Monday, 31 January 2011

28. Some Like It Hot (1959)

Ack, I'm sorry I'm sorry, things have been horrendously busy! Back on track now though. Uninteresting post today until I get some new things up. Luckily though, this film is just so brilliant that hopefully its mere presence makes up for my uselessness?

Monday, 24 January 2011

29. Rebecca (1940)

One of Hitchcock's most atmospheric and threatening thrillers, making incredible use of shadows, close ups and unsettling music, and featuring brilliantly chilling performances from Laurence Olivier and Judith Anderson - this is nothing short of a masterpiece of cinema and deservingly won Hitchock's (alas) only Academy Award for Best Picture. The fear that Joan Fontaine's Rebecca fears throughout is disturbingly real, and as ever, Hitchcock has no scruples about shocking and unnerving the audience. Truly extraordinary.

"Last night, I dreamt I went to Manderley again. It seemed to me I stood by the iron gate leading to the drive, and for a while I could not enter for the way was barred to me. Then, like all dreamers, I was possessed of a sudden with supernatural powers and passed like a spirit through the barrier before me. The drive wound away in front of me, twisting and turning as it had always done. But as I advanced, I was aware that a change had come upon it. Nature had come into her own again, and little by little had encroached upon the drive with long tenacious fingers, on and on while the poor thread that had once been our drive. And finally, there was Manderley - Manderley - secretive and silent. Time could not mar the perfect symmetry of those walls. Moonlight can play odd tricks upon the fancy, and suddenly it seemed to me that light came from the windows. And then a cloud came upon the moon and hovered an instant like a dark hand before a face. The illusion went with it. I looked upon a desolate shell, with no whisper of the past about its staring walls. We can never go back to Manderley again."

Thursday, 20 January 2011

Awoken by a cloud of steam, she pours a daydream in a cup, a spoon of sugar sweetens up

Just a very quick one today, as like Hermione Granger, I will pretty soon be using a book as a pillow if I don't get to bed sharpish. Term has started properly and although I'm massively enjoying all my work so far - which is always very promising - I am so so busy and tired. This song and the music video are so very very stunning though that I don't feel bad just filling one post with them. Stop motion always magically makes everything appear ten thousand times more beautiful and dreamy than it already is, and Oren Lavie's voice is just so...cosy :)

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

The city that never sleeps...

I haven't travelled nearly as much as I would like to but the little I have seen the world shows me exactly how diverse it is. Take a look at capital cities - the centre of each country and widely considered to represent the best of its culture, history and arts. Yet how disparate each one is! Even when close to each other, they vary so enormously - London is completely different to Paris which is completely different to Berlin which is completely different to Rome. Although throughout my life I'd like to be so well travelled so as to not only go to the "main" cities and the tourist hotspots, for now I would settle for seeing the most famous and beloved sights of our world.

Which brings me onto Paris versus New York, a blog showing an artistic comparison between two of the most famous and cosmopolitan cities ever, yet as seen in the beautiful, funny prints, completely opposite and individual. Looking at them just makes me want to go to both Paris and New York and decide for myself :)





Friday, 14 January 2011

"When I speak, I speak for them. But I can't speak."

"War with Germany will come. And we will need a King that we can all stand behind," booms Winston Churchill, staring beadily at George VI. In a time when the country was in turmoil - war was looming over the horizon, King Edward VIII had abdicated after only a few months in power and the people were fast losing their faith in the monarchy - a shy retiring man with a speech impediment is forced onto the throne of Britain and into the public eye, with only one ordinary man to help him get through it. This is the premise of The King's Speech, the film that has taken this country by storm over the past couple of weeks. Taking place over the years just before World War II, it details George VI's (Colin Firth) unexpected rise to the throne and the debilitating stutter he overcame with the help of his wife (Helena Bonham Carter), and in particular his speech therapist Lionel Logue (Geoffrey Rush).

And it's not hard to see why it has had so much success. Everywhere you turn, the film is brilliantly made. The script by David Seidler is absolutely perfect and, cliché as it is to say, very British: warm, humorous, touching and sharp, it utterly encapsulates the tentative yet eventual close bond between the Bertie and Lionel, as well as Bertie's own internal struggles to overcome both his condition and his fears. The setting of an impending war was also delicately and movingly handled - I teared up several times as the country and the royal family prepared themselves for the difficult years ahead. However, a brilliant script would be left flat without the right actors to bring it to life and this film in particular with its understated script and emotional matter required actors with oodles of subtlety, charm and talent. Luckily, they found all the right ones. Bonham Carter was her usual witty, brilliant self, playing the future Queen Mother with great dignity and affection. Geoffrey Rush - or Captain Barbossa as I will always think of him (I'M SORRY) - was fantastically funny and down to earth, playing a perfect contrast to the stiffness and poise of the royals, and having great on screen chemistry with Colin Firth. And speaking of, well, all I can say is that I am so glad that he's finally broken out of his previous typecast romantic roles. He was loveable in those, but in these dramas he brings such charm, vulnerability and emotion to the role is truly a pleasure to watch. The film was also a pleasure to listen to, Alexandre Desplat providing another fantastically moving score. He does churn them out these days. The visuals were also brilliant - the grey green colour scheme worked perfectly in portraying the England of the thirties, and the costumes were understated elegance.

I guess my review is fairly positive to say the least, and indeed writing it has reminded me how much I did actually enjoy the film. However I feel I do have to say that I did leave the cinema feeling the teeniest bit disappointed. Not because it is a bad film, because it's not in any shape or form, but I think because after all the hype I was expecting a true masterpiece and, while excellent, it just isn't that. Maybe I walked into it thinking I was about to watch another A Single Man, which just wasn't the case. I loved the film. I thought it was amazing, and I think it deserves lots of awards and accolades. But it doesn't have the place in my heart that Firth's previous film does, and if were to choose between them, I'm afraid this wouldn't make it.
Nevertheless it is a wonderful film in its own right and one which you should all rush out and watch.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

A Private World

One of my favourite aspects of fashion is its easy collaboration and merging with other forms of art. I looked at the strong ties between fashion and film, but something that is beginning to interest me more and more is the link between fashion and fine art. During this term, our college's Arts Committee is putting on a fashion show which I'm helping to organise, inspired by different movements of art. As soon as I saw this frankly stunning editorial I was immediately inspired. The photos look like beautiful Romantic paintings, the clothes are gorgeous, and there is something so other-wordly and mysterious about it that I simply cannot look away. Well done Tim Walker.

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Photographer: Tim Walker
Model: Sunniva Stordahl
Magazine: Vogue Italia

Monday, 10 January 2011

30. A Beautiful Mind (2001)

The human intellect is possibly one of the most mysterious, complex and beautiful concepts of our time. No one truly knows how it works, yet it is where our humanity comes from, where creativity originates and where original ideas are born. Yet it is also a fragile and frightening thing. A Beautiful Mind, the incredible story of the mathematical genius John Nash, explores the beauty of genius and what happens when one becomes trapped in the power of the mind.

Russell Crowe plays John Nash, an outsider at Princeton University - a man who sees the world in numbers and is considered a genius amongst his peers, yet whose mind betrays him and creates a whole other world that he cannot differentiate from reality. Although I haven't really seen Rusell Crowe in much else, I respect him immensely as an actor, just for this one performance. He plays John Nash with an awkward sensitivity, and with a heart beneath the brains. His slow unravelling as he descends unknowingly into his imagined world is heartbreaking to watch, and his desperation to succeed and control his mind, even when it is beyond control, is by turns inspiring and tragic - yet he never resorts to melodrama, rather he keeps Nash's realness and humanity throughout. Jennifer Connelly is another actor who I haven't seen in much, but again, she has a place in my heart just for this film. She plays Nash's wife with such kindness, perseverance and loyalty that it's impossible not to fall in love with her. The film's various components are all high-class, a well written script, beautiful music by James Horner, yet it is the performances by the two leads that cement it as one of my favourite films. Touching, inspirational, harrowing and funny, it's a well crafted modern masterpiece.

"Imagine if you suddenly learnt that the people, the places, the moments most important to you were not gone, not dead, but worse, had never been. What kind of a hell would that be?"

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Now if she does it like this, will you do it like that?

My playlist to the last couple of weeks. I have a feeling this is becoming slightly repetitive so will try and stop doing it so often but a) it's one o'clock in the morning and I have to be up at eight tomorrow, b) it's been a horrendous day of packing and driving and dragging suitcases and finally being back in Oxford with everything strewn everywhere and my room in a state and c) well, I'm just quite lazy. But the songs are pretty at any rate...

01. Time is Running Out by Muse.
One of my guy friends was very surprised that I listen to stuff like Muse and Pendulum. While I'm not the massive-est fan and certainly prefer my indie acoustic gems, I do have a soft spot for these loud, grating and strangely soulful tunes. Artists such Regina Spektor and The Shins are brilliant, no doubt about it, but this is the sort of music you really become lost in. And this track is just awesome.

02. Better Together by Jack Johnson
But just so no one thinks I'm abandoning my usual tastes, I hav ebeen listening to Jack Johnson on repeat for a long time. So charming.

03. Bubbles by Biffy Clyro
When I first heard this song on the radio it confused me a tad, it seemed like a strange mixture of folk and rock. And in a way I still see it like that, it has the heart behind folk music and the gritty melody of the best of rock. And the lyrics are just lovely.

04. Bad Touch by The Bloodhound Gang
This song is just so funny. And embarrassingly catchy. Warning: the video is frankly weird.

05. Wonderful Life by Hurts
Another case of lovely, and quite profound, lyrics.

06. You Don't Know Me by Ben Folds ft Regina Spektor
An upbeat tune masking more melancholy words, I only first heard this song today but it's already been played a shocking amount of times on my youtube.

07. Shake It by Metro Station
I don't know why but this just makes me so happy. Perfect.

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Did you think that your feet had been bound by what gravity brings to the ground?

These absolutely stunning pictures by French photographer Yann Arthus-Bertrand fill me with such a sense of wanderlust that I usually spend hours afterwards reading travel books and looking up flight costs to anywhere. Just goes to show how much beauty there is in the world if only we trouble to look for it.

Cattle in Argentina

Coal Mine in South Africa

Military cemetery in Verdun, France

Suburbs of Copenhagen, Denmark

Ruins of the medieval city of Shali, Egypt

Epicentre of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan

Freeways in Los Angeles, USA

To see more, click here (the series is called Earth from Above). Some more favourites of mine are the tulip fields in Holland, the lagoon of Venice and colourful fabrics drying in the Indian sun. So so beautiful.

Sunday, 2 January 2011

31. Walk the Line (2005)

The film that showed that Reese Witherspoon is capable of serious poignant acting, the film that made me realise how simply wonderful Joaquin Phoenix is (so wonderful that I still like him quite a bit despite the ridiculous stunt he pulled last year), the film that made me realise that actually, old style country rock'n'roll really isn't too bad, the film that made me lust after gorgeous 50s style dresses designed by the ever-wonderful genius Arianne Phillips, the film that cemented my love for the underrated brilliance of Ginnifer Goodwin, the film that is heart warming, touching, beautiful and real however many times you see it.

God, this is a good film.

"If you was hit by a truck and you was lying out there in that gutter dying, and you had time to sing one song. Huh? One song that people would remember before you're dirt. One song that would let God know how you felt about your time here on Earth. One song that would sum you up. You tellin' me that's the song you'd sing? That same Jimmy Davis tune we hear on the radio all day, about your peace within, and how it's real, and how you're gonna shout it? Or... would you sing somethin' different. Somethin' real. Somethin' you felt. Cause I'm telling you right now, that's the kind of song people want to hear. That's the kind of song that truly saves people. It ain't got nothin to do with believin' in God, Mr. Cash. It has to do with believin' in yourself."