographed by Ryan McGinley
for The New York Times Magazine

Over the past few years The New York Times Magazine has celebrated the best performances of the year with a spread photographed by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin. Each portrait embodied the essence of the star's presence married with a slight glint of their memorable screen incarnation. This year the actors featured in the portfolio were photographed by Ryan McGinley, lending a pastoral and melancholy tone to the issue. The three above are my favorite, but for the remainder of the portfolio, click here.

zac posen

Sadly this was the only noteworthy moment of Zac Posen's Minnie Mouse inspired fall collection:

"Oh my god, she's fashion roadkill!"--Stanford Blatch, "Sex and the City"

michael kors

I chose not to review the Thom Browne show because to me the spectacle he presents is so laughable and bloated with big ideas that I have no words for what he calls "fashion." I like him less season after to season because his clothes are revolutionary in how the modern, fashion learned man wants to dress, but he distracts with the over the top histrionics. He is consistent in his tailoring and adoration of midcentury Americana. Another American designer known for slight theatrics and a twinkle in his eye, interpreted this same idea but did it better and more on target with the kind of clothes that a real man would want to wear. Enter Michael Kors and his mashup of Hitchcock and AMC's "Mad Men." I'm surprised most menswear designers didn't go into this direction for fall. It's a hot new show that is known and praised for its style and canonization of early '60s pomp. This period has been referenced to death, but it's refreshing in contemporary American men's fashion when a designer wants men to look like Men.

Every decade eventually comes back into the fashion conscious and Kors used a time period that is specific in its tailoring, attitude, and flair. One could argue that perhaps Kors is drawing parallels from that time and our current state of affairs. The early '60s had promise and change on the horizon, which not far off from where America stands now. However, judging from the glee that Kors's designs typically exude, this collection wasn't about heady issues plaguing the world, but instead dressing really well. These clothes look like something you would wear for martinis after work or for escorting a bright young thing to a deb ball. Impeccably chic and slightly nebbish with their thick glasses, this is a working man for the times. Never slovenly or disheveled, each look was more pristine and polished in its execution. Warm turtlenecks in shades of moss and purple, great coats, and of course, lacquered shoes minus socks painted the picture of the established man. The use of gray was my favorite. The gray topper with black top lapel, the gray pinstripe suit, and the gray cardigan are all pieces you want to wear for fall. The finale of Cary Grant-esque tuxedos looked super masculine and cool. Man-boys and androgynes need not apply.

All of this sheen and love affair of a time gone by is enthused optimism. Times are dour as is, so leave it to Kors to uplift and reminds us what it means to look fix up and look sharp.


Like many, my introduction to Julie Christie was her breakout role in John Schlesinger's "Darling." As a model with a love life in the dumps, Christie managed to carve out a complex performance. It's good, but I think she's an actor who has grown and her work in the '70s, particularly Robert Altman's "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" really established her as incredible force on the screen. Her recent role in Sarah Polley's "Away From Her" has garnered her several awards and favorable reviews. It's a very different Christie performance. Her vulnerable stillness slowly builds as her character is slowly fading away. Christie was a guest last year on Francine Stock's "The Film Programme" and to listen to her talk about her career and how she feels there is a great discontent from her current work and her films of the '60s is bluntly honest, but that openness always been a cornerstone of her remarkable career.

Click here for Julie Christie on The Film Programme.

Thursday, February 7, 2008


There's a shockingly grotesque scene at the climax of David Cronenberg's 1979 horror divorce thriller, "The Brood", in which we find our hero's deranged ex-wife giving birth to a demon child. Her hair is perfectly roller set '70s and looks very angelic in her soft focus lighting, but when she opens her white gown to reveal a bloody pouch/appendage that she pries open with her teeth and then proceeds to lick the baby clean in the utterly most repulsively maternal way, the image doesn't leave you for a long time. For one reason or another I think of that scene when I look at the fall collection from sisters Kate and Laura Mulleavy, designer duo for the ethereally demented semi-haute couture line, Rodarte. The collection wasn't repulsive, but that same Cronenberg-esque under current of darkness that belies something very pretty and banal seemed more coherent and emotional than in collection's past. I appreciate the work that goes into their design, but sometimes I feel they are too in their own heads of dreamy otherworlds that can be too esoteric or jarring to most. However, this collection was rich in textures and more macabre in its mood and execution.

Last season the sisters cited Japanese slasher films as the starting point for the collection and it carried over to this season with better results. The effect of pale models covered in blood red stained wispy dresses looked really original and daring. It also helps that the model's lips had a dark cherry tint to them almost as if they have spent the night sucking blood and drinking wine. Gone are those stupid floppy hats from last season to allow a greater concentration on the clothes, and what a sight they were. Sheerness has always been a Rodarte staple but tights that looked like cobwebs creeping up the model's legs and light, airy layers of lace and chiffon were ladylike but smartly juxtaposed with those killer heels, literally. The knit designs this season looked more tattered and badass. Although some of the models looked like Degas ballerinas, their leather gloves and towering, spiked heels told a different story. It may all sound like a bit much, but this is what the Mulleavy sisters excel at. Their attempts at daywear that included high waisted slim pants and tea cup skirts were nice but fantasy is their franchise and they should stick with it, especially when it's this terrifyingly good.

Bitch, Please is killin' 'em:
Vivienne Tam
Narciso Rodriguez
Behnaz Sarafpour

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

sexy back

The back of a cocktail dress from Narciso Rodriguez fall/winter 08

Who else thinks to give us something to talk about in front, but doesn't forget that a woman can be at her sexiest when she makes an exit?

harvey weinstein was behind this

A look from Halston fall/winter 08

Girl that's gotta hurt
Take some time and adjust can't you see people staring
And making a fuss
Could not believe my eyes had to take a second glance
Is your crotch hungry girl
Cause it's eating your pants
Do you enjoy the commotion and attention it brings
The only lips I wanna see are the ones that sing
In public putting on an X rated show cursin' people out
With your Camel Toe

Um hmm that's right uh huh
Oh no
Fix yourself girl
You got a
Camel Toe
Um hmm that's right uh huh
Oh no
Fix yourself girl
You got a
Camel Toe

---Fanny Pack, "Camel Toe"

proenza schouler

Funny name, talented designer pair. Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez, the mad scientists behind Proenza Schouler confidently and contentedly marched to the beat of their own drum with their fall presentation. Last season I thought some of the styling was fuddy duddy (funky hats and feathers), but gone are those distractions and for fall they showed range in color, cut, and execution. Inspired by the folds and fans of paper planes and refreshing jolt of jewel tones, the collection was full of smart ideas and beautiful clothes--two things any woman would want.

The folding and tucking started from look one in the form of a bold mini-dress paired with contrasting tights and equally eye-popping shoes. To take something as simple as a solid color and the fold of a fabric and make something that feels very contemporary and fresh is a testament to McCollough and Hernandez's skill. The fabric bounced along with the body, controlled in such a way that you can see their handy work but be amazed at how polished it looks for it being part of the garment you normally never see. Exposure, or rather exposing the insides of the folds was a theme throughout. A designer who is more inspired by shape, cut, and color and not trying to pay homage to some movie or pop song is what I have been waiting for all week. Their take on color was especially striking. To change one's perception of color and what it can evoked when contrasted with another color is a true triumph. A purple mini-dress, with cascading folds paired with mustard tights and emerald shoes was perfectly mod but very now and right for fall. Exaggerated bows that clasped to collars looked feminine and just the appropriate dose of frill and femininity. When the hemlines weren't itty bitty, there were billowy trousers and coats like I've never seen before. Some had the folding technique applied to them while others were juxtaposed against metallic and beaded skirts. Lantern sleeves, lace, and Yeti looking wool followed, which could have been reduced, but the effect didn't take away from a young, cool collection.

The final parade of beaded minidress with a maxi version to complete the thought looked as if each girl were awash in modern glamour, and for that you get a sense that these boys know what they're doing.

Bitch, Please on:
Marc by Marc Jacobs
Proenza Schouler

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

flashing lights

The cold, thin air of the Utah mountains is a thing of the past now. The 2008 Sundance Film Festival was a dizzy whirl of wealthy ski bunnies, celebutantes, swag for the privileged, and oh yeah, movies. I think I'm not alone in my feeling that American independent cinema is in a bit of a strange period. Big name actors work for scale, play an addict or someone middle class and it's all very moving and easily packaged and next thing you know they're thanking God or their agents at the Oscars while wearing a get up that cost more than the budget of their film. It's also birthed two niches comedies in recent years--the eccentric geek fish out of water movie and the lovably dysfunctional family episode. These kinds of films are cute, easy to watch, but leave me wanting and expecting more from the hearts and minds of contemporary American filmmakers. Unfortunately the two films I saw were predictable yawns about dysfunctional families (although in completely opposed ways), but the kick about Sundance is everyone is a critic and is willing to share in a collective discussion about what was the best and worst Sundance had to offer. My film geekdom is usually so esoteric that film speak happens too infrequently, but at Sundance there is comfort in all of the film chatter. Put on your warmest parka because this my diary of my weekend at Robert Redford's playground. You think you know but you have no idea...

6:08PM Louisville is on the horizon as Nashville becomes the early destination for me and my trusty traveling partner Stephanie B.. We were both on a budget and found that it was cheaper to fly out of Nashville than Louisville. Oh, Louisville International Airport, how you always disappoint.

8:32PM Join friends of Stephanie's boyfriend Steve (yes, I've done the "The Science of Sleep" Stephane/Stephanie joke more than once) for a birthday dinner at a hip boutique restraunt, Mirror. The food is gourmet comfort food with tapas restaurant. Interesting mix, I know. The results were mixed. My Crispy Prosciutto wrapped Cipollini Onions were solid in texture and surprising in taste. However, the stack of food they called my entree left me a little cold because my mashed potatoes were lukewarm at best. I think they called it a "Deconstructed Chicken Breast" that was pan fried with a crispy texture layered over said mashed potatoes and grilled vegetables. The enormous cracked mirror mural facing me was more interesting than my meal. Good, but not the best.

10:45PM Post-dinner cocktails at 3 Crow Bar. Note to self: Ease up on the spending, you're not even in Utah yet.

12:37AM Post-3 Crow Bar cocktails at an establishment down the block (the name eludes me, sorry Stephanie). Damn, I never learn.

10:04AM Depart Stephen's for the airport. Layer like there's no tomorrow in anticipation for the bristling weather we're about to face.

4:30PM Layover in Phoenix, Arizona. It must have been 70+ degrees in the airport, thus all of the layers must come off. A quick expensive beer in a sports bar and we're off to Utah. Note to self: Avoid $8 beers at Sundance and must come back to Phoenix. The view from the lounge is gorgeously flat.

6:11PM Arrive in Salt Lake City home of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Mormons, and...I never discover what this town is known for or what goes on culturally.

7:33PM Change into my favorite black turtleneck, my favorite gray Marc Jacobs pants, Old Navy herringbone blazer, and black lace up shoes for a celebratory dinner. Stephanie steps out of the bathroom at the hotel wearing a black turtleneck. Twinsies!

8:17PM Dine at the Biaggi's Ristorante Italiano. High ceilings, low lighting, attractive hostess, this very well could be a scene from "Batman" where the crazed villain interrupts a dinner between Bruce Wayne and some babe. We start with the Stuffed Mushrooms and then I order the Black Fettuccini tossed with lobster, wild mushrooms and a homemade lobster cream sauce and Stephanie goes with the Grilled chicken breast stuffed with imported Italian ham and smoked provolone and gouda cheeses, topped with a lemon-basil butter sauce and served with sauteed asparagus and roasted herb potatoes. Sexy, I know.

12:27AM Pass out with a bottle of Pinot Noir while watching The Best of Tracy Morgan on "Saturday Night Live." Could he be any more hilarious?

7:45AM Wake up and realize all I've done so far is eat expensive meals and gab. Must get to Park City after the inclusive (although Stephanie told score us that one) continental breakfast.

11:15AM Attend the Annual Outfest Queer Bunch Party. Yet another opportunity to eat free food and grab some swag. Paris Hilton, Kirsten Dunst, Diddy, Ellen Page, Sharon Stone, and Quentin Tarantino are all rumored to be at this event. Of course none of them were there and sadly our first celebrity sighting was Lance Bass' ex-boyfriend and former "Amazing Race" contestant Reichen Lehmkuhl. The gift bag was also slightly disappointing: pleasure ring, latest issue of Instinct magazine, and a Melissa Etheridge CD. Yeah, that totally puts chicks in the mood.

12:48PM Walking about Main Street, the main drag at Sundance and home to the Egyptian Theater (pictured above) were Colin Farell's film "In Bruges" premiered days before we got there as well as Mary-Kate Olsen's film "The Wackness." Spot Paul Giamatti (who does not like to have his picture taken), Mena Suvari (too much makeup), Jon Foster (the kid Kim Basigner sleeps with to spite her husband in the vastly underrated film "The Door in the Floor"), and Christine Vachon (the bitchin' producer of Todd Haynes films among many other landmark independent films of the '90s). All of a sudden the crowds part for a photoshoot happening on the street. The stringy hair extensions and the prominent fang teeth look familiar...OMG! IT'S BIJOU PHILIPS! For reason or another she's posing against a Volkswagen SUV with a big hand bag, clad in the tightest black jeans and a big puffer jacket. Mouth is agape at this scene.

2:38PM Attempt to get into Michel Gondry's latest film "Be Kind and Rewind" at Eccles Theater. Naturally, it's a favorite with big names and we don't get in. The game that one must play at Sundance if you don't buy tickets in advance goes like this: Show up for a movie with $10, wait in a freezing cold line for a wait list number, obtain number, come back in line a half an hour before the movie starts, and based on how many tickets the film sold the event organizers and handlers will admit however many people in based on the amount of empty seats. Sounds clear and organized, right? A near riot it caused by some guy claiming to be the father of one of the actresses in the next film showing after "Be Kind", the Noam Murro dramedy "Smart People" told on a woman in front of him who let her four teenage daughters cut line after they left "Be Kind and Rewind" midway through. No cutting at Sundance! I'm convinced it's Ellen Page's dad (she's one of the stars of the film) and observe the hilarity of this enraged man as my toes begin to slowly freeze. The wait is over an hour where in I met Paul Dano's agent who just so happened to be standing in front of me in line. She also represents Zach Braff, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, some guy from "Grey's Anatomy" and the crazy mom from "Arrested Development." I beg her to tell me who was the actor Paul Dano replaced on the set of "There Will Be Blood" after weeks into shooting and has since remained a secret. She wouldn't budge but only gave me the tidbit that it was an unknown actor. Was she covering for Shia LaBeouf? It's a possibility.

4:48PM Informed by someone in line that the Amy Adams and Emily Blunt vehicle, "Sunshine Cleaning", is just okay. Ouch. Two likable new stars, how can that go wrong? Amy Redford's directorial debut (daughter of Robert), "The Guitar" starring Saffron Burrows, is also panned by someone in line and said, "it was...very weird" and "everybody was naked in it." Hmmm, sounds interesting to me.

6:17PM Tickets sell out for "Smart People" and there were almost thirty or so people in front of us. There's always Salt Lake.

8:25PM The premiere of Julianne Moore's latest film, "Savage Grace", is playing in Salt Lake at 9:15. Must make it.

8:45PM We get our waist list numbers and they're single digits this time. To celebrate we have a beer across the street at a local microbrewery.

8:52PM While standing in line in what was a surprisingly warm venue, I overhear that "Ballast" was "really dark and really slow, but you know, entertaining" and Alan Ball's "Towelhead" had people walking out of the theater. Where was I for these films?

8:55PM We're warned that this film has a red flag rating and no children are allowed admittance. The film deals with incest and other aberrant forms of sexuality. Everyone in line cheers and claps in unison at the excitement of seeing Julianne Moore make it with her son.

9:03PM The Sundance Fever gets to Stephanie. As I wait for her to return from the restroom, we're getting closer and closer to getting in.

9:04PM The moviegoer who saw "Ballast" is going on and about how she must to get into the theater because God forbid if she doesn't she'll have to go to P.F. Chang's down the street to nurse a glass or wine or two until her friends come out of the movie. She trades places with some guy in line and gets closer to me. Earlier I heard her talking about how she comes to Park City with her husband regularly because they're big skiers and they love getting out of the city for a vacation every once in a while. I'm going to bet she gets her way all the time.

9:07PM Five people in front of me and no Stephanie. AHHHHH!!!

9:12PM Stephanie re-emerges and it's clear she is not well. I offer to leave so we can get back to where we were staying for the night and she can rest. She's a trooper and agrees to see the film.

9:14:21PM We're told no more seats are available. NOOOOO!!!!

9:15PM Wait a minute, there are only three seats available and we were at the head of the line. We get in and scurry to the theater where we come in at the tail end of the director introducing the film and the lights go down. We're in the very front row. Fuck.

To Be Continued...