Friday, 16 August 2013

Spotlight Review- Submarine (2010)

'My name is Oliver Tate..'

Like a snail cuddled into it's shell, 15 year old introvert Oliver Tate (Craig Roberts) feels at home snuggled into his beloved navy duffle coat - an object of comfort and protection from a world he feels so disillusioned and lost in. Believing himself to be widely adored and a undiscovered genius  Oliver is blindly unaware that he is actually just a pretentious pariah.  Like many British youths (yes, we aren't all gangsters living it rough on the streets of Camden) Oliver still longs to find something....anything to make him feel alive.

It is this whimsical little oddball who serves as both our unlikely hero and narrator...we follow his quest to find purpose and fulfillment  within the vast blustery realms of a sleepy seaside town. His mother and father (brilliantly acted by Sally Hawkins and Noah Taylor) are also stuck in a passionless marital rut and the arrival of his mother's eccentric ex flame (Paddy Considine), who moves in next door, does much to rouse Oliver's suspicions. With his parent's marriage at stake and his non-existent social life tipping off the edge Oliver feels perpetually trapped.

Life, however, starts to look up for our awkward hero when he exchanges glances with fellow outcast Jordanna Bevan- a pyromaniac with a dry sense of humour and a taste for polaroid pictures. Together they embark on a tentative romance, with Oliver vowing to be the perfect boyfriend. As they chase each other round a deserted fairground, setting off fireworks, the audience gets the sense that this quirky couple has a bright future...just waiting to explode.

The gloriously subdued soundtrack composed and sung by Arctic Monkeys heartthrob Alex Turner adds to the warm atmospheric tone and provides the perfect backdrop for sweet drama that ensues. As Turner croons his trademark nonsesual lyrics: 'i etched the face of a stopwatch on the back of a raindrop...' Oliver's life begins to unfold. He has the girl... but now he has to try and keep her. After adopting some seriously unorthodox methods to ensure his parents stay together and that Jordanna will still like him, Oliver is set to learn some tough lessons in life and love..

Littered with unexpected pleasures, this quirky venture by Ayoade breathes fresh air into a stagnant genre, proving coming-of-age flicks need not be riddled with cliches. Originality certainly triumphs. The comedy is silky smooth, while the fresh acting talents of the young leads (Roberts and Paige) guides the narrative steadily to its brilliant conclusion. Another must for any indie cinema fans!

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Spotlight Review- Vicky Cristina Barcelona

As I am currently melting into my short shorts I had a sudden rush...(an epiphany perhaps?) to write a review of a gloriously summery film to get me in the mood for holiday season! Woody Allen's 2008 perky offering, set against the beautiful backdrop of Barcelona, is so wonderfully balanced and provides such easy viewing for a hot summer afternoon. Pour out the Pimms and snuggle into a comfy sofa because our director wishes to take you on a journey.

In Woody Allen's Barcelona... the people are amourous and seductive, the food, scrumptious and tempting, while the the sights are..well, beyond glorious.  He plans to entice you in... encouraging you to become enamoured by both the characters and their surroundings.

   The narrative follows two best friends, vacationing in Barcelona, eager to have a break away from their hectic city lives. Vicky (Rebecca Hall) is engaged to the reliable Doug, and is a firm realist, whose aspirations in life are down-to-earth and traditional, while Cristina (Scarlett Johansson), is far more fanatical and spontaneous, refusing to be tied down by love and commitment. *Enter* an bohemian artist Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem- YES PLEASE) who attempts to sweep both girls of their feet, by offering to accompany them to the cultural city of Oviedo, where (in his words) 'they can take photographs and make love'. Eager to explore life as a free spirit, the charismatic stranger induces stirrings of curiosity within the impressionable Cristina while Vicky, is impassive to his request, sensing his interest towards them is little more than empty lust. Nevertheless, against Vicky's better judgement, the girls do eventually follow him to Oviedo; a trip that results in both of them falling for him (its Javier. Lets be honest..who wouldn't?). 

With the two ladies smitten, it's a waiting game to see which one is destined to win the spaniard's affections; a feat further intensified by the introduction of Juan Antonio's strikingly beautiful yet damaged ex-wife Maria-Elena (Penelope Cruz), whom he still feels perpetually draw to. Cruz delivers an Oscar worthy performance as this fragile yet altogether fiery and passionate woman, driven mad by her search to find the 'missing piece' in her past relationship ('We came so close to perfection you and I' she hisses).

In short, it's a film about fidelity, love and passion all wrapped up in the gorgeous exterior of it's Spanish setting. Passionate encounters are given vibrancy by the beautiful plucking of spanish guitars and orange-filtered lighting, while dramatic showdowns are skewed by the beauty of their location into being philosophical and deep. Definitely a film to add to any summer watchlist, as it marks a sensational return to form for veteran director Woody Allen. 

Has anyone else watched it? Please comment below! :)

*looking at some of these stills made me tempted to add my own spin! {Just a humorous bit of mid-week fun!)

Alternative Film Quotes 

'B*tch please. Everyone knows I'm the baddest chicka in town'
'He redecorated. Oh God. The. Mess.'

'What can I say? I'm just totally fab-ulous darhhhling'

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Cracking Bit of Fashion...Balenciaga Fall 2013

“It’s a prologue,” said Alexander Wang of his quietly respectful debut collection for Balenciaga. “It was about really going back to the house, to the archive, and the codes that were so true to Cristóbal Balenciaga—with dynamic new materials.”
My first thought when I saw this catwalk show online..OMG what an amazing floor, CAN I GET THAT MUM? Through the pristine white of the runway floor is jagged lines of black jutting out in every direction. It looks like an earthquake has just hit the room.  

I'm going to come straight out and say it...I am CRUSHIN' on Balenciaga's Fall collection so SO bad. Although I am loving the sunshine at the moment I can't deny I want Autumn to get a wriggle on... so that Selfridges can start stocking some of these beauties, for me to drool over. Debuted at Paris Fashion Week in February 2013 this was Alexander Wang's (below, the cutie) first collection for the Spanish fashion house. After viewing the collection, many fashion critics has praised him for his use of the trademark rigid angular design, of the brand's founder, while still managing to apply innovative, pattern and detailing to each piece.

My favourite from this range is the 'cracked' effect tops which, although they look like they are made from cracked leather material, they are actually a skinny ribbed knits were submerged in gesso paint, covering the surface and forming interesting craquelure effect (like you would get on an oil painting). The collection is indeed very sculptural as even cropped tops seem to be crafted so that they ballon (like founder Cristóbal Balenciaga's classic bubble skirts) away from the torso, remaining rigid as the female moves; the resulting silhouette created is therefore very masculine and bold. 

If (like me) you have fallen under the charm of this collection - it's beauty, it's innovation - yet aren't too keen on the steep pricing then I would suggest looking to high street stores such as Mango, French Connection and Zara, who already have a wide selection of clothes for the suprising S/S13 trend of Monochrome. 

Here is a selection of my favourite pieces from Balenciaga's Fall 2013 collection:

All pictures are taken kindly from Vogue online. Comments are always welcome! 

Your thoughts on the collection? Comment below! Hope you loved it as much as me!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

The Best Of...Alternative Romance

We all know those soppy heart-warming romantic films...well to counteract the merriment I have compiled a list of 21st century cynicism. ENJOY.
1) Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind (2004)

This is actually my favourite film of all time! Not only is the narrative beautifully composed but it touches upon the instability and frailty of human relationships. The synopsis follows like this: After a painful break-up, a couple undergo a radical new procedure to erase each other from their memories, yet it is only through the process of loss that they discover what they had to begin with. 

Joel Barish (Jim Carrey) is a shy emotionally-withdrawn man, who lives a bland existence in a one bedroom apartment, downtown New York. It is not until a random encounter on a train with the erratic flame-haired beauty Clementine (Kate Winslet) that things start looking up. Having been instantaneously drawn together by opposing personalities the two embark on a tentative romance yet unbeknownst to them they have already been lovers. Month before, after a messy fight, Clementine had approached the 'Lacuna' agency, who offered her a radical procedure to erase her memory of Joel. Heartbroken, Joel decided to do the same meaning much of the narrative is told through a surreal series of his memories, as they are being slowly erased. Upon seeing happier times of love with Clementine from earlier in their relationship, he struggles to keep her memory alive as the procedure wreaks through his mind.

Eternal Sunshine is something special for is remarkably sweet without being mushy or unrealistic. The acting is so fluid and convincing that is actually make you really pine for the two characters to find one another again. There are some wonderfully surreal moments within Joel's memories that are both humorous and deeply moving. Although the narrative in non-linear and can be confusing when jumping through big clumps of time, those who enjoy slightly unusual, almost anti-realist films will enjoy the dream-like quality to the flashbacks.
2) 500 Days Of Summer (2007)

The tagline reads  'Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't'. From this alone we should gauge that this is far from the usual optimistic tale of boy meets girl. Hailed as the definitive anti-rom-com, this deliciously indie venture jumps from various days within the 500-day span of Tom and Summer's relationship. Tom Hansen (Joseph Gordon Levitt), a greetings card designer is an optimistic 20-something living in New York. He longs to find the one and believes he has found her when he spots the beautiful free-spirited Summer Finn (Zooey Deschanel)- a fellow whimsical oddball and avid fan of The Smiths. Unfortunately for Tom, Summer doesn't believe in true love and seems to go out of her way to avoid getting attached to anyone. However, despite her inital reluctance over the passing months the two are drawn together and the film jumps to and fro through the various stages of their relationship from day one (the awkward first glances) to the soul-crushing 500th day (where ties are finally severed).

It is interesting to note that the film was what the industry liked to call a sleeper hit meaning it was an overnight success, unknowingly launching the careers of it's two young leads (evidence- Joseph was recently in the Hollywood blockbuster Looper alongside Bruce Willis while Zooey soon landed the lead role in New Girl, which is now in it's second season). The chemistry throughout between Joseph and Zooey is so perfect as they bounce off each other so naturally (for a while I was wishing they were a couple in real life!) making the film such a pleasant delight, despite its sad moments. A must-see for any fans of independent and alternative cinema...or for those (like me) who fancy the pants of Joseph Gordon-Levitt (he is the ultimate cutie).
3) Blue Valentine (2010)

Ahhh a film to bring the mood right down. Blue Valentine is one of the films that has stuck with me the most. It charts the counter-development of a young urban couple's relationship (Ryan Gosling and Michelle Williams) from the jittery first days of courtship to the eventual breakdown of their marriage years later. Like 500 days, the film is non-linear meaning it skips randomly to different times in the relationship. As the film begins we see the disequilibrium and the frustration that exists between the couple...we get the sense that the passion has been lost between them. The husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) is an unambitious college drop-out, who despite his faults and laziness, cares deeply for his wife and their young daughter. His wife Cindy (Michelle Williams) is a worn-out hardworking nurse who struggles to juggle the stress of work, along with the pressure of keeping her husband happy.

Both Gosling and Williams give performances of a lifetime with unusual power. Although many scenes are difficult to watch and can be deeply upsetting the overall product is profound and will leave a lasting impression. The reason I believe it deserves a place on this list is because despite the overall depressive tone, there are some beautifully sweet moments during the couple's earlier years that truly lift the film, thus (in my eyes) making it worthy of the 'romantic' drama label.
4) Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (2012)

Finding love two weeks before the apocalypse is hard. man. Although the film divided critics, I watched this last week and actually really enjoyed it! As the title states the world will be crushed by an asteroid in a months time. While anarchy and street crime is rife all around the world, life for Dodge Peterson (Steve Carrell) pretty much continues as normal. His maid still comes to clean his house, and he still goes to work (as an insurance ironic). However the appearance of a young British girl names Penny (Keira Knightley) crying at his windowsill, changes his life forever. They forge an unlikely friendship and subsequently decide to take a road trip to reunite Dodge with his high school sweetheart, before the asteroid hits. On their travels they encounter a whole host of colourful characters and crazy scenarios, all of which are delightful and unexpected. 

While some have been critical of the age gap between Carrell and Knightley's characters I feel this is slightly unfair as it is the quirkiness of the romance that blossoms between them that felt like the film's strongest was brave and unconventional. Nevertheless a romance set during the apocalypse was inevitably going to end on a sad note and the final scene did give me a little wobbly tear, at the edge of my eye. For that reason, it made it on this list.
5) Perks of Being A Wallflower (2012)

Yet to see but it sounds amazing! Has anyone seen it and loved it? Comments are always welcome! :)

Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Magical World of Ladurée [Covent Garden]

Alright, I'll say it. I'm a shameless lover of macarons! Two rounds of lovely crisp and chewy meringue filled with a rich fruity ganache...what could be better?  As soon as my eyes fall on those beautiful pastel-hued discs my heart and stomach are set aflutter. This is perhaps why on Wednesday I was so excited to visit the famous Covent Garden, in London, with my friend Kirsty. I had heard the word on the street..a new Laduree shop had been opened recently there. I was buzzing..'C'mon Kirsty..let's go, LET'S GO'
Well it's safe to say I wasn't disappointed. From the minute we arrived we were taken in by the delicately positioned pyramids of towering macarons..coloured coded: pink, blue, green. A true feast for the eyes. The sweet fragrant smell of lavender and caramelised ginger moved like waves around the shop, filling the guests with it's delight. It is without a doubt one of the most enchanting sweet shops in the world! Take that Willy Wonka.

With a flourish I selected an exotic option (as the kids say..YOLO) which was Fleur D'Oranger (roughly translates as 'Orange Blossom'). With a warm smile from the pleasent lady serving, my order was filtered into an adorable printed paper bag (I loved it so much I just had to take a picture...of course). Classic tourist ehhh.

Fast forward an hour later: FINALLY got to Hyde Park. Can't wait to dig into this macaron. Been waiting for this.

*looks into the bag* Oh god..the macaron is looking a bit battered and bruised. An hour on the cramped underground tubes, with sweaty commuters, unfriendly businessmen [who shove you out the way] and uneven flights of stairs certainly have taken it's toll ...

The lesson learnt-
Small bag + rush hour+ fragile meringue= crumpled macaron :(


A Little History... It was originally a bakery founded in the gorgeous location of Paris, 1862, by Louis-Ernest Ladurée, a miller and a passionate writer. The shop was a moderate success for many decades but Ladurée's real rise to fame came in 1930 when his grandson, Pierre Desfontaines, had the original idea of the double-decker, sticking two macaron shells together with a creamy ganache as filling. Against the backdrop of a still fiercely sexist society, Desfontaines also opened a tea room at the pastry shop. In those days ladies were not admitted to cafés (which were the exclusive domain of men) meaning these Laduree team rooms were a big success with irritated housewives, who enjoyed meeting in the freedom of these tea rooms rather than in the confines of their homes. Now, Laduree is an internationally renowned brand, with a reputation for creating spectacularly beautiful and intricate pastries as well as being ambitious with their flavour combinations (recent additions to their macaron menu have been Blackcurrant Violet, Licorice  and Mango & Jasmine). There are currently around 30 stores worldwide (5 being in Paris and 4 being in good ol' London).

Drawbacks- Price If you do visit at Laduree shop then I should warn you that each little macaron is £1.70...and a box of 6 clocks in at around £10-12, meaning they are extremely expensive (and I thought Krispy Kremes were pricey). Further shock came when I took a second glance at the price list, I realised that a box of 72 was a jaw dropping £145..(oh my god.) However if you are looking to indulge and treat yourself to a delight, you probably wouldn't normally have, then buying the odd 2 or 3 won't completely break the piggy bank.


 Final Verdict:


Hyde Park Summer Playlist:
Peace- Lovesick
Arctic Monkeys- Fluorescent Adolescent
Last Dinosaur- Weekend

Hope you are enjoying the sun! xoxox

Friday, 7 June 2013

S/S13 Trend Forecast- Electric Pastels

Vibrant and Pastels? Slightly oxymoronic..but hear me out.

The sun is certainly shining over here in Brum (Birmingham) which calls for one beloved trend..PASTELS. Being a massive fan of them I was excited this month to see some of my favourite brands like Equipment (above) and Topshop sporting a whole load of pastel pieces ....jazzed up with a vibrant Ibiza kick! The Equipment sleeveless blouse above, sold on ASOS and Oxygen Boutique, is on my wishlist- I adore the intricate coral detailing of the palm trees! Wear floaty tops like these, slung over pastel shorts and with skinny heels for a perfect summery outfit to hit the town in!

To get the look above and similar items, I've created a mood board of all my favourite key season pieces. This month I am championing the great British high-street- there is some amazing covetable gems out there! 

(Expand image to make it clearer)

{Created using Microsoft Word and the images of the websites Topshop, ASOS, Warehouse, H&M and Oxygen Boutique. All Rights Reserved}
Please do not use these two images without my permission. Thank you.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Spotlight Review: In Bruges

Been dying to see this! As a massive Ralph Fiennes fan, I was intrigued by the notion that the oh-so-very-prim and proper polite English gent would take the role of a foul-mouthed cockney gangster. Ralph, you 'avin a mid-life crisis, bro? 


The tagline reads 'Shoot First, Sightsee Later'. From this little nugget we should already presume that this is not a conventional gangster film. No, screenwriter Martin McDonagh is far too clever for that. Instead he has created a wonderfully tempting potion of  
cutting wit and cobbled street cat-fights (between grown men)...all paired with a cracking plot, that holds your attention firm in it's grasp.

    Defying convention, gone is the dirty city underbelly, and greasy gangster it's place is remarkably human tale of two hitmen forced to hide out in the beautiful historic city, of Bruges [It's in Belgium...apparently], after a job goes wrong. With nothing left to do but wait, the two go to sightsee, with Ray (played by Colin Farrell) being bored out of his brains ['Bruges is a shithole'] while the older, more mature veteran hitman Ken (Brendan Gleeson) happily takes in the culture ['Bruges is NOT a shithole']. It is not until the elusive and beautiful Chloe saunters onto the scene, that Ray finally starts to embrace the city, striking up a sweet yet edgy romance. This much-needed happiness is short lived, however when news arrives that his boss, Harry (Ralph Fiennes) has come to the city to take him out, for good. 

Farrell is sheer perfection, in his best role to date, as an immature and rude young man, who at his heart is still innocent and good-natured. Throw in a midget, a belfry tower and a whole lot of f-words, here you have one of the finest modern British {independent} films ever made. It's cheeky, it's crass, it's unrestrained...but most of all it's deeply honest and touches upon the fragility of human nature.


**Farrell's eyebrows do deserve a special mention seeing as throughout the film they work like little furry caterpillars up and down Colin's face, providing a range of amusing poses. LOVIN' HOW YOU WORK IT COLIN.

The Faces of Farrell {Lookbook}:

'I haven't the foggiest'
'This ice-cream tastes of sh*t, man'

'F**king Bruges'