Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Witty Wednesdays - The Poseidon Adventure

In following with my theme from last week, I've decided to put up another retro comic - from some of my early attempts at fancy picture-editing software. These were done after the remake of "The Poseidon Adventure" came out in 2006. These are the worst places to be on Poseidon:





Note: If you were confused, the comics with portholes were done with this in mind

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Television Tuesdays - Let Them Eat Cake

Some of you readers may have heard of the comedy duo of French and Saunders, composed of comedians Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders. While they are most famous for their eponymous sketch comedy show which ran for nine seasons between 1987 and 2007, they have also featured in many other television programs, both together and separately - shows such as "Vicar of Dibley" and "Absolutely Fabulous" - and they've usually had a hand in the writing. Fewer are the programs they've starred in that they haven't written or created. One such show is the period comedy "Let Them Eat Cake".

Set in 1782 in the palace of Versailles, the writers had probably intended the show to lead up to Revolution, but it never made it past its first nine-episode season in 1999. The story centers around the Colombine, Comtesse de Vache (Saunders) and her staff - a maid (French) and a couturier (played by Adrian Scarborough). She is the most hated and reviled woman in France for she has the dirt on everyone at court, and has a standing rivalry with Madame de Plonge. I'm surprised the show was cancelled. I think it's quite hilarious. The chemistry between the trio is quite amazing, and the writing is excellent. Ah, well. Luckily we are able to enjoy the existing episodes on Youtube:

"The Pox"


"The Portrait"

"Making Voopee"

"A Marriage of Convenience"

"The Royal Command Performance"

Keep in mind those are all the first parts. You should be able to click through to parts two and three for each episode. Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Monday, June 18, 2012

Movie Mondays - Coming Soon

Last week I talked about Baz Luhrmann's upcoming film, the Great Gatsby. Well, for the rest of the week it seemed like more and more upcoming movies kept dropping out of the sky so I decided to do another article on upcoming features.

First of all, this year is the 60th anniversary of "Singin' in the Rain", and in honor of the event, a new digital transfer will be released in theaters for one night only! The film will also feature a behind-the-scenes documentary and interview with star Debbie Reynolds. I've already bought my tickets and I can't wait! In addition to the limited theatre release, a limited edition Blu Ray box set is already available for pre-order, including all kinds of special features, nifty extras, and an actual umbrella! Book your tickets to the premiere at Fathom Events, and click the image below to purchase the BluRay/DVD box set.

Second, a project a long time in the making. Many of you have probably heard of "A Star is Born", but whether it was the original version from 1937 starring Janet Gaynor and Fredric March, or the 1954 version starring Judy Garland and James Mason, or the 1976 version starring Barbra Streisand and Kris Kristofferson will depend on who is reading this article.

What you might not know is that Clint Eastwood's latest project is a reboot of "Star" featuring Beyoncé Knowles. Similar to the struggle Luhrmann went through in casting "Gatsby", Knowles has been attached to the project for quite some time, but the question of the leading man has been quite an ordeal. Early potentials have included Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, and Leonardo DiCaprio, but the project seems to have landed finally on the shoulders of Tom Cruise. I know. I squirmed, too. Apparently this role would be a reiteration of sorts of Cruise's role in "Rock of Ages"... Because that movie did so well in the box office, right?

"I'll make millions, you say? It can't fail, you say? I'll do it!"
What were you thinking, Catherine Zeta-Jones? Anyway, allegedly the project was delayed by Knowles' pregnancy and may be going into production soon. Here's hoping that the project is delayed long enough for the male lead to change hands at least once more.

Third, a project that only exists in theory so far, and will hopefully never come to fruition. Brace yourselves. No, really. Sit down. Recently, in an interview, Justin Bieber expressed his desire to play Danny Zuko in a remake of "Grease". 

Because, apparently, "Grease 2" wasn't bad enough...
Apparently it's been talked about for quite some time. So much so that he's already got his Sandy all picked out. Wait for it - Miley Cyrus. Can you imagine a more inappropriate casting for "Grease"? I can't. Let's hope that like many a potential Grease remake before it, this one will fade into obscurity. If anything they should switch the roles. Even that would be a step up.

Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus in Grease... I can see it now!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Fashion Friday - Give Three-Piece a Chance

Last month a protest was held on the famous Saville Row. Several hundred people took to the street to protest the encroaching of Abercrombie & Fitch upon one of the most Venerable Institutions of the Fashion Industry. Unfortunately, this protest - or the cause of it, rather - heralds the final chapter of the Age of Couture.

This all started at the end of the 19th century, with a man named Charles Dana Gibson. Gibson was a turn of the century illustrator, and while he didn't invent the styles of the 1890s and 1900s, he is widely credited with popularizing the look we now know as the "Gibson Girl". This might not have been revolutionary. It might have been simply the latest in the series of fashionable changes to Victorian dress, except for one thing: for the first time in history it became fashionable for women to wear separates.

Before then, stylish ladies had worn dresses almost exclusively. This had left dressmaking in the exclusive realm of individual tailors and seamstresses, as the corseted and bustled figures made standardized sizing and mass-manufacturing impossible. The only people who bought pre-made clothing were sailors and other workmen who didn't have any family to make them clothes. This was looked down upon by the upper classes. While Sears-Roebuck and others also produced clothing for their catalogues, these, too, were considered déclassé.

With the arrival of these fashionable separate skirts and blouses (then known as shirtwaists), standardized measurements and mass production became not only a possibility but a reality. Manufacturers began popping up all over major cities - you may have heard of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire.

Ready-to-wear slowly pushed it's way to the forefront of culture and society, and got special boosts with each of the world wars. However, couture was still king in the fashionable circles. Wealthy women still traveled to Paris each season to purchase new gowns, dresses, suits, etc.

A Dior Haute Couture Show, 1950s
The next part of the story begins on October 23rd, 1957. Christian Dior, the toast of Paris, dies of a heart attack while on vacation in Montecatini, Italy. In his wake, Yves Saint-Laurent is tapped to take over the fashion juggernaut that is Dior. However, after only a few years, the investors butt heads with the young designer purposefully fail to have him excused from his military conscription. After several years of struggles with military service, doctors, and drugs, Saint-Laurent pulled himself together and in 1966 announced a ready-to-wear line. While other designers also had prêt-à-porter lines in the works, YSL is greatly credited with being the first due to his strong ideas on the subject of democratizing fashion. Saint-Laurent's Rive Gauche stores were a huge success, and this spelled the beginning of the end for couture.

It's interesting to note that it was around this time that the miniskirt came into fashion. This is widely considered to have been the last major fashion trend. Nothing since has been so widely pervasive as the miniskirt, and it heralded the end of institutionalized fashion, where Parisian couturiers dictated the styles to the masses.

Nowadays, design companies lose money on their couture lines, and they are becoming less and less prevalent as the shows become too expensive to produce and as more and more of the artisans and craftspeople who provided lace, feathers, beading, and all of that to the design houses fold due to economic hardship. In spite of this, Saville Row has remained a bastion of bespoke against the rising tide of ready-to-wear. The tailors and seamstresses of Saville Row resent that a fast fashion company such as Abercrombie & Fitch would trespass onto what is effectively the Vatican of tailoring, and consider it both disrespectful and an economic threat.

However, will their cries be ignored? Will the suit-makers of Saville Row be swallowed up by fast fashion the way Barnes & Noble or Starbucks swallowed up so many businesses before them? Will centuries of experience and incomparable quality be replaced by lower prices and quick turn-around times? I believe they will, sadly. They simply cannot compete in a society that holds price above all other aspects of a product. I hope they'll stick around for a while yet, and at the very least live to preserve their wisdom for posterity.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Movie Mondays - The Great Gatsby

Many of you have probably seen the trailer for Baz Luhrmann's upcoming interpretation of what is probably one of the single most famous novels ever written: F. Scott Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby:

Since Lurhmann announced the project in 2008, Gatsby has been the center of much controversy and debate by movie-goers and Fitzgerald fans alike. The casting process was quite drawn out, even Luhrmann himself considered dropping out of the project at one point, but instead we found ourselves with:
  • Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby
  • Carey Mulligan as Daisy Buchanan
  • Tobey Maguire as Nick Carraway
However, it isn't the stellar cast that is causing a ruckus, it's Luhrmann's portfolio. Many people worry that the subtlety of Fitzgerald's novel will become a grotesque comedy of manners. Luhrmann himself has been quoted as saying that he intended to use this vehicle as a timely social commentary on the ever-increasing gap between the upper and lower classes, as well as the behaviors of the wealthy. Others criticize Luhrmann's departure from accuracy in his portrayal of the 1920s in costume, setting, and especially music. They worry that his splashy directorial style will take away these extremely important elements to the plot.

The first trailer for the film came out on May 22nd, 2012. It did little to quell fears. In fact, it has given new fire to the debates, for all of the aforementioned reasons:

I will say I'll be pretty disappointed if Luhrmann doesn't end up using at least some period music. After all it is a huge element of the period. The setting and costumes, while highly stylized, seem to work for me. I also definitely get the sense that the intimacy and the intensity of the relationship between Daisy and Gatsby is well executed. I'm ambivalent. I don't feel comfortable making a call until I see the whole movie. I guess I'm hoping mostly for a Daisy Buchanan that I don't find completely and unbearably obnoxious.

I'm looking at you, Mia Farrow.
What do you think of the movie? Will it be a smash or a stinker?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Video Vendredi - Hindsight: Kate Bush's "Wuthering Heights"

"Hindsight: Noun, Recognition of the realities, possibilities, or requirements of a situation, event, decision etc., after its occurrence."
This segment is all about looking back on the things in pop culture, beauty, or fashion that we kind of regret; the sorts of things that leave us wondering why we ever thought they were cool. One of the richest sources for these sorts of flashbacks is the music video. Some of the coolest videos from ten or twenty years ago seem ludicrous to us today. Sometimes, too, the videos are just plain bad - like this one:

The song is based on Emily Brontë's only novel, Wuthering Heights. Actually, you know what this video really needs? No, not a lower key or a choreographer, it just needs a costume change and to be set in the woods. Oh wait.

Yeah, I don't know what they were thinking, either. Have a great weekend, readers!