I am also one-half of DJ duo, The Roustabouts!

We spin everything from Balkan Beats, Carnivalesque Cabaret, Electro-Swing and the filthiest guilty pleasures.  

 

Thursday
Oct162014

Tigz Rice, Sparklewren and Pearls & Swine

Back in late August, when it was still possible to be out in the London air without much on, I finally got around to shooting with Tigz Rice!

Well known for her beautiful portraits, particularly of performers and vintage-inspired fashion, it's crazy that we didn't join forces earlier, especially as we attended the same University, and work with so many of the same people. I very rarely model for other photographers unless I particularly like (and trust!) their work - I'm not a model, so I need to work with someone with the skills to make me look good ;)

I wanted to put together a special look that gave off a couture feel, using a colour palette that I don't often use. I've been a fan of the absolutely stunning corsets by Sparklewren for quite a while, and was so glad when she agreed to lend me one of her Mink corset-bodies! The lovely Bink at Pearls & Swine also leant me this beautiful Ship Headpiece.

The Mink corset reminded me of stone being struck by the sea; with the netting, lace and freshwater pearls, it made me think of a decadent mermaid. I took this idea through the outfit, with fringing, silver chains and pale blue hair. I used silver jewellery that featured a lot of charms and burnished metal to create a decrepit opulence. To make the cape seem more special I covered the shoulders and front with brooches and a beaded capelet.

For makeup I used silvers and blues for the eyes, leaving off eyebrows and using an unusual cut-crease to alter the shape of my eyes. I used dark purple/red lipstick with a touch of silver pigment in the center.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An exciting/scary thing about the shoot was that it was going to be filmed! David McClelland of Ginx TV got in touch with Tigz to see if we would be happy to be featured on Planet Of The Apps, a prime time TV series that focuses on modern technology and gadgets. They wanted to film the entire shoot through to post-production, but it wasn't very intrusive at all. 

I haven't seen the final show but apparently it aired internationally very recently, and we should be receiving the footage soon!

Onto the wonderful photos, thanks again to Tigz Rice!


 

Wednesday
Oct152014

Recent Reads

Petite Mort

 
I read this book a few months ago, and although I had rated it on Goodreads as 4 stars (now altered to 3), I had to remind myself of the premise for this review. Evidentially it didn't leave much of a lasting impression. It's a shame, because on paper (forgive the pun) it should be everything that should appeal to me; silent film era, cinematic illusions, mystery... 

The book is "narrated" by both the present day (set in the 60s, via a conversation with a journalist), and a young (set in 1913) Adèle Roux, a girl seduced by silent films, who follows her heart to the Pathé production company. Instead of becoming the star she hoped to be, she ends up working in the costume department. Along comes a handsome male producer and, as if you can't see this coming, she sleeps with him. Rather than secure her a role in a film, she finds herself in the role of personal assistant to the producer's famous film star wife. Yadda yadda yadda lesbianism yadda yadda mystery yadda yadda betrayal.

After reading true stories of early cinema, and the scandals that went on between actors, the sex and scandal in this book seem somewhat obvious. There isn't much I can say without giving away spoilers, as the book's blurb literally begs the reader not to disclose the plot twist. I think the emphasis of "omg plot twist!" is a bad move on the part of the author/publisher, as it encourages expectation in the reader, and therefore causes us to be more critical of the story. I had mostly worked out the twist from the first few chapters, so the reveal only caused a sense of satisfaction that I was correct. Not the shock that we are encouraged to expect.

The more I think about it, the more unconvinced I feel about the book. I don't remember feeling any sort of connection to any of the characters, although it was pleasant and easy enough to keep reading. 





American Gods

I actually read this back in February, and then devoured two Neil Gaiman books since, but this one was by far my favourite so I thought I'd review this instead! As blasphemous as this sounds, I hadn't read a Gaiman book until this point. I guess it was partly laziness and partly the raving about his work that made me feel like if I did read one, and disliked it, it would be a disagreement I had with a vast majority that I wouldn't be able to explain to myself; silly, I know. 

The book follows the character of Shadow (would be a cheesy name but somehow isn't, not sure what kind of literary magic he worked there), whose wife dies in a car crash just before he is to be released from prison. Unsure what to do or what to think, he makes his way back home on a plane. Here he meets Mr Wednesday, a charming man who claims to be a God, and offers Shadow a job, which takes them to bizarre characters and places.

The blurb describes it as taking "a long, hard look into the soul of America" and being deeply unsettling. I'm not sure whether it unsettled me (although the "underground" scenes are so strong I could feel them being played behind my eyelids like a film), but it most certainly captured my imagination. Although British, Gaiman channels the deep threads of American belief like he was born and raised there. It almost satirically observes the melting pot of the vast country, and delves into concepts of immigration and modern-day distractions. 

There are touches of everything I love about Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy and Terry Pratchett books, while the depictions of America reminded me of Stephen King. But Gaiman's writing stands alone as evocative and painterly, with a story unlike anything else I've read before. I would very likely count this as one of my favourite books, and look forward to reading it again. 

Good news is, the amazing Bryan Fuller (creator of Hannibal) is developing American Gods for TV!

 

Tuesday
Oct142014

Hannibal: why I won't stop telling you about it.

I don't really tend to fangirl about many things, unless I feel they are particularly special. NBC's Hannibal is one of those very special things. We came in fairly late in the game, as this was something that I'd heard of, and had been meaning to watch, but was put aside for Breaking Bad and Game of Thrones. In the space between other shows, I finally decided to try Hannibal, and boy, I'm so glad I did. 


The first two seasons (and likely the third) of Hannibal take place in an alternate universe before Red Dragon - which had only covered the story once Hannibal had been caught and in prison. In the show, Hannibal is working as a psychologist, long before Clarice Starling. In Red Dragon, Will Graham only meets Hannibal shortly before he catches him, as opposed to the long relationship the two have in the show. Although the majority of the storylines in the show are unique, they reconstruct Thomas Harris' tones extremely well, and some even have nods to the books (such as the introduction of the Vergers in season 2). Lines from the book are faithfully injected into the show ("It feels like I'm talking to his shadow, suspended on dust") without being jarring, only noticeable if you've read the books. 


After devouring the two seasons of the show so far, I stated reading the book series (I'm currently on the third book, Hannibal), which are well worth the read, especially if you like thrillers. But in this post I thought I'd ramble on about the many reasons why the show has really captured my imagination! 

 

Exquisite cinematography

Hannibal is quite literally a feast for the eyes. Not just the fastidiously constructed shots, although these are the ones that will etch themselves on your mind, but the entire show takes immense care with every scene. The colour palette is considerably well thought-out, from how a wall contrasts clothing, or how a shade of blue might reflect the turmoil of a character's mind. Symmetry is deployed in a similar vein to Kubrick (cited as one of the show's inspirations, along with David Lynch, both of which you can see clearly throughout).

One thing that sets Hannibal apart from it's ilk, is that the horror of death is offset with the most stunning tableau shots, much like a Vanitas painting. Macro and close up shots of the food being prepared by Hannibal is designed to be mouth-watering, shocking considering the implication of what the "meat" comprises of. By employing the skills of a food stylist, artist Janice Poon (she has a great blog here), these shots are able to stand alone as incredibly beautiful objets d'art.

It's also worth noting that the (wonderful) Hannibal fanbase includes a lot of absolutely beautiful fanart!

 

A male protagonist who is flawed and fragile. 

Think about how often you've seen a male protagonist who is depicted as damaged and doesn't overcome his flaws. Will Graham is treated, as noted by Hannibal in one of the first episodes, as a "delicate tea cup, only used for special guests". It's rare that a male character would need to rely so heavily on those around him, particularly women. His sexual advances are denied due to his fragility, and his whole persona seems a lot more realistic than many male leads (another male character that also goes against the norm is Walter White from Breaking Bad).

Another interesting note is that many of the female characters have been gender swapped from their counterparts in the books; Alana/Allen Bloom, Freddie/Freddy Lounds. The books themselves feature what I would consider, an extremely strong feminist character in the form of Clarice Starling, so it is refreshing that this has been considered in the show. 

 

Writing 

As the audience we are well aware (it's also revealed to us in the first episode) that Hannibal is dangerous, and so it can only be a matter of time before the other characters gain this knowledge. The foreshadowing, mostly from Hannibal's own mouth ("You have to convince yourself the lion is not in the room" and "I'd love to have you both for dinner" comments) gives a playful hint as to what is to come. Re-watching the first season with the knowledge of how everything develops, especially Will and Hannibal's increasingly complicated relationship, is interesting. The use of metaphors are subtly used throughout the 2 seasons without being hammy, while the overarching story has obviously been constructed with meticulous care.

 

Actors

There isn't one bad performance in the entire show, even from actors I wouldn't normally consider to be top rate (such as Eddie Izzard, whose performance is a good homage to Anthony Hopkins' Hannibal). The majority of the actors were unfamiliar to me, or hadn't been in any large productions, but they stand alongside such great performers as Laurence Fishburne. Mads Mikkelsen and Hugh Dancy are incredibly strong as Hannibal and Will, with Mads portraying the cannibal as well as, dare I say better than, Anthony Hopkins.

 

Sound design

One of the more surreal aspects of the show, to compliment the visual style, is the sound design. There are many scenes in which dialogue is put aside; not guiding the audience along by pointing out the obvious, but allowing the audio space and often ominous soundtrack to do the work. The soundtrack is slightly different for each episode, for example, Season 1, Episode 2 has a bubbling, slightly nauseating sound for the mushroom killer, while Verdi and Mozart is used dramatically throughout Season 1, Episode 7. I remember in particular, the sound throughout season 2, when Will is at his most fragile, is extremely evocative. 

 

Wardrobe

Oh my god the suits. Hannibal is well-known to enjoy the finer things in life, from wines to cars, so his wardrobe would definitely need to be a priority. And boy, does the wardrobe department follow through. 

 

 

The theme of mental illness. 

So often in media, mental illness is portrayed in a negative way, and phrases like "he's crazy" have entered our everyday lexicon. With the main theme on the show being psychology, in particular the psychology of the mentally ill, it would have been easy for a group of careless writers to treat mental illness as a monster. Without glorifying, Hannibal delves into the complex minds of fictional killers, via Will Graham's empathetic mind.

From the outset, Will's state of mind is put into question, with Crawford asking him where he falls on the Autism spectrum, to which he responds, "My horse is hitched to a post that is closer to Aspergers and Autistics". Will has particular trouble with social situations, an issue that many people struggle with. As his taxing tasks effect his already fragile mind, the audience is given a glimpse of what it may be like to suffer in such a way, allowing us a glimpse of how complex the human mind can be. Not only is Will's psychology laid out on the table, but some of the other characters are shown as flawed and, at times, unstable. One of the reasons why Freddie Lounds is such a distasteful character is that she encourages the view that Will Graham is "crazy" and therefore shouldn't be around Abigail Hobbs (evidentally she didn't notice the real monster in the room). As I said, this could have so easily fallen into the spectrum of media that encourages an unhealthy view of mental illness, but Bryan Fuller's team have created something special that deals with these themes in a mature and complex way. 

 


In short, I highly recommend giving Hannibal a watch, as it far surpasses many other television shows currently being aired. 

Have you watched Hannibal, if so, which aspects did you enjoy the most?