Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Left Field

I suppose if anything could unite the list of things that are inspiring me lately, it's getting the details right: pairing the right colours, the right little flourishes, achieving a harmonious balance.

This bathroom popped up on my Pinterest a couple days ago and I've been dreaming of it ever since. The seafoam and rust colour combo, the standalone soaker tub (siiiiiiigh), and the massive stag head pretty much tickle all my homey bones. And guys! Guess what! It's a real place in Ireland that you can stay! Ballyvolane House of Cork, you're pretty alright.

I've been curious to try these Ballet Beautiful videos as a supplement to my ballet classes – my favourite upper body stretch is great for loosening my shoulders but I'd like to start strengthening all my parts more regularly. Has anyone tried these? Are they as good as they look?

I know, I'm cruel. But how's a gal supposed to focus on getting in shape for her short shorts when Smitten Kitchen goes around posting things like this fried egg sandwich with bacon and blue cheese, huh? Completely unfair, that's what it is. At least it's got veggies in it, I GUESS (but, oh yeah, they're tossed in bacon fat, uh huh).

I'm obsessed with the details of the new Scout & Catalogue Rorschach scarves – all those little hidden skeletons and kitten heads and butterflies captured in a silky, silvery neutral. To top it off, the duo behind Fieldguided did a beautiful job photographing S&C's boho, beachy vibe for the lookbook. (You can see the process to create the scarves here, and more shots from the lookbook here.)

As usual, the Purl Bee knocks one out of the park with this two-tone crocheted cowl. Once I finish the shawl that shall not end, this'll likely be the next thing I cast on. (Is it still called casting on when it's crochet? "Playing hooky?")

Being known as someone who's fairly fearless about wearing crazy nails means you get lots of nail tutorials passed your way. My favourite of late is this one from Refinery 29, based on a print from Rag & Bone 'cause it looks like knitting (thanks for the tip-off, Kim!) But dear lord, is it ever hard to do! I tried it, then ended up starting over and doing this beach blanket/licorice allsorts mani instead, because I was watching Khloe & Lamar and why complicate life further, you know? And then I animated it. Why? Seche Vite fumes, that's why.

gif animator

As always, you can see what I'm digging in realtime on Pinterest.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Thrifting in Detroit

As you already know, I LOVE my Michigan shopping, especially when you can spend the afternoon in a handful of second-hand shops and flea markets and emerge with everything your heart desired for under $10. EXCEPT, one thing I had to leave behind was a piece that I know I've seen before but I barely have words to describe. Anyone who can help me with this gets 5 points. Picture like a balaclava but with the whole face uncovered, and a circle of faux fur around the top. I tried looking it up online but I'm having no luck, especially because I'm searching for a fashion balaclava with fur. Any recommendations? The closest thing I can find is this, but it was nicer, I swear.

via the loveship

On to my real finds, I got some great printed pants, and an anorak/rain jacket very similar to the one that I gave away last year.

These are so so soft, highwaisted, and less shapeless when I'm wearing them.

These are just like DUNGAREES! Workin' pants, you know? 

A little baggier, these pants have the most gorgeous print. 

Here's the print. 

I feel like I'd buy anything Misty Harbor. I love the plaid on the inside. 

And I also scored this beauty from Target, after falling in love with it online.

Also comes with a belt so it doesn't just look like a chic pillowcase. 

You know what else I got? This:

First time somoa eater here! They were caramelly and coconutty and delicious. They were everything.

And this:

Which is wonderful and never loses its flavour. All together it was a very successful trip south of the border.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Eat It: Taco Pizza

Remember last year, with the butter chicken poutine? How I nearly lost my damn mind? Well, it happened again. And it happened with butter chicken again, although this time it was PIZZA and it was so so so good. My friend Morrison made it and I swear, I reached nirvana. It really opened my eyes to the glorious versatility of the pizza crust. 

Well, this is not a butter chicken pizza recipe (although the jist of that is: butter chicken sauce instead of regular tomato. YOU’RE WELCOME). This is a taco pizza recipe, because I thought, “hey! A pizza crust is just like a big ol’ soft plate of nachos!” And guys, I might never go back. This might beat out real tacos for me, and that sounds like crazytalk, but it’s only crazytalk to someone who hasn’t tried taco pizza. Come on now – it’s time to become a believer.

I remembered to take a picture only after we had attacked –
the draw of the taco pizza was too strong.

Taco Pizza 
Serves three normal people or two hungry people 
From countertop to tabletop: 20 minutes 

1 package of ground meat (I used turkey, but beef or soy would be equally delicious)
1 package of taco seasoning
1 pizza crust (my grocery stuff was out of fresh dough, so I used a pre-made crust)
At least 2 cups of shredded mozzarella (I used a little cheddar too)
1 quarter of a green pepper, diced
3 green onions, chopped

For Garnish:
Sour cream
Avocado or guacamole
Fresh cilantro, chopped

1. If you’re using fresh pizza dough*, sprinkle down a little flour and roll it out. This is no time for thin crust, so go thick because your loaded pizza will need a solid base. A little cornmeal on the underside of the crust would probably just knock your socks off (but if you don’t have cornmeal, there’s no need to go hogwild and buy it – a little flour’ll do). I used a premade crust, so I just stuck it on the pan. Trust me, if this is your only option, just go for it anyway – the effect will still be amazing.

2. Brown your ground turkey, drain any excess grease, and follow the taco seasoning instructions. Usually they’re something like, “add a half cup of water and seasoning, then let simmer for 5 minutes.” Just do that. We’re not reinventing the wheel here. The only thing I’d recommend is not too let it get too dry – you want the meat to still be a saucy in the end.

3. Sprinkle a thin layer cheese on your crust to help keep this delicious mess together. When the taco turkey is ready, spread it thickly overtop, leaving only your crust for grabbin’ clear. Layer your veggies on top – I used green pepper and green onions, but hey! You might like to put diced tomato or corn or black beans or olives or jalapenos, if that’s your kinda thing. Listen to your heart and the contents of your pantry!

4. Sprinkle a thick layer of cheese overtop, then pop that baby in an oven preheated to 400°F. It should start looking good after about 5 minutes, then turn it up to broil for the last minute or two, so the top gets nice and browned.
* If you're using fresh dough, baking will take longer. Your oven should be turned up to about 450°F, and it'll probably take closer to 10–15 minutes.

5. Once your pizza’s baked and you’ve taken it out of the oven comes the hardest part – WAITING. Give it a couple minutes to cool down and stiffen up, so you won’t be trying to eat a burning, messy slice of goo. You’ve waited a few minutes? Okay, slice that pie up.

6. This is the step that took this pizza out of mere good territory and into the realm of greatness – THE TOPPINGS. I spooned a little salsa onto each slice, a couple small dollops of sour cream, a handful of fresh cilantro and a few slices of fresh avocado. Now dig in, you patient thing you – you’ve waited long enough. Eat it like a slice of pizza and bask in the deliciousness.

Bon appetit!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Spring, is that you?

While it's still the end of February, the temperature (at least in Michigan, where I'm spending some time) is feeling very spring like. So why am I still feeling so cold and bored and cooped up? I am ready for the spring, ready for the lighter jackets, warm sunshine, and I'm ready to wear cute shoes again.

I can't make spring come faster but I can pretend that it's here already. Here are some pics that get me in the springtime mood.

via feedmyego

Ellery et Graz via feedmyego

Garage Magazine
via vanessajackman

via loveraedar

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: February Luxe Box

Before I get into the review, I'd just like to say today is the one year anniversary of this little corner of the internet, so happy birthday blog! I can't believe you're one year old, baby, but I think we've got a beautiful thing going. Thank you so much for reading and commenting along these few past months, and Laura and I look forward to making Burgundy Girls better than ever in 2012.

Luxe Box, congratulations. I was not expecting to be so awed.

Seriously. I gasped when I opened this edition.

I know everyone gets a little sick of the red-overload during February, but it felt like such a refreshing pop of colour when I opened it. (Although I was looking forward to collecting my next few boxes to try this killer idea, but I'll guess that'll just have to wait.)

This month, Luxe Box is partnered with Flare Magazine and boy, did they knock this one out of the park. Loose Button used Flare's resources to their best ability, and it helped create a much stronger box overall — the explanation card was bigger, obviously designed and written by the Flare crew, and felt pared-back, accessible and very relevant. A big kudos to the team behind this month's inserts.

The goods! A very nice-looking spread. I ooooh-d at the mascara, and was happy to see extra shampoo samples – I was a bit sad that last month's Fekkai sample only gave me one use, so I couldn't really compare the experience over time.

First up, the Beautiful Butter Balm by Mèreadesso. The cute bit of directional copy had me primed to like this. This made my hands feel very soft and protected, but not in a greasy way. It absorbed fast and the scent, a vaguely grapefruity floral, dissipated quickly but was nice while it lasted. The hard plastic makes me think I may not be able to squeeze the last little bits out that easily, but I guess that's just proof of how much I think I'll like this.

There was also a small squeeze sample of Face + Neck Toning Gel from Mèreadesso, which I have yet to try. It came in this big cardboard card that I feel conflicted about. Sure, it's executed well and I like a sense of drama, but find it a little excessive. Really? All those trumpets for such a little vial? Maybe I'll try this stuff and be crying out hallelujah, but until then, a few too many trees may have died for this sleeve. But I am curious to see this 3–5 day boost it boasts.

A rollerball perfume sample! Guys, this is huge! I know a lot of people don't like receiving perfume, but I'm a disloyal harlot who loves to cheat on her one true love, L de Lolita Lempicka. I don't mind a dabble in perfumes, and this awesome rollerball is surefire way to make sure I'll give CK one Shock for her a good trial run. Plus, I even like the scent! It's a fruity gourmand—that seems to be the arrangement du jour— that pairs passionflower, poppy and peony with blackberry, jasmine, cocoa and vanilla. It actually reads very citrusy, with a lemony open and the juicy berry remaining present through the drydown. I can see myself wearing this often.

I'm not going to lie, this little tube of Lise Watier 24 Hours Glam Mascara got me really excited. Gold giraffe print? Like, was this designed specifically for me? It helps that the mascara inside is rad too—the brush has lanky bristles, creating a comb-like effect that really extends your lashes. I tried this as suggested, in conjunction with my standard Cover Girl Lash Blast, and it definitely gave me a longer look (I wouldn't say a falsie look though, as this gives a skinny lash, not a full one). Over all, love it, and will definitely use it up. This is the perfect purse mascara size, and god, just LOOK at the packaging.

Finally, I got these samples of Redken Color Extend shampoo and conditioner. My box included three generous samples which I am thrilled about, so I can see if there's a difference over a period of time (I've been thinking about investing in better shampoo ever since our last Ask A Hairdresser). Offering extra samples of shampoo was one of the things I mentioned in their January post-box survey, so I'm glad they were able to offer more so quickly. Bang up job, Luxe Box gang.

All in all, I thought this month's Luxe Box was simply wonderful. It delighted me with great products in ample sizes, and included items I use regularly and would be interested in potentially upgrading. I thought the changes in the promo cards were very appealing, and really helped to make Luxe Box the beauty resource it aspires to be. Overall, well edited, well crafted, well done. It feels like I'm gushing, but really, this is the kind of box I've been hoping all along would be delivered. Here's hoping elements of this special-edition box make it into the regular rotation.

If you liked my review and would like to try Luxe Box for yourself, I'd be mighty obliged if you'd use my referral code. Or you know, don't, and make Charlie sad.

Previous reviews:

Friday, February 17, 2012

What I've Been Watching Lately

The X-Files
via static age
I know I've talked about my love for this show before, but I won't be happy until everyone I know is watching it and loves it as much as I do. I will watch this show forever and for always, even though it makes me distrust weird-looking people on the street and gives me nightmares. The show is a perfect mix between one-off monster stories and episodes that advance the plot in a mind-blowing way. It also makes me worry that I will never experience love as deeply as Mulder and Scully feel for each other, but that's a whole different story. I'm on the seventh season (of nine) and I plan on starting it from the beginning once I'm done. Or maybe I'll just re-evaluate my life and, y'know, go outside.

Bell Book and Candle

via somebody stole my thunder
This romcom stars Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novack and is about witches and the men who love them. Well kind of. It's set in New York in the winter and has a really young Jack Lemon as the cutest damn warlock/jazz musician I've ever seen. They frequent this bar called the Zodiac, which I'm dying to find recreated somewhere, that's underground and dark and secret and filled with music and witches with magical powers. Novack is a witch with a heart of gold, and looks every inch as beautiful as she did in Vertigo.

Picnic at Hanging Rock

via flickering myth

I read about this movie on Fieldguided, and since I take everything she says as the gospel truth—what? I think our tastes are very similar—I watched it, enthralled. This movie is beautiful, dreamy, and mysterious. The story reminds me of my favourite Margaret Atwood short story "Death By Landscape," which is what originally drew me to it—there is something scary and romantic about the wilderness, whether it's Canadian or Australian, and there is an innate fear that the elements are overpowering. It takes place in 1900 on Valentine's Day, and is a perfect girls night pick.The hazy-look of each scene was apparently from a bridal veil cast over the lens, which only adds to the feminine mystique of the film.


via thoughts and musings
Something I copyedited yesterday made reference to this TV show, and I decided to watch the pilot—before I knew it I had finished 6 episodes and I'm dying to see more. I should clarify, though, that I don't necessarily think this show is good. If someone I didn't like was openly watching this show I would judge them. But I have fallen into the story without meaning to—it's so juicy! And since you know from the beginning that main character Emily is out to destroy everyone in her circle of the Hampton's, there really isn't a guessing game to what is going to happen. YOU KNOW. It kind of reminds me of The OC (my only other view into this kind of super-rich life) but all grown up. Totally silly and unrealistic and embarrassing, but I love it.

What have you been watching lately? Any recommendations?

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

New Neutrals

There have been a few additions to my daily routine that have just given me a smidgen more pretty every day.

West Elm carries air plants now! I stop in this store so rarely, so it was pure dumb luck that I popped in to kill some time and saw this little beauty just waiting for me to take him home. I've been wanting one of these since they started cropping up everywhere online, and now, this bit of soilless freedom greets me every time I brush my teeth. Fingers crossed he lasts more than a week.

This vase was on clearance at Indigo, and I couldn't resist. A creamy matte porcelain in a knit stitch? How could I have been expected to? Now my knitting needles have a fitting place to hang out when not in a project.

This week's fancy-lady manicure, and it's about as demure as I get. I just sponged the tip on, so it's not very precise. The nude creme is Unclear from the FACE Stockholm X J.Crew collaboration (thanks Stevie!), and the rosy sparkle is First Class from a massive Quo X Orly holiday gift pack (thanks Steph!).

I took the plunge and finally upgraded to an iPhone 4S. And when I was picking out a case, I decided to get something I like looking at everyday, so I ordered this one from Society6. You can choose any of their artwork to be case-ified (mine is from design house RoAndCo, and was used as a textile in Arnsdorf's SS 2011 collection), or you can order them directly through manufacturer Case-Mate and print your own design. I'm in good company too!

My ballet slippers and new tights from Joe Fresh. The slippers still look new, but I promise! I've been going faithfully! I'm in total love with these Joe tights – they are the perfect balance between sheer and opaque and are almost too long, a rarity for my limbs.

These showed up as I was writing this, so I had to include them. These are my first LL Bean Signature purchases and they are AWESOME – thick leather, padded cushion at the heel, ladylike toe shape. These stretchy topped shoes look so weird off-foot, but for wear, I GET them – they hug, so you get no blister-causing slippage. Plus, spending more than $50 on flats means I'm totally an adult now, right? These come in lots of colours and finishes, m'dears, so browse away.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Videos

Honestly, I think there's enough Valentine's-themed content out there today, but I couldn't resist. Here are my 5 favourite love-themed videos, for whatever Valentine's mood you are in.

Friday, February 10, 2012

The New Inquiry

TNI has been killing it lately, with the addition of a new team of bloggers that clog up my Google Reader and make it harder for me to read about NYFW recaps. They're putting out such interesting, thought-provoking articles that I haven't looked at pictures of cats in days! (Just kidding.) My favourite of the bloggers is Autumn Whitefield-Madrano, who writes the TNI blog called The Beheld, which "examines the concepts of beauty and personal appearance." I think this girl and I may be kindred spirits. She has also worked as a fashion copyeditor (my specialty of choice) and is interested in the feminine appearance, its history, its theories, and how it can be exploited—all in a way that draws you in and keeps you hooked. And this is coming from a girl who couldn't get 20 pages in to The Beauty Myth. Also, I don't think it's a coincidence that I was listening to this song when I stumbled upon her writing.

So seriously, do yourselves a favour and check out The Beheld.

Thursday, February 9, 2012

Ah Rats! – The Pet-Friendly Way to Deal with Rodents

Over the past little while, our household had an unexpected visitor. He showed up uninvited, left a mess, wouldn't leave when asked politely, and was generally just the worst. You bet he was a rat, and not just the metaphorical kind.

This is par for the course when you have a preference for older, charming houses of a certain vintage. Ours apparently dates back over 100 years and has the crooked floors and ancient vents to prove it, so this kind of guest was inevitable. Now, never having battled rats before, we were left feeling at a loss as to how to kick out these varmints. We didn't want to get too inhumane, plus inadvertently poisoning dear old Charles (the dog)* was utterly out of the question. So what were us pet-owning city folk to do?


Steel Wool
This one's recommended by everyone under the sun, but it's an oldie 'cause it's a goodie. The idea is to stuff any holes or cracks with the stuff to prevent rats or mice from coming through the walls or floorboards – they can't chew through steel wool. It's a good idea to keep a box on hand just in case, as this is really easy to use in a pinch, and can be very effective.

Peppermint Oil
Rats HATE the smell, so it's a good idea to liberally soak a few cotton balls in pure essential oil and leave them hidden in areas of rat detection. It'll just make them back off without causing them any physical harm. As an added bonus, your house will be at a permanent state of low-lying mintiness, and you'll maybe have some leftover oil, which is great for adding to your shampoo when you have an itchy scalp or to rub on your temples when you have a headache.

Disinfecting Solution
You'e going to feel pretty grossed out about your house, so giving everything a wipe down is a pretty good idea. I use those antibacterial wipes, but they're not really the most environmentally friendly or cost-effective solution. You could also use white vinegar cut with water – half and half is pretty good, or even up your solution to three quarters vinegar to a quarter water if you'd like something stronger.

Lots of Chairs
You're going to be jumping up on them a lot, even when there is nothing nearby – you'll just get weirded out and unable to stand on the floor anymore. Don't fight the urge, just get more chairs.

Everything in our cupboards is in canisters now. We bought a bunch of the stackable Tupperware kind at Honest Ed's and just boxed up anything that could be chewed through, including cardboard and plastic. One day I'll have dedicated containers for bulk items like flour and sugar, but for now, this works  just fine. Anything we didn't have enough space for in containers, I just stuck in the refrigerator, so now my cereal is oh so refreshing. Suck on that, rats.

Patience & Diligence
The most time-consuming part of the solution is pulling everything away from the walls, cleaning up what you find underneath and checking for holes in the walls. Make sure you check under your sink, to the part where the water pipes meet the wall – our hole there was the size of a tennis ball, and they can fit through any space the size of a pencil eraser.

This is your opportunity to get loud. Mice and rats hate loud noises and bright lights, so if you're fighting 'em, don't hesitate to make your presence known. Keep the radio on, the lights up and bang around when you're near where they've been spotted. Seeing rats and being reminded of their general presence is half the problem with them, so keeping them out of your way is a very good thing indeed.

A Healthy Dose of Mind Over Matter
We were having a hard time getting over the general disgustingness of the creatures, but had to find an inner zen to do what needed to be done. Don't dwell on the nasty – think about what you need to do to get past this situation, and only of that. Yes, they're gross, but that's what showers and exfoliant are for.

If you've got any pet-safe rat-fighting tips, please share!
Good luck and happy hunting.

*Note: one thing you do not need is a suck of a dog. Although Charlie is part Schnauzer, which are a ratting breed, he was useless, hiding behind Daniel and I whenever possible. Just know that in this respect, dogs are less reliable than their usual loyalty would suggest. A cat would likely be better suited to the task.

**Note the second: we did think about seeing if someone could take Charlie for a few days so we could set poison and take care of the dicks once for all. We were thinking of doing this for about 5 minutes, until I realized that the rat could track poison elsewhere and we'd have no way of knowing. If you've got a bad enough problem to warrant a poison-based approach***, please make sure to take an extra couple days to thoroughly clean all house surfaces. Your pets will thank you.

***Note the third: we did not have a bad infestation at all. We had, what we suspect, to be one rat that we scared off pretty quick. We found very few droppings and didn't see him at all when going through the house with a fine tooth comb earlier this week. Fingers crossed he stays out!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Purple Tie Dye Party

On Sunday night, instead of watching the Super Bowl or that awesome 60 Minutes interview on remarkable women (Meryl, Anna, and Dolly! You can watch it here.) I hung out with some of my favourite girls and we tie dyed. It was awesome. We all had a bunch of clothes to dye but we all wanted to use the same colour—and now we're all wearing purple the colour of grape juice.

I opted to dye my amazing sheer-backed shirt that I got from White Crow in the summer. I had more or less stopped wearing it due to a chicken chow mein stain right on the front (which you can still see if you look hard enough, but nevermind!) Dying it proved the perfect opportunity to give it a new life!

 Since the front is cotton and the back is a chiffon-like fabric, the dye took to each side differently, giving the front and back a slightly different colour. I couldn't be happier with the results. The only problem? After an hour with the clothing steamer, I still can't get all the wrinkles out!

Here's a tank that I did.

This was my first foray into dying clothes, and after seeing how easy it is I've now caught some kind of bug. I have so many clothes that I don't wear anymore—an old white button-up, a thin sweater that has a pattern I'm sick of—and with an all-over dye or even a dip dye, I think I could be wearing those pieces again. Who needs to go shopping anyway?

And here, the almost-highlight of the night (after Youtubing the incredible Madonna halftime show, natch), are my friend Sasha's nails. She did these—you're not gonna believe it—by hand. Both hands. It must have taken hours.

Monday, February 6, 2012

Amanda's Criterion Top 5

If you're just tuning in now, Laura and I have been detailing our favourite Criterion flicks. Well, she did hers, and now I'm doing mine.

I wanted to add that I really love Criterion for their respect for movies—I'm a big fan of their packaging, and the care taken to design a breathtaking cover, the finely-tuned copy on all cases and booklets, and the cleverly-designed menus and website. These guys LOVE movies, and it gives me great pleasure to support a shop that takes pride in their work.

Two things I realized compiling this list:
1. I like big photography, colourful, cinematic kind of films. The more sumptuous the pictures, the stronger I'm on board. Ditto that with anything slightly fairytale-esque.
2. I really wanted to pick Charade, but Laura already did, so you should watch that doubly.

On with the show!

Days of Heaven (1978)
A beautiful, understated piece of cinema, and easily Terrence Malick's best film. A steelworker accidentally kills his supervisor, and runs away with his girlfriend and kid sister to the fields of Texas, where they harvest wheat for a wealthy but good man – but naturally, things can never remain that simple.

Narrated by the young sister, the vast, gorgeous fields set the stage for this American tragedy, the swaying wheat a sea of emotion the girl feels changing the world around her but does not understand. I love how quiet and dreamlike this film is, how little dialogue there is, and how wholly it overwhelms you. The whole thing is shot at magic hour – that precious half hour or so of soft light as the sun has set but the sky is watercoloured. It feels like a fable for the American dream, although the moral isn't something that can be understood in words – it's the emotional subtext here that is so compelling.

I remember I wrote about this one a while go, and on looking it up, I did a much better job then. You can check that out on my tumblr, if you'd like.

In the Mood for Love (2000)
I wrote about this one a while back too, so it might as well be number two on the list. It's Hong Kong in 1962, and two neighbours feel drawn to each other, intimately connected by a discovery about their partners, and at once bound to their traditional roles. This movie is all about heat, concealed and restrained, but its sensuality perfuming everything it touches, from the hyper-saturated palette to the languid camera movements. Such a beautiful, bold film, and if you can, see it on a big screen. I promise, you won't regret it.

(The video below is a little dark, but the theme music alone is worth a play.)

The Red Shoes (1948)
I'll continue down this path of visually arresting and colourful picks with one of the most vivid—and most painstakingly restored—prints in the whole collection. A young ballerina is the rising star in a ballet company, torn between her love of dance (and her demanding director) and her love for a young composer. It’s Powell and Pressburger’s best known film, for sure, and is the mother of all backstage drama films.

Martin Scorsese calls this one of cinema’s best uses of Technicolor, and with good reason—the sets are kaleidoscopes of hues, from Vicky’s flame red hair to the gorgeous locations and of course, the titular pointe shoes. Scorsese was a major force behind the restoration of this print too, which required seven years worth of restoration on each of the three Technicolor prints to make up the final version. This is one that you’ll need to make sure is the Criterion edition before you watch it, as previous versions were very washed out.

The Night of the Hunter (1955)
I’ve loved this movie since I first watched it in film class many moons ago, so I was really happy when it became part of the collection last year. Dreamlike and haunting, this is like a Grimm’s fairytale in stark black and white. The use of black and white film is really impressive too—so much to create the tension and mood is done with hard shadows and silhouettes. And Robert Mitchum is such a joy to watch here, so menacing and playful at once, and gives what strikes me as a very modern performance.


Actually, the whole film feels very modern, very Leave It to Beaver gone bad, which is think largely why it wasn’t well-received by movie goers at the time of its release. It makes me so sad to think that the poor director, Charles Laughton, was widely panned for it, and it became his first and only attempt directing (he had a long career as an actor).

The Adventures of Antoine Doinel (1959, 1968, 1970, 1979)
Is it cheating to add a set of four? These picks do sit under one spine number, so I’m not going to apologize for it, but I am only going to suggest two of the set.

Antoine is one of my favourite characters in film history: a classic rapscallion, good-natured and a little goofy, which I’m such a sucker for. The first film, The 400 Blows, is an origin story, and not nearly so lighthearted as the later films. It depicts a young Antoine’s adolescence, his home life, his troubles in school, his desire for freedom. As one of the defining films of the French New Wave, it introduced Truffaut to the world and made him a household name. The actor behind Antoine, Jean-Pierre Leaud, is actually at his best in this one, at age fourteen, where he seems so effortlessly charming.

My favourite of the set is the next feature, Stolen Kisses. Antoine is a young man, working as a (not so good) private detective, and pursues Christine, a violinist he has felt sweet on for some time. This entry in the series is much funnier, much sillier, but still rings so painfully true. I think Antoine’s so successful because he speaks to that part in everyone who feels awkward, a little outside the norm, a little too earnest to be cool.

Happy viewing!

Friday, February 3, 2012

My Criterion Top 5

On the advice of Amanda's beau, which he suggested after reading our post on the Criterion's Top 10s, I put together a list of my Top 5 Criterion films. (I started with 10, but then I got really, really exhausted). While I was putting this list together, I learned several things. And I'm sure Amanda will agree.

1. I have seen an embarrassingly low number of these films. Because of this, many of my choices are films that I love, yes, but are probably on the list because I haven't seen other, better films. Does that make my list irrelevant? I think... not.

2. There are so many incredible films that aren't on this list. Almodovar's oeuvre, for example, was nowhere to be seen. And no Dario Argento? The collection, which started in '84, prides itself on gathering the greatest films from around the world. And since this is the case, even though I am a supporter of what they do (which is help keep these films appreciated and pristine—you can read more about it here), I think that they've still got a long way to go. But I couldn't exactly just make a list of my 10 favourite films, could I? I needed some kind of definable list from which to choose.

I'm going to stop excusing myself now and give you my Top 5 (sorry) Criterion films:

1. Charade

I keep coming back to this film time and time again, because it has everything. Romance, comedy, action, suspense, great fashion, Cary Grant, and that AHA! moment when you finally figure it all out (and then smugly think that you figured it out before anyone else). What more do you need? It has my favourite line from any movie ever ("How do you shave in there?") and is probably the reason why I trusted men who lied to me for so long. (So what if she doesn't know his name? It's still true love!) The trailer, narrated by Grant, is a treat in itself.

2. Jules et Jim

via khalatnost
Sigh. I haven't seen this movie in years but it still fills me with this feeling of the romantic idea that you can be happy in love with more than one person and you can all be friends and love each other. Very Bohemian, non? It's about a love triangle between Jules et Jim et Catherine, and runs the gamut of emotions. It's also, at times, really playful and fun. Like this scene, the absolute best:

3. Three Colors: Red

via Criterion
If you haven't seen a Kieslowski film, do yourself a favour, go out and see one now. And preferably this one—I think it's the most accessible, which is maybe why I like it the best. All the Colors films are great, especially when you watch them in succession (with this one last). I love seeing the ways in which the colours are used. This film is about a fashion model and her strange friendship with an old peeping tom weirdo, showing that an impossible fraternity can exist between seemingly opposite people. It was also Kieslowski's last film.

4. 3 Women

via feelslikewhitelightening
Shelley and Sissy! I already love it. This film is the inspiration for so many fashion spreads, I can't even tell you. It's set in a dusty California resort town, and is totally dreamy. It switched from straight forward to surreal, and it's nice to see Spacek play a role other than Carrie. As a woman, I don't see how you could not like this film.

5. Winter Light

via flickr
This film is the epitome of a Bergman film. It's stark, dismal, and incredibly Swedish. A pastor of a small, rural church is looked to for guidance but is struggling with his own faith. If the fear of nuclear annihilation were not present, this film could easily take place 50 years in the past, and I love that about Bergman films—they don't belong to one time only. This is the second film in a trilogy (though the only one I've seen) about religious faith and doubts, which when done right can be so relatable and compelling. The role of the school teacher mistress is essential for my enjoyment of the film—it's her unwavering devotion to the pastor that stands in for the religious devotion that the pastor lacks. And, NBD, Bergman once said that he never really knew himself until after he made this movie. So there.

So, have I inspired you to watch any of these films? Amanda, I'm tagging you in, girl. You're up next.