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Girls On Film: French New Wave

by fyarlgiles

I’ll Be Your Mirror: Performance and Identity in French New Wave 
by Angie Hoover

Cleo descends the dark spiral staircase as she contemplates her dwindling health. She peers out of a foggy, barred window, confined by the weight of death and cancer. Again and again, the image of her pretty face appears like a looping phrase on a snagged record: she is a fragmented woman built on hollow ground. She approaches a mirror and smiles, delighted by her own reflection: “Wait pretty butterfly. As long as you are beautiful, you are more alive than the rest of them,” she thinks.

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Cleo, the main character of Agnes Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7, looks to her appearance to assert her identity. She is both the product of and response to an era dominated by celebrity culture: infatuated with her own carefully contrived persona, but desperately craving authenticity. Her dilemma is complex, but not necessarily unique.  In the late 1950s,  Hollywood films injected archetypes into Western culture that were almost immediately revered and imitated, infusing an element of performance with modern identity. The pervasive force that is American Cinema– filled with vamps, tramps, and wise guys, told audiences how to be likable, how to be interesting, and how to be important, and they listened. Selfhood then became a complex marriage between acting and being, one which is explored in depth by Varda’s Cleo from 5 to 7 and Godard’s Breathless. Through content and form, these films take a new artistic approach and provoke contemplation about the cultivation of the Self in an era where people attempted to understand and affirm their identities through appearance.

Cleo from 5 to 7 BFI Quad

The American Influence and the Birth of New Wave

The pioneers of the French New Wave movement were heavily influenced by American Cinema and paid homage to Hollywood both directly and subtly within their films. Breathless  is one of the clearest examples of this, chronicling the love affair between a Humphrey Bogart-Wannabe and his American girlfriend, Patricia. At one point in the film, the main character, Michel, visits a movie theater and casually jokes with a movie poster featuring Bogart’s harsh but handsome stare. This is Godard’s nod to the crime dramas of the 1940s. Similarly, Truffaut’s The 400 Blows shows the young Antoine escaping the harshness of everyday life in a movie theater, a practice which Truffaut claims, taught him how to make good films.

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The French movie-going population grew rapidly during the German Occupation, and continued to flourish during France’s reconstruction and modernization. During the second half of the 1950s, the popular audience rejected french films in favor of  american blockbusters (in particular detective films and B-movies) and the film critics of the time, including Andre Bazin, Jean Luc Godard, and Francois Truffaut, praised the more stylized work of american directors like Welles and Hitchcock. In the same breath, these critics condemned the “old style” of french cinema for its banal, hackneyed approach, and in an effort to revitalize filmmaking, they began directing their own films.

The onslaught of innovative films that resulted are considered the “new wave” of french filmmaking. Unlike the literary adaptations, and extraneous period pieces of pre-war France, French New Wave films addressed relevant social issues, as well as issues of existentialism, individualism, and the human experience. Both content and technique were manipulated to force contemplation about memory, time, and identity.

American Idols and Public Persona

Facades and personas are common areas of interest in French New Wave, which often dissects the process of personal transformation and the cultivation of Self. The implication in these films is that personality is no longer a thing that is discovered, but rather a thing that is created, resulting in a deep sense of narcissism and self-consciousness. Both Godard’s Michel and Varda’s Cleo obsessively interact with their own reflections as they attempt to build their personalities. Through these exchanges, we see the strange relationship that is forged between persona and self. When Michel rehearses his movie star glare in a glass  window or Cleo, catching her reflection in a hallway mirror, turns her chin upward ever so slightly to catch the perfect light, these films reveal the dichotomous nature of identity in the entertainment age. The self observes and critiques the effectiveness of the facade, and those natural behaviors which conflict with the crafted persona must be changed. Just as a ballet teacher urges her students to point their toes, or arch their feet to create a more uniform appearance, the self and the facade must be perfectly synchronized.

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These interactions also function as a form of validation: reassurance that the self is still interesting, still beautiful, and that the persona is being upheld. Mirrors and other reflective surfaces are ever present in the films of La Nouvelle Vague, serving as symbols of inescapable self-awareness. Always, these characters are watching themselves be watched. On a drive through the french countryside, Michel glances at his rearview mirror to make sure that he is capturing that hard, mysterious quality that Bogart has perfected. He stares ahead, an oversized black fedora casting a shadow over his brow and a lit cigarette dangling precariously from his bottom lip. Even on this solitary drive, he imagines that he is being admired. Later, in Patricia’s apartment, he leans against the sink and stares at himself. He traces his thumb over his lips and delivers his line: “ I always fall for girls who aren’t my type,” but he isn’t talking to Patricia; he is talking to himself— playing the role of the tough gangster. His criminal-facade is not only a tool that he uses to gain approval from others; it is who he has become. For Michel, like for Cleo, the facade has become the primary identity. It wields ultimate authority and like an overbearing parent, it must always be consulted for permission. In Breathless, Godard’s rough, personal style is instrumental in accentuating the nature of this interconnection.  As Hoffman notes, his transitions from shot to shot contradict traditional editing rules, creating  a “perceivable gap in time and space.” These missing frames make scenes jittery and disjointed, representing visually the perspectives of Michel, whose actions are fragmented and contrived.

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This level of self-centeredness is emotionally debilitating: a narcissism that spurs introspection but dehumanizes others. Michel perceives his life in a cinematic context, and  so a portion of his compassion is foregone for the sake of his performance. As he drives down a dirt road, he begins to play-shoot a silver pistol. The blinding sun shines through the window of his stolen car while a police car pursues him. He parks the car where the road meets the trees and steps out of the driver’s seat. Sliding his head into the  car window, he reaches for a gun. In a flash, he shoots the policeman to the ground. Godard then cuts to a long shot of Michel fleeing the scene of the crime. The quick cuts, and lack of realistic violence imply that this moment does not have a lasting emotional impact on Michel; this murder is just another plot point in the epic crime drama that is his life. A natural event in the life of an outlaw. For Michel, empathy is secondary to enhancing his tough-guy persona, and decisions are made with the intention of further developing his image. His identity is, as Ebert argues, a “cool facade […] that functions to conceal his desperation”. This disregard for other people is paralleled, albeit subtly, in Varda’s Cleo, who coyly plays her own record during lunch at a diner. She dances and smirks graciously as if the patrons are her audience, without realizing that some are complaining about the noise. Through their careful studies, these directors hint at the delusion as well as the deep need for acceptance lurking beneath their conceit.

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Where is the Line?

The Movement’s intense focus on personal experience is what allows viewers to empathize deeply with its characters and investigate issues of identity within themselves. Lingering close-ups are privileged over quicker shots that transition from person to person with the flow of action. In this way, moments between plot points are emphasized rather than omitted,  allowing the spectator to observe minute changes in expression and mood that might be lost in more fast-paced films. In Cleo from 5 to 7, we follow Cleo as she waits for the results of a medical test. She visits an old fortune-teller, tries on a multitude of hats, and traipses through the city, stopping intermittently to admire herself in various mirrors and windows: where is that line? That line between the facade and the Self ? Can she see it, or is it hiding  beneath her long black lashes, and her tiny, pointed nose?  When she returns to her apartment, she sits on her flouncy bed, adorned with feathers and silk. All of the pieces in her apartment are exquisite, but disconnected. A swing stands alone in the center of the room. A dresser. A bed. A piano. Each object sits in its own area, separated from everything else as if to be beautiful is to be isolated. Her songwriters arrive and she joins them at the piano.

Varda slowly zooms into her face and the background melts into a blanket of deep black. Cleo begins to sing and the camera stays tight on her face. The playfulness in her eyes evaporates and we sense a growing sadness. Slowly, she slips out of her pretty but empty shell, and we can see her fears and her desperation leaking out with every tear that streams down her face. That line between the self and the facade is as bold and dark as the notes that she sings. Although Cleo remains unwise, the viewer can see that there is something deeper to her: a longing, an emptiness, a confusion. In this long take, we have learned to detect a nearly invisible hole in Cleo and in ourselves. This film, and others within the movement, transform abstractions like the dichotomy of identity into tangible things that can be observed and understood, making  external what is internal for the viewer. Film-watching is then an experience  of self-scrutiny and personal transformation.

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How Does it End?

Both Cleo and Michel find different ends to their conflicts of identity, but their endings are shrouded in ambiguity. After a conversation with a young soldier, Cleo discovers that she has cancer, but is able to see herself as a part of the world rather than the shining star that it revolves around. Michel is gunned down as he runs through the streets of Paris, only to die uttering a cryptic phrase  as Patricia stares down at him in confusion . The films themselves are more circular than linear, ending with puzzling scenes that send viewers back around to the beginning and through the film again like a carousel. Meaning is found throughout, in the detailed expressions of the characters and the innovative artistic methods which point to aspects of identity that cannot be conveyed through dialogue or plot. French New Wave Films often sought the contradictions  and conflicts inherent in the human experience, but neglected to offer neat resolutions.


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Because these characters are able to fashion themselves after archetypes ( e.g. the debonair outlaw or the beautiful pop star) , they believe that identity is something that begins externally and is funneled inward. What these films show so perfectly is how gradually the division between what we are and what we pretend to be dissipates, effecting a void that is difficult to recognize. Almost accidentally,  the films of the French New Wave explore the internal conflict that arises when personas are so easily adopted and projected. When performance is an integral part of being, there is always the fear that the real self will slip through, causing a rift that could mean the loss of acceptance and possibly the loss of self-understanding. Because the New Wave directors forced existential issues into film during a time when the meaning of identity was transforming into something part real and part artificial, they attuned viewers to an emptiness that was felt but not yet intellectualized.

The integration of more individualistic and innovative filmmaking techniques reinvented film as a medium and the innovations of Godard, Truffaut, Varda, and others transformed film into an artform that was capable of investigating culture and its impact on identity in a new, more expressive way. The films themselves are mirrors reflecting back narcissism, disfunction, and the reduction of human nature. The French New Wave popularized the concept of film as art: a medium with the ability to explore and transform cultural perceptions and the movement itself is self-conscious, experimental, and yearning for depth like its central characters, simultaneously constructing and dissecting its own identity with every jump cut.

Repost: Sex and Dystopia

by fyarlgiles

An excellent article on self-objectification in the post-modern world

through the lens of Sex and the City.

taken from one of my favorite online magazines: The Hairpin

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Television critic Emily Nussbaum has an outstanding piece on Sex and the City—and how it lost its “good name”—in this week’s New Yorker. When people tell the story of quality television, Nussbaum argues, they talk about The Sopranos and the raft of other HBO shows that followed. They might acknowledge Sex and the City, but their scorn is palpable: “It might as well have been a tourism campaign for a post-Rudolph Giuliani, de-ethnicized Gotham awash in money,” writes Brett Martin, author of Difficult Men: Behind the Scenes of a Creative Revolution: From ‘The Sopranos’ and ‘The Wire’ to ‘Mad Men’ and ‘Breaking Bad.’  

But Sex and the City was doing many of the same things, and sometimes doing them even better, than The Sopranos. As Nussbaum points out,

“Sex and the City,” too, was once one of HBO’s flagship shows. It was the peer of “The Sopranos,” albeit in a different tone and in a different milieu, deconstructing a different genre. Mob shows, cop shows, cowboy shows—those are formulas with gravitas. “Sex and the City,” in contrast, was pigeonholed as a sitcom. In fact, it was a bold riff on the romantic comedy: the show wrestled with the limits of that pink-tinted genre for almost its entire run. In the end, it gave in. Yet until that last-minute stumble it was sharp, iconoclastic television. High-feminine instead of fetishistically masculine, glittery rather than gritty, and daring in its conception of character, “Sex and the City” was a brilliant and, in certain ways, radical show. It also originated the unacknowledged first female anti-hero on television: ladies and gentlemen, Carrie Bradshaw.

The reasons for reading (and liking) this piece are manifold: I like that Nussbaum explicitly calls out the revisionist history that elides the presence of shows geared towards women and other “feminized” objects. I like that she reminds us of how nuanced the characters and their plotlines actually were. I like how she emphasizes how much friendship mattered to these women, and I reallylike that she told me on Twitter that she wanted to call the sex interludes “Chauceurian fabliaux, down to the farting.”

But I also have some problems with a secondary claim of the article, namely, that these characters were feminists:

Most unusually, the characters themselves were symbolic. As I’ve written elsewhere—and argued, often drunkenly, at cocktail parties—the four friends operated as near-allegorical figures, pegged to contemporary debates about women’s lives, mapped along three overlapping continuums. The first was emotional: Carrie and Charlotte were romantics; Miranda and Samantha were cynics. The second was ideological: Miranda and Carrie were second-wave feminists, who believed in egalitarianism; Charlotte and Samantha were third-wave feminists, focussed on exploiting the power of femininity, from opposing angles.

These claims are ostensibly correct: Miranda and Carrie were very much invested in egalitarianism. They were bread-winners; they didn’t expect others, and men in particular, to provide for them. I’ve often heard guy friends refer to Miranda as a “ball-buster,” which is another way of saying that she acts like a man. Charlotte and Samantha were also focused on exploiting femininity, whether in the form of traditional demureness or sex-positive self-objectification.

But I don’t really know if any of these women—with the pointed exception of Miranda—were actually feminists at all. I don’t think that they were pre-feminists (even though Charlotte could, at times, have exchanged places with an obedient Henry James character). They reaped the benefits of second-wave feminism (reproductive rights, sexual freedoms, access to workplace), but, given their sexual and financial freedoms, who needs the actual politics and rhetoric and discomfort of feminism? They weren’t emblematic of second or third wave feminism, but of postfeminism—the belief that feminism, as a movement and a real politik, is no longer necessary.

Under postfeminism, freedom to choose becomes freedom to consume: which shoe (Jimmy Choo), which drink (Cosmopolitan), and which meal (brunch) defines me as a person? It also marked the return of many of the things for which first and second wave feminism fought so ardently to leave behind: staying at home and funneling your energy into “putting a ring on it.”

But it’s not like postfeminism was an identity marker—no one goes around saying “I’m a postfeminist,” and Carrie certainly didn’t, either. It’s a cultural mode, like “post-9/11” or even, to some extent, postmodernism. When I teach postfeminism, I point to Pretty Woman and the students kinda get it; then I point to Sex and the City and they really get it.

Which is part of why Sex and the City has curdled in my memory. Like many of you, I’m guessing, I had a period of obsession when it initially aired; I remember renting the DVDs (you could get the entire season at once) and ordering Cosmopolitans and consuming the series wholly uncritically. Today, Sex and the City stands in for the time in my past when, for better and for worse, I played with behaviors and tastes that grad student me would call “problematic.” I don’t regret them, per se, but I do think it’s important to be able to look back and see what they suggested in terms of norm, whether in terms of dealing with vaguely and not-so-vaguely misogynist men or the need to buy lots of shit.

But as I read the article again, and discussed it with Nussbaum, I realized I was being unfair. When milk curdles, you don’t take a deep drink and really taste it; you spit it out. And that’s what I’ve done with Sex and the City, neglecting the ways in which the narrative never straightforwardly endorses Carrie’s consumption (at least in the beginning, she’s always haplessly broke) or romance (the Big storyline up until the final season, wow), and uses the supporting characters to explore all manner of crucial, generally ignored women’s issues with genuine grace and humor.

So I was being unfair, but it wasn’t entirely my fault. As Nussbaum points out, the fairytale ending of the series goes a long way towards unraveling the otherwise progressive storylines. But you know what else makes me think bad thoughts? The movies. The first one, sure, but the second one is an abomination. I realize it’s unjust to blame the original for the sins of the offspring—Star Wars, I’m so sorry for your loss—but with the movies, we had the same characters, the same actors, and the same plotlines, only now they were hackneyed, reductive, and completely evacuated of nuance. The postfeminism of the series was complicated; in the movies, there’s nothing complicated about it. SATC2, especially, is racist and xenophobic and, ironically, somewhat woman-hating. You don’t look at these women and see someone you want to emulate; you look at them and understand why patriarchy endures.

Sex in the City the series is arguably less white than Girls, but it treats race much in the way that it treats gender politics: as something we’ve moved beyond. When the series aired, no one (that I read) was making arguments about how the show’s title, coupled with the casting, suggests that sex in the city is the unique provenance of white upper class women. It wasn’t because the show was somehow more sophisticated or meaningful in its handling of race—it’s that those weren’t the conversations critics were having, at least not broadly, at the time. When critics talked about Sex and the City, they talked about sex, the new HBO and fashion. (Also remember: this was pre-blogosphere, where the critiques of Girls and other shows largely originated). But maybe we can restart that conversation now, and think about the ways in which SATC— and its often unspoken racial politics—shares DNA not only with Girls, but also Grey’s AnatomyVampire DiariesTrue Blood, and countless other shows.

Here’s what I want to do: revisit Sex and the City and think about the ways that it might actually function not as an endorsement of postfeminism, but as an early artifact of postfeminist (and “postracial”) dystopia. I’ve used this term to describe GirlsBachelorette, and Revenge: these are all texts that represent the “fruits,” for lack of a better word, of postfeminist culture. It’s a world filled with really bad sex, catty infighting, and generalized dissatisfaction with what you thought you wanted.

Girls never celebrates this life; it makes it seem murky, scary, and sad. Sex and the City did celebrate this life, but it was never as straightforward as I like to remember. Carrie was, indeed, an anti-hero, and a large part of that might have been due to the difficulty of reconciling feminist tendencies (she, too, could be a ball-buster) with the societal imperatives of postfeminism. Sex and the City may not be dystopic in the manner of Girls, but it’s also not exactly utopian. Pretty Woman it most definitively is not.

So maybe I’m ready to rethink. Are you?

Anne Helen Petersen is a Doctor of Celebrity Gossip. No, really. You can find evidence (and other writings) here. Her book, Scandals of Classic Hollywood, is forthcoming from Plume/Penguin in 2014.

Girls on Film: Orange is the new black

by fyarlgiles

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Before Piper leaves to spend her first day and night in prison,  she crawls on top of her boyfriend: “we have to make this the stuff of fantasies,” she whispers.  And then they struggle through their tears to force one, last meaningful fuck.

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This, says tv, is what women are. They can be smart and interesting, but above all, they must be nymphos. The entire scene is very beautiful and quite real, but it made me think about how instrumental women are in their own objectification. Television shows get this wrong a lot for me; men are wrongfully vilified as the sole source of objectifying remarks that reduce women to hot, horny things.

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“That’s not the way you treat someone who makes you cum the way I do”

But  the dialogue in Orange is the New Black, a show with an almost entirely female cast, seems to get closer to the truth. Sexual confinement cannot survive unless women adopt chauvinistic ideas as their own and then push them into the world: “ I am a catch because I am beautiful, and smart, and I want to fuck ALL the time.”  

We have come a long way, baby,  but there is no arguing that women internalize and perpetuate their own sexual oppression.  Of course it is empowering for a woman to own her sexuality! For a woman to know what she likes and let it be known, but there is a problem when we believe that intellect is secondary to sex-drive. In a time where identity is intensely contrived, this sort of idea can force the element of performance into areas that should be reserved for intimacy or at least sincere pleasure.

It is true that we didn’t start this damn thing, and that the god damn patriarchy must be stopped, but it’s also true that self-objectifying comments come from women. We make them about ourselves and  we make them about other women, sometimes without even realizing it. In Orange is the New Black, an ultimately empowering show, we can still find traces of self-subversion and self-objectification.

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“I know she is hard to leave. I mean we both know how she is in bed”

I would like to pretend that there is some external force bashing me into submission, telling me that sex- how much I want it, how much I have it, and whom I have it with is the foundation of who I am.. but I have no doubt that I perpetuate these problems in my own way.

Anywho, do you think my hair looks cute in my default pic?

Angie

I am a Professional Zombie VOL. II

by fyarlgiles

Alright, so, why do I do it? Am I stalling answering the question for dramatic effect? Or because of the much more likely reason. That I don’t really have any idea.

There is a show called “URBAN DEATH”. Taking place late at night in the terrifying city of North Hollywood, for the past ten years, this theatrical shows spends one hour staring into the human psyche. And that’s how I got into this mess.

What began simply as an actor’s risk transformed into so much more. Not only the most physically challenging show I’ve ever done, but with the biggest following (you don’t stay in the theater biz in L.A. for ten years without being onto something). I did my first run of it a about three years ago. And it lasted nine and a half grueling months. In more time than it takes to conceive and deliver a baby, I had devoted my body and being to the stage in the most horrific of circumstances.

First, it was the fear that went.

The fear of death. The fear of looking ugly or silly. All of these were torn from me in the rehearsals and performances. It got to the point where I could be absolutely naked, in front of an audience of strangers, wearing nothing but stage make-up and fake blood, and feel nothing by alive and liberated.

When the nine and a half months were over, I was glad to finally stop though. It was time, I said. I’m so tired, I said.

What I didn’t realize was the instant withdrawal I would go through. What I didn’t realize at the time was that Urban Death had become my weekly catharsis.

Here’s how it works : Saturday night — I get to the theater, and in a rushed, cramped backstage, I slather myself, full body, with blood and make up. My perfectly shaped eyebrows are drawn over. My mouth is scarred. My hair is sprayed down with water and caked with dirt. I dig blood under my fingernails. Bloody my knees. Put dark circles around my eyes. Disfigure myself to the point of repulsion. On bad nights, I’ll even add a few more cuts and cashes, at the neck or the wrist most usually, or scratch or bite marks on my face and chest – a hint as to how I may have died.

Lights up : A pile of rotting corpses lays dead, almost at the feet of the live audience. The actors hold their breath. With my eyes closed, I can still hear the audience in their inevitable gasp, the shuffle of their feet as they stand to get a better look. Right away, the audience is amazed.

Eternities pass. I am dead. My actor’s mind works in my subconscious. It knows how to lay, the timing of the piece, the awareness of how I look. But for me, I am dead.

And finally, the spark. A spark so small, even zombie-me is not aware of it at first. A twitch in the finger. Then another. The body convulses slightly. And suddenly, something happens. I shake, and my eyes burst open, but I can’t see like how I did when I was alive. I can move. I can see. I can feel – but only hunger and pain. I am dead.

Slowly we rise. And the audience, I imagine, shrinks back into their seats, holds their partners’ hands, and wonders how far we will go.

After being a zombie, I run backstage, and in less than a minute I take off all of my carefully applied make up. In an instant it is gone, and that is my catharsis. Like real life and death, I made myself perfect, I died on the stage, and then I move on, with nothing to hold onto.

I suppose that’s the life of theater in general. But something about being a zombie : there is a glorious, natural ugliness, a hunger and an ache that matches my own, and a commitment to being the most base of human characteristics.

I don’t know why all of you like zombies so much. Without the fun of being covered in make-up and walking around with strong, twitching limbs, I’m not sure the appeal, but I have an idea.

I think the greatest villains and monsters are those that we can relate to. The surge in popularity with vampires is different. They have become relatable, the anti-heros that we can lust after with ease. Zombies are different.

There is nothing human about them any longer. And yet, we can all see something of ourselves in them. That, I believe is their enduring power. In a way, we all feel like zombies already. Our decreasing connectivity to each other, to nature. Our impending apocalypse, coming at us from all directions, whether it be a loss of our humanity as we submerge into a cyber era, or the slow destruction of the earth to the point in the not-so-distant-future where it may be uninhabitable, to the cancer that we have surely experienced in somebody in our lives, to our own self images, and everything in between.

The joy of zombie narrative is the hope that we can defeat it, and the strange, terrible comfort that we never will.

by Vanessa Cate

I am a Professional Zombie VOL I.

by fyarlgiles

I am a professional zombie

Being a zombie has been a huge part of my life for the past three years.

It’s strange. I never watched zombie movies growing up. Even now, I don’t care for them too much. I mean, sure, after my first stint as the undead on stage, I tried to watch ‘Night of the Living Dead’ and a much more palatable ‘Zombieland’. And I’ll admit to being addicted to whatever Netflix will serve me up of the ‘Walking Dead’. But zombies don’t interest me much more than the average person. In fact, on ‘Deadliest Warrior’, when they pitted zombies against vampires, I was rooting for the vampires.

So why do I do it?

This is me getting my zombie make up done by famed artist Gary Tunnicliffe. He’s also done make up like this :

Not that I’m attempting to name drop or anything (yes I am). But this is what I turned out like :

That day I got to rip out Scott Ian’s neck with my teeth, and learn valuable tools for adding to my already extensive zombie-makeup knowledge. (The tragedy is I had just gotten my teeth whitened the day before. Poor planning on my part.)

Some helpful hints for good zombie make-up :

* Start with pale skin. Something off-color, like a sickly white, a gray, or a stale light green will be ideal. You don’t have to cover your skin, but key points, such as the cheeks, forehead, and lips will work fine.

* You don’t need contacts, but they help.

* Favorite make-up palate : Ben Nuy’s bruise palate. A mix of those four colors will make you look like the undead in no time!

* Find a way to make your facial characteristics look inhuman. Pale out the mouth, use black and dark shades to make your nose look deformed, or the symmetry of your face to be disturbed.

* A little blood and dirt never hurt nobody. Slather some on in key places for the finishing touches.

* Ultimately, zombie make up is about your own creativity. Feel free to take risks, use different colors, use veins, gashes, cuts, and dirt to your own creative fulfilment. I’ve never met two zombies that look exactly alike. So remember, when it comes to being a zombie, you can be whatever you want to be.

by Vanessa Cate

Updates on Our Absence!

by fyarlgiles

 

COME PLAY WITH US

I know that we have been out of commission lately! Meaghan, unfortunately, is no  longer able to contribute time to the blog , and I have been extremely busy with work, school, and my wedding! We do, however, have a few special Halloween pieces prepared that we’d like to share.

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 I will be back and updating regularly in December if not sooner!

Thank you for following us! I hope you enjoy our Halloween-themed content!

One is the Loneliest Number

by fyarlgiles

Today begins our newest series:

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One is the Loneliest number:

Art, poetry, and miscellaneous pieces  that explore isolation, abandonment, imprisonment, separation, and loneliness

Artwork: The End of a Love Affair by Hugo Barros

Lesser Known Artists: Lucille Malkia Roberts

by fyarlgiles

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Malkia Roberts ( 1923 ), “Spectrum” Acrylic on canvas 1972

This image, according to the artist, represents acceptance of the present and anticipation of the future. The woman is the past, and the Expressionistic style and upward gaze symbolize the future. The flame-like palette “eliminates the possibility of negative space and ensuing objectivity” (203).

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Malkia Roberts ( 1923 ), “Guardian” Oil and Acrylic on canvas 1986

Human figures are often found in Roberts’ art, but abstracted. The theme of this piece is “women of color” and how they are “protectors of family and tradition.” She is quoted as saying, “My ‘gathered visions’ are evoked and implied rather than realistically delineated in the traditional sense. They have evolved and are wedded in patterns of light and color, reflecting my emotional and spiritual reactions to places and ‘people of color’ around the planet, with whom I have bonded. The energy invites viewers to unravel the themes and come to their own conclusions.”

Information from University of Iowa

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Loaded Quotes: Bloody Ambition

by fyarlgiles

She danced, and was obliged to go on dancing through the dark night. The shoes bore her away over thorns and stumps till she was all torn and bleeding; she danced away over the heath to a lonely little house. Here, she knew, lived the executioner; and she tapped with her finger at the window and said:

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‘Come out, come out! I cannot come in, for I must dance.’

 And the executioner said: ‘I don’t suppose you know who I am. I strike off the heads of the wicked, and I notice that my axe is tingling to do so. “Don’t cut off my head!’ said Karen, ‘for then I could not repent of my sin. But cut off my feet with the red shoes.’

Excerpt from  ” The Red Shoes” by  Hans Christian Anderson

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An enchanting woman whose feet have been hacked to bloody stumps is an image of humanity that comforts me.

Let me explain. 

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We are all complex mixtures  of beauty and horror, pain and delight, greed and charity. But there is such a cry for dichotomies in western culture, that we tend to ignore this.  It’s simple!! Pretty is pretty, and Yucky is yucky, now let’s all get ice cream sandwiches!!

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But there is no pretending when it comes to Karen.   The crude image of her perfect body sitting atop bloody mutilated legs makes her brokenness impossible to hide. And isn’t that sort of honesty liberating? Sometimes, I feel like my body is a lie I tell to anyone who is capable of seeing me. It is young, functional, it has no apparent deformities, and it conceals my self-loathing. It’s nice sometimes because I never truly feel vulnerable, but it breeds a lot insecurity. If no one sees me for what I am, how can I ever truly feel accepted?

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I think that a lot of people will say that this story is about how vanity can ruin you and blablabl..  more oppressive ideas about female sexuality professed by the catholic church… but I have always seen it as a tale about facing the good, the bad, and the bloody within yourself.

The truth isn’t simple; It is a young girl who looks gorgeous from the waste up, but is forced to hobble around on the ghosts of her own feet.

Angie

Girls on Film: Re-evaluating Nostalgia in The Great Gatsby

by fyarlgiles

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Last night I attended Doug Benson’s Interruption of The Great Gatsby at The Cinefamily. I hadn’t seen the film, but had heard that it was a big, awful mess designed to win over young viewers with brain-numbing hip-hop music and party culture extravagance. I couldn’t wait for the mocking to begin. But something unexpected happened between Benson’s “Does this movie take place on Earth?” and Thomas Lennon’s “Can anybody tell me who that character is? For a million dollars? Anyone?”….

I became interested.


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Like a lot of people who heard about Luhrmann’s Gatsby before seeing it in a theater, I went in expecting to be offended by the off-base portrayal of the Jazz Age. Because I admittedly adopt the type of unfounded nostalgia that no person my age should. As the camera swooped into a lavish hotel room and the thumping bass of club music played over the speakers, my instinct was to say “Hey! THAT’S NOT HOW IT WAS! ” But I realized then, that I had no right to think that because all my ideas of The Jazz Age are based on images from Boardwalk Empire and Betty Boop.

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It’s true that the emotional nuances of the original story are stomped on by Luhrmann’s signature vulgarity. And it’s true that he made Gatsby’s house look like a rap music video, but when we strip it down isn’t Gatsby an excessively rich dude who throws parties littered with drunk girls, booming music, celebrities, and free booze?…  The interpretation isn’t exactly off the mark.

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Luhrmann’s movies are often panned, but I really think that he has a talent for showing that young, stupid people are young and stupid no matter what backdrop you throw them against. We want to believe that we’ve missed out on something. That superficiality  is just the oozy afterbirth of the 1980s and that our beloved Jazz Age was better than whatever we’re living in now. But the shallowness that we criticize without restraint in our own time, existed without question, in the times that we idealize.

It was not a tale of disillusionment ..or the hopelessness of time, but I left the film wanting to understand my attachment to worlds that can no longer be accessed and my need to believe that  the magic so absent in the world today existed decades ago.

Angie Hoover