The King's Speech

Monday, February 28, 2011

the king's speech
photographed by: caro ramirez (website | blog | flickr); inspiration: the king's speech (2010)

The King's Speech was exceptionally directed, written, shot and the performances were stellar. I can't believe I didn't watch it until Friday night. Shy and I were running late and we power-walked from California and Polk to Van Ness and O'Farrell in ten minutes, waited in line to buy the tickets and took five flights of escalators and we finally made it to theater 10. We rushed into the theater and it was a full house. This film has been out for a month and a half now and the entire theater was full? I guess everyone had the same idea as me - Oscars tomorrow night, better watch those films, huh? Unfortunately, we sat right at the front on the side, so everything on the right of the frame was extremely distorted and enlarged compared to the left side of the frame.

I love period dramas and historical dramas. I loved the production design, costumes, make up, hair and everything else. It was such a visually stunning film and I absolutely loved the use of negative space in the cinematography. Initially, they had discussed employing a fisheye lens to portray a sense of constriction and entrapment. However, they rendered this technique too literal and used a wider than normal lens instead. The chemistry between Colin Firth and Geoffrey Rush was undeniable. The soundtrack was heartbreaking and every time it came on during Albert's speech, I would start to well up. Approaching the end of the film, I felt a huge sense of sadness, with the looming of the war with Hitler and Germany and King George VI's pending broadcast speech - it was just so overwhelming.

I'm just so happy that Colin Firth won Best Actor and the film won Best Picture. I was slightly sad that Geoffrey Rush didn't win Best Supporting Actor; I think his performance was delightfully fun and sarcastic at the right times. I haven't seen The Fighter yet, so I can't say Geoffrey Rush's performance is "better" than Christian's Bale or Helen Bonham Carter over Melissa Leo. Fun fact: in 2007 Darren Aronofsky was announced and set to direct The Fighter, but after some complications, he dropped out of the project. But all three leads of The King's Speech were nominated, which says a lot about the quality of the acting and Tom Hooper's direction.

Congratulations to The King's Speech, Colin Firth, Tom Hooper and the rest of the cast and crew for an amazing, moving, compelling film. I'm so glad The Social Network didn't win. Even though, it was a very well written and directed film, I don't think it was as good as The King's Speech. I definitely think The Social Network deserved Best Adapted Screenplay, but not Editing and Original Score. No! I loved the editing in Black Swan and I think every other nominee for score deserved it more than The Social Network, in my opinion of course.

Nevertheless, all these talented people are so admirable and I hope one day I can participate and contribute to the filmmaking industry and history. I will probably never get nominated for an Oscar, but I want to dream big and hopefully one day, I will at least have continual opportunities to make my own films. The Oscars is a huge dream, but for now, I'll aim a lot lower and maybe a Film Festival Award is a more attainable short term goal. I must play hard and work much much harder.

Congratulations again The King's Speech. I'm going to watch it again soon!

Please note: I do not smoke. I got the cigarette holder from Shotwell on Grant and Bush Street. The cigarette holder is for decorative purposes, that's all.

the king's speech
the king's speech
the king's speech
the king's speech

83rd Annual Academy Awards

Sunday, February 27, 2011

image source: imdb

The Oscars is my absolute favorite award show of the year or rather the only award show I care about! Since I was a little girl, I've fantasized about going to the Oscars. Being an aspirational filmmaker, how could and can I not fantasize a little? 2010 produced some pretty great movies, but I only managed to catch up with the Oscar nominated films in the last two months and last two days. On Friday night, I saw Black Swan and last night, I saw The King's Speech. My absolute favorites of 2010 are The King's Speech and Black Swan for cinematography and directing.

5:42 p.m.: The opening sequence was pretty funny. Good job so far, Anne and James!
5:52 p.m.: Kirk Douglas is amazing! He was so funny. Your Oscar presentation will forever be remembered and immortalized!
5:58 p.m.: Congratulations Melissa Leo. She is in shock.
6:02 p.m.: I mistook the lace on Mila's neckline as tattoos on her chest.
6:18 p.m.: David Seidler's speech, screenwriter of The King's Speech was absolutely beautiful. He's 74 years old. Well deserved.
6:26 p.m.: OMG, Russell Brand was hilarious! Yo!
6:34 p.m.: Did Christian Bale forget his wife's name? No!!! Geoffrey Rush should have won!!! Nooooo!!!
6:40 p.m.: What is up with Anne Hathaway's dress and hair and necklace?
6:41 p.m.: I LOVE that Dolby sound!
6:56 p.m.: Loving Cate Blanchett's hair.
7:02 p.m.: KEVIN SPACEY!!! Good evening, I'm George Clooney! Haha. His singing voice is so beautiful. And Randy Newman!
7:12 p.m.: Jake Gyllenhaal was funny. I should watch more short films and documentaries, and documentaries in general.
7:16 p.m.: Luke Matheny: "I should have gotten a haircut!"
7:18 p.m.: Auto tune rocks!!! HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!
7:27 p.m.: BILLY CRYSTAL!!! You're awesome! And the Best Picture goes to...
7:42 p.m.: FLORENCE!!!
7:55 p.m.: Rest in Peace.
8:03 p.m.: Congratulations Tom Hooper! Even though I love Darren Aronofsky. The King's Speech was incredible.
8:16 p.m.: Well deserved Natalie. Her performance was so compelling and haunting.
8:25 p.m.: YAYYYYY COLIN!!!

I have italicized the movie and people that I want to win. Once the winners have been announced, I will be bold the title or name.

Best Motion Picture of the Year

127 Hours (2010): Christian Colson, Danny Boyle, John Smithson
Black Swan (2010): Mike Medavoy, Brian Oliver, Scott Franklin
The Fighter (2010): David Hoberman, Todd Lieberman, Mark Wahlberg
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan, Emma Thomas
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Gary Gilbert, Jeffrey Levy-Hinte, Celine Rattray
WINNER: The King's Speech (2010): Iain Canning, Emile Sherman, Gareth Unwin
The Social Network (2010): Scott Rudin, Dana Brunetti, Michael De Luca, Ceán Chaffin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Darla K. Anderson
True Grit (2010): Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Scott Rudin
Winter's Bone (2010): Anne Rosellini, Alix Madigan

Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading Role
Javier Bardem for Biutiful (2010)
Jeff Bridges for True Grit (2010)
Jesse Eisenberg for The Social Network (2010)
Winner: Colin Firth for The King's Speech (2010)
James Franco for 127 Hours (2010)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role
Annette Bening for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Nicole Kidman for Rabbit Hole (2010)
Jennifer Lawrence for Winter's Bone (2010)
Winner: Natalie Portman for Black Swan (2010)
Michelle Williams for Blue Valentine (2010)

Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Winner: Christian Bale for The Fighter (2010)
John Hawkes for Winter's Bone (2010)
Jeremy Renner for The Town (2010)
Mark Ruffalo for The Kids Are All Right (2010)
Geoffrey Rush for The King's Speech (2010)

Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role
Amy Adams for The Fighter (2010)
Helena Bonham Carter for The King's Speech (2010)
Winner: Melissa Leo for The Fighter (2010)
Hailee Steinfeld for True Grit (2010)
Jacki Weaver for Animal Kingdom (2010)

Best Achievement in Directing
Darren Aronofsky for Black Swan (2010)
Ethan Coen, Joel Coen for True Grit (2010)
David Fincher for The Social Network (2010)
Winner: Tom Hooper for The King's Speech (2010)
David O. Russell for The Fighter (2010)

Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen
Another Year (2010): Mike Leigh
The Fighter (2010): Scott Silver, Paul Tamasy, Eric Johnson, Keith Dorrington
Inception (2010): Christopher Nolan
The Kids Are All Right (2010): Lisa Cholodenko, Stuart Blumberg
Winner: The King's Speech (2010): David Seidler

Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published
127 Hours (2010): Danny Boyle, Simon Beaufoy
Winner: The Social Network (2010): Aaron Sorkin
Toy Story 3 (2010): Michael Arndt, John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Lee Unkrich
True Grit (2010): Joel Coen, Ethan Coen
Winter's Bone (2010): Debra Granik, Anne Rosellini

Best Animated Feature Film of the Year
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): Dean DeBlois, Chris Sanders
The Illusionist (2010): Sylvain Chomet
Winner: Toy Story 3 (2010): Lee Unkrich

Best Foreign Language Film of the Year
Biutiful (2010): Alejandro González Iñárritu (Mexico)
Dogtooth (2009): Giorgos Lanthimos (Greece)
Winner: In a Better World (2010): Susanne Bier (Denmark)
Incendies (2010): Denis Villeneuve (Canada)
Outside the Law (2010): Rachid Bouchareb (Algeria)

Best Achievement in Cinematography
Black Swan (2010): Matthew Libatique
Winner: Inception (2010): Wally Pfister
The King's Speech (2010): Danny Cohen
The Social Network (2010): Jeff Cronenweth
True Grit (2010): Roger Deakins

Best Achievement in Editing
127 Hours (2010): Jon Harris
Black Swan (2010): Andrew Weisblum
The Fighter (2010): Pamela Martin
The King's Speech (2010): Tariq Anwar
Winner: The Social Network (2010): Kirk Baxter, Angus Wall

Best Achievement in Art Direction
Winner: Alice in Wonderland (2010): Robert Stromberg, Karen O'Hara
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Stuart Craig, Stephenie McMillan
Inception (2010): Guy Hendrix Dyas, Larry Dias, Douglas A. Mowat
The King's Speech (2010): Eve Stewart, Judy Farr
True Grit (2010): Jess Gonchor, Nancy Haigh

Best Achievement in Costume Design
Winner: Alice in Wonderland (2010): Colleen Atwood
I Am Love (2009): Antonella Cannarozzi
The King's Speech (2010): Jenny Beavan
The Tempest (2010/II): Sandy Powell
True Grit (2010): Mary Zophres

Best Achievement in Makeup
Barney's Version (2010): Adrien Morot
The Way Back (2010): Edouard F. Henriques, Greg Funk, Yolanda Toussieng
Winner: The Wolfman (2010): Rick Baker, Dave Elsey

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Score
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman
How to Train Your Dragon (2010): John Powell
Inception (2010): Hans Zimmer
The King's Speech (2010): Alexandre Desplat
Winner: The Social Network (2010): Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross

Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song
127 Hours (2010): A.R. Rahman, , Dido ("If I Rise")
Country Strong (2010): Tom Douglas, Hillary Lindsey, Troy Verges ("Coming Home")
Tangled (2010/I): Alan Menken, Glenn Slater ("I See the Light")
Winner: Toy Story 3 (2010): Randy Newman ("We Belong Together")

Best Achievement in Sound Mixing
Winner: Inception (2010): Lora Hirschberg, Gary Rizzo, Ed Novick
The King's Speech (2010): Paul Hamblin, Martin Jensen, John Midgley
Salt (2010): Jeffrey J. Haboush, William Sarokin, Scott Millan, Greg P. Russell
The Social Network (2010): Ren Klyce, David Parker, Michael Semanick, Mark Weingarten
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey, Greg Orloff, Peter F. Kurland

Best Achievement in Sound Editing
Winner: Inception (2010): Richard King
Toy Story 3 (2010): Tom Myers, Michael Silvers
TRON: Legacy (2010): Gwendolyn Yates Whittle, Addison Teague
True Grit (2010): Skip Lievsay, Craig Berkey
Unstoppable (2010): Mark P. Stoeckinger

Best Achievement in Visual Effects
Alice in Wonderland (2010): Ken Ralston, David Schaub, Carey Villegas, Sean Phillips
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1 (2010): Tim Burke, John Richardson, Christian Manz, Nicolas Aithadi
Hereafter (2010): Michael Owens, Bryan Grill, Stephan Trojansky, Joe Farrell
Winner: Inception (2010): Chris Corbould, Andrew Lockley, Pete Bebb, Paul J. Franklin
Iron Man 2 (2010): Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, Ged Wright, Daniel Sudick

Best Documentary, Features
Exit Through the Gift Shop (2010): Banksy, Jaimie D'Cruz
GasLand (2010): Josh Fox, Trish Adlesic
Winner: Inside Job (2010): Charles Ferguson, Audrey Marrs
Restrepo (2010): Tim Hetherington, Sebastian Junger
Waste Land (2010): Lucy Walker, Angus Aynsley

Best Documentary, Short Subjects
Killing in the Name (2010): Jed Rothstein
Poster Girl (2010): Sara Nesson, Mitchell Block
Winner: Strangers No More (2010): Karen Goodman, Kirk Simon
Sun Come Up (2010): Jennifer Redfearn, Tim Metzger
The Warriors of Qiugang (2010): Ruby Yang, Thomas Lennon

Best Short Film, Animated
Day & Night (2010): Teddy Newton
The Gruffalo (2009) (TV): Jakob Schuh, Max Lang
Let's Pollute (2011): Geefwee Boedoe
Winner: The Lost Thing (2010): Shaun Tan, Andrew Ruhemann
Madagascar, a Journey Diary (2010): Bastien Dubois

Best Short Film, Live Action
The Confession (2010/IV): Tanel Toom
The Crush (2010): Michael Creagh
Winner: God of Love (2010): Luke Matheny
Na Wewe (2010): Ivan Goldschmidt
Wish 143 (2009): Ian Barnes, Samantha Waite

My Love Letter to Woody Allen,

Saturday, February 26, 2011

woody allen
image source: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

"If you're not failing every now and then, it's a sign you're not doing anything innovative." ― Woody Allen

My blog is essentially a love letter to my lover Woody Allen. No, he's not really my lover. I'm not his mistress, but maybe intellectually, we connect. There is some cosmic trajectory that links him to me. It's magnetic, it's intense, it's hypnotic, but sadly, he doesn't know I exist. He will never know of my existence, but at least, I can indirectly pick his brains through his movies, the very few interviews with him available online and his books (currently reading Mere Anarchy).

My love for him is still young, but it almost seems so long ago when I first came upon this brilliant human being. I can't even remember which was my first Woody Allen movie. I really want to say Love and Death, because I recall my first viewing of that movie vividly, but I could be wrong. If not Love and Death, then Annie Hall or Manhattan. Whichever Woody Allen film made me fall crazy in love with him doesn't matter, all that matters is that his humor, witty bantering, deep philosophical ways swayed my heart and made my sappy heart melt into a puddle of goo.

I think my love or rather obsession with Woody Allen is quite frightening and outrageous, considering he's probably like any other human being. Or not. I'm sure he's on an entirely different level. I sincerely believe it. I may be putting him on a high and humanely unreachable pedestal, but no matter what controversy he was or is in, I still hugely admire him as a filmmaker and artist. My admiration and adoration for him are beyond words, but I try to verbalize them as frequently as possible. It's probably somewhat borderline obnoxious, but I don't care. But seriously, stop me whenever my overbearing obsession becomes, well, unbearable.

I realized that since I started my blog on February 11th, 2011, I haven't written a post on my love for Woody Allen, which is quite shocking considering the name of my blog was inspired by Annie Hall.

Did you know Diane Keaton's birth name is Diane Hall and she changed her last name to her mother's maiden name as a result of a Diane Hall already being in the Actors Guild. According to her, Michael Keaton had a similar problem with his natural name when entering the Guild (his birth name is Michael Douglas!), though he picked "Keaton" because he liked Diane's name.

So this is my measly attempt at declaring my love for Woody Allen to the whole world. Without him, yesterday's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's. And without him, I'm nothing. And in all seriousness, if I had never come across Woody Allen films, I'd probably be a completely different person. He has really influenced me in a spiritual, metaphysical and philosophical way.

Judgment of any system, or a priori relationship or phenomenon exists in an irrational, or metaphysical, or at least epistemological contradiction to an abstract empirical concept such as being, or to be, or to occur in the thing itself, or of the thing itself.  Love and Death (1975)

The quote above is why I'm head over heels in love with Woody Allen. Other reasons? Well, firstly, this man is incredibly modest, humorous, intellectual, smart and basically a credit to the human race. Seriously, this man doesn't go to award shows and rarely does and did any video interviews. But the few interviews I've seen made my life. There's a video of him on a game show and someone in the audiences asks him to do a push up. It was awesome. Usually, I'm attracted to men who are modest and slightly introverted and shy, but Woody is both modest and unabashedly direct and forward about sex. "When I see a girl that beautiful, I want to cry, write a poem... jump on her. I'm very sensitive." And "Let's catch up, take off our clothes and stare at each other." Seriously, if Woody Allen wanted to jump on me, I wouldn't resist and I'd probably enjoy it very much. Excuse my inappropriateness. I love that about him and his characters and his jokes. His aggressiveness is quite charming and endearing, because he pulls it off.

My love for him hasn't faded after all these years, in fact it has strengthened and blossomed. Even though his best movies are from the '70s and his movies from the 2000s aren't as strong, I still think he's a consistently great writer director who should be admired by all, since he comes out with a movie once a year. His motivated and passionate work ethic inspires me to be the best filmmaker I can be. Thank you, Woody, for your beautiful films and witty and life-changing jokes. You have taught me how to embrace my existential despair. You will always inspire me to be the best possible version of myself. You are my hero, you are my God, you are the love of my life. To Woody Allen, may you continue to make more inspirational and heartbreaking and beautiful films.

“If Woody Allen called me, I'd be there straight away. Who wouldn't? Truly.”  Julie Delpy.

Are you serious? Julie Delpy loves Woody Allen too? She's my favorite female filmmaker. This is too amazing!

Has Woody Allen inspired you in any way? Who's the love of your life?

Much Love Always and Forever,


In the Letterpress Room

Friday, February 25, 2011

in the letterpress room

I may not be a graphic designer, but I've always had an appreciation for beautiful typography and graphics (cannot stand Humanist sans serif types: Verdana and Calibri and the ugliest typeface on earth is Comic Sans). I love vintage, antique, retro serif types or modern, geometric, sleek sans serif types. I really admire Shy's work, because she deals with typography and graphics on a daily basis and her style is very versatile. This semester, she's taking a letterpress class and yesterday, she invited me to join her in the letterpress room.

Letterpress printing was first invented in about 1440 by Johannes Gutenberg, he is credited with the invention of modern movable type printing from individually-cast, reusable letters set together in a form (frame). Letterpress printing became more popular in the advent of the industrial revolution.

In the recent years, I've become very interested in fine arts, being crafty and making art with your hands. This recent realization has made me very frustrated, because this school only allows us three art electives, unless you want to pay for classes that don't go towards your degree. Unfortunately and fortunately, I transferred in five classes from my year in London and three of them were transferred in as art electives. This wasn't finalized until last summer, can you imagine my horror (this was only finalized after my third year here)? Last summer, I had taken one class, one class(!) of Silkscreen and was scheduled to take Book Arts in the fall, but all of my hopes and dreams were crushed after a single phone call and several meetings with my adviser. I was completely heartbroken.

So yesterday, when I went to the letterpress room and saw all the Vandercook printing machines and trays of stencils and type blocks - I was in awe. As fun as letterpress sounds, it is a very tedious and time consuming process. You have the find all the letters from a sea of thousands of letters and different types, then arrange them backwards and fill in the gaps and spaces with leading. The fun part is coming up - the mixing of colors for the ink. I love colors and wish I knew how to paint. I used to do watercolor as a kid, but my confidence as an artist deflated when I went to boarding school. By the time I was 14-15, my artistic confidence was non existent, so I stopped doing art completely. But now, my appreciation and confidence are back and it was about time!

The highly coveted color was a dull turquoise or bright teal combined with a coral (example: the very last photo of the poster on the wall with a T.S. Eliot quote). Admittedly, it's a great, complementary color combination, but I personally prefer warm muted colors like mauve, mustard, olive, sienna, puce, etc. I loved looking at all the stencil blocks and type blocks and you can carve your own illustration or pattern on a linoleum block. Once the color has been mixed, it's time to do some rolling. Wait, actually, you need to figure out the placement of the type first. Since the type is backwards, the placement is flipped backwards, which makes the calculating a little more confusing. Practice rounds are a must in order to figure out the exact placement of the type. Once the placement has been calculated, the type has to be secured in place and then the rolling and printing can finally commence. Roll forward and then voilà! And then repeat as many times as required.

Shy has offered to help me design and make my business cards with this technique and I'm absolutely thrilled! I'd love to spend more time in this atmosphere and soak up all the energy or rather tired and exhausted energy. Thank you Shy for inviting me and making me feel super jealous at the same time. I had a blast watching them and reading Mere Anarchy at the same time. I need to do more activities and go to more places where I can take photos and immortalize these memories. When I start making money, I want to incorporate more fine art and crafty activities in my life, such as letterpress, silkscreen, printmaking, book arts, embroidery, knitting, sewing and many more.

in the letterpress room
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Books are a Uniquely Portable Magic

Thursday, February 24, 2011

books are a uniquely portable magic

"Books are a uniquely portable magic."  Stephen King

“The greatest gift is a passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.”  Elizabeth Hardwick

I never use to enjoy reading books. Whenever I was presented with the opportunity to read a book, I just shunned the book and left it to collect dust. I just never got into the habit of reading. I can't believe it has taken this many years for me to finally get into reading. It's only the beginning, so I'm not going to start bragging about my new literary knowledge, but I have a list. At boarding school, for my literature class, I had the opportunity to read Death of a Salesman by Arthur Miller, A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams, Emma by Jane Austen, Hamlet and Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare, but the only book/play I actually read was A Streetcar Named Desire... or sort of read. Back then, I just didn't try. And now I want to read them, but still I have no desire to read Emma, because she is probably my least favorite/most hated fictional heroine of all time.

I came across this BBC Reading List recently and I decided it's about time I educate myself and read these classics. I guess it's the epistemologist in me that is reaching out to broaden my literary knowledge. It is quite an impressive and extensive list of must read classics. I don't think I'll be able to read all of these books in my lifetime, so I came up with my own list. The books that I absolutely want and need to read are in bold.

Have you read more than six of these books? The BBC believes most people will have read only 6 of the 100 books listed here.

1 Pride and Prejudice - Jane Austen
2 The Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
3 Jane Eyre - Charlotte Brontë
4 Harry Potter series - JK Rowling (read the first four)
5 To Kill a Mockingbird - Harper Lee
6 The Bible
7 Wuthering Heights - Emily Brontë
8 Nineteen Eighty Four - George Orwell
9 His Dark Materials - Philip Pullman
10 Great Expectations - Charles Dickens
11 Little Women - Louisa M Alcott
12 Tess of the D’Urbervilles - Thomas Hardy
13 Catch 22 - Joseph Heller
14 Complete Works of Shakespeare
15 Rebecca - Daphne Du Maurier
16 The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
17 Birdsong - Sebastian Faulk
18 Catcher in the Rye - JD Salinger
19 The Time Traveler’s Wife - Audrey Niffenegger
20 Middlemarch - George Eliot
21 Gone With The Wind - Margaret Mitchell
22 The Great Gatsby - F Scott Fitzgerald
24 War and Peace - Leo Tolstoy
25 The Hitch Hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams
27 Crime and Punishment - Fyodor Dostoyevsky
28 Grapes of Wrath - John Steinbeck
29 Alice in Wonderland - Lewis Carroll
30 The Wind in the Willows - Kenneth Grahame
31 Anna Karenina - Leo Tolstoy
32 David Copperfield - Charles Dickens
33 Chronicles of Narnia - CS Lewis
34 Emma -Jane Austen
35 Persuasion - Jane Austen
36 The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe - CS Lewis
37 The Kite Runner - Khaled Hosseini
38 Captain Corelli’s Mandolin - Louis De Bernieres
39 Memoirs of a Geisha - Arthur Golden
40 Winnie the Pooh - A.A. Milne
41 Animal Farm - George Orwell
42 The Da Vinci Code - Dan Brown (at least I've read Angels and Demons)
43 One Hundred Years of Solitude - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
44 A Prayer for Owen Meaney - John Irving
45 The Woman in White - Wilkie Collins
46 Anne of Green Gables - LM Montgomery
47 Far From The Madding Crowd - Thomas Hardy
48 The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood
49 Lord of the Flies - William Golding
50 Atonement - Ian McEwan
51 Life of Pi - Yann Martel
52 Dune - Frank Herbert
53 Cold Comfort Farm - Stella Gibbons
54 Sense and Sensibility - Jane Austen
55 A Suitable Boy - Vikram Seth
56 The Shadow of the Wind - Carlos Ruiz Zafon
57 A Tale Of Two Cities - Charles Dickens
58 Brave New World - Aldous Huxley
59 The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time - Mark Haddon
60 Love In The Time Of Cholera - Gabriel Garcia Marquez
61 Of Mice and Men - John Steinbeck
62 Lolita - Vladimir Nabokov
63 The Secret History - Donna Tartt
64 The Lovely Bones - Alice Sebold
65 Count of Monte Cristo - Alexandre Dumas
66 On The Road - Jack Kerouac
67 Jude the Obscure - Thomas Hardy
68 Bridget Jones’s Diary - Helen Fielding
69 Midnight’s Children - Salman Rushdie
70 Moby Dick - Herman Melville
71 Oliver Twist - Charles Dickens
72 Dracula - Bram Stoker
73 The Secret Garden - Frances Hodgson Burnett
74 Notes From A Small Island - Bill Bryson
75 Ulysses - James Joyce
76 The Inferno - Dante
77 Swallows and Amazons - Arthur Ransome
78 Germinal - Emile Zola
79 Vanity Fair - William Makepeace Thackeray
80 Possession - AS Byatt
81 A Christmas Carol - Charles Dickens
82 Cloud Atlas - David Mitchell
83 The Color Purple - Alice Walker
84 The Remains of the Day - Kazuo Ishiguro
85 Madame Bovary - Gustave Flaubert
86 A Fine Balance - Rohinton Mistry
87 Charlotte’s Web - E.B. White
88 The Five People You Meet In Heaven - Mitch Albom
89 Adventures of Sherlock Holmes - Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
90 The Faraway Tree Collection - Enid Blyton
91 Heart of Darkness - Joseph Conrad
92 The Little Prince - Antoine De Saint-Exupery
93 The Wasp Factory - Iain Banks
94 Watership Down - Richard Adams
95 A Confederacy of Dunces - John Kennedy Toole
96 A Town Like Alice - Nevil Shute
97 The Three Musketeers - Alexandre Dumas
98 Hamlet - William Shakespeare
99 Charlie and the Chocolate Factory - Roald Dahl
100 Les Miserables - Victor Hugo

As well as:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower - Stephen Chbosky
A Room with a View - E. M. Forster
A Passage to India - E. M. Forster
Mrs. Dalloway - Virginia Woolf
Breakfast at Tiffany's - Truman Capote
In Cold Blood - Truman Capote
Who's Afraid of Virgina Woolf? - Edward Albee
The Old Man and the Sea - Ernest Hemingway
Requiem for a Dream - Hubert Selby, Jr. (I've read the screenplay and it was stunnning)
Amsterdam - Ian McEwan (I started it but didn't finish it, must start all over)
Everything is Illuminated - Jonathan Safran Foer
Running with Scissors - Augusten Burroughs
Water for Elephants - Sara Gruen
The Illiad and The Odyssey - Homer
The Aeneid - Virgil
Other ancient historical and philosophical writings and poems by Plato, Aristotle, Socrates, Plutarch, Thucydides, etc.

Since Borders is closing down, which is terribly upsetting, I realized it was my chance to stock up on Woody Allen books. I bought his last two books, Mere Anarchy and The Insanity Defense. They were lying precariously amongst the chaos of the humor section. I grabbed them and then they belonged to me. Last night, I decided to read Mere Anarchy first. Admittedly, it is one of the hardest things I've read (along with Lord of the Rings (I only read the first five chapters back in 2001 and gave up) and The History of the Peloponnesian War by Thucydides).

Reasons why Mere Anarchy is hard to read and digest:

The use of language and vocabulary are acutely advanced, mentions of obscure and lesser known historical and literary figures and characters (and just in the first twenty pages), for example:

i) ecdysiastically: in the manner of a striptease artist
ii) troglodyte: a caveman
iii) Leeuwenhoek: a Dutch tradesmen and scientist
iv) imprecation: a spoken curse
v) abasement: degrading/belittling
vi) poltroon: coward
vii) nudnik: pestering/nagging person
viii) Megan's law: a law for sex offenders
ix) contumely: insolent/insulting treatment
x) corybantic: wild/frenzied
xi) sangfroid: composure of coolness in a dangerous situation
xii) internecine: destructive to both sides

When I come across a foreign word, I have to google it and underline the word and write down the definition for future reference. So reading this book is quite a long winded process, but it has been very enjoyable thus far.

Tonight, I picked up four novels that are on the list: Catcher in the Rye and Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass by Lewis Carroll and Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë. I was contemplating whether I should pay $20 for a hardcover copy of Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy. I'm in love with the cover, but $20 is a little excessive. Once I finish Mere Anarchy, I think I want to read Catcher in the Rye, which is a book I've always been interested in reading.

As I was looking for a comfortable place to sit, I stumbled into the spree killer/serial killer sale section and I was hooked. I have a confession to make: I love reading about killings and massacres. It's very dark stuff, I know, but I've always been fascinated with these kind of stories. I could spend hours reading about this, in fact I've learned a lot from these accounts. I won't go into too much detail, since it's a very sensitive and morbid subject. I only managed to read about Ernst Wagner and Mutsuo Toi. The most fascinating part of Mutsuo Toi's story was his interest in Sada Abe's story. Click links to read if you are intrigued. If not, stay away!

I hope to read a book a week from today onwards. Once I get into the flow, I want to increase it to two books a week. Reading is quite a magical experience; I can't believe it has taken me this long for my interest in reading to manifest.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go."  Dr. Seuss

Garçonne à la Pipe

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

garçonne à la pipe
photographed by: caro ramirez (website | blog | flickr); inspiration: garçon à la pipe by pablo picasso; image source: wikipedia

Last October (on my old blog the girl from hk, ldn & sf), I was very inspired by Picasso and orchestrated two photo shoots that were inspired by his Blue Period and Rose Period. I decided that October would be Picasso month, since he was born on October 25th, a day after my birthday. After doing some research on his Rose Period, I came across Garçon à la pipe (Boy with a Pipe) and was instantly mesmerized by the boy's gaze and body language. There is something so enigmatic and eerie about this boy. What I love most about this painting is the contrast between the masculinity and femininity. Is it unexplained why the boy is wearing a garland of flowers on his head, but I love this finishing touch. During early preparation for this painting, Picasso experimented with different poses, but decided on sitting down. The boy looks so relaxed, yet stiff at the same time.

I had planned to do an outfit shoot as a tribute to this painting in October, but I got busier and busier, so this shoot was postponed indefinitely. Until last week, Caro went to rent some props for her homework assignment photo shoot. I assisted her as a stylist and told her to rent some pipes as props for the shoot. She came back with this amazing prop pipe and I knew that this was the pipe I wanted for the Garçon à la pipe homage. This is my modern interpretation of the boy from 1905 in the painting. Dressing up like a boy isn't a challenge for me, since all I wear most of the time is high waisted trousers, button downs, blazers and loafers.

I hope to do more outfit shoots inspired by my favorite painters, paintings, artists and films. I'm planning to do more tributes soon: two of my favorite paintings by René Magritte, Golconda and The Son of Man and Henri Matisse's The Woman with a Hat (you know my undying obsession with hats). As for films, I want to do a photo shoot inspired by Before Sunrise, directed by Richard Linklater, starring Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy. Before Sunrise is one of my favorite dialogue films. Also, Blue Valentine and Black Swan. So I have many upcoming personal projects and student film projects. I'm going to be very busy for the next few weeks.

Just as a reminder to myself: Don't forget to breathe.

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garçonne à la pipe
garçonne à la pipe
garçonne à la pipe

Le Fabuleux Destin d'Amélie Poulain

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
photographed by: caro ramirez (website | blog | flickr); inspiration: le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain (2001)

Starring Avalonne Hall.

When I was a kid, I loved playing with super glue with my fingers and spinning coins, although I didn't put raspberries on my fingers and eat them one by one, I wish I had thought of that. Suffice it to say, Amélie Poulain was a girl with her head in the clouds. She is a fantastically imaginative and wildly dreamy girl, with a cute angled bob and short bangs. She had her own way of perceiving the world: Amélie has no boyfriend, she tried once or twice, but the results were a letdown. Instead, she cultivates a taste for small pleasures: Dipping her hands into sacks of grain, cracking crème brûlées with a teaspoon, skimming stones on St. Martin's Canal.

Like Amélie, I have no boyfriend and I do enjoy the small pleasures in life, even though I also thoroughly enjoy reading 11,002 Things To Be Miserable About (since misery loves company). I do appreciate the small things in life and try to pay attention to the details. I, too, dip my hands into sacks of grain when I wash the rice, I don't eat crème brûlée, so I wouldn't be cracking them with teaspoons, but I love popping bubble wrap and tearing up paper and cardboard and I love skimming stones (something I learned to do when I was at camp at the age of nine). I loved taking photos for fun when I was a child and now my life revolves around taking photos.

Life's funny. To a kid, time always drags. Suddenly, you're 50. I guess in my case, I'm 22. Often I wonder how time flies by so quickly without any warning. When I was a child, an adolescent, all I wanted was time to fly by, so I can finally go to college and study film. Now it's my last semester, only three months before graduation and it has hit me. I'm going to be a real adult now. I'm going to have a find a job and start earning my own money. Three months left and then reality will finally hit me. I don't have time to spare, time is really fleeting. I'm 22 and before I know it, the next time I sit down to think, I'll be 50.

Amélie suddenly has a strange feeling of absolute harmony. It's a perfect moment. Soft light, a scent in the air, the quiet murmur of the city. She breathes deeply. Life is simple and clear. A surge of love, an urge to help mankind engulfs her. Amélie is such a wonderful human being, she makes me want to be a good person. Her naivety and charm are so endearing. This movie makes me want to cry. It makes me want to learn French again, because I really want to speak French fluently. The past weeks have been so enlightening and liberating, I feel the same sense of harmony that Amélie feels. I don't want this feeling to end.

Although, this beautiful film has given me hope to be free and imaginative, I can't help but to address a small feeling of loneliness deep inside my heart. Amélie was enchanting, adventurous and mischievous, but deep inside, she knew she used her wild imagination as a way to mask the fact that she's really truly lonely, after the death of her mother, her father's subsequent withdrawal and isolation from other children growing up. I feel a deep connection to her character and I hope one day, I can meet someone and have the courage to put myself in a vulnerable place again and start a relationship with another human being.

Amélie has taught me to be a fun-loving, goodhearted, kind spirited, imaginative, free, courageous and brave young woman. She has reminded me to enjoy the small pleasures in life. Now I feel like eating crème brûlée and raspberries one by one off of every finger, collect and skim stones, take photos at old photo booths, read, watch old movies! I had completely forgotten about the traveling gnome! Once I start traveling the world, I want to do my own series of a traveling toy or stuffed animal, we'll see. Last June, when I met Katrina of Pugly Pixel, I got a photo with Adeline's globetrotting doll named Ada, it was adorable.

Merci Amélie, Jean-Pierre Jeunet et Audrey Tautou, thanks for reminding me to love and enjoy life. A massive thank you to Caro (website | blog | flickr) for taking these photos. I hope you enjoy these photos, because I had a lot of fun perfecting my Amélie mischievous smile, we had a blast taking these photos, in my room and on Maiden Lane (we definitely garnered some attention). Thank you so much to Annie for inviting me to be one of the guest bloggers to write a post about a French Icon for her blog Time Enough for Drums. And of course, thank you to my amazing family and friends for being the most loving people in the world. I have to remind myself to be thankful every day for the people that are in my life, you guys make life worth living.

Without you, today's emotions would be the scurf of yesterday's. - Hipolito, The Writer

Want to look like or learn how to be like Mademoiselle Amélie Poulain? Click here.

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le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
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le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain

le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulainPhotobucketPhotobucketPhotobucket
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain
le fabuleux destin d'amélie poulain