Pans Labyrinth – Guillermo Del Toro (2007)

A very good plot line, great acting but horrible gory detail!

The subtitles didn’t bother me that much because the film was action-packed enough (it was only hard to follow when the characters argued or talked too quickly!)

The part I liked most was “The Book of Crossroads” – graphically it was brilliant. Kind of Harry Potter-esque, magically appearing – even the blood-soaked pages, as cringing as that was.

I didn’t like the role of the Captain – he seemed brutally unnecessary in some stages, but did add emotional value when characters were killed off… like the Doctor!

I didn’t really like a lot of the gory detail – for example the toad’s stomach coming out of it’s mouth, all the brutal murders (and attempted murders).

The actress who plays Ofelia is a very talented young actress, she kept me enticed throughout the film.

The creatures in the film are horribly creepy! I couldn’t look the faun in the eye, and throughout the film I couldn’t tell if he was good or bad. The creature at the feast was just as horrific – the eyes on the plate in front of him, the drawings around the room of the creature eating and attacking the children, and the pile of children’s shoes in the corner added to it all. It reminded me of some twisted Tim Burton film…




This film reminds me of the seminars from my first year – studying surrealism especially. It’s a very imaginative, yet mystical, world that is portrayed; the creatures are so detailed and unusual, the fairies, the kingdom. It’s difficult to tell whether it is just Ofelia’s imagination though. It’s only until the very end where she is talking to the faun in front of the Captain, that the shot moves back to Ofelia speaking to thin air. Del Toro directed the film very well in that sense.

I think it’s a good film to watch for the plot, the special effects and make-up etc, but I wouldn’t particularly want to watch it again! It’s extremely gory.


Edward Scissorhands – Tim Burton (1990)


This film was not what I was expecting at all. I was under the assumption that the majority of the film would be quite dark – mainly about Edward’s environment, rather than him being introduced to a completely colourful and contrasting town.

With the intro, I liked how “Edward Scissorhands” stretched and curved outwards to form scissors, adding emphasis to the title as opposed to the same flying-in type for the other actors names. His mansion has a  stereotypical “mad-scientist” feel to it, with all the robotic features and mechanisms.

The nameless town however, is an extreme contrast. The houses are very fake, as are the cars and the characters clothes. They are doll-like, almost puppets – following society as the husbands go off to work, and the wives all hang around cleaning the house and gossiping. Their routine seems monotonous as well, as if this is how they’ve always done things, and once Edward is thrown in to their lives, they attach onto him because he is completely different.

Edward’s mansion is a strange combination. He has a beautifully colourful and sculptured garden (which I quickly realised was because of his scissor hands!) but the actual mansion is oversized, overwhelming, grey, bare and mechanical.


The inventor obviously didn’t care much for material possessions like the rest of the town, he only cared for his inventions. The articles by Edward’s bed are a good addition to his character – collecting unusual cases like the blind boy who could feel heat from words, almost like what some would class as carnival freaks who need to be in the media to be shown off.

I wasn’t expecting Edward’s mannerisms to be so under-developed (I’m not really sure why). His first line “Don’t go” is so child-like and so innocent, there is an immediate attachment to his character because it’s just not what you expect at all. He is very talented as well, as he’s had years of practice – the housewives are in awe of him, especially when it comes to his abstract hairstyles.


As predicted from the articles in his room, he becomes noticed and goes on a talk show, which is very cliched. I love the line from the lawyer to the policeman when he says that Edward’s reality is radically under-developed, when the reality in the film is so surreal.

I felt like the plot of the film was to show the differences between nasty and nice/right and wrong in a surreal way, but I then realise that it’s got a romantic sense to it, especially towards the end where it became a Titanic moment with Kim as the Grandma reminiscing her story. Watching it now, I think Burton successfully created a surreal atmosphere because I watched it thinking it was set in 1990 (easy seeing as I wasn’t born then…) when actually it was probably set back in the 50’s as Kim would have only been in her late teens.

I would recommend this film. It is cleverly surreal, humorous, romantic and emotional. And it was great watching a young Johnny Depp work his facial expressions into the character that is Edward. Tim Burton directs this film well, portraying his dark inspiration of isolation and fantasy. And it almost has a “Beauty and the Beast” atmosphere, where it can be seen as more realistic than a Disney film, and by the end of the film presenting German Expressionism when the story is being told to one of the main character’s granddaughter.



 Grey Gardens – Albert and David Maysles, Ellen Hovde, Muffie Meyer. (1975)



A realistic documentary on Edith Beale and her daughter, Edie. I’ve watched this film about 3 years ago in College. I really didn’t like it back then because Edie they both seemed quite stubborn and resentful, and I had no idea how much of an influence this documentary had on the design world.

The documentary is very silent, at times (which is hard to say when there is so much shouting!). They’ve definitely known a glamorous lifestyle at some point – or what they think, but this film definitely captures the more “deteriorating” years.

I love the shots of East Hampton while there is still a narrative.

“Standing on its creaking front porch, Miss Edith Bouvier Beale, 54, offered a defence of her Mother’s house: ‘It’s oozing with romance, ghosts and other things’.

I also like that they film the news article about the documentary itself, as if the writer is the only person who thinks it’s unwanted attention, and that it’s partially about the Maysles too.

I do love Edie’s opinions and thought processes when it comes to fashion (which is why I had to watch this in College). And her relationship with her mother is beautifully chaotic. She respects her so much, but resents her at the same time and you can see the conflict in Edie too well (I love that they constantly talk over each other). She loves the limelight and gets really involved in the filming.

“It’s very difficult to keep the line between the past and the present”.

It’s a very raw documentary, which I like because many “celebrities” really put on a face these days to get public approval. You can see Edie has had cancer at some point, but you can never see it bringing her down at all, which is inspiring.

There’s definitely a “hoarder” vibe throughout the 28-room mansion, which is such a contrast! I love that Edie feeds all the stray animals that now inhabit their house as well, as if they have accepted it and aren’t going to fight anymore. They’ve completely shut out the traditional lifestyle:

“I don’t have any clock, I never know what time it is”!

I appreciate the film a whole lot more this time round. It’s a very surprising documentary and the style is like nothing I’ve ever seen before. It’s an interesting watch.



“Grey Gardens” obviously influenced scores of filmmakers, but it even influenced theater and fashion and so many other things. Did you ever dream the film would become such an iconic piece of work?

Al: All we cared about was getting it straight. And if there was drama developing you know, there we were – we got it.

iW: Wasn’t it considered an instant classic?

Al: It’s funny that you say that because when we finished making the film, we brought the film with a projector to Grey Gardens, and afterwards Edie paused for a moment and then turned towards me, and in a very loud voice she shouted, “The Maysles have created a classic!” So that’s one up on you, right? She already said that.


Mark O’Sullivan

MarkOSullivan MarkOSullivan2

This was his 2007 project – Edie being the sole influence.

Rufus Wainwright

“Trying to get my mansions green
After I’ve Grey Gardens seen
Honey won’t you hold me tight
Get me through Grey Gardens tonight” – Grey Gardens

Grey Gardens (Drew Barrymore)

The made-for-TV movie is the latest in a string of works dedicated to the life and times of the Beale women’s charmingly odd existence. Before it, there were books, plays, a Broadway musical and countless name checks in popular culture.

“I think they’re very mysterious, aren’t they? There’s a human curiosity in trying to figure out how and why they ended up where they did,” Jessica Lange, who plays Big Edie, told the Daily News.

“I think if you did make a movie about women like this and it was fictionalized, it would seem over the top,” added Drew Barrymore, who’s Little Edie in the film. “I don’t think many people think the way they do, or say the things they say or dress the way that they dress — so it’s just like discovering these extraordinary gems out on Long Island.”

Read more: http://www.nydailynews.com/entertainment/tv-movies/back-grey-gardens-drew-barrymore-jessica-lange-article-1.364615#ixzz2xlvtmZen

When I first watched the film, I would have said it was quite boring. But now, knowing how much of an influence it is, I can see how raw, unique, spontaneous and truthful it is.


September Issue – R.J. Cutler (2009)

Mockery and nervousness are huge issues in fashion.

Anna Wintour – Director of American Vogue


 “Anna is the most powerful woman in the United States”.

Anna certainly has a look to kill (“Devil Wears Prada” reference, of course).

The Devil Wears Prada (2006) Directed by David FrankelShown: Meryl Streep

September is the largest monthly issue. “September is the January in Fashion”. It’s like it’s the Christmas in Fashion too..

It’s an incredibly tough industry. I didn’t know Vogue had a fund to support up-and-coming designers.

It’s interesting to see how independent Anna’s daughter is – not wanting a career in fashion, and that people take it too seriously.

I love the photography. I love how they manage to capture movement so effortlessly.

I feel sorry for Grace, having her work cut so frivolously.

I really like Mario Testino’s work. I studied him in College for my fashion course. And I actually have one of the shots he took of Sienna Miller stuck in my sketchbook:


I think it’s interesting to see what she thinks her family thinks of her profession – “I think they think it’s amusing”.

This was a thoroughly interesting film. It depicts the modern-day fashion industry, touching on its timeline as well (the 60’s were the period where women had more freedom). I think this film can be related to the lecture I had this year on “The Semiotics of Fashion” and how fashion creates the “storyboard” of who we are. There will be different opinions on the topic of fashion, but I do agree that it has a huge influence on the economy and the design world.


The Cabinet of Dr Caligari – Robert Wiene (1920)


I like the scene changes – as it darkens and reappears differently. Although it’s hard to see all the detail (black and white, grainy).

It’s a bit hard to follow as well as it takes so long to shift between text and film.

It does seem to be a typical/classic silent movie with such an unusual and quirky story line.

The authenticity definitely adds a lot of character to the scenes.

The dramatic make up used is very effective.

The music is very dramatic too (maybe to make up for lack of any other noise).

The shading/shadows on the walls and backgrounds are very peculiar. I think it adds to the ‘horror’ side of the story line. And the props are disfigured, almost crooked.

I expected there to be more text, but instead I’m having to struggle to understand what is being said and how the plot is carrying on..

I like the almost ‘spotlight’ effect that the transition from one scene to the next gives.

The chase scenes are quite comical.

It is an odd film. It definitely reflects German Expressionist film. The contrast in light and dark, creating a spot light effect, and relying on light to tell the story that audio normally would instead. As it’s an old film, I personally struggled following the plot but I can understand how influential it would have been when it was released.


Fur – Steven Shainberg (2006)


I love how effective the separate sounds are during the fashion show, and how they are exaggerated, to show Diane’s hatred for the whole thing.

I think Nicole Kidman is a brilliant actress.

It does seem like a very stereotypical family, and yet she’s handy with the plumbing, these little quirks that make her very unique and quite likeable.

I love that the gentleman who buys the wig, proudly walks out with the label still on.

There is such a contrast between the ground floor and the first floor/upper floor in her building. I’m assuming to portray the difference between the typical and the strange.

It’s quite an impressive living space Lionel has set up. Very detailed and inquisitive.

He’s very inappropriate. But she is very open to him.

I don’t quite understand the part where she uses the key and looks at an “old” film of herself?

Lionel does wear rather amusing masks out in public. They are quite questionable. And they go to a very questionable “performance”. I suppose they could be classed as fetishes.

It’s an interesting additional detail that throughout the film she’s acquired more and more hair (wearing the wig, holding a bunch of hair when she’s watching a visitor).

You can visibly see how anxious Alan is getting as well as his beard grows – quite ironic due to the fact he’s growing his hair not only because he’s not looking after himself, but also it’s like he’s trying to be more attractive to his wife.

All the associations and references to the ocean and him dying are quite romantic in a sense, and peaceful.

It’s definitely an interesting film to watch. And it makes me wonder how many people are secretly like that in the world. It’s a very unique take to use a real person, who was so influential, and then create this fictional affair. The film portrays great contrast between the conventional American family and the world of wonders and “freaks”.


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