Monday, June 25, 2012

Weekly Perks the Third

This article, All Dogs Go To Heaven, is a new-time favourite from one of my old-time favourite sites, Pajiba. Steven Lloyd Wilson unpacks why we feel so awful when dogs die in film, and it's pretty damning (answer: because dogs have the chivalry of knights, and we don't.)

I thought I'd use a picture of this Basset Hound/Beagle puppy that absolutely destroyed me on Petfinder.
It looks like he's getting adopted though, so no worries.

I'm headed to New York this week, and pretty psyched to try out every goddamn place on Louis CK's list of the best places in the city. I was sold at "Just dough dipped in grease and butter and honey and coconut." Do you have any other foodie or fun destinations you recommend I try while I'm there?

"Man Up, Bieber", a GQ article about Justin Bieber's new "mature" public image had me shudder-laughing at work. It starts with this sentence: "I have been told specifically that I will be able to punch Justin Bieber in the face." It continues here.

I already have the perfect yarn to start this beautiful cowl I've been eying for a while on Erica Knits. However, I'm not allowed until I have a couple projects cast off beforehand. Hands, get to work.

This is a good reminder that the pursuit of perfection is fruitless affair. Thanks CNN (and Christine) for pointing it out.

The root of the word courage is cor -- the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage had a very different definition than it does today. Courage originally meant to speak one's mind by telling all one's heart.

Over time, this definition has changed, and, today, courage is more synonymous with being heroic. Heroics are important and we certainly need heroes, but I think we've lost touch with the idea that speaking honestly and openly about who we are, about what we're feeling, and about our experiences (good and bad) is the definition of courage.

Heroics are often about putting our life on the line. Courage is about putting our vulnerability on the line.

*Just to note: we're getting back on track 'round these parts.
Thanks for sticking around, you lovelies.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Weekly Perks, pt. 2

Please enjoy our obsessions of the week.

via So Many Records, So Little Time
The website So Many Records, So Little Time is one of the places I go when I'm in a music rut. Its constantly giving amazing recommendations—my favourite being a recent post on Fischer-Z. I can't stop listening to these guys. They're Brian Eno and Roxy Music-esque with a little bit of The Police thrown in there? But in a good way. Check out the song that started it all (for me).

via Anywho
I can't really believe it's that time of year again, but Stella McCartney's Resort 2013 Collection has touched down and it's too cute to be true. I love the patterns, the lady-like silhouettes (even though they are the worst possible shape for my own figure, they look superb on others). These snaps taken at a garden party celebrating the season's release are the perfect setting for the collection to first be seen. Bonus points for making the whole look more playful by adding those star glasses.

via The Food is Out There
I haven't tried these amazing lime and pistachio cookies, but they're made by Club Sandwich, a baking company run by my friend Genna that has never made anything less than insanely delicious. You can get the recipe here—but for you non-baking cookie monsters, you can also get her to bake them for you by placing an email order.

 When Mister Rogers' show ended, he gave an amazing goodbye speech that honestly makes me cry every time I hear it. Do you want to cry? Do you want to remember what a good fuckin' dude he was? If you grew up in the Neighbourhood then you'll probably get a serious heart boner from watching it.

I've seriously been digging this mashup of Biggie vs. the Strokes all week. Crazy classics from two different eras, made entirely fresh all over again.

And one last thing—you've got to check out this gif. I'm not going to tell you anything about it, you've just gotta trust me on this one. 

Friday, June 15, 2012

Chicago architecture, by boat

I went to Chicago last month, and was truly inspired by the unique forms of the buildings in the downtown core. I snapped a bunch of pictures on the architectural boat tour, hoping to capture the various shapes and textures of the skyline. I'm so happy with how they turned out—grainy, contrasty, and imperfect.

All photos were taken with my (shared) Olympus OM1.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Laura's Netflix Recomendations

Got the shitty Canadian version of Netflix but not sure what to watch? Don't worry—you don't HAVE TO watch the IT Crowd, Undercover Boss, or Shakespeare in Love. Here are my five most recent Netflix watches—this awesome list will not only give you a peak into my social life (which, lately, has consisted of Netflix only) but it will open your eyes to the good stuff that you can watch for $8 a month.

via StuffWhitePeopleLike

Arrested Development:
Noone hasn't seen this show, right? It's easy to pick up an episode here and there, but have you watched it, episode for episode, from beginning to end? You should. It's better that way. And you're going to have to prep sometime for that new season that's eventually going to air. 

via JimBerkin

Alfred Hitchcock Presents:
These half-hour shorts are full of the spookiness of Hitchcock's feature-length films, with some seriously dry humour coming from Hitchcock himself in between scenes. I love this show, but I can't watch too many at once (or when it's dark out, or when I'm alone) because of its ominously dark and dreary view on life in the '50s. Haven't seen it before? Think The Twilight Zone but with better cinematography. 

via SoundTrackCentral

Fierce Creatures:
This one shouldn't really be on the list because it is one of the worst movies I've ever seen. One lonely night when I was flipping through the titles, I read the summary of this and my interest was piqued. "In this follow-up to A Fish Called Wanda (this is where I pressed play, btw) failing zoo owner McCain brings in new manager Rollo, who implements a 'fierce creatures only' policy." This is misleading in so many ways. While it starred the same amazing team of John Cleese, Jamie Lee Curtis, Kevin Kline, and Michael Palinit's a serious blasphemy to call this a follow-up. It was full of jokes about killing animals, orgies, and other things that would probably excite Luka Magnotta (too soon?). BUT if you want to see something hilariously bad, give it a try.

via MadammeGuillotine

The Buccaneers:
I love me some period dramas. This was a '90s BBC miniseries that never really took off—but I like it just the same. Four American sisters (including a young, hot Mina Sorvino) travel to London to look for husbands. And hilarity ensues! These "new-money" American girls make fools of themselves, are lucky and unlucky with love, and make for charming television.

via Warp

This is England:
The best in the This is England series (which includes sequels in TV mini-series form) is set in 1983 in Britain's skinhead subculture. Despite a few shitty skinheads who make trouble for everyone else (ie: the National Front dudes) they are a bunch of sweet, fun-loving kids. The sequels take place in '86 and '88 (with '90 coming out this year) and follow the same group of friends through their 20s. Shit gets really rough with them—and you might not believe me after watching this one, but it's the most light-hearted of the series. 

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Film Review: The Waning Charms of Moonrise Kingdom

I saw Moonrise Kingdom on Friday night. We were a large group, occupying nearly a row of the packed theatre, and I had publicized the viewing as Phase One in an evening of revelry, followed by a party at my house. As such, and with a predominance of film-fan friends, “how did you like the new Wes Anderson movie?” was a common question at the post-screening shindig. I had the unhappy task of shrugging my shoulders.

Yeah, I didn’t like it all that much. It’s not that it was bad – it’s certainly a breath of fresh air compared to most of what’s onscreen these days. But if you’re looking for a review that will pay lip-service to the overhyped film, you might want to look elsewhere. Hey, it’s sporting a 95% review average on Rotten Tomatoes – don’t worry, you’ll find someone else, likely more eloquent, whose tastes better suit your tastes. But if you a) like dissenting opinions and b) don't mind spoiling certain inessential aspects, read on. (Note: consider this a big ol’ SPOILER WARNING for the rest of the review. No, seriously, the next thing I write is a SPOILER.) 

Really, everything went downhill for me after the dog died. I hate that’s what ultimately what killed it for me, but I’ve just got to be honest, man. I’m okay with a dog death if it serves the movie. Old Yeller? Totally. The Thing? Fuck yeah. Hell, even Cheese’s dog in The Wire had some gravitas. But in Moonrise Kingdom, we get a gruesome image of a very dead dog, which no one seems to give a fuck about. Seriously? A loyal, highly trained, adorable dog gets this exchange as a eulogy?
SUZY: Was he a good dog?
SAM: Who’s to say?
Later, there’s an offhand mention about the dog’s death made to the owner, who seems to give even less of a fuck – I believe he says, “It couldn’t be helped.” (He’s a bully, mind you, but I guess him liking his own dog is too much to ask for).

A detached sensibility isn’t new territory for Anderson – his characters are known for their dry patois and reserved emotions. Nor is he a stranger to inserting violence into his cutesy, twee worlds – injuries have always looked exaggeratedly realistic (The Royal Tenenbaums, The Darjeeling Limited) and Fantastic Mr. Fox in particular played up its more brutal, animal instincts. I do understand the dog’s death as a way to temper the whimsy of the film, a theme that’s recalled continually throughout, but something about this moment rang unsettlingly callous to me. Yes, there are real stakes in this surreal world, but seeing the consequences doesn’t affect any of the characters. Suzy and Sam move on from the senseless death, unfazed, continuing on as if nothing has happened. It’s a cold, inhumane response to a pretty disturbing image, and I wasn’t sure how to root for characters who plainly felt no empathy for a defenseless animal.*

This brings me to another point – the two kids as “emotionally disturbed”. It’s one of those facts repeated throughout the film by pretty much everyone close to the kids, even though I think we see very little of that. What we do see are sensitive, overlooked kids who obviously feel frustrated and lash out occasionally. We see a montage of their sample outbursts – Suzy lunges after a girl in class, Sam throws a punch at a teen who outsizes him by a lot – but these attempts seem clumsy, in the heat of the moment, unprepared and unpremeditated. They seem like the attempts of kids who are out of their element, the actions of a bookish, isolated girl and a runty, orphaned boy. The film understands that these are just kids looking for an emotional connection and finally, after being alone for so long, recognizing familiarity in one another.

But I’m not sure how to reconcile that with the dog. I feel like it’s not the characters’ shortcoming, it’s the film’s. It’s playing with the idea of the ramifications of childish violence, fairly overtly (think the too-tall treehouse or the lefthanded scissors), but ultimately the dog is treated as collateral damage. It holds as much emotional heft as the piece of wood that falls from the treehouse. At the end of the film, Snoopy’s corpse is likely still just lying out there in the woods, likely not even missed.

There are other things that can be said about the film too. Willis and Norton and Swinton come out well, Murray has a couple great one-liners, but McDormand is given sadly little to do. The aesthetic is great, all 60s Americana and warm colours and Hank Williams and Boy Scout badges, but skews a little precious. Overall though, I was left with a somewhat hollow feeling – a feeling that the reserved nature of Anderson’s characters isn’t just elaborate artifice, but an actual lacking of depth and interest. It’s masked by great actors (in particular, Willis does a great job in this film), but when left to developing actors, they feel as blank as they’re written. Moonrise Kingdom, more so than any other Anderson movie, exposes the seams in his filmmaking – he is all shots and technicality and set dressing, and his excellent eye for casting allows him to free himself of considering performances. This works well when you’ve got, say, Bill Murray to make your dialogue hum with a rich inner life, but it falls flat in the hands of lesser talents, even when they look the part (sorry, Kara Hayward and Jared Gilman).

Anyway, it IS a film worth seeing on the big screen. It’s flawed, yes, but significantly less so than most other movies coming out this year. And it is a spectacle – big, golden and beautiful, brimming with neat little flourishes and rewarding to a careful eye. But don’t believe the hype – this is not the best Wes Anderson film by a long shot, and I just hope he continues to challenge himself not just aesthetically, but with a deeper exploration of his characters’ interior lives.

*Also, I just wanted to note a bias here: I am a dog owner, so this moment likely hit me more strongly because of that. However, I think it's likely still something that would have disturbed me a year ago, before I owned a dog, but it might be one of those things like when a kid dies in a movie, and you don't understand the true depth of that emotion until you've had a child, you know?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Weekly Perks

FYI: We are starting a weekly post to come out each Monday morning—the working title is Weekly Perks—and it's going to be an amalgamated list of links, pictures, memes, recipes, articles, or anything else we've found online that we want to share with you. We're really good at the internet (and we've really filted down the cute cat photos) so take a look at what we're excited about this week.

via Toronto Life

Joanne Kates, easily Toronto's most famous food critic, ended her 38-year column for the Globe last week. You should definitely read her last article—it'll teach you a lot about how Toronto's food scene has changed in the last quarter century, and about the perils of eating at restaurants and keeping her true identity a secret. Also, read her hilarious Career Highs, Career Lows. Food is a very important part of our lives (only second to sleep, with sex a far third) so we're soaking up all we can get of her writing while we still can.

via Resident Advisor

This link will take you to an amazing monthly radio show that's broadcast out of a bar in Berlin. Welcome to the Room is addictive. It's low-key enough to be background music but it's upbeat—it's dancey but it's also completely calming. The 12th show was released a week ago, but you're going to want to go back into the archives and listen to them all

via Wilder Quarterly
There's an amazing magazine called Wilder Quarterly that I've never gotten the chance to see with my own eyes. It's a publication for "people enthralled by the natural world," which just means that if you like plants, flowers, herbs, food, farmers, etc. then this is right up your alley. And just as it is with many great magazines, the blog (free, and with more frequent updates) is totally worth your time. Check it out here—you'll see some beautiful travel photos, tips on growing tomatoes, and Helen Mirren with a carnivorous plant that was named after her. 

via Another Mag

Good flat sandals are hard to find—seriously, I have one pair that I like and I wear them even though they tear up my feet and have no arch support. But theseTHESE! It'll never happen, but I'll still dream about them. Forever.

via B Insider

I found this feature on hair and makeup artist Natalie Blouin in the B Insider to be really inspiring—I dug around in my makeup bag to find similar items to the products that she recommends, and I feel like I've already learned a lot. Sometimes it's just nice to read something that an expert has written on a topic that you love. (Sustainable food production? The upcoming American election? No... I'm talking about makeup.) Lots of good advice here. 

via The NYT

And lastly, this NYT article on the 32 Innovations that will Change Your Tomorrow. Amazing stuff (I need that Morning Multitasker and the Shutup Gun, like yesterday) but the layout of the page is an amazing gradation of colours. Hats off to whoever came up with that one.

Enjoy this week's recommendations! We'll have a post or two for you this coming week. Take it easy!