Anya's collection was my favorite, overall. When the music came on and the first dress went down the runway, I was enthralled. Sure, it was a one-dimensional collection, but it was beautiful.
I also really liked Viktor's stuff. The problem was that he had two opposing themes going on in his collection...If only he had stuck with his original ideas and not added all the random sheer stuff...
Scientific illustration is a lost art. Back in the day, when scientists didn't have cameras to take pictures of microscope images or anatomy, they drew. And those drawings are some of my favorites - think Gray's anatomy-level detail.
Greg Dunn is one of those people bringing back the art of scientific images. He's a neuroscientist working on his doctorate at UPenn, and paints neurons in the Asian sumi-e style on the side. His works are so free...and yet so incredibly, meticulously, thought out. It's pure elegance.
Glomerulus, commissioned by the University of Pennsylvania
My parents didn't really listen to ABBA when I was little, and so when the Mamma Mia! musical came out when I was in middle school, I naturally memorized the soundtrack (London cast) and not the original songs. In fact, I listened to that CD so much that I've memorized all the little bits of dialogue embedded in the music and know the track listing order by heart...
The movie was not my favorite as far as soundtracks go, but there's one song that I really do enjoy - Amanda Seyfried's rendition of "Thank You For The Music." It's not in the actual movie - it's a hidden track played at the end - but there's some mesmerizing, easy quality about it. I can almost picture her on some stage in a long shimmering dress (gold?), nothing but her, the spotlight, and the pianist.
I'm also just putting a bunch of posts in the queue...yay lunch breaks (when else do you have time to relax for half an hour?!). It's been a bad week, and my weekend is bound to be busy busy busy. Don't you just love exams on a Monday?!
A few weeks ago I saw Lech Majewski's film, The Mill and the Cross - quite simply, a masterpiece. The film is based off of Pieter Bruegel's painting, The Way to Calvary, and follows the story of 12 of the 500 or so people in the painting.
It's not your traditional film, though. The Mill and the Cross, despite having characters, does not have a particular story line as in Girl with a Pearl Earring or other films that are based on works of art. In fact, the dialogue is sparse (the first spoken words are half an hour into the movie, and even then the man speaks to the audience, not to his wife, who instead sits and reads her book, oblivious to his words). The emphasis instead goes on the sounds in everyday life - a servant clomping up the huge flight of stairs in the mill, the thunder of horses' hooves as the red-caped Spanish military men ride into sight, the rustle of papers as the artist looks through his sketches.
The lack of words also has another effect - an unnerving one. As the Spanish beat up a guy on his way to market, strap him to a wheel, raise that wheel several meters into the air on a pole, and leave his eyes to be eaten by the ravens, they do not speak. And neither does the victim. It's an incredibly powerful and cringe-worthy scene of cold detachment on the soldiers' end and hopeless submission on the man's end.
Cinematographically speaking, the balance (and ambiguity) between reality and painterliness is mesmerizing. Majewski actually used a blue screen for some key scenes - like the beginning. He painted the backdrop (the skies and landscape) and added that in later. Crazy, huh? The result is that of seeing people moving around inside the painting. It's not necessarily stepping into the painting - but rather seeing the painting coming alive...and trying to swallow us up.
So basically...the movie is a must-see, perhaps even for those who are not art enthusiasts. It has some very powerful scenes, and really gives you an appreciation for the artist (and the Dutch who lived through Philip II's inquisition).
I've been excited about this Betsey Johnson show ever since I found out about it (and got a press pass) a month ago. So excited that I somehow got it into my head that it was yesterday, not today. Yup, that was interesting. Going through the rain in really painful flats, getting there dry but slightly out of breath...and walking into some sort of arts awards ceremony/reception (I thought it seemed a little to tame for Betsey Johnson...). Whoops.
Today it was far more festive at the Cyclorama, Boston Center for the Arts. First off, I hate to make the comparison, but I felt like I was at a more commercial, less posh (but still posh) version of the pink party in last season's Gossip Girl. Of course, I wasn't one of Them, a special Upper East Side trust fund baby. Rather, more like a Brooklynite (albeit a far less cool one).
Speaking of fitting in, here's a word about fashion at fashion shows. (Based off my one experience, haha). Seriously, unless you want to be Seen, and want to actually take pictures with your besties there and try to take a picture with Betsey just to show how awesome and posh you are, you don't have to dress up ridiculously. And if you are one of those press people, then just wear whatever is most comfortable. People will ignore you anyway. I know it pains our fragile egos to think that, but it's true. I wore black skinny jeans, black boots, a silky t-shirt type top, short leather jacket, and black and white polka dot/leopard dots scarf. I ditched my cutesy little jumpsuit in favor of a-little-better-looking-than-everyday-comfort (the jumpsuit's fine, but the shoes are not), and didn't regret it a bit. Of course, men are safest with a blazer etc. Unless you are the type to go in drag (yes, there was one of those).
Once I was there, I forgot about all my fashion dilemmas and began to focus on my camera. Yes, intelligent me has not used this new fancy schmantzy camera enough to have it completely mastered, and it took me a while to figure out how to switch between different modes.
Before the show - retro models pose on blocks as people mingle around drinking drinks and eating hors d'oeuvres.
So there I was, looking ridiculous as I started messing with the buttons on my camera. It got worse when the show started. I totally didn't realize that the runway would be THAT bright, so I had to change modes again, several times, during the show (all while standing on tiptoe behind a crowd of other media people).
It was during this time, and after I got into the rhythm of CALM DOWN, STOP PRESSING DOWN THAT SHUTTER BUTTON LIKE AN IDIOT BEFORE THE MODEL IS AT THE END OF RUNWAY that I realized that a fashion show looks much different through the lens of a camera. You watch the models come down the runway through your little digital screen, then you wait for them to get to the right place so you can snap the picture, put your camera down and rest your arms for a few seconds. Only then can you see the runway with your naked eye, so to speak, and see that the models are so much closer than they were when you had your camera up, and notice all the little details that you missed on the screen.
To clear things up, my press pass was not for this blog (I'm not cool enough for that yet, probably). I promise that I did actually take some really good pictures, I just can't put them up here.
I'm taking a class on the Vikings this semester, and it's definitely one of my favorites. A few weeks ago we watched the 1958 movie The Vikings (pretty corny, but an entertaining watch). Today, as we were talking about ideal Viking men and women, we started thinking about what actors and actresses we would cast in a Viking movie. I couldn't really think of anyone right then, so naturally I'm still considering the question. If I were to remake The Vikings - a grittier version, obviously - who would be my leading men and ladies?
Then I realized that I would probably end up picking half the cast of King Arthur, just because it's easier to visualize Vikings when they're already in medieval getup. Not to mention Stellan Skarsgård, who actually does play a Viking in the movie.
pretty scary stuff, huh?
Second realization: everyone else would have been in Lord of the Rings (i.e. Viggo Mortenson and Miranda Otto), or at least of Scandinavian descent.
My conclusions? There's a reason why I'm not in the film industry. But I do want to see King Arthur again (along with Robin Hood, Kingdom of Heaven, Lord of the Rings...)
I've recently discovered the work of Sergei Mikhailovich Prokudin-Gorskii, a Russian chemist and photographer who developed a technique - in the early 20th century, no less - to produce color photographs. He used a camera that took a series of three monochrome images, using red, green and blue filters; later, these images could be recombined and projected with filtered lanterns to show near-true color images.
Thanks to the Library of Congress (beginning in 2000), and photographer Walter Frankhauser and computer scientist Blaise Aguera y Arcas, we can now see composites of the original surviving negatives provided by Prokudin-Gorskii's heirs. It's simply astounding...
Bashkir switchman near Ust-Katav, 1910
Mid-18 century Trinity Monastery in Tyumen, ca. 1912
Young Russian peasant woman in a rural area along the Sheksna River near the small town of Kirillov
LAST WEEK was the week of catching up on random movies (in between doing touristy stuff in LA). We ended up not going to the Natural History Museum/La Brea Tar Pits, or to LACMA, but some other time, I guess. It was simply too hot to leave the house!!
Did You Hear About the Morgans - cute, but I probably wouldn't choose to see it again. Sarah Jessica Parker does not play the most likeable character, and Hugh Grant, while funny, is better in movies like Notting Hill and Music & Lyrics.
Last Chance Harvey - very well done. Dustin Hoffman was kind of annoying in the film (or rather, his character had quite a few wince-worthy moments and characteristics), but I love Emma Thompson. Quite simply, she is such a fantastic actress who can make anything worth watching.
The Last Legion - yet another King Arthur-themed alternative prequel, featuring an Indian master warrior from Constantinople (seriously. that in itself was just awesome)...There's also Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, and the ever-adorable Thomas Brodie-Sangster.
The Visitor - easily one of the best films I've seen this summer. I hadn't seen any of the actors before, but they were all incredible. It's one of those films that's sad and happy at the same time, and it opened up my eyes to a world that I know little about...
Breakfast at Tiffany's - a classic, of course, and the first time I've seen it! Shame on me, I know. Admittedly it did not quite live up to my expectations. Besides the really awkward parts with the Caucasian guy depicting (in quite an uncomplimentary way) the angry Asian neighbor (though I suppose that's just how it was in the movies those days), I feel like the movie just dragged. There were just too many ridiculous scenes showing how ridiculous Audrey Hepburn's character was. The first group of scenes that I really liked was when Holly and Paul go out in the city and take turns doing things they've never done before. The scene with the sales clerk at Tiffany's was pretty funny :)
Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story - one of those feel-good, kid-overcomes-odds-to-become-rich-and-famous stories, except better, because he becomes a neurosurgeon! Outstanding performances, especially by Kimberly Elise as Ben Carson (Cuba Gooding Jr)'s mother.
Annie Hall - admittedly, another classic I only just saw for the first time....I loved it, although it was funniest in the first half hour. After that, Alvy's pure neuroticism started to become a little less funny and and little more frustrating.
We went to the Hammer Museum (at UCLA) on a Thursday because there's free admission every. single. Thursday. All day.
The one reason why I wanted to go? John Singer Sargent's portrait of Dr. Pozzi at home. I had read about in Strapless, and become fascinated. For sure, the painting did not disappoint.
Other favorites were Van Gogh's Hospital at Saint-Remy (of course), Gustave Moreau's Salome Dancing before Herod, and Honore Daumier's series of bronze caricature busts of famous Frenchmen (the clay originals are in the Musee d'Orsay).
The museum itself was a lovely surprise, too. They have so many changing exhibits, and there's also this beautiful open-air atrium in the middle of the museum, too. Only in Southern California, right? Seriously though, Westwood is a really nice area. Even for my standards. We even stopped by a Yogurtland before we went back. I personally think Yogurtland is better than the Yozen Frogurt place we go to at home. They had the cutest Hello Kitty spoons, too!
Tuesday's trip to the Pacific Design Center in LA, and MOCA, was a first for me. Highly recommended!! (Of course, it seems like I'm highly recommending everything now....but still). It's an interesting mix of cool architecture, bright colors, and...upscale furniture places. I saw this really awesome chair with cutouts made to look like tree branches...didn't see who the designer was though. Maybe I'll find out eventually. Because if I'm going to splurge on a really expensive piece of furniture, I'd be tempted to buy that chair.
Unfortunately I really don't have very great pictures....and not many pictures...went with my parents...felt rushed...now I regret not taking the time to take good pictures...oh well.
The George Herms exhibit at MOCA was pretty cool - collages.
Of course, the whole reason why I went was the Miranda July exhibit - which was set on the rolling lawns (literally - a cross section of the lawn would show a series of semicircles laid next to one another). Eleven Heavy Things (on view until Oct 23) was first installed in Union Square Park, NYC, in 2010. It seemed right at home (though lonely - not very many people there when we went) at the Pacific Design Center, and we had a lot of fun taking pictures with the sculptures.
I just finished reading this book - a New York Times bestseller - by Jamie Ford (http://www.jamieford.com/). Despite having read a lot of very excellent books this summer, I can safely say that this is one of the best books I have read - all year. It tells the story of a Chinese boy an a Japanese girl in Seattle during World War II, and switches back and forth, from that wartime era to forty years later, when the new owner of the Panama Hotel (which had been boarded up for decades) finds the belongings of Japanese families who were sent to internment camps. Phew, that was a long sentence!
The book itself is a fast read (I started it and finished it in less than a day), not confusing at all - the relationships depicted by Ford are complex, but so sensitively rendered and so real. The narration focuses around Henry, the Chinese boy, and consequently gives an interesting view of the events surrounding the Japanese internment - the view of a person tormented because of his race, and during World War II, often mistaken for "the enemy." The conflict between the generations (young Henry's father, a Chinese nationalist who knew of the treatment of the Chinese people under the Japanese, harbored a deep hatred for the Japanese. Later on, Henry and his own son must deal with problems of communication and general understanding of one another).
Most important are the friends in unlikely places, in troubled times. Yes, I know that sounds cliche. But it's true.
The Seattle Times called it "a wartime-era Chinese-Japanese variation on Romeo and Juliet." Having read the entire book, I can see an amalgamation of the best parts of my favorite stories - even a bit of the story line of Claire and Lorenzo in Letters to Juliet (under graver circumstances, of course).
It's hard for me to say any more about it, but Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet is a worthwhile read for everybody. May I say I might recommend this reading even more than I would recommend The Elegance of the Hedgehog?
Finished work on Friday...now it's time to relax for a few weeks before school starts again!
Things on the "to-do-in-LA" list:
Natural History Museum/La Brea Tar Pits
LACMA. and possibly see the Tim Burton exhibit, which closes Oct 31.
MOCA. we have a family membership that we need to activate. I want to go to as many MOCA locations as possible. The MOCA at the Pacific Design Center, for example, has a Miranda July exhibit/installation that should be interesting.
I've not been to any of these museums, so it should be fun :)
Upon learning that a movie based on The Elegance of the Hedgehog (entitled The Hedgehog) is coming out soon, I've been reminded that this book has been on my to-read list for quite some time now. It also started me on a whole train of thought about the Hedgehog and the Fox ("The fox knows many things, but the hedgehog knows one big thing"), but that's a whole other story.
Anyways, I finished reading The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery yesterday, and, despite my absolute love for Terry Pratchett humor, this was one of the best books I've read in a while. I mean, I can see how it was a NY Times bestseller.
One of my kinds of books exactly - completely relatable narrators and lots of philosophising: about Art, beauty, life.....yup, the kinds of things I like to think about, plus the kinds of things that I don't know enough about to philosophize about. And all in gorgeous prose. Admittedly I cried at the end of the book, but it wasn't one of those completely despairing endings. Bittersweet. But not completely depressing. (For example, I didn't feel as depressed as I did when I read Girl in Translation, which isn't even supposed to be that depressing, I don't think). The ending was sad, yes, but it held so much hope. So. Much. Hope. And redemption.
I mean, who can't love a book that waxes poetic on the joy of drinking tea for a page and a half?
"Yes, the world may aspire to vacuousness, lost souls mourn beauty, insignificance surrounds us. Then let us drink a cup of tea. Silence descends, one hears the wind outside, autumn leaves rustle and take flight, the cat sleeps in a warm pool of light. And, with each swallow, time is sublimed."
and a bit on architecture:
"An open door introduces a break in the room, a sort of provincial interference, destroying the unity of space. In the adjoining room it creates a depression, an absolutely pointless gaping hole adrift in a section of wall that would have preferred to remain whole. In either case a door disrupts continuity, without offering anything in exchange other than freedom of movement, which could easily be ensured by another means. Sliding doors avoid such pitfalls and enhance space. Without affecting the balance of the room, they allow it to be transformed. When a sliding door is open, two areas communicate without offending each other. When it is closed, each regains its integrity. Sharing and reunion can occur without intrusion."
and about the food critic who lives in the building (who, by the way, is the focus in Barbery's novel Gourmet Rhapsody - which I'm reading next):
"To write entire pages of dazzling prose about a tomato - for Pierre Arthens reviews foods as if he were telling a story, and that alone is enough to make him a genius - without ever seeing or holding the tomato is a troubling display of virtuosity. I have often wondered, as I watch him go by with his huge arrogant nose: Can one be so gifted and yet so impervious to the presence of things?"