Friday, July 8, 2016

The Neon Demon


Oh, what's this? A review on a recent and relevant film? Could it be? 


Yesterday I decided to go watch the new Nicolas Winding Refn movie, The Neon Demon (this is the same mastermind that brought you the neon neo-noir masterpiece, Drive). Needless to say, I adored it. Now, I should start by mentioning that this is not a movie for everyone. In fact, most audiences will probably loathe it. It's gritty, gory, and absolutely outrageous.There are scenes involving necrophilia, cannibalism,  and extreme violence. It makes you feel uncomfortable, leaves you absolutely stunned, and you're briefly left wondering what it is you just watched. Unlike Drive, which had genuine mass appeal, there's a reason The Neon Demon doesn't have showings all over town. However, that being said, I found all of it surprisingly tasteful. A proper art-house flick that's wrapped in a beautiful and luxurious sensory overload for your eyes. 




The plot should seem quite easy to follow, a doe-eyed runaway teenager comes to LA with dreams of becoming a model. Kind of like how he did with
Drive, Refn leaves us wondering about the main character, not telling us anything about where she came from or what her previous life was like. Along the way she encounters a catty group of older models who will stop at nothing to get to her rising level of success. I really hate spoiling films or over-explaining them, so this is all I'm saying.

 I do want to point out that being such an out-of-the-box movie, it's extremely open to interpretation. I was looking at some reviews prior to watching it, and everyone described Jesse (the lead, played by Elle Fanning) as coming across as extremely innocent when we first see her. After watching the movie, I really didn't find that to be the case. Right off the bat she says some pretty unsettling things, I would even say that early on she comes across as extremely narcissistic (which I suppose one can also chalk up to being really young and inexperienced). Honestly, I was okay with that. I liked that she was a character that I couldn't decide whether or not I hated. I wouldn't say I liked her, something about her made her very offputting. At the same time though, in a weird way you're rooting for her too. I always love films like this since you're left analyzing them later, and torn with your emotions. 



Refn is such a genius in my opinion, and the symbolism and motifs littered throughout are a delight to dwell upon after. There's a scene in the movie which I guess you could look at as Jesse's full "transformation" where she sheds whatever childlike qualities she has left. She's in a prestigious fashion show and just before she walks, Refn cuts to an entirely different angle; we're now watching the show from Jesse's perspective. Nowhere do you see her walking down a runway, but instead she's facing two other versions of herself in a triangle, kissing her reflection. The triangle is a constant symbol in the movie, and reading into that one could say that it's a symbol of power. 


Along with the symbolism, the movie is just gorgeous. It truly feels like you're watching a piece of art.The long, panning camera shots, the dark and neon landscapes, even the dull daytime shots all contribute to this nasty and cold world. The colour palette is a constant red and blue with a couple of scenes including strobe lights that leave you feeling like you're in a trance. Next to the cinematography you're looking at also probably the best score in a movie heard in a while. Cliff Martinez totally kills it, making the whole package come together. 



I also think its worthwhile to note the very cool homages Refn makes. The camera pans slowly like it would in
The Shining, while the colour palette, art-house vibes, and female cast are a direct comparison to Argento's '70s horror masterpiece, Suspiria. Some have even drawn similarities to Lynch's Mulholland Drive, and all of this rings true. It's a movie for the intellectual movie buff.

I thought The Neon Demon was phenomenal. The whole thing is a raw and disturbing metaphor about our constant pursuit of beauty (as stated in the film, "beauty is not everything, it's the only thing") and the violent depths we'll go to achieve it, either through terrorizing others or ourselves. And even that explanation? That's just scratching at the surface of an absolutely hypnotic and provocative film.
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Monday, July 4, 2016

Deadbeat Summer



crop top ; Forever21
bra ; Calvin Klein 
shorts ; thrifted
shoes ; 8th & Main 

I love, love, loooove vibrant reds like the one on this top. In combination with the blue it's kind of giving me like a sort of '70s vibe that I'm really digging. 

I wore this little number on a day trip to an
antique mall a few towns over. If you live in the Vancouver area, I highly recommend checking it out. I definitely should have taken photos but I was too busy squealing over all the '50s, '60s, and '70s memorabilia (naturally) and wondering about whether or not I need certain things, like a cat clock, or a Pepsi neon sign. 

I could totally spend all day browsing through antiques or going through yard sales picking at junk. I'll have to do a post showcasing some of my best antique finds since I'm very proud of them and and definitely want to show off a little bit. Ooops?


Happy Monday (and 4th of July to my American friends)! 


xo






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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Belladonna of Sadness


I found I had a really tough time deciding how to start this post. How does one even explain Belladonna of Sadness? Pardon my French, but it's fucking bizarre. Produced by Osamu Tezuka and directed by Eiichi Yamamoto in 1973, this Japanese animated gem is striking; equal parts erotic, beautiful, and disturbing. K
eep in mind this was made by the same director who did KIMBA THE WHITE LION. A Japanese children's show that Disney later used as the basis (or carbon copy) to the Lion King. Excuse me? It's totally baffling these two things came from the same director. Can we all pause and appreciate what a curveball that is?

Right so, let's talk about this the best we can since there's a lot going on and you just kind of gape at the screen for an hour and thirty three minutes. In summation, a young woman and her fiance are totally in love and on their wedding night she gets raped by the town lord. Lots of tears and trauma ensue (naturally), and she decides to make a pact with a rather phallic devil in order to take revenge. When I say "rather" I mean things are pretty obvious. "You're so small!" She exclaims as she holds him in her hands. A couple rubs later and whaddya know, he's grown. In fact, this whole movie is basically a psychedelic sexual romp. It's rather interesting and beautiful to watch, a mixture of watercolours and stills and very vivid imagery. 



A plethora of colours, oddly enough I left the movie thinking, "well, that was rather depressing." It's a story about a woman extensively repressed and exploited by a feudal society. Her name is Jeanne, and her fate is eerily similar to that of Joan of Arc's. Coincidence
? Hmm. The film also walks a very dangerous line between being over-the-top pornographic and beautifully animated. This is supposed to be uncomfortable. This is supposed make you feel uneasy. It's avant-garde and I like it.



Jeanne is also GORGEOUS. Oddly enough I don't think I've ever been so attracted to an animated being. A long and slender frame with big eyes and voluminous
 hair that I can only dream of having, Jeanne is perfection. Especially after she gets her revenge on the town lord and a little bit, ahem, riled up, does she become even more interesting. For whatever reason her hair changes colour in every scene too. Go figure. 

Also to note, THE MUSIC. A crazy psychedelic rock score produced by Masahiko Satoh, in combination with the practically seizure inducing scenes, is such an obvious '70s delight. As I'm typing this I'm coyly smiling too since everyone knows exactly what I'm talking about and it's actually pretty cool to watch. Even go see it just for that.




I was lucky enough to view this for the first time since it was released to North American audiences a few weeks ago. I can see how this may not sit well with a modern-day crowd as it's really weird in some of the scenes not to mention with flashing colours making it look like a massive acid trip. Besides all that though, it's a film that really speaks to the merging of Western and Eastern influences. A
s if one applied watercolours to the illustrative genius of Beardsley mixed with the producer being an anime legend, this movie is like nothing I've seen before. Tragically, shortly after the release of this movie, the production house that created it, Mushi, went bankrupt. It's nice to see it's finally getting it's spot in the in the limelight, even if it's at least from the die-hard movie buffs out there.

Are you going to like Belladonna of Sadness? I'm really not sure. Honestly, I don't even know if I liked it. I respect it for what it is, and I think it's a landmark of Japanese cinema. It's something that I definitely believe should be watched, if anything for the cultural significance it has. 


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Friday, June 17, 2016

'90s Vibin'



I really adore looser-fitting midi/maxi dresses for those almost-summer days where you're growing impatient and definitely don't want to wear pants anymore but it's still too cold to prance around in shorts or mini-skirts. This little gem I found at House of Vintage (instagram) a few weeks ago in Portland and I love the cute little '90s printed floral! I totally wanna wear it as a 90s throwback with a white tee layered under, am I right? 

House of Vintage was beyond rad. They have over 60 dealers within 13,000 square feet of the store. It's jam-packed with vintage pieces from the 20s to the 90s and houseware and knickknacks everywhere. It's the loveliest goldmine I've ever been to.

In other news it's that time again for my early summer cold to kick in. It's like my body's telling me, "oh you really want to get a head start on summer while it's still cold out? Okay no problem, it's your funeral." Aaaaand now I'm left with a sore throat and feeling insanely congested. Vancouver always does this, the cheeky minx. A bit of a tantalizing tease with the warm weather and sun and then bam, back to rain for a month. What gives?

Anyone have their own go-to pre-summer outfit?



Dress ; Thrifted (Portland - House of Vintage)
Shoes ; Converse
Jacket ; Aritzia 
Glasses ; H&M
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Monday, June 13, 2016

Top 5 Essential '70s Horrors that Any Self-Respecting Horror Fan Must Know



Alright folks, I've been on a bit of '70s horror movie binge recently - there's been film festivals in town, random showings of horror flicks, and just general delight at watching some good ol' fashioned gore at home.

I thought it would be
so much fun to do a post about some of my top, essential 1970's horrors that I think everybody should definitely watch. There's something just so goofy and entertaining about watching old-school gory cinema, not to mention the wonderful throwback to the costume design and set decoration that's so great to see from that era.


1. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre - (1974) 




This is such a staple, but genuinely a horror that strikes so much unsettling fear, nnngh.  The movie isn't too long, and not much happens for the longest time besides building a gradual unease among the viewer. 

The movie is super simple: a group of kids are travelling throughout the backwoods of Texas and run across a family of cannibals that go on a killing spree, chainsaws and all. The plot is weak but decent, a staple for slashers to come. What makes this movie such a gem and such a classic is the building of anxiety and the sensory overload experience; the rich colours, the eerie blacks and darkness. This film traumatizes near the end, after the initial build-up some of the scenes are so sadistic and so raw, you can't help but stare as the mania unfolds. This movie is definitely a landmark for any horror movie buff. 


Uh, a
lso, near the end the chase scene between Leatherface  and one of the girls is beyond insane. As far as I recall he chases her around for an obscenely long amount of time and  you wonder how the hell she keeps on running. Bless her gazelle-like qualities.

Pssst...
 for all you fashion readers, the outfits the girls wear in the movie are unreal. The red shorts and the lace up halters, such treats and gems. Uffffffff! 

2. Susperia - 1977




Yet again, a super simple plot, but creepy nightmare that comes to life where you simply cannot look away. Susperia is an Italian masterpiece that revolves around an American student that travels to Germany to attend an exclusive ballet school. Once she gets there, students start to disappear, murders occur, and there's just gruesome violence all around.

Filmed in insanely bright technicolour, and a soundtrack that won't ever stop pounding directly at you
LOUDLY, you can't help but feel a sense of nervousness that resonates with you long after the movie is over. Seriously though - the colours are so in-your-face and murders so vivid, this is truly a orgy of visuals. 



3. I Drink your Blood - 1970




A group of hippies go nuts on an teeny tiny sleepy town and a young boy decides to get revenge - with menacing results. 

This movie is such a B classic. I saw it at a exploitation movie festival a few months ago and couldn't stop grinning. It was so goofy and over-the top, it was genuinely beyond awesome. Made for audiences going to drive-ins for exploitation flicks, the movie is sleazy and ridiculous, but it doesn't stop you from having fun and enjoying the ride. The movie definitely has some tense moments, but it's also hilarious; it's definitely a retro classic. I couldn't do a list of 1970s horrors without doing at a least one cheesy but memorable gorefest like
I Drink your Blood. I mean seriously, hippies gone rabid and foaming at the mouth? Excuse me? What's not to love? 



4. Dawn of the Dead - 1978




Ah, George A. Romero. The godfather of all zombie movies. This is one of those rare instances where the sequel is actually better than the original. One interesting thing to note about this zombie delight is Romero's super obvious jab at consumerism; a shopping mall filled with mindless zombies stumbling about. I think that's pretty rad - a horror movie with some social commentary and underlying themes that were evident in the '70s and even today.

Unlike some of the other movies on this list, this movie isn't a typical "Oh my God, something is going to pop out from around the corner and spook you" sort of thing, you actually become invested in main characters. Becoming emotionally attached and not wanting them to get gobbled up is what keeps you anxious throughout. 


Sure, the zombies look a bit goofy with the blue facepaint, but Romero is a legend and this movie is a zombie staple that paved the way for many others to come.

5. House (Hausu) - 1977



Right, so. This is one of those indescribable experiences that you're just kind of in awe in while it's happening, and left even more confused about what the hell you just watched afterwards. You don't know why you like it, or why you're grinning, but you definitely know it's something you need to see again. And again. And again. I had the treat of watching this little Japanese psychedelic explosion a few months ago in theatres, and it made absolutely no sense. Who cares though, I've never seen a movie like this before ever and I definitely wasn't anywhere close to bored. 

A bunch of schoolgirls head to an aunt's house in the country and slowly get hacked off one by one. Sounds simple enough, but throw in a demonic cat, a bunch of awkward animation, and scenes that don't make any sense all together, and you've got yourself an
experience. It's a horror, it's a comedy, it's a fantasy all packaged up in this absurd cult classic that everyone needs to experience at least once.  


Outraged that I missed something? Or too busy thinking, "Hey, Marta, you're right on the money", let me know what some of your favourite old-school horrors may be.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Deadbeat Summer


Ooooh yes. It's finally summer in Vancouver. So incredibly giddy to be frolicking out in the sun and finally making use of our glorious beaches. 

Really been hitching a ride on the '90s trend recently, and have been Calvin Klein obsessed. Love this cute little top I scored at Urban Outfitters.


Top : Calvin Klein
Choker : H&M
Shorts : Levi's
Glasses : H&M
Bag : Thrifted
Watch : Casio

I've been lusting for some fun this summer and have decided to try my hand at urban exploring! There's so many ghost towns around British Columbia to explore...I'd kill for nice adventure. I'm looking into Sandon and Phoenix, two abandoned little mining towns that are pretty much intact. Will have to update with photos once I get this little puppy of a trek sorted.

If anyone is interested in exploring these lovely two BC ghost towns, see the link here for more details.




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