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Saturday, January 12, 2008

Weekend Casual?

Today I wore a plain black long sleeved dress that had a cotton bodice/sleeves upper body part and velvet skirts, with a textured black belt, black (almost) flat boots and my medium size shoulder black leather bag. I know, it sounds really black, but it is what I would consider a very safe brainless casual everyday outfit. Because really, even though the dress has velvet parts, it IS still very plain and casual and is really suitable for all occasions. But anyways, you get the picture.

So, dressed like that, I walked into the restaurant and met my mom and aunt up for Saturday lunch. And the greeting I got were affronted expressions followed by, "Oh dear, what are you wearing today?" Granted my outfit is boring and black, but I didn't think I looked THAT bad. Turns out that they thought that I was dressed too formal for a weekend! Apparently while it was fine to dress up so on a weekday, on a weekend one always dresses very casually with jeans, t shirt and flats/sneakers!

Generally I take these edicts my mom says with a grain of salt, because most of them contradicts previous edicts and I get thoroughly confused, but this time I couldn't help but wonder if there IS a grain of truth to it. As I glance around the streets, people indeed were all dressed very casually (though I WAS in a casual part of town). And I'm sure that the term weekend casual didn't just come out of thin air. One of my friends recently even bought a pair of "weekend shoes."

Personally I don't dress any differently on a weekend than on a weekday. Mostly because I'm a student and its casual day everyday so I wear the same things everyday regardless of the day of the week (though I DO dress differently depending on where I go, my mood and how much time I have). Over the summer, while I was working and wearing semi formal clothes every weekday, I DID miss my jeans. So I guess "casual weekends" could just be a social by product of this. But that doesn't mean that I want to wear the "casual" outfit every weekend. Weekends are the also the only time I get to experiment with what I wear and have fun with fashion! I really don't think that just because everyone else decides its casual day, I have to follow it as well.

But just out of curiosity, what are everyone's preference for weekend dressing? Do you generally dress down or is it an arbitrary decision subjected to many other factors that don't include the day of the week?

Friday, January 11, 2008

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10 Best Films of 2007: #1 - Zodiac

The best film of the year is not at all unlike No Country For Old Men (my number two choice, but really these rankings are arbitrary) in that Zodiac is a dark and nihilistic film that offers no simple resolution, answers, or reason for death. It excels on a frustrating and ambiguous narrative idea: not knowing who the Zodiac killer is, and never being able to find out. Or rather the broader, more overarching, theme that death is not only prevalent, but also constant, nonnegotiable, and impervious to our desire to understand it (or in the case of Zodiac decoding it.)

It is one of the most frustrating unsolved mysteries of all time, the Zodiac killer who went on a killing spree in San Francisco was never caught, and the film does a great job of capturing a city who wants to believe he has been so they can go on living their lives (the scene in the lobby of the movie theater is a perfect example). It is a film that doesn’t rely on the clichés of the thriller genre, jolting you with false scares and convenient clues, rather it invites the audience to join the process of the investigation through every excruciating detail and bits of minutiae, the audience is also invited to share in the frustrations of a city, and like them, knowing that we’ll never know who the killer is.

It is a film about journalism, isolation, and a police procedural that is unmatched by any other film of its kind since JFK. The film is mostly about the search for the Zodiac killer, and the film grasps at straws, and so do we as we try to figure out the mystery ourselves. The amazing thing about the film (aside from the detail in every single shot) is that nothing much happens, but it is easily the most fascinating film of the year. It steers clear of becoming any kind of conventional thriller, avoiding the potholes of cheap scares and chase scenes.

The manhunt spans a decade – giving cinematographer Harris Savides the opportunity to paint the landscape in multiple shades of gray against changing backgrounds only adding to the theme of uncertainty and ambiguity as always spanning time and always present in our lives (even though things change, death does not) – it is an uncertainty that not only haunts the city, but those determined (Jake Gyllanhal, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, and Anthony Edwards) to solve the mystery of the Zodiac's cryptic letters, which taunted the newspapermen and police officers. The film’s dark, dreary look and plodding storyline are perfect for the type of story director David Fincher is trying to tell. The case could not have been exciting and even though Mark Ruffalo, who plays inspector David Toschi, was the inspiration for the Clint Eastwood film, Dirty Harry and Steve McQueen's character in Bullitt, at this point in his career he just looks tired; tired of all the death and the ambiguity of the case.

Gyllenhal’s character, the newspapers comic strip writer Robert Graysmith, does come with a solution to the crime, and it appears that the authorities have the killer in mind, they just cannot pin that one piece of crucial evidence. Even Toschi by the end of the film, as he listens to Graysmith's findings, is too cynical and jaded to know that, even though Graysmith is probably right, there is nothing he can do about it now, too much time has passed. By the end of the film, there is a final confrontation that is spoken through silence, and tells the audience all we need to know. The San Francisco police department and David Toschi had their Zodiac killer, they knew who he was, and they just couldn’t pin anything on him.

And that’s what Fincher, in his most (thankfully) subdued film gets across: the frustration. Not only our own anxiety and frustration watching the film, but also that of the entire Bay Area at the time. This is not an action packed fast paced thriller, but it is a slow procedural that is authentic in its sets, costumes, even the photography seems to be something out of a 1970’s crime drama. It is this excruciating attention to detail that turned some off to the film, but I was thankful that Fincher went this route. With a case that spans almost two decades, with a killer who has never been caught, you cannot speed up the process. The film had to be slow, methodical, and accurate in its portrayal of the facts and the real life characters that poured their lives into this case, but that doesn’t mean Zodiac isn't boring or unengaging.

And it is that seemingly eternal frustration that haunts every frame of the film. Things had to be absolute and exact with the case, and they just weren't. Just when there seems to be some silver lining and just as death and evil is within the grasp of the “good guys”, it slips away on a formality. Death is everywhere and it plods along without a care in the world; as evasive as ever. This is what Antone Chigurh was in No Country For Old Men, and this is the feeling of every passing minute of David Fincher’s masterpiece.

Zodiac is a procedural unmatched by many. I mentioned JFK earlier which I think is still the best film of its kind, but Zodiac deserves a place right next to it (like 1a) and among other great procedurals like All the President’s Men and The Insider. That’s pretty good company.

Any of my top three films on this list could be interchangeable. They all share a common theme and they all refuse to give in to the Hollywood machine and try offer up easy answers and solutions to these films. We go to bed every night and there is always something happening away from our lives, some kind of evil, and even though we may be good people amidst that evil (Nikolai in Eastern Promises, Ed Tom Bell in No Country and Graysmith in Zodiac), it will always exist. But even as I tried to put No Country and Eastern Promises in this spot, no film left more of an impression on me than Zodiac.

10 Best Films of 2007: #2 - No Country For Old Men

The Coen Brothers are truly two of the greatest filmmakers of my generation. Virtually every film is a masterpiece and although they have their shortcomings with the narrative arc of some of their films, they are never boring. They understand film language (which is to say, visual literacy) and when they are at their best, they are reinventing the genre they are working in. Like Blood Simple and Fargo, and now perhaps their greatest achievement, No Country For Old Men, the reinvent the genre again and raise the bar to new heights.

The film still has the classic Coen dialogue that makes you laugh in inappropriate places, but it may also be their most serious film since the grossly underrated, Miller’s Crossing (which still contains absurdist elements). Javier Bardem plays Antone Chigurh (like sugar) who is the epitome of the death. He has no pity, no remorse; he works on fate and fate alone. His character epitomizes the the fear we have as humans: uncertainty. The fear of not knowing what is to come or worse, not knowing when it will be coming. How can we predict what is unpredictable? How can we attempt to understand or rationalize what is irrational? There are character developments for Chigurh, no setting up of scenes, we enter the film in medias res, and are left wondering why? But isn’t that the natural response to death? To someone who embodies those characteristics and acts on fate alone? Chigurh is the thing we hate most because he lacks any answers. Any insight into his psyche. There are no answers you can give for Chigurh’s nature or what motivates him (it doesn’t ever appear to be the money or drugs) only questions as to why.

The Coen’s have made an ideal existential film based on the Cormac McCarthy novel, and the once scene that embodies this theme is the now famous “coin flip” scene. Much has been made of the “coin flip” scene so I will only add this, it is one of the most frightening and hilarious scenes I have ever seen – appropriate for this film that those two emotions go hand in hand, what else can one do when we don’t understand something besides laugh – I was on the edge of my seat awaiting the outcome hanging on every word spoken and trying to anticipate every action. The Coen’s walk a tightrope with this scene and they make it safely across with ease.

Silence and anticipation are prevalent (and key) throughout the film as there are many scenes that unfold without the aide of cheesy suspense music or an explanation of what’s happening from one of the characters. The characters know when the other is nearby, and the execution of these scenes are worthy of Hitchcock. A perfect example of this is the scene in the motel room where Moss (Josh Brolin) sits and waits for Chigurh to come to him room. The lack of cutaway, the silence, and the anticipation is masterfully done, and when Moss calls downstairs to the front desk for help, no cutaway is needed; we just hear the phone ring and ring and ring.

Chigurh is one of the great creations of modern cinema. He is the embodiment of death and as we all know death does not stop for anything. I think that that is the message of the film. As nihilistic as it is the film is a great entertainment, it just doesn’t have the tidiness of the Coen’s Fargo. At the end of that film Margie gives a beautiful monologue as the killer sits in the back of her trooper, she accosts him for killing over money where she says, “all for what? A little bit of money? I don’t get it, and yet here it is, and it’s a beautiful day”.

The final moments of No Country are quite different as retired sheriff Ed Tom Bell (great name), played by Tommy Lee Jones, remembers a dream he had the night before. The dream is crucial to understanding the film, but just like the “coin flip” scene, the end of the film has been much discussed. What most struck me about it was looking Jones’ face. Here is an actor who as he has gotten older, has made many great choices (okay not Man of the House, but we all have to get paid) and is one of those actors that can say so much with his face. Knowing this, I just watched his facial expressions as he was telling his dream, and his face made me think that Jones was saying that if Ed Tom Bell were younger, and not such an “old timer” (as explained in the opening voice over narration) he may have been able to go all the way in the Chigurh manhunt, but here he is at his kitchen table with nothing to do, and the payoff to the dream (and the end of the film) is about as perfect as it gets.

It’s a dark and nihilistic film, not offering a central character like Margie to point out that “it’s a beautiful day” but rather a character who sits around wondering “what if” and whether or not Chigurh is still out there, and if he will ever stop. Yes it’s dark, but it also contrasts that darkness with beautiful cinematography by the always great Roger Deakins and it’s simply a joy to watch all of these masters of their craft at work.

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The other day the topic of leg warmers came up.After watching her look for leg warmers all season, she told me the other day that she's finally bought one- except she hasn't worn them out yet because she felt that the reality of legwarmers didn't quite match her expectations. They looked much cooler in the pictures, mannequinns and in her imagination (above: American Apparel).
So how well do these legwarmers, originally designed for ballerinas to warm up with before they practice so they won't injure their muscles (I just found this out today!) translate in reality? Lets explore the ways they are worn. Over at Urban Outfitters, they are shown worn with pumps over skinny jeans and stockings (leggings?).
And at Sock Dreams, they are shown worn with pumps (with short skirt?) and with cute flats (also with short skirts/shorts?). I think that legwarmers look rather cute with short skirts/shorts as shown here, but when it is over skinny jeans, that is just a bit too much. I know it adds interesting detail, but in this case I think it actually cuts the leg up and if you are not super skinny model tall, this will make you look short. The additional detail just weighs you down. I am half half with legwarmer over tights, as with really really simple outfits I think it may work as interesting layering. But at the end of the day, I believe that less is more. Has anyone else tried this look before? Thoughts on making it work?
Oh and here is a random side thought. These stirrup stockings from American Apparel looks really cool. But in reality, HOW does one wear them? And what differentiates them with footless tights or full on stockings? What does it achieve?

Image Source: American Apparel, Urban Outfitters and Sock Dreams

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Thursday, January 10, 2008

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10 Best Films of 2007: #3 - Eastern Promises

David Cronenberg re-teams with Viggo Mortensen to create one of the darkest, most bleak, and yes, interesting movies about the criminal underwold, I will not say organized crime, because these Russian mobsters don't seem all that organized. Family members kill important people without consulting their father (the head of the family) and alliances are made behind peoples back. Booze is not stolen, but purchased cheap, but possibly it could have been purchased even cheaper, and when they get the booze, they don't sell it for profit, they drink it. These quirks and undercutting of the traditional mobster film make this one of the better films on the subject to come along since Miller's Crossing.

The critics have been louder than the supporters for the film, claiming that Cronenberg is too interested in which bloody set piece he can set up next and not invested enough in the characters. I couldn’t disagree more. The film is meant to be cold. The film doesn't contain the family oriented scenes of the Corleone family of The Godfather. It doesn’t have the appealing mobsters from a film like Goodfellas. But what Cronenberg and Mortensen give us is a glimpse into a cold and methodical underworld where money or business, personal vendettas, and family, are not as important as looking out for yourself and maintaining the status quo in order to assure yourself you will be alive for the next meeting with the heads of the Russian mob.

I appreciated the coldness of the film, and yes even though the Naomi Watts character serves only one purpose, I didn’t seem to care. I was so enthralled by the vision of the Russian underworld and how cruel and matter-of-fact it is. And Mortensen’s performance as the driver Nikolai, is something that should be recognized with an Oscar nomination (if those awards meant anything anymore) as he creates a character that has no where to go and nothing to strive for, except wherever his bosses tell him to go and whatever they tell him to do. He is nameless and has no past (as well as no future), until he gets his one chance for a promotion within the family, and what follows is a scene that is so cold and calculated (and pretty awesome) that is might be one of the best things Cronenberg has ever filmed.

The typical themes are here for a Cronenberg film: the body as belonging to someone else, the decaying body, sex, violence, sex and violence together and many other of the classic Cronenberg touches that make this one of the best films of the year. It shares a common theme with the final two films on this list: the idea that life goes on beyond what we as audience members can see. An idea that brings no closure (and frustration for many) to the lives of these characters that we have invested in. By the end Nikolai is still immersed in the evil he has chosen.

(Spoiler alert!) As an undercover cop who has now gone all the way to become the head of the family, can he ever really go back? It reminded me a little of Donnie Brasco one of the more underrated mobster films. But Eastern Promises doesn’t offer up the tidy (although sad) ending of Donnie Brasco and we are not quite sure what the future holds for Nikolai, or if that’s even his real name. I liked that ambiguity and I liked the not knowing, I liked the coldness and the fact that the film makes you question the characters and tries to understand why as humans we make the choices we do (a theme prevalent in their previous film together A History of Violence) and then there is the not knowing, a theme especially shared by the final two films on this list.

Does Nikolai have to become just as evil in order to become head of the family, or do his actions by the end of the film show that he will still retain some of his conscience? The cold look on his face as the film cuts to black suggests otherwise, this is a man where going back is not an option. It’s a great film.

10 Best Films of 2007: The Runner's Up

Before I unveil my top three, here is a small list of films that I have seen previews for, but either haven’t been to Portland or Salem yet or I haven’t had the chance to get out there and see them. Also a small list of films that almost made the cut and were still some of my favorite films this year. Plus, I just wanted an excuse to put that creepy picture from The Orphanage (which looks like a really cool homage to Argento and other Italian horror films) on here. As fot the films that almost made the cut: I would gladly swap out any of those for any other five on my list.

At one point The Lookout was sitting pretty at number 5. But then a ton of good movies came out that frankly were fresher on my mind or held more weight that The Lookout. But like Michael Clayton, The Lookout is a near perfect genre film that decides to get into the psyche of the characters rather than rely on shoot 'em up action scenes. It's Scott Frank's first film directing (he also wrote) but he is an established screenwriter (Minority Report, Out of Sight) and wisely moves away from the cliches of the heist film and paints the genre in a new (but still gloomy noirish) light.

I'm Not There was one of the more bizarre and risky films this year, with great performances by Heath Ledger and Cate Blanchett. Superbad was brilliant as was Ratatouille proving that we should all thank the Simpson's for giving us Brad Bird. 3:10 to Yuma was a great western (a genre I have much admiration for) and No End in Sight was one of the more engaging film experiences this year. So enjoy these alternatives, they are good enough to be in the top 10, I guess it all depends on my mood.

Films that were oh so close: The Lookout, I’m Not There, No End in Sight, Ratatouille, Superbad, 3:10 to Yuma

Films I have yet to see that are supposed rule: There Will Be Blood, Into the Wild, The Orphanage, a slew of foreign films, The Bucket List (okay that ones a joke), but I am sure there a tons more

10 Best Films of 2007: #4 - Michael Clayton

Classic in its execution, few films are as enjoyable and flawless in their exercise of the genre as Michael Clayton. George Clooney plays the title character that looks like he has been doing his job (a “janitor” for a big time company) for a little too long. Clooney looks dogged and tired and like he wants out of the business. He owes money for a failed restraint/bar experiment and you get the feeling that is the only reason why he is sticking around: the money. His ever-growing conscious and suspicions about his job are the only sings of moral responsibility in this corrupt and cold (suggested by the beautiful cinematography) business world. Also, Tilda Swinton is so good at being so loathsome.

For the character of Michael Clayton, his monetary obligations cause him to remain committed to his employers in doing one last job that is the catalyst for how the film plays out. A silky smooth thriller which pays homage to the great 1970 films that trusted their audience to have patience and try to figure things out for themselves. There are no double turns or last second revelations, there are no hidden clues that will reveal one character is actually a mole or some crap like that. The director Tony Gilroy (he wrote the Bourne movies, but wisely stays away from the shaky cam) is obviously influenced by 3 Days of the Condor and The Conversation, smart adult thrillers that understood how to tell a story simply and let the actors do their thing.

He and cinematographer Robert Elswit (Syriana, Magnolia, There Will Be Blood) create an icy blue corporate world, a landscape where Clooney and his superb costars Tilda Swinton and Tom Wilkinson can show off their acting chops.

I think what I liked best about Michael Clayton was that it wasn’t trying to be some political thriller or a message movie. It is simply a genre picture that excels on every level. And that last shot is maybe one of the best shots of the year, where the viewer is invited to look just a little bit longer at the title character. There isn’t much else I can say about the film other than how technically masterful it is. I guess the word I am looking for is efficient. Every cog in its machine is in place and runs smoothly. Or simply, everyone who worked on this film hits a home run.

Blackwell's 2007 Worst-Dressed List

In the past I've usually blogged about Blackwell's annual Worst Dressed List, (see last year's post here.) But this year while reading the list, I've come to realise that I didn't have a lot of insults in mind for the worse-dressed people. Now don't get me wrong, I don't actually like the style of most people on Blackwell's list. It's just that I've now come to learn to just skip past the pictures of poorly-dressed celebrities (or the celebrities whose style just isn't similar to mine,) and stare at the well-dressed celebrities. Perhaps I have learnt to use my time more efficiently or have grown up?

Anyways, here's the list.

1. Victoria Beckham -While I am no fan of hers, I do admire she has the confidence to wear the clothes that she wears. And while her style is very different from mine, I certainly don't think she's the worst-dressed in 2007.

2. Amy Winehouse -I suppose I do agree with this one. Not only is she poorly dressed, but her hairstyle is just disastrous!

3. Mary Kate Olsen -OK, even though as an MKA fan I am totally biased, I do admit I didn't like some of the outfits MK wore in 2007. But I really don't think one should ignore her better outfits and declare her worst-dressed.

4. Fergie -Huh. I usually just skip looking at her outfits in gossip sites.

5. Kelly Clarkson -Skip again. Plus we obviously care more about her singing than her outfits.

6. Eva Green -Do we even know what she normally wears?

7. Avril Lavigne -OK, so I didn't like some of her outfits. And I really don't like her 2007 pink hairdo. But I chalk it all as part of her marketing and image.

8. Jessica Simpson -I'm definitely not a fan of Jessica Simpson, although hasn't her style improved in 2007? Wait, I actually can't recall any of the outfits she wore in 2007. I obviously don't care much for her style.

9. Lindsay Lohan -I really don't think her style is bad. For Lindsay, 2007 was all about the leggings, so I guess it all depends how much you like leggings yourself.

10. Alison Arngrim -Uh, who? Why bother listing someone who isn't stalked by the paparazzis anyway?

And maybe it's because I'm still in my early-20's but I don't find people named in Blackwell's Fabulous Fashion Independent List really fashion-inspiring either. Btw, they are Reese Witherspoon, Jemima Khan, Beyonce, Angelina Jolie, Helen Mirren, Nicole Kidman, Katie Holmes, Kate Middleton, Katherine Heigl and Cate Blanchett. Seriously, Beyonce and Katherine Heigl?

What do you think of Blackwell's 2007 lists?

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

10 Best Films of 2007: #5 - Juno

I had bad thoughts during the opening moments of Juno. I labeled it as throwaway hipster dialogue that served no purpose other than to congratulate itself on how smart it was. A self aware film that proved nothing other than another entry into the already crowded genre of the modern independent comedy, ala Napoleon Dynamite and Rushmore. I mean I GET it, the character of Juno (Ellen Page) is hip, she’s cool, she’s post modern and self aware, she drinks Sunny D straight from the carton and walks (half animated, half live action) through her town to the tunes of some indie songstress. Oh and she lives in a room, that to call kitschy is an understatement…plus she has a hamburger telephone. We then get the scene where she calls someone and tells them to hold on because the sound is cutting out on her hamburger phone. We get it! We can see the phone right there. You don’t have to draw attention to it.

But this sounds like I hate the movie. I don’t. I love it. It was a bright spot among many dark (but great) films this year. The movie (once you get past those rough first fifteen minutes) is a delight to watch and the characters are perfectly human, people we feel like we interact with everyday. The difference between Juno and Rushmore or Napoleon Dynamite is that the central character, Juno, is not a caricature like Max Fischer or Napoleon, but is based in reality. Giving weight (no pun intended) to the performance is Ellen Page, who is sly and steely but also warm and real. You feel like you have come across a girl like that before.

There are moments of true insight into what it’s like as a teenager trying to be more adult, or what we may think of Jennifer Gardner (until a crucial and touching scene in a mall, where we realize along with Juno, that Gardner’s character is not as icy as originally thought) and her husband played Jason Bateman.

There are some moments that touch deeply upon the hard decisions people have to make; especially teenagers who are thrust into adulthood when they think they're ready, but find they are not. It’s a great experience that by the end of the film you realize, hey, the parents of Juno (JK Simons and Alison Janney) acted like normal parents, not like teen sex comedy caricatures, and the moment when she drops off a letter for Jennifer Garner after a crucial moment in the end of the film…a moment that in 90% of movies like this would have been horribly conventional and groan inducing, seems just about perfect and surprisingly not contrived. It’s amazing that a film could convert me so quickly. After 15 minutes (which aren't so bad that I couldn't place it on here) I was ready to hate it, and then I became one of its biggest cheerleaders.

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10 Best Films of 2007: #6 - Into Great Silence

For 2 hours and 43 minutes, Into Great Silence offers images of an existence that is appropriate for the subject matter. You are speechless watching the film. You sit in silence (at one point, you can hear the snow fall) and simply observe these monks in the French Alps as they live their daily lives with their morning recesses and recitals, their daily walks where conversation is allowed, but few take part in. Throughout the film all I could think of was one of the great writers and radicals of our time Thomas Merton. I have read almost all of his books and have respect for someone who can remove themselves entirely from the world and live a totally devoted life to God.

Philip Gröning wrote the monks (secluded deep within the French Alps) in 1984 to see if he could make a documentary about them. It took sixteen years for them to get back to him. It only seems appropriate that they would take their time.

The film is a different religious experience than say an Ingmar Bergman film (silence meant God was not there, here it is a way of communing with the divine) but it is an experience that transcends film and will leave its mark long after you have endured the 2 hours and 43 minutes. There is no artificial lighting, no interviews, Gröning wisely removes himself and any form of voice over (there is no need for narration or explanation) from the project even though he lived with the monks for six months. The film embodies the monastery rather than simply observing it. It touches the deep spirit and the deeply spiritual and all of the credit goes to the director.

Into Great Silence is like an eloquent and elaborate piece of music --- your attention may drift in and out at times, but you seem to always be aware that you are in the presence of beauty and something that is capable of altering the way you see the world.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

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Wide Headbands

Over the years I've always had these on and off phases with wide headbands. Personally they are quite flattering for me and I've always loved them. But they never really served much practical purposes i.e. keep fringe off face (not if I want it to be flattering anyway). And so after a while, I just end up just giving up on them (I had a fabulous black textured print one from Claires).
Well this season, my obsession with them is back. It first entered my mind early this season when I went to Burberry and tried on these red patent quilted ones (very similar to the ones above left), which looked SOOO nice on me! Then the other day I saw my friend wearing a similar red patent headband from Miu Miu (with different details), which looked soo fab on her! And of course, I've also been steadily
influenced by Blair's preppy and trendy use of headbands all season on Gossip Girl.

Now I really want a shiny bold colored headband to accesorize with this season. I have black hair so red (like Blair's above) would look great. I definitely want a patent one like the pink one above (right) from Miu Miu, except in red. Though come to think of it, one of my friend has this beautiful purple shiny satin wide headband from Barneys (similar to the brown one above left: Jennifer Ouellette) that she's been wearing for a while that looks gorgeous with her dark hair.... so many choices!
I guess at the end of the day the most important thing with bold wide headbands is that it matches with the rest of your outfit. Note how all her headband goes so well with the rest of her outfits. I especially love the white headband with the rest of her outfit (right) where there are white accents!
The turban styled headbands are also a good twist to the usual headbands. I am in LOVE with these turban headbands from Jennifer Ouellette (left) and Rachel Pally (right). In fact, I'd go so far as to say that I think the Rachel Pally headband at $38 (not on sale) is a bargain and I'd totally get it if they had it in red. Except they have it only in dark blue, dove (white) and black and I'll have to think about that. I just love the side twist thing!
Some easy colored wide headbands to go with your wardrobe from Claires (above). The trick to not making them look like its cheap I think is texture (if its shiny and plastic) and a clean cut (if its fabric print).
For something fancier I am loving these two from Miu Miu (left) and By Malene Birger (right). Normally I'd discard them at a glance thinking they are tacky and toy-like. But having been inspired by Blair, I think with the right elegant simple outfit, these would be the perfect accessory. And just imagine how gorgeous that blue would look contrasting against dark hair!

So far I got a kind of shiny wide bronze headband similar to the satin brown one from Jennifer Oullette (third one down), except the quality isn't as good since its only $10 as opposed to $50... but the effect is close. Now if only I can get my hands on a purple satin one and a patent red one...and I definitely don't mind a jeweled one (though I guess its not necessary)...... then my headband collection would be complete :)

Image Source: CW TV, Barneys, Net a Porter, Bloomingdales, Shopbop and Claires

Monday, January 7, 2008

10 Best Films of 2007: #7 - Atonement

If there was one film I was most looking forward to seeing this year it was definitely Atonement. Was this going to be a great film like I thought it could be? Or was this destined to be a butchered version of the Ian McEwan novel I have so much admiration for. I admit that my immediate reaction to the film was: yeah, that’s good. And I think I was disappointed in my own response to the film; I wanted to love it, and I didn’t. I was weary of the film, yes, but I was also counting down the days until I could see it for myself, and after all of that build up (mostly by me, and now by the Focus Films ad wizards pining for Awards) I feel like it’s not the film of the year I was hoping for, but it’s still an affective and beautiful looking picture.

Many people called this one of the most unfilmmable books, and I have to say I was weary of the film, wondering how in the hell they were going to translate that ending to film. But the film is impressive, in a David Lean sort of way. Which, I am not slighting the film, it is classical British filmmaking. Every shot seems to have been excruciatingly storyboarded and meticulously shot, and I found myself moved by the film (yet somewhat at an arms length) and I think part of that is McEwan. I just had finished the novel for the second time in preparation for the film and I think it was McEwan, not Joe Wright that was in my brain as I sat in the movie theater. And that's a problem when reviewing a film based on such a tremendous novel. It is not the novel I am reviewing, but the film and that is where Mr. Wright falls just a little short with his adaptation of McEwan. There are impressive shots for sure, especially one where a tired, wounded, and drunk Robbie is backlit by a scene from Brief Encounter in a movie house (there is also a scene that is straight taken from that film earlier on). Another shot that found my jaw agape was the five minute tracking shot on the shore of the beach – something that impressed me more than the shot in Children of Men – this shot takes you out of the film (much like I have always felt the details of the war does for the book) but it is impressive, no doubt.

But it left me with an almost cold admiration for it. The closest thing I can compare it to is the admiration I have for some of Kubrick's films. I am not a Kubrick fan, but I admire 2001, Paths of Glory, and most of all (his masterpiece) Barry Lyndon - which oddly enough, reminds me of Atonement. That's high praise and for its set pieces and cinematography alone, Atonement is one of the best films of the year.

10 Best Films of 2007: #8 - Inland Empire

I fear that I have too much to write about Inland Empire and its insane (maybe inane?) labyrinthine narrative. So, I will do something Lynch didn’t do and keep this short. The film is about…well…it’s about exactly what it says on the cover of the film: a woman in trouble. And it’s good, really good, effing brilliant…but what the hell does it mean? How do I go about writing a normal synopsis of the film and then my feelings about the film? There were times I wanted to turn it off, times where I looked at the time code and said to myself, “huh, only 1:34:00 into it?” Check out the teaser trailer below, it only last one minute, but I defy anyone to claim that it doesn't at least look interesting.

So, I will just leave it to you to see for yourself. Trust me, it’s a film experience worth experiencing, and that is why it’s on my list. If Lynch can be this bold and have the balls to make this film, well then, I respect him for that. That is why you find this film at number eight, with little to no explanation as to why it’s here…in fact I am still trying to figure out those weird jack rabbit people in that room with the laugh track and the phone that just rings…yeah…onto the next film!

The Balenciaga Blazers Lookalikes

Hey people, happy new year! We have finally updated the About Us section, so check it out when you have time. Anyways, BG and I love blazers so I simply cannot resist talking about the Balenciaga blazers.

The Balenciaga blazers were the IT items of the FW season. even reported that a woman who was not on the wait-list refused to leave until she was sold one (-crazy much?) It costed 1295 pounds btw. Obviously, the high street stores very quickly started producing lookalikes too. Here a few that I found: (Most of them are from last year so they might not be in stores anymore.)

Zara came out with a super lookalike blazer. So alike infact, that it had to be pulled out of stores after selling it for a short while. It's supposedly the one Blair is wearing in this picture.

This stripe blazer by Top Shop is a pretty good copy too, isn't it? Very cool schoolgirl looking.

More recently, Top Shop came out with this moleskin jacket. This one looks just a bit more classic and less like its part of a schoolgirl outfit, so much more suitable for those aged over say, 22.

Urban Outfitters has always had blazers in their FW Lux collections so it's hard to say whether these are particularly Balenciaga-inspired. Adopting the details from the Balenciaga blazers might sound more correct. Plus UO tends to sell younger and more casual clothes than Zara, so the lookalike factor might be lower, making it less of a trendy item and more long-lasting.

The solid colours of these blazers comehow remind me of the pink Balenciaga one. But it could just be my imagination.

Then there are the blazers where the outer edges are lined with a thick, solid line. Also by Urban Outfitters. Blazers always manage to make a casual outfit look way cooler and structured, don't they?

Has anyone been wearing this trend this season?

Image Credits:,,,
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