the.applied.process.

wit. honesty. everyday ramblings.

Category: Reviews

The Academy Awards who?

The Metropolitan Museum’s Costume Institute Gala has often been dubbed as “the Oscars of the East Coast” because of it’s impressive and exclusive list of attendees who gallivant down the red carpet donning some of the most expensive garments (all free and borrowed of course) from past, present, and upcoming designers.

And while they differ in that one is an award show and the other is the opening to the annual Fashion exhibit at the Met, it is without a doubt that the red carpet at both is often more entertaining than the event following…  but! who are we kidding here? a motion picture award show can certainly not compete to a fashion exhibit in terms of the attire of its guests… sorry Oscars, we have this one.

Here’s my top picks for my favorite ladies of the evening (in no specific order and not necessarily for good reasons):

Photo credit: Style.com

Sleep No More… or… The Cure to Your Common Insomnia?

Ok maybe I’m being a bit harsh. I am feeling slightly more noncomformist than usual this morning, but still, I have to say I wasn’t sold.

A few weeks ago, my friend asked me if I wanted to go with him to this “thing” he had heard about that was supposed to be amazing. I asked him for the link, read through the webpage which wasn’t very descriptive, and agreed to join him. I am always up for new experiences.

We bought tickets. As the day approached, I read a few reviews here and there. It sounded weird, but possibly fun. It was described as “an interactive performance experience where Shakespeare’s MacBeth meets Hitchcock”. Hmm… this could either bet painstakingly cheesy, or remarkably clever.

Monday April 4th came, and I headed to Chelsea to meet Tiny Narcissus (the alias to this specific friend) along with his friends for the performance. We had our hands stamped and were told to leave our bags and jackets at the coat check. We checked in and were given a playing card, then we proceeded to a 1920’s-esque lobby with bar, a stage, and small tables. I ordered a drink. At the risk of sounding like I have a problem, events like this are usually better enjoyed with a slight buzz.

A lady with a sparkly dress and a bad accent approached us and asked for people who had the “10” card to follow her. Half the group left. I waited for my card to be called, but after a bit I got anxious and asked a man, who I assumed worked there due to his attire, if my card had been called. He advised me to just walk into this other room and ignore the card. Me, Tiny Narcissus, and his friend walked into this cramped space where we were given masks and told not to take them off or speak during the whole experience. Then, an elevator door opened and we were ushered in.  Read the rest of this entry »

Oh Land. Cut/Copy. LCD soundsystem.

So it’s been a crazy couple of weeks. Been very busy, been sort of ill, been sleeping little, been writing nothing… but that changes today… or at least today I decided to take a break, sleep some more, let my stomach rest, and update the blog. Tomorrow we can go back to “normal”.

Also, I’ve been thinking about the blog, and the direction I want to take with it. Let’s just say I’m making it more cohesive. But enough about this… let’s get on to the actual content.

It all started the night of March 29th, the first of 4 intimately beautiful evenings with Danish talent juggernaut couple Nana Øland Fabricius and Eske Kath during their residency at Charles Bank Gallery (or what I like to call work). The previously dark and quiet white cube was now turned into an equally dark, yet radiantly colorful pays des rêves, where industry people, as well as elated fans gathered to listen to Oh Land’s 30 minute “picnic setup” (as she dubbed it) music sets. Oh Land, accompanied by a string quartet, played 6 to 7 of her debut album’s songs, in a more toned down manner that made it feel more personal and cozy.

At first I thought of writing about a specific night, but since I figured plenty of bloggers would take that approach, I decided to take my own approach, and write about the experience as a whole. Each evening was essentially the same, but the slight differences made each night feel fresh, and equally intimate. I truly enjoyed listening to Oh Land’s captivating hymns slowed down and sang in a way that, to me, it felt one-on-one. Melodies like “White Nights” and “Rainbow” have been gleefully stuck in my head since. However, her latest single, “son of a gun”, was especially memorable, since it was the one song that was the most different from it’s original version.

The entire experience came together flawlessly. The welcoming music, along with the cheery art installations (courtesy of Kath), and Oh Land’s incredible stage persona and forward outfits, brought an all together positive feel-good feeling to my slightly ill self (the weekend prior, I had indulged myself in oysters and ended up with a severe case of unsexy food poisoning). to tommelfingre op!!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mala Noche – Review

Last night, after having a nice home cooked spinach fettuccine with faux meat sauce and a bottle of wine, I headed to bed in a serene buzzed bliss. As usual, I woke up about 5 hours later when the effects of my self induced coma wore off. I laid in bed restless, tossing and turning, wrestling the sheets, and constantly repositioning Nigel. After about 40 minutes of unsuccessfully trying to doze back off, I got up and went on facebook. Nothing exciting happens at 6:30 a.m.

I listened to music on youtube. Heaven’s “Another Night”. Amazing song. Amazing song writer. I googled Matt Skiba (of Alkaline Trio fame), and came across a really good interview in which he was talking about watching Lars Von Trier’s “Antichrist”.

Side note – This is how my brain works: another night – matt skiba – antichrist – netflix – gus van sant’s 1985 directorial debut “mala noche”. Why? makes as much sense to me, as being awake at 6:30 in the morning.

As usual, I went on rotten tomatoes and looked at the reviews for the movie: 94%. Not bad. I streamed it, laid the laptop next to me, and laid in bed watching. I have to admit, it was a strange choice. It is black and white, the shots are hard to follow, and if it wasn’t because I spoke Spanish, there would also be the language factor/subtitles. However, it kept me engaged for a good 45 minutes. Then I passed out. *Disclaimer: it wasn’t Mr. Van Sant’s fault, it was my own body refusing to stay up as the sun comes out*

I woke up at noon and finished watching the film.

I quite liked it. Shot entirely in Portland, where Van Sant lives, it is based on the autobiographical novel of the same name by Oregon based poet Walt Curtis. It tells the story of Walt (Tim Streeter), a gay store attendant, who befriends two illegal Mexican teenageres, Johnny (Doug Cooeyate) and Pepper (Ray Monge), who end up being the object of his lust. Him and his friend Betty (Nyla McCarthy) decide to invite the boys over for dinner. The boys have to leave early to meet up with a friend. During the car ride back Walt tries to pursue Johnny to sleep with him for $15. Johnny refuses, and runs to out to meet his friend. Pepper and Walt are left locked outside, so Pepper ends up spending the night at Walt’s and having sex with him. The rest of the movie delves into the complications of the relationship between Walt, and the boys. Language barriers, difference in age, social status, and race further fuel the complexity of the bonds formed.

The characters are all together likeable and somewhat relatable, as well as quite complex. From the “Mexican  dealing with machismo/homophobia issues, yet I’m having sex with a man for ‘money’ but at the end of the day I like it”, to the “suburban American male dealing with his own issues towards his sexuality and looking for ‘love’ in the wrong places only to end up getting emotionally and physically abused time and time again”, Van Sant explored the many subtle layers each one of them has.  The movie seems quite “real” and Van Sant’s way of shooting it is successful at setting the very odd/dirty mood that makes you want to stop watching, but keeps you glued to the screen.

Overall, the perfect movie to watch whenever insomnia strikes. And if you’re as lucky as I am, that happens rather often. No complaints. Glad to have subject matter to write about.

Bill Cunningham New York – Review

Bliss! Pure bliss!

Last Wednesday I migrated my derrier to 209 West Houston (the Film Forum), to meet my lovely friend Jenny for the premiere of Richard Press’s freshman directorial debut Bill Cunningham New York about fashion photographer/maverick trailblazer Bill Cunningham of the New York Times fame.

It is one of the most inspiring, beautifully directed, exquisitely shot, complex yet easy to digest, documentary I’ve seen in a while. To be honest, I vaguely knew who the man was, and I had no idea what an amazing life he’s lived. Richard Press did a splendid job at introducing the mysterious Bill to the rest of the world who might be clueless as to who this bike ridding octogenarian in a blue coat and a 35 mm camera hanging around his neck is.

For such a simple man, Bill’s world is complex. Press captures his daily life riding his schwinn around town, snapping shots of New York fashionistas on the streets, quarreling with his NY Times peers (to ultimately get his way),  interacting with his equally camp and venerable neighbors, trekking to other fashion capitals to snap even more shots of more women’s vêtements, indulging in the least haute of cuisines, and riding his bike yet a few more miles to ultimately end back at his modest, file cabinet ridden apartment at Carnegie Hall.

The documentary keeps you engaged from beginning to end. Bill is an entertaining persona and so is his supporting cast. Interviews with fashion staples like Anna Wintour, Kim Hastreiter, and Annette de la Renta, show that the fashion world has nothing but praise for a man who, despite many unsuccessful attempts from many a suitors, has never sold out and remains true to his vision: photographing clothes and the women who wear them regardless of who they are.

Aside from Bill’s career, Press also shows other aspects of Bill’s life, like his struggle with getting evicted from his apartment where he’s lived for many years, and receiving the title of Chevaliere de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture, an award that has Bill looking terribly charming as he gives his acceptance speech in French. The documentary captivates in many different levels the whole 84 minutes.

Press is very respectful about the way he documents Bill’s life. The pivotal point, for me, comes towards the end of the film when Press asked two very personal questions to Bill, both of which Mr. Cunningham answers in an utterly professional manner. It is at this point that I was left speechless and in awe. If one is not in love with Bill by now, this moment would be the last push needed to be so.

I left the theatre, as I’m sure the rest of us did. Inspired. Delighted. Satisfied. And with a big smile on my face. This was true documentary excellence at its best.

Les Amours Imaginaires – Review

Les Amours Imaginaires (Heartbeats as it is known this side of the border) is the latest endeavor of Quebecois boy wonder Xavier Dolan. It is the story of two friends, Francis (Dolan) and Marie (Monia Chokri), who fall in love for the same blonde next door socialite of ambiguous sexuality, Nicolas, played by Niels Schneider. Without giving much of the film’s plot, as both friends fall deeper and deeper, this infatuation creates a strain on their friendship with each other, as well as their own personal self discovery.

Overall, the film is very entertaining and easy on the eye. I enjoyed it. However, upon post-film scrutiny, I did have a few issues with the way Dolan filmed it, and the tricks he used to make it subconsciously appealing. For example, there were a handful too many slow-mo scenes. I’ll be the first to say it: who doesn’t enjoy a good slow-mo scene with a superb soundtrack on the background? Guilty. But when they are as numerous as they are in this case, I couldn’t help but wonder if maybe Dolan, at his tender age of 22, might be a bit unexperienced to have more tricks up his sleeve.

Another matter that caught my eye (literally) was the color contrast and the intense hues used in anything from the sets to the wardrobe. Again, brilliant when used sparsely, which he failed to do. It reminded me of A Single Man, by freshman director Tom Ford, who also might’ve indulged himself a bit much in doing so. The technique works. And it works best when edited properly.

Props go to Monia Chokri, who is unbelievably attractive despite her “sad girl hopelessly looking for love and validation from men” demeanor. She looks ravishingly sexy in her 1960’s vintage outfits, makeup, and hair, and her je ne sais quoi attitude.  She manges to outshine both her costars. A complete standout.

The soundtrack itself was beautifully curated. From the trailer track Bang Bang by Dalida, to the upbeat Belgian party tune Exactement by Vive La Fête, to the hauntingly exquisite sounds of Fever Ray’s Keep the Streets Empty for me, it stands out on its own as well as compliments each scene entirely.

The film definitely deserves praise, as it has already received it, but not with a blind eye. Dolan is young, and there is no doubt he has talent. Talent that will surely get fine tuned with experience and time. I’ve yet to watch his directorial debut J’ai tué ma mère, which has also been highly celebrated, and thanks to Heartbeats I’m intrigued. I will definitely be adding it to my netflix cue (when it becomes available).