Books »Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell

by Susanna Clarke (2004)

I wish I was more excited about the hit novel Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell. It’s very pleasant, very imaginative and most impressively – I read the whole huge hard bound thing (since having limited spare time, I tend to give books the ax quickly if I’m not feeling it) yet it didn’t leave me overwhelmed with delight as charming as it can be.

Often engrossing, I can imagine lots of people would love it more than me.

Sorry, not much to go on, I know – but (as you can tell from the infrequency of this blog’s posts) I’m getting late in my pregnancy and loosing all eloquence and patience.

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Posted on August 14, 2012

Spend a Couple Minutes »Pick Your Oscar Dress

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It’s that time again – to watch the red carpet, scoff through the introductory song (anyone recall the damning performance by Snow White and Rob Lowe or the embarrassing rework of Hey Yeah?)

Its also time to pick our dresses and before Paris Fashion weeks even begun (no fair).

I’m going off kilter and choosing a dynamic, quirky gown from visionary Mary Katrantzou. Add a structured top knot and Rodarte clunky heels to top it off and I’d be set.

What about you? What’s your fantasy Oscar dress? Tell us!

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Posted on February 25, 2012

Spend a Couple Minutes »Pick Your Golden Globes Dress

Link to Your Dress in the Comments

Sure, it’s just the stupid Golden Globes, but choosing a dress is still fun.

Was thinking something young and short and the first look that popped in my head was Louis Vuitton’s iceprincess mini from Spring. Yes, with a little beehive this will do just fine.

Leave a link to your outfit in the comments.

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Posted on January 12, 2012

TV Shows »5 Second Review: A Gifted Man

Demme Makes It As Good As It Can Be

I’m not going to like anything that could be described as ghost whisperer meets ER no matter how good it is.

But I have to say, if you stories about like ghosts (which are really just golden hearted secular angels) and mean, rich men learning how to love impoverished Hispanic children, then The Gifted Man is probably the highest quality version you can find.

It’s directed by Jonathan Demme, so it actually looks like a professional show (something I’ve found shockingly lacking this season) and the cast is largely stellar. She channels Meryl Streep, he balances a tough roll, but I was most happy to see the wonky eyed entomologist from Silence of the Lambs back on screen.

Almost skipped this one entirely (like I did H8R).

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Posted on September 24, 2011

Books »A Song of Ice and Fire

by George R R Martin (1996-????)

There’s so much to say about the epic Song of Ice and Fire series but so little you want to give away to those still buried within its thousands of pages.

Like so many others I picked the books up after loving the HBO adaptation… and what a fun time to be reading it. It’s the kind of book you want to discuss with people incessantly and there’s no shortage of fellow readers. Jim even texted me after especially incendiary chapters in disbelief.

With that kind of fervor and enthusiasm that the books evoke, George R.R. Martin has created something truly unique and it’s little wonder that the world is entranced.

I was as well as heartbroken, shocked (repeatedly and effectively), obsessed, angered, relieved, frustrated, awed and now after just finishing Dance with Dragons filled with a venomous ache for justice, some conclusions and frankly for some plot lines to get on with it already… ( I felt like Martin Sheen thinking “Mereen, shit I’m still only in Mereen”)

Yes it’s not without its flaws one cringe worthy sex scene where cock and cunt cant be told apart proves that but what’s harder for this reader is the scattered scope after the whirlwind of awesomeness in book three. The plot splits between two books and beloved characters aren’t seen for hundreds upon hundreds of pages. I can only imagine how frustrating this must have been for readers that had to wait years for the next book as I am about to do for book six.

But despite the flaws and the fact that it might never be completed, this is one extraordinary reading experience. Now I get to see how book two is interpreted on the show… too excited.

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Posted on September 21, 2011

TV Shows »5 Second Review: The Secret Circle

Thumbs Say Not Bad For What It Is

Mr. Dawson’s Creek spent a long, empty headed weekend with the repeat viewings of the Twilight movies and The Craft and came to the logical conclusion…

Teenage witches! But they will live in the Pacific Northwest and drive trucks!

There will be one crazy bitch that’s mad with witchy power and magical glittery stuff will happen in the woods!

(OK, to be fair, the storyline comes from a series of books, so the derivative elements might not be his fault)


Maybe it’s because I find Britt Robertson charming or that I have a soft spot for young adult entertainment, but I have to say The Secret Circle bests both the inspirations. Which is kind of faint praise (especially in the case of Twilight) but still.

If the shows finds its sense of humor and goes wild it could be fun though it’s doubtful I’ll personally watch and wait (such hopefulness didn’t totally pay off with Supernatural.)

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Posted on September 20, 2011

TV Shows »Game of Thrones

on HBO

For years I have been wishing for HBO to do a sci-fi or fantasy saga. I whined in vain about how it would never happen what, with their penchant for therapist couch dramas and comedies about how men will be men, but now I have to be shut it because if not exactly making my dreams come true (that would have been a series based on the Jack Vance Demon Princes) they’ve come pretty close with the epic Game of Thrones.

Based on the monumental, unfinished book series by George R.R. Martin (read an interesting article about his intense, often abusive fans here), GoT is part World of Warcraft, part Arthurian legend, part historical drama and thoroughly excellent – though quite an ambitious undertaking for adaptation.

Complex and intense, the series opens with the most intriguing sub plot – a paranormal threat called the “white walkers”, supposedly extinct evil zombie like creatures that hunt North of the kingdoms. If the eerie, breathtaking bloodbath in the snow doesn’t draw you into the series, perhaps the details on the woven black woolen capes will (Ann Demeulemeester would be drooling).

It’s to the creators credit that they pay as much attention to the detail of costume and set as they do to the bigger picture and the main reason I am so furious that HBO is not offered on demand in HD (get it together Time Warner!!).

The cast is spectacular with Peter Dinklage, an actor I’ve always admired but was stuck in an indie film rut, standing out as a sarcastic wit and surprising sex symbol. Sean Bean is excellent doing what he does best – brooding warrior gravitas with a heart of gold.

More surprising is the lovely Emilia Clarke who initially seems like a boring but sexified damsel in distress but is increasingly becoming the character I root for the most. Also great on the female side of things is Lena Headley who is excellent as a total bitch. She has perfected a smug half smile that is only found on murderous, incestuous queens and the worst face of the fashion industry. Her young brat son is equally and delightfully deplorable.

In smaller roles Joseph Mawle is interesting as a Guardian of the Northern Wall, it’s great seeing the former Mayor on The Wire (Aidan Gillen) as a slimy king’s consultant and Iain Glen is outstandingly handsome as an exiled nobleman. I also am loving the new fat kid.

With every episode I am drawn further into this vast world of intrigue and action. It helps me think that our decision to go premium with our cable was not an excessive but brilliant. It’s put HBO back on the map for unique programming.

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Posted on May 14, 2011

Spend a Couple Minutes »Choose Your Oscar Dress

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It’s a silly tradition I can never get rid of. Every year I choose a dress that I would wear to the Oscars. This time it’s an exquisitely lovely lilac gown from the Givenchy Couture Collection.

The Julien Macdonald dress is for all the after parties.

Who would you be wearing?

Leave link to your dress as a comment.

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Posted on February 25, 2011

Movies »The Tales of Hoffmann

directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1951)

When Jim saw The Tales of Hoffmann in the Netflix sleeve, he asked what it was and I said “That is not for you”. While it is highly and rightfully praised for it’s cinematic beauty, a film set entirely to opera with no dialogue is a tough sell in my house, and probably many others. I like opera generally, though have to admit, this one isn’t my favorite musically.

Luckily, that hardly matters since the real spectacle here are the surreal, fantastical and sometimes creepy imagery that Pressberger and Powell have created.

The plot, concerning a poet’s three big loves lost to a wind up doll, a gorgeous temptress, and an opera singer is full of fun flights of fancy. Like a man who sells eyes to make you see the world as you wish it or another that turns candle wax into jewels.

While I admit, I found the third act a bit of a snoozer, this is a film unlike many you’ll ever see. If you are familiar with their more popular work, The Red Shoes (a previous Brix Pick) you have some idea of the visual spectacle that awaits you. Not only are the sets stunning (such a shame no one makes unrealistic sets for movies anymore) but the costumes are amazing.

While it was a surprise to read that George Romero sites this as a most favorite and inspirational movie, I’d not be shock at all if fashion designers took to it for the insect body suits, eyes adorned with flower petals, gold manicures, eyeball printed trench coats, and that awesome candle wax necklace that I would buy in a heartbeat.

Click here for the rest of The Tales of Hoffmann

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Posted on February 23, 2011

Movies »The Red Shoes

directed by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger (1948)

The Red Shoes is a considered a classic for its beauty; not only in themes: the sacrifices one must make for both romantic love and love and passion about ones craft. It’s also gorgeous to look at. Technicolor has rarely been used to such dreamlike and stunning effect. The costumes, the choreography, Moira Shearer‘s red hair, a lovely score.. it’s little wonder that The Red Shoes inspired so many of it’s viewers to become dancers, designers (I distinctly see some Rodarte in her dirtied white gown), musicians, and film makers.

The centerpiece of the film is a surreal visual delight ballet, but the film, due to its cast, is more than its magnificent imagery. Shearer is incredible as the prima ballerina torn between the love of a composer and becoming the world’s greatest dancer. As it is a fairy tale the characters have no need to be realistic or complex, yet she and her puppet like impresario played by Anton Walkbrook are lively and fascinating.

Criterion Collection has recently restored the film and its available to watch with netflix instant.

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Posted on May 31, 2010

Movies »La belle et la bête

directed by Jean Cocteau (1946)

Jean Cocteau‘s masterful La Belle et la Bete (Beauty and the Beast) is a highly influential and romantically fantastic visual feast. Coppola drew inspiration for his schlocky but fun Dracula and I personally was highly inspired when I made my very first film project in college (which, sadly, I no longer have a copy of).

Taking the classic fairy tale and adding the intrigue of a villainous suitor (a story update which was taken on in the Disney animation), the film is still a fairly faithful adaptation that has remained a beloved gem (Stevie Nicks is a huge fan) for decades. The costumes, which drip with jewels and drape dreamily are exquisite and the sets are surreal and dreamlike.

Fans of film making should put this to the top of their lists if they’ve never seen it. See a gallery below/after the jump.

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Posted on April 18, 2010

Spend a Couple Minutes »Pick Your Oscar Dress

Clearly McQueen

It’s a tradition I adhere to every year. I fantasize and pick the dress I’d wear to the Oscars. It’s usually more fun than watching the thing. Of course, I couldn’t resist delving into the Alexander McQueen archives in light of the tragic loss. This black lace and white peacock frock is just one shining example of the magic he brought to the world of fashion.

Post your fantasy outfit as a comment!

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Posted on March 7, 2010

Style Icons: Male »Frank Frazetta (Best Male Style Icon)

frank frazetta Here's what I had to say on January 15th:

It's really crazy that I've neglected to honor Frank Frazetta here before. He, along with Vogue Magazine, Cyndi Lauper, The Talking Heads and Manhattan Transfer were the biggest influences on me as a really young kid. Frazetta's work particularly helped shape my aesthetics and love for the Dungeon and Dragons side of life.

I use to pore over books of Frazetta's amazing art with my dad in the basement, dreaming about sitting atop dangerous hilltops, surrounded by goblins, looking sexy and hardcore in a metal bikini (which also inspired the design of Princess Leia's famous costume). I would watch the movie Fire and Ice over and over again (one of the first movies I ever recommended here) and even to this day, I wear his artwork almost daily on my back.

He was largely successful as a commercial artist, doing work for movies like The Gauntlet, The Fearless Vampire Killers, and Mad Max, and album art for bands like Molly Hatchet (another prized possession is my tour t-shirt with his Flirtin' with Disaster art on it). Of course, now he's finally respected as an artist and his work sells for thousands (which is why I'll have to settle for tee shirts and patches until my ship comes in).

He grew up in Brooklyn, and according Wikipedia, “attributes much of the violence and brutality of his later paintings to his actual experiences as a young man defending himself from the street gangs of Brooklyn”. Another interesting and exciting fact is that he and his family run a small museum on their estate in Pennsylvania –? museum that I will of course be going to once it re-opens in May.

I really adore and admire Frazetta, possibly more than any other living artist. I thank my dad for introducing him to me and I hope that maybe I can introduce his work to the few people reading this blog that aren't already familiar with it – and I'm thankful that he's been so prolific over the years.

Irving Penn
The Cockettes
Jim Rumph
Garrett Brown
The Hanson Brothers

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Posted on November 2, 2009

Books »Stranger Things Happen

strangers things happen kelly linkI have been curious about the work of Kelly Link for a while. The quips on the back of the books make her work sound so mysterious and unique. How much you will get into the individual stories in Stranger Things Happen will depend on how easily you can get swept away in the specific fantastical language and devices. Often dreamy, with unexplained interjecting voices and sometimes bewildering plots, Link's stories demand some suspended disbelief and undivided concentration.

Some of these tales, I admit got away from me in the process of reading them bits at a time on subway platforms and a few moments before falling dead asleep, but several I found to be haunting and as magical as her rabid fans praise her for. Vanishing Act is a particular favorite.

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Posted on September 28, 2009

Movies »Fire and Ice

fire and ice ralph bakshi If this picture doesn't make you want to see this movie
And this amazing trailer doesn't make you want to see this movie, then how do I even know you?
This was my absolute favorite movie as a kid. And it's still amazing.

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Posted on November 21, 2005