Monday, March 31, 2008

rain on me

Blackout sunglasses, $14
Urban Outfitters

Maybe if I wear my new sunglasses it will finally stop raining and feel like spring.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

the last laugh

Dear Michael Haneke,

On behalf of the American film community, I want to say welcome and I'm sorry. Your shot-by-shot English-language remake of your 1997 German-language film, "Funny Games", was not perhaps as warmly received as you wished it to be. Forget that A.O. Scott called it a "fraud" or Nathan Lee of Film Comment reduced it down to a "stupid movie." You don't need those guys. After all, how many American moviegoers trust those guys when they run in droves to see "10,000 B.C." or "Fool's Gold"? That's not to discount the importance of the critic, but it's clear you are after the ever-reliable niche of Americans who will see just about anything, no matter how gruesomely violent or tortuously sadistic. I'm not sure such a well regarded filmmaker such as yourself wants to be considered in the same sub-stratosphere of films such as "Saw", "Hostel", or any of those other cheaply made and cheaply vacuous films that spawn dozens of sequels, but that was your intention and perhaps that was just lost in translation. What we consider art here could be trash in your native Europe, and vice versa. And that's where the problem begins.

Throughout film history, particularly American film, we have grown a feverish hunger for gore and carnage. We're more offended by the amount of thrusts in a sex scene than how many bullet holes we see pierce the body. Oh how our country's moral messages can be so beautifully mixed. For you Mr. Haneke, this is prime material for subversion and reflecting that glorious cinematic mirror at our appetite for blood sport. We want it. We need it. We're never shocked by it. I have been reading some reviews and reactions to the film, and I can also attest to my own filmgoing experience, that many people have walked out of the theater due to the graphic nature of the torture in the film. What about those of us who remained and came out unharmed? Maybe we've been watching too many horror films, gangster films, cowboy films, war films or whatever genre and have slowly become desensitized to the act of violence. It's been glamorized, deglamorized, theorized, and scapegoated in the face of larger social problems, to the point of it having no meaning or weight anymore. There's where we need your help Mr. Haneke because you can make it real for us again. What I think most people find distressing about your film is that it could happen to them. We live in a country that tells us we're the most comfortable and safest place in the world and if we buy the kinds of foods, listen to the right kind of music, and raise our children the right way, everything will be as pristine and pretty as an Ikea catalog. Your point of view might be twisted, but it never wavers, similar to the cinematic giants you are so clearly influenced by, Stanley Kubrick and Alred Hitchcock. Hitchcock did murder a naked and vulnerable Janet Leigh in "Pyscho" and people think it's brilliant now. Stanley Kubrick allowed Malcolm McDowell to kill a helpless old lady with a ceramic penis, and look how lovingly we think of it now. How can we criticize you when Gasper Noe had some dude simulate rape on Monica Bellucci for nine very long, very unsettling minutes in "Irreversible"? These films are not for everybody, but they can be appreciated by somebody and if violence can so often be shown without consequence and in turn, made to be sexy, then why not explore it in its extremity to show how awful it can truly be.

And lastly, don't let them get you down Michael. You've been making films for decades. Good ones. If you want American audiences to love you, re-release "Cache", and not at the end of the year when it's competing in a cluttered market with the feel good holiday films and award hungry prestige pics. It's perhaps your most Hitchcockian film, and his impression on American film will never be forgotten, and is often imitated by less accomplished filmmakers who earn millions. (yes, Shyamalan, I'm referring to you) People will recognize Juliette Binoche and it has just enough blood and voyeuristic creep factor to be loved and successful. If you really want to shock them, please re-release "The Piano Teacher." You have a knack for directing fine performances from some really electric actress (Naomi Watts is sensational in "Funny Games", by the way), and this film was no exception for Isabelle Huppert. You make really well crafted, fine looking films that have an aesthetic value, and shock, but shock that isn't for masturbation's sake. I'm just one voice in a million that can't possibly change the public's or critic's reception of you or your films, but you can count on me to keep seeing them. "Funny Games" isn't your best, but it doesn't deserve the drubbing it has received. Go back to your more mature style of films that involve geo-politics, issue of race and culture clash, and psychologically complex people, and once again you will be the toast of international cinema. Drop the post-modern wink winks and show them what you're really made of, because there's quite a bit there to love and hate. And aren't those usually the best artists?

Keep ya head up.


dvd of the week: bonnie and clyde

Somewhere on a dusty road on a sleepy dot on the map in Texas...
BONNIE: I'm going to work, anyway.
CLYDE: You goin' to work, huh?
CLYDE: What kinda work you do?
BONNIE: None of your business.
CLYDE: I bet you're a movie star.
BONNIE: (laughs)
CLYDE: A lady mechanic?
BONNIE: (laughs) No.
CLYDE: A maid?
BONNIE: What do you think I am?
CLYDE: A waitress.
BONNIE: (pauses) What line of work you in, when you're not stealing cars?
CLYDE: Well, I can tell you I'm looking for suitable employment right at the moment.
BONNIE: What'd you before?
CLYDE: I was, uh, I was in state prison.
BONNIE: State prison?
CLYDE: Uh huh.
BONNIE: Well, I guess, uh, some little old lady wasn't so nice.
CLYDE: It was armed robbery.
BONNIE: My, my. The things that turn up on the streets these days.

The 40th anniversary of Arthur Penn's "Bonnie and Clyde" is being commemorated with the release of a special two-disc deluxe edition DVD today. Equal parts counter culture revolutionary middle finger to the studios and sexy, violent breath of fresh air, "Bonnie and Clyde" hits as hard as those bullets penetrating the anti-heroes during the balletic and poetically bloody ending. A must-see, even forty years later.

And because I couldn't find a clip that did the film justice, this will do:

Monday, March 24, 2008

spring into the gap

Catherine McNeil (l) and Doutzen Kroes (r) photographed
with Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders and Michael Bastian
by Inez van Lamsweerde and Vinoodh Matadin

A rant long, long ago seems to literally becoming a thing of the past. Come April 15 the partnership between Gap and the Council of Fashion Designers of America will offer designs by Philip Lim, Band of Outsiders, Threeasfour, Michael Bastian, and jewelry by Philip Carangi at your local fun house of basics, or in fashion speak, the Gap. Yes, that means a partial designer capsule collection for men! I haven't been this excited about something related to the Gap since the down vests in the late '90s. (don't hate, you wanted one too.)

first look: the incredible hulk

"The Incredible Hulk"
directed by Louis Leterrier
June 13, 2008

I wonder if it's a natural progression to play a big green superhero after playing a vicious skinhead. Ryan Gosling, you could be next.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

disco is dead

Hercules and Love Affair
directed by Saam

Is it too retro? Or do we like it because it's too too retro?

For more on Hercules and Love Affair, click here.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008


Donatella Versace, Woody Allen, and his wife, Soon Yi Previn
at the opening of the Versace menswear collection at Barneys in NYC

"I've been friends with Donatella for a while, and one important thing that I learned from her is to never say no to her," said Allen. "I can also claim to have many wonderful Versace cashmere sweaters in my closet."--Fashion Week Daily

photo courtesy of dlisted

why stop at 10?

It might seem a bit irrelevant to make a list of the best films of the previous year three months after most critics proclaim what they consider the best of the year. Three months is a good length of time to mull over the necessary choices and catch up on those minor films one might have missed in the theater the first run when the theaters are packed with all of the end of the year prestige films. This brings me to my next point. Would it kill Hollywood to stop releasing these movies within the same month? Is it to keep these films fresh in the minds of Academy voters? Is this some new tradition the studios have established to keep us waiting with the most baited of breaths for the "best" films of the year? If the end of the year is the best, is that some unintentional, or intentional, diss to the other films released throughout the year? It's frustrating when entire weekends have to be altered around seeing films that will admittedly fade fast from theaters due to the deluge of "must-see" critical darlings. Arranging to see "Sweeney Todd" and "Lust, Caution" in the same day is a minor qualm (and interesting pairing I managed to pull off, if you can believe it), but I would like to absorb them with the most care and time it usually takes for great art to become part of our collective cinema memory. That minor qualm is a good compliant to have when cinema was at one of its finest years in recent memory. There are some years I am grasping for straws for films to consider, but this year there was something different projecting on movie screens. I like to think of it as the year of the Mad Man.

Power, control, and money sound like buzz words we've heard in the coverage of the upcoming presidential election. Who's going to win it? What are they going to do with their newly minted power? What drives a person to be in that position? Those questions could be seen in every drop of blood, furrowed and possessed eyebrow, and each step of the anti-hero's determined quest in cinema last year. Mark Ruffalo runs on empty to solve the murder of the Zodiac killer in David Fincher's phenomenal "Zodiac." Capitalism tears Daniel Day-Lewis to shreds in Paul Thomas Anderson's "There Will Be Blood." Michael Moore attempts to assuage the health care crisis in America in "Sicko." Mathieu Amalric fights to reclaim his life in Julian Schnabel's mournful, but graceful "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly." All of these men and several others (Emile Hirsch in "Into the Wild", Matt Damon in "The Bourne Ultimatum", and Javier Bardem in "No Country for Old Men" included) were all on a mission, journey, odyssey. Perhaps that's where we are in the world right now. Vagabonds with a touch of inherent evil.

For the list I thought of two things: I couldn't stop at ten and it should reflect a range. Luckily, film was so good last year both came with ease. Although I will say I was pleased to see women behind the cameras gaining more award recognition (Tamara Jenkins, Diablo Cody, Sarah Polley, Kasi Lemmons), this wasn't a strong year for memorable female leads or films that dealt with the experience of people of color. I guess that's to be expected in some form every year, but much like the regime in our office, film was primarily about the white male experience. That seems off for a country with a rapidly growing Hispanic population and a possible black president on the horizon. At any rate, these films, in my humble opinion, really say something. As vague as that sounds, this assortment of films had the effect of being slapped on the mouth. They stung with the remainder of how great art can be, which in turn made me feel elated. Enough with the critical claptrap you're probably thinking at this point. Agreed.

TOP 15 FILMS OF 2007
1. THERE WILL BE BLOOD, directed by Paul Thomas Anderson
A film that felt like it was literally birthed from the genius mind of one of America's greatest working directors, Paul Thomas Anderson. His scope and cinematic vocabulary expanded with this film and we should all be so grateful. Masterful storytelling, potent explosions of aesthetic wonder, and raw, unnerving performances that stay with you long after your head is left spinning in the aftermath of the film's much-debated finale.
At times sumptuous to look at and other times a melancholy chord strikes to the bone in the most underrated film of the year. Reminiscent of those great anti-westerns of the late '60s and '70s, the film is made more modern with a spooky tale of celebrity obsession and the destructive desire for infamy.
3. THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, directed by Paul Greengrass
The best action-geo-political-drama of the decade. Matt Damon is the brooding, soulful superhero that leaps from buildings, navigates through crowded London train stations, and exposes the corrupted. A thrilling and perfect popcorn movie for the millennium.
4. ZODIAC, directed by David Fincher
A personal best for Fincher with this creepy who done it/drama that your eyes will refuse to avert away from. The search for the Zodiac killer is as rigorously pursued as the film is expertly lensed. Jake Gyllenhaal, Robert Downey Jr., and Mark Ruffalo are put to the test, only to be disappointed. We as the audience, however, are not.
5. MICHAEL CLAYTON, directed by Tony Gilroy
Power, corruption, and lies might be the name of the classic New Order album, but here they serve as the impetus for action in Tony Gilroy's intelligent law thriller. Subtle, multi-layered, and acted to sly perfection, "Michael Clayton" is a film that doesn't reinvent the wheel, but does bring us what we so rarely get: quality, classic filmmaking with a contemporary edge.
6. I'M NOT THERE, directed by Todd Haynes
It should be no surprise that your index finger will be scratching your head after watching a Todd Haynes film. The itch is not out of confusion, but in disbelief that such marvelous post-post-modern films can be this good without a trace of irony or cynicism. Haynes' passion for film, celebrity iconography, and drama set the stage for a film that rocks our conventions. Oh yeah, and Blanchett is a force of nature.
7. THE DIVING BELL AND THE BUTTERFLY, directed by Julian Schnabel
Each frame of Julian Schanbel's film feels like a personal imprint dealing with the commitment to art, life vs. death, loss vs. gain, and the inherently flawed complexity of human relationships. An inspiring and profoundly moving film that forgoes the saccharine in favor of something more true and resonate.
8. 2 DAYS IN PARIS, directed by Julie Delpy
A soufflé-light romantic comedy from Julie Delpy was a welcomed respite in the sea of gloom and doom movies from last year. Don't mistake the charm as being an empty or devoid of human observation, as Delpy so skillful orchestrates in her debut film. Delpy and Adam Goldberg spar, make love, spar a little more, awkwardly brunch with her parents, and in the end...well, let's just say it's a sublime and appropriate achievement.
9. NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, directed by Joel and Ethan Coen
A perfect film for purists. Almost too perfect. A lean film with all of the Coen Brotherisms matured, but not absent. Killers kill, bad guys meet their fate, and as we learn, don't take the money and run.
10. KILLER OF SHEEP, directed by Charles Burnett
Long lost for decades, Charles Burnett managed to capture a stunning and personal portrait of life as it is in his native Watts, Los Angeles in the late '70s. A bitter realism permeates the film with each quiet and affecting moment in dirt filled alleys, sleepy living rooms, and cars packed with people looking for a better life. Burnett finds a beauty in the bleakness in this dreamy gem that was finally unearthed for audiences to find themselves lost in its unassuming splendor.
11. BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD, directed by Sidney Lumet
Sidney Lumet's brio is back with the same vigor as Philip Seymour Hoffman ferociously and sexually frank opening scene his wife, Marisa Tomei. Although Seymour Hoffman's stamina is a mask for his inner rage, self-loathing, and greed, Lumet roars again with a film that crackles with characters whose convictions are as ill-conceived and staunch as their world is morally confounded.
12. SUPERBAD, directed by Greg Mottola
The man-boy bawdy comedy is everywhere these days with Judd Apataow acting as the benevolent purveyor. "Knocked Up" denied women as complex creatures, where as "Superbad" is terrified of them as whole, which in truth is a more accurate description of how most men view women. Great dick and fart jokes abound, "Superbad" articulates with a certain bittersweetness the intense bond of male friendship, the awkward transition from youth to adulthood, and the uncomfortable road to sexual acceptance, and eventual conquest.
13. THIS IS ENGLAND, directed by Shane Meadows
Shane Meadows' semi-autobiographical tale of teenage malaise and rebellion in early '80s England breathed new life into the coming of age drama. Thomas Turgoose's heartbreaking performance of a child desperately trying to fit in amidst the clash of skinhead, reggae, and punk cultures and political unrest is a fascinating and poignant look at the possibilities of being young and the fate we must all accept that growing up in a troubled world is never easy.
14. NO END IN SIGHT, directed by Charles Ferguson
Less preachy and more enlightening than the propaganda and self-aggrandizing films of Michael Moore, Charles Ferguson's "No End in Sight" makes you want to shake your head in disgust at our current administration's terrible foreign policy. As if we didn't already know the big boys were bone and bullheaded, "No End in Sight" will hopefully inspire you to shed the complacent and apathetic frame of mind this administration has exploited and be aware of its rotten mistakes and cruel intentions.
15. SOUTHLAND TALES, directed by Richard Kelly
I love that there were more than a handful of films that divided audiences last year. That's a good sign that there are filmmakers with ambitious stories to tell made for adventurous audiences. "Southland Tales" doesn't have the coherency and polish of Kelly's first film, "Donnie Darko", but it's such a mess and aims so high that you fall for its infectious plea for a America not to become the farce it's slowly evolving towards. Immensely entertaining (even in the weak last fifteen minutes) and a film that somehow trumps "I'm Not There" as the most post-post-post-post modern film of 2007, "Southland Tales" dares to eviscerate fame, political ideology, and popular culture. And where else will you find this brilliant piece of pop fantasia?

Stay tuned for part 2: the best performances and scenes of the year.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

in memorium

British filmmaker Anthony Minghella has died at 54. I'll always think very fondly of his best film, "The Talented Mr. Ripley." It may not be the film he's more revered for, but he was able to capture the savagery of the stately, which is reflective of the "La Dolce Vita" period of film "Ripley" so closely resembles and finds its main source of inspiration. Minghella imbued that broken bourgeois sensibility with a dark and grim tale of obsession, compulsion, and the quest for identity. Add to the cinematic equation the relatively green cast of who we know consider some of our best actors of their generation (Damon, Blanchett, Law, Paltrow, Seyour Hoffman), "Ripley" is a thoroughly entertaining and yet handsomely flawed classic about the bad and the beautiful at play.

Monday, March 17, 2008

first look: love songs

"Love Songs"
directed by Christophe Honoré
March 19, 2008 (limited)

Pansexual love triangle musical? Makes sense from the filmmaker who brought us this cinematic gem.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

and it keeps coming

God, I'm still thinking about that YSL show. Aside from the immaculate clothes and directional design, the one thing that really had me head over heels was the music. Stefano Pilati definitely knows how to set a mood for a show, but this one felt particularly electric and splendidly futuristic. Thanks to noted DJ Michel Gaubert, I was reminded of the power of LCD Soundsystem's contribution to the Nike + Original Run series. I'm not sure this song is great for jogging, as it's intended to, but I do know that from start to finish, all 45:58 in its glory, the rhythm of the song pulsates unlike anything I've ever heard before. It fits perfectly for the collection and for that, I'll let you be the judge:

LCD Soundsystem

first look: boarding gate

"Boarding Gate"
directed by Olivier Assayas
March 21, 2008 (limited)

This looks like trash but in that awesomely French sort of way.

Monday, March 10, 2008


Jourdan Dunn photographed by David Slijper
for the March 2008 issue of Dazed and Confused

What a shame this is the kind of editorial work up-and-coming model Jourdan Dunn is offered. I hope we're not at a point that putting a black model in black face is ironic or glamorous. And don't even get me started on Ben Stiller.

For more click here


Fried calamari, flat iron steak, and crème brûlée can definitely help you get through these passing days of winter.

There's much more to savor at Varanese.

Friday, March 7, 2008

how does it feel?

Noah Mills photographed by Terry Richardson
for Tom Ford Menswear Spring/Summer

Channeling a bit of D'Angelo for spring, Mr. Ford?

the heritage collection

Hmmm. Is it bad that Forever 21 Man is inspiring me for spring? Shameful? Slightly. Stylish and affordable? Yes, please.

Stripe Utility Jacket

Dearborn Striped Cardigan

Cargo Shirt

Pieces like this that are not over $35!

For more click here.

snowed in

It's official. It's a snow day. What to do when the weather is fully of flurries and you're stuck inside? Here's what I have planned for the day:

*Munch on brie and blue corn chips (a new favorite snack) while watching Vincent Vincente Minnelli's "The Bad the Beautiful" (if only Brynn were here to join in on the reindeer games).
*Read the latest issue of Anthem magazine that finally came. Angry emails to magazine subscription departments will do that.
*Cook a healthy dinner that involves chicken and shrimp. So many possibilities.
*Watch "Marty." I'm on an unintentional Ernest Borgnine kick as of late. I was riveted at his performance as a racist stockade sargent out to get Frank Sinatra in "From Here to Eternity."
*If there's time to spare I might take in a couple of episodes of "Martin" on YouTube.

*Oh, and I might get around to that darned top ten list.

P.S. I had a dream that I was at the reception for Naomi Watts and Liev Schreiber's wedding. Wishful thinking, huh?

snow angels

A possible snow day is looming and I am in no way tired. Who wants to stay up with me and watch a movie? I've got some decent merlot and a couple of hours before the sun comes up.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

"the anti-model"

Lara Stone photographed by Mert Alas & Marcus Piggott
for the March 2008 issue of Vogue Paris

Okay, so now I get the whole Lara Stone thing.

For more click here.

the little matchstick girl

"I Know"
directed by Billy Parks

Stardust, Zoe Kravitz, levitation that implies some sort of spiritual enlightenment or mild orgasm? Okay Jigga, I see you.

Monday, March 3, 2008

there's always next season

Alber Elbaz for Lanvin closed Paris fashion week, or rather fashion month, with his sublime and darkly sexy fall collection. He's a natural standout to end the dialogue of the fall collections. His statement was grand and modern in his use of manipulating and constructing fabric as well as mysterious and feminine with the inky color palette. Collections such as his, and a few others, invite those who want to watch and will appreciate an artist really thinking about design, the body, and the world. The points of view of such designers as Nicolas Ghesquiere for Balenciaga, Stefano Pilati of Yves Saint Laurent, Miuccia Prada, Raf Simons for Jil Sander, Jun Takahashi of Undercover, Christopher Kane, and Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez of Proenza Schouler make fashion intoxicating and tuned into something connected to beauty and truth. After absorbing their craftsmanship and thought, there's a punch-drunk feeling of surprise and satisfaction completely different from ingesting any other art form.

Breaking down the geometry and design of things that we put on our body to protect us, illicit a certain feeling or mood, or remind us of something gone by or yet to happen was the big story on many of the runway narratives for fall. You can really tell if something seems new and fresh if you're eyes get a little bigger as it inspects each look, which could be found coursing through the threads in several standout collections. It may seem like a simple notion, but when they're so much fashion out there available for us to admire and possibly own, there has to be some voices that speak with greater articulation than others for us to truly be excited each season. Take into consideration there's an undeniable recession looming and the cost of designer goods climbs a little higher each day, then it becomes a greater challenge to decide where, or if, to spend one's hard earned dollar on quality, special clothes. All of that might deter from the fantasy and appeal of constantly buying and looking at the trends in fashion, but true fashion followers must persist because fashion inspires us to keep thinking and relishing in the quiet sensation of feeling confident and comfortable with what we're wearing for the day. Every morning the hulking decision of what to wear can be reduced to a simple pleasure if you were to a take a cue from one of the many great working minds in fashion. I'm sure a woman is going to feel at ease in those sinewy Jil Sander winter coats or a bit like a Hitchcockian heroine in those Michael Kors camel coats. A woman will never feel sexier than in a Balenciaga or Naricso Rodriguez LDB, both with the appropriate air of a sexy beast and a demure urbanite. Men can never feel more masculine, despite the big trend that says otherwise, in smartly tailored suits by Duckie Brown or Nautica. Rag & Bone proposed something tougher and rougher for fall, which feels more align with how a man should look, not the twee version so many other designers tapped for inspiration.

Fortunately the collections left me with my appetite being whetted just enough. Balenciaga, Yves Saint Laurent, Jil Sander, and Proenza Schouler make you forget about the rest. Duckie Brown, Rag & Bone, and Michael Kors have my mind racing with ideas of things I want to experiment with for fall. Unfortunately we have to wait until October for the next onslaught of models, big ideas, celebrity front row gawking, and of course, the clothes.


directed by So Me

The best part is the clever homage to this.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

hussein chalayan

Seeing is always believing at Hussein Chalayan.