Monday, 31 March 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: PRETTY IN PINK





I've always been pretty open about my love of John Hughes - we were inspired to set our first album in a fictional town we called Condale by the fact Hughes based all his films in the fictional town of Shermer Illinois - and there are references to his movies in a lot of our songs.  He was an awesome man.  HOWEVER, as much as I love Pretty In Pink, I have a few issues with it.  Well, actually, one major issue.  Blaine.  

If you haven't seen Pretty In Pink and are planning to then please don't read the rest of this blog.  Everyone else, hi, nice to have you here. 

OK so Pretty In Pink is the Cinderella story of Andie Walsh, a poor girl from the wrong side of the tracks (literally, there are train tracks at the opening of the film and Andie's house is right next to them).  This wonderful girl who only wears pink SEE WHAT THEY DID THERE over the course of the film inexplicably - in my opinion - falls for Blaine McDonough, a spineless beige normcore yuppie.  

In case you're not getting it yet, I really don't like Blaine.  

I would much rather Andie ended up with either Duckie - her hilarious if slightly needy best friend, played by Jon Cryer, or Steff, Blaine's best friend who has secretly been trying to get with Andie for years without Blaine's knowledge.  Steff is played brilliantly by James Spader, one of my favourite actors.  In the film he manages to play a horrible bigoted creep that I still sort of want to get the girl.  

Anyway, I'm now going to argue these points further using the wardrobe of the characters. 

This is Andie. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

RECIPE: SAUSAGE AND FENNEL LENTIL STEW





This is my first savoury recipe for the blog because - apparently - you cannot live on cake and crumble alone.  I only started cooking with fennel recently, and I feel like my life up to this point has been wasted - it's so peppery and fresh.  Somehow the fennel, along with the the stock, carrots and garlic, turn the lentils into a creamy salty-sweet stew which I can't get enough of.  While this isn't the most beautiful of meals, it's delicious and feels really wholesome and...kind of 70's.  It's also a great recipe for just bunging in any vegetables that you need to use up - in my case a couple of cherry tomatoes. Also, turning sausages into meatballs is something of a revelation for me. I'm surprised it isn't on the news more. 

Here's the recipe. It serves 4: 

Monday, 24 March 2014

INSPIRED BY: HEATHERS










OK, so I really should have a croquet set.  And two female friends called Heather.  And a burning desire to rule my High School, even if it involves ruining the lives of people I was pals with before puberty.  And the ability to look past my friends "suicide" to the opportunities it presents in terms of upping my profile and appearing on local news outlets.  

What a shame, I don't have any of those things.  Instead I'm going to have to make do with wearing as much of the power colour as possible - and as I now know from my style dissection of the classic 80's film - that's red.  Yes, all you need to turn from a bookish, jaded Heather who wears green and has low self-esteem (that rhymes!), to a full on Queen Bee Heather who struts down the hallways, forcing people to sign petitions and ridiculing her best friend on the chalkboard is some clothing in a scarlet hue.   

You can get your own Power Heather Kit - the jacquard jacket and black loafers are from Topshop, the floral skirt from Motel, and the watch is from Limit Ladies.  The essential crimson scrunchie is one I've picked up somewhere on my travels (possibly the Co-Op pharmacy.)  

So why not join me?  It's fun over here on the red side...

Saturday, 22 March 2014

FILMS FILMS FILMS: MARCH


After being completely absorbed in Wes Anderson's best film yet last week (when the credits rolled the packed audience stayed silent in their seats for a couple of minutes, it was like we were all decompressing after the journey.  It was that good), I'm looking forward to what March (and I guess the beginning of April) has to offer.  Well, we have Scarlett Johansson as an extremely dangerous alien prowling the streets of Glasgow, Scarlett Johansson as an ass-kicking expert Russian spy, and THE VERONICA MARS MOVIE.  It's gonna be a great four weeks, guys.


UNDER THE SKIN
This must be one of the only films in the past few years to have a trailer that makes me feel like I know less about the movie than I did before watching it.  And that's a good thing.  When the film premiered at the Telluride festival the Twitter feeds of film critics were ablaze with superlatives.  It seems to be a film you experience rather than watch, with several people describing wobbly legs and dry mouths after screenings.  So, take water and a friend to lean on?  I'm a big fan of Johansson, can't wait to see her get all strange and ethereal.


THE ZERO THEOREM
Speaking of films you experience, I really like the work of Terry Gilliam.  I love it when people create worlds for their audiences to disappear into, which is what Gilliam has done with Brazil, 12 Monkeys and now  TZT, the conclusion of his dystopian trilogy.  For me cinema is all about being able to escape into another life, and I'm always impressed when I'm confronted by a world that is very far from the one we live in.  Gilliam is a master of escape.  And what's more, this time he's working with the eternally excellent Christoph Waltz, and I order you to Google pictures of Matt Damon in this film immediately.

In other news - I find it hard to spell "theorem" correctly.


CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER
OK, first off, I really want Black Widow to have her own origin film.  Why hasn't that happened yet?  If anyone reads this who knows Marvel Studios/Disney, please can you tell them I think it's a good idea.  Thanks.  Secondly, I love a big fat blockbuster, it's just another glorious form of escape (I feel like there's a theme emerging here), and Chris Evans did a great job in his previous two appearances as Captain America. For those of you who haven't seen the first film, or The Avengers, Evans plays Steve "Normcore" Rogers, a man who used to be slight and not fit to fight, who then became (won't say how as I don't want to spoil it) an American faux-hero (as in he was a symbol of strength but didn't actually do any fighting), until he finally got the chance to prove himself as a badass and legend.  He's a character that has existed in American pop culture since 1941 and I like that the writers didn't shy away from that - there's a great moment in The Avengers when Phil Coulson approaches Captain America with some vintage trading cards asking for them to be signed.  It's directed by the Russo brothers who have won an Emmy for their work on Arrested Development so maybe there will be some *gestures to Black Widow* "Her?!" moments.


THE VERONICA MARS MOVIE
Hold my hands up, I'm not a big Veronica Mars fan, which isn't to say I don't like it, more that I've not had the chance to watch enough of it.  When it came out in the UK I was at uni and my TV didn't really work, and most weekends I was probably, like, asleep and being a student and eating pot noodles and stuff.  'Cos that's what students do, right?  God I didn't even have access to the internet anywhere other than the library HOW DID I COPE?  Oh, speaking of the internet, this movie was funded by the people who live there (that, my friends, is what we call a segue).  I'm a bit biased when it comes to Kickstarter as it's how the documentary Beyond Clueless we've soundtracked was funded, but I know some people have doubts when it comes to crowd sourcing.  I'm just going to leave this piece about Zach Braff's Kickstarter film by Charlie Lyne here and move on...But yeah, the funding of the Veronica Mars movie seems to have been Kickstarter at its best, fans having direct contact with the makers and stars of a show they loved, a mutual affection culminating in a glorious creative project.  They needed 2 million and they got 5, and that's just awesome (they're even refunding the people who couldn't watch the film on the download format, technology eh?).  ANYWAY, the reviews look good for this, and I'm hoping it will inspire my next boxset binge.

Friday, 21 March 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS





After seeing the breathtaking The Grand Budapest Hotel I've been itching to pull apart a Wes Anderson film.  And while all his movies are aesthetically perfect there's something about Margot, Richie and their infallible style that I just can't let go of.  

One of the brilliant stylistic choices Anderson made, as you'll see, was to have every character wear variations of the same outfit throughout the film.  Also all of their clothes and style choices seem to be heavily rooted in the 1970s, which shows that they're all trapped in the time of their heyday.  And that's just bloody great directing. 

Anyway, let's waste no more time.  Introducing...

Thursday, 20 March 2014

TEENAGE








Last week I saw Teenage a documentary about, well, teenagers.  It covers youth culture from the end of the 19th century to the first half of the 20th, which, according to the film, is when that midpoint between childhood and adulthood first started to define itself.  Or rather, be defined by the people living through it.  Pretty much all of the footage is archive, and some of it is gobsmackingly wonderful - for instance, the clips in colour from teenagers in Germany at the start of WW2 who didn't want to join Hitler Youth and instead listened to swing music and took photos of themselves dressed as gangsters. 

The film also has some original footage. One tale they recreate is that of Brenda Dean Paul, a silent movie actress and member of the group known as Bright Young People in the 1920's, who sadly became one of the first famous heroin addicts.   In an interview with The Hairpin, director Matt Wolf described why her story was one that jumped out for him. "I discovered her in the book and she’s a sort of an obscure figure. I was really intrigued by her contemporary archetype—she was elevated by the media as this kind of aspirational figure but at the same time publicly crucified and condemned, and she had this public downfall. It’s something you see a lot in pop culture now with Lindsay Lohan or Justin Bieber. There is a kind of sexist quality to it as well, a crucifixion of the young female figure, and that’s something that as a culture we do a lot."  (That's a great interview by the way, as is the one by Laura Snapes on Rookie.  She spoke to Wolf and Jon Savage, the author of Teenage: The Creation of Youth 1845–1945, the book the documentary is based on). 

It's scored by original music from Bradford Cox of Deerhunter/Atlas Sound, who, of course, has done an incredible job.  And be sure to check out the film's website, where there's a great page called Tube Time which has lots of archive footage to scroll through.  Including a 9 minute clip of the 1984 Miss Teen USA Pageant, and a video that explains how to Jitterbug.  There's a lot of jitterbugging in the documentary and it always took my breath away. 


Saturday, 15 March 2014

GHIBLI MUSEUM MITAKA








Jeremy's Totoro impersonation is spot on.

I have to admit, when Jeremy first introduced me to the films of Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli several years ago I was a bit dubious.  Animated films about kids, houses with legs and mystical creatures?  In Japanese? Um, I don't know...

Oh how stupid past me was.  I'm yet to see a film made by the studio that I don't like, and their movies have introduced me to other Japanese animated masterpieces - for instance, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, a science fiction romance film about a girl who, well, you can imagine.  But back to Ghibli: on our visit to Japan we took a day to go out to the Tokyo suburbs and visit the Museum dedicated to the film company.  It was marvellous. The building itself is pure Miyazaki, as much an exhibit as its contents, and along with interactive displays has several rooms that seem to be faithful recreations of where the director writes and draws.  Stacks of books, ashtrays filled with cigarette butts, hundreds of coloured pens, and photographs of location inspirations.  These came from all over the world, but mostly from Europe - France, Belgium and Germany in particular - which makes a lot of sense when you watch his films.  


He's also fascinated by nature and flowers, and there were many books about gardening and different types of trees and plants,  all of which seeps into the beautiful watercolours of characters that are pinned all over the walls of the museum.  As part of the museum expirence we also watched a short film made by the studio in a beautiful cinema, the tickets for which were different strips of film from a classic Ghibli moment.  Mine was from Ponyo and it's pictured below.  The museum is surrounded by a beautiful park where we took some photos, and since it was the suburbs there was still snow over a lot of the ground.  I was wearing a crop top (pretty stupid of me given the weather), and some trousers I got from Collect Point in Harajuku.  They have braces, which seem to be a big deal in Tokyo.


After we'd seen everything - including the cutest babies in the world climbing all over a replica Catbus from Totoro - we went to the shop and spent a good chunk of holiday pocket money on souvenirs. Jeremy got some excellent cookies, and I got a notebook covered with a picture from Kiki's Delivery Service, my favourite Ghibli film. 

If you want to go to the Museum you have to book your tickets in advance from their website -  you can't buy tickets on the door, which is a slight hassle - but totally worth it. 



Friday, 14 March 2014

NICK MOHAMMED AND JULIA DAVIS ARE VERY FUNNY


Nick Mohammed is seriously funny, and has been for a while.  He's an actor, writer, magician and character comedian.  He's an exceptional performer, and thinks up some pretty wonderful situations to find humour in.  One year at Edinburgh he did his take on the Apollo 21 moon landing, where he played all the parts, including the first dog in space.  He's currently working on a script with the outstanding Julia Davis, a brilliant woman with a knack for portraying darkness and horrible people in a way that makes you love them.  She's a genius.


At some point during the writing process they've got together and recorded some improvised sketches which you can download as a podcast-type-thing here.  I listened to them all this morning.  They're fantastic.  Surreal and sometimes, as Nick himself said, "a little risqué" they're an utter delight.  And I don't think there's anything better than hearing Julia Davis try and stifle her laughter when she sees Nick almost break into giggles.

I really hope there is an episode two.

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: 'HEATHERS'






Heathers has been one of my favourite films for a very long time.  It's wicked, funny and iconic, a teen cult classic.  The dialogue is extremely quotable, the outfits are ambitious and, along with the music, help to build a strange and surreal high school world.  It always reminds me of a gentler American Psycho: it's gruesome and outrageous, but most of the characters don't seem particularly affected by the violence, which just makes it all more unsettling.  And if Patrick Bateman has Huey Lewis And The News, Jason Dean has Big Fun. 

If you haven't seen it before please go and watch it now, and don't read this piece as it's packed with spoilers.  

So, which Heather would you be?  Queen bee Heather Chandler, the bookish Heather Duke who she treats so horrendously, or cheerleader Heather McNamara, statuesque with a penchant for awful jocks?  Or maybe you're a Veronica Sawyer, a girl who doesn't actually like her friends - they're more like co-workers, and their job is being popular.  

Perhaps a better question to ask is, what's your signature colour when it comes to clothes?  Below are the Heathers and Veronica wearing theirs in the cafeteria.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

VIDEO FOR OUR NEW SINGLE 'CRAZY'



We had so much fun making this!  It was directed by Ozzie Pullin, who is rad, and it's always great when we get the chance to be weird in videos (me in particular).

Ozzie was very influenced by 'Orange Is The New Black' which was wonderful because we love that show. It was so much fun to don a tangerine jumpsuit in homage to those women.  Can't wait for their return on June 6th.

Monday, 3 March 2014

STYLE DISSECTION: CLARISSA EXPLAINS IT ALL (SEASON 1)



Yes, season 1.  This post is just my pick of the outfits from the first 13 episodes of Clarissa Explains It All.  There are four more seasons available for dissection, and I think I might have to do them all.  *POSSIBLE SERIES KLAXON*

Most of you (I hope) will remember Clarissa Darling from 90's TV, when she was an inspiring, wacky, smart and funny girl who brightened up every Saturday morning.  She was played by Melissa Joan Hart, an actress who managed to have two extremely likeable, successful and family-friendly TV shows under her (probably floral) belt by the time she was 27.  The other being Sabrina The Teenage Witch.  Like a lot of people I felt like I grew up with Melissa, or rather the characters she portrayed, and I loved everything about her.  Including her outfits.  

While Sabrina Spellman was more conventional in her clothing choices, Clarissa was out there.  She displayed tastes and a personal style that was highly developed for her age.  Even as a clueless 12-year-old I knew this girl had something going on.  And looking back over her looks now I can't believe the creativity of the wardrobe department on the show.  I love how much personality they gave Clarissa through her clothes, she had an identity, and I remember finding the idea that girls could dress in a way that was different and exciting very empowering and aspirational.  Am I going too deep for a programme I used to watch on Live & Kicking with messy hair while dressed in my pajamas?  Whatever.

Some of you of course will have no idea who I'm talking about.  So let's introduce Clarissa. Here are her likes and dislikes:



That last drawing there is a pool of "barf".