Saturday, September 29, 2012

Day 2 NYFF50: Captivating Actors in ‘Caesar Must Die’


DRAMA, humor and danger ensue when prisoners stage a production of “Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar” in “Caesar Must Die.” (Cesare deve morire)

The film, from siblings Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, makes its North American debut this evening at the 50th New York Film Festival.

Not only is this production challenged by disparate accents, its survival is sometimes complicated by the underlying tension that exists within the prison population. Filmed at Rome's Rebibbia Prison, “Caesar Must Die” is shot mainly in b&w and has the feel of a documentary.

These are not simply actors with nothing in common with the characters they are portraying. Quite the contrary – honor, loyalty and betrayal figure prominently in their code of behavior. They may very well be portraying or auditioning for the part of a character who is much like themselves. They may also be at odds with a character in the play portrayed by the very inmate with whom they have history. (See trailer above.)

In case it is not yet obvious, the "actors" in “Caesar Must Die ” are actual prisoners. Many have been imprisoned for acts connected to organized crime; others are serving life sentences. It takes on a “Victor Victoria”-type quality in that prisoners are portraying actors portraying Brutus&Co.

“Caesar Must Die” – which has additional NYFF50 showings on 30 Sept., 1 Oct. and 8 Oct. – is Italy’s entry into the Best Foreign Language film category for Oscar nomination consideration. It also won the Golden Bear at the 62nd Berlin International Film Festival in February. During his acceptance speech, PT is quoted as saying, "We hope that when the film is released to the general public that cinemagoers will say to themselves or even those around them ... that even a prisoner with a dreadful sentence, even a life sentence, is and remains a human being."

“Caesar Must Die” is in Italian with English subtitles … Visit http://www.filmlinc.com/ to learn more about the 50th New York Film Festival, including show times and ticket information.

Friday, September 28, 2012

50th NYFF Opens With Ang Lee's ‘Life of Pi’


YOU’RE literally in the middle of nowhere. You are lost a sea, the only survivor of a shipwreck.

Well, not exactly. There is another, that would just as soon have you for dinner as look at you. Not a cannibal, but a Bengal tiger. Somehow – rather surprisingly – you become allies on a whirlwind adventure. It is “Life of Pi.”


Based on the best-selling novel and directed by Ang Lee, “Life of Pi” opens the 50th New York Film Festival today. (See trailer above.) NYFF50 funs through 14 Oct. and closes with Robert Zemeckis’ “Flight.”

In “Flight,” Denzel Washington heads an ensemble cast as a pilot who does not have a Chesley Sullenberger experience after he safely lands his plane. He is accused of having alcohol in his system and faces jail time if the charges stick. (See trailer below.)


NYFF50 is an an ambitious (and uncharacteristically commercial) program, including 32 films in its “Main Slate,” a good number of which arrive at New York award winners from other festivals. On tap, too, are returning features such as “HBO Films Directors Dialogues, which is “Inside the Actors Studio,” except with directors.

Rival gangs prove to be a challenge for a bad cop in "Outrage Beyond." Photo courtesy of Celluloid Dreams.

Among those talking about process and inspiration are Abbas Kiarostami (“Like Someone in Love”) and David Chase of “The Sopranos” fame, whose feature film debut, “Not Fade Away,” is NYFF50’s “Centerpiece” selection. The film follows a group of friends in 1964 New Jersey that forms a rock band.

A good companion piece to "Directors Dialogues" is “On Cinema,” described as NYFF’s master class. For the first time, two directors, Brian De Palma and Noah Baumbach, share the stage. In addition to shoptalk will be film clips and an audience Q&A.


Always a popular feature of NYFF is the “Masterworks” series. This latest installment boasts a restored version of Laurence Olivier’s “Richard III” (1965), a screening of Pierre Chenal’s “Native Son” (1951). The “Native Son” screening will be followed by a discussion with Edgardo Krebs and journalist Stanley Crouch. Also among the 17 films in the series is the world premiere of a new version of “The Rolling Stones – Charlie Is my Darling – Ireland 1965” (1966/2012) from Peter Whitehead.

Richard Wright and Gloria Madison in "Native Son." Photo courtesy of Film Society of Lincoln Center.

Among new stuff is the Midnight Movies” series of three suspense-thrillers. “The Bay” from Barry Levinson and Oren Peli involves giant insects. In Peter Strickland’s “Berberian Sound Studio,” a sound engineer is not certain whether the horror he hears is real or make-believe. A rogue cop and his intervention in clan warfare continues in Takeshi Kitano’s “Outrage Beyond,” a sequel to “Outrage.”

Another newbie is NYFF Convergence, a two-day (29 and 30 Sept.) transmedia conference that will bring together practitioners that employ multiple mediums simultaneously to tell a lone story. NYFF Convergence Panels include “Novels in New Forms (30 Sept.). Here, authors discuss the tablet computer as yet another storyteller. The audience as a character is the subject of the Workshop, “You’re Such a Character:  New Roles for Audiences in Storytelling" (30 Sept.).

In the Immersive Experiences component of NYFF Convergence, hipsters and dinosaurs are at odds on phones, the Internet and a card game in the film, McCarren Park, Parts 1 and 2. The conversation also turns to how to create a film for very little and getting noticed without a huge outlay of marketing cash (29 Sept.).

In the Film Society of Lincoln Center's ongoing effort to make NYFF as open as possible, it also offers a number of events – mainly talks and panel discussions – that are free and open to the public. Likely to attract a crowd will be Lee Daniels (“The Paperboy,” “Precious”) when he holds court at the Apple Store in Soho.

Visit http://www.filmlinc.com/ to learn more about the 50th New York Film Festival, including show times and ticket information.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lounging Around During NY Fash Wk: Beyond the Rack&Co.

The Tommy Hilifiger suit and sequin dress from Issue NY are a steal. Photos from Beyond the Rack.

FEAST your eyes on two of today's deals at Beyond the Rack (http://www.beyondtherack.com). The Tommy Hilfiger suit and Issue NY dress are significantly marked down for members, as it all of the stock at Beyond the Rack. More shortly on Beyond the Rack and how to gain membership.

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

(V)odka+(Ice) wine=Vice, the One and Only

Vice is a unique beverage. Photos courtesy of Vice Martini.

IT’S sweet – redolent of peaches and something else that’s on the tip of the tongue – but not too sweet. It lingers on the palate for just a moment without clinging, then it ends with a zing. What is that … gin? No, vodka.

And so it is. Welcome to the taste sensation that is VICE Vodka Icewine. VICE is the world's first and only one-pour ice wine vodka, meaning that both wine and vodka are combined in one 750ml bottle – a rather attractive one, too.

Considering that the popularity of wine-vodka drinks has been growing over these last years, it is not too surprising that some spirits producer – in this case, a Canadian winery – decided to combine wine and vodka in one beverage. While VICE has been available in Canada since 2009, it has recently been rolling out in other parts of the world. (See launch party video below.)

VICE is made at Ontario-based Vineland Estates Winery Ltd.  from grapes and vodka made in-house. Vidal grapes are frozen at –8C before they are harvested and crushed. The vodka is acorn-based, five times distilled and charcoal-filtered and polished.VICE is 100 percent natural, no artificial flavoring, coloring or preservatives. It has subtle notes of apricot, peach and other tropical fruits, with a Vodka finish. While the exact ice wine-to-vodka ratio is not clear, what is clear is that VICE is not for those who can't hold their liquor. It has an alcohol content above 20 percent.

VICE is perfectly fine straight and on the rocks. It also pairs well with fruit juices (hopefully the fresh-squeezed, organic variety), though it is not easy to comprehend why anyone would want to add more sweetener to an already sweet drink. Visitors to the VICE Web site (http://www.viceonice.ca/?id=5) can also avail themselves of recipes. One that will likely get a lot of traction for no other reason than its name is Miami VICE:

1½ oz VICE pre-chilled
½ oz Chambord
½ oz Melon liqueur
1½ oz Pineapple juice
1 oz Cranberry juice
½ oz Lime

Shake all ingredients in mixing glass. Grab a martini glass. Add ice. Pour the mixture into the glass. Drink. Enjoy.


Miami Vice is one of several cocktails made from an ice wine vodka.

VICE has the potential for wide appeal. It could attract the wine drinker who would not normally drink vodka but prefers a cocktail every now and again. The hint of wine – even a dessert variety – makes the vodka more palatable. The vodka drinker or martini lover can have his cake and eat it, too, without consuming the conventional sugar that is added to many fruit juices. The sweetness in ice wine comes from the concentrate that results from frozen water, as well as sugars and other dissolved solids in the frozen grapes that do not freeze.

The cocktail drinker who simply likes the idea of mixing wine and vodka can pony up to the bar and be served that beverage from a lone bottle. Meanwhile, dessert wine lovers who may find traditional ice wine too treacly might appreciate the balance that the vodka brings to the flavor profile.

It would appear that VICE, which gets its name from conflating “vodka” and “ice,” has – how to put it – numerous virtues.

Visit http://www.viceonice.ca/ to learn more about VICE, including where to buy it.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Ballroom Is Prepped for 'Dancing With the Stars All-Stars'


WARREN Sapp (Season 7 finalist) will be missed. For a big man, he is incredibly light on his feet.

His financial woes may have contributed to his absence. But there, too, is the fact that the producers probably didn’t want to have two former NFL players on the show or too many athletes, considering that Emmit Smith (Season 3 winner), Hélio Castroneves (Season 5 winner), Shawn Johnson (Season 8 winner) and Apolo Anton Ohno (Season 4 winner) are competing.

If it is not clear by now, this prognosticating is about Dancing With The Stars. Now in its 15 season (two a year), it premieres tonight at 8 EDT on ABC. (See videos of past performances throughtout this article).

In a twist, favorites from seasons past return to compete for the Mirrorball trophy. Another new feature for season 15 of “DWTS” is that the 13th contestant was chosen by voters online. Sabrina Bryan (Season 5) beat out Carson Kressley (Season 13) and Kyle Massey (Season 11) for that coveted spot on this “All-Star” edition. Also competing is Kelly Monaco, the show’s very first winner.

In the various cyberspace chat rooms “DWTS” fans, including Yours Truly, have been very upfront about the cast. Overall, we are pleased, but everyone has his or her favorites and can’t imagine why this one made the show and that one didn’t, hence the short dissertation on WS.

It is only fair that Pamela Anderson (Season 10) is back, since she exited prematurely. She was doing so well – much better than anybody anticipated. Alas, the fan base was just not there – not enough male voters. And PA, a very nice lady, is not the type that most women cotton to very easily.

Another who exited early but who is not back is Lil Kim (Season 8). Once again the fan base was just not there. It’s a treat, though, to witness the return of larger-than-life Kirstie Alley (Season 12 finalist) who famously lost a ton of weight during her “DWTS” run. At 61, she is the oldest contestant, which brings the conversation around to Cloris Leachman (Season 7). Granted, she was awful, but she was awfully fun and funny. It is a snub to the senior citizen set, a large part of the “DWTS”viewing audience, not to have one of their own represented among the All-Stars.

Unless Melissa Wycroft (Season 8 finalist) qualifies, women of color have been snubbed, too. Could not Kristi Yamaguchi (Season 6 winner), Brandy (Season 11), Margaret Cho or Mel B (Season 5 finalist ) have returned or, as cited earlier, LK? It would have been interesting casting to have both PA and LK on the show, since the latter somewhat idolizes the former.

One of the shows most controversial contestants, Bristol Palin (Season 11 finalist) lives to dance another day. Though she danced atrociously, she made it to the finals. It was believed that it was political; some are still upset about this. In answer to a query on an ABC.com “DWTS” message board, Twinkietoz, wrote “Anybody but Palin” to a question about which stars fans were rooting for. Another won’t watch “until she is gone.” Ouch!

As previously noted, just about every “DWTS” fan has some kind of beef with the selection.

Tomorrow night, Justin Bieberand Pitbull will perform, and the All-Stars will discuss why they returned to the ballroom (has this not been discussed ad nauseam?). By show’s end one of them will be eliminated.

Tonight, though, excitement will be palpable as the All-Stars dance the Cha-cha-cha and Foxtrot. Joey Fatone (Season 4 finalist) and partner Kym Johnsonkick off tonight’s dancing with the cha-cha-cha; ES and Cheryl Burke close it out with the same dance.

Visit http://www.abc.go.com/shows/dancing-with-the-stars/ to learn more about “Dancing With the Stars.”

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Troubled Life of a Great Funnyman in 'Chaplin the Musical'

Rob McClure as Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin The Musical." Photos by Joan Marcus.

BY TAMARA BECK

IS
it just a cliché that tragedy informs the lives of funnymen?

“Chaplin The Musical,” through 6 Jan. 2013 at the Ethel Barrymore Theatre, makes it clear that it was a deep sadness that dogged the great comedian in all his creative endeavors.

Charlie Chaplin (Rob McClure) is haunted by the insanity that took his mother Hannah (Christiane Noll) from him when he was merely 7, (Zachary Unger plays the boy Charlie.)

CC, along with his brother Sydney (Wayne Alan Wilcox) went from the London slums into the family business, vaudeville. CC’s success on the stage drew the attention of Mack Sennett (Michael McCormick) who lured him to Hollywood via a cablegram offering him the princely sum of $150 a week. His success in films got him ever more phenomenal sums of money from competing movie companies and eventually his own studio. (See video below of "Chaplin" on the streets of New York City.)

Hedda Hopper (Jenn Colella) has a bone to pick with Charlie Chaplin in “Chaplin The Musical.

“The Little Tramp,” the sad and funny character he created for Sennett, brought him worldwide adulation and fame. Like the character he created, CC was complicated. Although he brought his brother, his friend, Alf Reeves (Jim Borstelmann), and eventually his mother to America to be near him, he quarreled with the two men and never visited his mother.

“Chaplin The Musical” has much to recommend it especially RMcC’s brilliant star turn. He is backed by a very fine ensemble, including Hayley Podschun as Mildred Harris, wife No. 1, and Erin Mackey as Oona O’Neill, the fourth and final Mrs. C. In addition, there are impressive high-wire effects, guided by Bobby Hedglin-Taylor, billed as Tightrope Trainer, and lovely party scenes staged by director/choreographer Warren Carlyle.

But “Chaplin The Musical” is a flawed, if charming production – not unlike the man whose story it depicts. In its ambitious scope, the book by Thomas Meehan and Christopher Curtis (the latter of whom is also responsible for the lyrics and music), begins in London in 1894 and ends in Hollywood in 1972. However, it is unfortunate that CC’s rich biography, including forays into political activism – some of which raised the ire of Hedda Hedda (Jenn Colella in an amusing portrayal) – is crammed into such a thin plotline.

It is not enough to depict the genius that created a legendary and iconic cinematic image as a man mourning childhood losses. By repeatedly referencing his mother’s madness, the writers posit it as the sole motivation for CC's every action.

Though it is a musical, “Chaplin” has no memorable songs, but “Life Can Be Like The Movies,” “The Life You Wished For” and “Look At All The People” come close. On the other hand, “This Man” – meant to be a tribute to CC’s greatness – is overwhelmed by its own cacophony. The thin tunes, which ask so little of the able cast, work mostly just to flesh out the tale.

Rob McClure as the great entertainer (and company) in “Chaplin The Musical.”

In all fairness to the writers, a bio-musical covering such a wide swath of history needs to find a hook in order to focus and use its time wisely. However, as is the case with “Chaplin The Musical,” it is easy to lose sight of the complexities of the subject in attempting to simplify the plot.

Visit http://www.chaplinbroadway.com/ to learn more about “Chaplin The Musical.”

Friday, September 21, 2012

Career, Family Matters in 'Trouble With the Curve'


ON the surface, “Trouble With the Curve” may look like a baseball movie. After all, it is about a scout and many scenes are shot in ballparks across the United States.

“Trouble With the Curve” is actually a buddy film, though an atypical one. In this variation on that theme the pals are father and daughter, Gus and Mickey Lobel, played by the unlikely duo of Clint Eastwood and Amy Adams. The film opens nationwide today.

Gus is a widower and scout trying to hold it down in a young man’s game. Mickey, is an abandoned child transformed into a high-powered career woman with way too much to prove. Of course, they have issues and will work through some of them on the roadtrips they make with an eye toward saving Gus’ career. (See trailer above.)

Opening today in wider release is “The Master” (http://www.bit.ly/R0yhx7)… More shortly.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Eileen Fisher, Topshop Exploit Social Media in Bizlike Fashion

The mohair obmre-shaped cardigan and handloom dancing tassel scarf are from the Fall 2012 Eileen Fisher collection can be had at a special price. Photos courtesy of Eileen Fisher.


WHAT do Eileen Fisher’s Obmre Shaped Cardigan w/pin and TopShop’s Printed Panel Dress have to do with Facebook, Twitter and YouTube? And what of Bally's whole lifestyle? Quite a bit, actually.

Though Social Media is still so very new, it has become an invaluable communication tool – especially in business. And ever increasingly in the business of fashion as illustrated by the trio cited above.

Continuing its mission to empower women and girls, Eileen Fisher has conceived the “Creating Confidence Campaign” on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/EILEENFISHERNY/app_372769992795388). Each person who posts a comment can select from 26 nonprofits, including Rosa the UK fund for women and girls (http://www.rosauk.org) and WomanSage(http://www.womansage.org), that s/he wishes to receive a $5 donation from Eileen Fisher. Visitors are prompted by the phrase, Supporting women and girls is important to me because... So far, Katie McAfee succinctly sums up the main sentiment, “We need equality for all!.”

From the Eileen Fisher Fall 2012 collec.tion, a merino wool parka funnel-neck vest. Photo courtesy of Eileen Fisher.

Eileen Fisher is committed to donating up to a total of $10,000. As of this writing, an eyeball test of the meter set up on the Facebook page to track donations shows them around the $1,000 mark. The promotion runs through 10 Oct.

The Creating Confidence Campaign on Facebook was also conceived to generate interest in Eileen Fisher’s bi-annual philanthropic shopping event where consumers are offered discounts and refreshments while they shop the new collection. Commencing today in the UK and on Saturday in the United States and Canada, online shoppers (http://www.eileenfisher.com/fallevents) and shoppers at select stores who spend at least 50USD will be given $25 off their purchase. That includes the cardigan. Each store will donate 10 percent of proceeds from sales to a local nonprofit dedicated to empowering women and girls.

Meanwhile, UK-based clothier, Topshop is still over the moon about the piece of history it made last week during its show at London Fashion Week.

Through the efforts of a village, the show was seen by more than 2 million people, the largest ever online audience to witness a livestreamed fashion show. Facebook and Twitter users could instantly share their favorites looks with friends and followers by using prefabricated phrases, “I am watching the Topshop Unique show” or “I just customized the Topshop Unique catwalk.” Elsewhere, media partners and bloggers had their own livestream going and were reaching out to their respective audiences.

During the frenzy, Topshop.com was clicked on by more than 120 countries and got a record-setting push from the United States. All of this activity was bullishly driving sales of Topshop lipstick and makeup, and the aforementioned panel dress reportedly sold out within an hour. (See video of the show above.)

That is the power of Social Media. On business and the business of fashion.

Visit http://www.topshop.com to learn more about Topshop.

Meanwhile, Living Large, Bally Style (Via YouTube)

AN aerial view of the Swiss Alps comes into focus, then the scene switches to a luxury car making its way around winding mountain roads. The camera switches to the sky to reveal the chem trail from an airplane, then switches back to the road, then back to the sky. 

Overhead, an airplane flies by. Next, the placid scene of a lake flanked by mountains comes into view until the camera cuts away to reveal a kite aloft in the sky. 

Welcome to Bally Luxury Swiss Lifestyle. The company has created a short film to sell five items from its Fall 2012 collection. It is running on Bally's YouTube channel (See video above.)

The Drillor shoe from Bally is featured in an aspirational, interactive film on YouTube. Photo from Bally.

On the ground a car continues its trajectory as a plane has just landed on the tarmac. Visible from its window is a women’s handbag. Perhaps it is owned by the woman who steps out of the backseat of a chauffeur-driven car. Once her feet make contact with the ground, the camera pauses and a message appears showing the name of the shoe and an invitation to “SHOP NOW.” Click inside the box and up pops a page where accessible are the relevant details about the  “Hanovre Goatskin Pump.” In this story, the “keyword” is an object. 

Visitors not interested in the pump can click back from the page or wait for the video narrative to resume on the plane. Seconds later, a young man deplanes. He is carrying the calfskin “Beloco Bag.” The narrative continues until the last item for sale – the laser–cut, textured leather dark brown “Drillor Shoe” – does its star turn as the man wearing them makes his way to his swanky hotel room with spectacular views.

It’s all really very clever and cleverly designed to make one wistful for this lifestyle – and by extension – Bally wear.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Palette- and Palate-Pleasing Confections During MBFW

Sweet Revolution Caramels are good to you and not bad for you – in moderation. Photo courtesy of Sweet Revolution Caramels.

DURING Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, sometimes food and drink grab some of the spotlight, but not necessarily because a dress is made from candy bars or a blouse is constructed from beer cans.

Rather because they are such a nifty idea or a pleasant and welcome surprise. And so it was on several occasions during the New York edition that just wrapped.

Erickson Beamon was responsible for one of the most interesting show formats of fashion week. For Spring-Summer 2013, the design team asked the question “Who are You? in a presentation that featured a band seated on the floor playing the same tune in a continuous loop, people in conversation seated on bleachers and silent models conveyed around the space on push carts.

While all of this was going on, a makeshift bar in the corner of the Box tent was doing good business with a Pear Cognac infused with pureed organic strawberries and lemon juice. It proved to be a delicious thirst quencher and a good aide for contemplating the question at hand.


Macarons are good by themselves or with Champagne. Photo by Yours Truly.

Nicholas K, which has kicked off fashion week the last few seasons, left one wondering whether aviation or travel informed the collection. That, too, was a question that could be contemplated while consuming something tasty in the form of the Maple Honey Caramels that were placed in the front-row seats. They are from Sweet Revolution Caramels (htttp://www.sweetrevolutioncaramels.com). Even better news is their pedigree: made from “simple, natural organic ingredients. That is, maple, honey, cream, butter, sea salt, vanilla bean and lemon. Not an additive/preservative or a drop of corn syrup in sight!

One of the sweetest treats of all were the macarons set out on trays for any taker during the Fotini presentation. The SS13 collection sought inspiration in the muted colors favored by several 18th-century French painters, including Fragonard. The color profile is butter, sage, soft pink, lavender, taupe and white; ditto for the macarons. Could they have been from anywhere except the Upper East Side location of Ladurée (http://www.laduree.fr/)?

Heineken Is Sporting New Face and Same Familiar Taste
The old (left) and new Heineken bottle. Photos courtesy of Heineken USA.

THIS one has a longer, leaner neck, more defined shoulders and is slimmer through the torso. Taller, too.

This is not a description of the latest It super model but the new design of the Heineken beer bottle The "Star Bottle" is arriving in select venues in New York State this week and will rollout across the United States, commencing in March 2013. It debuted in parts of Asia a few months ago (see video below of launch party in Malaysia) and made its world debuted last year in western Europe.

The Dutch brewer, which fashions itself as the leading "upscale" beer importer to the United States, literally wants to be head and shoulders above most others in the marketplace, hence the new design of the 12 oz. and 22 oz bottles. The Star Bottle also sports a feature that is designed to help keep the beer cooler longer.

The Star Bottle represents the first change in the design of the iconic Heineken green in more than 60 years. In this changing environment, however, Heineken is hard pressed to stress that one element that has remained unchanged is the taste.

According to company p.r., "consumers can still expect the same smooth, full-bodied beer with a complexity that balances fruity notes with mild bitterness ..."

Bottoms up!

Gnosis Has a Good Deal on Chocolate to Move
The Cupuaçu Spread, above, and Aphrodisia are going for a good price at Gnosis. Photos courtesy of Gnosis.

CHOCOHOLICS out there might be interested to know that Gnosis, the chocolatier dedicated to promoting health and wellness, has a deal.

Here's the deal: For the rest of September, everything down to Hot Chocolate and Creme Brulee Body Butter is 25 percent off. According to company founder Vanessa Barg aka Chocolate Girl,
Gnosis is doing such a good public service to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall. How nice is that!

On a totally self-serving note, Gnosis is also repackaging its products. But there are not too many better or nicer ways to move the old to make room for the new, right?

All takers can avail themselves of the offer on Reishi Mushroom Extract and anything else by entering code SEPT-25 at checkout. Make it so by 30 Sept., for as has been noted, this deal won't last forever. (http://www.gnosischocolate.com).

Monday, September 17, 2012

OWS One Year Later: It's Here and It Ain't Going Away!

Reports of the death of Occupy Wall Street are grossly exaggerated. Photo from Occupy Wall Street.

TODAY marks the one-year anniversary of the leaderless movement now known all over the world as Occupy Wall Street.

Contrary to what one might read or see in the corporate media controlled by the heavily vested 1%, OWS is not dead. OWS has been getting things done and has been setting the groundwork to get things done. Slow, but sure. Anyone wanting to know what's going on can simply visit the Web site, http://www.occupywallst.org. Another good source is "Occupy Wall Street Radio," a program that is broadcast at 6:30 p.m. Monday through Friday on WBAI-FM (99.5 FM, http://www.wbai.org).

OWS is a movement; it's a revolution. It aims to empower the people – the masses – to push back against the forces that enable obscene corporate power, greed and corruption. As such, it is often misunderstood and intentionally misconstrued – sometimes by the very constituency it seeks to help. OWS can be unwieldy and contentious from within. Yet it is functional. It will take time to see many of the changes that are taking place because OWS exists. But its impact cannot be denied, not even by its most dedicated detractors.

Already, "Occupy" as well as the 1% and 99% are household words; part of the lexicon for evermore. They've been uttered on the presidential campaign trail. They are invoked in TV commercials and on TV programs aired on corporate, mainstream networks. Is there any doubt that "Revolution," the new NBC series premiering tonight is yet another example of how OWS and its Occulingo have influenced the popular culture? These are huge accomplishments for a fledgling, bottom-up movement.

Indeed OWS is alive and well. OWSers in New York City – the birthplace of the movement – and comrades around the world are taking to the streets today. They will engage in rallies, marches, talks, entertainments, as well as in acts of civil disobedience, to celebrate an extraordinary year past and an even more extraordinary one in the making. Happy Birthday, OWS!

Visit http://www.occupywallst.org to learn more about Occupy Wall Street one-year anniversary events or events in general. Google "Occupy Wall Street around the world" to learn about goings-on at Occupy movements outside of New York City.

Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Fresh, New Start for Couture Fashion Week


WHEN Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week folds up its tent at New York, the action travels across the pond for London Fashion Week, which cranked up on Friday with Antoni & Alison (http://www.bit.ly/QvZBPu). Milan follows (http://www.cameramoda.it/en/), then Paris (http://www.modeaparis.com/en).

For those in the fashion world all thoughts of The Big Apple are forgotten until February. Nevertheless, over the last nine years, another fashion extravaganza has called New York home (Palm Beach and a few other cities, too.)

It is known as Couture Fashion Week and it goes down at the Waldorf-Astoria this evening through Monday. CFW brings together lesser-known couture and luxury designers from around the world, including Spanish designer Isabel Zapardiez. She shows at 6 p.m. Luxury brands and fine arts are exhibited during the three-day showcase; performances figure in the mix, too. (See highlight reel above from 2011 edition and video of IZ's Fall 2012 show below).

Most of the designers are not household names, therefore wrongly perceived as amateurs and dilettantes; many show attendees must purchase tickets, rather than receive complimentary invitations in the post or at check-in. Celebrities known to U. S. audiences are not omnipresent. Absent are blockbuster sponsors disseminating swag. While there is at least one after party/reception after each day’s shows, there is often no open bar. Talk about a buzzkill!

These are among the major reasons that CFW has suffered the designation as a country cousin to New York fashion week. Major U.S. fashion media outlets simply ignore it. That's too bad.

Still, CFW soldiers on and may be on to something with this latest edition. Instead of starting the day that New York fashion week ends or the day after, it is starting two days afterward.

Whose to say what kind of traction CFW will get from this alteration?

Visit http://www.couturefashionweek.com to learn more about Couture Fashion Week, including ticket and show information.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Sheep Rebels Against Shepherd in 'The Master'


LANCASTER Dodd is a charismatic leader of a pseudo-religious sect in 1950s America and Freddie Quell is his almost-disciple.

Philip Seymour Hoffman and Joaquin Phoenix deliver masterful performances as the two unlikely allies-turned-enemies in “The Master.” The film was written, directed and co-produced by Paul Thomas Anderson. (See trailer above.)

Fresh off of its well-received world premiere at the 69th Venice International Film Festival, “The Master” makes it North America debut today in select theaters. (Check local listings for showtimes.)

Also in main roles in the stellar cast are Amy Adams and Laura Dern.

“The Master” is rated R.

MBFW Last Day: Ending With a Strong Spanish Accent


HEAD’S UP: Continuing the approach we adopted commencing with the Fall 2012 edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, VEVLYN'S PEN will put emphasis on the truly inspirational on the runway, rather than a sort of “best of the lot, even if it’s not that good.” Why the change? Simply put, we have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires, we will tell you so and tell you why. We still endeavor, however, to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly (and others) witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

Last Day
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere):

WHILE
the tents at Lincoln Center were closed yesterday (alas, the wrong world order it seems), the last day of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, there was action aplenty on runways around Manhattan.

From the Cesar Galindo Spring-Summer 2013 collection. Photo by Vivien Killilea/Getty Images.

Hewing to tradition, both Calvin Klein Collection and Ralph Lauren (see RL video above) showed at their respective ateliers. Joining them lately has been fellow vet Stephen Burrows. Also on deck on the last, a passel of up-and-comers like Alisha Trimble, along with a string of talent with Spanish and Spanish-sounding surnames: Victor de Souza, Ricardo Seco, Raul Penaranda, Jorge Vega Umana.

While the day did not end with a bang, it had some fireworks, particularly in the form of RL’s Spanish dalliance, Cesar Galindo’s engaging meditation in b&w with colorful departures, as well as Brood’s homage floral … More shortly.

Visit http://www.mbfashionweek.com to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

MBFW Day 7: Enough Firepower to Declare Victory


HEAD’S UP: Continuing the approach we adopted commencing with the Fall 2012 edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, VEVLYN'S PEN will put emphasis on the truly inspirational on the runway, rather than a sort of “best of the lot, even if it’s not that good.” Why the change? Simply put, we have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires, we will tell you so and tell you why. We still endeavor, however, to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly (and others) witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

Day 7
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Bibhu Mohapatra, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Douglas Hannant, Philosophy, Jeremy Scott, Rachel Zoe, J.Mendel, Milly by Michelle Smith, Gant by Michael Bastian, Marchesa, Anna Sui, Louise Goldin, Proenza Schouler, Holmes & Yang, Fotina, NY Republica Dominicana Fashion Week, EleVen by Venus Williams, Whitney Eve, Soojin-Lee, B Michael America, Vivienne Tam, Clover Canyon, Homo Consommatus

REGARDLESS
of the season, by day 7 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York many of the collections are strong.

Understandable, since as the week progresses the guns become bigger. Not that a big gun necessarily produces a rocking firepower collection. More often than not it does, though.

A look from the Milly by Michelle Smith Spring-Summer 2013 collection. Photo by Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images.

Of course, there are always those collections – amongst the young and untried as well as the celebrity set – that lead to head-scratching and wonder about the designer's point of view. Or something along the lines of, “S/he got financing to show that in the tents." More head-scratching and, head-shaking. Further, as one wag put it last night: “Something you can go into a showroom to see and be done with it.”

This season was no exception, but let’s keep the focus on the good. Any day that Anna Sui, Douglas Hannant, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore and Vivienne Tam (See VT video above) are showing is a banner day for fashion.

Yesterday was such a day. The nitty gritty details are coming. For now, enjoy the picture show.

On Deck today, Last Day : Ralph Lauren, Brood, Victor de Souza, Calvin Klein Collection, Cynthia Rowley, Cesar Galindo, Alisha Trimble, Kithe Brews, Ricardo Seco, Raul Penaranda, Jorge Vega Umana


Visit http://www.mbfashionweek.com to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Day 7 Pictorial
Anna Sui
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Bibhu Mohapatra
Photos by Arun Nevader/Getty Images.

B Michael America
Photos by Mike Coppola/Getty Images.

Clover Canyon
Photos by Fernando Leon/Getty Images.

Michael Kors
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Nanette Lepore
Photos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

J. Mendel
Pnotos by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

MBFW Day 6: A Man With a Plan and Other Cool Customers


HEAD’S UP: Continuing the approach we adopted commencing with the Fall 2012 edition of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, VEVLYN'S PEN will put emphasis on the truly inspirational on the runway, rather than a sort of “best of the lot, even if it’s not that good.” Why the change? Simply put, we have grown weary of watching far too many collections that lack imagination because too much attention has been paid to the bottomline. If nothing inspires, we will tell you so and tell you why. We still endeavor, however, to provide a roundup of the best, worst and most interesting Yours Truly (and others) witnesses, from trends to sightings to the rather unusual/bizarre.

Day 6
(SOME of the players at the tents and elsewhere): Tory Burch, J.Crew, Brandon Sun, Badgley Mischka, Vera Wang, John Bartlett, Jenny Packham, Diesel Black Gold, Naeem Khan, Candela, Osklen, Falguni and Shane Peacock, Dona Daneshi, Rachel Roy, Perry Ellis by Duckie Brown, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Oscar de la Renta, Ankar Sweden

OSCAR de la Renta
is a smooth operator.

For several seasons, and perhaps longer, he has been courting a younger customer, shortening the length of dresses, skirts and sleeves, adding more cinches, exposing more shoulder and neckline. Nothing too, too drastic, though the pink tutu dress begs to differ. (See video above).

ODLR continues the courtship with confident machinations for Spring 2013 with a lace-heavy, skin-baring collection with interjections of neon-leather. It embraces the young while keeping his core customer – the chic matron and chic matron-in-training – happy and distracted by the likes of the belted-white cropped-sleeve shirt and skirt ensemble with lace detail.

A look from the Tory Burch Spring-Summer 2013 collection. Photo by Slaven Vlasic.

While ODLR never disappoints, he is not alone in this regard. Day 6 of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week was better for having Vera Wang come “Out of India” with an exquisite rendering of lace jacquard and Indian damask. She is frontrunner for “best presentation.” She has competition, though, from Falguni & Shane Peacock’s “Moto Crew.” These motleys clearly booked a passage where no man (or woman) has gone before and encountered The Borg and some Klingons in bad temper. Both species taught them well the inner workings of prints both cyber graphic and galactic graphic.

Elsewhere, the gurls at Rodarte deserve honorable mention for even attempting to reinterpret medievel fantasy into frock wearable.

Let’s also show some luv to ANKAR Sweden for the welcome breakfast (including croissants, fresh fruit, bagels, cream cheese and lox). It complemented the label’s latest collection, evoking the image of American boys on Martha’s Vineyard and in the Hamptons – with an ANKAR spin, of course.

And the breakfast contributed to the enjoyment of the captivating sights filling the cavernous windows at P.J. Clarke’s. More on all and a word about Dona Daneshi later. Until then, enjoy the picture show.

On Deck today, Day 7: Bibhu Mohapatra, Michael Kors, Nanette Lepore, Douglas Hannant, Philosophy, Jeremy Scott, Rachel Zoe, J.Mendel, Milly by Michelle Smith, Gant by Michael Bastian, Marchesa, Anna Sui, Louise Goldin, Proenza Schouler, Holmes & Yang, Fotina, NY Republica Dominicana Fashion Week, EleVen by Venus Williams, Whitney Eve, Soojin-Lee, Vivienne Tam, Homo Consommatus

Visit http://www.mbfashionweek.com to learn more about Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week, including show information and videos.

Day 6 Pictorial
Vera Wang
Photos by Frazer Harrison.

Falguni & Shane Peacock
Photos by Frazer Harrison.

John Bartlett
Photos by Slaven Vlasic.

Naeem Khan
Photos by Frazer Harrison.
 
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