TOP 15 OF ’14-FILMS YOU SHOULD WATCH

So  my friend/film extraordinaire Michael Robinson (trust me, he owns more movies than Blockbuster ever did, and a wider variety too) has  ranked his top film fav’s for WMTM! Check out his article:

2014 Films Review by Guest Writer Michael Robinson 

2014 has been an incredible year in film and showcases themes that vary drastically from those that 2013 had to offer. From subjects ranging from strains on a marriage to the excess of Hollywood, many of the top films of the year brought something new to the table. After  some deliberating, here are my top 15 of 2014:

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15) The One I Love

This is an independent film focused primarily on the two main actors (Mark Duplass and Elisabeth Moss) as they go away for a weekend to work on their marriage. Weird things begin to happen in the guesthouse as a bizarre game begins between the two. The One I Love focuses on the trust between a married couple and how much strain a relationship can take.

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14) The Grand Budapest Hotel

I am a huge fan of Wes Anderson so this was a no brainer. The dialogue is the best he has ever written and the style is absolutely stunning. While it’s not as deep as I wanted it to be (Why the three timelines when things only happen in one?), it is still incredibly enjoyable and worth exploring.

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13) Nightcrawler

This is a film that had to grow on me. I walked out thinking it was alright but found myself talking about it with everyone. It’s a smart commentary on the sensationalization of the media and features a brilliant performance by Jake Gyllenhaal.

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12) Gone Girl

David Fincher is a director who always brings great movies to the table but never incredible ones. To me, this is Fincher’s first incredible movie (mostly due to the on point script by Gillian Flynn). This is another film that focuses of the turmoil of marriage, especially what happens when you pull back the curtain. The characters are very complex and you begin to question everyone involved.

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11) Whiplash

Who would guess that the film that won Sundance would be amazing? The movie focuses on Andrew, a music student at a prestigious school where he aims to be in the top jazz ensemble run by Fletcher, played expertly by J.K. Simmons. This is a film that echoes the jazz that the band plays. From the editing, to the tension, it is crafted incredibly well and ends on the perfect note.

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10) Only Lovers Left Alive

I love everything Tilda Swinton does and this may be one of her finest. Only Lovers focuses on two rock vampires (completely the director, Jim Jarmusch’s style) as they come together again after years apart. The chemistry between Swinton and Tom Hiddleston is electric and with Mia Wasikowska in the mix, things get complicated very quickly. The film is expertly crafted and one not to miss.

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9) The Tales of the Princess Kaguya

This is the first film Studio Ghibli has released since Hayao Miyazaki has stepped down and it looks like the company is still in good hands. The film focuses on a girl who is born out of a bamboo tree and raised by a bamboo cutter. She defies the mold of society and acts as a commentary of the limitations of women in Japan. The music is great and the style is absolutely incredible (it contains one of my favorite scenes of the year). Make sure to check out this powerful animated film.

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8) The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Him & Her

This came out as two separate films screened together (each taking the point of either the female lead, Jessica Chastain, or the male, James McAvoy) and as a combined, shorter filmed called The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby: Them. While I have not seen the Them version, I highly recommend the separate, longer Him & Her. You see the strains of a heterosexual relationship fallen apart through both the man and the woman’s side. It’s an emotional experience that I haven’t gotten anywhere else.

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7) Stray Dogs

I saw this film during the summer and it has been haunting me ever since. The Malaysian director, Ming-liang Tsai, crafts a slow burning commentary on the lower class and the struggle to survive and take care of children. Each shot is expertly crafted, taking several minutes of screen time each for a total of 77 shots over the course of the two and a half hour film. It requires a lot of patience but the reward is incredible.

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6) CitizenFour

This isn’t just a film, it’s a historical document. Laura Poitras talks with Edward Snowden before he released what he knows to the country, allowing people to see what exactly happened leading up to the NSA crisis two years ago. Few filmmakers take the risk that Poitras does and the result is an inspiring, frightening , and incredible film.

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5) Under the Skin

Jonathan Glazer ventures into the extreme of bizarre and exquisite with Under the Skin. The loss story follows an alien, played by Scarlet Johansenn, as she wanders Scotland to abduct men. Well, that’s the premise but the film evolves so much from there, with perfect editing and the best soundtrack of the year by Mica Levi. This is an artistic masterpiece.

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4) Ida

Ida is a movie you have to see to believe in. As a polish black and white film about a nun who is looking for her parents, it’s a tough sell. Yet Pawlikowski makes it work. The cinematography is beautiful and the very different 1.33:1 ratio really makes it stand out. There are so many scenes in this 80 minute film that stick out to me and it’s a movie going experience I won’t soon forget.

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3) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night

Here is another foreign black and white film, yet this one is very different. It’s an Iranian Vampire Western and the first time director Ana Lily Amirpour really makes the film soar. Few movies have ever given me the same amount of glee when watching them, from the female vampire lead flying down the streets on her skateboard to the best acting cat I have ever seen, A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night is a treat that anyone should seek out and see.

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2) Birdman or The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance

 

There are so many layers to this commentary on Hollywood that one viewing doesn’t do it justice. The actors are all absolutely brilliant and the cinematography is phenomenal. The characters really come alive and the whole film just comes together to really work.

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1) Boyhood

How can I not fall in love with Richard Linklater’s 12-year tale of growing up in the 2000’s? There is so much that the director does that is so subtle but so remarkable. Each character is crafted beautifully and really comes alive and grows in front of you. You see Mason mature throughout the small points in his life. You see him go from a six year old boy who just wants to watch TV and mess with his sister to a teenager going to college and being independent for the first time in his life. This is a wonder of a film and the best of the year.

There are many other great films that came out this year, with Obvious Child, The Blue Room, The Immigrant, The Dance of Reality, Foxcatcher, Top Five, The Babadook, and many more that I Ioved but couldn’t include.My top rated film list will most certainly change once I see the following: Selma, The Imitation Game, Wild, Leviathan, Two Days One Night, Mr. Turner, Inherent Vice, Locke, Winter Sleep, Force Majeure, and A Most Violent Year. 2015 already looks promising with some sundance films already looking interesting as well as some that have made the festival rounds but not released (Olivier Assayas’s Clouds of Sils Maria should be sought out as soon as it officially hit theatres in March).

 

 

 

Not Just Ear and Eye Candy: Where are the Female EDM DJ’s?

Whenever I watch EDM music festivals, girls are everywhere. They take up just as much time on camera as the headlining DJ. I also hear a fair amount of them too-with angelic vocals being looped over and over a DJ’s newest hit (Ellie Goulding anyone?).  We see them, we hear them, so why aren’t they given the chance to actually make anything?

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EDM lately has been a boys club of sorts and whether or not that’s incidental, it still needs to be addressed. Many female artists have used EDM as either a basis for their newest CD or employed a DJ or two. But it’s a rarity to see a girl either playing much less headlining a major festival (like Sensation, Electric Daisy Carnival, Ultra Music Festival, Tomorrowland etc.) these days.

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Don’t get me wrong, breaking into any industry-whether a guy or girl-is no easy feat. However, the internet has changed today’s EDM scene from its 1990’s predecessors. Outlets such as SoundCloud lets anyone-not just DJ’s signed to a label-get their music out to the public. Also, there’s no age minimum for being an EDM DJ, (i.e. Porter Robinson and Martin Garrix who catapulted to the music charts in their mid-teens) which shows you simply need the software and the skills of course.

So I’m a bit puzzled why no major female DJ has yet to take center stage. It’s not that female singers don’t use EDM-like beats in their songs. I’d argue that artists like Lady Gaga and Rihanna helped revitalize the genre  for crowds beyond the rave scene.  I was surprised and elated when EDM suddenly became more mainstream that it has been in the past. No more did EDM lovers have to hide in the shadows.

Here’s an article describing the 10 Top Female EDM DJ’s.

Another article discussing a female-only DJ lineup festival.

Artists such as David Guetta Calvin Harris, Avicii, Hardwell, Zedd, Knife Party, Swedish House Mafia, Deadmau5, Michael Woods, Tiesto, Martin Garrix, Steve Aoki, Benny Benassi etc. have produced for big name female singers, and their songs have resided at the top of the charts for weeks on end. They often use lesser-known female vocals on top of their tracks too.

Why is this an issue you may ask? Because whoever controls the charts also controls the money. Singers on songs don’t make a lot of money. Writers do and producers make even more. So by restricting women to just the vocals in EDM, then they’re not getting jack squat (but kudos to Ellie for writing “I Need Your Love” with Calvin Harris-a smart, smart move).

In order to make an impact, girls can’t just sing or appeal in videos. For you future female producing hit makers, now is your time. You’ve got an awesome formula (internet + personal drive + a potential audience) to create a masterpiece.

Nervo has pretty good collabs with other EDM artists, but sadly hasn’t been a mainstay.

Moving forward, I’d encourage not just the top names, but also listeners to be more open-minded. Don’t just restrict the girls to being on-camera or the side-kicks to a few hits and then leave them by the wayside. Motivate your EDM-loving girlfriends to actually pursue their hobby, rather than sitting on your shoulders at festivals. And once they do, don’t forget to send some free tickets my way ;)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jourdan Dunn + Naomi Campbell for Burberry’s SS15 Campaign

Not sure if you’ve heard, but Jourdan Dunn and Naomi Campbell are the newest faces of Burberry’s Spring Summer 2015 Campaign. This is a BIG DEAL. 

Why might you ask? Well because it’s very rare that a black model is in a major campaign these days. Or in the center of one. Or alone in one. Or even with another black model. So having TWO black models as the central focus in a fashion campaign that has no tribal or “urban” (code for hood) references is refreshening. Also, kudos to Burberry for having Jourdan and Naomi look gorgeous without adding skin-lightening.

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Jourdan and Naomi weren’t selected as a racial statement by the brand, but simply because they’re the best. Burberry’s Creative Director Christopher Bailey (who is just really, really awesome btw) shared, “Naomi and Jourdan – two great British icons, two strong, beautiful women and the two perfect faces for our new campaign. It is, as always, a real privilege to work with them.”

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Naomi is a legend, groomed in the days of the 90’s Supermodels, while Jourdan has stomped every major runway alongside Cara Delevingne, Karlie Kloss, Chanel Iman, and well you get it.

Moving forward, it would be great if other brands took note of Burberry’s wise move. Rather than sprinkling a few racially ambiguous models on their runways, I think a bolder stance  would showcase the industry’s ability to shape what’s beautiful, rather than being the object of popular opinion.

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Shoppin’ Discoveries: The Exclusive Taste

As I battled the crowded corridors of First Colony Mall a bright, almost luminous, store window stopped me in my tracks.  After navigating my way around a circus of strollers and shoppers toting enough bags that I wondered how they didn’t collapse I was finally there. Friendly smiles paired with  streetwear is something you don’t often see in today’s stores, and one that sets The Exclusive Taste a part.

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An impressive wall of shoes-plastic wrapped no less. About $500 a pop.

An amicable guy suited in their unofficial uniform-think a bold sweatshirt, snapback hat, and acid wash denim jeans-approached me and asked if I needed any help.  As I was taking pics for WMTM, he didn’t hesitate to tell me how The Exclusive Taste differed from other urban wear shops. These clothes are for the fearless-so fearless that I don’t think you could be a wallflower even if you tried. Think baggy sweatshirts with tongue-in-cheek pictures of Bill Clinton, “Dope” in gold lettering, and crew necks with look-at-me prints. Not ready for such a bold statement? Try layering a black leather jacket (always a good go-to) to keep your look pulled together.

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“Dope” Shirt with gold lettering.

 

Carrying an impressive span of brands from across the globe, from Australia to Htown, The Exclusive Taste aspires to bring the city up to speed. What made me stop in my tracks was the fabric-they stated how the quality justified the price-as their track pants were softer than some dresses that I own.

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So soft Zanerobe pants. Almost like a blanket.

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But girls, never fear because although the shop focused mostly on guys, the clothes aren’t just for the dudes. If you’re looking for something to relax in during those Netflix marathons, I suggest picking up a pair of Zanerobe pants.

Somewhat pricey for their younger demographic, The Exclusive Taste could definitely be a place to pick up a Christmas gift or two to ‘treat yo self.

Prefall 2015 Fashion Fav’s

I like to think of Pre-Fall as Fashion’s form of Christmas. Right before the Couture shows and a few months following the September shows, it offers a dose of new collections to hold us fashion lovers till January. Not all designers feature Prefall shows, but a growing number have decided to jump on board in the past years. Some designers deliver a full show while some opt for intimate presentations.

Here’s some of my Prefall Hervé Léger  2015 Fav’s for you to check out:

Hervé Léger these past few seasons has been steering away from club-hopping dresses to more versatile looks. For PreFall, this meant A-line dresses in an array of colors that were anything but boring. Take the looks into daytime by throwing a structured crop jacket on top like they did this season. Hervé Léger still paid homage to the bondage cocktail looks but with a variety of cutouts and necklines. Fringes added an extra dose of flavor to the looks, without going into Wild Western territory. A floor-sweeping skirt concluded the collection, marrying bondage materials and ballgowns for a surprisingly modern result.

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Music Matters: Tkay Maidza

So finals are over (AT LAST) and that means I finally have time to pour over the stacks (on stacks on stacks) of magazines that I love. And also buy more (yeah I know it’s a problem). So after picking up the Dec./Jan. issue of Nylon Mag, I checked out their “Radar” section and saw an interview with Australian rapper dubbed Tkay MaidzaYes there are other rappers in Australia, but Tkay’s nothing like what’s hit the states before and something that the US charts desperately needs. Described as a mix between “EDM, electro-pop, and rap” (basically a musical unicorn) she definitely didn’t disappoint. Case in point: U-Huh.

-“U-Huh” by Tkay Maidza-So infectious. I’ll be playing this into the new year.

As a film major, for myself the vids are just as important as the tracks. Her music isn’t so bubblegum pink pop that it makes you want to do synchronized boy band dances, but also not so austere that you start questioning life itself. Think dancing with black balloons in abandoned warehouses, but also with bright 80’s-esque backgrounds that still makes you feel good. Also, the video centered JUST around Tkay, showing how this heavyweight can and will be able to hold her own (no background dancers necessary). And that’s no easy feat.

– Also, you should check out her interview. So adorbs.

 

 

 

 

WMTM: From Fashion to Film to Fun