Monday, April 19, 2010

Review: Jessica Simpson's Price of Beauty Japan Episode

Oh America. You abuse your understanding of the word "reality" in so many ways, the best being when it comes to these television shows based around it. For the past decade, America has become obsessed with this bizarre documentary style of television shows, showing us "normal" people things we would not see otherwise. But once the USA discovered the quirky fashions going on within Japan, it felt the need to abuse your vision in any which way. The sad part is, these shows would teach us time and time again the same lesson. America really comes off as ignorant in these programs. But why bring this point up? Vh1's new show "Jessica Simpon's The Price of Beauty" premiered their recent Japan episode today, where Jess and her friends took a trip to the east to see what they thought was beautiful. Of course the episode featured the usual geisha affair, along with things about plastic surgery and etc. But then came the part all of us frilly ladies waited for, The (Harajuku titled but really only...) Lolita section! But yet again, it happened..

As it seems every time when the special "Japan" episode comes up, the horrific treatment of this one section continues to succeed in what seems to be it's one goal. Making "Japanese Street" fashion look odd, and somehow sexual or "easy". But how? Simple, just watch. Jessica and her crew enter into what looks to be MaruiOne, the infamous mini mall of brands like Angelic Pretty, h.Naoto, Baby The Stars Shine Bright, among many others. But the first wrong move happens right away. They call it a "Harakjuku Mini Mall". Now don't get me wrong, MaruiOne is basically that in some sense, but they kept referring to these locations in these dumb American nicknames. So rather then saying "This is a department store called MaruiOne" they would just refer it to as "Harajuku Walmart" or anything else dumb enough you can come up with. I think the funniest part was a tie between the crew hearing the name Lolita and making snarky comments, and Jessica Simpson wearing h.Naoto (yes, breath and process that mental image, don't worry you'll live).

But the most insulting? It was saved for the very end, as the lowest of blows. Jessica and her friends decide to celebrate their new love for Japan in a fashion show with all the "Harajuku Kids" as they called them. Two of these individuals was none other then Maki and Asuka of Angelic Pretty, yet they were only dubbed as "Harajuku Girls". Here's an idea, why don't we humanize these so called "creatures of the east", Ms.Simpson by ask what their names are, rather then refering to them as a product of sorts. These girls are accomplished designers. Maybe not Jacobs or Chanel, but they are very important, and you should give them respect in my book. But then came the horror of horrors, Jessica in Angelic Pretty. Now, don't get me wrong, she didn't look too bad. But the thing that struck me the most was her...uh, behavior? Jessica seemed to think that Lolita meant sex, showing her bloomers and petticoat as a sort of turn on. Granted, in America that might be the male feeling towards the fashion, but Jessica seemed to not want to learn the golden rule. Lolita is a fashion that doesn't degrade women in terms of sex, but rather celebrates the freedom of female expression.

So American Television, take note. When you want to make Lolita viewers actually pleased, do the research. We aren't animals, we are human beings. Once you get that, maybe we will begin respect your views. Until then all we can say is, Silly Americans. Trust me, as one, I wish I could be saying otherwise. But I guess that will be when pigs can fly, and Jessica Simpson realizes her actual talents, which will never happen.

If you wanna read another great article similar to this, check out my friend Lolita Charm's post here. If you'd like to see the episode, you can view it here.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Movie Review #10: Bluebeard (2009)

Finally, I have returned to what I love most, reviewing movies. I'd just like to let you know though as of movie reviews, they will happen once a week, but not on a specific day, so just keep an eye out! So let's get this kick started!

In a castle as tall as the mountains, seen from a girl's window, is where today's movie takes place. It's a palace filled with beautiful rooms, except for one. This room contains a secret this girl was not supposed to know, but what does she find out is the question.

So, what is today's film? Bluebeard (2009) directed by Catherine Breillat. It takes the story of Bluebeard from two perspectives, two sisters in the 50's and the main heroine of the actual fairy tale. But what makes this story ever so compelling is the counterpoints in which the two perspectives connect. Similar to that of "A Neverending Story", whatever happens within the real world of the two sisters, a similar event happens within the fairy tale, and vice versa. But does this at all make the film interesting? Generally speaking, yes.

Now, it's important to know this movie is entirely in french, with subtitles. I sadly think the translation is a bit off in sections, and feels like it might have been dumbed down for international audiences. But granted this also could have been advertised to children, since Europe is so different in their ways of showing things to anyone under the age of 10. What am I talking about exactly? There are two clear scenes with heads getting disembodied (including a duck's, which is a reference to future events but just be warned) and of course, the revel of what is in that room (no spoilers, I promise!)

But if you take away some of the profound imagery that is of a more violent nature, you truly have a film that in it's most simple form is what a real fairy tale is. A story that though involves the illusions of fantasy, can actually tell you more about real life then say what is considered "a realistic story".

I've always been one to be afraid of Bluebeard, he's definitely a very intimidating character, as he should be. But this version definitely made me feel otherwise, but why? Brelliat took someone that was considered a monster, and gave him a soul rather then just making him completely menacing. The interaction between him and our heroine was some of the most real acting I've seen in a while. I could actually believe this relationship, which is hard since in these days it would be considered taboo. When Bluebeard gives his new wife "The Key", you could feel the tension cut you right down the middle (sort of the way I feel about Offbrand and Brand, a clear divide.)

But was there ever moments of it becoming bad? Well, not exactly, but this movie does have it's flaws. Unfortunately, again, maybe it's cause I'm from America, but the editing was definitely strange. The beginning was one of the slowest introductions I've seen (Think the speed of the Godfather, but about 10 times more slow) So when it came time for all the events with Bluebeard (which I enjoyed), the editing grew too fast. I think this movie would have been much more enjoyable if they have taken out many of the tiny plot elements that never return in the final conclusion (such as the heroine's sister/mother, which dragged the film extremely) and rather focus on her relationship with Bluebeard. I will give the editor credit though on creating tension in some scenes, which seemed to be the big factor of this film, but didn't save it completely to me.

The ending was the part that got me the most in this dilemma. We were given so much information from the two little girls, and the editing was sort of getting at a good pace, but then it seems the editor gave up. I won't spoil the ending, but just be prepared to sit there and possibly be wanting a remote to rewind.

But the final verdict? Go see this movie. No offense to Alice in Wonderland, but this is the superior fantasy movie to see (so far) this year. French filmmakers, say what you will, do seem to have a great grip on fairy tale adaptations, and this film is no different. Though it's editing and pace may be a bit much at times, in its core it's definitely a must see.

So with that, La Vida Frills gives Bluebeard 4 headbows and a wristcuff (4.5) out of 5. The film is playing in select cities, and judging by it's interest, you should be able to find it eventually somewhere.

Curious what will be reviewed next? You'll just have to wait.

All photos from flickr.

Monday, April 12, 2010

A Quick Celebration

Just a Quick Update ~ La Vida Frills has officially 30 Subscribers. Not the biggest number, but definitely neat to know that even though it's not that active, LVF is getting some TLC out there. But what's going on with me? I just got my new OP in the mail, Mary in the Sky with Candies by Baby The Stars Shine Bright. I adore the print, absolutely beautiful. I'm also working on a new panel, but on what? That's the surprise. Also, soon a review of Bluebeard will be coming out, so keep an eye out!

(Picture from

Saturday, April 3, 2010

Lolita + Tourist ~a small word on the matter~

Oh goodness, tourist. In New York during the holidays, they flock like a group of new itas that'd you'd rather ignore. But what happened to me walking around New York was a journey that was slightly painful and terrifying. Sure, I had been in Lolita around Midtown before, but nothing could have prepared me for Easter weekends terrifying array of characters. It's a sweet lolita's dream holiday, but instead it was a nightmare. I think the worst, more then the sweating and pushing the I went through, was the worst you could imagine, the lace of my jumperskirt was ripped. Yes, not smashed, not stained, ripped... AND on my favorite jumperskirt no less, Angelic Pretty's Cinderella Print. The good thing is, it's nothing too horrible to fix, or cut to look a bit more normal. Overall, Don't go near tourist in lolita or at least near sharp objects by them.

Quick fun movie related thing you might wanna know:
Last night was also the occasion for a neat MoMa sponsored event. Which may that be? Tim Burton related of course (The director of the most recent Alice adaptation) and who was in attendance? Danny Elfman and Collen Atwood of course! The first being Mr.Music for Burton and the second being ---- Your favorite most likely --- the costumes for Tim's films. It was cool to see them (along with two of Tim's other friends) give insight into the creative processes of filmmaking with none other then Mr. Scissorhands himself. I really had a great time, and if you are ever given the opportunity to hear these two (Or Burton himself) speak, go for it!! Your inner Gothic Lolita will be pleased.